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J6T4 f^" 


Struggle for Religious Liberty 

in Virginia. 



Premldexit of Roaxiolce Kexnale Coll^se, 

Ltvchburo, Va.: 





Oopyrightf 1899^ 


Chables F. James. 





" Seize upon truth, wherever found, 
On Christian or on heathen ground, 
Among your friends, among your foes ; 
The plant's divine, where'er it grows." 




Intolerance and Toi^eration. 

Legai. Persecutions. 


Colonial Convention op 1775. 

Convention of 1776. 

Beginning of Struggle in General Assembly, 1776 — Partial 


StrugglbJin Legislature Continued. 

Fall of the Establishment, 1779. 

Baptist and Presbyterian Meetings During Struggle Just 

Closed, 1776-1779. 

Desultory Engagement, a Lull Before the Final Struggle, 



Struggle Renewed — General Incorporation and General 

Assessment Bilus — 1784. 


Decisive Victoby fob Religious Libebty, 1785. 

Following up Victoby. 

Stbugglb Oveb the Constitution. 

FmsT Amendment to Constitution. 






A. Religious Libebty and the Baptists — By C. F. James. 

B. Baptist Beginnings in Vibginia — By Geo. W. Beale. 

C. Baptist Memobials in Full : 

1. Address to Convention of 1775. 

2. Memorial on Marriage and Vestry Laws. 

D. Pbesbytebian Memobials in Full : 

1. Memorial of 1776. 

2. Memorial of 1777. 

3. Memorial of May, 1784. 

4. Memorial of October, 1784. 

5. Memorial of August, 1785. 

E. Review of Pbesbytebian Memobials, in Reply to Mb. 


F. Review op Pbesbytebian Memobial op 1774, wluch is given 

in full in Chapter II. 

G. Madison's Remonstbance. 

H. Jeffebson's "Act fob Establishing Religious Fbbedom 
in Vibginia." 


In the year 1886, while pastor of the Culpeper Baptist 
church, I was drawn into a lengthy controversy with the 
Hon. William Wirt Henry, which forced me to search for 
and examine for myself all available original sourcea of 
information concerning the struggle for religious liberty in 
Virginia. There had been manifested at various times and 
on various occasions a disposition to rewrite the history of 
that struggle, and to rob our Baptist fathers of the peculiar 
honor which has ever been claimed for them — that of being 
the foremost, most zealous, and most consistent and un- 
wavering champions of soul liberty. And not a few of 
our own young brethren were beginning to question the 
soundness of that claim, and to count as " Baptist brag " 
much that was spoken on the platform and published in 
our newspapers during the ' ' Memorial Campaigu ' ' of 
1873. Hence, to satisfy my own mind, I determined to 
go back of Howell's "Early Baptists of Virginia," to 
the sources from which he and others had drawn their in- 
formation — to the Journal of the Virginia House of Bur- 
gesses, or General Assembly, and to the writings of those 
who participated in the struggle. Being convenient to the 
Congressional Library, in Waahiugton, and our State Li- 
brary, in Richmond, I seized every opportunity, during 
the remainder of my stay in Culpeper, to gather from all 
sources the evidence in this case. I copied everything of 
value which I could find, making note of book and page, 
and arranged the material for future use. For the past 
ten years I have been hoping to publish it in pamphlet or 


book form, but my circumstaQces have been Buch sa to 
prevent the accomplishmeat of my original purpose. In 
a recent corregpondence with the editors of the Religious 
Serald, it was suggested that this evidence be first laid 
before the readers of that paper, and afterwards be pub- 
lished in more permanent form. 

The plan of this work ia to tkke the "Journal of the 
Virginia Assembly " bs the thread of the story, and work 
into it, in chronological order, the memorials and doings 
of the various religious bodiea in the State, together with 
Huch letters and other writings of men hke Madison and 
Jefferson as throw light upon the subject in hand, I shall 
quote freely from the standard histories of those times, and 
especially from the historians of the several religious de- 
nominations, making only such explanatory notes myself 
aa may be deemed necessary for the enlightenment of the 
general reader and the proper understanding of the situa- 
tion during the several stages of the conflict. It is, there- 
fore, not a history in the usual sense of that word, but 
rather a eompilation — a grouping together of evidence and 
authorities, so that the reader may see and judge for him- 
self. Hence the name, "i>ocunten(ari/ History," etc. It 
win furnish the careful and painstaking student of history 
a reliable text-book for the study of one of the most im- 
portant of the great battles that have been fought for 
human rights and have marked the progress of tiie human 

DaimUte, Va., Decembers 

C. F. J. 


Before entering upon the examination of the records, it 
will be well to state the meaning of religious freedom, or 
aoul liberty, and give a brief account of the religious sects, 
or denominations, that participated in the struggle. 

By religious fi-eedom, or aoul liberty, is meant the 
natural and inalienable right of every soul to worship God 
according to the dictates of his own conscience, and to be 
unmolested in the exercise of that right, so long, at least, 
as he does not inlringe upon the rights of others; that 
religion is, and must be, a voluntary service; that only 
such service is acceptable to God; and, hence, that no 
earthly power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, has any right 
to compel conformity to any creed or to any species of 
worship, or to tax a man for its support. 

This principle gives to " Csesar " " the things that are 
Csesar'a," but it denies to Ciesar "the things, that are 
God'a." It does not makeit a matterof indifference what 
a man believes or how he acts, but it places all on the 
eame footing before God, the only lord of the conscience, 
and makes us responsible to him alone for our faith and 
practice. This doctrine Is now very generally accepted, 
not only in Virginia, but also throughout the United States. 
It has been incorporated into our National and State Con- 
stitutions, and it is the basis of our civil liberties. And 
yet at tbe date of the American Revolution it was not so. 
No government in the Old World had recognized this doc- 
trine, and, unless Rhode Island be an exception, it did not 
find full and unequivocal recognition in any of the colonies 



of the New World. Virginia waa the firat to recognize it 
in her organic law, and this she did in Article XVI. of her 
Bill of Rights, which was adopted on the 12th day of 
June, 1776. From that time down to January 19, 1786, 
when Jefferson's " Bill for Establishing Religious Free- 
dom" became the law of tte State, the battle for soul 
liberty was on. 

Of the several religious sects in the Commonwealth at 
that time, the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Baptists 
were the only ones that were prominent in the struggle. 
The Lutherans and Quakers were not numerous, and 
seldom acted independently. The Methodists were more 
numerous, perhaps, hut they were a part of the Episcopal 
communion, and acted with that church until 1784, when 
the Methodist Episcopal Church of America was organized 
in the city of Baltimore, 


The history of the Episcopal church in Virginia dates 
from the founding of the colony, at Jamestown, in 1607. 
It was known as the Church of England down to the 
Revolution, when the colony declared independence of 
Great Britain. It was known, also, as the " Established 
Church," because it was made, by legal enactment, the 
church of the State and was supported by taxation. Not 
only so, but it was designed to be the established church, 
to the exclusion of all others. Rigid laws, with severe 
penalties affixed, were passed, having for their object the 
exclusion of all Disseutera from the colony, and the com- 
pelling of conformity to the established, or State religion. 
Even after the Revolution of 1688, which placed William 
and Mary upon the throne of England and secured the 
passage of the "Act of Toleration" the following year. 


the "General Court of the Colony " of Virginia construed 
that act to Buit themselves, and withheld its benefits from 
Dissenters, as we shall hereafter see, until they were com- 
pelled to yield to force of circumstances. 


The first Presbyterian church in America was organized 

in Philadelphia in 1701, the first Presbytery in 1705, and 

the first Synod in 1717. Dr. Justin A. Smith, in his 

" Modern Church History " (page 210), says: "Quite a 

number of Scotch Presbyterians settled upon Elizabeth 

river, in Virginia, during the ten years from 1670 to 1680." 

But there seems to have been no organization there, and 

they receive no mention in the "Sketchesof Virginia," by 

I their historian. Dr. William Henry Foote. Foote tells of 

■ the work of one Francis Maketnie, in Accomac county, 

I who began preaching there in 1699 ; but bis work does not 

I eeeia to have been productive of permanent results, ' ' For 

I about thirty years after the death of Makemie," says Dr. 

I Poote, "the number and influence of Presbyterians in 

f Virginia were small. Not one flourishing congregation 

I could be found, nor one active minister lived in her bor- 

\ ders." Sketches of Virginia, page 84. 

It was Pennsylvania, the land of AVilliam Penn, son of 
ji Fngiish Baptist, that offered the greatest attractions in 
L this New World to the Presbyterian emigrants from 
Ireland. Thousands settled there, in the unoccupied 
regions east of the Blue Ridge, whence the tide of emigra- 
tion flowed southward into Maryland, Virginia and North 
na, Iq the year 1738, an agreement was entered 
bto between the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia and 
nor William Goooh, of Virginia, according to which 
Presbyterian emigrants were allowed to occupy the frontier 



portions of the colony and enjoy the benefits of the Act of 
Toleration. The terms of this agreement will be given 
ID Chapter I. It ia sufficient to eay here that the re- 
sult of this movemcDt was the establishment of Presby- 
terian settlements, of Scotch-Irish origin, not only in the 
Valley of Virginia and along the eastern base of the Blue 
Ridge, but also in the counties of Prince Edward, Char- 
lotte, and Campbell. But perhaps the most influential 
body of Presbyterians in Virginia took their rise in 
Hanover county, about the year 1743. William Robin- 
son, an English Presbyterian, began the work ; but the 
real founder of "Tidewater Presbyterianism " was the 
great Samuel Davies, whom Robinson helped to educate 
for the ministry. It was from this county that " the first 
Presbytery south of the 'Potomac " took its name, and it 
is this "Hanover Presbytery" that will be heard from 
hereafter as the official representative of the Presbyterianfl 
of Virginia. 


' ' The Baptists of Virginia, ' ' according to Semple, 
" originated from three sources." The j?rai were emigrants 
from England, who settled in the southeast parts of the 
State about the year 1714. Dr. Foote (page 314) says: 
"There was a Baptist church gathered in Isle of Wight 
county, by a minister from England, as early as the year 
1714.' ' The second party came from Maryland about 1743, 
and settled in the northwest. This was the b^inning of 
the Ketocton Association, whose "History" was written 
by William Fristoe and published in 1808, two years before 
the publication of Robert B. Semple's "History of the 
Baptists of Virginia. ' ' The Ketocton Association waa 
composed of " Regular Baptists," as they were then called, 


and it extended from King George county, in the North- 
em Neck, to Redstone Settlement, back of the Alleghany 
Mountam, and from Orange county, south of the Rapidan, 
to Fredericktown, in Maryland — in length about 300 
miles, and in width about 100. A third party, styled 
"Separate Baptista," came from New England, about the 
year 1754, under the lead of Shubal Stearns. They were 
originally Presbyterians, who were converted under the 
preaching of George Whitfield, and who ' ' separated tliem- 
selves from the established churches" in New England, 
and set up for themselves as "Separates," on the plan of 
rthe "Independents," which put all power in the hands of 
the local church. They took their rise about the year 
■3744. In 1751, Shubal Stearns, their leading preacher, 
i the acquaintance of some Baptists, and was con- 
. of the doty of believers' baptism. He became a 
taptist, and in 1754 he and a few of his members took their 
r leave of New England and started southward, in obedience 
j to a divine call. See Semple, pages 1 and 2. "They 
L halted first at Opeckon, in Berkeley county, Virginia, 
■ irhere they found a Baptist church, under the care of Rev. 
[John Garrard." Moving on southward, they came to 
indy Creek, Guilford county, North Carolina, where 
^Steams took up his permanent residence, and began a work 
Kwhicb spread rapidly over "Virginia, North and South 
WCkrolina, and Georgia. It was these "Separate Baptists," 
fwho, as Fristoe says, were "first Separate Presbyterians," 
I that were most active in evangelizing Virginia and most 
I severely persecuted, and who had the largest share of the 
I Tvork of pulling down the " Establishment" and securing 
I religious liberty for all. In 1760, they formed the first 
"General Association" in Virginia, representing the 
"Separate Baptists," while the "Ketocton" represented 


the "RcEulara." This "General Association" continued 
until 1783, when it was divided into four district asaocia- 
tions, two on each side of Jamea river. But at the same 
meeting at which this division took place a ' ' General Com- 
mittee" was appointed, tJ3 be "composed of not more than 
four delegates from each district aaaociation, to meet an- 
nually and to consider matters that may be for the good of 
the whole society." This "General Committee" contin- 
ued its work until 1799, when, its mission having been 
fulfilled, it gave place to the " General Meeting of Corre- 
spondence," the object of which was "to promote and 
preserve union and harmony among the churches." Sem- 
ple, pages 68 and 86. 

Of the Baptists, at )east, it may be truly said that they 
entered the conflict in the New World with a clear and 
oonaiBtent record on the subject of soul liberty. "Free- 
dom of conaciencfi ' ' had ever been one of their fundamen- 
tal tenets. John Locke, in his "Essay on Toleration," 
says : "The Baptists were the first and only propoundera 
of absolute liberty, just and true liberty, equal and im- 
partial liberty," And the great American historian, Ban- 
croft, says: "Freedom of conscience, unlimited freedom 
of mind, was from the first a trophy of the Baptists." 
Vol. II., pages 66, 67. 

The history of the other denominations shows that, in 
the Old World, at least, they were not in sympathy with 
the Baptist doctrine of soul liberty, but in favor of union 
of Church and State, and using the civil power to compel 
conformity to the established church. While the Revolu- 
tion of 1688 marked an epoch in English history, and led 
to the passage of the Toleration Act in 1689. it did not 
secure religiout liberty to His Majesty's subjects. As Dr. 
Foote (page 5) says : "The Protestant religion waaestab- 


lished as the religion of the State — ^in England, under the 
form of prelacy; in Scotland^ oi presbytery.^ * (Italics 

The Reformation which began with Martin Luther cor- 
rected many errors of faith and practice among those who 
came out of the corrupt and apostate church, but not all. 
It was left to the sect once ''everywhere spoken against " 
to teach their Protestant brethren the lesson of soul liberty, 
and this they did in the school of adversity in this New 


Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia. 

V REV. C. F. JAMES, D. D. 



Intolerance and Toleration. 

'•Toleration in the forme of religion was unknown in 
Virginia in 1688. From tlie commen cement of the colony, 
the nece^ity of the religious element was felt. The com- 
pany knew not bow to control the members composing the 
colony but by religion and law. They exercised a despot- 
II ism in both," Foote's "Sketches of Virginia," page 25. 
k In Hening's "Statutes at Large" (Vols. I. and IL) 
Knay be found the various laws which were pasecd by the 
'colonial government against diseenters or non-conformisU 
of every name. It will be suEGcient to give a deecriptian 
of these laws, Semple (page 28) says: " By the first act 
of 1623, it is provided that in every plantation, or setlle- 
ment, there shall be a. house or room set apart for the wor- 
ship of God. But it soon appears that this worship was 
only to be aocordbg to the canons of the Church of Eng- 
lantl, to which a itrict uniformity was enjoined. A person 
abeenting himself firom divine service on a Sunday without 


a reasonable excuse forfeited a pound of tobacco, and he 
that absented himself a month forfeited fifty pounds. . . 
Whoever disparaged a minister, whereby the minds of his 
parishioners might be alienated, was compelled to pay 500 
pounds of tobacco, and ask the minister's pardon publicly 
in the congregation. No man was permitted to dispose of 
any of his tobacco till the minister was satisfied, under the 
penalty of forfeiting double his part of the minister's salary. 
. . To preserve the * purity of doctrine and unity of 
the church,' it was enacted, in 1643, that all ministers 
should be conformable to the orders and constitutions of 
the Church of England, and that no others be permitted 
to teach or preach, publicly or privately. It was further 
provided that the Governor and Council should take care 
that all non-conformists departed the colony with all con- 

Winsor's ** Narrative and Critical History of America " 
(Vol. III., page 148,) has the following notice of that act 
of 1643. After stating that Sir William Berkeley became 
Governor in 1642, he says: ** During the year, three Con- 
gregational ministers came from Boston to Virginia to dis- 
seminate their doctrines. Their stay, however, was but 
short; for, by an enactment of the Assembly, all ministers 
other than those of the Church of England were compelled 
to leave the colony." 

Hassell, in his ** Church History" (page 523), says: 
**In 1643, Sir William Berkeley, Royal Governor of Vir- 
ginia, strove, by whippings and brandings, to make the 
inhabitants of that colony conform to the Established 
church, and thus drove out the Baptists and Quakers, who 
found a refuge in the Albemarle country of North Caro- 
lina, a colony which 'was settled,' says Bancroft, * by the 


It of the free — by men to n-liom the restraints of other 
Dies were too severe.' " 
^fiemple (page 29) Eays that "the Q.uakers made their 
it appearance in Virginia in 1659— '60," and that "' the 
most degree of persecution waa exercised towards them." 
IFoote's "Sitetches of Virginia" (pages 28—40) gives a 
[1 account of the laws of that period, all tending to up- 
i and strengthen the Established church, and to aup- 
r drive out all who were opposed to the Church of 
In 1661-2, the following act was passed: 

" WLoreaB many schismatical persona, out of their arersen^s to 
the orthodox eatabliahed leligion, or out of the ncw-r9.ogled conceilB 
of their own heretic&l iaTentioDB, refuse to have their children bap- 
tized ; be it, therefore, enacted, b; the authority aforesaid, that all 
persons that, in contempt of the divine sacrament of baptism, shall 
refuse, when Che; ma; carry their ckiM [children] to a lacrful min- 
istei in that couutj to have them baptized, shaU be amerced two 
thouBiiDd pounds of tobacco, half to the informer, half to the public." 
Foote, page 34. Hening, Vol. IT., pages 165, 166. 

This was immediately after the restoration of Charles II., 
which happened in May, 1660. During the period of the 
CoinmoDwealtb in England, there had been a kind of inter- 
regnum as to both Church and State in Virginia; but "in 
1661 the supremacy of the Church of England was again 
fully established, " " No minister was permitted to preach 
unless he had received ordination from some bishop in 
England." Semple, page 30, and Foote, pages 33, 34. 
"Any minister admitted into a parish was entitled to all 
the spiritual and tomporol rights thereof, and might main- 
ttun an action against any person who attempted to disturb 
hira in his possession." Semple, page 31. "Under the 
old ecclesiastical establlsbment, no person could celebrate 


the ritea of matrimony but a minister of the Church of 
England, and according to the ceremony prescribed in the 
Book of Common Prayer." Semple, page 34. 


The "Act of Toleration" was passed by the British 
Parliament in 1689, but its proviaions were unknown to 
the people of Virginia until 1699, when Francis Makemie, 
a Presbyterian minister of Accomac county, applied for ' 
and received license to preach at two designated places on 
his own property. Dr. Foote speaks of him as the first 
consistent Presbyterian minister in Virginia, and as "the 
first minister, dissenting from the Church of England, that 
had leave from the constituted authorities to preach in 
Virginia." Sketches of Virginia, pages 40, 41. The 
license issued to Makemie is given by Foote (page 44), 
and is taken from the records of the county of Accomac, 
It is given here aa a sample, and bears date of October 15, 

" Whereas Mr. Fmncis Makemie made applicatioa by petilion lo 
this court, that being reaj3y to fulfill what the law eojoios to dis- 
BCDtera, that he might be qualifi.ed according to law, and prajed that 
his own dfrelling-houBe at Focomoke, also his own house at Oooa- 
cock, next to Captain Jonathan. Lively's, might be places recorded ' 
for the meeting ; and having taken the oaths enjoined bj set of Par- 
liament instead of the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and sab- 
scribed the test, as likeirise that he did, in compliance with what the 
said law enjoins, produce certificate from Barbadoes of his qualifica- 
tiona there, did declare in open court of the said counlj and owned 
the articles of religion mentioned in the statnte made in the 13th 
year of Queen Elizabeth, except the 34th, 35th, and 3Sth, and thoee 
wordi of the 20th article — tIe., the church hath power to decide 
rights and ceremonies, and authoritjin controveniea of faith — which 
the court have ordered to be registered and recoided, and that the 


derk of court give Gertificate thereof to the aaid Makemle, scMrding 
■s the law enjojnea." 
Foots adds: 

"This is the first certificate of q^ualifiatiou under the Toleration 
Act known to be on record." Page 45. 

By way of explaining this exhibition of a tolerant spirit 
by those who were generally intolerant, Dr. Foote (page 
51) quotes the following from Beverly's " History and 
Present State of Virginia ' ' : 

"They [disaenlers] have no more than fivu conventicles amongst 
them — name!)", three small meetinjfs of Quakers and two of Preabj- 
teriana, 'Tis obaerved that those counties where the Presbyterian 
meetings are produce Ter7 mean tobacco, and for that reason can' t 
get an orthodox tniniBter to ttay amongst them." 
Foote adds : 

"So it appears on account of the poorness of the tobacco the 
established clergj left aome counties, although in IdQ6 their salary 
had been fixed at sixteen thousand pound weight of that commodity. 
If this statement be tme, ne can the more easily understand why 
Makemie tad not been more molested. We suppose he look his resi- 
dence in Accomac soon after his marriage. There was no Episcopal 
minister la complain of him, and many of the inhabitants preferred 
to hear Makemie to passing silent Sabbaths, and many othets were 
true Presbyterians." Sketches of Virginia, page 51. 

In 1725, a similar license was granted to certaio parties 
(doubtless Presbyterians) in the county of Richmond, as 
will be seen from the follomng minute taken from the 
"journal of the Governor's Council," bearing date May 4, 

" This Board having considered the representation of the justices 
of Richmond comity, together with the opinion of Hia Majesties' 
Attorney-General, and of John HoUowayond John Randolph, Esqs., 
to whom it was referred to report their opinion how far the act of 
Pacliament, made in the first year of the reign of their Miyeaties, 
King William and Queen Mary, entitled an 'Act for exempting their 


Majeatiefi' Prolestant subjects diEaentiog from the Church of England 
from the penalties of CErtsin tswg,' were in force in tliia colony, and 
having also considered His Majesty's instraction to the Governor for 
allowing a libertj of conscience to all ChrislianB except papista. It 
is the opinion of this Board, and accordingly ordered, that the di»- 
aentera in Richmond coontj and their preacher, on their application 
to the court of the said county, respectively taking snch oatha and 
subscribing such declaration aa are prescribed and enjoined bj the 
said act, hayethefreeeierciBeof their religion at such place of public 
worship in the aaid county as they shall desire to be recorded by the 
county court for that purpose, so as they also observe the directions 
of the aaid act of PBrliamenl at their meetioga at such place of public 
worship aet apart aa aforeaaid." See JoumaJ, in State Library. 



From about 1732 down to J738, Presbj'terian families 
had been moving into the Valley of Virginia from Penn- 
sylvania and Maryland. In 1738, the number had be- 
come so large that steps were taken by the Synod of Phil- 
adelphia to secure from Governor Gooch assurance that 
Presbyterian miniatera should have the privileges of the 
Act of Toleration of Virginia. Foote, on pages 103, 104, 
gives the letter of the Synod to Governor Gooch, and also 
the Governor's reply. 


"To the Honorable William Gooch, Esquire, Lieutenant-Gov- 
ernor of the Province of Virginia, the homble address of ihePreaby- 
terisn minielers convened in Synod, Jlay 30, 1738. May it plewe 
your Honour, we take leave to address you in behalf of a considera- 
ble number of our brethren who are meditating a settlement in the 
remote parts of your govemmeitt, and are of the same persuasion as 
the Church of Scotland, We thought it our duty to acquaint yoar 
Honour with this design, and to ask your favour in allowing them 


berly of their conBciencea, aod of worBhipping God in a way 
lis to the principles of their education. Your Honour is een- 
lat tliose of oar profession in Europe have been reraarkablo 
ir inTioinble attachment io the house of Hanover, and have 
II oaMBiona manifested an unspotted fidelity to our gracioua 
Brereign, King George, and we doubt not but tbat these, our breth- 
i, will carry the same loyal principles to the most distant settle- 
BDts, where their lot may be cast, which will ever iniiuenee them 
e moit dutiful submission to the government uhlch is placed 
I them. This, we trust, will recommend them to your Honour's 
intenance and protection, and merit the free enjoyment of their 
il and religious liberties. We pray for the divine blessing upon 
IT person and government, and beg leave to subscribe ourselvea 
ir Honour'a moat humble and obedient servants." 


— By the hands of Mr. Anderson, I received an address 
pled by you, in the name of your brethren of the Synod of Phila- 
And as I have been always inclined to favour the people 
O have lately removed from otJier provinces to settle on the weat- 
n side of our great mountains, so you may be assured that no inter- 
n shall be given to any minister of your profession who shall 
le amongthem, so as they conform themselves to the roles pre- 
d by the Act of Toleration in England, by taking the oaths en- 
d thereby, and registering the place of their meeting, and be- 
e themselves peaceably towards the government. This you may 
to the Synod as an answer to theirs." 


I Commenting on this, Dr. Footo (page 99) says : 

"Poverty and intolerance drove them [Presbyteriiins] from their 
r country, and the necessity of providing a frontier line of 
e people west of the Blae Mountains compelled Virginia to re- 
or and open her borders ;" and again (on page 105) ; 
ins that actuated Governor Gooch Io promise protection 
idae of their religious forms, in a State whose laws for vnj- 
"e precise and enforced with rigor, were two : lat. He 


wished ft frontier line at ft greater distance from Williamsburg ; if 
possible, nest of the great mounlftina. 2d. He knew tbeae people 
to be firm, enterprising, hardj, brave, good i^ilizena and aoldien. 
To form a complete line of defense agftinat the lavage inroads, he 
welcomed theae Presbj^rilln emigrants, the Quakers, and colonies 
from the different German Statea to the beautiful andluiuriantprw- 
ries of the great VaUej of the Shenandoah, on the heml watera ot 
the Jamea, and along the Roanoke. At so great a distance ti-om the 
older settlements, he anticipated no danger or trouble to the estab- 
lished churcli of the colony ; he never sertoiislf considered 
the sabject in the probable influence of the uecessarv collision of re- 
ligious opinions." 

The above quotationa are important as showing the Da- 
ture and reetrictiona of the licenses gianled to diasentere, 
and also the conditions under which the Presbyterians were 
given permission to settle in the colony and to enjoy the 
benefits of the Toleration Act, They were not only to set- 
tle in the frontier counties as a bafler between the Church- 
men and the Indiana, but they had to swear allegiance to 
"His Majesty's person and government," pay the taxes 
levied for the support of the Established Church, and 
never by word or deed seek to injure the said church. 
That this does not over-state the case, is proven by certain 
trials before the Governor's Council, of which an account 
is given in Foote's Sketches (pages 160-162), which trials 
were not merely for preaching without license, but for 
' ' speaking against the canons of the Church of England, ' ' 
or "for reviling the bishops and clergy." 

And yet some modem writers are claiming that the 
Preabyteriaus were foremost in the attack upon the Estab- 
lishment and in the battle for religious liberty in Virginia, 
forgetting that they were estopped from all such action by 
their agreement with Governor Gooch, and by their oaths 
of allegiance, etc. To the honor of those early Presbyte- 


f Virginia be it eaid, that they did not break their 
promise nor violate their oaths. The records will show 
that, up to the dat* of the Revolution, they never de- 
manded anything more than their rights under the Act of 
Toleration, and that not until tlie Revolution was accom- 
pliahed, and Virginia had thrown otf allegiance to Great 
Britain, did they {the Presbyterians) strite hands with 
the Baptists in the effort to pull down the Establishment. 
Being no longer subjects of King George, but citizens of 
I "Virginia, they were absolved from their oaths and were 
? free to act according to their judgment and interests under 
P flie new government. 

But while the Presbyterians enjoyed to a limited extent 
I the benefits of the Toleration Act, it was not until the out- 
■ .break of the French and ladian war that they enjoyed 
lany great degree of freedom. The colonial government 
rVas proTokingly slow in granting licenaea, 

' ' Houses for pnblic woraMp could not be occupied without per- 

nissioQ Irom tlie civil autlioritioa, and cscli applica.tion for a liouse 

f worship was lieard on its omi merila." But "what waa not 

K{;ianted (o petition and argument and English construction of colo- 

Ltli*l law waa yielded to force of drcuraatances. The French and 

ir, commonlj known as Br&ddocii's war, which, after 

Kniaitj ptorocations and preliroinirj' atrocities, broke out in its fury 

D 1756, by the strange agency of fire and sword, the tomahawk and 

I iwalping knife, plead the cause of freedom of conscience with a suc- 

I hitherto unknoim. . . . During the confusion of this 

KiWVBge warfare, the Presbjterians east of the Blue Ridge chose 

■ worship and occupied them without license or molesla- 

Btian." Foote's Sketches, pi^:e3 307, 303. 

in that fateful year of 1755 that the clergy of the 
I Establishment began their suicidal contest with the people 
l^er their Balaries, in what is known as the " Pai-aons' 


Cause," and which culminated in 1763 in a crushing de- 
feat of the parsons by the maiden speech of Patrick 
Heory. And it was in that same year (1755) that Shu- 
bal Stearns, the leader of the Separate Baptists, passing 
through Virginia, settled in North Carolina, and began 
the great work of evangelization to which he felt called of 
God when he set out from his home in New England. 
The Lord was marshalling his hosts for the liberation of 
this fair land from the domination and curse of a priestly 
hierarchy, and the souls of men from bondage to human 
law and custom. 


As there were different bodies of Baptists in Virginia 
during the colonial period, bo there was some difference of 
action in the matter of taking out license for preachers 
and preaching places under the Toleration Act. The re- 
cords indicate that some, at least, of the "Regular Bap- 
tists" conformed to the custom of the Presbyterians, by 
applying for license and taking the prescribed oaths. 
With the "Separate Baptists," however, it was different. 
With few exceptions, if any, these did not recognize the 
right of any civil power to regulate preaching or places of 
meeting. While yielding a ready obedience to the civil 
authorities in all civil affairs, in matters of religion they 
recognized no lord but Christ. They were truly apostolic 
in refusing to obey man rather than God. It was this 
body that spread so rapidly throughout the State from 
1755 to the date of the Kevolution. 


The conditions were favorable for the rapid growth of 
their principles. First, the distress of the colonists, con- 


sequent upon the French and Indian wars, inclined them 
towards religion. 

"Rev. Mr. Wright, the Preabjterian minister in CumlMrland 
county, which vaa then a frontier, under date of AngiiBt IS, 1755, 
Bays; 'People generally begin to believe the divine govflmment, 
and that our judgmentB are inflicted for our sins. TLey now heiir 
sermona with solemnity and attention; they acknowledge their wick- 
edness and ignorance, and believe that the new-light clergy and ad- 
herents are right.' " Foote's Sketches, page 308. 

Secondly, the character of the clergy of the Establish- 
ment made it impossible for the distressed people to find 
solace or comfort there. Saya Semple (page 25) : 

"The great success and rapid increase of the Baptists in Virginia 
must be ascribed primarily to the power of God working with them. 
Yet it cannot bo denied but that there were sabordinale and co- 
operating causes ; one of which, and the main one, was the loose and 
immoral deportment of Che Establiahed clergy, by which the people 
were left almost dealilule of even the shadow of true religion. ' Tis 
true, ihey had some outward fonns of worship, but the essential 
principles of Christianity were not only not understood among them, 
but by many never heard of. Some of the cardinal precepts of mor 
ality were disregarded, and aotions plainly forbidden by the New 
Testament were often proclaimed by the clergy as hannless and in 
cent, or, at worst, foibles of but little account. Having no diseipli 
every man followed the bent of his own inclination. It was not im- 
common for the rectors of parishes to be men of the lowest morals. 
The Baptist preachers were, in almost every respect, the reverse of 
the Established clergy.' " 

If they did not have scholarship, they had personal piety 
and knew the Bible. If they did not have position in 
society, they had "favor with God," and that always 
gives "favor with men." 

That Dr. Semple does not overstate the case, is evi- 
denced by the statements of some of their own authorities. 


Dr. Foote (page 38) quotes from the Bishop of London, 

as follows: 

"The Bishop of London said of them, about this time [1743], in 
his letter to Dr. Doddridge: ' Of those who are sent from hence, a 
great part are the Scotch or Irish, who can get no employment at 
home, and enter into the service more out of necessity than choice. 
Some others are willing to go abroad to retrieve either lost fortune 
or lost character.' " 

Bishop Meade in his *'01d Parishes and Families of 
Virginia" (Vol. I., 118, 385, etc.), says: 

*' Many of them had been addicted to the race-field, the card-table, 
the theatre — ^nay, more, to drunken revel, etc.'* 

Dr. Hawks, in his History of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church of Virginia (page 65), say's: 

" They could babble in a pulpit, roar in a travem, exact from 
their parishioners, and rather by their dissoluteness destroy than 
feed the flock." 

In confirmation of the above, note the following law 
passed by the Assembly in 1776: 

** Be it further enacted by this Grand Assembly, and by the au- 
thority thereof, that such ministers as shall become notoriously 
scandalous by drunkenness, swearing, fornication, or other heinous 
and crying sins, and shall thereof be lawfully convicted, shall, for 
every such their heinous crime and wickedness," etc. Hening^s 
Statutes, Vol. II., page 384. 

It will be seen from the above that the Established 
church in Virginia was in very much the same plight as 
the sect of the Pharisees in our Lord's day; and as *'the 
common people heard him gladly" and joined themselves 
unto him, so did the distressed burden-bearers of Virginia 
turn away from a corrupt and apostate church, with its 
hireling ministry, to find the consolations of the Christian 
religion among those who not only knew what Christianity 
was, but who also exemplified it in their lives. 


Legal Perseoutlons, 1768-1774. 

Semple (page 14), says; "It seems by no means cer- 
tain that any law in force in Virginia authorized the im- 
prisonment of any person for preaching. The law for tlie 
preservation of peace, however, was so interpreted aa to 
answer this purpose, and accordingly, whenever the 
preachers were apprehended, it was done by a peace war- 
rant." On page 15, he says: "The first instance of actual 
impriaonmeut, we beliefe, that ever took place in Virginia 
was in the county of Spotsylvania. On the 4th of June, 
1768, John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Childs, etc., were 
seized by the sheriff and haled before three magistrates," 
etc. ' ' They offered to release them, if they would promise 
to preach no more in the county for a year and a day. 
This they refused, and, therefore, were sent into close 

This work went on until the year 1774. Semple gives only 
a few sample cases of imprisonment, saying that there were 
many others besides. In December, 1770, William Web- 
ber and Joseph Anthony were imprisoned in Chesteriied 
jail, and in May, 1774, David Tinsloy, Augustin Eastin, 
John Weatherfor<i, John Tanner, and Jeremiah Walker 
were imprisoned in the same jail. In Middlesex county, 
William Webber, John Waller, James Greenwood, and 
Bobert Ware were imprisoned in August, 1771. Semple, 
pages 17, 18. In Caroline county, Leivis Craig, John 
Burrus, John Young, Edward Herndon, James Goodrich, 
and Bartholomew Chewing were imprisoned, but the year 


is not given. See Taylor's Virginia Baptist Ministers, 
Vol. I., pages 81, 82. In King & Queen county, James 
Greenwood and William Lovall were imprisoned in Au- 
gust, 1772, and John Waller, John Shackleford, Kobert 
Ware, and Ivison Lewis in March, 1774. See Semple, 
page 22. Dr. Taylor, in his sketch of Elijah Craig, says 
he was imprisoned in Orange county, but does not give 
the year. According to Taylor's Virginia Baptist Minis- 
ters, there were confined in Culpeper jail, at different times, 
James Ireland, John Corbeley, Elijah Craig, Thomas 
Ammon, Adam Banks, and Thomas Maxfield. 
Semple, writing of the year 1771 (page 19), says: 

'' The rage of the persecutors had in no wise abated; they seemed 
sometimes to strive to treat the Baptists and their worship with as 
much rudeness and indecencj as was possible. Thej often insulted 
the preacher in time of servce, and would ride into the water and 
make sport when they administered baptism. They frequently 
fabricated and spread the most groundless reports, which were in- 
jurious to the characters of the Baptists. When any Baptist fell 
into any improper conduct, it was always exaggerated to the utmost 

William Fristoe, in his * ' History of the Ketocton Bap- 
tist Association," writes as follows (beginning at page 

^^The enemy, not contented with ridicule and defamation, mani- 
fested their abhorrence to the Baptists in another way. By a law 
then in force in Virginia, all were under obligation to go to church 
several times in the year; the failure subjected them to fine. Little 
notice was taken of the omission, if members of the Established 
church ; but so soon as the * New Lights ' were absent, they were 
presented by the grand jury, and fined according to law.** And 
again (on page 70) : * Soon they began to take other steps to deter 
the Baptist preachers and obstruct the progress of the gospel, by ob- 
jecting to their preaching until they obtained license from the Gen- 
eral Court, whose place of sitting at that time was old Williamsburg. 



Until euch times ihu license yiaa obtained, tliey 'wgtq exposed to be 
apprehended and imprisoned.' Again (on pages 79, 80); ' When 
penecatorB found religion could not be stopped in its progress bv 
ridicule, defamatioit, and abusive language, the resolution was to 
lake a diferent step and see nhst tbat <xoald do ; and the preachen 
ID different places were apprehended by magisteriitl authorilj, some 
of whom were imprisoned and some escaped. Before this st«p was 
taken, the parson of the parish was consulted (in some instances, at 
leaat), and bis judgment conSded in. His counsel was that the 
'NewLights' ought to be taken up aad imprisoned, as necessary for 
the peace and harmony of the old church. As formerly the high 
priests took the lead in persecuting the followers of Chriit, in like 
manner the high priests have conducted in latter days, and seldom 
there has been a persecution but what an high priest has been at the 

Now let Dr. Hawks, an Episcopalian, testify. Id his 
istory of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia ' ' 
jage 121), he says: 

' ' No dissenters in Virginia experienced, for a time, harsher treat- 
it than did the Baptists, They were beaten and imprisoned, and 
oelty taxed its ingenuity to devlae new modes of punishment and 


I Beturning now to 1769, the year afber the county offi- 
bIb began to imprison Baptist preachers, and layman also, 
e find petitions beginning to appear before the House of 
aBurgessea. The first is from members of the Established 
^urch, and it indicates great concern about the spread of 
"teptist principles, which the petitioners are pleased to 
tfle "pernicious doctrines." 


mial notice: "Apetition was presented from 'the minister 
indcy inhabitants of the parish of Uamilt^in,' praying for a 


diyision of the parish into two, the reason heing that the parish was 
' so large that mapj of the inhabitants reside so far from their parish 
chorches that thej can bat seldom attend public worship; from 
which causes, dissenters have opportunity and encourag^nent to pro- 
pagate their pernicious doctrines.' " 

A year later, there appears a petition firom the oppressed 
and persecuted Baptists. 


The journal of May 26, 1770, has the following: 

'' A petition of several persons, being Protestant disBentere of the 
Baptist persuasion, whose names are thereunto subscribed, was pre- 
sented to the House and read ; setting forth the inconyeniences of 
compelling their licensed preachers to bear aims under the militia 
law and to attend musters, bj which thej are unable to perform the 
duties of their function ; and further setting forth the hardships they 
sufier from the prohibition to their ministers to preach in meeting- 
houses, not particularly mentioned in their licenses ; and, therefore, 
praying the House to take their grievances into considoation, and 
to grant them relief." 

