The Sacred Rights of Conscience: Selected Readings on Religious Liberty and Church-State Relations in the American Founding

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"The pursuit of religious liberty has been one of the grand principles of the American experiment. In The Sacred Rights of Conscience, scholars Daniel L. Dreisbach and Mark David Hall present an unprecedented collection of primary documents that illustrate the creation of distinctively American approaches to religious liberty and church-state relations. The rights of conscience and prudential relationships between religion and public life have been a source of controversy since the first settlements in the New World, and they continue to provoke energetic debate today. This volume provides a thorough and balanced examination of the evolving relationships between public religion and American culture from pre-colonial times through the early nineteenth century. This collection allows the reader to explore the social and political forces that defined the concept of religious liberty and shaped American church-state relations." "Students and scholars of American history, politics, law, theology, and religion will relish this collection of primary source material, much of it unavailable or hard to find in other published collections. The original documents have been gathered from both public and private papers and include constitutions, statutes, legislative resolutions, speeches, sermons, newspapers, letters, and diaries. The editors have written a rich introduction to the collection, placing these documents within a historical context and explaining their significance, as well as brief introductions to each chapter and headnotes to selections. A bibliography of major works on religion in American public life directs readers to additional primary sources and secondary literature. Theappendixes include a chronology of American church-state developments and an outline of the crucial deliberations in the first federal Congress leading to the language of the First Amendment religious clause." Not a collection of dusty documents of interest only to academics, this volume is of direct relevance to current debates about religious liberty and church-state relations. Today's concerns about the place and role of religion in public life are strikingly similar to those of the early nineteenth century. Then, as well as now, judicial decisions and societal opinions were shaped by the history of ideas and law presented here. These documents are a vivid reminder that religion was a dynamic factor in shaping American culture and that there has been a struggle since the inception of the republic to define the prudential and constitutional role of religion in public culture.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865977143
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 712
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations    xix
introduction: The Pursuit of Religious Liberty in America    xxi

part i
Antecedents of the Principles Governing Religious Liberty and
Church-State Relations in America

chapter  one
Biblical and European Heritages    3

king james version of  the  holy
scriptures     4
Genesis 1:26 – 27; 3:1 – 24    4
Exodus 1:15 – 21; 18:13 – 27; 20:1 – 17     6
Leviticus  25:10    7
Leviticus 26:1 – 46     8
Deuteronomy 13:1 – 5; 17:1 – 20     9
I Samuel 8    11
II Chronicles 7:14     12
Proverbs  14:34; 29:2     12
Isaiah 49:22 – 23; 60:12     12
Matthew 5:38 – 48; 22:15 – 22     12
Luke 22:38     13
John  18:36    13

Acts 5:27 – 29     13
Romans 13:1 – 8     14
II Corinthians 6:14 – 18     14
I Peter 2:9 – 3:6     14

european influences     15
St. Augustine, City of God, 410 – 26     16
St. Augustine, On the Correction of the
Donatists,  c. 417    16
St. Thomas Aquinas, On the Government of
Princes, 1267     17
Martin Luther, Temporal Authority: To
What Extent It Should Be Obeyed,
1523    19
The Schleitheim Confession of Faith, 1527    21
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian          S
Religion, 1559    24         
Act of Supremacy,  1534    27
Act of Uniformity, 1559    27
Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of
England, 1562, and  1801 American
Revisions    27
Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of
Ecclesiastical Polity,  1590s    30
The First London Baptist Confession of
Faith,  1646    34
Westminster Confession of Faith, 1646,
and  1788 American Revisions    36
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651    39

William Penn, The Great Case of Liberty
of Conscience,  1670    42
John Locke, A Letter on Toleration,  1689    47
John Locke, The Second Treatise,  1690    47
Toleration Act, 1689     51
John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, Cato’s
Letters: Letter 66, 1721     55
Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, 1748    60
William Blackstone, Commentaries on the
Laws of England,  1769    62
Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations,  1776    76
Recommendations for Further Reading    79

part  ii
Creating the Principles Governing Religious Liberty and
Church-State Relations in Colonial America

chapter  two
Fundamental Laws, Declarations of Rights, and Public Acts on Ecclesiastical Establishments and Religious Liberty
in Colonial America    83

