This is an account of the ideas about and public policies relating to the relationship between government and religion from the settlement of Virginia in 1607 to the presidency of Andrew Jackson, 1829-37. This book describes the impact and the relationship of various events, legislative, and judicial actions, including the English Toleration Act of 1689, the First and Second Great Awakenings, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists. Four principles were paramount in the American approach to government's relation to religion: the importance of religion to public welfare; the resulting desirability of government support of religion (within the limitations of political culture); liberty of conscience and voluntaryism; the requirement that religion be supported by free will offerings, t taxation. Hutson analyzes and describes the development and interplay of these principles, and considers the relevance of the concept of the separation of church and state during this period.
James H. Hutson has been Chief of the Manuscripts Division at the Library of Congress since 1982. He has previously held positions as Coordinator of the American Revolution Bicentennial Programs at the Library of Congress, and as lecturer at the College of William and Mary and Yale University. Among his many publications, Dr. Hutson has written Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (6th printing, 2002); Forgotten Features of the Founding: The Recovery of Religious Themes in Early American History (2003); and The Founders on Religion (2005).