This petition was referred to '' Committee for Religion/' 
which reported, June 1st, as follows: 

*' Resolttdj That it is the opinion of this committee that so much 
of the said petition as prays that the ministers or preachers of the 
Baptist persuasion may not be c<»npdled to bear arms or attend mus- 
ttfs be rejected." '^ Agreed to bj the House." 

This action of the House of Burgesses, which was com- 
posed almost exclusively, if not entirely, of " Churchmen," 
shows the spirit of that body towards the Baptists. The 
time is not distant, however, when another great war doud 
will overshadow the land, and a new spirit ¥rill then per- 
vade the Assembly. The << Stamp Act" of 1765 had 
alarmed the colonists, and it was in opposition to the prin- 
ciple involved in that act that Patrick Henry, who had 


just entered the Asaemblj, made the boldest speech of his 
life, nnd placed himaelf at the head of the opposition in 
Virginia. Thomas Jefferson joined him in the same House, 
in 1769. When the House assembled on the 6th of Feb- 
ruary, 1772, Patrick Henry wna present, and was a mem- 
ber of the " Committee of Propositions and Grievances," 
and also of the "Committee of Religion." The "Com- 
mittee on Propositions and Grievances" was appointed 
with instructions to meet and adjourn from day to day. 
and "to take into their consideration all propositions and 
grievances that shall come legally certified to this Assembly, 
and to report their proceedings, with their opinions there- 
upon, from time to time, to the House; and such proposi- 
ijona and grievances are to be delivered to the clerk of the 
House, and by him to the said committee of course, and 
said committee are to have power to send for persons, 
papers, and records for their information." 


Journal entry, TeliruBry 12, 1772: "A petition of several pec- 
sons of the counlj of Lunenburg;, whose naines are thereunto sub- 
Bcrlbed, was presented to tha House and read 9ettuig forth that the 
petitioners, being of the aociety of Chnst^aos calkd Baptists, iind 
themselvee restricted in the exeicise of their cfh(^on, their teachers 
imprisoned under various pretences and the tpnefits of the Tolera- 
tion Act denied them, although they are willing to conform to the 
true spirit of that act, and are loyal and quiet subjects; and, there- 
fore, praying that they may be treated with the same indulgence, in 
religious matters, as Qoakera, Presbyterians, and other Protestant 
disientera enjo;." 

February 22, appears an exactly similar petition from 
Mecklenburg county, and on the 24th another from Sus- 
sex. On the same day, February 24, a petition from 
Amelia county appears, differing from the others in this : 


''If the Act of Toleration does not extend to this colony, they 
are exposed to severe persecution ; and if it does extend hither, and 
the power of granting licenses to teachers be lodged, as is supposed, 
in the General Court alone, the petitioners must suffer considerable 
inconveniences, not only because that Court sits not oftener than 
twice in the year, and then at a place far remote, but because the 
said Court will admit a single meeting-house, and no more, in one 

Fristoe, in his History, confirms the above statement as 
to the rule of the General Court, when he says (page 73) : 

'' I knew the General Court to refuse a license for a Baptist meet- 
ing-house in the county of Eichmond, because there was a Presby- 
terian meeting-house already in the county, although the Act of 
Toleration considered them distinct societies.'' 

The Journal of February 25, 1772, gives the first fa- 
vorable action of the House, as follows: 

" Mr. Treasurer reports from the Committee on Religion." . . 

*'Besolved, That it is the opinion of this committee that the pe- 
titions of sundry inhabitants of the counties of Lunenburg, Mecklen- 
burg, Sussex, and Amelia, of the society of Christians called Bap- 
tists, praying that they may be treated with the same kind indul- 
gence, in religious matters, as Quakers, Presbyterians, and other 
Protestant dissenters enjoy, so far as they relate to alloMring the peti- 
tioners the same toleration, in matters of religion, as is enjoyed by 
His Majesty's dissenting Protestant subjects of Great Britain, under 
different acts of Parliament, is reasonable." 

This "resolution" was agreed to by the House, and 
the ** Committee for Religion " was ordered to bring in a 
bill in accordance therewith. And on the 27th of Febru- 
ary appears the following entry: 



A bill for extending the benefit of the several Acts of Tolera- 
tion to His Majesty's Protestant subjects in this colony, dissenting 
from the Church of England, was read a second time," and "com- 
mitted to the Committee for Religion." 


March 14, another petition ie presented from Caroline I 

oouDty, the Journal notice of which is exactly like the no- ^ 

tice of the one from Lunenburg. The petition waa "laid 
on the table." 

March 17, "Mr. Treasurer reported from Committee 
for Religion, to whom the bill for extending the benefit of 
the several Acts of Toleration to His Majesty's Protestant 
subjects in this colony, diseutiag from the Church of Eng- 
land, was committed," The bill was engrossed and or- 
dered to be read the third time, July 1, 1772. This bill, 
as we shall see hereailer, was very objectionable to both 
Baptists and Presbyterians, and it never became a law. 
The House was prorogued April 11, to the "25tb day of 
June next." But there is no entry in the Journal until 
March 4, 1773. March 15, the House was prorogued 
again by Lord Dunmore, who had succeeded Botetourt as 
Governor. They met again June 17, and were pro- 
rogued continually until May 5, 1774. The explanation 
of this action of the Governor is found in tiie antagonism 
between him and the House. "Early in the session of 
1773, Henry, Jefferson, the two Lees, and Dabuey Carr 
met in Raleigh Tavern and originated that great machine, 
the ' Committee of Correspondence, for the dissemination 
of intelligence between the colonies." The Burgesses 
promptly acted upon the suggestion, and were aa promptly 
dissolved by Ixird Dunmore. They were all re-elected by 
the people, and resumed their seats in the spring of 1774," 
See American Cyclopedia, VIU., 663. 


Before examining the Journal of that session, the reader 
should hear from James Madison, who had graduated 
from Nassau Hall, Princeton, in 1771, and, after taking 


a post-graduate course of one year, had returned to hia 
home in Orange county, Va,, at the age of twenty-one. 
In a letter to his old college friend, Bradford, of Phila- 
delphia, dated January 24, 1774, he Bays: 

"I verilj believe the frequent assaults tbat have been made on 
America (Boslon especially) will in tbe end prove of n^al advan- 
tage. If the Church of England bad been ibe established and gen- 
eral religion in all the Notthem colonies, a& it his been among us 
here, and uninterrupted haruionj had prevailed throughout the 
continent, it is dear to ma that slavery and subjection might and 
would bave been gradoally insinuated among us. Union of reli" 
gious sentimenia begets n BUrprising confidence, and ecclesiastical es- 
tabliabments tend to great iguorauce and corruption, all of vbicli 
facilitates the eseculion of mischievous projects. ... I want 
again to breathe your free air. I expect it will mend mj oonstita- 
tion and confirm my principles. I have, indeed, oa good an atmos- 
phere at home as the climate will allow, but have nothing to brag 
of OS to the state and liberty of my country. Poverty and luxury 
prevail among all sorts ; pride, ignorance, and knavery among the 
priesthood, and vice and wickedness among the laity. This is bad 
enough ; but it is not the worst I bave to tell you. That diabolical, 
hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some, and, to 
their eternal infamj, the clergy can fumiHh their quota of imps for 
Buch purposes. There are at this time in the ai^acent country not 
less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing 
their religious sentiments, which, in the main, are very orthodox. I 
have neither patience to hear, talk, or think of anything relative lo 
this matter ; for I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed 
BO long about it, to little purpose, that I am without coounon pa- 
tience. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of con- 
science to all." Hives' Life and Times of Madison, Vol. I., 
page 43. 

Again, April 1, 1774, Madison wrote to Bradford aa 

" Our Assembly is to meet the 1st of May, when it is expected 
something will be done in behnlf of the dissenters. Petitions, I 
hear, are already forming among the persecuted Baptists, and I 


I ^ 

r ^ 



fcncj it is in tlie thought of the Pceshjterians also to intercede for 
liberty in matters of religion. For my uwn part, I cannot 
help being very donbtful of their aacceeding in the attempt The 
affair was on the carpet during the last session ; but such incredible 
and eitravagant stories were told in the House of the monttrous ef- 
fects of the enthusiiuiQi prevalent among the sectaries, and so greedily 
swallowed by their enemies, that 1 believe they lost footing by it. 
And the bad name they still have nith thone who pretend too much 
contempt to e.-tHmlne into their principles and conduct, and are too 
much devoted to ecclesiastical eatahliahment to hear of the toleration 
of the dissentients, I am apprehensive, wDl be again mode a preteit 
for rejecting their requests. . . . The sentiments of our people 
of fortune and fashion on this subject are vastly difierent from what 
you have been used to. That libeml, catholic, and equitable way of 
thinking, as to the rights of conscience, which h one of the charac- 
teristics of a free people, and so strongly marks the people of your 
province, is little known among the zealous adherents to our hier- 
archy. We have, it is true, some persons in the Legislature of gen- 
erous principles, both in religion and politics ; but number, not 
merit, you know, is necessary to carry points there. Besides, the 
clergy are a numerous and powerful body, have great infiuence at 
<liome by reason of their connection with and dependence on the 
iJiiBhops and crown, and will naturally employ all their arts and 
Fiinterest to depress their rising adversaries ; for snch they must 
' aenlients, who rob them of the good wOl of tlie people, 
and may in time endanger their livinga and security." Bives, 
page 63. 

These two lettfira are quoted thus fully because they 

throw BO much light upon the condition of the country at 

that time, and the apparent hopelessneae of any attempt to 

secure relief for the persecuted Baptists, According to 

a testimony of Madison, himself not a Baptist, the Bap- 

htist preachers were in the main orthodox, and the persecu- 

■tion waged against them waa often led by clergymen of the 

Kjitablishment — clergymen who were prompted, not by any 

e regard for religion and morals, but by considerations 

if self-interest. 


Semple (page 20) describes the dilemmii in which the 
leaders found themselves at this juncture: 

"The lealots for the old order were greatly embarmsHed. 'If,' 
i»j they, ' we permit them W go on, our church muat come to noth- 
ing ; and yet, if we punish them as far as we can stretch the law, it 
aeems not to deter them ; for they preach through prison windawB, 
in spite of our endeavora to prevent it.' " 

Such was the statue of things when the House of Bur- 
gesses met, in May, 1774. They met on the 5th, and on 
the 12th the following entry appears in the Journal; 


"A petition of snndry petBona of the community of Christians 
called Baptists, and other Protestant dissenters, whose names are 
thereunto subscribed, was presented to the House and read, setting 
forth that the toleration proposed by the bill ordered at the last ses- 
sion of the General Assembly to l>e printed and published not admit- 
ting public worship, except in the daytime, !h inconsistent with the 
lawB of England, as well as the practice and usage of the primitive 
churches, and even of the English church itself ; that the night sea- 
son may aometimea be better apared by the petitioners from the 
necessary duties of tiieir callings ; and that they wish for no indul- 
gencea which may disturb the peace of government ; and therefore 
praying the House to talle their case into consideration, and to grant 
them suiloble redrew." This petition was "referred to Committee 
for Eeligion." 


May 16, 1774, the House "ordered that the Committee 
of Propositions and Grievances be discharged from pro- 
ceeding upon the petition of sundry Baptist ministers, from 
differeut parts of this country, convened together in Lou- 
doun county, at their annual Association, which came cer- 
tified to this Assembly, praying that an Act of Toleration 
may be made, giving the petitioners, and other Protestant 

W dist 

P sai( 


dissenting ministers, liberty to preach in all proper places 
id at all seasons, witbout restraint." It was ordered that 
petition be " referred to the consideration of the Com- 
mittee for Religion." 

This is the first reference on the pages of the Journal to 
this petition of the ministers of the Ketocton Association; 
but the reference indicates that it has been in the hands of 
the " Committee of Propositions and Grievances" for some 
time. It seems impossible to arrive at the date of the 
meeting of the Association at which it originated. It could 
not have been later than August, 1773. The fact that it 
does not refer to the "Toleration Bill " proposed in Feb- 
ruary, 1772, hut prays " that an Act of Toleraiion may be 
made," etc., would indicate that it dates as far back as the 
August meeting of 1771, and was one of those numerous 
petitions which began to pour in upcin the Assembly in 
1772, and led to the Toleration Bill of that seasioD. 


The next petition comes from the Presbyterians. Ac- 
cording to the Journal of May 17, 1774, a petition was 
received from some Presbyterians in Bedford county, 
stating that some of tbeir liberally disposed brethren 
wanted to make grants for the support of their ministry, 
but, an they were not incorporated, they could not receive 
and hold such, complaining of the unsatisfactory plan of 
euj^orting thein by mbacriptUnw, and asking for such act 
as would enable them "to tahe and hold lands and slaveato 

Attention is called, by the use of italics, to certain por- 
tions of the above memorial, as indicating that those Pres- 
byterians, at least, did not like the voluntary plan of 


supporting the ministry, but were seeking legislation that 
would enable them to receive and to hold both lands and 
alavea for ministerial support. No petition has yet appeared 
from the Hanover Presbytery. 

By reference to Foote's Sketches, page 320, it is found 
that, JD their meeting of October 15, 1773 — 

" Preabyterj took the Bill &f Toleration inio conBideration, ind 
judge it eipcdieut that »ome two persona do attend the Assembly u 
conunissioners of tiie Preabjterj to transact that affair in their namt 
and behalf. The Presbytery do, therefore, appoint the Ber. John 
Todd and Captain John Morton, a ruling elder, to attend thoABgaa- 
bly on that buaineaa, and wbh they may not fail in biiainesa of thai 
ieoportance. The Preabylery do trust the matter entirely to them, 
to act SB their prudence may direct and the nattire of the ctue may 

This shows caution. 

Foote adds: 

" Nothing wat done in the Aaaembly that rear to remedy the dis- 
abilities of disseaters. No laiTS of any kind were passed in 1774, 
owing to the disagreement between the Governor and the Assembly." 
Page 320. 

In the meeting of Presbytery, October 14, 1774, it was 
agreed "to meet ou the second Wednesday of November 
next, at the house of Colonel William Cabell, of Amherst, 
to remonstrate against a bill entitled 'A Bill for Extending 
the Benefit of the Act of Toleration to His Majesty's Sub- 
jects Dissenting from the Church of England in the Colony 
of Virginia.' " Pages 320, 321. 

Their petition was presented to the House of Burgesses 
the following spring, and is thus described in the Journal 
of Junes, 1775: 

"A petition of the Preabytery of Hanover in behalf of thenudvee, 



and all the PresbTterians in Virginm, and of all Proti?atant disaentera 

elsewhere, was presented to the Htiiise and read ; setting forth that, 

in or about the ;ear 1738, many thousand Preab^'terian famOiea, 

relying upon thea^urances of GoTernment that they should enjoy 

the ireaeierclae of their religion, removed from the northern colonies 

and Eettled in the frontiers of this, forming a barrier for the lower 

■-, puts thereof ; and taking notice ol a bill for granting a toleration for 

LSis Majesty's dissenting Protestant subjects, which in the year 1773 

■WH presented to the House, and afterwards ordered to be printed, 

i pointing out several objectiouB thereunto ; and praying that no 

f Ull may pass into a law but such as will secure to the petitioners 

I eqasl liberties and advantages with their fellow-subjects." It was 

"ordered that the said petition do lie upon the table." 


June 13, 1775 ; "A petition of sundry persons of the community 
of Chrisdans called Baptiala, and other Protestant dissenters, whose 
names are thereunto subscribed, was presented to the House and 
read ; setting forth that the toleration proposed by the bill, ordered 
at a former session of the General Assembly to be printed and pub- 
lished, not admitting public worship, e:iccept in the daytime, is incon- 
natent nith the laws of England, as well as with the practice and 
usage of the primitive churches, and even of the English church 
itself; that the night seaaon may BOmetimes be better spared by the 
[ petitioners from the necessary duties of their calliogs ; and that they 
[ Tfish for no indulgences wliich may disturb the peace of Government ; 
ind, therefore, praying the House to take their case into conaidera- 
f tion and to grant them suitable redress." This petition, too, was 
irdered " to lie upon the table. ' ' 
This Baptist petition wilb essentially the same as one 
I wbich had been presented to the House in May, 1774, 
L Tfhile the petition of the Hanover Presbytery is presented 
jnov (June 5, 1775,) for the first time. Although the 
I Baptists had been suffering persecution from 1768 down to 
I and including the year 1774, the Hanover Presbytery has 
I not been heard from. And the explanation of this silence 
I it not difficult. Th&j were enjoying the benefits of the Act 


of Toleration, according to the agreement entered into in 
1738 between the Presbyterian Synod and Governor Gooch. 
And it was not until the Assembly had, in the year 1772, 
in reaponse to Baptist petitions, prepared a new Toleration 
Bill, which contained very annoying and oppressive restric- 
tiona, that the Hanover Presbytery broke their ailence and 
came out in earnest protest against the changes proposed. 


This petition of the Hanover Presbytery was published 
in full ui the Central Presbyterian of May 16, 1888, and 
heralded as the "advance guard of that array of remon- 
Btracces which so vigorously attacked the Establishment, 
and finally overpowered it and established perfect religious 
liberty on its ruins." The editor referred to it as proof 
"that the Presbyterians anticipated the Baptists in their 
memorials asking for religious liberty." That the reader 
may judge for himself, that memorial is given here in fiill: 
" Tolhe Honorable the Speaker, ajid (he Oentlemen of the House of Bm- 

The petition of the Presbytery of Hnnover, in behalf of them- 
selves and all the Presbyterians in Virginia in particolar, and all 
Protestant dissenters in general, humbly shonelli. That upon appli- 
cation made by the Rev. Mr. James AndeiHon in behalf of the Synod 
of Philadelphia, the honorable Governor Gooch, with the advice of 
the Council, did, in the yeur IT3S, or about that time, for the encour- 
agement of all Presbyterians who might incline to settle in the col- 
ony, grant an instrument of writing imder the seal of the colony, 
containing the most ample OMurances that they should eajoy the full 
and free eierciae of their religion, and all the other priviltgea of 
good subjects, Kelying upon this ezpresa stipulation, as well as upon 
the justice and catholic spirit of the whole legislative body, several 
thousand families of PresbyterianB have removed from the Northern 
provinces into the frontiers of tltis colony, exposed themselves to a 
cruel and savage euemy, andaUtbeotberloilsaiiddiiDgetEof eettliog 



s new country, and aoon became a barrier to the former iniabiUmta 
who were settled in the more commodious parts of the colony. Ever 
since that time we have been considered and treated upon an equal 
footing with our fellow-aubjects ; nor have our ministers or people 
been restricted in their religious privileges bj aay law of the colonj. 
Your humble petitioners further show, that with gratitude they 
acknowledge the catholic design of our late honorable Assembly to 
secure by law the religioue libertiea of all ProlesHmt diasenters in the 
colony ; accordingly they did, in the year 1773, prepare and print a 
Toleration Bill ; hut, as the subject was deeply interesting, it was 
generously lefl open for amendment. But, notwithstanding we are 
folly persuaded of the catholio and generous design of our late rep- 
resentative*; yet we are deepl7 sensible that some things in the 
above named bill will be very grievous and burdensome to us, if 
passed into a law. Therefore, we humbly and earnestly pray that 
the add bill may not be esiablished without such alterations and 
amendments as will render it more agreeable fo the principles of 
impartial liberty and sound policy, which, we presume, were the 
valuable ends for which it was first intended. Therefore, we humbly 
beg leave, while we are making the prayer of our petition in a more 
particular way, to lay before this honorable House in the moat 
respectful manner a few remarks upon the bill. 

The preamble is agreeable to what we desire, only we pray that 
the preamble and every other part of the bill may be bo expressed 
aa will be moat likely to obtain the royal assrait. 

We are also willing that all our clergymen should be required to 
take the oaths of allegiance, etc, usually taken by civil officers, ajid 
to declare their belief of the Holy Scriptures. 

Likewise, as is required in the said bill, we shall willingly have 
all out churches and stated places for public worship regiBtered, if 
this honorable House shall think proper to grant it. But every 
minister of the gospel is under indispensable obligations to follow 
the example of our blessed Saviour, " who went about doing good," 
and the example of his apostles, who not only " taught in the tem- 
ple, but in every house where they came they ceased not to teach 
and preach Jesua Christ." From which, and their constant practice 
of travelling into every quarter of the world, we humbly trust that 
it will appear to this Assembly that we cajinot, couBislent with the 
duties of our office, wholly confine our ministrations to any place or 



number of places; and to be limited by Inw would be the more 
grieroua, because in maaj parts of this colony, even where the ma- 
jority of the inhabitanta are Preabyteriani<, it U Dot, and perhaps it 
may not in any abort time be easy la determine where it would be 
the most eipedieot Co fix upon a stated place for public worship ; 
and, indeed, where we have houses for worship already bnilt, gen- 
erally the bounds of our congregations are so very extensive that 
many of our people, especially women, children and servania, are 
not able to attend by reason of the distance, which makes it our duty, 
as faithful ministers of Christ, to double our diligence, and fri^uently 
to lecture and catechise in the remote comers of our congregations. 
This restriction would alao be very grievous to na in many other 
respects. We only beg leave to add : That the number of Presby- 
terians in this proriace is now very great and the number of clergycntm 
but small ; therefore, we are obliged frequently to itinerate and 
preach through various parts of the colony, that our people may 
have an opportunity to worship God and receive the sacraments in 
the way i^eeable to their own consciences. As to our having 
meetings for public worship in the night, it is not in frequent practice 
among onr churches ; yet sometimea we find it expedient to attend 
night meetings, that a neighborhood may hear a sermon or a lecture, 
or be catechised, without being much interrupted in their daily labor. 
And so long as our fellow-subjects are permitted to meet together by 
day or by night for the purposes of businefs or diventon, we hope 
we shall not he restrained from meeting together as opportunity serves 
us, upon business of all others the most important ; especially if it 
be considered that the apostles held frequent societies by night, and 
once St. Paul continued hii speech till midnight ; accordingly it is 
well known that in city and collegiate churches evening prayers and 
lectures have long been esteemed lawful and profitable exercises. As 
to any bad influence this practice may have upon servants or any 
others, it ia sufficient to aay that there is nothing in our principles or 
way of worship that tends to promote a spirit of disobedience or 
disorder, but much to the contrary ; and if any person shall be de- 
tected in doing or teaching anything criminal in this respect, we 
presume he is liable to punishment by a law already in being ; 
therefore, we pray that no dissenting miniafer, according to law, 
may be subjected to any penalty for preaching or teacliing at any 
time or in any place in this colony. 


We confess it ia easy for ua to keep open doors in time of divioe 
service, eicept in wiae of a storm or other inclemencies of tlie weather; 
jet we would humbly represent that euch a requirement implies a 
suspicion of our lojaltj, and will fix a stigma upon lu to after ages, 
sucli 13, we presume, our houarabEe representntivea will not judge 
tliat we have anyhow incurred ; therefore we pray that this clauae 
may also be removed from the bill. 

And as to baptizing or receiving servanta into our communion, 
we have always anxiously desired to do it with the permission of 
their masters ; bat when a servant appears to be a true penitent and 
makes profession of his faitK in Christ, npon his desire it is our in- 
dispensable duty to admit him into our church, and if be has never 
been baptized, we are to baptize him according to the command of 
Christ : "Go ye, therefore, and teach ail nations, baptizing them in 
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, 
teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded 
yon ; and, lo, I am with yoQ alway, even unto the end of the world. 
Amen." And we are ao confidently persuaded of the liberal senti- 
ments of this House, that in obeying the laws of Christ, we shall 
sevef be reduced to the necessity of disobeying the laws of our 

And we also, having abundant reasons to hope that we shall be 
indulged in every other thing that may appear reasonable, your 
petitioners further pray : 

For liberty and protection in the discharge of all the functions 
and duties of our office as ministers of the gospel, and that the 
penalties to be inflicted on those who may disturb any of our congre- 
gations in the time of divine service, or misuse the preacher, be the 
same as on those who disturb the congr^ation or miiiuse the preachers 
of the Church of England, and that the dissenting clergy, as well 
ai the clergy of the Established church, be excused from all burden- 
some offices. All which we conceive is granted in the English 
Toleration Act 

And we pray for that freedom in speaking and writing upon 
religious subjects which is allowed by law to every member of the 
British Empire in civil affairs, and which has long been so friendly 
to the cause of liberty. 

And also we pray for a right by law to hold estates, and enjoy 
donations and legacies for the support of our churches and schools 


for the uiBtruclbn of our youth. Though this U not expressed in 
the Enj^liah Act of Toleration, vet tlie greatest lawyers in England 
have pled, and the hest judges have determined, that it is mani- 
fesdy implied. 

Finallf, ve pray that nothing in the Act of Toleration maybe bo 
expressed as to render us suspicious or odious to our countrymen, 
with xihoia we desire to lire in peace and Mendship ; bat that all 
misdemeBnor? committed by dissenters may be punished by laws 
equally binding upon all our fellow-subjeola, without any regard to 
their religious tenets. Or if any non-compliance with the conditions 
of the Act of Toleration shall b« judged to deserve punishment, we 
pray that the crime may be accurately defined and the penalty ascer- 
tained by the Legislature, and that neither be left to the discretion 
of any magistrate or court whutsoe^er. 

May it please this honorable Assembly, There are some other 
things which we omit, because they are less essential to the rij^hts of 
conscience, and the interest of our church. We trust that we pe- 
tition for nothing hut what justice says ought to beouiB ; foraa ample 
privileges as any of our fellow-subjects enjoy. "To have and enjoy 
the full and free eierciae of our religion, without molestation or 
danger of incurring any penalty whatsoever." We are petitioning 
jn favor of a church that is neither contemptible nor obscure. It 
prevails in every province to the northward of Maryland, and its 
advocates in all the more Southern provinces ore numerous and 
respectable ; the greatest moniLTch in the north of Europe adorns it ; 
it is the established religion of the populous and wealthy states of 
Holland ; it prevails in the wise and happy cantons of Switzerland ; 
and it is the possession of Geneva, a state among the foremost of 
those who, at the Reformation, emancipated themselves from the 
slavery of Home; and some of the first geniuses and writers in every 
branch of literature weie sons of our church. 

The subject is of such solemn importance to us that, comparatively 
speaking, our lives and our liberties are but of little value ; and the 
population of the country, and the honor of the Legislature, as well 
as the interest of American liberty, are certainly most deeply con- 
cerned in the matter : Therefore, we would willingly lay before this 
honorable House a more esteasive view of our reasons in favor of 
an unlimited, impartial toleration ; but fearing we should transgress 
upon the patience of the House, we conclude with praying that the 


alnise, juEt and merciful Gad would direDt ;ou in this, &nd all your 
other importoDt determinations. 
Signed bj order of Preabjtery. 

David Eick, Moderator. 
Caleb Wallace, Clerk. 
At a eesHioa of the Presbytery in Amherst county, November 
11th, 1774." 

The reader will look in vain for any " attack upon the 
Establishment," or any sign of hostility to it. It professes 
the greatest loyalty to King George and to the Colonial Gov- 
ernment. It contemplate3 nothing more than securing for 
Presbyterians and others in Virginia the same privileges 
and liberties which they enjoyed in England under the Act 
of Toleration. As has already been said, in the comment 
upon the agreement between the Presbyterian Synod and 
Governor Gooch, the Presbyterians were bound by that 
agreement to be loyal to the government and to support 
the Establishment, and they do not violate their word in 
the above petition. Nor do they ever take any step against 
the Establishment until tbe Colonial Government has been 
overturned and the colony has become a sovereign and in- 
dependent State. 

Thia closes the period of " Intolerance, Toleration, and 
Persecution." The colony is involved in trouble with the 
mother country. Virginia has denounced the "Boston 
Port Bill," and made common cause with Massachusetts. 
The First Continental Congress has already met in Phila- 
delphia. Patrick Henry has electrified the country by his 
memorable speech in the popular Convention which met 
March, 1775, in the old St. John's church, in Richmond. 
The battles of Lexington and Concord have been fought 
(April 19), and Virginia has taken steps to enroll com- 
panies of volunteers in every county. The war of the 


Bevolutioii is on, and the times call for union and hannonj 
among all classes. Hence there is no more persecution of 
Baptists. There are no imprisonments in 1775, and that 
obnoxious Toleration Bill is indefinitely x)OBtponed. The 
same ruling class that admitted the Presbyterians to Vir- 
ginia and to the benefits of the Act of Toleration, on con- 
dition that they occupied the frontier counties, and thus 
protected them against Indian raids, are now inclined to 
tolerate, not only the Presbyterians, but the Baptists also, 
with all their "pernicious doctrines," if only they will 
help in the struggle with Great Britain. The Baptists will 
help, and not a Tory will be found among them. But 
they will strike for something more and something dearer 
to them than civil liberty — ^for freedom of conscience, for 
"just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty." 



The Colonial Convention of 1775. 

The "Popular Conventiou, " which met in St. John's 
church, Richmond, March 20, 1775, had responded to 
Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" 
oration, by adopting the resolutions which he had pro- 
posed, and taking active steps towards putting the colony 
in a state of defense. The second Continental Con- 
gress had met in Philadelphia, May 10, and on the 17th 
of Jhdc, the day of the battle of Bunker Hill, they 
elected George Washington "commander-in-chief" of the 
"Continental army." Governor Dunmore had called 
the House of Burgesses together on the 1st day of June ; 
but becoming alarmed at the rebelHous proceedings of that 
body, he fled, with his family, from Williamsburg, and 
took refuge on a man-of-war. The House declared that 
the Governor had by this act abdicated his post, and they 
made the president of the Council the head of the govern- 
ment. They then adjourned to meet in Richmond, July 
17, " as a convention"; bo that ihe "Colonial Conven- 
tion of 1775" was simply the House of Burgesses under a 
new name and in a different character. 

But while these things were going on in the political 
world, certain important steps were being taken by the 
persecuted Baptietfl, the only body of dissenters that ap- 
peared before this Convention and sought to influence its 
action. Their remarkable growth and rapid spread dur- 


ing the years of persecution had emboldeued them to ' ' un- 
dertake great things for God" and to "expect great 
thinge from God." On page 25 of his History, Semple 

' ' Bo favor&ble did theii prospecUi appear, that towards the close 
of the year 1774 tliev b^^n to eateitain Beriona hopes, Dot onlj of 
Dbtaining libertr of conscience, bat of actoallj overtnmiDg the 
church ealablishment, from whence all ilieir oppressions had ariaoi. 
Petitions for this purpose were accordingly drawn and circulated 
with great induslry. Vast numbers readily, and indeed eagerly, 
Bubscribed to them." 

This statement accords with what Madiaoo had said in 
hia letter to Bradford, and it is given here to show how 
early the Baptists began to take steps looking towards the 
fullest and freest liberty. 

The General Aasociation of Separate Baptists had di- 
vided into two diviaons, one for the north side and the 
other for the south side of the James river ; but in the fall 
of 1774 "both of the associations appointed their next 
session to be holden at Manokin Town, or Dover meeting- 
house, the fourth Saturday in May, 1775." At that 
meeting, it was determined that the two districts should 
meet jointly at their next session, and they appointed Du- 
puy's meeting-house, Powhatan (then Cumberland) 
county, as the place, and the second Saturday in August, 
1776, as the time. 


As to this meeting, Semple CP^S® ^2) ^^'^^ ^^ ^'^^' 
lowing : 

"It seems that one great object of tmiting the two districts at 
this time was to strive together for the abolitioo of the bierarchj, 
or church establishment, in Virginia. The discontents in America, 
arising from British oppression, were now drawing to a crisia ; moA 


of the colonies had determined to resist, and some were for inde- 
pendence. This was a very farorahle season for the Baptists. Hav- 
ing been much ground under the Bcilish laws — or, at least, by the 
interpretation of them in Virf^inia — they were to a man favorable to 
any revolution by which they could obtain freedom of religion. 
They had known from experience that mere toleration was not a suf- 
ficient check, having been imprisoned at a time when that law was 
considered by many »» being in force. It was, therefore, resolved at 
this session to circulate petitions Us the Virginia Convention, or 
General Assembly, throughout the Slate, in order to obtain signa- 
tures. The prayer of these wa£ that the church establishment 
should be abolished, and religion \eit to stand upon its own merits ; 
and that all religious societies should be protected in the peaceable 
enjoyment of their own religioas principles and modes of worship, 
"they appointed Jeremiah Walker, John Williams, and George 
Boberta to wait on the Legislature with these petitions. They also 
determined to petition the Assembly for leave to preach to the army, 
which was granted." 

Dr. Howell, in hia account of the meetings at Manokin 
Town and Dupuy's, in soraewhat fuller and more definite. 
He says that at the first meeting a committee was ap- 
pointed to prepare an address to the Convention soon to 
meet in Richmond, which "would embody their opinions 
and deairea in the existing political criais of the country." 
This committee was to report at the nest meeting, at Du- 
puy'a. And on page 142 Howell aaya: 

"The General Association assembled at the time and place ap- 
pointed. The committee reported the address, which was carefully 
canvaased, and, after a deliberation of two days, unanimously 
adopted. Rev. Messrs. Jeremiah Walker, John Williams, and 
George Roberts were appointed comraissionets on the part of the 
Baptists of Virginia to present their address to the Convention ; and 
these gentlemen were especially instructed to remain at the Capitol 
during the session, to mingle and converse freely with the rr 
of the Convention, and to employ every honorable mi 
the eada proposed, ' ' 


And on page 143 he adds: "The address, which was 
adopted, and which was filed among the State papers of 
Virginia, contemplated two objects — the freedom of the 
colony from British rule, and the freedom of religioQ from 
all government trammels and direction. The former of 
these objects is thus noticed in the journals of the Conven- 
tion:" [Here Howell gives the Journal entry, which will 
be found below,] 

The Convention assembled in Richmond on the 17th 
day of July, and on the 12th of August (second Satur- 
day} the Baptist Association met at Dupuy's, Four daya 
thereafter, August 16, the Baptist address was laid be- 
fore the Convention, as the following extract from the 
Journal of that day shows: 

[Journal of Convention, August 16, 1775.] 
"An addre^ from tlie Baptists in this colonj was presented and 
read, setting fortli thnt, however distinguished from the hoAj of 
their conntiyinen by appellations and sentiments of a religioiiB mt- 
ture, they, neverthelesB, considered themselves as membere of the 
eame cororounity in respect to matters of a civil nature, and em- 
harked in the same common cause ; tliftt, alarmed at the oppression 
which hangs over America, they liad considered irhat part it irould 
be proper to take in the unhappy contest, and had determined that 
in some coses it was lawful to go to war ; and that they ought to 
make a military resistance agaiiist Great Britain in her unjust inva- 
sion, tyrannical oppression, and repeated hustilities; that their breth- 
ren were left at discretion to enlist without incurring the censure of 
their religious community ; an-d, under these circumstances, many 
had enlisted as soldiers, and many more were ready to do ao, who 
had an earnest desire that their ministeis should preach to them 
during the campaigns ; that they had, therefore, appointed four of 
their brethren to make application to tiiis Convention for the liberty 
of preaching to the troops at convenient times, without molestation 
or abuse, and praying the same may be granted them," 


Fortunately, this one of the many memorials of the 
Baptists can he produced in flill. It was found in the old 
State papers in the Capitol huilding by Hon. Wilham 
Wirt Henry, and, through his courtesy, published in the 
Religious Rerald of July 19, 1888. [See Appendix.] 


The Convention was in a conciliatory frame of mind 
just then, and the following resolution was passed: 

" Jifsoli'ol, That it be an insttuction to the commanding officere 
of the regiment or troops to be caiaed, that they penait diesBnting 
clergyoieD to celebrate divine worsbip, and to preaeb to the soldiers, 
or exhort from time to time, as the various operations of tlie mili- 
tary service may permit, for tbe ease of sucli scrupulous consciences 
as maj- not choose to attend divine service 33 celebrated by the 

Those words, "for the ease of such scrupulous con- 
sciences," etc., have in them a little sting, and suggest the 
thought that the framers of that resolution were swallowing 
a bitter pill. Only the year before, Jeremiah Walker 
and others had been imprisoned in Chesterfield jail for 
preaching the gospel, and now he conies, with Williams 
and Roberta, to aali in behalf of their persecuted brethren 
that they might have the privilege of preaching to the sol- 
diers whom they sent to the patriot army. But, bitter as 
the pill was, it was sufficiently sugar-coated with the 
promise of their much needed help in the struggle with 
Great Britain to enable them to swallow it. It was the 
same class (the ruling class) that had, a few years before, 
made concessions to the brave and hardy Scotch-Irish 
Presbyterians, on condition that they settled in the western 
counties, and thus formed a frontier line of defense against 
the Indians, and now, when the services of all the people 


are needed against a fitronger and mightier foe, even Bap- 
tJBt preachers, whose petition for exemption from musfera 
and other military duties had been eon tern ptuouBly 
spurned hitherto, are now welcomed aa co-laborera in the 
common cause and placed upon an equality with the 
clergy of the Established church, so far <u the army is 

Dr. Hawks says; 

"This, it ia belieTEd, was the £rat step made towirds placing the 
clergy of all deDominatians upon an equal footing in Virginia." 
History, etc., page 138. 

Dr. Foote (322) makes this comment: 

"The action of the Legialature shoica how far the principle of 
religious toleration bad advanced. AVhcn all men were called to 
defend their common country a^^nst an alarming danger, as in the 
French and Indian war, then the law-makere discoTered that those 
who fought their battles ought to be indulge with freedom of con- 
science. Granted in one position and one set of circiimsUnces, there 
was no stopping til! it was granted to all men and in all cases, " 

"The Baptists," says Dr. Hawks (137), " were not alow in discov- 
ering the advanlageous position in which the political troubles of the 
couniry had placed them. Their numerical slrength was such aa to 
nake it important to both sides lo secure their in Qtlence. They knew 
this. Bad therefore determined to turn the circumstance to their profit 
as a sect. Peraeculion had laught them not to love the Establish- 
ment, and they now saw before them a reasonable prospect of over- 
tuming it entirely. In their Association, they had calmly discussed 
the matter, and resolved upon lUeir course ; in this course they were 
consistent to the end, and the war which they waged against the 
church nos aivi 

This bold and advanced attitude of the Baptists will be 
better appreciated when it is considered that the political 
leaders in Virginia did not, at this time, contemplate inde- 
pendence of Great Britain, but only a struggle for their 

W on 

I or( 



in the union," By reference to chapter 4 of 
ordinances of this convention, it wiU be seen that they 
ordered a new convention to be elected by the people every 
April. But, what is more to the point, they drew and 
passed "A Declaration of Delegates, " August 26, contain- 
ing the following; 

"But, lest our yiewa and designs should be nuBrepreaented and 
loiemiderslood, we again and for all publicly and solemnly declare, 
before God and the world, that we do bear faith and true allegiance 
to Hifl Majesty, George the Third, our only lawful and rightful 
King." etc 

This needs no comment. It is evident that this body 
was opposed to separation from the mother country. And 
such was the attitute of the colonies generally. Rayner, 
in his "Life of Jefferson" (page 127), says: "All his- 
torians concur in testifying that total emancipation was not 
contemplated until the spring of '76." 

The Convention met again in Richmoad, December 1, 
1775, and adjourned the same day to meet in Williams- 
burg, the capital, December 4. They adjourned January 
20, 1776, to meet again April 2. The election that month 
resulted in some changes and additions. Twenty-ninB new 
members were elected, and seventy of the old ones returned. 
They will meet in Williamsbiirg, May 6, and decide the 
future destiny of Virginia, and also exert a material influ- 
ence upon the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In 
the meantime, those petitions ordered by the General Aaeo- 
ciation in their meeting at Dupuy'a are being circulated all 
over the State, and signatures are being obtained from all 
classes, including many noble members of the Established 
church, and in due time they will be presented to the Vir- 
ginia General Assembly for legislative action. 