Articles, Laws, and Orders, Virginia,
1610 – 11    84
The Mayflower  Compact, 1620    86
Providence Agreement,  1637    88
Fundamental Orders of Connecticut,
1638 – 39     88
The Laws and Liberties of Massachusetts,
1647    89
Selected Laws of Rhode  Island,  1647    103
An Act Concerning Religion, Maryland,
1649     103
Provisional Regulations for the Colonists
of New Netherland,  1624    107
Dutch West India Company Instructions,
1656    107
Flushing Remonstrance, 1657    107

Dutch West India Company Instructions,
1663    107
Massachusetts General Court, An Act Made at a General Court, Held at Boston, the
20th of October,  1658    110
Massachusetts General Court, A Declaration of the General Court of the Massachusetts Holden at Boston in
New-England, October 18, 1659. Concerning the Execution of Two
Quakers    110
An Act for the Suppressing the Quakers,
Virginia, 1659     113
Charter of Rhode Island and Providence
Plantations, 1663     114
William Penn, Frame of Government of
Pennsylvania, 1682     116
William Penn, Laws Agreed Upon in
England, &c., 1682     116
The Fundamental Constitutions of
Carolina,  1669    119         S
Recommendations for Further Reading    121        

chapter  three
Letters, Tracts, and Sermons on Religious

Roger Williams, Letter to the Town of
Providence,  1654    146
Nathaniel Ward, The Simple Cobbler of
Aggawam in America,  1646    155

Liberty and Duty in Colonial America    122

John Winthrop, A Modell of Christian
Charitie, 1630     123
John Winthrop, Little Speech on Liberty,
1645     123
John Cotton, A Discourse about Civil
Government, 1637 – 39     133
Roger Williams, Mr. Cottons Letter Lately
Printed,  Examined  and Answered, 1644    146
Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent, of
Persecution, for Cause of Conscience,
1644     146

The Cambridge Platform, 1648     165
Elisha Williams, The Essential Rights and
Liberties of Protestants, 1744     173
Charles Chauncy, Civil Magistrates Must
Be Just, Ruling  in the Fear of God,  1747    179
Samuel Davies, State of Religion among the
Protestant Dissenters in Virginia, 1751    195
Samuel Adams, The Rights of the
Colonists,  a List of Violations of Rights
and a Letter  of Correspondence, 1772    202
Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for
Religious Liberty, 1773    204
Recommendations for Further Reading    212

part  iii
Framing the Constitutional  Principles Governing Religious Liberty and
Church-State Relations in the American Founding

chapter  four
The Continental and Confederation
Congresses and Church-State Relations    215

John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams,
September  16, 1774    216
Congressional Resolution Calling for a
Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting,
and Prayer,  June 1775    217
Rules and Orders for the Continental
Army, June  1775    218
Congressional Chaplains, 1775 – 88     218
The Declaration of Independence,
July 4, 1776    220
Congressional Resolution Calling for a
Day of Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777    222
The Articles of Confederation and
Perpetual Union, November 1777    224

Congressional Resolution Recommending the Promotion of Morals, October
1778    225
Congressional Resolution Calling for a
Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer,
March  20, 1779    226
Congressional Resolution Calling for a
Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer,
October  1780    228
Texts Concerning the National Seal,
August 1776 and June 1782    229
Aitken’s  Bible, January 21, 1781, and
September 12, 1782    230
Congressional Resolution Calling for a
Day of Thanksgiving, October 18,
1783    233
An Ordinance for the Government of the          S
Territory of the United  States, NorthWest of the River Ohio [Northwest
Ordinance], July 1787    236
Recommendations for Further Reading    238

chapter  five
State Constitutions,  Laws, and Papers on
Church and State in Revolutionary
America    239

