Author: John Ragosta
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Release Date: 2013-04-22
For over one hundred years, Thomas Jefferson and his Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom have stood at the center of our understanding of religious liberty and the First Amendment. Jefferson’s expansive vision—including his insistence that political freedom and free thought would be at risk if we did not keep government out of the church and church out of government—enjoyed a near consensus of support at the Supreme Court and among historians, until Justice William Rehnquist called reliance on Jefferson "demonstrably incorrect." Since then, Rehnquist’s call has been taken up by a bevy of jurists and academics anxious to encourage renewed government involvement with religion. In Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed, the historian and lawyer John Ragosta offers a vigorous defense of Jefferson’s advocacy for a strict separation of church and state. Beginning with a close look at Jefferson’s own religious evolution, Ragosta shows that deep religious beliefs were at the heart of Jefferson’s views on religious freedom. Basing his analysis on that Jeffersonian vision, Ragosta redefines our understanding of how and why the First Amendment was adopted. He shows how the amendment’s focus on maintaining the authority of states to regulate religious freedom demonstrates that a very strict restriction on federal action was intended. Ultimately revealing that the great sage demanded a firm separation of church and state but never sought a wholly secular public square, Ragosta provides a new perspective on Jefferson, the First Amendment, and religious liberty within the United States.
Author: Kevin R. C. Gutzman
Release Date: 2017-01-31
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
"In this lively and clearly written book, Kevin Gutzman makes a compelling case for the broad range and radical ambitions of Thomas Jefferson's commitment to human equality." - Alan Taylor, Pulitzer Prize winning author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 Though remembered chiefly as author of the Declaration of Independence and the president under whom the Louisiana Purchase was effected, Thomas Jefferson was a true revolutionary in the way he thought about the size and reach of government, which Americans who were full citizens and the role of education in the new country. In his new book, Kevin Gutzman gives readers a new view of Jefferson—a revolutionary who effected radical change in a growing country. Jefferson’s philosophy about the size and power of the federal system almost completely undergirded the Jeffersonian Republican Party. His forceful advocacy of religious freedom was not far behind, as were attempts to incorporate Native Americans into American society. His establishment of the University of Virginia might be one of the most important markers of the man’s abilities and character. He was not without flaws. While he argued for the assimilation of Native Americans into society, he did not assume the same for Africans being held in slavery while—at the same time—insisting that slavery should cease to exist. Many still accuse Jefferson of hypocrisy on the ground that he both held that “all men are created equal” and held men as slaves. Jefferson’s true character, though, is more complex than that as Kevin Gutzman shows in his new book about Jefferson, a revolutionary whose accomplishments went far beyond the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
Author: Thomas E. Buckley
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Release Date: 2014-01-13
The significance of the Virginia Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom goes far beyond the borders of the Old Dominion. Its influence ultimately extended to the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the separation of church and state. In his latest book, Thomas Buckley tells the story of the statute, beginning with its background in the struggles of the colonial dissenters against an oppressive Church of England. When the Revolution forced the issue of religious liberty, Thomas Jefferson drafted his statute and James Madison guided its passage through the state legislature. Displacing an established church by instituting religious freedom, the Virginia statute provided the most substantial guarantees of religious liberty of any state in the new nation. The statute's implementation, however, proved to be problematic. Faced with a mandate for strict separation of church and state--and in an atmosphere of sweeping evangelical Christianity--Virginians clashed over numerous issues, including the legal ownership of church property, the incorporation of churches and religious groups, Sabbath observance, protection for religious groups, Bible reading in school, and divorce laws. Such debates pitted churches against one another and engaged Virginia’s legal system for a century and a half. Fascinating history in itself, the effort to implement Jefferson’s statute has even broader significance in its anticipation of the conflict that would occupy the whole country after the Supreme Court nationalized the religion clause of the First Amendment in the 1940s.