■as the opinion of the writer, at one time, that the 
8 which waa presented to the Convention of '75 em- 
braced all of the BubjectB that were considered and acted 
upon by the General Association of that year. That 
opinion was based upon the accounts given by Semple and 
Howell, whicb, while clear enough oa to what the Baptists 
resolved upon and what they actually did, are not always 
clear as to times and places. They do not seem to distin- 
guish between the Convention of '75, the Convention of '76, 
and the General Assembly of '76 — an omission which ia 
attributed partly to tlie fact that they were writing, not a 
history of political affairs, but a brief account of the Bap- 
tists, and partly, also, to the fact that these three bodies 
were, as to their personnel, essentially the same ; for the 
lower house (House of Delegates) of the first Assembly 
under the Constitution and Bill of Eights was the same as 
the Convention of '76, which framed the Constitution, and 
of that Convention there were, as has already been stated, 
only twenty -nine members that were not in the Convention 
of '75. Hence Semple (and Howell, too,) might very 
well use Convention and Assembly interchangeably; but, 
in doing so, he leaves the reader in the dark as to what 
waa presented to the one and what to the other. But the 
discovery and publication of the address itself removes all 
doubt and uncertainty, and shows that, while the Baptists 
had determined on the overthrow of the Establishment, and 
to circulate petitions to that end, yet, in their address to 
that Convention, met for the consideration of measures for 
the defence of the colony, they expressed themselves on that 
subject only, declaring in favor of military resistance to 
British oppression, offering the services of their young m 




as soldiers, and askiDg only that, bo far as the army was 
concerned, their ministers might enjoy like privileges with 
the clergy of the Eatabliafied church. 

There was consummate wisdom in this ; for, as subse- 
quent developments will show, it would have been very 
impolitic, even if their petitions had been ready, to have 
sprung the question of disestablishment upon that body 
before they had committed themselves to the cause of inde- 
pendence. And as it is matter of history that the Baptists 
had already won the sympathies and friendship of such men 
as Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, 
it is not unreasonable to suppose that, in the management 
of their long and desperate struggle for religious freedom, 
they were guided to some extent, at least, by the advice of 
these great men. But, however that may be, they showed 
"the wisdom of the serpent" and "the harmlessness of 
the dove " in their address to the Convention of '75, and 
the journal of that body records the first complimentary 
notice of Baptist petitions, and the " first step made towards 
placing the clergy of all denominations upon an equal foot- 
ing in Virginia." 

The Convention of X77Q. 

This body was elected in April and asBembled in Wil- 
liamaburg on the 6th of May, A comparison of the lists 
of delegates in attendance shows that there were twenty- 
nine new members in this Convention that were not in the 
last Convention of '75. It is impossible to explain all of 
these changes, but it is quite certain that some of them were 
due to the rising tide of Baptist principles and the solidarity 
of Baptist votes. The following significant statement of 
William Fristoe, at page 90 of his History, will explain: 

"ThebuaioesatlieQ [1776] was to uml«M an oppressed people in 
using our inSneDce and give our voice in electing members of the 
State legislature — members faTorable to religious liberty and the 
rights of conscience. Although the Baptisla were not numeroui, 
when there was onTthing near a division among the other inhabitants 
in a canat;, the Eaptists, together with their influence, gave a caste 
to the scale, bj which means manj a worth; and useful member was 
lodged in the House of Assemblj and answered a valuable purpose 

Now, this body which met in May, and which had just 
been elected for one year, was, by its act, made the ' 'House 
of Delegates " of the first General Aasembly under the new 
Constitution. Hence, while Fristoe is speaking of elections 
to the Assembly, it is manifest that what he says applies 
equally to the election in April, which resulted in placing 
in the Convention, and in the subsequent Assembly, some 
of the moat valiant champions of religious liberty, one of 
whom was the youthful James Madison, of Orange, and 
another was French Strother, of Culpeper. The former, 


Jamea Madiaon, Deeds no further introduction to the reader. 
Hia letters to his friend Radford, which have already been 
given in Chapter II, show that, at the early age of 21, he 
had espoused the cause of the persecuted Baptists and had 
imbibed their views on the question of religious liberty. 
No wonder the Baptists of Orange, and others wbo sym- 
pathized with them, were in favor of putting this young 
and gifted champion of their cause in that body to which 
they were going to appeal for redress of grievances. 

As to French Strother, the following interesting sketch 
it given by Rev. Philip Slaughter, D. D., in hia History 
of St, Mark's Parish, Culpeper county, Va., page 170: 

" French SWother became a yeFttrjiaan in 1773, and ciurch war- 
den in 1780. He made hiiuBelf very popuiar by releaaiog a Baptist 
mialBter who had been imprisoned by a j'uetice of the peace, bj sub- 
etituting his man Tom in his place and letting hi'm out at night. 
He represented the county for nearly thirty jeara in the General 
Assembly; was a member in 1776, and of the Convention of 1788-9, 
L* and voted against the Constitution and for the famous resolutions of 
He was solicited to oppose Mr. Madison for CongresB (see 
Bives' Madison); but Monroe became the candidate, and was badly 

Strother was popular in Culpeper for the same reason 
that Madison was popular in Orange, and there were 
■doubtless a number of others En that Convention who owed 
their election to the same influence. It is not a little signi- 
ficant that so many of the changes were in those counties 
e persecution had raged most fiercely and dissenters 
i multiplied most rapidly. 
I days after the meeting of the Virginia Convention, 
Congress met in Philadelphia (May 12), and instructed 
the colonies to organize independent governments of their 
own. The war was ou. Washington had forced Howe to 
_ATBcuate Boston, aud was now defending New York. 



The firet address presented to the Convention was from 
Augusta county — a county noted for its loyalty to the 
cause of the Revolution. The Journal of May 10 haa 
the following notice; 

" A representation from the Committee of the county of Augnata 
waB presented to tlie Conrention and read, Betting forth the present 
mlbappy situation of the countrr, and, fcom the ministerial meaaores 
of vengeance now puRuing, representing the necessity of making the 
confederacy of the united colonies the most perfect, independent, and 
laatuig, ajid of framing an equal, free, and liberal government, that 
may bear the test of all future ages." 

This waa " referred to Committee on State of the Colony." 


An interesting question ia raised, and may be appro- 
priately introduced at this point, by the following extract 
from an " Oratiou on the Lii'e, Character, and Services of 
Jamei Madison," delivered at Culpeper Courthouse, July 
18, 1836, by Hod. John S. Barbour, father of the late 
United States Senator of that name: 

'■He (Madison) well knew, as I am told he often declared, that 
the Baptists liad been in all hh time the fast and firm friends of 
liberty; that whilat he waa in tie Convention of '7fi, which framed 
our State Constitution, they had even then, when hope was sinking 
in the despair of our cause, addressed that body. In tliat addrefta 
they declared that [he tenets of their religion did not forbid their 
fighting for their country, and that the pastors of their fiocka would 
animate the young of their perauagion to enlist for our battles." 

The question raised by this extract is, whether the Bap- 
tist address which was presented to the Convention of '75, 
and produced such a favorable impression upon that body, 
was again read before this Convention of '76 ? That it waa 
in the custody of the clert, there can be no doubt; for 


even the petitions which were before the House of Biirgeeses 
in the Bpriog of '75 were in the custoiy of the clerk, as 
appears from an ' ' order ' ' of the Assembly of October 25, 
1770, directing the clerk to turn over to the proper com- 
mittees under the new organization "the several petitioua 
and propositions depending and undetermined before the 
Assembly in the month of May, 1775." But was that 
address called for and read to this Convention for the 
benefit of the tweaty-niue new members, and aa having an 
important bearing upon the objects for which the Conven- 
tion was assembled ? It is evident, from Madison's descrip- 
tion of it, that it was the same address a^ the one described 
in the Journal of August 16, 1775, That there is no 
reference to it in the Journal of this Convention, may be 
accounted for on the ground that it was not a new address, 
but one which had already been received and properly 
noticed, and also by the further consideration that it was 
k doubtless read in committee of the whole house, of which 

I proceedings no record is made in the Journal, except their 

W report to the House. A number of writers have claimed 

r that that address was read before the Convention of '76 and 

I made a profound impression, and they seem to be sustained 

rby the testimouy of Madison, as given by Hon. John S. 

On the 16th of May, the Convention adopted the follow- 
ing resolutions: 

" Rttoived, unanimou^, That tlie delegates in General Congress 
be inBtracted to propose to that respectable body lo declare the united 
oolocies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to, 
:e upon, the crown or Parliament of Great Erltain; and 
that t!iey give the assent of this colony to such declaratioo, and to 
whaterer measures may be thooglit proper and neccsaaiy by the 


Congress for forming foreign alliances, and a confederation of the 
coloniea, at aucli time and in the manner aa to tbem shall acem best; 
provided, that the power of forming government for and the regula- 
tions of the internal concerns of each colon; be left to the respective 
colonial legisktarea. 

"Resolved, unanitiunisly. That a committee be appointed to pre- 
pare a Dedacation of Rights, and such a plan of government as vriU 
be moHt likely to maintain peace and order in this colony, and aecure 
substantial and equal libertj to the people." 

June 12th, the "Declaration of Rights" was adopted, 
the 16th article of which, aa drawn by George Mason, was 
reported by the committee aa follows: 
16th article of bill of eights, as reported. 

■ ' That religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the man- 
ner of discharging i«t, can be directed only liy reason and conviction, 
and not by force or violence ; and, therefore, that all men should en- 
joy the fullest toleration in the exercise of religion, according to the 
dictates of conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the mogiBtrate, 
nnleSB, under the color of religion, any man disturb the peace, the 
happiness, or the safety of society; and that it in the mutual duty of 
all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each 

16th article, as amended. 

On motion of Jamea MadiBon, this article was amended, 
in "Committee of the Whole," so as to read: 

" That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the 
luanDer of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and convic- 
tion, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally 
entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of 
conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian 
forbearance, love, and charity towards each other." 

Between these two there is a radical difference — the dif- 
ference between toleration and liberty. How came the 
youthful Madison to understand it? 



" Where," wks Dr. John C. Jjong, "did tlie atripling learn the 
distiDClion between icligiouB freedom and religioiis toleration? It 
had not then began to be recognize! in treatises on religion and 
morals. He did not learn it from Jercmj Taylor or John Locke, 
but from his Baptist neighbors, whose wrongs he had witoeaaed, and 
who persistently taught that the citi] magistrate hod nothing to do 
with matters of religion." See address of Memorial Committee of 

The following is from Chambers' Library of Universal 
Knowledge, IX., 334: 

" In the committee, Madison dLstinguiahed himself by opposing 
the use of the following phrase of an article on religion, designed to 
secm^ freedom of worship : ' Toleration in the eiercise of religion, 
. . unpunished and unrestrained by the magistrate, unless under 

color of religion, any man disturb the peace, the happiness, or the 
safety of society,' as a dangerous form of guarimty of religious free- 
dom. Toleration, he maintained, belonged lo a system where there 
was an established church, and where it was a thing granted, not of 
right, but of grace. He feared the power, in the hands of a domi' 
n»nt religion, to construe what ' may disturb the peace, the happi- 
ness, or the safety of society,' and he ventured to propose a substitnte, 
which was Snally adopted. It marks an era in legislative history, 
and is believed lo be the first provision ever emlK)died in any eonsti- 
tulion or law for the security of absolute equality before the law to all 
religious opinions." 

But why, it may be asked, did oot Madison propose the 
change in the committee room ? He Vi&s a member of the 
committee, and so waa Patrick Henry. Why did he wait 
until their report came before the whole house ? Was it 
that he did propose the change in the committee room and 
it waa rejected ? Or waa it that his 0(vn attention waa not 
attracted to the much-needed alteration, or amendment, 
until the report was under discussion in the " Committee of 
the Whole," and those Baptist oomtnissioners. Walker, Wil- 
liams, aod Roberta, who had been instructed to be on hand 
on such occasioDB, had an opporttmity of seeing that obnox- 


iouB article and making known to him their objection? 
Both Howell and Semple eay that they were appointed for 
this purpose, and while the records of the Convention wiil 
not, of course, indicate the presence of these, or any other 
"lobbyists," there is good ground for suspecting their 
presence, and tracing to their watchfijlness the important 
amendment moved by their youthful advocate, James Mad- 
ison, Dr. Howell, in his account of the General Associa- 
tion of the Baptists for 1776, which met in August, says: 
"Ila commiBsionera to the State Convention, Mr. Walker, Mr. 
WillJaros, and Mr. Roberts, reported, giving a fall account of their 
miflsion, and the extraordinnrj BUocesa with whicli God had crowned 
their endeavors. They received the grateful thanks and earnest con- 
grBtnlaiions of all their brethren." Earlj Baptists of Virginia, 
page 159. 


It is proper to notice here the recent claim set up in favor 
of Patrick Henry us the author of this famous 16th article 
of the Bill of Rights. The basis of that claim is the fol- 
lowing extract from " a fragment of Edmund Randolph's 
Manuscript History of Virginia ' ' : 

"The 15th, recommendmg aa adherence and fre<]uent recurrence 
to fundamental principles, and tlie 16th, unfettering the exercise of 
religion, were proposed hj Mr. Henry. The latter, coming from a 
gentleman who was supposed to be a dissenter, caused an appeal to 
him whether it was designed as a prelude to an attack on the Estab- 
lishment, and he disclaimed such an object." 

The above is given with the view of letting the reader 
judge for himself as to the authorship of that article in its 
original form. All other historians ascribe it to George 
Mason, Rives, in his "Life and Times of Madison," page 
138, says that Mason wrote fourteen articles of the Bill of 
Eights, and that three were added by the committee. But 


these three did not include the 15th and 16th, Maaon'a 
14th article related to the vital subject of religious liberty, 
and became the 16th of the bill. He says thia article 
"came before the Convention precisely as it stood in Ma- 
son's draft." 

But even eupposiug Randolph's statement to be true, 
and that Patrick Henry was the author of that article, 
Eandolph's testimony convicts him of being still an under- 
graduate in the achool of religious liberty; for. when chal- 
lenged by some alert churchman, who had not forgotten 
the famous "Parsons' Cause," whether this was a prelude 
to an attack on the Establishment, ' ' he disclaimed aiich an 
object." In other words, he was for the broadest tolera- 
tion towards dissenters, but not in favor of disturbing the 
Established church, and hence not in full sympathy with 
the Baptist doctrine of entire separation between Church 
and Htate. 


The Journal of June 20 has this entry: 

"A petition of aundrjperaonsof t!ie Baptist chiircb, in the county 
of Prince William, whose names are thereunto eubscribed, wa£ pre- 
sented lo the Convention and read, selling forth that at a time when 
this colony, with others, is contending for the civO rights of man- 
kind, against the enslaving schemes of a powerful enemy, they are 
peranaded the alricteat unanimity ia necessary among ourselves ; and, 
that every remaining cause of division may, if possible, be removed, 
they think it their duty to petition for the following religious privi- 
leges, which they have not yet been indulged with in this part of the 
world — to wit : That they be allowed to worship God in their own 
way, without interruption ; that they be permitted lo maintain their 
own miniaters, and none others ; that they be married, buried, and 
the like, without paying the clergy of other denominations ; that, 
these things granted, lliey will gladly unite with their brethren, and 
to the utmost of their ability promote the common cause." "Ordered 


that the saiJ peliiion be refarfA to the Committee of PropositiDaB 
and GrieTancfs ; that thej inqnire into the allegations thereof, and 
report the same, with their opinion thereupon, to the Ccmveatiim." 
As the ddIj Baptist church ia Priace William county at 
that time was OccoquoD, of which David Thomas was paa- 
tor, it would seem that this petition came not from a meet- 
ing of the Ketocton Association in Prince William, but 
from David Thomas' church in that Association. It was 
the first of those petitions which were being circulated for 
gignatures, and the only one presented to this Convention 
by any religious body. Like the "sheaf of wheat" 
"waved before the Lord" at the Passover, it was the 
"first fruits" of the coming "harvest " of similar petitions 
that would be gathered together and poured in upon the 
Assembly in October. And it ia worthy of notice, as s 
other illustration of that wisdom that was guiding and 
directing the campaign, that this, the first petition that 
struck at the EatabliehmenI, was presented to the Conven- 
tion, not prior to, but aj(er the adoption of the Bill of 
Rights, with the great fundamental principle of Baptists 
incorporated into the organic law of the now sovereign 
State, and the State was committed to the cause of inde- 

Thue it appears that the Baptists were the only denomi- 
nation of Christians that addressed either of the Conven- 
tions on the subject of going to war with Great Britain, or 
on the other important subject of the rights of conscience. 
The Presbyterians are adhering strictly and loyally to the 
terms of the agreement with Governor Gooch. But the 
Revolution in Virginia has now freed them from that con- 
tract and left them at liberty to act according to their con- 
victions and judgment under the new government. They 
will be heard from when the Assembly meets in October, 


and tbey will be the powerful allies of the Baptists and 
other diBsenters in the war against the Establishmeat. The 
cause of religious liberty will receive a strong reinforcement 
in the person of Thomas Jefferson, who has just won im- 
mortal renown as the author of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. He will give up hia seat in Congress, and refuse 
all other posts of honor, for the sake of the work of reform 
in hia native State, And when he joins Madison and the 
other advocates of religious freedom in the first Virginia 
Legislature, the battle royal will begin. The engagements 
thus far described have resulted in great gain as to position, 
but they are ooly skirmishes as compared with the general 
engagement which begins in October, 1776, and culminates 
in the storming of the fortress and the fall of the Establish- 
ment in 1779. 

Beginning of Struggle in Qeneral Assembly, 1776. 

The first republican Legislature assembled at Williama- 
burg, October 7, 1776, and was immediately flooded with 
petitions. They began to be presented oa the 11th, on 
which day the House of Delegates appointed "A Com- 
mittee on Religion, composed of Messrs. Braxton, Harwood, 
Kichaid Lee, Bland, Simpson, Starke, Mayo, Hite, 
Fleming, James Taylor, Watta, Lewis, Adams, Curie, 
Jefferson, Scott, Page of Spotsylvania, McDowell, and 
Mr. Treasurer," and with instructions "to meet and ad- 
journ from day to day, and to take under their consideration 
all matters and things relating to religion and morality, 
and report," etc. The several petitions, as they were 
presented to the House and read, were "referred to the 
Committee on Reli^on." As some were agtunst the Es- 
tablishment and some were in its favor, they will be given 
under these two heads, and in the order in which they 


L snsDBr 

Octobei 11 : "A petitioD of snndrj inhabituitB of the coont; 
of Prince Edward, whose niunes are ihereunlo subscribed, was pre- 
Boited to tlie House and read ; setting forth that the; helutUy 
approve and cheerfully submit themselves to the form of govemmoit 
adopted for this Slate, and hope that the United American States 
will long continue free and independent ; that thej esteam the last 
article of the BiU of Rights as the lising sun of retigioua libertj, to 
relieve Uiem from a long night of ecclesiastical bondage and do most 


mrally request nnd expect thot lliis House will go on to completa 
ID nobly begun ; that is, lo raise religious as weU aa civil 
) the zenith of glory, and imike Virginia an asjlnm for free 
Unquir?, knowledge, and the virtuous of every denomination ; that 
Qostice to themselves and posterity makes it their indispensable duty 
n particular to entreat that, irithoiit delay, all church eatablishmenls 
ight be puUeil down, and every 4itx upon considence and private 
It abolished, nnd each individual left to rise or sink by bia 
n merit and the general laws of the land." 

r IG ; "A petition of dissenters from the ecclesiastical 

establiihnient was presented to the House and read ; setting forth 

that, being delivered from British oppression. In common with the 

other inhabitants of this Commonwealth, they rqjoice in theprospect 

of having (heir freedom locured and ronintained to them and their 

porterity inviolate ; that their hopes have been raised and confirmed 

pbj the declarations of this House with regard to equal liberty, that 

Sovaluable blessing, which, though it be the birthright of every good 

BBember of the State, they have been deprived of, in that by taxation 

leir property hath bc«i wrested from them and given to those trom 

n they receive no equivalent ; that having long groaned under 

le burden of an ecclesiastical establishment, they pray tlutt this, as 

IS every other yoke, may be broken, and that "the oppressed 

I m«y go free, that so, e^ery religious denomination being on a level, 

animosities may cease, and Christian forbearance, love, and charity, 

practised towards each other, while the Legislature interferes only 

to support them in their just rights and equal privileges." 

October 22 : " Two petitions from the dissenters from the Church 
of England in the counties of Albemarle, Amherst, and Buckingham 
were presented to tlie House and read ; setting forth that they have 
never been upon an equal footing with the good people of this 
conntry in respect to religious privileges, having been obliged by law 
to contribute to the support of the Established church, while at the 
same time they were moved from a principle of conscience to support 
the church of which tliey were members; yet, inasmuch as this was 
the form of government established when they became dissenters 
from the Cbarch of England, they submitted to it for the sake of 


good order, olwaj-g willing to stnnd up with the foremost in support 
of government, and in defence of the just rights and properties of 
the Buhject ; that when it became necessary the form of government 
should be new modelled, in conaequence of having thrown off our 
dependence on the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain, the^ 
Sattered themselves that form of government would secure equal 
right to the subject ; that they cannot disguise their real concern lo 
observe that many are still violent for the establishment of the 
Episcopal church ; and praying that every religious denomination 
may be put upon an equal footing." 


October 22: "Also, a petition from the freeholders and other 
inhahitanta of the parish of Kortli Famhara, in tlie county of Rich- 
mond, setting forth that they have been ranch aggrieved and op- 
pressed by the vestry of said parish, and praying a dissolution 

October 22: "Also, a petition of the German congregation [Lu- 
therans] in the county of Culpeper [now Madison], setting forth 
that they are oppressed by beinj; obliged <o pay parochial charges, at 
well aa to support their own charch, and praying that they may be 
exempted from farther paymecit of parochial charges, other than 
to support their own charch and poor, and that their minislerH may 
have equal right and privileges with tlieir brethren in Pennsjlvwiia, 
d church ministers in Virginia, so far as may extend 
ra of their church only," 

October 24 : "A memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover was pre- 
sented to the House and read ; setting forth that they are governed 
by the same nentlments which have inspired the United States of 
America, and are determined that nothing in their power and influ- 
ence shall he wantmg to give success to the common cause ; that 
dissenters from tlie Church of England in this country have ever 
been desirous to conduct themselves as peaceable members of the civil 
govemnient, for which reason they have hitherto submitted to sev- 
eral ecclesiastical borthens and restrictions that are inconsistent with 
equal liberty, but that now, when the many and grievous oppressions 



of our mother country have laid tiiia continent under the necessity of 
casting off the yoke of tyranny and of forming independent govem- 
upoa equitable and liberal foundations, they flatter themaelves 
theyfiball be freed from all the encumbranceawhicliaapirit of donii- 
pryudice, or bigotry hatli interwoven with most other politi- 
cal systeinB ; that they are more strongly encouraged to expect this 
by the declaration of rights, so universally applauded for the dignity, 
firmnesa, and precision wilh which it delineates and asaertfl the privi- 
leges of society and the prerogatives of human nature, and which 
they embrace as the Magna Charta of the Commonwealth, which 
con never be violated without endangering the grand anperstructare 
it WHS destined to support. Therefore, they rely upon this declara- 
tion, OS well aa the juutice of the Legislature, to aecura to them the 
free exercise of religion according to the dictates of their consdences ; 
and that theyehould fall short in their duty to themselves and to the 
congregations ander their care, were they upon 
negiect laying before the House a state of the reli- 
gious grievances under which they have hitherto labored ; that they 
no longer may be continued in the present form of government ; that 
it is well known that in the frontier counties, which are justly sup- 
posed to contain a fifth part of the inhabitants of Virginia, the dis- 
senters have borne the heavy burthens of purchaMng glebes and sup- 
porting the Established clergy, where there are very few Episcopalians 
either to aasiat in bearing the expense or to reap tjie advantage ; and 
that throughout the other parts of the country there are also many 
thonaands of zealous friends and defendera of the State, who, besides 
the invidious and disadvantageous restrictions to which they have 
berai subjected annually, pay large taxes to support an establishment 
&om which their consciences and principles oblige them to dissent, 
all which are so many violations of their natural rights, and in their 
consequences a restraint upon freedom of inquiry and private judg- 
ment. In this enlightened age, and in a land where all are united 
in the most strennoua efforts to be free, they hope and expect that 
their representatives will cheerfully concur in removing eveiy spe- 
cies of religious as well as civil bondage. That every orgumeat for 
civil liberty gains additional strength when applied to liberty in the 
coDcems of religion, and that there Is no argumcot in favor of eetab- 
lisbing the Christian religion but what may be pleaded for estab- 
liehing the tenets of Mahomet by those who believe the Alcoran ; or, 


if tbiB be not true, it ia at Icaat impossible for tlie magiHtrate to 
adjudge the right of preference among the various sects which pro- 
fess ttie Qiriatian failh, irtthout erecting a chair of. infallibility, 
which would lead us back to the Church of Rome. ',That they beg 
leave farther to represent that religious eBtablisbilieiitB are highly 
injtiriouB to the temporal interests of any comraunity, without insiat- 
Ing upon the ambition and the arbitrary practices of tboae who are 
favored by government, or the intriguing, seditious spirit which ia 
commonly excited by this, sb well as every other kind of oppression, 
Buch <?stablishnienia greatly retard population, and cousei]uently the 
progreia of arts, acieucea, and manufactures. Witness the rapid 
growth and improvements of the northern provinces, compared with 
this. That no one can deny the more early settlement and tha many 
superior advantages of oiu' country would have invited mnititudes of 
artificers, mechanics, and other useful members of society to fis their 
habitation among us, who have either remained in the place of their 
nativity or preferred worse civil government and a more barren field, 
where they might enjoy the right of conscience more fully than they 
had a prospect of doing in this ; Irom which they infer that Virginia 
might now have been the capital of America, and a match for the 
Eritish arms without depending upon others for the necessaries of 
war, had it not been prevented by her religious ealablisbment. 
Weither can it be made to appear that the gospel needs any such civil 
aid; they rather conceive that, when our blessed Saviour declares his 
kingdom ia not of this world, be renouncea all dependence upon State 
Iiower, and, as his wcaponit are spiritual, and were only designed to 
hare influence on the judgment and heart of man, they are per- 
suaded that, if mankind were left in the quiet possession of their 
unalienable religious privileges, Christianity, as in the days of the 
apostles, would continue to prevail and flourish in the greatest purity 
by its own native excellence, and under the all-disposing providence 
of God. That they would also humbly represent that the only proper 
objects of civil government are the happiness and protection of men 
in the present state of existence, the security of the life, liberty, and 
property of the citizens, and to restrain the vicious and enconrage 
the virtuous by wholesome laws, equally eitending to every indi- 
vidual ; but that the duty they owe their Creator, and the manner 
of discharging it, can only be directed by reason and conviction, and 
ia nowhere cogniiable but at the tribunal of the Universal Judge ; 


and thai, therefore, thej aak no ecclesiaaticul establlahmenta for 
themselvcB, neither can they approve of them when granted to others, 
and eameBtly entreating that all lawa now in force in this Common- 
wenlth which countenance religious dominations may be speedily 
tepealed, that all and ever; religious sect Toa-j be protected in the 
full eierciae of their several modes of wocsliip, and eiempted from 
the payment of all taxes for the support of any church whatever, 
farther than what may be agreeable to their own private choice, or 
Toluntary obligation.' ' 

October 25 ; "Two petitions of the dissenters from the Church 

of England were presented to tfae House and read ; setting forth 

that they are eipoaed to great hardships in being obliged to con- 

I tribute to the support of the Established church, contrary to the 

I dictates of their conscience, and praying that the ecclesiastical eatah- 

liahment may be suspended, or laid aside." 

October 25; "Ordered, that the several petitions and propo- 
L.ntiODS depending and undetermined before the Assembly in the 
I month of May, 1775, be delivered by the clerk to the several com- 
c«8 before whom thti' same were depending." 

November 1st : " A petition from the dissenters from the Church 
of England in the counties of Albemarle and Amherst was pre- 
sented lo the House and read." [For the rest, see dissenters' petition 
of October 25.] 

November 9: "A memorial from the Committee for Augusta 
j County was presented to the House and read ; setting forth that 
, there is nothing more necessary in the present struggle for the liber- 
ties of America than an union of the minds and strength of its in- 
■ liabitanta, and they conceive themselves and their constituents, who, 
ts well as most of the inhabitanla on the western frontiers, are dis- 
lenlers, to be aggrieved by being obliged to contribute to the support 
of the Established church, at the same time that they support minis- 
ra of their own persuasion ; that they consider this as an unequal 
burthen, iaconsislent with the spirit of taxation, which supposes 



thoae on irhom impositions are laid 1o be bene6ted tlmrubj ; that 
tuch partial digcriminationa tend to embitter the mlnda of those i*ho 
are thus Imposed upoo, and to create diecords, ever attendant on 
such anequsl treatment ; and praying such speedy and inimedial« 
relief a« may beet correspond with Christian liberty, and those noble 
sentiments which should animate every virtuouB American." 

This memorial was referred to the "Committee of the 
Whole Houae." 

"Ordered, that the Committee for Religion be disclnrged from 
proceeding on the petitions of sevsiral religions societies, and that the 
same be referred to the Committee of the Whole House upon the 
state of the country." 

It will be observed that none of the above petitions are 
from the Baptists aa such, although it is freely admitted 
by the historians of those times that they were not only 
the first to begin the work, but also the most active in cir- 
culating petitions for signatures. Fristoe (page 91) saya 
that the Baptist address was signed by "about ten thou- 
sand," including many who were not Baptists. Among 
the signers were some of all denominations of Christians, 
and many of no denominadou. This explains why the 
Saptist petition or petitions were from dissenters in gen- 
eral, instead of from Baptist dissenters in particular. 

There were some dissenters, however, who acted inde- 
pendently. The reference is not to the Hanover Presby- 
tery, which spoke more especially for the ministry of that 
denomination, but to certain "dissenters of Albemarle, 
Amherst, and Buckingham," whose petition was pre- 
sented to the House on the 22d of October, and is different 
from a later petition from "Albemarle and Amherst," as 
weUaa from those that come from dissenters in general. 
That petition was certainly not from Baptists, but bears 


the marks of the Presbytfirians. In the first place, it 
aeetna to make reference to the agreement with Governor 
Gooch, where it speaks of thetr having previously submit- 
ted to the Establishment because that waa "the form of 
government established when they became disaenters from 
the Church of England;" that is, when they moved into 
Virginia, where the Church of England waa the estab- 
lished church. 

In the second place, the reference to their having to 
support their own church, in addition to helping to sup- 
port the Established church, marks it as of Presbyterian 
rather than of Baptist origin; for such was the prejudice 
among the masses against the enforced tax for the support 
of the clergy of the Establishment that the early Baptist 
ministers in Virginia not only received little or nothing for 
their services, that the contrast might be the more marked 
between them and the "hireling ministry," but they 
failed to instruct their people in the liew Testament duty 
and rule of giving. It is manifest, therefore, that this 
petition, and others of the same tenor, were I'rom the Prea- 
byterians, who, for some reason, preferred to act inde- 
pendently of the Baptists, 


October 28: "A petition of the people commonly called Metho- 
dist)) wBs presented to the HouEe and read ; letting forth that the dls- 
wnterE are preparing to ls.7 a petition before ihia Hoiiae for iboliah- 
iiig the present eetablisbment of the church, and as the; may, in 
the opinion of some, also come under the denomination of dissenters, 
they beg leave to declare they are a religious society in communion 
with the Church of England, and do all in their power to strengthen 
and sopport the said church ; and as they conceive very bud con- 


aeqviencBS will arise from the aboliahing the Establishment, they 
therefore pray that the Church of England, as it ever hath been, 
may still continue to be the establiahed church. " 


November S: "A memorial of a. considerable Qumber of the 
clergy of the Established church of Virginia was preaented to the 
House and read; setting forth that, having understood rariouB peti- 
tions have been presented to the Aesenibly praying the abolition of 
the Establiehed church in this Btate, wiah to represent that, when 

they nndertook the charge of pari 

D the public faith fur the rccei 

t during life or good behi 

Virginia, they depended 

ing that recompense for their ser- 

hich the laws of the land 

proraised, a tenure which to them appears of the saine sacred nature 
as that by which every man in the State holds, and has secured to 
him his private property, and that such of tliem as are not yet pro- 
vided for entered into holy orders eipectjng to receive the several 
emolumeats which such religious establishment offered; tliatfrom 
the nature of their education they are precluded from gaining a tol- 
erable subsistence in any otlier way of life, and that therefore they 
think it would be inconsistent with justice either to deprive the 
present incumbents of parishes of any right or profits they hold or 
enjoy, or to cut off from such as are now in orders and unbeneficed 
those expectations which originated from the laws of the land, end 
which have been the means of disqualifying them for any other pro- 
kfession or way of life ; also, that, though they are far from favoring 
jencroachmenls on the religious rights of any sect or denomination 
fof men, yet they conceive that a religious eBtablishment in a State is 
conducive to its peace and happiness; they think the opinions of 
mankind have a very considerable influence over their practice, and 
that it, therefore, cannot be improper for the legislative body of a 
Btate to consider how such opinions as are most consonant to reason 
and of the best efficacy in human nflairs may be propagated and sup- 
ported; that they are of opinion the doctrines of Christianity liave 
a greater tendency to produce virtue amongst men than any human 
laws or iuHtitutions, and that these can be beat taught and preserved 
in their purity in an estahliahed church, which gives encourage- 
menl to men to study and acquire a competent linowledge of the 
scriptures; and they think that, if these great purposes can be an- 


swered by b religious eatablishment, the hardshipti whicli giicl] a 
regulHtioii might impose od iadividnaU, or even bodies of men, 
ought not to be considered ; alito, that, whilst they are fully per- 
anaded of the good effectsof religious establiabmenU in general, they 
are more particularly convinced of the excellency of tlie religious 
establishment which has hitherto «ubstated in this Stale; that 
they ground their conviction on the eipenence of 150 years, during 
which period order and internal tranquility, true piety and virtue 
have laore prevailed than in most other parts of the norld, and on the 
mild and tolerating spirit of the church establiahed, which with all 
Christian charity and benevolence has regarded dissenters of every 
denomination, and has shown no disposition to restrain them in the 
exercise of their religion ; that it appears to them that the miidness 
of the church establishment has heretofore been acknowledged by 
those very dissenters who now aim at its ruiu, many of whom emi- 
grated from other countries to aettle in this, from motives, as Ihey 
reasonably suppose, of interest and happiness; that they apprehend 
many bad consequences from sboliBhing the church establishment ; 
that they cannot suppose, should h1) denominations of Christiana be 
placed upon a level, that this equality will continue, or that no Rt- 
tempt will be made by any sect for the superiority, end that they 
foresee much confusion, probably civil commotions, will attend (he 
contest ; that they also dread the ascendancy of that religion which 
permits its professors to threaten destruction to the Commonwealth, 
in order to serve their own private ends ; thai, though the justice 
and expediency of continuing the church establishment in a matter 
of which they tbemselvea have no doubt, yet they wish that the final 
determination of this House be deferred till the general sentiments 
of the good people of this Commonwealth can be collected, as they 
have the best reasons to believe that a majority of them desire to see 
the church establishment continued; and that, as the sentiments of 
the people have been attended to in other instances, they submit to 
the consideration of the House whether some regard should not be 
paid to their sentiments in a matter which so nearly concerns them as 
that of religion." 

This completes the list of petitions presented to the As- 
Bembly of 1776. They speak for themselves, and give one 
a pretty f^r idea of the difierences then prevailing among 


the several classes in Virginia, and of their respective lines 
of argument. 

The attention of the reader is invited to certain remark- 
able claims set up, in their memorial by the " Clergy of 
the Established Church," such as "the mild and tolerant 
Bpirit" of said church, and "the Christian charity and 
benevolence" which "had ever characterized her treat- 
ment " of "dissenters of every denomination," The 
Baptists certainly were not expected to appreciate that 
part of the memorial, nor does it seem to have been meant 
for them, but rather for the Presbyterians, of whom the 
petitioners so bitterly complain for joining the enemies of 
the church and "aiming at its ruin." To them they had 
been " mild and tolerant." They had graciously allowed 
them to settle in Virginia and enjoy their own modes of 
worship, provided they helped to support the said church 
with their money and defended the frontier with their lives. 
And when they saw those same Presbyterians appear he- 
fore the first Republican Assembly in the army of aasEul- 
ants, they had something of the feeling of him who said: 
"How sharper than a serpent's tooth to have a thankless 
child 1 " 


But what response did the Assembly make to these peti- 
tions? What action was taken? As already seen, on 
the 9th of November all of the petitions ' ' were referred to 
the Committee of the Whole House upon the State of the 
Country," from which it would appear that the "Com- 
mittee on Religion " could not agree upon a report. Ten 
days thereafter, November 19, the following resolutions 
were adopted in Committee of the Whole House: 


" Rfsolved, As the opinion of this committee, that all and ever7 
r etatute, either of the Farliajaent of England or of Great 1 
ElBliti'Ui, by whatever tide linown or distinguiahed, which renders I 
^oriminal the muntainiDg anj opinions in niatters of religioa, for- 
Hlfieuuig to repair to church, or the exercising an; mode of worship 
f vhalsoever, or which presciibes puniahmeat for the same, ought to 
« declared henceforth of no validity or force within this Common- 
I wealth." 

" Repotted, That so much of an act of ABsembly made in the 

h year of the reign of Queen Anne, intituled, 'An act for the 

ectnal suppression of vice, and restraint and punishment of hlaS' 

U9, wicked, and dissolute persons,' as inSicts certain additional 

I poialties on any person or peiaons convicted a second time of any of 

the nfiences descrihed in the first dame of the Haid act, ought to he 


3. "Resolved, That so much of the petitions of the several dis- 
■entem from the church established by law within this Common- 1 
wealth as desires an eiemption from all taxes and contributions 
whatever towards supporting the said church and the ministers there- 
of, or towards the support of their respective religious societies in , 
may other way than themselves sliall voluntarily agree, is reason- 

4. "Resolved, That, although the maintaining any opinions in 
:e of religion ought not to be restrained, yet that public assem- 

PUiee of societies for divine worship ought to be regulated, and that 
K;pi«per provision should be made for continuing the succession of 
[.the clergy and superintending their conduct," 

5. "Resolved, That the several acts of Assembly making provision 
for the support of the clergy ought tu tie repealed, securing to the 
present incumbents all arrears of salary, and to the vestries a power 

I of levying for performance of their contracts." 

" Reeotved, That a reservation ought to be made to the use 

tf the said chnrch, in all times coming, of the several tracts of glebe 

Is already purchased, the ehurelies and chapels already built for 

nse of the several parishes, and of all plats belonging to or ap- 

f pcopriated to the use of the said church, and all arrears of money or 

■^bacco arising from former s^eBsments; and (hat there should be 


reserved to aach parishes as hare received private donations for the 
Bupportof the said church and its mioiatera the perpetual benefit of 
euch donatioDB." 