Virginia Declaration of Rights,  1776    241
Pennsylvania Constitutions, 1776 and  1790     241
South Carolina Constitution, 1778    243
Massachusetts Constitution, 1780     245
A Bill Concerning Religion, Virginia, 1779    247
A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, Virginia, 1779 and 1786    250
A Bill for Punishing Disturbers of
Religious Worship and Sabbath
Breakers, Virginia, 1786     251
A Bill for Appointing  Days of Public
Fasting and Thanksgiving, Virginia, 1779    252
A Bill Establishing  a Provision  for Teachers
of the Christian Religion, Virginia, 1784    252
Resolutions and Address by the Maryland
House of Delegates, January 8, 1785    253
B. F. Morris, State Constitutional Provisions and Proclamations Related to Religion    257
Recommendations for Further Reading    265

chapter  six
Petitions, Essays, and Sermons on Church
and State in Revolutionary America    266

Petition of the German Congregation of
Culpeper, Virginia, October 1776    267
Petition of Sundry Inhabitants of Prince
Edward County, Virginia, October 11,
1776    268

Memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover,
Virginia, October 24, 1776    269
Memorial from Clergy of the Established
Church, Virginia, November 8, 1776    270
Memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover,
Virginia, June 3, 1777    272
Worcestriensis, Number IV, September 4,
1776    273
Isaac Backus, A Declaration of the Rights, of the Inhabitants of the State of Massachusetts-Bay, in New-England,
1779    276
John Witherspoon,  Sermon Delivered at a
Public Thanksgiving after Peace, 1782    278
Thomas  Jefferson, Notes on the State of
Virginia, Query XVII and Query XVIII,
1782, 1787    290
Petition for Equality by the Philadelphia Synagogue to Council of Censors of Pennsylvania,  1783    294
George Washington, Circular to the States,
1783    296
Memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover,
Virginia, May 26, 1784    298
Memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover,
Virginia, November 12, 1784    301
Memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover,
Virginia,  November 2, 1785    304
Petition in Favor of Religious  Assessments from Westmoreland County, Virginia, November 2, 1784    307
Petition Against Religious Assessments from Westmoreland County, Virginia, November 2, 1784    307
James Madison,  A Memorial and
Remonstrance Against Religious
Assessments,  1785    309
Publius  [James Madison], The Federalist
Papers, Number  10, 1787    314
Publius  [James Madison], The Federalist
Papers, Number  51, 1788     314
Thomas Reese, An Essay on the Influence  of
Religion in Civil Society,  1788    316        

John Leland, The Rights of Conscience
Inalienable, 1791    335
Recommendations for Further Reading    345

chapter  seven
References to God and the Christian
Religion in the U.S. Constitution    346

Benjamin Franklin, Call for Prayer in the
Constitutional Convention, June 28,
1787    348
U.S. Constitution, 1788    349
Publius  [James Madison], The Federalist
Papers, Number  37, 1788    350
William Williams, Letter to the
Landholder, February 11, 1788     351
Essay by Elihu, February 18, 1788    352
Benjamin Rush, Letter to Elias
Boudinot(?),  July 9, 1788     353
Benjamin Rush, Letter to John Adams,
June  15, 1789     355
Address of the Presbytery of the Eastward to George Washington,  October 28,
1789     355
George Washington, Letter to the
Presbyterian Ministers of Massachusetts
and New Hampshire, November 2, 1789    357
Timothy Dwight, Jr., A Discourse, in Two
Parts,  1812    358
Timothy Dwight, Jr., President Dwight’s Decisions of Questions Discussed by the Senior Class in Yale College, in 1813 and
1814, 1833    359
Alexander M’Leod, A Scriptural View of the
Character,  Causes, and Ends of the
Present War, 1815    359
James R. Willson, Prince Messiah’s Claims to Dominion over All Governments: and the Disregard of His Authority by the

United  States, in the Federal
Constitution, 1832    360

James A. Bayard, Jr., A Brief Exposition of the Constitution of the United States,
1833    364
Recommendations for Further Reading    365

