• Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom 1 Thomas Jefferson Jefferson asked to be remembered on his tombstone as author of the Declaration of Independence, father of the University of Virginia, and author of this law. Long delayed because of the contentiousness of the subject and the powerful interests arrayed against it, the Virginia Statute was drafted in 1777, introduced as a bill in the 1779 legislative session, and adopted in 1786. Eventually the laws of all thirteen original states would prohibit an established church and guarantee religious liberty to all. January 16, 1786 I. Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to ...
  • Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments 1 James Madison (1751-1836) Madison circulated the Memorial and Remonstrance anonymously in 1785 as part of the effort to pass the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. It appeals to Christian citizens by emphasizing that Christianity's own teachings preclude politically coerced support for particular sects, and to all citizens based on reason. June 20, 1785 To the Honorable the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia: A Memorial and Remonstrance We the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth, having taken into serious consideration, a Bill printed by order of the last Session of General Assembly, entitled "A ...
  • On Property

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    On Property On Property 1 James Madison Madison, known as the "Father of the Constitution," was elected from Virginia to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1788, where he served four terms. This essay, which then-Congressman Madison wrote for a New York newspaper, connects the idea of property rights as commonly understood to man's natural rights, culminating in the right of conscience. March 29, 1792 This term in its particular application means "that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual." In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage ...
  • Virginia Declaration of Rights

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Virginia Declaration of Rights Virginia Declaration of Rights 1 George Mason (1725-1792) The Virginia Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason as a preamble to the Virginia Constitution, is—along with the Declaration of Independence that followed a month later—the clearest statement of the social contract theory of government found in major early American documents. June 12, 1776 A declaration of rights made by the Representatives of the good people of Virginia, assembled in full and free Convention; which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of Government. Section 1. That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state ...
  • Fast Day Proclamation of the Continental Congress

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Fast Day Proclamation of the Continental Congress Fast Day Proclamation of the Continental Congress 1 The petition of this Fast Day Proclamation was echoed repeatedly by Congresses in early American history. December 11, 1776 Whereas, the war in which the United States are engaged with Great Britain, has not only been prolonged, but is likely to be carried to the greatest extremity; and whereas, it becomes all public bodies, as well as private persons, to reverence the Providence of God, and look up to him as the supreme disposer of all events, and the arbiter of the fate of nations; therefore, Resolved, That it be recommended to all the United States, as soon as possible, to appoint a day of solemn fasting and humiliation; to implore of Almighty ...
  • The Northwest Ordinance

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    The Northwest Ordinance The Northwest Ordinance Adopted by the Congress of the Confederation in 1787, the Northwest Ordinance set forth a model for the expansion of the American republic. Providing a governing structure for the territory that would later become Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, it prohibited slavery, protected religious liberty, and encouraged education. Following the adoption of the Constitution, the new Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance again in 1789. July 13, 1787 An Ordinance for the government of the territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio Section 1. Be it ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, That the said territory, for the purpose of temporary government, be one ...
  • Letter to the Hebrew Congregation

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Letter to the Hebrew Congregation Letter to the Hebrew Congregation 1 George Washington (1732-1799) The Constitution of 1787 said little directly about religion, with the notable exception of a ban on religious tests as a requirement for federal office. When Washington was elected president, the Bill of Rights had not yet been adopted. Despite this, in his response to a congratulatory note sent to him by a group of Jewish Americans, President Washington characterized religious liberty not as a gift of government or a matter of toleration, but as a natural right possessed by every human being. August 18, 1790 Gentlemen: While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity ...
  • Farewell Address

     |  Religion, Morality, and Property

    Farewell Address Farewell Address 1 George Washington Washington had first prepared a farewell address to be delivered in 1792, upon the conclusion of his first term as president. Having been convinced to stand for a second term, he was unanimously re-elected. When he finally issued this address in 1796, it was his last public work. After nearly forty-five years of service, he retired to Mount Vernon. September 19, 1796 Friends, and Fellow Citizens: The period for a new election of a Citizen, to Administer the Executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper ...
Display by
Items 1-8 of 8