Author: Paul Rasor
Publisher: University of Virginia Press
Release Date: 2011-03-15
From Jamestown to Jefferson sheds new light on the contexts surrounding Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom—and on the emergence of the American understanding of religious freedom—by examining its deep roots in colonial Virginia’s remarkable religious diversity. Challenging traditional assumptions about life in early Virginia, the essays in this volume show that the colony was more religious, more diverse, and more tolerant than commonly supposed. The presence of groups as disparate as Quakers, African and African American slaves, and Presbyterians, alongside the established Anglicans, generated a dynamic tension between religious diversity and attempts at hegemonic authority that was apparent from Virginia’s earliest days. The contributors, all renowned scholars of Virginia history, treat in detail the complex interactions among Virginia’s varied religious groups, both in and out of power, as well as the seismic changes unleashed by the Statute’s adoption in 1786. From Jamestown to Jefferson suggests that the daily religious practices and struggles that took place in the town halls, backwoods settlements, plantation houses, and slave quarters that dotted the colonial Virginia landscape helped create a social and political space within which a new understanding of religious freedom, represented by Jefferson’s Statute, could emerge. Contributors:Edward L. Bond, Alabama A&M University * Richard E. Bond, Virginia Wesleyan College * Thomas E. Buckley, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University/Graduate Theological Union * Daniel L. Dreisbach, American University, School of Public Affairs * Philip D. Morgan, Johns Hopkins University * Monica Najar, Lehigh University * Paul Rasor, Virginia Wesleyan College * Brent Tarter, Library of Virginia
Author: Daniel Klinghard
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Release Date: 2017-03-31
This biography of Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, his only published book, challenges conventional wisdom by demonstrating its core political thought as well as the political aspirations behind its composition, publication and initial dissemination. Building upon a close reading of the book's contents, Jefferson's correspondence and the first comprehensive examination of both its composition and publication history, the authors argue that Jefferson intended his Notes to be read by a wide audience, especially in America, in order to help shape constitutional debates in the critical period of the 1780s. Jefferson, through his determined publication and distribution of his Notes even while serving as American ambassador in Paris, thus brought his own constitutional and political thought into the public sphere - and at times into conflict with the writings of John Adams and James Madison, stimulating a debate over the proper form of Republican constitutionalism that still reverberates in American political thought.
Author: John A. Ragosta
Release Date: 2016-08-19
Often referred to as "the voice of the Revolution," Patrick Henry played a vital role in helping to launch the revolt of the American colonies against British rule. An early and compelling Revolutionary orator, Henry played an active part in the debates over the founding of the United States. As a leading anti-federalist, he argued against the ratification of the Constitution, and at the state level, he opposed Thomas Jefferson's Statute of Religious Freedom in Virginia. In both his political triumphs and defeats, Henry was influential in establishing the nature of public discourse for a generation of new Americans. In this concise biography, John A. Ragosta explores Henry's life and his contributions to shaping the character of the new nation, placing his ideas in the context of his times. Supported by primary documents and a supplementary companion website, Patrick Henry: Proclaiming a Revolutiongives students of the American Revolution and early Republic an insightful and balanced understanding of this often misunderstood American founder.
Author: Joseph J. Ellis
Release Date: 1998-11-19
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
Following Thomas Jefferson from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to his retirement in Monticello, Joseph J. Ellis unravels the contradictions of the Jeffersonian character. He gives us the slaveholding libertarian who was capable of decrying mescegenation while maintaing an intimate relationship with his slave, Sally Hemmings; the enemy of government power who exercisdd it audaciously as president; the visionarty who remained curiously blind to the inconsistencies in his nature. American Sphinx is a marvel of scholarship, a delight to read, and an essential gloss on the Jeffersonian legacy.
Writers often depict Thomas Jefferson as a narrow-minded defender of states' rights and Virginia's interests, despite his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and vigorous defense of the young republic's sovereignty. Some historians claim he was particularly hostile to the New England states, whose Federalist electorate he regarded as enemies of his Democratic-Republican Party. This study of Jefferson's lifelong relationship with New England reveals him to be a consistent nationalist and friend of the region, from his first visit to Boston in 1784 to his recruiting of Massachusetts scholars to teach at University of Virginia. His nationalist point of view is most evident where some historians claim to see it least: in his opinions of the people and politics of New England. He admired New Englanders' Revolutionary patriotism, especially that of his friend John Adams, and considered their direct democracy and town-meeting traditions a model for the rest of the Union.
Author: Mark Beliles
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Release Date: 2014-10-21
Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers intended a strict separation of church and state, right? He would have been very upset to find out about a child praying in a public school or a government building used for religious purposes, correct? Actually, the history on this has been very distorted. While Jefferson may seem to be the Patron Saint of the ACLU, his words and actions showed that he would totally disagree with the idea of driving God out of the public square. Doubting Thomas documents that. . . * Jefferson said that our rights come from God. God-given rights are non-negotiables. * At the time that he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom---major contributions to human and religious rights—Jefferson served diligently as a vestryman (like an elder and a deacon rolled into one) for the Episcopal Church. * In 1777, he wrote up the charter for the Calvinistical Reformed Church in his town with an evangelical preacher, the Rev. Charles Clay--with whom he had a lifelong friendship. Jefferson was the biggest single contributor to this fledgling congregation. * Jefferson had nothing but the highest praise for Jesus’ teaching, which he studied religiously (even in the original Greek), in order to pattern his life after that which he called “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.” * As president, he attended church on a regular basis at the US Capitol building, even sometimes recommending preachers to fill that pulpit. * He had many positive relationships with orthodox clergymen and active lay Christians. * He actively supported Christian causes, financially, in ways that would put the average Christian to shame. * He set out to create a non-denominational college that accommodated Christian groups of different stripes. And on it goes. Historical revisionism has distorted the religious views of Thomas Jefferson, making him far more skeptical than he was. But there is no doubt that by the end of his life, he seemed to privately embrace Unitarian views of the Christian faith, while outwardly supporting and attending his local Trinitarian church. Thus, a legacy of Jefferson’s has been taken out of context and used to squelch religious freedom in America. Ironically, religious freedom was one of Jefferson’s core beliefs and contributions. But this is being turned on its head. Chiseled in stone at the Jefferson Memorial are his famous words: “The God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” Regardless of Jefferson’s private religious views, he stood solidly against the state making theological decisions for its people. Therefore, he would stand solidly against the anti-Christian crusade being carried out in his name today. It’s time to set the record straight.