chapter  eight
The Religious Test Ban of the U.S.
Constitution    366

Benjamin Franklin, Letter to Richard Price, October  9, 1780    368
Noah Webster, On Test Laws, Oaths of Allegiance and Abjuration, and Partial Exclusions from Office, March
1787    368
Records of the Constitutional Convention
of 1787    370
U.S. Constitution, Article VI, Clause 3,
1788     373
Jonas Phillips, Letter to the President and
Members of the Constitutional
Convention,  September 7, 1787    374
James Madison,  Letter to Edmund
Pendleton, October 28, 1787    375
An American Citizen [Tench Coxe],
An Examination of the onstitution
for the United  States of America, 1788     375
A Landholder [Oliver Ellsworth], No. 7,
December 17, 1787    376
William Williams, Letter to the
Landholder, February 11, 1788    379
Publius  [James Madison], The Federalist
Papers, Number  52, 1788    380
Publius  [James Madison], The Federalist
Papers, Number  57, 1788     381
James Madison,  Letter to Edmund
Randolph, April 10, 1788    381
Luther Martin, The Genuine Information,
1788    382
Essay by Samuel, Boston,  January 10,          S
1788    382

A Friend to the Rights of the People, New
Hampshire,  February 8, 1788    383
Letter  by David,  March  7, 1788    383
Aristocrotis, The Government of Nature
Delineated; or An Exact Picture of the
New Federal Constitution, 1788     385
Debate in Connecticut Ratifying
Convention, January 9, 1788    388
Debate in Massachusetts Ratifying
Convention, January 19, 23, 30, and
February  4, 1788    388
Debate in Virginia Ratifying Convention,
June 6, 10, and  12, 1788    391
Debate in North Carolina Ratifying
Convention,  July 30, 1788    394
Proposed Amendment, South Carolina
Ratifying Convention, May 23, 1788    400
Joseph Story, Commentaries on the
Constitution of the United States,
1833    400
Recommendations for Further Reading    404

chapter  nine
The First Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution    405

George Mason,  Objections to This
Constitution of Government,
c. September  16, 1787    407
Richard Henry  Lee, Proposed Amendments, October 1, 1787    407
John Leland, Objections to the
Constitution, February  28, 1788    408
John Francis Mercer, A Farmer, No. 1,
February 15, 1788     409
John Francis Mercer, A Farmer, No. 7,
April 11, 1788     410
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to James Madison, December  20, 1787    412
James Madison,  Letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788     413
Selected Amendments Proposed by the
State Ratifying Conventions    415
James Madison,  Speech in the First
Congress Introducing Amendments to
the U.S. Constitution, June 8, 1789    418
Debates in the First Congress on the
Religion  Clauses, 1789    426
U.S. Constitution, Amendment I, 1791    433
Joseph Story, Commentaries on the
Constitution of the United States,
1833    433
Recommendations for Further Reading    438

part  iv
Defining and Testing the Constitutional  Principles Governing Religious
Liberty and Church-State Relations in the New Nation

chapter  ten
Religion and the Public Policy and Culture
of the New Nation    441

oaths  of  office, 1788 – 91    442
U.S. Constitution, 1788    442

An Act to Regulate the Time and Manner of Administering Certain Oaths, June 1,
1789    442
B. F. Morris, Christian Life and Character
of the Civil Institutions of the United States, 1864    443

U.S. Constitution, Fourth Amendment,
1791    445

religion and the  presidency    446
George Washington,  inaugural address,
April 30, 1789    446
John Adams,  inaugural  address, March  4,
1797    448
Thomas  Jefferson, inaugural address,
March  4, 1801    449
James Madison,  inaugural addresses,
March 4, 1809, and March 4, 1813    452
George Washington, presidential proclamations, October 3, 1789, and
January  1, 1795    453
John Adams, presidential proclamations,
March 23, 1798, and March  6, 1799    455
James Madison, presidential proclamations, July  9, 1812, July  23, 1813, November  16,
1814, and March 4, 1815    458
George Washington, Letter to the United
Baptist Churches of Virginia, May 10,
1789    461
George Washington, Letter to the Hebrew
Congregation in Newport, Rhode
Island, August 18, 1790     464
Alexander Hamilton, Draft of Washington’s
Farewell  Address, July 1796    465
George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796    468
George Washington, Letter to the
Philadelphia  Clergy, March  3, 1797    470
John Adams, Letter to the Officers of the
First Brigade of the Third Division of
the Militia of Massachusetts, October 11,
1798     471

congressional  chaplains  and actions
of  congress    471
Congressional  Chaplains,  1789    472
An Act to Provide for the Government of the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio [Northwest Ordinance],
August  7, 1789    473