Decembers; "An engroasud bill, for eieoiptjng the different 
Bocietiee of diasentere from contributing to the support and n 
nance of tlie church aa b; lair established, or its ministers, and for 
other purposes therein mentioned, vaa read a third ti 

" Betohfd, That the bill do puna, and that Mr, Starke carry the 
game to the Senate for their o 


The following account, from the pen of Jefierson, one o 
the foremost champions of the cause of liberty, ivill give 
eome idea of the character of the struggle through which 
the Legislature has just passed. In Vol. I. of his Works, 
pages 31, 32, he says: 

"The Bret republican Legislature, which met in 1776, was 
crowded with petitions lo abolish this spiritual tyranny. These 
brought on the severest conleat in which I have ever been engaged. 
Our great opponents were Mr. Pendleton and Robert Carter Nich- 
olas, honest men, bot sealous churchmen. The petitions were re- 
ferred to a Committee of the Whole House on the Slate of the 
Country ; and, after desperate contests in the cotoinittee almost 
daily from the 11th of October to IheBthof December, we prevailed so 
far only as to repeal the laws which rendered criminal the maintenance 
of any religious opinions (other than those of the Episcopalians), 
the forbearance of repairing to the (Episcopal) church, or the ezer- 
dse of any {other than the Episcopal) mode of worship; and to 
BUapend only until the next session levies on the members of that 
church for the salaries of its own incumbents. For, although the 
m^ority of our citizens were dissentera, as has been observed, a ma- 
jority of the Lejfislature were churchmen. Among these, however, 
were some reaaonable and liberai men, who enabled us on some 


points to obiuQ feeble niBJocitiea. But our oppooenW carried, in 
the general leHoliilionK of November the 19lh, a declarjition that re- 
ligious asseuibliea ought to be regulated, aud that provision ought to 
be made for continuing the succession of the clergy and superintend' 
ing their conduct. And in the bill now PBased was inserted an ex- 
press reservadon of the queetioo whether n general aseessnient should 
not be established by law on every one to the support of the pastor 
of big choice ; or whether all should be left to voluntary contribu- 
liona j and on this question, debated at every session from 1776 to 
17T9 (some of our dissenting allieif, having now secured their par- 
ticular object, going over to the advocates of a general assessment,) 
we could only obtain a suspenaion from session to session until 1778, 
when the question against a general assessment was finally carried, 
and the establishment of tlie AngUcan church entirely put down." 

If the reader should be in doubt as to the identity of 
those " dissenting allies " who broke ranks in this first en- 
gagement, that doubt will be removed by subsequent de- 
velopments and revelations. One would naturally expect 
to find tbem among those dissentere who, iostead of falling 
in with the general movement, sent up separate petitions 
to the Assembly, 

There is no better place than this for the following ex- 
tract from Foote's Sketches, in which (322-3) this candid 
Presbyterian historian describes the situation in Virginia 
at the beginning of the Revolution. Referring to the six- 
teenth article of the Bill of Rights, he says: 

"These declaratioas breathe the spirit of civil and religious lib- 
erty, aud spoke the true feelings of a majority of the citizena of 
Virginia. Civil liberty had been discussed with intensity of inter- 
est for a long period by the whole community, and its limits and 
boundaries were comparatively early settled to public satisfaction. 
Beligjous liberty had hy degrees claimed the public attention, and 
for a little time excited deep iutereet ; but its proper meaning was 
not well understood. While abroad the content wai for the defence 



of civil liberty againat the power of the motlier country, at home it 
was raging for an ill-defined liberty of conscience and the diaaeTCc- 
ance of religluo from the civil power. That aomcthing ought to be 
done for dissenters was evident; but what should actunUy be done, 
was the matter of contention. The trae principle — the free eiert 
of religion according to the dictates of conscience — was well i 
pressed in the Bill of Kighti, but appears, after all, not to have been 
well nndeistood by many of the delegates In the Assembly. Many 
seemed to thiok that an established religion, with toleration, \ 
freedom enongh." 

Foote thea proceeds to give an account of the struggle 
in the Asaembly, quoting from Jefferson and Semple, but 
adds no new facta. 

Sample and Howell both discuss the action of the Legis- 
lature, hut give us no additional light. 

In his review of Rives' Life and Times of Madison, 
Christian Review of January, 1860, Dr. Kobinson says: 

"In October, 1776, the Convention of Delegates which had 
framed the Cooaljtutlon became, by the proviwons of that instni- 
ment, the Lower House of Aaaembly, and Mr. Madison remained at 
his poat as a member of this first republican Legislature. Scarcely 
had the session beguo, when the House was flooded with petitions 
for the more perfect establishment of religious freedom. . . 
They were signed oumeroualy by all classes of the community— ex- 
cepting ahme the Episcopalians and Methodista. . . . Among 
theae petitJonsra the most active and the most numerous were an- 
doabtediy the Fresbyterians and the Baptists. The former argued 
their petitions on various grounds, and indeed sought for diSerent 
degrees of religious freedom, while the latter were undeviating and 
uncompromising in their demands for a total exemption from erery 
kind of legal restraint or interference in matters of religion. For 
this they were misrepresented and maligned, and treated with every 
sort of indignity and persecutiou." ..." Mr, Jefferson took 
the lead In behalf of the petitioners, and was promptly supported by 
Mr. Madison, Colonel Mason, and other influential members." 



The result of this contest wa^ that another step was taken 
in the onward march towards absolute religious liberty. 
The Colonial Convention of 1775 placed dissenting minis- 
ters on equality with the clergy of the Establishment in 
the army, while the Convention of 1776 incorporated re- 
ligious liberty into the organic law of the State. And now 
the first Legislature, assemhled under the new Constitu- 
tion and Bill of Rights, declares against all laws punish- 
ing men for their religious opinions, and exempts dissent- 
ers from all taxes for the support of the Establishment. 
There will be no ground lost in subsequent Legislatures. 
In spite of the timidity and wavering of some, and the 
' ' breaking ranks ' ' on the part of others, the religious lib- 
erty army will never sound a retreat, but maintain an ag- 
gressive warfare until the last vestige of ecclesiastical tyr- 
anny has been removed from lie statute books of Virginia. 


Struggle in Legislature Continued. 

The struggle which began in the Legislature, or Assem- 
bly, of 1776 was continued until December, 1779, before 
the Establishment was finally put down. All that ita 
adversaries could accomplirili in the meantime was to secure 
a Buspenaion from session to session of the tax levied for 
its support. In considering the memorials which were 
presented to the Legislature, it should be borne in mind 
that there were in those days two sessions each year, one 
meeting in May and the other in October, 

For convenience of reference, tlie memorials will be pre- 
sented according to the years to which they belong. In 
them will be found some very refreshing reading. And 
one of the principal reasons for copying the Journal notices 
in full is that the reader may not only have all the evidence 
or testimony which they contain, but also see the style of 
argument used both for and against the Establishment, 
and put himself, as far as possible, in the position of the 
contestants or memorialists, 


From Cumberland county, favoring Establishment, May 

"A petition of sundry inhabitants of tlie county of Cumberland, 
whose names are ibereunto subscribed, was presented to the House 
and read ; selting forth that tliej are greatlj alarmed at the progresi 
wliich iome of the diasenters from the church as hy law eetabliiihed 
are dail; making io various parts of this country by persnading the 
ignorant and aovrarj lo embrace their erroneous tenets, which the 


petitioners conceive to be not only opposite to the doctrines of true 
Chriatianity, but subversive of the morals of the people and deatruc- 
tire of the peaco uf families, tending to a.liena<e the aflection of 
slaves from their masters, and injurious to the happiness of the 
public; that vLile snck attempts are making to pnll down all the 
barriers which the wiwiom of our ancestors has erected to secure the 
church from the inroads of the sectaries, it would argue a culpable 
lokewannneBS tamely to nit still and not lo make known their aenti- 
menla, so cntrary to such innovations; thai all these bad effects 
have been already experienced in their country, and the parts 
adjacent, lo be the dismal consequences of the doctrines of these 
new teachers; that through their m.e*na they have seen, with grief, 
great discontent made between husbands and their wives ; that there 
have been nightly meetings of slaves to receive the instructions of 
these teachers, without the consent of their masters, which have 
produced very bad consequences ; that the petitioners, not actuated 
by the narrow and blood-thirsty spirit of persecution, wish to see a 
well-regulated toleration established, by which those conscientious 
brethren, who, from principle, cannot join with the church, may be 
permitted lo serve God in their own way, without molestation, hut 
that they wish, also, that nightly meetings may be prohibited under 
HfiTere penalties, and that those only who, after a due examination 
of their morals, shall he found worthy may be authorized to preach, 
■ud that only in such public meeting houses as it may be thought 
proper to license for the purpose; that they apprehend these pur- 
poses may be answered without destroying those gentle and wholesome 
restraints which the wisdom of ages and the policy of our laws 
have established ; and praying the church may be maintained in all 
its legal rights, and that the sectaries may be indulged with such a 
regulated toleration as shall he thought reasonable, and that the 
clergy of the Established charch may be made accountable for their 
conduct, and removable for misbehaviour." Consideration of this 
petition was " referred to the next session of the Assembly." 

JOHN LBLAND's comments. 

That the reader may be able to appreciate the true in- 
wardoess of the troubles which these dreadful (?) diasentera 
were causing between masters and slaves, and between 


husbands and wives, the following extracte are given from 
"The Virginia Chronicle," published in 1790, by Elder 
John Leland, one of the ablest Baptist ministers in Virginia 
during those years of straggling for the rights of conscience 
for all mankind r 

" Liberty of coDBcieDCe, ia matters of religion, is the right of 
slaves bejond contradicdon i and yet many raaalera and overseera 
will whip and lorlure the poor creatures for going to meeting at 
nighti'when the labor of the dikj is over. No longer ago than 

November, 1788, Mr. made a motion in the Assembly for 

leave to bring in a bill, not only to prevent the aBsembling of slaves 
together, but to fine the masters for allowing cif it; bat, to his great 
mortification, it was rejected with contempt." VirQinia Chronide, 

Again, on page 44, Leland says : 

"The anbject of religious liberty has been so canvassed for 
fourteen years, and has so far prevailed, that in Vir^nia a politician 
can DO more be popular without the profession of it than a preacher 
who denies the doctrine of a n«ui birth; yet many who make this 
behave in their families as if they did not believe what they profess. 
For a man to contend for religions liberty on the court-houae green, 
and deny his wife, children, and servanla the liberty of conscience 
at home, is a paradox not easily reconciled. If a bead of a family 
could answer for all his house in the day of judgment, there would 
be a degree of justice in his controlling of them in the mode of 
worship and joining society ; but answer for them he cannot ; each 
one must give account of himself to God; and none but cruel 
tyrants will prevent their wives, children, or servants, either directly 
or indirectly, from worehippiug God according to the dictates of 
their consdences and joining the society they choose ; for as religion 
does not destroy either civil or domeatlc government, so neither of 
them extend their rightful influence into the empire of conscience." 

May 29 : An address of sundry inhabitants of (he county of 
Mecklenburg, whose names are thereunto subscribed, was presented 
to the House and read; setting forth that, conscious nothing, in this 



iriUcal aitualion of public aSkirs, whea liberty, life, iLod all are at 
slake, should engrobs much of the time of the Legislature, except 
matters of iDdispensable obligation, they therefore only beg its 
attendon for a few momente. That the undue means taken to over- 
throw the Established church, bj imposing upon tbeeredulitTof the 
Tolsar and eogaging iafantfi to sign petitions hunded about by d[s- 
aenters, have, it seems, so far succeeded as to cause a dissolution of 
her usual mode of support, where thej would choose it should rest, 
in the present eiigeney of ailairs, rather than, by strenuously insist- 
ing upon the rectitude of an establishment, throw this Slate in 
particnlar into commotion, and thereby prejudice the common cause, 
which they are resolved shall receive no detriment from them by any 
meana whatsoever. That if only withholding from a competent 
number of ministers of the ^spel liied aalorieK ia the most likely 
means to make men unanimous in the defence of liberty, as hath 
been urged, they should be sorry, indeed, if there could be one of 
that reverend order who would repine at the success of the measure ; 
for that even an unwillingness to sacrifice a part of our property lo 
the good of our country, much more an absolute refusal of it, ia a 
poor argument, indeed, of our disinterested iteal for the Common- 
wealth. Wherefore, thef should by no means wish to see churchmen 
adopt the principles of dissentera, withhold their concurrence in the 
common cause until their particular requests are granted, for by 
such a conduct all may be tost. That, niitwithfitauditig they think 
an established church in any State, under proper limitations and 
restrictions and founded on the warrantv of Holy Senpture, is one 
of the great bulwarks of liberty, ihe cement of society, the bond of 
anion, and an asylum for tlie pereecoied to fly to , yet, aa this is 
a controverted point, they are heartily nilling it should be debated 
at a time when there may be nothing of more importance to engage 
the attention of the Assembly." This address was "referred to 
Committee on Religion." 


The followiug extract from Fristoe's History, explaining 
the Baptist position and their reasons for not waiting until 
the Revolution was over to press the question of religious 
liberty, is introduced here aa a fitting answer to the iiiBinu- 


atioDS and reflections contained in the above addreas, which 
insinuations and reflections come with very poor grace 
from the represeutatives of a church which furnished nearly 
all the Tories, whereas the Baptists furnished none. Be- 
ginning on page 88, he saya : 

" The Baptisla having Inbored uoder oppre9B[oii for n long time, 
iDClmed them to seek redress ae Hoon aa a, favorable opportunit; 
ofl'ered. In the jear 1776, thej united in a pelilion to the As^emb!y 
of Virginia, slating the several grievances thej labored under, re- 
questing a re[)eal of all such law8 as might occasion an odious dis- 
tinction among cilizena. . . . This petition the Baptists were 
determined to petsevere In preaentiog to the Assembly till such 
times they were attended to and they were rescued from the hand of 
oppression, and their just liberties were secured ta them. And it 
appeared at that juncture the nnost favorable opportunity oSered 
that had ever been — a time when the nation was struggling for civil 
liberty and casting off British tyranny- — a time of aiming to support 
their independence and relieving of themselves from monarchical 
usurpation. It became b commoQ saying about this time, 'United 
we stand, divided we fall.' There was a necessity for an unanimity 
among all ranks, sects, and denominations of people, when we 
hud to withstand a potverful nation and expel her by force of arms 
or submit to her arbitrary measures, and the Slate Legislature be- 
came sensible that a division among the people would be fatal to 
tliis country ; but the Assembly being chiefly of the Episcopalian 
order, and being in the habit heretofore of governing with rigor, it 
was with great reluctance they could pass a law favorable to dissent- 
ers and raise them upon a level with themselves. What inclined 
dissenters to he more anxiously engaged for their liberty wsa that, 
if time passed away and no repeal of those injurious laws, and the 
nation to which we belonged succeeded in supporting their inde- 
pendence, and our government settled down with these old pr^a- 
dices in the hearts of those in power, and an establishment of reli- 
religious tyranny r 


in our infant country, it would 1 

have we l>een stniggling for? For what hav 

low-citiiens in the ci 

■e reflection r What 
e spent so much 
t we united with our fel- 
on our Bword or took oui 


riaraaket on our uhonlder, endured the liar(Lilii|i9 of a tedioua war7 
■Wby clash (o arms? Why hear the heart-affettinK ehriekB of 
anded and the awful scene of gariiieDU enrolled in blood, 
r with the entire loss of many of our relatioiu^ friends, 
B, a.nd fellow-citiiens, and, after all this, to be exposed to 
alilfioua oppres^on and the deprivation of the rights of conscience 
in the discliarge of the duties of religion, iniwhich we are accounta- 
ble to God alone, and not to man ? The consideratloD of Ihet^e thingn 
rtinanlated and eidted the Baptists in Virginia to use every effort 
and adopt every measure embracing that particular crisis as the fit- 
test time to succeed, which, if past by, might never offer again, and 
they and their posterity remain in perpetual fetters under aa eccle- 
siSHtieal tyranny." 

Subsequent eventa show the wisdom of tlieir course. 


June 3 : "A memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover was pre- 

Laanted to the Houne and read ; setting forth that they, together with 

e religious denoiQination with which they are connected, are moat 

incerely attached to the interests of the American States, and ore 

ined ihat their most fervent prayeiit and strenuous endeavor 

B united with Iheir fellow-Ruhjects to repel the assaults of tyr- 

nny and to maintain their common rights; that nothing has in- 

pred them with greater confidence in the Legislature than tlie la.te 

K'«ct of the Assembly declaring equal liberty, as well religious as 

Tdvil, should be umvenrally extended tti the good people of this 

lud that all the oppressive acts of Parliament respecting 

luelipon which have been formerly enacted In, the mother country 

riiall henceforth be of no validity or force in this Commonwealth, 

■And also eiemptiuK dissenters from all levies, taxes, and impoal- 

ffions whatsover, towards supporting the Church of England, as it 

ir hereafter may be ealablished ; that they wish, therefore, 

ngive the Legislature no farther trouble on the subject, hut are 

Bnrry to find there yet remains a variety of opinions touching the 

B^ropriety of a general assessment, or whether every religious society 

wvhall be left to the voluntary contributions for the maintenance of 

B of the gospel of different perauaslons. But as this 

^matter is deferred to the discussion and Snal determination of a 

tftiture Assembly, they think it their indlspeosablo duly again to 


repeat part of the prayer of tlieir former memori&l, thatdi 
eveij deuominalioD, may be exempted from all taxes for the su|)- 
port of any church mhatBoever, farther than what may be agreeable 
to the private choice or voluntary obtigation of every individual, 
while the civil magistrate no olherwiae interfere [ban to protect 
them alt io tbe full and free exercise of their eeveraJ modes of wor- 
ship ; and praying the Legislature will never extend to them, or to 
the congregations under their charge, any aEseasment for religious 
purposes." It was " ordered that consideration of this 
deferred to the next session of the General AsBcmbly." 
r OF 1777. 

November 6 : "A petitian of sundry inhabitants of 
the county of Cumberland," etc. [This is but a repeti- 
tion of the petition of May 22 from same county,] 

December 5 : "Several peUtiona of sundry inhabitants of the 
county of Caroline, wbose names are thereunto subscribed, were pre- 
sented to the House and read ; setting forth tbat tbey have seen an 
act of the last seunion of the ABsenobly, by which diasentera from the 
Church or England are exempted from all levies for tbe support of 
the said church and its ministerH, and highly approve thereof, as 
founded on principles of justice and propriety, and favorable to re- 
ligious liberty ; tbat, at the same time, they beg leave to eu^:est 
that as, in their opinion, public worship is a duty we owe to the 
Creator and Preserver of maukind, and productive of effects the 
most beneficial to society, it ooglit to be enjoined and regulated by 
the Legislature, so as to preserve public peace, order and deceocy, 
without prescribing a mode or form of worship to any ; that in such 
regulations an expense must unavoidably be incurred, not only for 
the building and repairing of places of warship, but also for the sup- 
port of religious teachers or ministers, that they may be freed from 
the carea of providing for their own and their families' subsistence 
end attend more constanttj and diligently to the' cure of soulsr 
which expense tbey conceive ought to be defrayed by an equal con- 
tribution of all men, in proportion to their circumstances, or accord- 
ing to the degree in which they possess that species of property on 
which the Legislature shall think tit to levy their taxes for public 


uses ; but that eiiuality can never be preserved, if men are left to 
their volujilary donntions, alDce, wblle the liberal eiceed their pro- 
portion, the avaricions and miserly will fall short of Iheita, or, per- 
haps, withhold all coDlribution ; and that at the same time the 
mode of mukiog and collecting such Bubecriptions will probably be 
the source of miicli contention and ill-will between the minister and 
hia cnngregalion, whicli circumstance, with the very precarious na- 
ture of the provision, must neceasnrily disconmge men of geuiua and 
learning from engaging in the ministerial office and bring that order 
into contempt, and perhaps, in the end, religion ilself. 

"That upon these, and many other consideration b, they are of 
opinion that it will be most proper to fix on all tltbablea the pay- 
ment of one certain annual sum, nbicli may be judged adequate to 
the decent support of a minister of the gospel and providing places 
of worship, leaving it lo the payer, at the time of giving in his list 
oftilhables, to direct the appropriation of hia quota to the use of 
that church, or its ministers, under such regulations as may be 
thought best." This was "referred to Committee on Religion." 

December 11 : Another petition, just like the one of May 29 
from Mecklenburg county, was presented from the county of 


There is a gap then from the end of 1777 to October 9, 
1778, wlieo "an iiddresa of sundry inhabitants of the 
county of Westmoreland and parish of Cople was pre- 
sented," etc. It was essentially the same as the ad- 
I dresses from Mecklenhurg and Lunenburg. 
The Legislature took no action in reference to these 
matters except to suspend, Irom session to session, the 
church taxes. In the next chapter will be given the me- 
■morials of 1779 and the final action of the Assembly In 
repeating all laws levying taxes for the support of the Estab- 
liBhrnent. That will be followed by a chapter on the 
several meetings of the Baptists and Presbyterians during 
these years in which they were striving together against the 
Established church and in favor of equal liberty for all. 


Fall of the Establishment — 1779. 

The long and bitter struggle over the Establishment is 
now drawing to a close. It will be seen from the petitions 
that come before the Assembly that the friends of the old 
Establishment are figlitiog for some sort of compromise on 
tlie basis of a general assessment, and that Jefferson's 
famous " Bill for Religious Freedom " is attracting atten- 
tion, and exciting botli favorable and unfavorable com- 
ment. This bill was reported to the House in June, 1779, 
just after Jefferson was elected governor, to succeed Patrick 
Henry, and before he took his seat in the governor's chair. 

"October 20: " A petition of sundry inhabitants of the county of 
AngoBla was presented to the House and read; setting forth that 
they liave seen the plan proposed by the House of Delegates for es- 
ta.b1iBhiag the privileges of th? several d^nominatioua of religious 
societies at the last session of As.s«mblT, and praying that tlie Gen- 
eral Assembly will be pleased to pass tbe said bill without the least 
alteration." This was referred to committee to prepare and bring 
in n bill "concerning religion." 

"October 21: "A petition of sundry inbabitants of theconnty of 
Culpeper, whose names are thereunto aubacribed, was presented to 
the House and read; aettiug forth the evils which they suppose will 
arise, if the bill for establishing religious freedom, wliich hath l«ea 
diapensed among the people, should be passed by the Uencral As- 
sembly, and suggesting such a mode of religious establishmeut as 
they suppose will be beneilcial to the people, and praying tbat Ilie 
aforesaid bill may be unanimously rejected by this House," 



October 22: "A pelitioa of sundry inhabilanU of the county of 
E^ei, whose Dames are therenoto subaoribed, was presented to the 
Hotue and read; Getting forth that, from the great confusion and 
disorder which hath arisen on account of religion since tbe old 
Datablishment hath been intarmpted, they are convinced of the 
Deceaaity of the legislative body's taking this subject into their most 
aeriona consideration; that I hey are much alarmed a.t the appearance 
r of a bill, entitled 'Religious Freedom,' and praying that the said 
■atij not take effect, but an eaUbliahmenC adopted under certain 
I r^rulations." 


October 25 : "A petition of the Baptist AsBOciation ; setting forlh 
that doubts have arisen whether marriagea solemnized by dissenting 
miaistere are lawful, and praying that an act may pass to declare 
■Dch martiages lawfuL" 


" October 25 : " Mr. Henry presented, according to order, a bill 
'Concerning Religion,' and the same was received and read the first 
time, and ordered to be read a second time." 

October 26: " A bill 'Concerning Religion' was read 
the second time. A motion was made, and the motion be- 
' ing put, that the said bill be read a third time on tbe 1st 
I day of March next, it passed in the negative." It was 
then "ordered that the bill be eomraitted to the committee 
I of the whole House on Tuesday next." This bill wag 
I then put off from day to day, after considering it in com- 
mittee of the whole House, and finally failed. 

October 27 : ''A petition of sundry Inhabilants of the county of 
Augusta, was presented to the House and read; setting forth that 
they have seen the bill [ireaeated to the last Assembly (and pub- 
lished, as they suppose, for the consideration of the people), 'for 


eaUbliibing religioiu freedom,' which Lbej cordially approve of; 
and praying Ihst the aame maj pass into a laic." "Ordered, That 
the said petition be referred to the committee of the whole Hoose 
on the hill ' Concerning Eeligion.' " 


November 1 : " A petition of Bandrv inhabitants of the couDtv of 
Amherst, whose names are therennlo Mibscribed, whs presented lo 
the House, and read ; setting forth that they have seen and high); 
approve the bill which wau presented to the last Aesemblj, 'for 
establiBhing religions freedom,' and praying that the same may pass 
into a law." 


November 3: "A petition of sundry inhabitants of the connty of 
Lunenburg, whose names are thereunto subscribed, was presented 
to the House and read ; setting forth that they have seen a bill which 
they BHppoBe wn.s pnbliahed by order of the last Aaaembly, 'for 
establishing religious freedom,' and are of opinion that the ChristiaD 
religion, free from the errors of popery, and a general contribution 
to the support thereof, ought to be established from the principle of 
public utility ; and praying that the reformed Protestant religion, 
including the diflerent denominations thereof, niih a general assess- 
ment to BUpport the same, may be established." "Ordered, That 
the said petition be referred to the committee of the whole House 
on the bill 'Concerning Keligion.'" 

November 10, a similar petitition to the above came up 
from Amherst county, making two petitions from Amherst 
— one for and one against .Jefferson's bill. 


November 15: "Ordered, That leave be given to bring 
in a bill 'for repealing so much of the act of Assembly 
entitled, 'An Act for the Support of the Clergy,' etc., 
as relates to the payment of the salaries heretofore given 
to the clergy of the Church of England; and that Messrs. 
Mason, Strother, and Randolph do prepare and bring in 
the same. ' ' ' 

I '^^ 



SoTember X8: "Mr. Mason pitaented" swd bill, and 
ordered to be read s second tiioe. November 19. 
read a second time and committed to a committee of 
the whole House for the foUomng Monday. It was put off 
from day lo day until December 11, when it was " ordered 
that the bUl be engroe^ and read a third time." De- 
cember 13, it was read a third time and parsed. This bill 
cut the purse-strings of the Establishment, so that the 
clergy could no longer look for support to taxation. But 
they etiU retained posession of the rich glebes, and en- 
joyed a monopoly, almost, of marriage fees. 

Jefferson's bUl for "Religious Freedom," while not de- 
feated, has to wait until 1785 before it secures the approval 
of the legislature. James Henry's bill "Coucemiog 
Religion," is defeated iu this legislature. The cause of 
the Revolutionists was not bright at this juncture. The 
traitor, Arnold, was already plotting to betray his countrj-, 
and the British had entered the Chesapeake and invaded 
Virginia duriug the year. It was no time to alienate the 
lai^ number of dissenters who were known to be stub- 
bornly opposed to that bill, and so it failed. But it will 
be revived again after the Revolutionary war is over and 
independence has been secured, only to receive its final 
defeat in the same year that witnesses the triumph of the 
"Bill for Religious Freedom." 


But why does Jefferson's bill have to wait so long, when 
there were votes enough in the Legislature to secure the 
overthrow of the Establishment ? It is manifest that there 
was not perfect unanimity among the opponents of the 
Established church, and that some of those who voted to 
jiull down the old Establishment were not prepared to fol- 


low JcSersoQ to the full extent of bia mlical OKasare, but 
rallied to tbe atandanl of P&trick Henry, who farored a 
new and more liberal establishment, which woold provide 
ivr them all. And, in onler that the reader maj know 
who the fatthfbl were and who broke ranks, tbe foUowing 
extnu;ts are given irom ata&dard anthontke. 

Fmoi Dr. Hawks' "Hutoiy Prolatul B^nmpd <AikA," 
page 152: "The BapoMs were iIm piiiici[wl r "T~i1in of UmBorfc 
[paUiiig d 

MVK iLr fUrf olgact «f pcnaea- 
tioa bf tbe aa^ttraia, ntd Ae ■OM riofauand poistnig ^Icr- 
•BTd in Mckuv tbe d«nUbn of tbe BnJbBdiMcaL* 

Cwfbdl,-IlMU(7ofTusiBi^"fi53: "Tke BiftiMj^ hnii« 

M(Bt iiiiii il W it, iaJ Ibe BOit aed** m ita ■Jnnwiia " 

Ttaiiv'a ' Life of JcAnoo,*' L, 93: 'Is tbe two fbOMnv 
yam, Ibeqwrtkncf pcwndiag fa»- «k* ■.;■■»--. « r^ .»K(p»> ly t— _ 
•r kaTBg it W iadiridinl wrilwinM. ne r f< d ; hot dM ad- 
veala of ibe Utter jiaa. ra« «b1t (Ue to atom « eMb MBMa a 
a^pcBMB of tbosa la«> wbicb pn>«i<kd aluiea fcr dM tlup - 
ibe biCbbI prnywi n bvor «C libenl anlw^Ne bcHf BamtM 
bdMMd by tbe bet ibM aetne of tbe dinaubis eeck, wiA ibeez- 
a^tisBflf Ibe Bijptil^ — ftJii witb bavHi( btcn l U greJ b«a« 
Mzwbb^ tbejMttobcbolb vqiwt lad dtsn&ft bid aa olgee. 



Bftyner's "Life of Jefferson," 141; "Thia qnestion (general 
tlFBeiitmeoi],tbe last prop of the tottering hierarch?, reduced the strug- 
gle to one of pure prindple. The particiiUr object of the diesealera 
being aecured, Ibey deaertfd the voliinlEer champion of their cause, 
and went over in troiipa to the adTocatea of a general aBae).amenI. 
Thia step, the natural proclivity of the Beolarian mind, showed them 
incapable of religiou!) liberty upon an eipaoslve scale, or broader 
than their own iittcrextN, as schiNniattcs. But the defection of the 
dissenters, painful as it was, only siimulaled his desire for total 
abolition, as it developed more palpably the evidence of its necessitT. 
He remained unshaken at hia post, and brought on the reserved 
question at every Eeasion from 1776 to 1779, during which time he 
could onl; obtain a suspension of the levies from year to year, nntil 
the session of 1779, when, by hia unwearied exertions, the queation 
was carried definitely against a general assessment, and the establish- 
ment of the Anglican church entirtly overthrown." 

Thus far no Baptist authoritiea have been quoted. The 
following are Baptists. The extracts are lengthy ; but our 
plan is to throw all the light available upon the subject. 

Semple's "History of Virginia Baptists," pages 26, 27; "We 
are not to uoderatand that thia important ecclesiastical revolution 
was effected wholly by the Baptists. They were certainly the moat 
active ; but they were aino joined by the other dis! 
the dissenting interest, all united, by any mean 
to the Hccompli-hment of such a revolution ; we must turu our eyes 
e of the country lo find adequate causes for such 

It that time, equal 

to the political si 
a change. 

" The British yoke had now galled to the quick; and the Vir- 
einiana, as having the moat tender necks, were among the first to 
wince. Republican principles bad gained much ground, and were 
fast advancing to r-uperiority; the leading men on that side viewed 
the EntahllBhed clergy and the EslabllHbed religion a-s inseparable 
appendages of monarchy — one of the pillars by which it was sup- 
ported. The dissenters, at leai^t the Baptist% were Bepiiblicans 
from interest as well as principle; it waa known that their influence 
waa great among the common people; and the common people of 
every country are, more or Ws, Hepiiblicans, To resist British op- 
preiwions effuctually, it was necesaary to soothe the minds of the 


people by every species of policy. The disGenlerti were loo povrerful 
to be Hlighted, ■.nd tliey were (oo wstchrul to be chested by an 
ine&i^timl sacrifice. There had been a [tme when they wuuld hitve 
been flali>«fied to have paid their tithes, if they coald hare hud liberty 
of con^icienee: hut now the crixiH was such that nothing less [Lan a 
total oTerthrow of all eccleBiasl ical distinctiona would satiufy their 
sanguine hopes. Having started the decaying edifice, every disaenter 
put to his sbotilder to push it into irretrievable ruin. The rovulu' 
tionary parly found that the sacriGae miist be made, and they 

" It ia said, however, and probably not wilhool truth, that many 
of the EpiscopalianB who voted for abolishing the Eslablishtnent 
did it upon an expectation that it would be wicceeded by a general 
assessnifnt; and, conudering that most of the men of wealth were 
on that hide, they supposed that their funds would be lessened very 
little. This, it appeared in the seqiiel, was a vain expectation. 
The people, having once shaben off tlieir fetters, would not again, 
permit Ihetnselvea to be bound. Moreover, the war now ming 
its height, they were in too much need of funds to permit inj of 
their resource* to be devoted to any other purpose during thttt 
periiid | and we shall see that when it was ntiemiHed, a few yeare 
after the expiration of the war, the people set thric faces egainst it 
Howell's " Early Baptist" of Virginia," page 16.^ : "Meantime, a 
new theory of a State religious establishment w&i devised, and began, 
in private circles, to be warmly discusNed. This theory had its 
origin wilji the Prenhyterians, and was in their sub-eqnent memorials 
tenaciously and elaborately advocated. It proposed, not ibe abro' 
gation of the State religious establishment, ihe measure demanded 
by the Baptists, but that the Slate, instead of selecting one denomi- 
nation, as the Episcopal, and ealablishing that as the religion of the 
State, and giving to that alone its support, should establish all the 
denominalion'j — Presbyterians, Methodisls, and Baptists, as well as 
Episcopaliana — and make them all equally and alike the religion of 
the State and to be supported by (he Slate. How this could be done 
we shall hereafter see fully explained in some of the Presbyterian 
memorials. Of this plan of reconciling and harmonizing all parties 
Patrick Henry was the ablest and most eloquent advocate. It had 
the merit of British precedent, since Episcopalian ism in England 
and Presbyterianism in Scotlond were alike the established religion 
of the empire." 



It is evident from the above tcBtimony that those "dis- 
, Bentiog allies who deserted Jeiferaon in the crisis of the 
struggle for absolute religious freedom were not Baptists. 
That they were m the main Presbyterians is evident from 
the fact that tbej were at that time the only other denom- 
ination of di^entera of anj strength in Virginia. Whether, 
as Dr. Howell says, the ' ' new theory of a religious estab- 
lishment" had its origin among the Presbyterians we may 
not know with certainty. It may have originated with 
them, or it may have originated with the more liberal 
Episcopalians, who were willing to adopt any compromise 
measure that would save their own church eatabliahmeot; 
or it may have been born of the two denominations jointly — 
of an efiort on the part of their leaders to secure harmony. 
It is worthy of note that the first petition presented to the 
I Legislature in favor of this ' ' new theory of an establiah- 
, meut' ' came from Caroline, a county in which Presby terians, 
a well as Episcopalians, were strong. It is worthy of 
I note, also, that Patrick Henry, the reputed political father 
< of the scheme for the new order of establishment, while 
claimed by Bishop Meade and Dr. Hawks as an Episco- 
palian, was allied to the Presbyterians through his Pres- 
byterian wife, and by the further fact that he caught his 
first inspiration under the nainistry of the great Samuel 
Davies, whose preaching stirred the slumbering genius of 
the awkward and uncouth young man, and started him on 
his career as the "Orator of the Revolution." It is true 
that the Hanover Presbytery, as a body, expressed itself, 
at first, as opposed to any general assessment. It is also 
■ true, as will hereafter be shown, that the Presbytery sub- 
Bequently yielded its opposition, and agreed to an assessment 
on a "plan" proposed by themselves, and that never, 
until August, 1785, when all hope o 


was gone, did any presbytery or oonvention of Presbyterians 
endorse Jefferson's bill for establishing religions freedom 
in Virginia. That bill was proposed in the spring of 1779, 
and was bidding for popular favor nntil the fall of 1785 
before becoming a law. It is significant that the Presby- 
terians, as a body, waited for more than five years before 
giving that important measure their approvaL These 
are fiMta. 


Baptist and Presbyterian Meeting's During Struggle 
Just Oloaed— 1776-177S. 

For the sake of unity, we deem it best to make a Bepa- 
rat« chapter of the meetings and doings of the Baptists 
and PresbyterianB during the struggle for the overthrovf 
of the Establishment. 


According to Seniple (62), there was a meeting of the 
Baptist General Association in August, 1776, at Thorap- 
Bon's meeting-house, Louisa county, in which seventy- 
four cliurohes were represented. The letters from the 
churchea brought "mournful tidings of coldness and de- 
cleosioD," attributed by some to "too much concern in 
political matters, being about the commencement of the 
Revolution." Jeremiah Walker was moderator of this 
meeting, and John Wiliiarag, clerk, their names being 
signed to a complimentary address which was adopted by 
this body and sent to Patrick Henry, who had been re- 
cently elected Governor of the State. The address, to- 
gether with Governor Henry's response, is found in the 
Virginia Gazette of August 23, 1776. Of this address 
Seraple strangely makes oo mention. But Dr. Howell, in 
his account of this meeting, page 159, says: "Its com- 
missioners to the State Convention, Mr. Walker, Mr, 
Williams and Mr. Roberts, reported, giving a full account 
of their mission and the extraordinary success with which 
God had crowned their endeavors." He adds: "An ad- 


dress to the Legislature soon to convene waa reported, con- 
aidered, and adopted. This paper I have been unable to 
find." It is not improbable that the address bere referred 
to is the one which was sent to Governor Henry, and pub- 
lished in the Gazette. 


Semple tella of a proposed division of the General Asso- 
ciatiou into four districts, two south and two north of the 
James river; but, as the division was not perfected, he ig- 
nores it, and treats the whole under one view. He then 
mentions two meetiogs on the Southaide — one at "Falls 
Church meeting -house, Hahfax county, first Saturday in 
November, 1776, of which he could get no account, and 
the other at Williams' Sandy Creek meeting-house, the 
last Saturday in April, 1777." Of this latter meeting 
Semple could give no regular account; but Howell gives 
valuable informatiou concerning what he calls " the ses- 
sion of the General Association for 1777," and which was 
evidently this meeting in April, at a church which was 
pliinted by Walker, within the bounds of the old Meher- 
rin church, and of which Williams was then pastor. 
Here is Howell's account of the meeting tl64)r 

" A eominittee wae appointed, charged with the daty of eiamii: 
ing the laws of the Com mim wealth and destgnating all such &a wei 
jastly considered oflensive ; of recommending the method to be pui 
Bued to obtain their removal from the statute book; to propose in 
forro such Inws, to be laid before the Legislature, as should Grtaij 
establish and maintain 'religloos freedom' in all ils extent and bear- 
ingH, and to report at the earliest moment practicable." 

He then proceeds to describe their report as follows; 

" In that report nnmeroiis laws were designated as offensive, 
prominent among which was the law which required all marrisgea 
to b« performed b; Episcopal clergymen, with the ceremonies of the 



Estahlished church, and ronde all otherwise performed illegal and 
Told ; and all ihe Iuwh establiahing Ihe Episcopal church as the re- 
ligion of the ^tate, and providing Tor its support from the public 
purse. As the beat method to procnre their removal from the stat- 
ate book, continued agitation among the people and petitions to Ihe 
Legisialiire were recommended ; and, as espreH-:ive of such govern- 
ment action a.s was desired, a law was drawn up in form and re- 
I ported, eniltled, 'An Act for the E-iablibhrnenl of Religious Free- 
1,' t^ be presented to the Leitislalure, with &a earnest petttioa 
that it might be adopted as a law of the Stale." 

