Founding Fathers and the Debate over Religion in Revolutionary America A History in Documents

ISBN-10: 0195326504

ISBN-13: 9780195326505

Edition: 2011

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Whether America was founded as a Christian nation or as a secular republic is one of the most fiercely debated questions in American history. Historians Matthew Harris and Thomas Kidd offer an authoritative examination of the essential documents needed to understand this debate. The texts included in this volume - writings and speeches from both well-known and obscure early American thinkers - show that religion played a prominent yet fractious role in the era of the American Revolution. In their personal beliefs, the Founders ranged from profound skeptics like Thomas Paine to traditional Christians like Patrick Henry. Nevertheless, most of the Founding Fathers rallied around certain crucial religious principles, including the idea that people were "created" equal, the belief that religious freedom required the disestablishment of state-backed denominations, the necessity of virtue in a republic, and the role of Providence in guiding the affairs of nations. Harris and Kidd show that through the struggles of war and the framing of the Constitution, Americans sought to reconcile their dedication to religious vitality with their commitment to religious freedom.
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Book details

Copyright year: 2011
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/11/2011
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 206
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.484
Language: English

Introduction: The Founding Fathers and Religion
Religion and the Continental Congress
A day of prayer and fasting, 1776
Reverend Jacob Duche's invocation at a day of prayer and fasting, 1775
Alexander Hamilton on God-given rights, 1775
Declaration of Independence, 1776
A resolution for true religion and good morals, 1778
Robert Aitken's Bible, 1781-1782
Designing a National Seal, 1782
The Northwest Ordinance, 1787
Religion and State Governments
State Constitutions, 1776-1778
Isaac Backus argues for religious freedom, 1773
Massachusetts Constitution of 1780
Boston supports the establishment, 1780
Granville, Massachusetts, opposes the establishment, 1780
Benjamin Franklin on the Massachusetts Constitution, 1780
Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776
Bill for a General Assessment for Religion, 1784
James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785
Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 1786
Criticism of the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 1786
An act for suppressing vice and immorality in Maryland, 1786
Constitution and Ratification
Benjamin Franklin's prayer request at the Constitution Convention-and the response, 1787
Luther Martin Questions why there is no religious oath in the Constitution, 1787
Was the Constitution an inspired document?
James Madison and Patrick Henry on human nature, 1788
Oliver Ellsworth and William Williams debate the absence of a religious oath in the constitution, 1787-1788
Benjamin Rush wishes God was mentioned in the Constitution, 1789
Debates on the religion clauses of the First Amendment, 1789
First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, 1791
Ministers lament the "Godless" Constitution, 1812, 1815
James Madison's "Detached Memoranda," circa 1817-1832
Religion and the Federal Government
Congressional Chaplains, 1789
George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789
George Washington's Farewell Address, 1796
Treaty of Tripoli, 1797
John Adams proclaims a day of fasting and prayer, 1798
Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address as President, 1801
Treaty between the United States and the Kaskaskia Indians, 1803
Dorothy Ripley Remembers her sermon in the House of Representatives, 1806
Disestablishment and the Separation of Church and State
William Linn opposes Thomas Jefferson's candidacy for President, 1800
George Washington on religious liberty, 1789-1790
John Leland and the Baptist case for religious liberty, 1791
Thomas Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists, 1801-1802
Thomas Jefferson refuses to declare days of prayer and fasting, 1808
John Adams on the "national government meddling with religion," 1812
The Founding Fathers' Own Views on Religion
Thomas Jefferson, 1787, 1803
John Adams, 1810, 1813
Benjamin Franklin, 1771, 1790
Thomas Paine, 1776
Patrick Henry, 1796
Samuel Adams, 1780, 1802
Roger Sherman, 1789
William Livingston, 1786
Elias Boudinot, 1815
Selected Bibliography
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