An Act for the Punishment of Certain
Crimes against the United States,
April 30, 1790    473
Military Chaplains  and Regulations,  1791,
1806     473
An Act Regulating the Grants of Land Appropriated for Military Services, and for the Society of the United Brethren, for

Propagating the Gospel among the
Heathen,  June 1, 1796     475

treaties     475
Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United  States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary,
1797    475
Treaty with Kaskaskia Indians,  1803    476
Recommendations for Further Reading    477

chapter  eleven
Religion and Politics in the Election of
1800     478

pamphlets     480 [William Linn], Serious Considerations on
the Election of a President: Addressed to the Citizens of the United  States, New
York, 1800    480
Grotius [DeWitt Clinton], A Vindication of Thomas Jefferson; against the Charges Contained in a Pamphlet Entitled, 

“Serious Considerations,” &c.,
New York, 1800    493

private correspondence     513
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to Benjamin Rush, September  23, 1800    513
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to Dr. Joseph
Priestley, March 21, 1801     514
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to Moses Robinson, March 23, 1801    516        

Abigail Adams, Letter to Thomas Jefferson,
July  1, 1804     516
John Adams, Letter to Benjamin Rush,
June  12, 1812    518
Recommendations for Further Reading    519

chapter  twelve
Thomas Jefferson and the “Wall of
Separation”    520

roots  of  the  metaphor     522
Richard Hooker, Of the Laws of
Ecclesiastical Polity,  1590s    522
Roger Williams, Mr. Cottons Letter Lately
Printed, Examined and Answered,
   1644     523 [James Burgh], Crito, or Essays on Various
Subjects,  1767    524

jefferson and the  “wall of
separation”  metaphor     525
Danbury Baptist Association, Letter to
Thomas  Jefferson, October  7, 1801    526
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to Attorney
General Levi Lincoln, January  1,
1802     527
Levi Lincoln, Letter to Thomas Jefferson,
January  1, 1802     527
Gideon Granger, Letter to Thomas
Jefferson, December  1801    528
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to Messrs.
Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins,
and Stephen S. Nelson, January 1, 1802     528

understanding jefferson’s
metaphor     530
Thomas  Jefferson, Second Inaugural
Address, March  4, 1805    530
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to the Reverend
Samuel Miller, January  23, 1808     531

the  metaphor  and american law     532
Reynolds v. United States,  1879    532
Everson v. Board of Education, 1947     533
Wallace v. Jaffree,  1985    534
Recommendations for Further Reading    536

chapter  thirteen
Christianity, the Common Law, and the
American Order    537

essays and letters     539
Thomas  Jefferson, Whether Christianity Is
Part of the Common  Law? [1764?]    539
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to Dr. Thomas
Cooper,  February  10, 1814    543
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to Major John
  Cartwright, June 5, 1824    547 [Joseph Story], Christianity a Part of the
Common Law, 1833     551
Is Christianity a Part of the Common-Law
of England? 1836     552

judicial opinions     559
People v. Ruggles, 1811    559
Updegraph v. Commonwealth, 1824     561
State v. Chandler, 1837    570
Recommendations for Further Reading    587

chapter  fourteen
Reflections on the American
Church-State Experiment    588

James Madison,  Detached Memoranda,
c. 1817    589
James Madison,  Letter to Robert Walsh,
March  2, 1819    594
James Madison,  Letter to Jacob de la Motta,
August  1820    595        
Thomas  Jefferson, Letter  to Jacob de la
Motta, September 1, 1820    596
James Madison,  Letter to Edward
Livingston, July 10, 1822    596
Jasper Adams,  The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United
States,  1833    597
John Marshall, Letter to Jasper Adams,
May 9, 1833    611
Joseph Story,  Letter  to Jasper Adams,
May 14, 1833    611
James Madison,  Letter to Jasper Adams,
September  1833    612

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in
America, 1835    614
Recommendations for Further Reading    621

Historical Chronology, 1607 – 1833    625
Summary of Deliberations in the First
Federal Congress on the First
Amendment Religion Provisions, 1789    637
Selected Bibliography    641
Index    651

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