And he adda: 

"This report was received, ainplj diRcus«cd, and adopted. An 
address was prepared, embodying all (he suggestions of the report, 
especially the proposed law to establish religious liberty; eommls- 
siuners were appoioted, to whose fidelity it was confided, and they 
were instructed to remain with the Legislature and give their atten- 
tion to these interests during the approaching session." 


According to Dr. Foote (327), the Hanover Presby- 
I tery, iu a meeting at Timber Ridge, in April, 1777, 
I adopted a "Memorial to theGeneral Assembly of Vir- 
ginia," drafted by "Rev. Messrs. Stanhope Smith aad 
Daoiel Rice, bearing date of April 25th," aod signed by 
Richard Saukey, moderator. This memorial was pre- 
Benled to the Assembly on the 3d of Jtine tbllowing, the 
I Jouroal notice of which has already been given. It Is a 
j "remonstrance agaiust a general assessmeiit." [See Ap- 
r pendis.] 

At a subsequent tneeting, at Concord, Bedford county, 
h June 19. 1777, " The Presbytery, considering it as prob- 
able that our General Assembly may come to a final deter- 
roinatioD coocerntng cburch establishments at tlieir next 
sesrion, which may make it of importance for this Presby- 
tery further to concern themselves in the case before our 



next stated meeting, we, therefore, appoint the Rev. 
Meesrs. Sankey, Todd, Eice, Wallace, and Smith, or any 
of thera, a committee to meet at Hampden Sidney on the 
26th of September, or sooner, if any two of them ahall 
judge it necessary, to do and act in behalf of this Preaby- 
terj in that case." 


Returning now to Semple, we find mention (63) of a 
meeling in May, 1778, at Anderson's meeting- ho iiae, in 
Buckingham county, of which he eaya: 

" A committee was appointed Co inquire whi^ther any griefancea 
eiiatpd in the civil lawn tliaC trere oppressive to tlie Baptists. In 
their report they represent the caarriiige law ai being pnrtial and 
oppresiiive, . . upon which it was ai;reed to present to the 

next Uenenl AKsenibly a meraorial praying for a luw nlTording 
equal priiileges to all ordained ministers of every denominaliun." 

William Webber was moderator, and John Williams, 


Continuing (64), he says: 

"They appointed their nent Association at Dupuy's roGeting- 
houae, Puwhatan county, second Saturday in October, 1778. They 
met, according to appointment, and chose Samuel Harrin, modera- 
tor, and John Williams, clerk. A commilteu of seTen njeuiben 
were appointed to tube into consideration the civil grievances of the 
Bapli^'ts, and reporL 

" 1. They reported on Monday lliat, should a general assess- 
ment take place, that it would be injurious to the dissenters in 

" 2. That the clergy of the former Established church suppose 
themselves to have the exclusive right of officiating in marriagea, 
which has subjtfcted dissenters to great ii 




<■ The7, therefore, recommended that two persoas be appointed 
to wait on the next General Assemb!/ and \aj these griuvatices 
before tbem. 

" Jeremiali Walker and Elijah Craig (and, in case of the foilare 
of either, John Williama) were appoLoted to attend the General 

Howell also gives an accoiint of this lueetiDg on pages 
I 166-7. That he does not confound it with the meeting al- 
I ready described as having met and acted in 1777, is evi- 
f dent. He gives a full account of the meeting in 1778, at 
I which the "committee of seven" was appointed on "civil 
grievances," and "Walker, Craig, and Williams" were 
appointed commissioners. The explanation seems to be 
this: That the movement looking to a revision of the mar- 
riage and order laws was initiated by those eminent leaders. 
Walker and Williams, at Williams' Sandy Creek meeting- 
house, of which Scrapie could get no account, probably 
because it was only a meeting of one of the proposed divis- 
ions of the General Association, and that the movement was 
subsequently made general by the action of the whole body 
in the two meetings of 1778, mentioned above by Semple. 
It should be borne in mind that Williams was ap- 
pointed, with John Leland, to write the history of Vir- 
ginia Baptists. Before the work could be completed, Le- 
land returned to Massachusetts, and the work was com- 
mitted to Williams alone. His health failed, and then 
Robert B. Semple was appointed in his place. Semple 
tells us in his preface that, while he was compelled to se- 
lect out of the mass of materials gathered such as seemed 
most reliable and most important, there was much that he 
could not get, owing to the "unaccountable backward- 
ness of many to furnish in any way the information pos- 
sessed." Dr. Howell, a much later writer, seems to have 


gsthend T&lnsble facts not recoidoi by Semple — fkcts 
which he collected daring bis raiastonarr Ubora on the 
south ade of the James, and during bn pastorate in tbe 
city of Kichmond, where be bad ample opportunity Ibr 
such work. Ii should be noted that Howell igs<M« tbe 
fact that there were two meetings of tbe General AMOcia- 
doD each year, just as be does as to tbe two aeanons fA the 
General A^embly. We bare already se^i that be treats 
of everytbiDg ibat was presented to tbo Conventions of 
1775 and 1776 and tbe Asembly of 1776 as though they 
were one and tbe same body, altbough be must have known 
that they were ooL This makes him commit the mistake 
(loO) of representing tbe Presbyterians, Methodists, and 
Episcopalians as addressing "the Comvufi'on," when, as 
a matter of fact, these did not appear until the Auembl^ 
met in October, 1776. AU of this is explained by the 
feet that Howell's book was, in its original form, an " Ad~ 
dret»," delivered before the American Baptist Historical 
Society in 1856, and which was subsequently expanded 
into a book. 

There be some who will question tbe accurucy of Howell's 
account of tie origin of the "Bill for Establishing Re- 
ligious Freedom." Howell says that the Baptists took the 
initiative at the April meeting in 177' 
account already given from bis own pen, says that he 
drafted the "bill" in the year 1777, as part of his great 
work of revisal of Vij^inia's laws, but that it was not 
reported to the Asembly undl 1779, We will see bow 
both statements may be true. 



Semple (65) mentions a meeting at Dover meeting- 
house, Goochland county, on the second Saturday in May, 


1779, but he could get no aecouct of its doings. Of the 
next meeting, in October, he says : 

" On tlie second Salurday in October, 1779, the Asaociation met 
at NoUowav loeeting-hoiiae, Amelia county — Samtiel Tlarri-, mod- 
erator ; Jeremiah Walker, clerk. The report hy Jeremiah Walker, 
Kt delegate to the General Aseembly, was hiRhlj gratifying, upon 
which the following entry was unBaimouHly agreed to be made : 
' On considerHllon of the bill establishing religious freedom, agreed : 
That the said bill, in our opinion, puis reJiKious freedom upon its 
proper basis, ptescri lies the just limitH of the power of the Slate 
with regard to religion, and properly giinrda against partiality 
towardnany religious denomination. We, therefore, heartily approve 
of the same, and wish it lo pass into a law.' 

'' ' Ordered, That this, our approbation of the said bill, be trans- 
mitted to the public printeta, to be inserted in the Gazettes.' " 

Howell, in his account, page 167, says : 

" When the General As^ociatinn assembled in 1779, Mr. Walker, 
after bavine: reported the proceedings of the commissioners at the 
Capitol, made to the body a moat important coromuoication. Two 
years before { 1777 ), a ciimroillee bad reported in that body ihe project 
of a law for 'the establishment of religious liberty.' This form 
had been embodied in It^ memoriai and submitted to the Legislature. 
The General Assembly, as we have seen, was then in no temper to 
act favorably on this or any similar subject. The form eubmiLted 
had, however, attracted the attentiim of several memberit of tlie 
Legislature, and eapecially of Mr. Jefierson and Mr. Madison, and 
bad led lo various private intervicvrs betwetin them and the com- 
missiunera on Ihe subject. Mr. Jefierson had kindly undertaken to 
prepare the law, make it accord wilb their wishes, render it as perfect 
■a possible, and at the earliest practicable day secure its adoption by 
the General Assembly as a law of the State. This form, as thus 
prepared, was now laid before llie General Association by Mr. 
Walker for its consideration, advice, and approval. The paper was 
read carefully, and prayerfully considered, and the following pro- 
ceedings unanimously adopted." He then gives the "resolutions" 
already quoted from Semple. 


It appears from these accounts of Baptist and Presby- 
terian nieetiogs that both den oiui nations were anxiously 
watching the proceediogB of the Assembly, and were 
seeking, not only by means of petitions, but also through 
their own chosen commissioners, to guard and further their 
interests before that body. The Journal of the House 
makes no mention of their presence, of course, but only of 
such petitions and addresses as are from time to time pre- 
sented to that body. But it is evident that these coramis- 
sioners were on hand at the proper time and that they did 
some effective "lobbying." 


There is no more appropriate place than this to introduce 
the testimony of this historian as to the character and 
influence of the Baptists. If it he asked why the Baptist 
Association ordered their opinions and doings to be pub- 
lished in the Gazettes, the answer will be found in their 
growing influence, and in their policy of throwing that 
influence, in elections, in favor of the candidate who was 
favorable to religious liberty. Of two Churchmen, for 
example, who were candidates for the Legislature, the 
Baptists would unite on the one who was pledged to the 
doctrine of equal rights for all. And that the Baptist 
influence counted, even in those days, Mr. Howison testifies 
in his History of Virginia, Vol. II,, page 170 : 

" The inflaence of the denomiaation (Baplisls) was strong among 
the ccmmon pcupte, and waii beginning tu be felt in liigh places. 
In two points tbey were distinguiBhed. Fin-t, in tlieir love of free- 
dom. No ctuBB of the pieople of AmericSi were more devoted 
advocates of the principles of the devolution ; none were more 
willing- to give their money and gcioda to their counirj; none more 
prompt to march to the 6e\A of battle, and none more beroio in 
actual combat than the Eaptisla of Virginia. Secondljr, in their 

F hitr 


hatred of the church EBtablishment. The; hated not its ministera, 
boL lis principles." 


The attempt lias been made to discredit Howell's book 
as an authority. He claims "too much for the Baptists" 
to suit some writers, and hence he is set down as " a later 
and not ao accurate a writer" as Semple, and even char- 
acterized as "unreliable." It is meet, therefore, that 
something should be said at this point about the man and 
his work. 

Dr. R. B. C. Howell was born in Wayne county, N. 
C, March 10, 1801; baptized February 6, 1821; attend- 
ed Colombian College; and, at the earnest request of Dr. 
Robert B. Semple, president of the Board of the General 
Association of Virginia, accepted an appointment as oiis- 
Monary in the Portsmouth Association. He had thirty-two 
preaching places. Became pastor of Cumberland Street 
church, Norfolk, in 1828, where he remained eij^ht years; 
went to Nashville in 1835; waa called to the Second Bap- 
tist church, Richmond, in 1850, which church he served 
for seven years, and then returned to Nashville. He was 
imprisoned by Governor Andrew Johnson, Jnne 18, 1862, 
and died in 18()8. Hence he was cotemporary with William 
Fristoe, who died in 1828; of Robert B. Semple, who 
died in 1831 ; of Thomas Jefferson, who died July 4, 1826, 
and of James Madison, who died in 1836. 

In his boot he makes twenty-five refereneet to Semple's 
History, which may be divided into three classes. 

The first class comprises those cases (four in number) in 
which Howell refers to Semple as authority for his state- 
ments, but without quoting his words. These are found 
on pages 70, 91, 94, and 240, and all are correct, except 


that on page 70 the reference to ' ' Semple, page 4, el eeq. , ' ' 
should be "page 41, et aeq.," where Semple begins his 
account of the General Association. 

The second class compriaes those cases in which Howell 
quotes from Semple, inti-oducing the quotation by some 
such words as "Semple says." There are six such refer- 
ences, found on pages 73, 97, 133, 137, 142, and 178, and 
all correct. 

The third class comprises those cases in which Howelt 
quotes from original sources, such as journals, minutes of 
associations, memorials, addresses, etc., and then r fers the 
reader to the page in Sample's History which gives Aw 
account of the same matter. Of this class there are fifteen 
cases, found on pages 91, 95, 96, 105, 106, 110, 114, 125, 
145, 150, 168, 174, 184. 199, and 225, all of which are 
correct, except that in four cases the reference is to the 
wrong page. On page 91 the reference should be "Semple, 
page 57," instead of 55] od page 95 it ahould be 68, 69, 
instead of 59, 60; on page 105 it should be 56, instead of 
50, and on page 150 it should be 435, instead of 345. 

Semple had "materiak," which he used very sparingly, 
and others which, owing to the "narrow limits" of his 
vurk, he did not use at atl. On page 246 he suggests that 
an interesting and useful "volume" might be made up of 
"circular letters" which be had, but could not use in his 

In the first chapter of Howell's work, he says that "the 
history of the Baptists of Virginia remains unwritten"; 
that " ample materials for a full and faithful history are 
accessible " ; and he then goes on to tell where they may be 
found. His work was not designed to be such a history, 
but wa^ only " an enlargement of an address delivered by 


1 New York, in 1856, before the American Baptist 
SjBtorical Society," and published, in ita present form, 
r the author's death. His son, Hon. Morton B. Howell, 
f Kashville, in a private letter, says that some of his 
bther's materials were obtained from Semple, but that 
B bulk was procured in the State Library, ' ' and that he, 
on, aided him in procuring' them. " From my personal 
inowiedge, " be writes, "of tha manner in which the uiateri- 
iIb were gathered, I will risk ray life that every statement of 
fact is made with scrupulous accuracy and careful precision, ' ' 
Mr. Howell sends the following interesting note, written 
by bia father on the fly-leaf of "a first draft" of the 
proposed book : 


"The following pages are a first draft of the work proposed. 
The facta and suthorities are, however, all veriGed, and may be re- 
lied ujioii. The whole auial be rewriiten and perfected. Should I 
not lire to do ihw, I desire my nephew. Rev. C. H. Toy, of Norfolk, 
Va., 10 do it for me. R, B. C. Howkll." 

"The above was written when I was thrown into priaon bj the 
Federal Government in 1S62." 

His son adds that "the rewriting" was done by bis 
father "during the enforced leisure of 1864— '5;" that 
Eoon after bis death, April 5, 1868, he sent the manuscript 
to Dr. Toy, who, as the preface shows, published it just 
"as the author left it." 

Dr. Howell, as missionary among the churches on the 
south side of the James, and as pastor in the city of Rich- 
mond, had the best opportunities for gathering information 
which Semple did not have and "could not get," and he 
vho would discredit his work must impeach the character 
of the author. There is no discrepancy or conflict between 
faim and Semple. 


Desultory Engagement, or Lull Before the Pinal 
Stniffglo— 1780-1783. 

Thi3 period, from 1780 to 1783, begins with the darkest 
hour of the Revolution and closes with the signing of the 
treaty of peace between Great Britian and the United 
States. The " Continental currency " had become worth- 
less. "It took S150of it to buy a bushel of corn, andan 
ordinary suit of clothes cost 32,000." The greatest dia- 
tresa prevailed in the army and throughout the country. 
Congress was weak through ita inability to tax the people 
for the support of the war. It was in this period of dark- 
ness and gloom (1780) that the whole country waa startled 
and alarmed by the treachery and desertion of General 
Arnold, who sought to sell the cause of independence for 
British gold. But his accomplice. Major Andre, had 
scarcely heen executed when the star of hope rose in the 
South, in the important victory at King's Mountain, 
October 7, followed, January 17, 1781, by another signal 
victory at the Cowpens. This waa followed by the march 
of Corn wailis northward to Guilford Courthouse, whence, 
after a severe engagement with General Greene, he 
marched through lower Virginia to Yorktown, where he 
waa finally cooped up by the French and Americans, and 
forced to surrender, October 19, 1781. This practically 
ended the war. November 30, 1782, a provisional treaty 
of peace waa signed; on the 30th of April, 1783, General 
Washington proclmmed a cessation of hostilities, and the 


final treaty of peace between Great BritaiD and the 

United States was signed at Paris, September 3, 1783. 

During all this period, the General Asseniblj doea very 
little either for or agaioBt the cause of religious liberty. 
The old Establishment ia down, but some of its relics 
remain, and, while there ia desire and effort on the part of 
many to complete the work, there are otliers who are 
waiting for a favorable opportunity to set up a new eatab- 
liabmeat on a broader and more liberal basis. The doings 
of the several denominations are here presented in their 
order, together with the Journal notices of their memorlala 
and the action of the Assembly. 


According to Dr. Foots (page 332), the Presbytery of 
Hanover met in April, 1780, at Tinkling Spring congre- 
gation, in Augusta county; present. Rev. Messrs. Todd, 
Brown, Waddel, Rice, Irvin, Smith, and Crawford, On 
the 28th of the month, being at Mr. Waddel's, "A 
memorial to the Assembly of Virginia, from this Presby- 
tery — to abstain from interfering in the government of the 
, church — was prepared, and, being read in Presbytery, is 
appointed and directed to be transmitted to the House." 
"The Presbytery do request Colonel McDowell and 
p Captain Johnson to present their memorial to the Assem- 
I'bly, and to second it by their influence; and Mr. Waddel 
i Mr. Graham are appointed to inform these gentlemen 
f the request of Presbytery. " 


Mb712,1780: "A petition of sundry inhabilanls of the connty 
of Amelin, whose names are therennlo Bubserihed, wbh preeenled to 
the House and read; Belling forth ihat they conceive tbe prcgeat 
conslitntion of paiish veslries is a. public grievuice ; Ihat doabto 


have arisen aa to the validity of niarriajtes solemnized by disBentinj 
ministerH, and praying tliat ilie T«Birie$ in the several parishes may 
' be disaolved, and elected henafter by [lie free chuic^ uf the people, 
and (.hat marriagea Holemnized by dis^nting mimntera maj be 
declared lawfuL" " Referred to Committee on Religion." 

June 4, 1780; "Ordered, That leave be ^ven to bring in a bill 
'for saving the properly of the cburt'h htrelofure by law ealab- 
liahed," and that ibe cninmitlee appointed to prepare nnd brins in 
a bill 'for religious freedom ' do prepare and bring in the iianje." 

Jane 5, 1780 : " A petitioa of the Bodety of people called Bap- 
tisbt was presented to the House and read ; itetllnK forth that doubts 
have arisen whether marriages solemnised by dissenting ministera 
are valid, and praying that an aci may pass to declare such mar- 
riages lawful." "Beferred to Committee on Keligion." 

June 14, 1780: "AbOl 'for establishing religious freedom' was 
read a second time." It was then resolved by the House to defer 
the third reading of the said bill till the Ist day of August. At the 
same time it was resolved that the bill "for saving the property of 
the church heretofore by law ralablished" be read a second lime on 
the Ist day of August. But the House atljoomed, June 26, till the 
first Monday in October. 


July 5, 1780; " An engrossed bill ' for dissolving several veatriea 

and electing overseeni of the poor' waa read the third time and 


According to Semple (page 66), the Baptist General 
Aflsociation met at Waller's meeting-house, Spotsylvania 
county, the second Saturday in May, 1780, but "no ac- 
count could be obtained of the proceedings of this session." 
The next meeting was at Sandy Creek meetiog-hoiise, 



r Charlotte county, the second Saturday in October; Samuel 

L Harris, moderator, and John Williams, clerk. 

From the miniitea it appear? that some jealousj waa still enter- 
tained respecting tlie power of the associations. In consequence of 
■whicli, an entry is made diEa.vo wing any authority over the churches." 

A letter was received from a committee of the Regular Baptists, 

requesting (hat asimilHr committee a liould be appointed by this AssO' 

ciation to consider national grievances in conjunction. This was 

done accordingly, and Benben Ford, Jobn Williams, and E. Craig 


"The third Thnrsday in Novemher following was appointed a 
day of fasting and prayer, in consequence of the alarming and dis- 

jBing ti 


November 8, 1780; "A memorial of the Baptist Ass 
presented to the House and read; setting forth that they con.sider the 
present ve:.try law as a restriction on their religious liberties, and 
that mnrriagea solemnized by dissenting miniaters, not being con- 
firmed and sanctioned by law, they also consider as a grievance; and 
praying relief." 


November 10, 1780; "A petition of sundry inhabitants of the 
county of Prince Edward, whose names are thereunto subscribed, 
was presented to the iloufe and read; setting forth that ihey con- 
sider it as nnivise to extend the privileges granted to well-aGecicd 
citizens to those who refuse to give assurance of fidelity to the State; 
that dangerous consequences may ensue by admitting the exercise of 
any of the learned professions to non-jurors; and praying that all 
non-juring clergymen, of whatever denomination, may be silenced, 
and such as have them deprived of their benefices; that those who 
refuse lo give assurance of allegiance to the State may be prohibited 
the exercise of either of the professions of law or physic; and that 
double taxes be imposed on all non-jurors." 

November 23, several petitions from Cumberland county 
to the same effect were presented to the House. There was 


another from Buckingham county, November 7, exactly 
like the above. 

By "non-jurors" is meant those inhabitants of Vir- 
ginia who, after the colony had thrown off allegiance to 
Great Britian and set up a new government, had failed to 
take the oath of allegiance to Virginia. The Revolution 
was still in progress and its issue uncertain. The object of 
the above petitions was to throw out of employment, espe- 
cially in the professions, all who failed to swear allegiance. 


The following from Meade'a "Old Churches," etc. 
(Vol. 2, page 445), seems to fix the responsibility for this 
movement on the Presbyterians: 

"NoTember, 1780 ; Petition and counter-petition of the inhabit- 
BntB or Cumberland. The PresbyteiianB pray the Asseinbly to declare 
mil nnn-jiirln^ clergymen incapable of preaching. The Epiacopalians 
indignantly declare the Presbyt«riana 'disorderly and turbulent, 
desiroiL? of giving laws to all societies,' and fond of noise and violence. 
Thereal object of their (the Preabyterinna ) pet t on IhememoriaJiBts 
say, ia to ruin the Rev. ChriBtopher MacF ae, vho although pre- 
vented by conscientious scruples from lak ng the oath, s a most 
benevolent man, a. pattern of piety, and one vho wiabes 1 berty and 
happiness to all mankind. The ruin of the ch irch m (.umberland 
is declared to be the ultimate object of the Presbytenans 

On the same page (445), Bishop Meade gives the fol- 
lowing from the Journal of the House 

"November 22, 1781; Sundry inhabitants nf Prince Edward 
county pray that all the old vestries may be dissolved by act of 
Assembly and new ones elected by the body of the community at 
large, dissenters to be equally competent with conformists to the post 
of vestrymen, and the sole pioiitao to be ' attachment to the present 
form of government.' Beferred to next AEsembly, and, June 9, 
1782, rqected." 

Had this movement prevailed as to " non-jurors" and 


ta to elections of vestrymeD, the houses of worship beloDg- 
ing to the Establishment and the "glebes" would, in 
many cases, have fallen into the bands of dissenters. It 
does not appear that the Baptists took any part in this at- 
tempt at '' reconstruction," The incident is recorded here 
as explaining, in part at least, the enmity which existed 
between the Presbyterian and Episcopal clergy, and which 
will appear later on as oae of the obstacles in the way of 
the success of the "General Assessment Bill." 


November 21, 1780: " Mr. Carrington reported from the Com- 
mittee for Religion that the comiuittee had, according to order, had 
noder their consideration the memorial of the Baptist AsBociatian, 
to them referred, and had come to several reaolntiona thereupon, 
which he read in his place, and afLervrards delivered in at the clerk's 
table, when the same were again read, and are as fotloweth: 

Reaalvai, That it is the opinion of tliie committee that such parts 
of the said memorial as pray that marriagea solemnized by dissenting 
minialers may be declared lawful is reasonable. 

Resoh".d. That it is the opinion of this committee that such other 
parts of the said memorial aa pra.y that the vestries in the aeveral 
parishes ihroaghout this State may be dissolved is reasonable." 

The first resolution was read a second time and agreed 
to by the House, The second was read a second time and 
ordered to lie on the table. 


"An act declaring what shall be a lawful raarriage " 
was passed by the Legislature during this fall session of 
1780; butitwasso clogged by "pron'soea" as to materially 
abate the satisfaction with which it was received by the 
people. These objectionable restrictions were all removed 
by the Legislature of 1784, and the ministers of all denomi- 
nations placed upon an equal footing, as they are to this 


day. Foote saya (331): "This act, clogged as it was, to 
be in full force from tlie 1st of January, 1781, was an ad- 
vance in religiiius liberty. The solemn yows to live as 
husband and wife might be uttered in words and with 
forms agreeable to the tastes and consciences of the parties 

Semple (pags 66) Baja: " The next ABSOciation wsa appointed at 
Anderson'H meeting-houBe, Buckingliam county, second Saturday in 
May, 17BI. They me^ according to ap|iotntment. About ihie time, 
the British, under Lord Comivallia, were mnrchinfi through Vir- 
ginia from the South, and were now at no great distance from the 
place of tiie Aasociatioa. On this account, there were but fiiiteea 
churches corresponded. Tliey cbose William Webber moderator, 
and J. Williams, clerk. After making some fen arrangements, and 
appointing the next Aswciation at Dover meeting-honne, Goochland 
county, the second Saturday io October, 1782, they adjourned." 


Semple (page 67): "They met at Dover meeting-house, agreeable 
to appointment. Letters from thirty-two corresponding churches 
were read. William Webber, moderator; John Williams, clerk. 
Jeremiah Walker was appointed a delegate to attend the next Gen- 
eral A^iBembly, with a memorial and petitions against ecclesiastical 
oppression. Robert Stockton attended thb Association as a delegate 
from the Strawberry ABsociation. The large number of churches, 
and the great distance which many of their delegates had to travel, 
rendered a General Association in Virginia extremely inconvenient; 
so that they would probably long before this date have divided into 
districts, if they had not been holden together by apprehensions of 
opliresaion from civil government. They could not make head 
against their powerful and naraerous opponents with any hope of 
success unless they were united among themselves. ' In order to be 
all of one mind, it was necessary Lhej should all assemble around one 
council board. For tliese reasons, the General Association was kept 
Dp aa long as it was. Finding it, however, considerixbly wearisome 
to collect so many from such distant parts, and having already secured 

W ti>< 




their moat important oiyil righls, they detirmined to hold on!j one 
General Asuociation, and then, dividing into districts, to form 
plan to keep a standing sentinel for [wlitical purposes." . . . 
They then proceeded to appoint the Association al Dupu/a meet- 
■hou^e, Powhatan county, second Saturday in October, 1783." 
. "The first Wednesday in November was appointed a day 
of fasting and prayer, on account of the prospects of famine, and lo 
avert tbe judgments of God on account of the increasing wickedness 
of Ihe land." 


May 30, 17S3 ; "A memorial of the ministers and messengers of 
the Baptist Association was presented to the House and read ; set- 
ting forth (hat, while they rejoice at the prospect of liberty and 
independence which the return of peace has produced, they conceive 
themselves oppressed by the operation of the laws respecting vestries 
and marriages ; and praying that said laws may be revised and 

June 1 , 1783 ; "An address of the ministers and raeasengers of the 
Baptist Association was prewnted to the Bouse and read ; selling 
forth that, notwithstanding t)ie joy which is difTiued amongnt them 
on the return of peace and the happy establishment of our inde- 
pendence, ihey think they have some reason to complain, as the lawn 
respecting vestries and marriages are peouliariy oppressive opon 
them \ and praying that the said laws may be revised and amended." 


"Second Saturday in October, 1783, they met in General A ssotaa- 

^on, according to appointment, and for tiie last time. Thirty-seven 

delegates, including most of the active preachers in Virginia, were 

present. William Webber, moderator ; John Williams, clerL The 

following business 

"Bai"!ved, That 

that a general 

fcur delegates from 

transacted in this Association : 
General or Annual Association cease, and 
ituled, composed of not more than 
^h district association, to meet annually, to 

consider matters that may be for the good of the whole society, and 
that the present Association be divided into fuur districla — Upper 
and Lower District, on each side of James river." 

" Reuben Ford and John WuUcr were appointed delegates to w 


on the General Asemblj' irlth a memorial. Then diBsolved. 
pie, pageg B8, 69. 

Howell's testimony. 

Dr. Howell (173) adds little to Semple, except in the 
matter of details. He aays: 

" The meetiagB of the General ABSOpiatlon for 1782 and for 1783 
bftd a full attendance. The remaining laws of the StaW regarded bj 
them BB unequal and oppreaelre received their elaborate attention. 
Prominent among these were 'the vestrj and glebe laws.' The 
project, before mentioned, of incorporating, or establishing as the 
religion of the State, all the prevailing denominations, and assessing 
taxes upon the people to support the ministers of all alike, was now 
worm I7 advocated by Presbjlerians, Episcopalians and Methodiata, 
and becoming quite popular. To this scheme the Baptists still gave 
the most determined opposition, and sent up against it the most 
vigorous remonstrances. They also continued to petition for the 
adoption of the proposed 'Act to Eatahlish Religioua Freedom.' To 
bear tliese addresses to the Legislature and to superintend them 
before that body, Jeremiah Walker waa Appointed by the former 
meeting, and by the latter, Reuben Ford and John Waller. The 
extraordinary state of the country, however, prevented, on the part 
of the government, any important action on these subjects," 


"A petition of the ministers and messengers of the several Baptist 
churches MBA presented to the House and read ; setting forth that 
several oppressive distinctions between dissenters and the Church of 
England still exist in the veatry law and marriage act, in favor of 
the latter ; and praying that all such distinctions may be done away, 
and religious freedom established. Referred." 

November 8, 1783; "A petition of sundry inhabitants of the 
coanty of Lunenburg, whose names are thereunto subscribed, was 
presented to tlie House and read ; setting forth that they conceive it 
iVould greatly tend to promote religion and the propagation of the 
gospel if a general and equal contribution for the support of the 
clergy were eatabliahed ; and praying that an act may pass to that 

' Sem- 1 


November 27, 1783: Similar petition from Amherst 

This closes the second period of the struggle for religious 
liberty — the period of the Revolution. The independence 
of the colonies has been acknowledged by Great Britain, 
as well as by other nations, and the infant republic has 
entered upon a perilous struggle for separate existence. 
But, while threatened by difficulties within and foes with- 
out, there is hope of its future in the fact that the leaven 
of religious liberty has been cast into the lump — a principle 
which is destined to leaven the whole mass. 


Strug'gle Rene'wed — O-eneral Incorporation and 
ABsesBineot Billa. 

The period irameHiately succeeding the Eevnlution was 
marked by a reoewal of tlie struggle betweeo the friends 
and the opponents of absolute religious freedom. The Bap- 
tists continued to present an unbroken front against every 
veatige of union between Church and State; the Episcopa- 
lians, on the other hand, sought to recover lost ground 
under a new and more liberal form of church establish- 
ment; while the Presbyterians occupied a sort of middle 
ground, which caused confusion in their own ranks and 
compromised them iu the estimation of others. 

The petitions are presented here in the order in which 
they were presented to the House of Delegates. 

May 15, 1784: "A petition of anudry inhabitanls of the coiinty 
of Warwick, whose naioes are thereunto Bubscribed, was preeented 
to the House and read ; setting forth that, in the present neglected 
Btate of religion and morality, tliej conceive a general asseseraent 
would greatly contribute to restore and propagate the holy Christian 
religion ; and praying that sn act may pass for the assessment upon 
all titheables for theeupport of religion." 


May 26, 1T84 : "A tnemorial of the Baptist Association was pre- 
■ented to the House and read ; setting forth that the distinctions 
Mtiibtished by law in faTor of the Episcopal church are injurious to 


the religions of all other denominatiana, and Ihnt they consider the 
present vestry and marriage acta as nn^qual and 0)>[>rea!iLTe ; and 
prajing that perfect and equal religioua freedom maj be ealab- 

"Also, a memorial of the anitad clsrg; of the Presbyterian 
chnrch in \'irginia ; setting forth that they consider the present 
existing laws in favor of the Episcopal church aa creating invid- 
iniu and exclusive dixtiiictions, dangerous to religious freedom ; 
that, in particular, the several acta which recognize that an the estab- 
lished church enable it to acquire and possess property for ecvleflias- 
tical purposes, to celebrate marriages throughout the Stale ex "fficin, 
and that the laws concemiag ventries are unjust, unequal, and 
oppressive ; and praying that [he Legislature will do away with all 
such distinctions and secure their future and religious free^lom upon 
the broad basis of perfect political eqimlily." [Bee Appendix for 

Both these petitions were referred to the Committee oq 

May 27, 1784 : " Retiitred, That it is the opinion of this com- 
mittee, that the petition of sundry inhabitants of the county of War- 
wick, whose names are thereunto subscribed, praying that an act 
may pass for a general assessment upon all lithenbles of tliia (-'om- 
mnnweallh for the support of the Christian religion within the same, 
is reaaonable." 

This was from the Committee on Religion and was 
referred to the Committee of the Whole House. 


June 1, 1784 : " Also, a petition of the president and trustees of 
Hampden -Sidney Catlege; setting forth that the funds of the said 
College are inadequate to its support and the erection of the neoes- 
sary buildings ; and praying that the Legislature will aid their 
funds by a grant of 4(X) acres of confiscated land, late the property 
of Spiers & Company, in the neighborhood of the said College." 

June 4, 1TS4 : " Reaobxd, That it is the opinion of this com- 



mittee that the petition of the preaident and trustees of Hampden- 
Sidney College, praying that a tract of land containing about 400 
acres, which ia now vested in the Commonwealth by the laws of 
escheat and forfeiture, and which adjoins the said Collie, may be 
Tested in the president and tnistees thereof, is reasuaable." 

June 4, 1TS4: "A petition of the Protestant Episcopal church 
was presented to the House and read ; setting forth that their 
church labors under many inconveniences and reatraints by the 
operation of sundry laws now in force, which direct modes of wor- 
ship and enjoin the observance of certain days, and otherwise pro- 
duce embarrasaraent and difEcully ; and praying that all acts which 
direct modes of faith and worship and enjoin the observance of cer- 
tain days may be repealed ; that the present vestry laws may be 
repealed or amended ; that the churches, glche lands, donations, 
and all other property heretofore belonging to the Established 
church, may be forever secured to them by law ; that an act may 
pass to incorporate the Protestant Episcopal church in Virginia, lo 
enable them to regulate all the spiritual concerns of that church 
after its form of worship, and constitute such canons, by-laws, and 
rules for the government and good order thereof us are Bulled to 
their religious principles ; and, in general, that the Legislatm^ will 
aid and patronize the Christian religion," 


June 8, 1784 : " Jtwo/iW, That it is the opinion of this com- 
mittee that the memorial of the clergy of the Protestant Episcopal 
church of Virginia, praying that the laws within this Common- 
wealth, which restrain the said charch from the like powers of self- 
goTemment as is enjoyed by all other religious societies, and which 
prescribe the mode of appobling vestries and the qoalifications of 
vestrymen, may be changed ; and that the churches, glebe lands, 
donations, and all other property belonging lo the said church, may 
forever be secured to them, is reasonable." 

" Rfsoltied, That it is the opinion of this committee that so much 
of the memorials from the united clergy of the Presbyterian church 
in Virginia and the Baptist Association as prays that the laws regu- 
lating the celebration of marria^ and relating to the c( ~ 



veitries, ma; be altered ; and that in general all legal diatinctiotia in 
fiiTor of anj particular religious societj ma; be abolished, is 

" Beealved, That it is the opinion of this cominittee that so 

much of the raemoriaU from the clergy of the ProteBlant Episcopal 

church in Virginia and the imited clergy of the Presbyterinn church 

n Virginia as relates to an mcorporalion of their societies is reaaon- 

t«Ho ; and that a like incorporalton ought to be extended to all 

■iDther religious societies within (he Commonwealth which may apply 

Jane 10, 1TS4: "An engrossed bill, 'giving certain lands to 
Hampden-Sidney College, in the county of Prince Edward,' was 
read the third time, Resnlveil, That the bill do pass, and that the 
title be ' An Act Giving Certain Lands to Hampden-Sidney College, 
in the County of Prince Edward.' " 


Jane 16, 1784 : "Mr. Jones, of King George, reported from the 
Committee for Religion, according to order, a bill ' for incorporat- 
ing the Protestant Episcopal church, and for other purposes'; and 
the same was received and read the first time, aud ordered to be read 
s second time." 


November 4, 1784: "A petition of sundry inhabitants of the 
county of Isle of Wight, whose names are thereunto subscribed, was 
presented to the House and read ; setting forth (hat they are much 
concerned to see the countenance of the civil power wholly with' 
drawn from religion, and the people left without the smallest coer- 
cion to contribute to it» supjMirt ; that they consider it as the duty of 
a wise Legislature to encourage ila progress and diffbae its influence ; 
that, being thoroughly convinced that the prosperity and happiness 
of this country essentially depends on the progress of religion, they 
b^ leave lo caU the attention of the Legislature to a, principle, old 
as society itself, that whatever is to conduce equally to the advan- 
tage of all should be borne equally by all ; and praying that an act 
may pass to compel every one to contribute something, in proper^ 
tioa to his property, to the support of religion." 



November 11, 1784: "A memorial of a comraitlee of sundry Bap- 
tist asBociationa, assembled at Dorer meeting-hoiise, nas presenled 10 
the Ilouee and read ; setting forth that tbey have still reason to 
complain of several acts now in force, which they conceive are 
oppresBive and repugnant to the equal rights of religious liberty, 
particularly the marriage and vestry laws ; and praying that the 
Bam« may 1)0 amended." 

The marriage law was so amended at thia session as to 
be acceptable to all dissenters. 


11, it was resolved in 


On the same day, Novembei 
Committee of the Whole — 

"That the people of this Commonwealth, according to their 
respective abilities, ought to pay a moderate lax or contribution 
annually for the support of the Christian religion, or of" some Chria- 
tiaiL church, denomination, or communion of Christiana, or of some 
form ofChrlsliati wotiihip." 

November 12, 17B4: "A memorial of the united clergy of the 
Presbyterian church ; setting forth that they feel much uneaaineas 
at the continuance of their grievances, which they complained of in 
a memorial presented to the last session of Assembly, increased by 
the prospect of an addition to them by certain eiceptiimable meaaures 
said to be proposed to the Legislature ; that they disapprove of all 
acts for incorporating the clergy of any society independent of theirs, 
or any interference of the Legislature in the spiritual concerns of 
religion ; and that a general asBessment for its support ought, they 
think, to be eilended to those who profeas the public worship of the 
Deify, and are comprised within the Declaration of Rights." [See 
Appendix for metnorial.] 


