Topic: Religion

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Benjamin Rush to Jefferson

This letter was written by Benjamin Rush, a Philadelphia physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Unlike his friend Thomas Jefferson, Rush thought that Church and State...
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Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom

Jefferson’s Bill for Religious Freedom became law in 1786. But because a law could be amended or repealed, he worried about the future of religious liberty in Virginia....
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Christ Church

This print depicts Christ Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. George Washington and John Adams worshipped here during their presidencies, when Philadelphia was the national capital. In 1800, the city...
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Cipher of Lord’s Prayer

As secretary of state and later as president, Jefferson experimented with cryptography, or secret writing. To keep his political enemies from reading his letters and other documents, Jefferson...
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Common Sense

Published in January 1776, Thomas Paine’s COMMON SENSE made the case for an immediate separation of the colonies from Great Britain. It attacked hereditary privilege, exposed the failures...
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Descent from the Cross

Jefferson bought this painting, Descent from the Cross, when he was a diplomat in France in the 1780s. He brought 86 crates full of furniture, clothing, books, and...
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English Woodcut

This woodcut shows bees and their hive (or apiary). Perhaps Thomas Jefferson had such an image in mind when he explained that his ideal religious denomination would be...
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George Washington to George Mason

In this letter written in 1785, at the height of the debate over tax-supported religion in Virginia, George Washington revealed his support for the proposed tax to his...
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George Washington to the United Baptist Churches

In 1789, President Washington wrote this letter to reassure worried Baptists that the U.S. government would not violate their hard-won right to religious liberty. In 1791, the adoption...
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George Whitefield

This painting shows George Whitefield, one of the central figures in the religious movement known as the Great Awakening. The Methodist Whitefield attracted huge crowds—and made many converts—on...