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Self-Evident TruthsContesting Equal Rights from the Revolution to the Civil War$
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Richard D. Brown

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300197112

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300197112.001.0001

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Contending for Religious Equality

Contending for Religious Equality

(p.28) Two Contending for Religious Equality
Self-Evident Truths

Richard D. Brown

Yale University Press

In the new United States every state included a bill of rights guaranteeing religious liberty. But the meaning of those guarantees varied. Though Rhode Island and Pennsylvania had no established religion from their beginnings, most colonies had possessed a Protestant establishment, and most states retained official preference for Protestantism. Catholicism was generally tolerated, but Catholics, like Jews, were denied equal citizenship rights in several states. But over the course of two generations Americans adopted Virginia’s model of equal religious liberty. Hard-fought contests led to disestablishment everywhere, and to virtually complete religious equality before the law.

Keywords:   religious liberty, toleration, Catholics, Jews, Baptists, Protestants, religious establishment, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts

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