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Publisher: Wyatt North Publishing, LLC
Release Date: 2014-01-05
Genre: Body, Mind & Spirit
The Jefferson Bible, or The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth as it is formally titled, was a book constructed by Thomas Jefferson in the latter years of his life by cutting and pasting numerous sections from various Bibles as extractions of the doctrine of Jesus. Jefferson's composition excluded sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects as well as perceived misinterpretations he believed had been added by the Four Evangelists. In 1895, the Smithsonian Institution under the leadership of librarian Cyrus Adler purchased the original Jefferson Bible from Jefferson's great-granddaughter Carolina Randolph for $400. A conservation effort commencing in 2009, in partnership with the museum's Political History department, allowed for a public unveiling in an exhibit open from November 11, 2011, through May 28, 2012, at the National Museum of American History.
Author: Samuel P. Huntington
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2004-01
Genre: Political Science
Analyzes the gradual erosion of American identity over the recent decades because of bilingualism, multiculturalism, and other factors and explores signs of a revival of American identity in the wake of September 11th.
Author: Stephen Prothero
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: 2004-09-18
The Story of the Transformation of Jesus from Divinity to Celebrity The United States (it is often pointed out) is one of the most religious countries on earth, and most Americans belong to one Christian church or another. But as Stephen Prothero argues in American Jesus, many of the most interesting appraisals of Jesus have emerged outside the churches: in music, film, and popular culture; and among Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and people of no religion at all. Popular revisions of Jesus are nothing new: Thomas Jefferson famously took scissors to the New Testament to produce a Jesus he could call his own. In Prothero's incisive chronicle, the emergence of a cult of Jesus--as folk hero and commercial icon--is America's most distinctive contribution to Western religion. Prothero describes how Jesus was enlisted by abolitionists and Klansmen, by Teddy Roosevelt and Marcus Garvey. He explains how, in our own time, the proliferation of Jesus' image on Broadway stages and bumper stickers, on the cover of Time and on the Internet, in a Holy Land theme park and on a hot-air balloon, expresses the strange mix of the secular and the sacred in contemporary America. American Jesus is a lively and often witty work of history. As an account of the ways Americans have cast the carpenter from Nazareth in their own image, it is also an examination, through the looking glass, of the American character.
Author: Christian von Dehsen
Release Date: 2013-09-13
Genre: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Philosophers and Religious Leaders provides a synopsis of the lives and legacies of 200 men and women from the areas of religion and philosophy who have "changed the world." These individuals have developed, extended, or exemplified ideas fundamental to the way human beings perceive the meaning and purpose of their own lives and of their societies. Some have challenged prevailing convictions and worked for immediate change during their lifetimes; others have proposed new modes of thinking that have flourished only after their passing.
An authoritative history of the vital role of secularist thinkers and activists in the United States, from a writer of "fierce intelligence and nimble, unfettered imagination" (The New York Times) At a time when the separation of church and state is under attack as never before, Freethinkers offers a powerful defense of the secularist heritage that gave Americans the first government in the world founded not on the authority of religion but on the bedrock of human reason. In impassioned, elegant prose, celebrated author Susan Jacoby paints a striking portrait of more than two hundred years of secularist activism, beginning with the fierce debate over the omission of God from the Constitution. Moving from nineteenth-century abolitionism and suffragism through the twentieth century's civil liberties, civil rights, and feminist movements, Freethinkers illuminates the neglected accomplishments of secularists who, allied with liberal and tolerant religious believers, have stood at the forefront of the battle for reforms opposed by reactionary forces in the past and today. Rich with such iconic figures as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Clarence Darrow—as well as once-famous secularists such as Robert Green Ingersoll, "the Great Agnostic"—Freethinkers restores to history generations of dedicated humanists. It is they, Jacoby shows, who have led the struggle to uphold the combination of secular government and religious liberty that is the glory of the American system.