Dr. Foote, on pages 336—338, gives this memorial in 
full, and adds: 


"There was a strong impression tliat some kind of araessment 
would be demanded by a majurily of the citizens of the State. And 
it appears that for a time there waa a. leaning that way in some, at 
least, of the members of Presbytery; for at the same session of Prea- 
hytery in which the foregoing memoriai was prepared (October 'il, 
1784) the following 'p!an was also introduced, agreeably to which 
alone Presbytery are willing to admit a general assessment for the 
sii[pport of religion by law, the leading principles of which are as 
follows: (Ist) Religion aa a Hpiritual gysteni is not to be considered 
as an object of human l^^lation, but may in a civil view, as pre- 
serving the existence and pmmoting the happiness of society ; (2d) 
that public worsliip and public periodical instruction to the people 
be maintained in this view by a general assessment for thin purpose ; 
(3d) (hat every man, as a good citizen, be obliged to declare himself 
attached to some religious community, publicly known to eipre«a 
the belief of one Ciod, his righteons providence, our accounlablenesa 
to him, and a future slate of rewards and punishments ; (4th) that 
every citizen should have liberty annually to direct his assessed pro- 
portion to such community as he chooses; (5lh) that twelve tithe- 
ables, or more, to the amount of one hundred and fifty families, aa 
near as local eircorasiances will admit, Bhnll be incorporated, and 
exclusively direct the application of the money contributed for their 
support. Messrs, Todd, Graham, Smith, and Montgomery are 
appointed to present the memorial and attend the Assembly with the 

It thus appears that the Presbyterian clergy were will- 
iDg to have a geoeral assessment for the support of reli- 
gion, provided they could have it on their own plan — a 
plan broad and liberal enongb for those who believe in a 
union of Church and State, but not for those who hold to 
the absolute freedom of the conscience from all control of 
civil or ecclesiastical authority, 


November 13, 1784; "Ordered, That the Committee for Reli- 
gion be discharged from further proceeding on the memorials of the 
« of the Baptist associations, and that the same be referred 




November 17, 1784 ; " Rcwlved, That it a the opinion of this 
oommittee that so much of the petition of the Preabytery of Hano- 
7er and of the Baptist Association as pniys that the lawa regulating 
the celebration of mftrriage and relating \a the conatruction of the 
Teetriea may be altered, is reasonable." 

" Bemlved, That it ix the opinion of this committee that acts 
ought to pass for the incorporatioo of all societies of the Christian 
religion nhich may apply for the aame." 

Baptiste, at least, could not apply for iocorporation 
without stultifying themselves, and the members of Assem- 
bly ought to have known that they could not. 

These resolutions were reported to the House, and, on 
being read the second time, were agreed to. The latter 
resolution was adopted by a vote of 62 ayes, including 
Patrick Henry, the author of the bill, against 23 noes, 
including James Madison, Zacharia JohnstoD, Fredch 
Strother, and Wilaou Carey Nicbolas. 


On the same day, November 17, it was "Ordered, 
That leave be given to bring in a bill to incorporate the 
clergy of the Protestant Episcopal church, and that Messrs. 
Carter Henry Harrison, Henry, Thomas Smith, William 
Anderson, and Tazewell, do prepare and bring in the 

On the same day, Patrick Henry was again elected 
Governor of the State. 


As the Journal gives only the title of the bill proposed, 
and which failed to become a law, we must look to other 


Bources for information as to its ciiaract«r. The following 
is James Madison's description, as given by Kives, in liia 
"Life and Times of Madison," Vol. I., page 562: 

" The Ep[flcopal clergy introduced a notable project for re-eatal)- 
liflhing their independence of t!ie laity. The Toundation of it waa 
that the whole body should be legally incorporated, invested witb 
the present property of the charch, made capable of acqnirfog indefi- 
nitely, empowered to make canon and by-lawa not contrary to the 
laws of the land ; and inciimbenla, when once chosen by the vestries, 
to be irremovable otherwise than iiy sentence of the convocation. 
Eitraordinarj as auch a project was, it was preeerTtd from a dia- 
honorable death by the talenta of Mr. Henry. It Ilea over for 
another aession." 


The "Bill EstablisLing a Provision for Teachers of 
EeHgion," otherwise known as the "General Assessment 
Bill," vphieh was complementary to the General lueorpo- 
ration Bill, was reported December 3, 1784. The pream- 
ble was as follows: 

"Whereas the general difliision of Christian knowledge hatha 

natural tendency ia a 

t the morals of n 


and preaerve the peace of aociety, which cannot be etTected without 
a CDiBpetent provision for learned teachers, who may be thereby 
enabled lo devote their time and attention to the duty of instrnctmg 
auch citizens aa from their circumstances and want of education can- 
not otherwiae attain auch knowledge ; and it is judged auch provis- 
ion maybe made by the Legislature, withoat counteracting the lib- 
eral principle heretofore adopted and intended to be preserved, by 
abolishing all distinctions of pre-eminence amongst the different aoci- 
etiea or commmaities of Christians." 


In a letter to James Monroe, dated Richmond, Novem- 
ber 27, 1784, Madison says: 

"The bill for a religious assctiranent has not been yet brought in. 
Mr. Henry, the father of the scheme, ia gone up to hia seat for his 


familj, and will no more sit in tbe House of Delegates — a circum- 
Btance Terj inauspicious to his oSapriag." 

To Bame party he writes again, December 4: 
"The bill for the religious assessment was reported yesterday, 
and will be taken up in a committee of the whole next week. Its 
frienda are much disheartened at theloaa of Mr. Henry." Writings 
of Madison, I., Ill, 113. 

This bill had passed to its third reading, when its pro- 
gress was arrested and it was postponed until tbe fourth 
Thursday in November, 1785. It was ordered to be 
primed and distributed among the people, who were 
requested to signify their opinion respecting it. 


In a letter to James Monroe, April 12, 1785, he says: 
"The only proceeding of the late seaaion of Assembly which 
makes a noise through the coontry is that which relates to a general 
assessment The Episcopal people are generally for it, though I 
think the zeal of some of them has cooled. The laity of the other 
sects are generally unanimons on the other side. So are all tbe 
clergy, except the Presbyterian, who seem as ready to set up an 
establishment which is to take them io as they were to pull down 
that which shut them out. I do not know a more shameful contrast 
than might be found between their memoriats on the latter and 
former occasions." Rives, I., C30. 


In his " Life and Times of Madison," I., 602, Mr. Rivea 

" What is especially remarkable is that, in a memorial presented 
by the united clergy of the Presbyterian church — a body which had 
hitherto distinguished itself by its zeal in favor of the principles of 
nnlimited religious freedom — an opinion was now expressed, as cited 
in the Journal of the House of Delegates, that ' a general assessment 
for tbe support of religion ought to be extended to those who profess 
the public worship of the Deity.' . . . It is, perhaps, not to be 


wondered at that, amnng a people accustomed from their earliest 
times to see religion lean for support on the arm of Becular power, an 
apprehension should bave been felt of ila decline upon the with- 
drawal of that aupport." 


Dr. Foote does not try to conceal or evade tbe fact that 
there was wavering among the Presbyterian clergy in this 
fight over the aBsessraeut; he only seel<9 to account for their 
action aod to explain it as an acceptance of the la-ser of 
two evils. In his sketch of Rev. William Graham, he 

'' Wh«i the bill for a general awiessmpnt was brought forward, 
with such an advocate as Patrick Henry, and with tlie Episcopal 
church to support it, it was generally supposed that it would cer- 
tainly become a law. To those who had been paying to support their 
own church and another, foreign to it, this bill proposed relief; they 
were to pay only for the support of the church of tlieir choice. Ai 
it was a relief from their former burdens, and an the Presbyterian 
congregations would not be called on to pay more for the support of 
their own ministere than they would cheerfully give by ToluntBry 
EubscriptioQ, Mr. Grahaia was ikgreed with his brethren lo send up 
tbe memorial which gives their sentimenta on tbe subject of the sup- 
port of religion, disclaiming all legislative interference, and, under 
the conviction thai the law would in some form pa»<, proposing the 
least offensive form in which the assessment could be levied." 
Bketches of Virginia, page 455. 


The Baptists, through their General Committee, had, in 
the meeting of October 9, 1784, "resolved to oppose the 
law for a general assessment, and that for the incorpora- 
tion of religious societies, which were now in agitation." 
Granted that the proposed incorporation bill would take 
them in, as well as the Presbyterians, Methodists and 
Episcopalians, they were irrecoocilably opposed to any sort 


of union between Church and State. Granted that the 
proposed aasessment bill would allow them to designate 
their own ministera as the beneficiariea of their part of the 
tax, they believed in a voluntary religion and in free-will 
offerings for itd support, and hence could not coDsistently 
favor a measure which looked to the support of the 
ministry by means of a compulsory tax, levied and col- 
lected by civil authority. Grauted that the great "Orator 
of the Revolution " was the father and advocate of these 
measures, they could resist the charm of his siren voice, 
when that voice was raised in advocacy of what they be- 
lieved to be an unholy cause. We close this chapter with 
a statement by Rev. William Fristoe of the reasons why 
the Baptists ' ' considered themselves under the necessity of 
appearing again on the public theatre and express tlieir 
disapprobation to the above proposition, and use their 
influence to prevent its passing into a law." 


On page 92 of his History of the Ketocton Association, 
he says: 

"Firet, it WBM coctrar? to their principles and avowed sentitoenti, 
the making proviaion fortheeuppo-rtof religion by law; that the die- 
tinction between civil and ecclesiastical governments ouRht to be 
kept up without blending them together; that Christ Jesus hatb 
given laws for the government of his kingdom and direction of hia 
■abjects, and g;ave instruction concerning collections for the variona 
purpoBEs of relipon, and therefore needs not legislative interference. 

"Secondly, should a legislative body midertake to pass laws for 
the government of the cburcb, for them to say what doctrines ghsll 
be believed, in what mode woiship shall be performed, and wliat the 
Bum collected shnll be, what a dreadful precedent it would establish; 
for when such a right is claimed by a legislature, and given up bj 
the people, by the same rule that they decide in one instance they 
may in every instance. Religion in this is like the press; if govern- 


ment limits tlie press, and says this shall be printed and that shall 
not, in the event it will destroy the freedom of the press; so when 
I^ialatures undertake to pass laWB about religion, religion loses its 
farm, and Christianity is reduced tii a syittem of worldly policy. 

"Thirdly, it has been believed by us that that Almighty Power 
that instituted religion wCl support his own cause; that in the course 
of divine Providence events will be overruled, and tlie influence of 
grace on the hearts of the Lord's people will incline them to afford 
and contribute what ia necessaj-y for the support of religion, and 
therefore there is no need fur compulsory measures. 

" Fourthly, it would give an opportunity to the party that were 
numerons (and, of course, possessed the ruling power) to use their 
inSuence and exercise their art and cunning, and multiply signers 
to their own favorite party. And, last, the most deserving, the 
faithful preaclier, who in a pointed manner reproved sin and bore 
testimony against every species of vice and dissipation, would, in all 
probability, have been profited very little by such a law, while men- 
pleasera. the gay and fash ion ab-le, who can wink at sin and daub his 
hearers with untempered mortar, saying, 'Peace, peace,' wlien there 
is no peace, who can lay out his oratory in dealing out smooth things 
mingled with deception, the wicked, it ia clear, would like to have 
it so; and it follows the irreligious and carnal part of the people 
would richly reward them for their Hattery, and the undeserving go 
off with the gain." 


Decisive Victory for Religious Liberty. 

When the Legislature of 1784 adjourned, the Baptists 
of Virginia stood alone, as a dennmiuatioo, in oppuaing the 
general assessment and kindred bills, and the outlook was 
not bright for the triumph of their principles. The only 
ho|ie of the opponents of the assessment was in an appeal 
to the people, as a majority of the Legislature \vere chureh- 
mea. Hence, immediaiely after they succeeded, by a 
vote of 43 ayes to 38, in having the third reading of 
the bill postponed till the fourth Thursday in November, 
1785, they offered the following resolution, which was 
adopted : 

" lUanlved, That the engrosBed bill, establishing s, provision for 
the leucliers of the Christian religion, together irith the names of 
the ajea and Dues on the question of postponing the third rending of 
the Bald bill tii the fourth Thursday in November neit, be published 
in hand-bilLa, and twelve copies thereof delivered lo each member of 
the General AsBembly, to bo distribiited in their respective counties • 
and that the people thereof be requested to sigTiify their opinion 
respecting the adoption of such a bill to the next session of Assem- 
bly." Seiiipie, page 33, 

Semple adds: 

"The above resolution drew forth a number of able and animated 
memorials froiri religious societies of diOerent denominations agaiust 
the general aasestment. Among a great variety of com positions, 
poBsessing diflereot degrees of merit, a paper drawn up by Colonel 
James Madison, intituled, 'A Memorial and Remonstrance,' will 
ever hold a moat distinguished place. For elegance of style, strength 
of reasoning, and pnrity of priuciple, it has, perhaps, seldom been 
equalled, certainly never surpassed, by anything in the English lan- 
guage." Page 33. [See Appendix for remoustrance.] 




Of thia "memorial and remonstrance," Dr. George B. 
Taylor says; " It may certainly be called a Baptist docu- 
tbia far, that they only, ai a. people, held its views, 
and pressed those views without waveriDg," Memorial 
Series, No. IV., page 19. 

Dr. E. G. Robinson writes to the same effect in the 
January, 1860, number of the Christian Review, of which 
he was editor: 

"In a word, the great idea wliich he [Madison] put forth was 
identical with that which had always been devoutly cherished hy 
our Baptlat fathers, alike in the old world and the new, and which 
precisely a century and a half before had been perfectly esrpressed in 
the celebrated letter of Roger Williams to the people of his own 
settlement, and by him incorporated into the fundamental law of the 
colony of Rhode laland. By Mr. Madison it waa elaborated with 
arguments and wrought into the generalizations of statesmanship, 
but the essMitiai idea is precisely the same with the 'soul liberty' so 
earnestly contended for by the Baptists of every age." 


As the masses of the people became acquainted with the 
provisions aud the true cliaracter of the a^sesament bill, 
there was developed a decided change in public sentiment, 

I In A letter to JameB Monroe, May 29, 1785, Madison 


"The adversaries to the assessment begin to think the proapect 
here dattering to their wishes. The printed bill has excited great 
discuaaion, and is likely to prove the sense of the community to be in 
iaror of the liberty now enjoyed. I have heard of several counties 
where the representatives have been laid aside for voting for the 
bill, and not a single one where the reverse has happened. The 
Presbyterian clergy, too, who were in general friends of (he scheme, 
are already in another (one, either compelled by the laity of that 
sect or alarmed at the probability of farther interference of the Leg- 
islature, if they begin to dictate in matters of religion." Rives, 
I., Q30. 



On tlie 19th of May, 17S6, just a few days before the 
date of the above letter, the Presbytery of Hanover met 
at Bethel, in Augusta county. 

"Present, Rev. Messra, John Todt), John Ilrown, William ftra- 
him, Archibald Bcoll, Edward Crawford, John B. Smith, William 
Errin, Moees lloge, Samuel Iloiaslon, Samuel Carrick, and Samuel 
Bhannon, with Elders James ilenry, William McKee, John Tate, 
James Hogshead, William Yool, and Andrew Bettington." "A 
petition wna presented tu the Preubyterj from the session of Angaata 
congregation, requesting an explication of the word ' liherid,' aa 
xokA in the Freabytery'ii niemoriiil of last fall ; and, also, the 
motives and end of the Presbytery in sending it to the Assembly. 
Uessrb. lloge and Carrick are appointed a cominitlee to |)repare an 
uiBwer lo the above petition, and report to Preebylery." 

"On motion, the opinion of Presbytery was taken — whether they 
do approve of any kind of an aasessraent bj the Cenerai Assembly 
for tbe support of religion. PratbyUry art uiianimO'ufUy ayaiiisl aiuik a 
meomire." Foole, page 3^1. 

And yet only a few montlia before this same body had 
memorialized the Legislature in favor of an assessment. 

Dr. Foote, their historian, adds; 

"Theqnestion from Angiista congregation referred to that part 
of the memorial of the precedinfi fall which says : ' Should it be 
thoughtneceBGary at present for the Assembly to exact this right of 
supporting rrligion in general by an asses9iucnt on all the people, 
we would wish it to be done on the most liberal plan.' Did tiiia 
mean that they approved of an osaesament, or that they acquiesced, 
or merely submitted ; that they wished a large assessment, or one 
that favored all equally, without any distinction of sect? Whatever 
may have been the private opinions of any of the membera in 1784 
and previous, or tlie influence of that popular champion, Patrick 
Henry, over their judgments when first contemplating a subject of 
which he waa the advocate — now, when the whole subject waa 
thrown before the people, and the principles to govern the connec- 


tion of Church and Slnte to be aelllcd by a popular vote, the Preaby- 
lery, ia full session, declared them^lTes unanimously against all 
Bssesameots by the Legislalure for the support of religioo." 
Page 341. 


Before the Presbytery adjourned, it waa resolveil to call 
a conveDtion of tlie whole Presbyterian body to meet at 
the same place, on the lOtli day of August, at which a 
paper, prepared by Rev, William Graham, waa submitted 
and adopted, which, Dr. Foote says, "expresBea the true 
feeling of the Presbyterian church, after much privata 
and public discussion." Page 341. [See Appendix for 

It ia worthy of note, as a link in the chain of evidence, 
that this paper waa the first and only Presbyterian memo- 
rial that asked for the passage of Jefferson's "Bill for 
Establishiug Keligious Freedom," although that bill hud 
been before the Legislature and the people ever since 
June, 1779. 


This body met for the second time at Dupuy's meeting- 
"houae, in Powhatan, August 13, 1785. It waa tbe busi- 
ness of this committee to consider all the political griev- 
ances of the whole Baptist society in Virginia and to take 
such action as waa best calculated to secure redress. Four 
associations were represented by delegates in this meeting, 
of which Semple gives the following account, begiiining at 
page 71: 

" Reuben Ford reported that, according; \a the directions given 
him, he prestnted a memorial and petition to the hooorable General 
Assembly ; that they met with a favorable reception ; that certain 
amendments were mode to the marnBge law, which he thought aat- 


" To this report the General rommlttee concurred. 

"They nere fuHlier informed that, at the Isist session of the Gen- 
eral ABsembly, a biJl for a. general assessment was inlroduced, and 
had almost passed into a law ; but when at that stage in which it ia 
called an engrossed bill, a motbn was made and carried that it 
should be referred to the neit Asjieiobly, in order to give the people 
an o]iportunit; to consider it." 

" The General Conimittee, as gqardians of the rights of Vii^nia 
Baplials, of course, took up the subject, and came to the following 

" ' Remtvai, That it he recommended to those counties which 
have not yet prepared petitions to he presented to the General 
ABsemhl)' against the engroused bill for a general assessment for the 
enpport of the teachers of the Christian religion, to proceed thereon 
as soon aa possible ; that it is believed to be repugnant to the spirit 
of the gospel for the Legislature thus to proceed in mat tern of reli- 
gion ; that no human laws ought to he established for this purpose, 
but that every person ought to be left entirely free in respect to mat- 
ters of religion ; that the Holy Author of our religion needs no such 
compulsive measures for the promotion of hie cause ; that the go^'pel 
wants not the feeble arm of man for its support ; that it has made, 
and will acain through divine power make, its way against all oppo- 
silion ; and that, should the L^islature assume the right of taxing 
the people for the support of the gospel, it will be destructive to 
religious liberty.' 

"Therefore, this committee agrees, unanimously, that it will be 
expedient to appoint a delegate to wait oo the General Assembly, 
with a remonstrance and petition a-gainst such a£se»<ment. 

" Accordingly the Eev. Keuhen Ford was appointed." 

Thus the Presbyterians and Baptists are again standing 
together in opposition to an assessment for religious pur- 
poses. But whether they were actuated by the same mo- 
tives and same considerations, each reader will judge for 
himself. The following is the opinion of Mr. Madison. 


From his home in Orange, August 20, he writes thui 
Mr. Jefferson: 



" The oppoHJtion to the Reaeral assessment gains ground 

The Presbyterian clergy have at length espouaed the side of the oppo- 
dtion, heiog moved either by a fear of their laity or a jetilouBy of 
the Episcopaiians. The matiial hatred of these sects has been much 
inflamed by the late act incorporating the latter. 1 am far from 
being sorry for it, aa a coalition between them eoold alone endanger 
our religioUB rights, and a tendency to such an event hna been sus- 
pected." Writings of Madison, I., 175. 


The Gieneral Assembly met on the 17th of October, 
1785, and was flooded with petitions and memorials from all 
parts of the State, some for aad some against the pending 
bilL Petitions against the bill came up from Cumberland, 
Rockingham, Caroline, Bnckingbara, Henry, Pittsylvania, 
Nanaemond, Bedford, Richmond (county), Campbell, 
Charlotte, Accomac, Isle of Wight, Albemarle, Amherst, 
Louisa, Goochland, Westmoreland, Esses, Culpeper, 
Prince Edward, Fairfax, Orange, King & Queen, Pittsyl- 
vania, Mecklenburg, Amelia and Brunswick, Middlesex, 
Chesterfield, Fairfax, Montgomery, Hanover, Princess 
Anne, Amelia, Henrico, Brunswick, Dluwiddie, Northum- 
berland, Prince George, Powhatan, Richmond (county), 
Spotsylvania, Botetourt, Fauquier, Southampton, Lunen- 
burg, Loudoun, Stafford, Heurico; also, "a memorial and 
remonstrance of the ministers and lay representatives of the 
Presbyterian church in Virginia, assembled in convention;" 
"a petition and remonstrance of the committee of sundry 
Baptist associations;" also, petitions from " members of 
Presbyterian church near Peaks of Otter, Bedford county;" 
"several petitions of members of sundry Presbyterian 
societiea," from "the Quakers," from " several Baptist 
churches, assembled by their representatives in general 
association in the county of Orange, on the 17tb of Sep- 

tember," and from "sundry citizens of the Common- 
wealth. ' ' 

Petitions in favor of the bill came up from Mecklenburg, 
Westmoreland, Essex, Richmond (county), Pittajlvania, 
Lunenburg, Surry, and Amelia. 

The people were found to be overwhelmingly against the 
bill, and, after a brief consideration in Committee of the 
Whole House, it was given up forever. Dr. Foote, page 
431, says that it was lost by a. majority of only three votes, 
which plainly indicates that, but for this appeal to the peo- 
ple, the obnoxious measure would have been fastened upon 

Jefferson's bill triumphs. 

As the assessment bill was buried under the weight of 
numerous petitions and meniorinls, Madison took advantage 
of the favorable opportunity thus presented to bring for- 
ward Mr. Jefferson's "Bill for Establishing Religious 
Freedom." He advocated it with an able speech, and it 
was reported to the House, by which body it was adopted, 
December 17, 1785, by a vote of 67 ayes against 20 noes. 
January 16, 1786, certain amendments which were reported 
from the Senate were agreed to by the House, and Mr. 
Madison was directed to inform the Senate. The enrolled 
bill was signed by the Speaker, January 19, 1786. 
Of this bill. Dr. Foote wrote as follows, in 1850: 
" After an eitperiineiit of more ihan half a cenliirv, llie bill for 
i«Ii^Ds freedom holdfl ils place among the rinidnmenlal kws of tlw 
Virginia statute book. Keligion and morale have not snlfcr " 
Foar colleges, two thenlngicol aemuiKries. nnj I he l.'nivefBJty hi 
been added to the public 
ministers of the gospel have J 
of the religion of iliif k''^' ■'me propu' 

. schiit>i-ln.ii-i -^^M^ tie 


lendctl Suite. All parties agree that ' tlie mind is free ; ' that even 
prisoners, slaves, and convicts enjoj freedom of conacieQce." Sketcbea 
q( Virginia, page 34S. 

And yet there were mflny in tbat day who looked upon 
Jefferson's bill as dangerous to the cause of Chris tlanity. 
Dr. Hawks says: 

"There is reason in hia [JeSerson'a] case, therefore, to believe 
that, nnder cover of an attack npon a religiouB establishment, a blow 
nas aimed at Christianity itself. Be this as it may, it is certain that 
an act was passed by the Legislature of 1785, which was viewed by 
many as utterly BubveraJTe in its declarations of the Christian reli- 
gion, and called forth at the time the severe animadversions of some 
who atill revereoceil the faith at the apostles. This was the ' Act 
for Establishing Religious Freedom,' drawn by Mr. Jefterson, and 
preceded by a memorial from the pen of Mr. Madison, which is sup- 
posed to have led to the passage of the lav." History Frolcabuit 
Episcopal Church of Virginia, page 173, 

The world — even the Christian world — was slow to iinder- 
staod and to lay hold of the true principle of soul liberty 
— a principle which liad always been fundamental with 
the Baptists, and which, in the providence of God, they 
were destined to teach to their fellows. 


Following tip Victory. 

Although theaaseasmentbill was dead aod the "Act for 
Establishing Eeligious Freedom " had become law in Vir- 
ginia, still there remained vestiges of establishment. The 
act incorf>oraling the Protestant Episcopal church had been 
passed by the Legislature (signed by speaker January 5, 
1785), and the glebes were a till the property of that church. 
The Baptists, at least, deemed it unwise to leave any roots 
of the old establishment in the laws of the State, and so 
they kept up the war until 1802, whec the glebes were sold 
and all religious societies were placed on an equal foot- 
ing before the law. 


In order that the general reader may understand what 
the glebes were, and why the Baptists insisted on their sale, 
we give the following extract from Fristoe, page 94: 

"The reader ia to undeivtand that in every parisli there was a 
tract of load purchsaed und ci>ii:iiiiodioua buildings erected on it fit 
for the accommodation of a fiinillv, and all at the expense of the 
people within the parish. Wheu a minister waa inducted into the 
parieh by the vestry he was possessed with said planlalion, called 
glehe land. Now, infLsmui.'h as these glebe lands were purchased 
with money extorted from the people by an arbitrary law under a 
kingly govemrnent, it has been thought unreasonable, after a revolu- 
tion has taken place, tlie shackles of monarchical government burst 
aBunder,and republicanism net ii]>, religious establishments abolished 
in part, and equal liberty secured to the different citizena, that this 
property should not ■'.lie right ownerB — these original pur- 

chaaers or their ra 



"And that it waa a shainerul partialit/ exercised hj the govern- 
ment in fuTor of one particular sect, so incompatible with republican 
principles ; moreover, we were left to fear it would be made use of 
in a future daj and tbe J<^tabtiahed church have it to say tbere was 
a reserve of property to them, in prtference lo all other seels, and 
that esiablUhment waa only in part abolished, and this cockatrice 
epg produce in time a fiery, flying serpent." 


Hence, in their meeting of August 5, 1786, the General 
Committee, acting for ail the Baptists — 

"RfSolivd, That petitions ought (o be drawn and circulated in the 
diflarent counliea, and presented to the next General Aa-embly, 
praying for a repeal <>f the Incorporating act, and that the public 
property which is by that act ve-ted in the Protestant Epiacnpal 
church be sold and the moniiy applied to public use; and that 
Beuben Ford and John Leland attend the next Amembly as agenta 
in behalf of the General Conimitlee." Semple, 73. 


It is worthy of note that it was at this meeting that the 
Regular Baptists of the Ketocton AGsociatioii sent delegates 
to the General Committee, and were received on equal 
footing with those from the other associations. This gave 
rise to the following resolution: 

" It i9 recommended to the different associations to appoint dele- 
gates to attend the nest General Committee, for the purpooa of form- 
ing an union with the Regular BaptlBts," Semple, 73. 

That union was perfected at the nest meeting of the 
General Committee, August 10, 1787, when all of the 
associations in the State, six in niimher, were represented 
hy delegates. Thus it was that the discordant elements of 
the Baptist denomination in Virginia were brought into 
cloaer fellowship and harmony in the long and bitter strug- 
gle for religious liberty. 



At this meet'mg, August 10, 1787, Hev. Messrs, Ford 
and Leland 

"Reported, That, accordiDg- to their inrtrnctionfl, they presented \ 
memorial pruyiag for b repeal ot (he mcor|)ota(iag act. ; that the 
memorial was received bj the honorabl<; house, and that that part of 
the aaid act wtiich respected the incorporation of the frotestant 
Episcopal cbnrch as a religious society, and mRrking ciul the rules of 
thdr proceilure, was repealed, but that that part which respected the 
glebes, etc., remained as it was." 

"Whereupon," says Semple Cp^ge 74), "the question 
was put whether the General Comniitlee viewed the glebes, 
etc., as public property. . By a majority of one 

they decided that they were." 

"That vote," says Dr. Hawks, "decided the fate of 
the glebes." 


The Presbyterians co-operated with the Baptists in 1786 
by meraorializing the General Assembly to repeal the act 
of incorporation, but never afterwards took any action as a 
body. Of their action in this respect. Dr. Hawks says: 

"ficarcely had the church begun to reap the beneGts resulting 
&om its incrirporatiou by the Legislature before it Tras again assailed. 
The Presbytery of Hanorer, in the same year in which the act of 
incorporation was passed, presented a memorial to the Legislatnre 
complaining of the peculiar privileges which the church was said 
thereby to ufatain. ... It will scarcely be thought strange that 
this manifestation of a willingness to forego what they themselves 
owned to be a benefit, because obliged to share it with P^piscopaliaTis, 
should have been conrtrued. as it was, into a setlltd determinalion, 
if possible, to destroy the Episcopal church." History Protestant 
Episcopal Church in Virginia, Vol. I., page 172. 



The Bapti-t3 continued to memorialize the Legislature 
from year to year, and in 1799 that body passed an act 
entitled "An Act to Repeal Certain Acta, and to Declare 
the Construction of the Bill of Rights and the Constitutioa 
Concerning Religion," which act declared that no religious 
establishment had legally existed eiDce the Commonwealth 
took the place of the regal government, repealed all laws 
giving to the Protestant Episcopal church any special 
privileges, and declared that "the act establishing religious 
freedom" contains the true construction of the Bill of 
Rights and of the Coostitution ; but no order was given for 
the aaJe of the glebes. True to their principles, the Bap- 
tists persevered in the fight, until at last, in January, 1802, 
the Legislature passed a law for the sale of the glebes and 
the proper appropriation of the proceeds. See Fristoe, 
page 95, and Semple, page 74 and following. 


Speaking of the protracted struggle for the overthrow of 
the Establishment, Dr. Hawks says: 

" The Baptists were the principal promoters of this work, imd in 
troth aided more than any nther denomination in its accomplishmenL 
Their hislorian (Semple) iwasfs that tliey alone were uniform in 
their eflbrls lo de-troy the sjBtem of an asaesamont and introduce the 
plan of voluntary contribution; that in tlie other denominations there 
was much division of sentiment between mitiiittera and people, and 
that remonstrance came at last from none but Baptists. Whether 
this be so or not, it is verr certain that in the associations of that 
sect held from year to year a prominent subject of dissuasion always 
was as to the best mode of carrying on the war against tho former 
Eslablishraent. After their final success in this matter of volunlarj 
contribution, their next efforts were lo procure a sale of the church 
lands. This, however, it seems, was not undertaken without Bome 
misgiviags of its propriety; for when the question was put in tbdr 



'Gencml Committee' nhetlier the f^lebea were public property, it 
was BettEed in the affirmative by a majoritj of but one vote. That 
one vole sealed the fate of the church lands; for the eflorts of the 
Baptists never ceased until, a.s we shall see hereafter, the j^lebes were 
gold.'' History Proteatatit Episcopal Church in Virginia, Vol. I., 
page 152. 


While the effect of these acta waa to destroy the Estab- 
lishment and to temporarily embarrass the Protestant Epis- 
copal church, by forcing them to seek pecuniary support, like 

other sects, from voluntary c 
was most salutary. 

itributions, the final result 
J Meade; 

injurious lo the cause of true 

to its growth in any way, than 

Many clergymen of the 

"Nothing could have been n: 
religion in the Episcopal church, 
the continuance of either stipend i 
moat unworthy character would have been continued 
Buch a revival as we have seen have never taken pUca As it wns, 
together with the glebes and salaries, evil ministers disappeared and 
made room for a new and diHerent kind." Old Churches and 
Families of Virginia, Vol. 1., page 43. 


In the meeting of the General Committee, March 7, 1788, 
the following question was considered and referred to next 

" Whether a petition should he offered to the General Assembly, 
praying that the yoke of slavery maybe made more tolerable." 

And in their meeting of August 8, 1789, in Richmond, 
the following resolution, offered by John Leiand, was 

" BesiilwA, That slavery is it Tiolent deprivation of the rights of 
nature and inconsistent with a republican government, and, there- 
fore, recommend it to our brethren to make use of every legal meas- 
ure to extirpate this horrid evil from the land ; and pray Almigh^ 


I - PO 

r th 


God that our honorable Legislature ma/ have it in their power to 
procUim the great jubilee, conxistent with the principles of good 
policy." Seraple, pages 77 and 79, 

This action reflticta no lUtie credit upon the motives of 
the Baptists in their long and arduous struggle for liberty. 
Tliey had sought religious Hberty, not for themselves only, 
but for all mankind ; and as they breathed the atmos- 
phere of both civil and religious freedom, they placed 
themselves on record as opposed to the perpetuation of 
hnniaa slavery in a free country. 


It is an important and significant fact that the period 
covered by this chapter — the period following the great 
and decisive victory for religious liberty — was a period of 
great religious revival. It began in the very year of the 
defeat of the Assessment Bill and the triumph of the 
"Act for Establishing Religious Freedom," Moreover, 
it begnn among the Baptists, the people who began the 
struggle, and who never wavered or faltered until the vic- 
tory was complete. The following extracts from Semple, 
beginning on page 36, are worthy of note: 

"The war, though very propilioua to the liberty of tha Baptists, 
hod an opposite effiict upon the life of religion tLmung them. Aa if 
persecution was more fnvorable to vital piety than unrestnuned lib- 
erty, they seem to have abated in their zeal upon being unithackled 
from their maoBcles," And then, after diBcusaing the several 
CBOaes of ihisdedension, hesaya, on page 35 : "Thia chill to their 
religious affections mi^ht have subsided with the war, or perhaps 
eooaer, if there bad not been subsequent occurrences which tended 
to keep them down. The opening a free trade bj peace served as a 
powerful bait to entrap professors who were in any great degree 
inclined to the pursuit of wealth. Nothing is more common than 
for the increase of ricliea to prodace ■ decrease of piety. Specolators 
jwldom nuke warm (Jhristlans. Kentucky and the Western countiT' 



took off man; of the preacher? v\o hnd once been exceeding anc- 
cesaful in the minifitrj. From whatever cause, certain it Ih that they 
suffered » verj wintry season. With BDme few exoeptiona, (he detlen- 
sion was general througbout tbe State. . . . The long and great 
dBclenBion induced many to fear that the times of refresliing would 
never como, but that God tiad wholly forsaken them. . The 

Bet time to favor Zion at length arrived, ajid, an the declension had 
been general, do also was tbe revival. It may be connidered as liav- 
ing begun in 1785, on James river. It spread as fire among stubble. 
Continuing for several years in different parla, very few cburches 
were without tbe blessing. How great the change I" Page 36. 
This revival "continued spreading unt a 1791 or 1792. Thousands 
were converted and baptized, besides many who joined (he MethodialH 
and Presbyterians. The Protestant Episcopalians, although much 
dejected by the loss of the Establishment, had, nevertheless, continued 
their public worship, and were attended by respectable congrega- 
tions; bat after this revival their society fell fast into dissolution." 

The Episcopal church, or Church of Eoglancl, had 
already suffered a loes iu aaother way. Up to the year 
1784, tbe Methodists had continued in the fellowship and 
comrouniou of the mother church, Wesley himself styling 
them "converted societies io an unconverted church." 
But when the Revolutionary War was over and the inde- 
pendence of the colonies was recognized by Great Britian, 
it was deemed best for the cause of Methodism in America 
that their societies should be independent and separate from 
the Church of England. Hence, in 1784, in the city of 
Baltimore, the Methodist Episcopal church was organized. 
The revival began the year following among the Baptists, 
and two years later (1787) among the Presbyterians on 
the south side of the James. When the revival closed, 
the old Church of England was in ruins. But out of the 
ruins of tbe old there sprang up a new church — the 
Protestant Episcopal church of Vii^inia. The demolition 


I of the Establishment had driven out the hireliiig miniBtry 

I and mude way for the iDtroduction of men of piety and 

I cousecratiou ; eo that the losa of the support of the civil 

I arm was a real and permanent gain, and the war which 

I the Baptists bo "relentlessly" waged proved to be, in 

I truth, a " holy war." It marked the beginning of a new 

I era in the religious life of Virginia. All denominations 

B shared in the fruits of this revival; but the Baptists, as 

r being the recognized leaders, seem to have prospered most. 

I "They were much more numerous," says Semple (page 

39), "and, of course, in the eyes of the world, more 
respectable. Besides, they "were joined by persons of much 
greater weight in civil society. Their congregations 
became more numerous than those of any other Christian 
sect; and, in short, they might be considered, from this 
period, as taking the lead in matters of religion in many 
places nf ihe State." God honors most those who most 
honor him. 

Struggle Over The Conatitution. 

This narrative would not be complete without aome 
account of the agency of the Baptists of Virginia in engraft- 
ing the principle of religious liberty upon the Constitution 
of the United States by means of the famous first atueod- 
ment; and, in order to appreciate properly the part per- 
formed by them, it is necessary that we consider, not only 
what they did towards securing that first ameodinent, but 
also their attitude towards the Constitution and its ratifica- 
tioQ, The reader will, therefore, pardon a somewhat fuller 
and more circumstantial account of the struggle over the 
Constitution than would naturally be expected here, the 
object being to throw all the light possible upon this im- 
portant subject. 

Afler the in dependence of the colonies had been estab- 
lished, it aoou became apparent that the old "Articles of 
Confederation " were too weak, that they did not give to 
Congress sufBeient power to secure cooperation at home or 
respect abroad. Hence a noovement was set on foot by 
James Madison to revise those "Articles" and give addi- 
tional pijwer to Congress — a movement which culminated 
in the calling of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. 
Virginia selected as her representatives a number of her 
best men, including Washington, Madison, and Henry. 
Mr. Henry, however, declined to serve, and his refusal 
excited criticism and caused apprehension. Says Madison, 
in a letter to Randolph, March 25, 1787: " The refusal of 
Mr. Henry to join in the task of revising the Confedera- 



tion is ominpua," Madiaon Papera, Vol. II., pflge 627. 
And in another letter to Jetferson, March 19, he attributes 
Mr. Henry'e refusal to attend the Convention to "the 
policy of keeping himself free to combat or espouse the 

9ult of the Mieaisaippi business." 

But the attempt to patch up the old Articles was vain, 
and BO a new paper was prepared — the Constitution of the 
United States, of which James Madison was the father. 
It was the result of compromises, each section yielding 
something in the effort to secure unity and strength. It 
was submitted to the several States for ratification, with a 
proviso that when ratified by uiue States the new govern- 
ment should be organized. Eight States— viz., Delaware, 
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, 
Georgia, Maryland, and South Carolina — had passed 
articles of ratification when the Virginia Convention met 
on the 2d day of June, 1788. Patrick Henry and George 
Mason were there to oppose ratification without preoious 
amendments, while Madison led the forces which favored 
immediate ratification and &ubsequenl amendments. It wa.*^ 
a "battle of giants," which culminated, June 25, in a 
■victory for ratification by a majority of ten. 


When the Constitution firet appeared, in the fall of 

1787, the Impression made upon the Baptists was unfavor- 
able. It did not seem to make sufficient provision for 
religious liberty. And when the General Committee met 
at Williams' meeting-house, Goochland county, March 7, 

1788, this was one of the questions considered; "Whether 
the new Federal Constitution, which had now lately made 
its appearance in public, made sufficient provision for the 
secure enjoyment of religious liberty; on which it was 


agreed UQaDimously that, iu the opiDion of the General 
ConimUtee, it did not." Semple, page 76. 

