The Founders on God and Government

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"In God We Trust?" The separation of church and state is a widely contested topic in the American political arena. Whether for or against, debaters frequently base their arguments in the Constitution and the principles of the American founding. However, Americans' perception of the founding has narrowed greatly over the years, focusing on a handful of eminent statesmen. By exploring the work of nine founding fathers, including often overlooked figures like John Carroll and George Mason, The Founders on God and Government provides a more complete picture of America's origins. The contributors, all noted scholars, examine the lives of individual founders and investigate the relationship between their religious beliefs and political thought. Bringing together original documents and analytical essays, this book is an excellent addition to the library of literature on the founding, and sheds new light on religion's contributions to American civic culture.

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Editorial Reviews

National Liberty Journal
Written by eminent scholars of law, politics, and history, this edited collection of insightful essays examines the vital role of Christianity in the political thought and deeds of influential founding fathers. The Founders on God and Government paints rich biographical portraits of the most famous founders (George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin) and several of the not-so-famous founders (George Mason, James Wilson, John Witherspoon, and the Catholic Carroll family of Maryland). These engaging profiles explore how religion informed the values, political philosophies, and public deeds of these statesmen. The reader gains from these portraits an intimate acquaintance with the subjects and the times in which they lived. This book is essential reading for all citizens who want to understand religion's inestimable contribution to the great American experiment in political self-government and liberty under the law.
The Virginia Magazine Of History and Biography
If the editors of this collection intended it to redress an imbalance resulting from neglect of the founders' religious beliefs, it succeeds...if they hoped to stimulate additional scholarship on the complex interrelationships between sources of the founders' religious beliefs and their political theories, we may hope it will succeed.
Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above.
Journal of the Early Republic
McGarvie's One Nation Under Law is the most innovative recent study of church-state relations in the early republic. 2006
Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above.
G. Ellis Sandoz
This fine book belongs on the small shelf of required books of anyone who wishes to understand the religious roots of our American republic. With careful attention to the massive scholarship bearing on the subject, it concisely and elegantly makes the argument that religion does matter to the Founding, and it explains the scope and central importance of religious liberty for leading actors in that great drama. Incisive, a good read, warmly recommended.
Donald Drakeman
The Founders and God were often inseparable, despite the tenor of much modern scholarship. This volume does an excellent job of bringing them back together
Mark O. Hatfield
What is the proper relationship between religion and politics in America? This question has been debated from the earliest colonists to contemporary politicians. Certainly during my 30 years in the U.S. Senate there were few issues more contentious than those involving religion and politics.The Founders on God and Government sheds important light on the influence of Christianity on the political thoughts and actions of nine of the most important Founders. Because of the influence these men had on America's constitutional order, this collection should be read by anyone concerned about the proper relationship between religion and politics today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742522787
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2004
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.94 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel L. Dreisbach is professor of justice, law, and society at American University, and author of Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State. Mark David Hall is associate professor of political science at George Fox University, and author of The Political and Legal Philosophy of James Wilson, 1742-1798. Jeffry H. Morrison is currently James Madison Visiting Fellow in the Department of Politics at Princeton University, and associate professor of government at Regent University; he is author of the forthcoming John Witherspoon and the Founding of the American Republic.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Foreword: Religious Liberty Chapter 2 Preface Chapter 3 Religion and The Common Good: George Washington on Church and State Chapter 4 One Public Religion, Many Private Religions: John Adams and the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution Chapter 5 The Religious Rhetoric of Thomas Jefferson Chapter 6 Religion and Politics in the Thought of James Madison Chapter 7 John Witherspoon's Revolutionary Religion Chapter 8 Benjamin Franklin and the Role of Religion in Governing Democracy Chapter 9 James Wilson: Presbyterian, Anglican, Thomist, or Deist? Does it Matter? Chapter 10 George Mason's Pursuit of Religious Liberty in Revolutionary Virginia Chapter 11 Catholic Politics and Religious Liberty in America: The Carrolls of Maryland Chapter 12 Afterword: Revolutionary-Era Americans: Were They Enlightened or Protestant? Does it Matter? Part 13 Bibliography

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