March 01, 2018 Feature

Hugo Black and the Murder of Father James E. Coyle

Kenneth P. Nolan

In the early evening on August 11, 1921, Edwin Stephenson, a Methodist minister, walked to the porch of the rectory of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Birmingham, Alabama, and shot Father James E. Coyle three times, killing him. He then turned himself in to the sheriff. Stephenson’s reason for the shooting was simple: Earlier that day at St. Paul’s, Coyle had married Stephenson’s daughter, Ruth—a Catholic convert—to Pedro Gussman, a Catholic.

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