The only provision in the Constitutiou touching religion 
was in the sixth article, and in tbeae worda: " No religious 
t£6t shall ever be required as a qualification to anj office 
or public trust under the United States." This was vir- 
tually a declaration in favor of the most absolute religious 
liberty, in that it published to all the world that this gov- 
ernment, at least, would not allow a man's religion to bar 
hia way to the highest office in the gift of the people. But 
the Baptists were not satisfied. They had been great suf- 
ferers in the past, and, having just emerged from a long 
and arduous struggle for their rights, they were apprehen- 
sive that, if they entered into this new and stronger union 
with States that still had religious establishments, there 
might be a reaction disastrous to their liberties. Hence 
they resolved to oppose ratification, and Elder John Leland, 
the moat popular Baptist minister in Virginia, was nomi- 
naled as a delegate from Orange county to the Convention. 
This was done while Madison was yet in the North, where 
he remained some months after the Constitution was framed 
and published, engaged, with Jay and Hamilton, in writing 
articles in explanation of the new scheme of government — 
articles since known as "The Federalist." Patrick 
Henry, who was strenuously opposed to the Constitution on 
other grounds, and especially as having " a squint towards 
monarchy," was quick to take advantage of this prejudice 
of the Baptists to enlist them on the side of the opposition. 


The situation in Virginia before Madison's return is 
well set forth in his letter to Jefiferson, December 9, 1787: 



"Thebody of the people in Virginia, particularly in the uppw 
»nd lower country and in the Northern Neck, are, as far as I can 
gather, much disposed to adopt tlie new Constitution. The niiddla 
country and the south side of Jatnea river are principally in the oppo- 
ailion to it. As yet a large majority of the people are under ihe firet 
description ; va yet, also, are a majority of the Assemhly. What 
change may be produced by the united influence and exertions of 
Mr. ilenry, Mr. Mason, and the Governor, with some pretty able 
auxiliaries, m uncertain. My infDrmation leads me to suppose there 
must be three parties iu Virginia. The first, for adopting without 
attempting amendments. This includes General Washington and 
the other deputies who signed the Constitution, Mr, Pendlelnn (Mr. 
Marahail, I helieTe), Mr. Nicholas, Mr. Corbin, Mr, Zachary 
Johnson, Colonel Innes (Mr. Handolph, as 1 understand), Mr. 
Harvey, Mr. Gabriel Jones, Dr. Jones, etc., etc. At the head of 
the second party, which urges amendments, are the Governor and 
Mr. Mason. These do not object to the substance of the govern- 
ment, hut contend for a few additional guards in favor of the rights 
I of the States and of the people. I am not able to enumerate the 
charactera which fail in with their ideas, aa distinguished from 
those of the third class, at the head of which is Mr. Henry. This 
class concurs at present with the patrons of amendments, but will 
probably contend for such as strike at the essence of the system, and 
must lead to an adherence to the principle of the existing Confeder- 
ation, which must thinking men are convinced is a visionary one, or 
to a partition of the union into several confederacies," And he 
adds, a little later: "Mr. Henry ia the great adversary who will 
render the event precarious. He ii, 1 find, wilh hit ueual addras, 
working up every pasaible inlerat into a spirit oj oppoiition." (Italic* 


It has already been stated that Mr, Henry was quick to 
take advaotage of the apprehensioDs of the Baptists on tbe 
subject of religious liberty to array tliem against tbe Con- 
Btitution, Although he had beeu opposed to them in their 
war against the SslablishmeDt and in their fight against 
the assessment, he now poaea as their champion in opposi- 




tiun to tlie Constitution, and seeks to array them against 
their old leader, James Madison. His methods are 
eeverely criticised by Rev, John Blair Smith, president of 
Hampden-Sidoey College, in a letter to Mr. Madison, 
June 12, 1788: 

" Before the Constitution appeared," he writeS| "the mindBof 
the people were artMly prepared against it ; bo that all oppositioD 
[to Mr. Henrj]. at the election of delegates to consider it, was in 
Tain. That gentleman has descended to loiter artihcee and man- 
Bgemetit on the occasion than 1 thought him capable of. . . . 
If Mr. Innes haa shown jou a speech of Mr. Ilenrj lo his constit- 
□ents, which I eent him, <rou will see something of the method he 
has taken to difhise his poison. ... It grievts me to see such 
great natural talents abused to such purposes. He has written letters 
repealedlj to Kentlick;. and, as the people there are alarmed with 
Bn apprehension of their interests being about to be sacrificed b; the 
Northern States, I am convinced that it haa been owing to a story 
which I have heard Mr. Heorj (ell, respecting the measure proposed 
in Congress for a perpetual relitiqiiishment of the naviga.tion of the 
Misaisaippi to the Spaniards. He has found means to make some of 
the best people here believe that a religious establiahment was in 
contemplation under the new government. He forgets that the 
Northern Stales are more decided friends to the voluntary support 
of Chriatian miniiiters than the author, or at least warm abettor, of 
in this State." Bives, II., 544. 


As already stated. Elder John Leland was made the 
candidate of the opposition in Orange, and was pitted 
against James Madison. But on the day of election Le- 
land withdrew in favor of Madison, who was thus easily 
elected. That act of his put into the Convention the man 
who, above all others in Virginia, understood the new 
Bcheme of government and was best prepared to defend it 
against its enemies. It has been claimed that, had Madi- 
son been defeated, the Virginia Convention would have 

^H Mr. 
^r Lei: 


iled to ratify, and that, had Virginia refused to ratify, 
the T'hole scheme would have failed. Hence it was that 
Hon. J, S. Barbour, in a eulogy upon the character of 
Mr. Madiaon, referred to thia incident and gave Elder 
Leiand the credit for the ratification of the Constitution 
by Virginia and the triumph of the new ayatem of 

leland's accodkt of the matter. 

This matter is of such importance as to justify the intro- 
duction of the somewhat lengthy account given by Leiand 
himself. It is found in Bjiragiie's " Annals of the Ameri- 
can Baptist Pulpit," beginning at page 179, and con- 
tained in a letter of Hon. G. N. Brigga, LL. D., Gov- 
ernor of Massachuaetta, who received it from Leland'sown 
lips. Governor Brigga was an iotimate friend of Ijeland 
after the latt«r's return to Massachusetts, and, when he 
read Mr. Barbour's reference to him, he paid him a visit 
and aaked him about it. Leiand replied that Barbour 
gave him too much credit, and then told the story as 

"Soon after the Convtinlicin which rrain«] ihc Constilntion of llie 
United States had finished their work and submitted it to the people 
for their action, two strong and active parties were funned in the 
State of Virginia on the subject of its adoption. The Stale waa 
nearly equally divided. One party was opposed to its adoption, 
unless certain amendtaents, which they maintained that the safely 
of the people required, should be incorporated into it before it was 
ratified by them. At the Lead of this great party stood Patrick 
Henry, the orator of the Revolution, and one of Virginia's favorite 
Bona. The other party agreed with what their opponrails said as to 
the character and necessity of the amendments proposed, but they 
contended that the people would have the power and could aa well 
incorporate those amendments into their Constitution after its adop- 
tion as before ; that it was a great crisis in the afiairs of the country, 


and if the Conatilation then presented to the people by the Conven- 
tion should be rejected hy them, such would be the state of the pub- 
lic mind that there was little or no Teason to believe that another 
would be agreed upon by a future convention ; and, in auch an event 
— BO much to be dreaded — the hopes of conBtilutianal liberty and a 
confederated and free republic would he lost. At the head of thie 
party stood James Madlaon. The strength of the two parties was to 
be tested by the election of county delegates to the State Conven- 
tion. That Convention would have to adopt or reject the Constitu- 
tion. Mr. Madison was named tm the candidate in favor of its adop- 
tion for the county of Orange, in which he resided. Elder Leland, 
also, at that time lived in the county of Orange, and his sympathiefi, 
he said, were with Henry and hia party. He was named as the can- 
didate opposed to the adoption, and in opposition to Mr. MndiBon. 
Orange was a strong Baptist connty, and his friends bad an 
tindoubting confidence in his election. Though reluctant to be a 
candidate, he yielded to the solicitations of the opponents of the 
ConBtilution and accepted the nomination. For three months after 
the membera of the Convention at Philadelphia had completed their 
labors and returned to their homes, Mr. Maiiison, with John Jay 
and Alexander Hamilton, had remained in that city for the purpose 
of preparing those political articles that now constitute 'The Fed- 
eralist.' This gave the party opposed to Madison, with Henry at 
their head, the start of him in canvassing the State in his absence. 
At length, when Mr. Madison was about ready to return to Virginia, 
a public meeting was appointed in the county of Orange, at which 
the candidates for the Convention — Madison on the one side, and 
Leland on the other — were to address the people from the stump. 
Up to that time he bad but a partial pereonal acquaintance with Mr. 
Madison, but he had a high respect for his talents, his candour, and 
the uprightness and purity of bin private character. On his way 
liome from Philadelphia, Mr. Madison went some distance out of his 
direct road to call upon him. After the ordinary salutations, Mt. 
Madison began to apologize for tronbling him with a call at that 
time, but he assured Mr. Madison that no apology was necessary. 
' 1 know your errand here,' said be ; ' it is to talk with me aboutthe 
Constitution. I am glad to see you, and to have an opportunity of 
learning your views on the subject.' Mr. Madison spent lialf a day 
with him, and fully and unreservedly communicated to him bis 


optDions upon the great matlera wliicli w^re then agitating the peo- 
ple of the State and the Confederacy. They then aepurated to meet 
■g&in verv soon, as oppoaing candidates before the electors, on the 
atomp. The day came and thej met, and with them nearly all the 
B county of lllrange, to hear their candidates respectively 
mportnnt questions upon which the people of Virginia 
1 to act. 'Mr. Madison,' said (he venerable man, 'first 
took the stump, which vas a hogshead of tobacco standing on one 
end. For tvro hours be addressed bis fellow -citizens in a calm, can- 
did, and statesmanlike manner, arguing bis side of the case, and 
fairly meeting and replying to the arguments which had been pat 
forth by his opponents in the general canvass of the State. Though 
Mr. Madison was not particularly a pleasing or eloquent speaker, the 
people listened with respectful attention. Ue left the hogshead, and 
my friends called for me. 1 took it — and went in for Mr. Madison, 
and he was elected without difficulty. This,' said he, 'is, I sup- 
pose, what Mr. Barbour alluded to.' A noble, Christian patriot I 
Thai single act, with Ihe motires which prompted it and (he conse- 
quences which followed it, entitle him to the respect of mankind." 

But how are we to esplain Madison's call upon bia 
opponent ? It was a very unuaual, if not unprecedented, 
proceeding, and it is to be accounted for only on the 
ground of the former relations of Madison to the Baptists 
in their struggle for religious liberty. He had, while yet 
a young man, shown his warm sympathy for them in their 
persecutions; he had incorporated their cherished princi- 
ple of religious liberty into the Bill of Rights ; he had 
been the true yoke-fellow of Mr JeSereoii in hia great 
work in pulling down the establishment; and then, when 
Jefferson was representing his country at a foreign court, 
he had taken hie place as the political leader of the Bap- 
tists and their allies in their fight against the general 
assessment. And knowing, as he did, the chief ground of 
opposition to the Constitution, he felt that he could afford 
to approach their leading representative in Orange with 


the view of explaining that paper which he himself had 
framed, and relieving their apprehensions as to its bearing 
upon the question of religious liberty. Thus were Leland 
and the Baptists of Orange won oyer to the side of Madi- 
son, and Madison was sent to the Convention to meet and 
defeat Mr. Henry. 

First Amendmeat to Conetltution. 

The Constitution having been ratified by a sufficient 
number of Statea, the next step was to organize under the 
new government, George Washington waa elected Presi- 
dent, and Thiimaa Jefferson was made Secretary of State. 
What post should be filled by the '"Father of the Consti- 
tution?" Surely he will not be left out! And yet that 
is just what the Virginia Assembly sought to do. The 
situation in Virginia was different from that of any of the 
other ratifying Statea, in that "the politics of the legisla- 
ture were at variance with the sense of the people, ex- 
pressed by their representatives in convention." The 
Legislature, being dominated by Henry and opposed to the 
Constitution, was hostile to Madison, and when he was 
nominated by his friends for the United State's Senate, he 
was defeated. Mr. Bives, commenliug on this, says: 

' ' Mr. Henry, as we learo from contemporary leatimony, not only 
took the unusual liberty' of nominating both of the candidutes of hie 
party (for the United Stales Senate), but an i mad verted tritb freedom 
and unreserve on the political principles and conduct of Mr, Madison, 
then absent in the discharge of his public duties as oue of tbe dele~ 
Rates of the State in the Congress at New York. He particularly 
alleged, ootwithstandlng tbe declarationa to the contrary wbii:b had 
been made by Mr. Madison in the Convention of Virginia, that he 
was wholly opposed to amendments of tbe Conatilution. The skilful 
orator well calculated tbe effect of this assertion on an Araeuibly 
already committed by its acts to the pursuit of amendments at every 
oobL" Eives, Vol, H., page 652. 

This left Mr. Madison to run for a seat in the House of 
Kepresentatives, which he preferred. 


"Eul here again," siiyfl Mr. Rivea, "nnceasing efforts were made 
hj the Anti-Federal leaders in the Legislature to bar agalnHt him 
everj avenue to succvaa. In laying oS'ttie Slate into districts Tor the 
election of repntientatives, ingenious and ariiffcial combiuaticms were 
resorted to for the purpose of insuring his defeat. The county in 
which he resided was thrown into asaocialion with aeTcn others, five 
of which, through their delegates in the Convention, had given an 
undicHded vote against the acceptance of the Constitution; another 
had divided its vote; and only one, besides the county in which he 
lived, had given an undivided vote for the ratification. At the sane 
time tt restriction unknown to the ConKtitution, and suppwfed to be 
Epecially aimed at him, was enacted, which required that the repre- 
(entative should be n resident of the district for which he was chosen. 
The candidate to oppose him aceiuB also to have heen selected under 
the counsel and direction of a controlling junto in the legislature. ' ' 
Rives, Vol. II., page 653. 


In a letter to Mr. Jefierson, dated Philadetpliia, De- 
cember 8, 1788, Madison expresses himself freely in refer- 
ence to the machinations against him and his chances for 

" I shall leave this place in a day or two for Virginia, where my 
friends, who wish me to coaperatc in putting our political machine 
into activity as a member of the Honse of Representatives, press me 
to attend. They made me a candidate for the Senate, for wEiich I 
had not allotted my pretensions. The attempt was defeated by Mr. 
Henry, who is omnipotent in the present Legislature, and who added 
to the expedients common on sucli occasions apublic philippic against 
my Federal principles. He has taken equal pains, in forming the 
counties into districts for the election of representatives, to a-ssociate 
with Orange such as are most devoted to his politics and most likely 
to he swayed by the prejudice escited against me. Prom the best 
information Ihave of the prevailing temper of the district, I conclude 
that ray going to Virginia will answer no other purpose than to 
satisfy the opinions and entreaties of my friends." Writiiigs of 
Madison, Vol. I. 




It ie evident from this letter that Madison expected 
defeat. His district was composed of the countiea of 
Orange, Amherst, Albemarle, Louisa, Cnlpeper, Spottsyl- 
vania, Goochland, and Fluvanna, of which only Albe- 
marle aud Orange, the counties, respectively, of Jefferson 
and Madison, had given an undivided vote for the Con- 
gtitution. Louisa had divided her vote, one delegate vot- 
ing for and the other against ratification; while Culpeper, 
Spottsylvania, Goochland, Amherst, and Fluvanna had 
voted Boldily against ratification. In all these counties 
there was a strong Baptist sentiment, and in most of them 
the Baptist element was large enough to hold the balance 
of power. I have before me a table, made up from Sem- 
ple's History, showing the number of churches in each 
county the year of this election. According to this table, 
allowing one-half of a church to each of the two countiea 
on the boundary line between which it was located, Cul- 
peper had 6^ churches; Spottsylvania, 5^; Gjochland, 3i; 
Albemarle, 4; Louisa, 2^; Orange, 2; Amherst, 2, and 
Fluvanna, 1, These numbers do not look large to us, 
who are familiar with counties having from twenty to 
forty churches. But we must consider difference in con- 
ditions. Then population was sparser, and churches were 
more potent factors than they are now. They were not 
multiplied at every cross-roads and in every little commu- 
nity, but they embraced large sections of country. John 
Leland said that Orange was a " strong Baptist county," 
with only two churches, and yet all of the other counties 
of the district had more than Orange, except Amherst, 
which had the same number, and Fluvanna, which had 
only one. It should be also considered that the member- 
ship of these churches was not "mixed," as is too much 
the case now, but was composed of men and women of 


stalwart convictions. Only three years before (1785), 
tliey had fought and won the battle againat the assessment, 
and they were still engaged in tlie war against the glebes. 
It was this large and influential element in those counties 
that Patrick Henry and hie lieutenants Jiad counted on to 
defeat Madison, when they arranged hia district. And 
when it is remembered that the Baptist General Commit- 
tee had unaniiuously decided that the Constitution did not 
make religious liberty secure, and that they had already 
commenced a correspondence with the Baptists of the 
North with the view of securing an amendment, the pros- 
pect for Madison's election to Congress, with Jamea Mon- 
roe pitted against him, was not bright. Granted that he 
had been elected to the Convention from the " strong Bap- 
tist connty " of Orange, that victory was due to Leland, 
and did not extend to the other counties. As has already 
been shown, Madison himaelf was not sanguine. In a letter 
to Washington, dated Orange, January 14, 1789, he aays: 
"The event of our [his and Monroe's] competition will probably 
depend on the part to be taken by two or three descriptions of peo- 
ple, whose decinion ia not known, if not yet to be ultimately formed. 
I liave pursued my pretentions much fartlier tlian I liad premedi- 
tated, having not only made great use of epistolary means, but wlu- 
ally viflited two counties, Culpq>er and Louisa, and publicly contra- 
dicted the erroneous reports propagated against me. It has been 
industriously inculcated that I am dogmatically attached to the 
Conatitution in every claUHe, syllable, and letter, and, therefore, not 
a single amendment will be promoted by my rote, either from con- 
viction or from a spirit of accoinmodation. This ia the report most 
likely to affect t)ie election, and most difficult to be combalted with 
success within tlie limited period." Writings of Madison, Vol. I., 
page 449. 


Here, again, Madiaon'a former relations to the Baptists 
m one of the leading advocates of their cause, and their 


confidence in his honesty and integrity, served him a good 
turn; for he waa enabled to correct the false impresHions 
made upon their minds by his political enemies, relieve 
their apprehensions as to any change in his principles, and 
■'_ assure them of his readiness to aid in securing a proper 
amendment to the Constitution on the subject of religious 
liberty. And as, in the case of his candidaoy for aseatin 
the Convention, John Leland and his Baptist following 
turned the scale in Madison's favor in Orange, so now, 
when running for Congress, it was the large Baptist ele- 
ment in his district which turned prospective defeat into 
victory and secured his triumph over all opposing forces. 


It seems that the result hinged on Culpeper, the 
strongest Baptist county in the district. Just after the 
election, Madison writes (March 1) to Edmund Eandolph 
as follows; 

"lam persuaded, however, that my appearance in thediatrict 
naa more necefsaxy to my election than you then calculated. In 
truth, it boa been evinced by the experiment tbat my absence wonld 
have left a room for the calumnies of Anti-Federal portiaanB. which 
would have defeated much better pretensiona than mine. In Cul- 
peper, which was tbe critical county, a continued attention waa nec- 
essary to repel the multiplied falsehoods which circulated." Writ- 
ings fif Madifion, I., 450. 

In this stronghold of the Baptists, made such largely by 
the fiery persecutions through which they had passed before 
the Geyolution, the fight waxed hottest, and the grossest 
misrepresentations were used against their old friend and 
champion, as if he had deserted their cause. But by his 
personal visit and the free use of " epistolary means, " he 
succeeded in allaying the apprehensions of all honest men 


and convincing the lovera of liberty tbat their interests 
would be safe in the handa of the man who had subBtituted 
Uberh/ for toleration in the Virginia Bill of Kighte, and 
was the author of the "Memorial and Eemonstrance 
Against the General Aeeessment. " 


And one of the very first things Madison did, after the 
First Congress was organized, in 1789, was to propose, 
June 8, certain amendments to the Constitution, the first 
of which says: 

"Congress shall make no law respecting bd ealAblishmeat of 
Kligion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the 
freedom of ipeeoh, or of the press ; or the right of the people peace- 
ablj to assemhle and to petition the GoreromeDt for a redress of 


It is claimed by some modem writers, who have been 
industriously engaged in rewriting the history of the strug- 
gle for religious liberty, that Madison proposed this amend- 
ment in compliance with an " enforced promise " made in 
the famoua debate over ratification and in obedience to the 
mandate of the Convention, whicli, after ratifying the 
Constitution, " recommended to the consideration of Con- 
gress" a "bill of rights," containing twenty articles, and 
also twenty " amendments, " making forty in all. To this 
we reply, first, that no such promise was extorted from 
Madison, The debates clearly show that he wrenched 
victory from the hands of Mr. Henry, not by promising to 
do what he had hitherto been unwilling to do (that is, aid 
in securing mbeeguent amendments), but by an imanswera- 
ble and invulnerable array of facts and arguments. In the 


if Hon. William Wirt, "he met, on this topic, 
fought hand to hand, and finally vanquished that boasted 
prodigy of nature, Patrick Henry." 

But we answer, secondlyf that if this contention proves 
anything, it proves too much; for, if he was acting under 
an enforced promise and under the mandate of the Con- 
vention, he should have proposed the whole batch of forty 
amendments, instead of the small number of ten. The 
amendments themselves, both as to number and character, 
and the speech with which he introduced them, plainly 
indicate that, while prompted by a sense of obligation to 
his constituents, he waa not executing the will of the Vir- 
ginia Convention, which had proposed forty amendments; 
nor yet of the Virginia Legislature, which had done all in 
its power to keep him out of Congress and thus prevent his 
proposing any amendments at all. 

But let us hear fi'om Madison himself. The following 
extracts are taken from the speech which he delivered on 
the 8th day of June, 1789, on the subject of amendments: 

"I will slate mj reasons why I think it proper to propoBe amend- 
ments, and stale the amendments themBeWen, so far as I think thej 
ought to be proposed. If I thought 1 could fulfill the dutr which 1 
owe to myself and ray coDStitueols, to let the subject pass over in 
sileuce, I most certainly should not trestmss on the indnlgence of 
this House. Eut I cannot do this, and am, therefore, compelled to 
beg B patient hearing to what I have to lay before you. ... It 
appears to me that this House is bound by every motive of prudence 
not to let the fimt session pass over without proposing to the State 
Legislatures some thlags to be incorporated into the Constitatlon 
that will render it na acceptable to the whole people of the Dnited 
States aa it has been found acceptable lo a majority of them. I wiah, 
among other reaaona why something should be done, that those who 
buve been friendly to the adaption of the Constitntion may have the 
opportunity of proving to those who were opposed to it that they 
were aa aiocerelj devoted to liberty and a republican government as 


those who charged thera witli wisbiog the adoption of this Consfitu- 
tioo in order to laj the foondstioo of an aristocracT or deapolism. 
It will be a desirabli! thing to extinguish from the boGom of everj 
iiiemt>er of the communlLj any apprehensionB that there are thoee 
among his countrj'men who wish to deprive them of the liberty for 
ffhich they valiantly fooght and honorably bled. And if there are 
amendmeots desired of such a nature as will not inj>ire the Constitu- 
tion, and they coo be engrafted so as to give Batisfaction to the 
doubting part of our fellow-citizens, the friends of the Federal Gov- 
ernment will evince tltot opirit of deference and concession for which 
they have been hitherto distinguished. ... It cannot be a 
secret to the gentlemen in this House that, notwithstanding the rati- 
fioation of this Byslem of gOYemroent by eleven of the thirteen 
United States, in some cases unanimously, in others by large m^ori- 
ties, yet still there is a great number of our constituents who are 
dissatisfied with it, among whom are many respectable for their 
talents and patriotism, and respectable for the jealousy they have for 
their liberty, which, though mistaken in its object, is laudable in ila 
motive. Thert ie a greal body of the people faRing under IhU deierip- 
lion, vrho a( present fed mucA ineH-ned In join their support I/} the eav/e of 
Ftderaiism, if theyvxre mlinjied on. thU one point. [Italics mine.] 
. . . But perhaps there is a stronger motive than this for one 
going into a condderalion of the subject. It ia to provide those 
securities for liberty which are required by a part of the community. 
I allude in a particular manner to those two States [Rhode Island 
and North Carolina] that have not thought fit lo throw themselves 
into the bosom of the confederacy. It is a desirable thing, on our 
part IS well as theirs, that a reunion slinuld take place as soon as 
possible. . . . But I will candidly acknowledge that, over and 
above all these considerations, I do conceive that the Constitution 
may be amended ; that is to say, if all power is subject to abuse, that 
then it is possible the abuse of the powers of the general Ooveru- 
meut may be guarded against in a more secure manner than is now 
done, while no one advantage aiising from the exercise of that 
power shall be damaged or endangered by it We have in this way 
something to gain ; and, if we proceed with caution, nothing lo 
lose." Annals of Congress, Vol. I., pages 431-2. 

Thia language is not that of a man acting under whip 

I and 


and spur, but of one who, conficionB of ins own integrity 
and strength, and of the iact that he owed hia seat in that 
first CoDgress to the suffrages of a people who were jealous 
of their liberty, was now ready to conciliate and to make 
all reasonable concessions to the doubting and distrustful. 
And if we are right in taking the "one point," in the 
sentence which we have italicized above, as referring to 
religious liberty, the chief eubject of the first amendment, 
then the ' ' great body of people ' ' to whom he refers must 
have been the Baptists. Of all the denominations in Vir- 
ginia, they were the only ones that had expressed any dis- 
satisfaction with the Constitution on this point, or that had 
taken any action looking to an amendment. The Baptist 
General Committee had opened correspondence with the 
Baptists of other States, especially in Massachusetts, Rhode 
Island, and New York, with Elder John Leland at the 
head of the committee, the object being to secure coopera- 
tion in the matter of obtaining an amendment to the Con- 
stttudon. The same General Committee, in its session in 
the city of Eichmond, August 8, 1789, two months after 
the date of Madison's speech in Congress, addressed a 
patriotic letter to President Washington, invoking his aid 
in the movement which they had set on foot. This letter, 
together with Washington's reply, will appear In the next 

Dr. Cathcart, on page 109 of his "Centennial Offer- 
ing," says: 

" DenominatioDallj, do commnnil; asked for thia change in the 
Constitution but tha Baptists. The Qoakera would probably hive 
petitioned Tor it, if thej had thought of it, but tbey did not. John 
Adama and the CougregationallEts did not desire it; the E[<i!ico- 
pmlians did not wish for it ; it went too for for most Presbjleriana in 
Eevolulionary times, or in our own days, when we hear so much 


about putting the divine name in the Constitution. The Baptists 
asked it through Washin^n; the request commended itself to hia 
judgmeoE aod to the generous soul of Madison ; and to the Baptists, 
beyond a, doubt, belongs the glory of engrafting its beat article on 
the noblest Constitution ever framed for the goTemment of man- 

But let it Dot be supposed that it waa an easy taak to 
secure this amendment. There waa opposition to any 
amendments at this first session of Congress. Says Mr, 

"Nothiag short of the liigh standing of Hr. Madison in the 
public councils, and the deference accorded to his opinions and his 
virtues, could hare secured a favorable reception for propositions so 
counter to tlie prepoBsessions of the l)odv to which they were ad- 
dressed." KLves, Vol. III., page 40. 

In the light of this statement, we have all the higher 
appreciation of the services of the Baptists, in that they 
not only brought to bear upoD Congress their influeuce in 
favor of a religious liberty amendment, but that they also 
helped to place in that Congress the man who, above all 
others, was able to secure for the measure a favorable con- 
sideration. The amendment waa adopted on the 25th of 
September, 1789, and there it stands as a beacon-light to 
the world, and as a monument to Baptist watchfuhieBa and 
unswerving loyalty to liberty. 


OoireBpondence . 

The documentary evidence is now all in, with tlie ex- 
ception of certain letters which passed between the Baptists 
and the leading statesmen of the country, and which throw 
some light upon the questions involved. We have deemed 
it best to present these letters in a separate chapter and in 
the order of their dates, beginning with the correspondence 
between the Baptist General Association of Virginia and 
her first republican Governor, Patrick Henry. This cor- 
respondence is found in the Virginia Ganette of August 
23, 1776. 

" To Bta EieeUiJicj, Patj-iek Henry, Jun., E»ij., Qmemar of the 0am- 
mowceaith of Virginia : 

" The humble address of the ministers and delegates of the Baptist 
churches, met la AssDciation ia Louisa, August 12, 1776, in behalf 
of their brethren. 

"May it please Your Excellency, as your advancement to t!ie 
honorable and important station of Governor of this Commonwealth 
affords us unspeakable pleasure, we beg leave to present Tour Ei- 
celleucj with our moat cordial congmtulations. 

" Your public virtues are such tliat we are under no temptation 
to flatter you. Vii^inia has done honor to her judgment in appoint- 
ing Your Eicellency to hold the reins of government at this truly 
critical conjuncture, as you have always distinguished yourself by 
your zeal and activity for ber welfare, in whatever department han 
been assigned you. As a religious community, we Lave nothing to 
request of you. Your constant attachment to tbe glorious cause of 
liberty leaves us no room to doubt of Your Eicellency's favorable 
regards, white we worthily demean ourselves. 


" Muy God Almighty continue you long, very long, a public 
blessing to this your native country ; and, after s. life of usefubeaB 
here, crown you with immoctai felicity in the world to come. 

" Signed by order. 

"Jekemiah Walker, Moderator. 

" JoHM WiLLiAKB, Clerk." 


"To Ihit MimsttTK and IMegalfs of Ihe Baptist Churehfe, arid Ihe Membere 
of that Cimmfinion : 

" Gentlemen— I am exceedingly obliged to you for jour »ery 
kind address, and the favorable sentiments you are pleased lo enter- 
tain respecting my conduct, and the principles whicli have directed 
it My constant endeavor shall be to guard the rights of all my 
fellow-citizens from every encroachment. 

' ' I am happy to find a catholic spirit prevniling in our country, 
and that those religious dbtinctione which formerly produced Bome 
heats are now foi^olten. Happy must every friend to virtue and 
America feel himself to perceive that the only contest among us, at 
thifl moat critical and important period, is, who ahall be foremoeC to 
preserve our religious and dvil liberties. 

" My most earnest wish is that Christian charily, forbearance, and 
love may unite all our different persuasions, as brethren who m\ist 
perish or triumph together, and I trust that the time is not far dis- 
tant when we shall greet each othsr as the peaceable possessors of 
thai just and equal system of liberty adopted by the last Convention, 
and in support of which may Ood crown our arms with success. 

" I am, gentlemen, your most obedient and very humble servant, 

P. Hebbt, Jdh. 
"August 13, 1770." 

It should be rembered that Mr. Henry had endeared 

himself to the Baptists by volunteering to defend them 
when arraigned before the courts for preaching the gospel. 


The following is the address of the Baptist General 
Committee to President Washington, referred to in the 


r th* 


preceding chapter. It was prepared by John Leland, and 
is found, with the answer thereto, in Sitting's " Notes on 
the Century History of the Strawberry Aaaociation, " and 
also in Leland's Works, 52-54: 

"Address of the Committee of the United Baptist Charches of 
Yirgmin, assembled in the city of Richmond, August 3, 17S9, to 
the President of the United States of America : 

"Sir — Among the many shouts of congratulation that jou 
recdve from cities, societies. Slates, and the whole world, we wish 
to take an active part in the uni^'ersal chorus, in expresaiog our 
great satiafaclion in jour appointment to the first office in the 
nation. When Americs, on a former occai^on, was redaced to the 
Decesaity of appealing to arms Co defend her natural and civil riglita, 
a Washington was found fullj adequate to the exigencies of the 
dangeroui attempt ; who, by the philanthropy of his heart and the 
prudence of his head, led forth her untutored troops into the fidd of 
battle, and, by the skilfulneasof his hands, baffled the projects of the 
insulting foe and pointed out the road to independence, even at a time 
when the energy of the Cabinet was not eafficient to bring into 
action the natural aid of the confederation, from its respective sources. 

" The grand object being obtAined, the independence of the States 
acknowledged, free from ambition, devoid of thirst of blood, 
our hero returned, with those he commanded, and laid down the 
sword at the feet of those who gave it him. 'Such an example to 
the world is now.' Like other nations, we eiperience that it 
requires as great valor and wisdom to make an advantage of a 
cunquei't as to gain one. 

"The want of efficacy in the confederation, llie redundancy of 
laws, and their partial administratioD in the States, called alond for 
a now arrangement in onr systems. The wisdom of the Slates for 
that purpose was collected in a grand convention, over which you, sir, 
had the honor to preside. A national government, in all lU parts, 
was recommended as the only preservation of the Union, which 
plan of government is now in actual operation. 

" When the constitution first made its appearance in Virginia, we, 
OS a societj, had unusual strugglings of mind, fearing that the lib- 
erty of conscience, dearer to us than property or life, vras not suffi- 


oienll.T HBCumd. Parbaps our , 

Bw^f we received in Viigmiu i 

jnole, &neG, boudG and priaout « 

" CoDTiaoed, i 

qnem evih. and u 
to Gome religiov 
jireiKuidBrule ovt 

DDT cUDaulalioii a 

mlcnisiee were liwgUieued br tlie 
nder Uic regal govemmenL, when 
re our freguenl repasL 
e hand, thai without an efivctive SBliiuut] 
laid fall into disuuiim and all the i»iib»- 
10 the uther liuiid. feaFin§'thBi we should be auLtsBori 
E oppt««laD, ahould but oite nx^m' in lAit Tuioii 
er the reel : amidn all these inquietudes of miod 
c from this conaideratioii — vie. the plan man he 
piud, fur il iiBB th« sigoatore of a tried. trusCT friend, and ■S rgligjitina 
liliortv is mtbar insBcure in the GouBtUutian, 'the AdminiatniHon will 
mrtaiulv prevent all oppremiam, for ■ VABKUKnTtui will pr(«ide.' 
Auuurdiog to our wiaheG, the UDanimDOE Toiue of the Union hai 
called jou, ui. fronj vour beloved letrest, to launch forth ogaiii into 
tlie ImlhlesE aeae of human a&irs, t(> guide the helm of the States. 
Ma,' thai diiioe munifioence which covered yoor head in battle 
make 70U a vet greater hltnein^ Ici vour adoiinnf cuunirj in unie of 
peaoe ' Bhould the horrid evUt- thai have been xo peBtifernuf in 
Aus and £arDpe — facuuu, ambition, war, pcrfidv, fraud, and jtar- 
aeaatlou for coDBcieni* sake, ever approach the bordere of trar 
lut]>pj tiBticm, msr die aame aod BdmimgantiDC of our beloved 
Pre^dent. like the ndiant hduttk of day, Bcatlor aU those dark 
cloudfi from the Anteriuan henuepliQre. 

" And, while we epeak freeir the lantroa^ of onr hetulK, we ere 
■alJEfied thai we ezprcK the fieutlmenit of our hretlires whom we 
Tepresoni. The very name of WashiugtoD if muBic in our ean. 
Dtid, althoQgh the gT«Ll et^M in the BlaWs ie the wiml of mutoal 
e batwaec mleis and people, yai we nil have the ntmoal 
a of ihe StntcB, and il it (lur fervent 
■t ihat Feden] Onvemment, and the f^>T- 
ithonl rivjilship. mayao oo-opor- 
i£ people tn-HT whom yon praude 
lie happiest natjon on earth, and yoo. Btr, tJtiti higqaeK man, id 
HeeiDg tlie people whom, W the smileE of Pnnidtmoe. you aiceid 
froni va^klage t? jtinr valur and tnade wise W your mazimE. eiiuiv 
■bbbtbIj midtr dKai vines and Sp trees, enjoylnc the perlecticni of 
^*'™'— ftbntf. Jtay ^o^ long i<reBerre your life and health for a 
Uansfta AewMUiD genemL, and tbelTniied Slates in {larticular: 
andwiim, GheAeaon, joa bare faiiahed votir coime stf neat and 


nn paralleled serTices, and go the way of all the earth, iDa.y (he 
DiTioe Being, who will reward every iuBiD according to hia woike, 
grant UDto you ■ glorioua admieaion into his everlasting Itingdoiii, 
through JeauH Chriat. This, sir, is tlie prayer of your happy 

" By order of the Committee. 

"Samuel Hahris, Chairman. 

"Eeubes FottD, Clerk." 

" To the OeneriU CommUfer, Etprexniing the Uwted Baplitl Chwchei 
in Virginia : 

"Gentlemen — I request that yon will accept my heat acknowl- 
edgtneota for yoiir congratulations on my appointment to the first 
office in the nation. The kind manner in \vhich you mention my 
past conduct equally claims the espresiuon of my gratitude. 

" After we had, by the smilea of Divine Providence on our eier- 
tlons, obtained the object for which we contended, I retired at the 
cuncluBton of the war, with an idea that my country could have no 
further occojjion for my services, and with the inteotion of never 
again entering public life. But when the exigencies of my country 
seemed to require me once more to engage in public afiaim, an hon- 
est conviction of duly euperaeded my former resolution, and became 
my apology for deviating from the happy plan which I had adopted. 

" If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the 
Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to pre- 
side, might posubly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiasti- 
cal society, certainly I wonid never have placed my sJEtiature to it ; 
and if I could now conceive that the general government might bo 
so administered as to render ihe liberty of conscience insecure, I beg 
you will be persuaded tliat none tvould be more zealous than myself 
to establish elective barriers against the horrora of spiritual tyranny 
and every spedefl of religious peraocutioa ,■ for you doubtless remem- 
ber I have often eipressed my senlimeals, that any man. conducting 
himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his 
religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity 
according to the dictates of liis own conscience. 

" While I recollect with satisfaction that the religious society of 
which you are members have been, throughout America, uniformly 


and almost unanliaously the firin friends to civil liberty, and the per- 
severing promotere of our glurioua resolution, 1 cannot hesitate to 
believe that they will be the fiitbful supporter* of a free, yet efficient, 
general government. Under thia pleasing expectation, I rejoice to 
a.'aure them that Iheti may rely jipoa my bat mUhea and endeaaori to pro- 
mote their proiptrity. 

"In the meantime, be assured, gentlemen, that I entertain a 
proper aense of your fervent eupplicfltioos to God for my lemporal 
and eternsl bappineaa. 

" I am, gentleoien, your most obedient servant, 

"George Washisoton." 

Sparks' Writinga of Washington, Vol. XII., page 154. 

Jefferson's lbtter8. 

It seems that, after Jefferson wag inaugurated President, 
in 1801, the Baptists from all parts of the country 
addressed letters to him at different times expressive of 
their appreciation of him as the frieod of hberty and their 
confidence in his adminigt ration. They did this the more 
because of the direful predictions of disaster to religion and 
morals, made by the pharisees of New England and other 
parts, if Thomas Jefferson ehould be placed at the head of 
government. Those letters are not preserved, but his 
answers are, and will be found below. The important 
parts only are given. 

"January 1st, 1802. 

' ' lb Mtssrs. , a Conanittee of the Danbury BaplUt Aaioctation, 

in the State o/ Qmneetieui : 

"The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which 
you are so good to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury 
Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. . . . 

" Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solelf 
between man and hia God, that he owes account to none other for his 
faith or his worship, that the legislative powera of government reach 
actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign rever- 
ence that act of the whole American people which declared that 



their legislature sliould ' make no law respecting an establishment of 
religion, or prohibiting the free eiercise thereof,' thug building a 
wall of separation between Church and State. . . 

