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Title: Religion and politics in revolutionary America : Massachusetts and Virginia as case studies
Author: Phimister, Kirsten Elizabeth
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2008
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In the aftermath of declaring independence, Americans were forced not only to create a new political order, but also to consider the role of religion in that new order. In the years leading up to the drafting of the federal constitution, Massachusetts and Virginia established very different church-state models. While Massachusetts attempted to reconcile its religious culture with revolutionary principles by maintaining the Congregational establishment at the same time as providing a certain level of religious liberty, Virginia was unable to maintain a similar settlement under the sustained attack of dissenters and rationalists, and formally separated church and state in 1786. The presentation of a new, stronger federal government presented new challenges and opportunities for those with an interest in church state affairs. A consolidated, rather than a confederated, national government threatened to undermine government at state level and the provisions contained in the respective state constitutions. Debates over religious provision, religious tests and religious liberty in the federal ratification contest illuminated broader concerns about the relationship between state and federal government in the new nation, and contemporary perceptions of the specific role each level of government should be required to fulfil. These questions were briefly revisited once again when the states were asked to approve a new Bill of Rights that protected the religious settlements of the American states and the religious liberty of the American people at federal level. This thesis explores the intersection of religion and politics: the complexities of the church-state debate, the vitality of religious expression in political discourse and the development of religious themes in American political thought, from the drafting of the first state constitutions to the ratification of the Bill of Rights with particular attention to the contrasting experience of Massachusetts and Virginia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available