The Founding Fathers and the Debate over Religion in Revolutionary America

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

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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 more

Product details

  • Paperback | 206 pages
  • 139.7 x 205.74 x 15.24mm | 430.91g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195326504
  • 9780195326505
  • 1,495,958

Review quote

This brief treatment illustrates complexities with which the US and its leaders continue to struggle. * CHOICE * Harris and Kidd have crafted a work that is at once readable and informative. Indeed, even non-specialists who read their book will be able to comprehend the key questions about the place of religion in American life without feeling overwhelmed. * Renewing Minds * Matthew L. Harris and Thomas S. Kidd have assembled a fine collection of primary documents that will serve as a useful guide for scholars, teachers, and students interested in the Christian America debate. * John Fea, author of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction *show more

About Matthew Harris

Assistant Professor of History, Colorado State University-Puebloshow more

Table of contents

Introduction: The Founding Fathers and Religion ; Chapter 1: Religion and the Continental Congress ; Chapter 2: Religion and State ; Chapter 3: Constitution and Ratification ; Chapter 4: Religion and the Federal Government ; Chapter 5: Disestablishment and the Separation of Church and State ; Chapter 6: The Founding Fathers' Own Views on Religion ; Select Bibliographyshow more

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18 ratings
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