" 1 reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing 
of the Common Father and Creator of man, and tender 7011, for 
jourselres and your religions asBociation, assurances of my high 
respect and esteem." Jefferson's "Works, Vol. ViU., page 113. 

"November 18th, 1807. 
" To Captain John Thomas : 

" Sir — I received, on the 14th instant, your favor of Aaguat Slst, 
and I beg you Co assure my fellow-citizens of the Baptist church of 
Newhope meeting-bouse that I learn with great satiBraction their 
approbation of the principles which have guided the present admin- 
ielration of the government. . . 

" . . . Among the most iDestimable of our blessings, also, is 
that you BO justly particulariie, of liberty to worehip our Creator in 
the way we think moat agreeable to liis wilt — a liberty deemed in 
other countries incompatible nith good government, and yet proved 
by our experience to be its beet support. Your confidence in my 
dispositions to befriend every human right is highly grateful to me, 
and is rendered the more so by a consciousness that these disposi- 
tions have been sincerely entertained and pursued. I am thankful 
for the kindness expressed towards me personally, and pray you to 
retom to the society in whose name you have addressed roe roy best 
wishes for their happiness and prosperity, and lo accept for yourself 
assurances of my great esteem and respect." Jefferson's Worka, 
Vol. Vm., page 119. 

And on page 124 is a similar letter, dated December 21, 
1807, in reaponse to an "Address of October 21st" from 
the "Appomattox Association," of Virginia, forwarded by 
Abner Watkins and Bernard Todd. 

"OcTOBEailT, 1808. 
" To Iht MtnAtrs 0/ Ihe BaUimaTt Baplitl Asaociaiion .■ 

" I receive with pleasure the friendly address of Baltimore Bap- 
tist Association, and urn sensible how much 1 am indebted to the 
kind dispositions which dictated it. 



" Id our early struggles for liberty, religious freedom could not 
fail to become a primary object. All meo felt the right, aad a just 
animation to obtain it vrai exhibited by all. I was only one amoag 
the many who befriended ita eclabllahment, and am entitled but In 
commou with others to a portion of tliat approbation which follows 
the folfilment of a duty." Vol. VIII., page 137. 

"OOTOBKB 18, 1808. 
" Toliix Mtrabei% aj the Ketocton Saptiit Atsociation : 

[First sentence as above.] "In our early straggles for liberty, 
religious freedom could not fail to become a primary object. All 
men felt the right, and a just animation to obtain it was excited in 
all. And, although your favor selected me as the organ of your 
petition to aboliah the religious domination of a pririleged church, 
yet I was but one of the many," etc., etc. (Concludes as above.) 
Vol. VIIL, page 138. 

"N0YEMBEJl21, 1808, 
" To the General Meting of Carretpondeau of the Sh BaplUl Asstieia- 
tiona BcpreeenUd at ChfeterfieM, Va. : 

"In reviewing the history of the times through which we have 
past, no portion of it gives greater satisfaction, on reflection, than 
that which presents the efforts of tiie friends of religious freedom 
and the suocess with which they were crowned. We have solved, 
by fair experiment, the great and Interesting question whether free- 
dom of religion is compatible with order in government and obe- 
dience to the laws; and we have experienced the quiet, as well aa 
the comfort, which results from leaving every one to proteHS freely 
and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of 
his own reason and the serious- convictions of his own inquiries." 
Vol. Vm., page 139. 

"Aphh. 13, 1808. 
"To the Maaben of the Baptist Church of Buck Mountain, in Albemarle : 

[This letter was in answer to their congratulations on his return 
home.] "Your approbation of my conduct is the more valued as 
you have best known me, and is an ample reward for any services I 
may have rendered. We have acted together from the origin (o the 
end of a memorable revolution, and we have contributed, each in the 
line allotted us, our endeavors to render its issue a permanent bleta- 
ing to our country." Vol. III., page 169. 



"June 3, 1811, 
'To the Baptist Churches on Neai'i Oreel; and on Black Orak, North 

" I hsTe received, fellow-citizens, your address approviDg my 
objection to Clio bill conlaining a grant of public liind to the Baptist 
church at Salem meetiug-hoose, MiBsiasippi Territory. Having 
always regarded the practical distinction between relij^on and civil 
government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by 
the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise 
discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself. Among 
the varioUB religious aocicties in ouc country, none has been more 
vigilant or constant in maintaining that distinction than the society 
of which you make a part ; and it is an honorable proof of your sin- 
cerity and integrity that you are ready (4) du so in a case favoring 
the interest of your brethren, as in other cases. It ia but jnst, at the 
same time, to the Baptist church at Salem meeting-house to remark 
that their application to the national legislature does not appear to 
have contemplated a grant of the laod in question, but oo terms that 
might be equitable to the public as well as to themsetves." 

If such men as Madison filled the presidential office in 
these later days there would be do grants of land or money 
by the government for Bectarian or religioua purposes. 


As a fitting concluaion of this series of letters, and of 
this mass of evidence in reference to the etruggle for 
religious liberty in Virginia, we give the following extract 
from a letter of Madison to Robert Walsh, dated Moot- 
pelier, March 2, 1819, nearly thirty-four years after the 
enactment of Jeflerson's bill for establishing religious free- 

" It was the universal opinion of the century preceding the last 
that civil govemoient could not stand without the prop of a religious 
establiahmeDt, and that the Chrietian religion itself would perish, if 



not supported bj a legal provisioii for its clergy. The experience 
of Virginia conspicaouslj corroborates the disproof of both opinions. 
The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an asso- 
ciated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its 
functions with complete success; whilst the number, the industry, 
and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, 
have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church 
from the State." 

Summary and Ai^ument. 

Having laid before the student of history all of the 
evidence which we have been able to collect concerning 
the struggle for religious liberty in Virginia, we now pro- 
ceed to sum up that evidence, with the view of showing to 
the general reader what is proven. Our object is to establish 
the truth, and to settle forever some questions which have 
arisen since the close of the struggle, at the end of the 
eighteenth century. 

It will be seen that from the planting of the colony at 
Jamestown down to the year 1699 the Church of England 
was the only denomination of Christians recognized and 
supported by law. In that year, the Act of Toleration, 
which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1689, 
began to obtain recognition in Virginia, when Francis 
Makemie, a Presbyterian minister of Accomac county, 
obtained license to preach at two places on his own property. 
This begins the period of toleration, which extends to the 
year 1768, when legal persecutions began against the Bap- 
tJBtfl. In 1770, the Baptists petitioned the House of Bur- 
gesses against the hardships to which their ministers were 
«xpoeed in being required to do military duty, and aJso 
■gainst their not being allowed to preach at any other 
places than those which where specifically mentioued in 
their licenses. These petitions came from the Regular 
Baptists, who, with few exceptions, were the only Bap- 
tists who condescended to ask the civil authorities for per- 
miawon to preach the gospel. But this petition for reKef 
was rejected. 


In February. 1772, the Baptista of Lunenburg, Meck- 
lenburg, Susaes, and Amelia counties petitioned the House 
for their rights aa Protestant disaentera under the English 
Act of Toleration, and asked that they be treated with 
the same indulgence as Pre«byterianB, Quakers, and other 
Protestant dissenters enjoyed. In response to these peti- 
tions, a new bill, known as the "Toleration Bill," was 
reported to the House and put upon its passage. But, 
instead of being a measure of relief, it was more restric- 
tive and burdensome in its provisions than tlie English 
Act of Toleration, and it called forth earnest protests from 
the persecuted Baptists against whom it was aimed. But, 
while aimed at the Baptists, it struck the Presbytfirians 
also, and aroused them to opposition and protest. The bill 
would doubtless have been passed, in spite of this opposi- 
tion, but for the strife which arose at that time between 
the Burgesses and Governor Botetourt, who prorogued the 
House until March, 1773. When the Burgesses met 
again they were prorogued by Governor Dunmore, who 
had succeeded Lord Botetourt, He continued to prorogue 
the House until May, 1774. Ou the 12th of May the 
persecuted Baptists appeared before the House with a peti- 
tion against the unjust restrictions of the Toleration Bill, 
The Hanover Presbytery had taken no action as yet, 
except to appoint two of their number to attend the As- 
sembly and act in the premises ' ' as their prudence might 
direct and the nature of the case might require." 

But a petition was presented at this session of the 
Assembly (May 17) from the Presbyterians of Bedford 
county, complaining of the voluntari/ melkod of supporting 
the minUtry by subbcriplioiis, and asking for such le^sla- 
tive act as would enable them " to take and hold lands and 
slaves for such use, " [Italics mine.] 


In November, 1774, the Hanover Presbytery took a 
decided stand against tbe Toleration Bill, and their first 
memorial was presented to the Assembly on the 5th day of 
June, 1775, supported by another Baptist petition, June 
13. Nothing was sought in any of these petitions 
against the new bill more tha-n to defend the rights of tbe 
petitioners under the English Act of Toleration, and to 
secure, if possible, more liberal concessions from tbe local 
government. But such was the intolerance of the clergy 
of the Establislied church towards the aggressive and rap- 
idly growing sect of Baptists that the Assembly, which 
was composed chiefly of churchmen, would have been 
driven to the passage of the obnoxious "biU" but for the 
political exigencies of the times. The storm of the Amer- 
ican Revolution had already burst upon the country, and 
there was imperative need of peace and harmony at borne. 
The services of the despised Baptists, as well as of the 
Presbyterians, were needed in the defence of the colony 
against British oppression, and hence the "Toleration 
Bill ' ' was dropped and allowed to ' ' wait until tbe clouds 
rolled by." 

"We wish to eiuphafiize the fact that up to this time — the 
date of the American Revolution — no petition had been 
presented to the Assembly asking that the EstablishmeDt 
be abolished, or that no tax should be levied for the sup- 
port of religion, or that the State should cease to concern 
itself about religion save only to protect all its citizens in 
the enjoyment of their equal and inalienable rights of 
conscience. Whatever opinions were entertained at that 
time by the dissenting sects, religious liberty, as distin- 
guislied from religious toleration, was not contemplated in 
their petitions to tbe House of Burgesses before the Revo- 
lution . 



A EQOBt labored effort has been made by the Preebyte- 
rian§, under the lead of the Hou. William Wirt Henry, to 
make it appear that they ' ' anticipated the Baptists in their 
memoriala asking for religious liberty," To support this 
contention Mr. Henry produces the memorial of the Hanover 
Presbytery of November, 1774, and represents it as a plea 
for religious liberty, instead of toleration, and as "the 
advance guard of that army of remonstrances which so vig- 
orously attacked the establishment," etc. In this "the 
wish is father to the thought." It does not take a very 
careful reading of that document, which is given in full in 
Chapter II., to satisfy any candid and unbiased mind that 
such a claim is preposterous. The memorial makes no 
attack whatever upon the Establishment, but professes 
loyalty to King George, and also to the Establishment 
itself, which they were bound by their contract with Gov- 
ernor Gooch to support so long as they were allowed their 
rights under the Act of Toleration. It is not the first 
time that eminent legal talent has been pressed into 
service "to make the worse the better cause appear." 
[For fuller discussion, see Appendix.] 


The first organized action towards securing religious 
liberty in Virginia was taken by the Baptists in their 
General Association at Dupuy'e, August, 1775. Grovemor 
Dunmore had fallen out with tbe House of Burgesses and 
taken refuge on a " man-of-war," and the Burgesses hai) 
declared his place vacant aad had met in BichmoDil J •' 
17 as a convention. The Baptists saw their opportti 
and were not slow to take advantage of it. As "» 
rogues fall out honest men get their dues," 


oppreBBors fall out, tLere is presented a favorable opportu- 
tunity for the oppreMed lovera of soul liberty to strike for 
their rights. Hence the Baptists did two notable things ia 
their meeting at Dupuy's. First, they resolved to circu- 
late petitions throughout the State for sigaatureB, petition- 
ing the AsBembly to abolish the Establishment, leave 
religion to stand on its own merits, put all denomina- 
tions on the same legal footing and protect all In the 
peaceable enjoyment of their own religious principles and 
modes of worship. Secondly, they resolved to send a patri- 
otic address to the Convention then in session declarlug 
their sympathy with the colonists In iheir struggle against 
British oppression, offering the services of their young 
men as soldiers and asking for their ministers the priv- 
ilege of preaching to the soldiers in the army. The Bap- 
tist address was gratefully received and their request 
granted by those who had but recently been throwing 
their ministers into prison for preaching the gospel ; and 
thus, as Dr. Hawks well saya, "the first step was made 
towards placing the clergy of all denominations upon an 
equal footing In Virginia." 

On the 5th of May, 1776, a newly elected Convention 
met In Williamsburg. This body, however, contained 
only twenty-nine meinbere who were not in the Convention 
of July and August, 1775. One of the new members 
was the youthful James Madison, of Orange county, 
whose sympathies had been aroused in behalf of his per- 
secuted Baptist neighbors, and who rendered his name 
immortal by his famous amendment U> the sixteenth arti- 
cle of the Bill of Rights, striking out loleraiiun and in- 
serting liberty in its stead. No sooner had this Convention 
instructed the Virginia delegates to the General Corgress 
in Philadelphia to vote for independence of Great Bi-ttain 


than there was presented a petition from the Baptiata of 
Prince William county, asking "that they he allowed 
to worship God in their own way without interruption ; 
that they be permitted to maintain their own miniBtera 
and none others ; that they be married, buried, and the 
like, without paying the clergy of other denominaliona ; 
that, these things granted, they will gladly imil« with 
their brethren, and to the utmost of their ability promote 
the common cause. ' ' 

Thus two important conventions have been held aincft 
the battle of Lexington and the failure of the Toleration 
Bill, and yet the Baptists are the only denomination of 
Christians that has addressed either body on the subject of 
war with Great Britain, or on the all-important subject of 
religious liberty. 

When the first republican Legislature met, in October, 
1776, petitions came pouring in from all denominations — 
from EpiscopalianB and Methodists in favor of maintaining 
the existing church establishment, and from Baptista, 
Presbyterians, and other dissenters, in favor of disestab- 
lishment and for putting all on equal footing before the 
law. The Baptist petition was signed by about 10,000. 
The memorial of the Hanover Presbytery was the first of 
its kind from the Preabyteriana, and it reflected great 
credit on its author, or authors, being, perhaps, the moat 
scholarly paper presented to the Assembly during the entire 
struggle. These memorials brought on a desperate strug' 
gle between the friends and the foes of the Establishment, 
in which the latter were ]ed by Thomas Jefferson, sup- 
ported by James Madison, George Mason, and other influ- 
ential members. The result was a partial victory for liberty. 
The Legislature repealed the laws which subjected dissent- 
eTB to punishment for dissenting from the Established 


church and which taxed them for its support, [ind it also 
Buspended until the nest session levies on the members of 
that church for the salaries of its own incumbents. But 
the same body declared that public assemblies of societies 
for divine worship ought to be regulated, and that proper 
providoa should be made for continuing the succession of 
the clergy and superintending their conduct. The question 
whether a general aeaeasment should be established by law 
on every one to the support of the pastor of bis choice, or 
whether all should be left to voluntary contributions, was 
expressly reserved for future decision, and was not settled 
until 1779, when the establishment of the Anglican church 
was put down. 


Mr. Jefferson explains the failure to settle this question 
earlier in these words: "Some of our dissenting allies, 
having now secured their particular object, went over to 
the advocates of a general assessment." And the evidence 
is conclusive that these "dissenting allies" were the Pres- 
byterians, who, having secured exemption from taxation 
for the support of the Anglican church, were ready to join 
the members of that church in support of a broader and 
more liberal scheme for the support of all denominations 
by means of a general assessment. It has hitherto been 
supposed by many that this break in the ranks of the 
Presbyterians took place only in the fiual struggle over the 
assessment bill, in 1784-5; but the evidence adduced in 
Chapter V. shows that it occurred first in the Legislature 
of 1776, in the very beginning of the struggle. It is not 
charged that the Hanover Presbytery or tliat the Preaby- 
leriaus throughout the State went over in a body to the 
new scheme, but that enough of their representatives in 



the Legislature broke ranks with JeSerson and hia Hupport- 
ers to accomplish, a partial and temporary defeat of their 
eflbrts. That thia action of " some of the dissenting allies" 
did not meet with the approval of the Presbyterians gen- 
erally is evidenced by the fact that the next memorial of 
the Hanover Presbytery, which was presented to the House 
on the 3d of June, 1777, opposed the scheme of a general 

In June, 1779, Jefferson's bill " for establishing religious 
freedom" was reported to the House and passed to its 
second reading. When the liegislature met, the following 
October, petitions were presented, some for and some 
against Jefferson's bill, but not one from the Hanover 
Presbytery, or from the Presbyterians as such. There 
were, however, two antagonistic petitions from Augusta 
county, whose population was decidedly Presbyterian. 
According to Semple's tables, there was not a Baptist 
church in the county at that time. One of these petitions, 
which was presented on the 20th of October, referred to 
"the plan proposed by the House of Delegates for estab- 
lishing the privileges of the several denominations of 
religious societies at the last session of Assembly, ' ' and 
asked for its passage without the least amendment. It was 
referred to the committee to prepare and bring in a bill 
' ' concerning religion ; ' ' and on the 26th of October James 
Henry, a Presbyterian elder of Accomac, presented, 
according to order, a bill "concerning religion." As this 
bill did not become a law, its provisions are not definitely 
known, save that it was antagonistic to Jefferson's bill, and 
was the formulated plan for a general assessment, which 
had been under discussion since the beginning of the strug- 
gle in 1776. 

r The Be. 

I presented 

r bill. Ar 


The Becond of these petitions from Augusta county was 
the 27th of October, and favored Jefferson's 
bill. And, as it is practically certain that the petitioners 
in both caaea were largely, if not altogether, Presbyterians, 
the two petitions show division of sentiment among them 
with reference to Jefferson's bill, and with reference, also, 
to the general asseBsment. 

While action on Jefferson's bill was delayed, for want of 
union among dissenters, the Legislature at this session 
repealed "so much of the act of Assembly entitled, 'An 
Act for the Support of the Clergy, Ac.,' as relates to the 
payment of the salaries heretofore given to the clergy of 
the Church of England." This act cut the purse strings 
of the Establishment, but it left the clergy in possession of 
the glebes and with a monopoly of marriage fees. 

In 1780, the Assembly responded to the petitions of the 
Baptists and others by passing a new marriage law, which 
made it lawful for marriages to be solemnized by ministers 
whom the contracting parties preferred. It went into 
effect January 1, 1781, and gave great relief to dissenters, 
although it was clogged by restrictions. In 1784, it was 
80 amended as to remove all objections, and thus another 
victory was scored in the battle for equal rights, and an- 
other forward step taken in the cause of religious freedom. 

During the same year (1780), the Presbyterians peti- 
tioned the Assembly to declare all "non-juring" clergy- 
men incapable of preaching. This aroused the indignation 
of the Episcopalians, at whom it was aimed, and Bishop 
Meade is severe in his denunciation of tins abortive attempt 
to stop the mouth of an Episcopal minister because of his 
political sentiments. 



No sooner had the Revolution ended and the indepea- 
dence of the colonies been declared than the straggle over 
religious liberty was renewed. Many of those who had 
voted for disestablishment and again.'^t the scheme for a 
general assessment had done so from patriotic motives, and 
for the sake of unity and cooperation as against Great 
Britain. But now, that they are no longer deterred by 
the fear of a common danger from abroad, they begin anew 
the discussion of questions of Church and State. The 
Episcopalians, on the one hand, seek to recover lost ground 
under a new and more liberal form of church establish- 
ment, which would take in all denominations ; the Baptists, 
on the other hand, presented, as they had always done, an 
unbroken front against any and every form of church 
establishment, and continued to memorialize the Assembly 
against the inequalities of the marriage and vestry laws; 
while the Presbyterians were divided, some being in favor 
of and some against the new scheme. The wavering in 
their course is to be explained only on the ground that 
there waa division of sentiment among them — that they 
were not agreed on the principle of religious liberty. 

During the first session of the Assembly In 1784, when 
petitions were coming in both for and against the new 
scheme of a general assessment, there waa presented, June 
1, a "petition of the president and trustees of Hampden- 
Sidney College, setting forth that the fluids of the said 
college are inadequate to its support and the erection of 
the necessary buildings, and praying that the Legislature 
will aid their funds by a grant of 400 acres of confiacated 
land, late the property of Spiers & Company, in the neierh- 
borhood of the said college," 


and a bill was pnsBed on the 10th of June making the 
grant. And it is not a little significant that on the 16th 
of June, only six days afterwards, the committee " for 
religion" reported a bill " for incorporating the Protestant 
Episcopal Church and for other purposes," which was 
passed at the next session, in October. On the 11th of 
November, a resolution was a^iopted looting to a general 
assessment for religious purposes, and on the following day 
there was presented a memorial of the " united clergy of 
the Presbyterian church," favoring the general assessment, 
provided it was based upon the plan which they therewith 
submitted, and which, as has already been shown (Chapter 
X), was not in accord with the principles of religious 
liberty. It does look as if the Presbyterians and Episco- 
palians were getting together as against the Baptists. The 
General Assembly, which was composed largely of church- 
men, makes a grant of 400 acres of public land to the 
Presbyterians, and the Presbyterian a, in return, aid the 
Episcopalians in their effort to secure the incorporation of 
their church and in the cBtablishment of a general assess- 
ment for religious purposes. No wonder that James Madi- 
son and others of his day suspected a tendency towards a 
coalition between the clergy of these two denominations — a 
coalition which, he said, would endanger the cause of 


But, while the Presbyterian clergy i'avored the assess- 
ment, their laity were largely opposed to it, especially in 
Augusta county, and this division in their ranks paralyzed 
their efforts either for or against the bill; and, but for the 
nnited and strenuous opposition of the Baptists, this new 
lid have prevailed and a religious establishment 


would have been again fastened upon Virginia. On thia 
point. Dr. Semple, at page 72, has the following: "The 
inhibition of the general assessment may, in a considerable 
degree, be ascribed to the opposition made to it by the 
Baptists; for it is stated by those who were conversant with 
the proceedings of those times that the reference made to 
the people, after the bill was engrossed, was done with a 
design to give the different religious societies au oppor- 
tunity of expressing their wishes. The Baptists, we believe, 
were the only sect who plainly remonstrated. Of some 
others it is said that the laity and ministry were at vari- 
ance on the subject, so as to paralyze their exertions either 
for or against the bill. These remarks, by-the-by, apply 
only to religious societies acting as such. Individuals of 
all sects and parties joined in the opposition." 

Dr. Foote's apology for the going over of the Presby- 
terian clergy to the general asaesament is unsatisfactory, 
even to the Presbyterians, as is evident from the fact that 
they have been making strenuous efforts to rewrite the his- 
tory of that struggle, and to correct their "foresight" by 
their "back-sight." JFoote says that they were led fo 
believe that some such scheme would surely be adopted by 
the Assembly, and that they went over in order to secure 
as liberal a measure as possible. But this explanation 
reflects upon Presbyterian character f<ir steadfastness in 
holding to and even suffering for their convictions. It is 
according to the dictates of worldly policy, and not accord- 
ing to the teachings of Christianity, to compromise with 
error. And, had the Presbyterians of Virginia believed 
in the principle of religions liberty as fully and unequivo- 
cally as did the Baptists, tbey would doubtless have held 
out with the Baptists, steadfast untc ' - — - 

did not believe in it. In apite of ' 


and 1777, we affirm, and will undertake to prove, that 
their memorial of 1784, favoring the asGeBsment, was in 
accord with, and not out of harmony with, their principles 
and their previous record. 

It will be freely admitted that the Presbyterians had 
been, from their origin at Geneva, the advocates of the 
union of the Church and the State, and of the use of the 
civil power to punish heresy. It will not be denied that 
the "Solemn League and Covenant," which was "forced 
on the Scotch nation by the paius of excommunication," 
bound ita signers to persecute Prelatiata and Papists, and 
was designed to establish a national church. And it was 
this attempt to force the Presbyterian doctrine and discip- 
line on England that made Milton speak of ' ' saving free 
conscience from the paw of the Presbyterian wolf;" and 
again, that ' ' New Presbyter ' ' was only ' ' Old Priest writ 
large." It is matter of history that the Presbyterians of 
Scotland and England of the seventeenth century did not 
believe even in toleraiion. The writings of such leaders as 
Richard Baxter show plainly that they "abhorred tolera- 
tion." The president of the Scotch Parliament wrote to 
the ParUament of England, February 3, 1645, as follows: 
"It was expected the honorable houses would add their 
civil sanction to what the pious and learned assembly have 
advised; and I am commanded by the Parliament of this 
kingdom to demand it, and I do in their names demand it. 
And the Parliament of this kingdom is persuaded that the 
piety and wisdom of the honorable houses will never admit 
toleration of any sects or schisms contrary to our Solemn 
League and Covenant," See Cramp's History, page 308, 

It is not to be wondered at, then, that, when Presby- 
terians emigrated to America, they should have brought 
with them the views and practices which had prevailed 

story 01 
ined un- 
ioDS and 


among them in the Old World. The early 
Massac hu setts, at least, shows that they ren 
changed; for, at the very time when Presbyt 
other diaaentera in Virginia were obliged to pay taxes for 
the support of Episcopal clergymen, Baptists and other 
ere being taxed in Massachusetts to support 
I ministers. And if their ministers were not 
supported in the same way in Virginia, it was not because 
of any natural or constitutional aversion to this way, but 
because the Anglican, or Episcopal, church had preoccu- 
pied the ground. 

If we turn now to their creed, we find that our conten- 
tion is supported by the Westminster Confession. That 
celebrated Confession "declares that persons maintaining 
or publishing erroneous opinions destructive to the peace 
and order of the church ' may be lawfully called to account 
and proceeded against by the censures of the church and 
by the power of the civil magistrate. ' " It further declares 
that the magistrate " hath authority and it is his duty to 
take order that unity and peace be preserved in the church, 
that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all 
blasphemies and heresies he suppressed, all corruptions and 
abuses In worship and discipline prevented or reformed, 
and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, 
and observed." See "The Denominations and Religious 
Liberty," by Professor John Pollard, D. D. This docu- 
ment manifestly aimed at conibrmity in faith and practice, 
and at the putting down of n on- conformists, or dissenters. 


As a stream does not riae higher than its source, so a 
denomination is not better than its creed. There may be, 
and doubtless are, in all denominations individuals who do 


not hold to all the principles or teachings of their respective 
creeds. These individuals, however, are to be found 
chiefly, if not almost wholly, among the laity. The clergy, 
as a rule, adhere to their creed. Hence it was but natural 
that the Preabytfirian clergy of Virginia, who had been 
brought up on the Westminster Ctonfeasion and the writings 
of their fathers, and who had before them the example of 
their brethren both in the Old World and in the New, 
should not appear in the Eevolution as the bold and con- 
sistent advocates of religious liberty. It could not have 
been expected of them, for they did not really and truly 
believe in reli^ous liberty, and one cannot be expected to 
be very brave and self-sacrificing and persistent in fighting 
for a cause which is no part of his creed, and in which he 
does not fully and heartily believe. 

But, it will be asked, does not their celebrated memorial 
of October, 1776, prove that they did believe in rehgious 
liberty ? Well, it does read that way, and if we were to 
judge them by the light of that paper alone, we should 
answer in the affirmative. But, unfortunately, their pre- 
vious and subsequent history does not admit of our accept- 
ing that paper as all-sufficient and incontrovertible evi- 
dence in the case. Bishop McTyeire, in his "History of 
Methodism" (page 25), writes thus of the times imme- 
diately succeeding the execution of Charles I. , of England : 
"The House of Commons was now the government. The 
Presbyterians were paramount in it, and proceeded to 
remodel the church on the plan of tlie WeiitDiinster As- 
sembly of Divines. It was ordered that the Solemn 
Xfcague and Covenant should be taken by all persons above 
the age of eighteen ; and, as this instrument bound all who 
received it to endeavor to extirpate Episcopal church gov- 
ernment, its enforcement led to the ejection of 1,600 bene- 


ficed clergymen from their livingB. . , . Th^e vxu, 
indeed, scarcely any pari oj ecclegia^ical poMy, exeepi pre- 
lacy, against which Puritang had inveighed when in subjec- 
tion that they did not adopt and pradiee when in power. 
Those wIm liad pleaded so eamedly Jot 
liberty of eonscience, and who had deprecaied the interfer- 
ence of the civil powers in matters purely religiong, now, 
that they were altlie helm of affairs, were of anotlier mind,'' 
[Italics mine.] "It is far easier," writes Dr. Albert 
Henry Newman in his review of "MuUer's History of 
the Anabaptists of Bern," "to be eloquent in advocating 
liberty of conscience when one is in the minority and his 
freedom ia imperilled than to bestow it upon a weak and de- 
spised party, ' ' etc. What a man says when he is down and ia 
trying to get up is not an infallible index to the true state 
of his mind nor prophecy of what he will do if he once 
gets up. So with denominations and parties. Profeaaiona 
made when out of office and out of power are not alwaya 
indications of real sentiments and beliefe ; and the wise 
and prudent will wait to see how the party behaves iu the 
hour of triumph before accepting for their face value the 
enunciation of principles made in the party platform. 
Now, the Presbyterian memorial of 1776 was prepared 
when they (the Presbyterians) were down and the Episco- 
palians were at the helm in Virginia, just as they had been 
in England at the time of which Bishop McTyeire writ«s. 
It was their first deliverance of the kind, and in it they join 
hands with the Baptists in their attack upon the Establish- 
ment. It was a powerful plea for religious liberty, and if 
it faithfully represented the views of the Presbyterians at 
that time, then there must have been a sudden and decided 
conversion from previous belief and practice. But had 
there been any such conversion, or was that memorial 



a true exponent of Presbyterian faith ? Does their subse- 
quent course sustain or justify such a view? We think 
not. When we see how they broke ranks in the very first 
engagement ; how they sought to have Episcopal minis- 
ters ejected from their livings and prohibited from preach- 
ing the gospel because they had not sworn allegiance to 
the new government ; how the new theory of establish- 
ment found favor among them and a prominent Presbyte- 
rian elder presented to the Assembly the first bill 
" concerning religion" embodying that idea ; how that, so 
soon as the Revolutionary war was over and the friends of 
church establishment began a new and final struggle, the 
Presbyterian clergy were found advocating the new 
scheme ; how the same year which witnessed their joining 
hands with their whilom rivals and enemies in support 
of this new scheme witnessed also their asking and 
receiving at the hands of the Legislature a grant of 400 
acres of land for denominational uses ; and how Jefferson's 
bill for "establishing religious freedom," which was pro- 
posed in 1779, and was delayed for want of adequate sup- 
port until December, 1785, never received any recognition 
at the hands of the Hanover Presbytery, or any other 
body of Presbyterians until August, 1785, when all hope 
of the success of the "general assessment" had gone 
down before the rising tide of opposition — -when we consider 
all these things we are forced to the conclusion that whatever 
change the Revolution and other causes were working in 
them, the Presbyterians had not departed materially from 
the principles of the Westminster Confession and that 
their great memorial of 1776 was a weapon of (fe-struction, 
but not of I'e- construction — the plea of a minority for the 
destruction of the old establishment, but not a rule to live 
by when the minority should become the majority ; for it 


WM James Madison, the "father of the Conatitutioo " 
and the fourth President of the United States, who said of 
the Presbyterian cJergy, in the midst of the fight over the 
asaeBament, that they ' ' seemed as ready to set up an estab- 
lishment which was to take tliem in as they had been 
t« pull down that which shut them out." 

The only theory which is creditable to the Preabyterians 
as a denomination is that which treats the entire struggle in 
Vii^^a as a period of transition — of transition from the 
old to the new order of things. No one at all conversant 
with their previous history can believe that they were 
wanting in the stuff of which martyrs are made. And yet 
to suppose, as some mamtain, that at the date of the Rev- 
olution tliey stood as squarely and unequivocally for relig- 
ious liberty as did the Baptists, is to make them out recre- 
ants and cowards for not standing heroically and fearlessly 
with the Baptists in the subsequent struggle. Had they 
fully understood the doctrine of religious liberty and been 
fully committed to it, they would doubtless have stood by 
it without wavering. But it was no part of their creed, 
and, while they were learning from their persecuted Baptist 
brethren and fellow -citizens, they had not learned the dif- 
ference between toleration and liberty. And it is to be 
feared that some distinguished Presbyterians of our own 
times have yet to learn it. When a Presbyterian Governor 
and leading Presbyterian ministers propose to a Virginia 
XiCgislature a penitentiaty religious esiablishinent, we feel 
that they need some Baptist Aquila or Priscilla to teach 
them the way more perfectly. 

We have said that the Presbyterians were, during the 
struggle for religious liberty in Virginia, in a transition 
state ; it should be added that in 1788, the year the 
Constitution of the United States was ratified, "the 




United Synod of Philadelphia and New York, catch- 
ing the American spirit, made such modificalions of 
the Weatminster Confession of Faith aa removed all intol- 
erance from that famous creed and put it in harmony with 
freedom of conscience." Dr. Pollard's Tract, page 12. 


What does this evidence prove? It proves that the 
Baptists were the first and only religious denomination 
that struck for independence from Great Britian, and the 
first and only one that made a move for religious liberty be- 
fore independence was declared. 

It proves that, of those who took active part in the 
struggle for religious liberty, the Baptists were the only 
denomination that maintained a cousistent record,'_and held 
out without wavering unto the end — until every vestige of 
the old Establishment had been obliterated by the sale of 
the glebes. 

It proves that, of the great political loaders of that day, 
Thomas JelTerson and James Madison are the men to whom 
must be ascribed the highest meed of praise for the estab- 
lishment of religious liberty in Virginia. Patrick Henry 
was on the side of the Establishment, 

Finally, the evidence shows that the Baptists were the 
only denomination of Christians that expressed any disaat- 
isfaction with the Constitution of the United States on the 
ground that it did not provide sufficient security for relig- 
ious liberty, and the only one that asked that it be so 
amended as to leave no room for doubt or fear. 





[Address before tke Baptist Toaitg PeojJffs Unvm of Virginia, Char- 
toltexviiU, March 15, 1399. ] 
This Gubject cannot be treated fallj io the brief epace of tweotj- 
Gce minutes. I must restnct mTeeif to one or two pbancs. 

1. In the firat place, Baptist pnnaiptea /umiak the only true bonis ami. 
guarantee ofrdigioiis liberty. By celigiona liberty is meant the right 
of eTery one to worship God, or not, accordiog to the dictates of 
his own conscience, and to be held acconntable to none but God for 
his belief and practice. It differs from religioae toleration, however 
broad and liberal, in that toleration implies tbe right to withhold, 
or to refuae license, whereas religious liberty means that tbe civil 
power has nothing to do with a man's religion except to protecthim 
in tlie eojoyment of his rights. How, let us see how this principle 
is grounded in certnin fundamental tenets of our denomination. 

(1) We hold that religion is and must be perfectly vnbmtary, 

ihil nothing eicept a volimlary surrender to Christ, and a voluntary 

service under him, is acceptable to God, and hence that no earthly 

[lower, pari^ntal, euoiul, civil, or ecoleuastical, has any right to compel 

fi>ij:" >■ " ■ ■J, or to any form of worship. It is for this 

.11 nlwiiys opposed the support of religion by 

iv^nsain, also, that they have ever been opposed 

: i< (•'liL-ioii whii'U is fastened Upon the Indi- 

knowledgo or consent, 

! creed before he reaches 

K'l riu choice except to 


soquietce in what has been done for him b; hb epoDBOre, or else, by 
rejecting il, involve himaelf in unpleaBint conlroveray and, perliaps, 
peiaecutiou. Baptists are not indifferent to tlie spiritual welfare of 
children, but thej hold that their real B[iiritual interests ore beit 
promoted bj leaving them to the eierciae of that freedom of choice 
wbich is essential to acceptable worship. 

(2) Another fundamental principle of the Baptists is that of a 
amvfrted church membership. This grows out of the apiritualtty of 
Christ's kingdom. When he said to Pilate, "Mj kingdom is not of 
this world," he antagonized the idea which prevailed among the 
Jews, that their Messiah was to be a sort of religio-political kin^, 
uniting the temporal aJid the spiritnal, and using the civil power to 
bring the world into subjection to him. But our Lord disappointed 
ihrir expectations. Hia kingdom was not of that sort. It xita 
spiritnal in its nature. It had lo do with men's hearta. It waa 
apirituallj apprehended and enjoyed. Men entered it, not bj out- 
change — bj regeatralion 

5, or local church, w as de aiyned to embrace all 
those in every community who, by regeneration, had become his 
loyal subjects and disciples ; and baptism, the initiatory rite, was ds- 
signed, among ottrerthintSi to"di B"tiDBiii8li hia friends from his fota, 
a sort of badge_of .enl iatnient_gji ich proctiiiniecr to tie world tteir 
allegiance to Christ. Hence Ttgeneraitoa {uicTuding repentance and 
&ith} and baptiaa ai« the only Sew Testament conditions of church 
membenihip, the one denoting the inner clituage, the change of char- 
acter and attitade towards Christ, and the other being the outward 
and public profession, or declaration, of that change. As none but 
a voluntary service is acceptable to God, our Lord would have none 
to be identified with him except such as come willingly and cheer- 
fully ; and hence his church is everywhere the company, or assembly, 
of those who have been baptized upon their own personal profession 
of repentance and faith. 

(3) Another fundamental principle of Baptists is that Christ is 
the only king in Zinn, and that his will, as revealed in the New 
Testament, is the only rule of faith and practice. They believe in 
rendering " to Ctesar the things that are Cesar's," but they do not 
believe in rendering to Cs^sar " the things that are God's." Henoe 
their refusal lo recognize the right of the civil authorities to r^ulat" 
their faith, or their practice, or to dictate lo them as to whether 

I ehall 

} r 


ehall preach the Gosppl, and if so, when and where and how. It 
lot been out nf an? rebellinui or aiiBrchUtic spirit that thej have 
refused to obey man rather than God. It ia not aectarian big- 
nor blind adherence to outward furtna, that has ever prompted 
them to resist and denounce the mutilation and multipll cation of 
the ordinances of the Gospel. It is out of loyalty to the great Head 
of the Church, their only Lord and Maat^r, to whom, and to whom 
alone, they are accountable, that they have sought to do just what he 
commanded, and to oppoae all taking from, and all adding to, tiie 
divine prescript 

Now, it ia apparent that a people holding such viewB must, in the 
very nature of the case, be the friends and promoters of the rights 
of conscience. And it ia equally apparent that a people holding 
contrary or antagonistic views cannot be really and truly the friends 
and promoters of absolute religious liberty. 

2. I want to show, in the second place, that the reenrd of the Bap- 
Hsts hue ever teen ixmsieleal vHh tkeir principle*, John Locke aaya ; 
"The Baptistfl were the fitst and only propnunders of absolute lib- 
erty, just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty." And our 
own great historian, Baocroft, says : "Freedom of conscience, un- 
limited freedom of mind, was, fron:i the first, a trophy of the Bap- 
tists." And it is claimed that Roger Williams founded, in Rhode 
Island, "the first dvil government on earth which gave eqaal lib- 
erty of conscience," Other countries, or governments, had granted 
some d^ree of loleration, but none had ever recognized the princi- 
ple of religioufl liberty. And yet, it cannot bo denied that this 
principle is laid down in the New Teatament, and that the early 
disciples preached it and practiced il, even to the sacri6ce of prop- 
erty and life, rather than render to "Ciesar" "the things which 
were God's." Uow came it to pass, then, that this New Testament 
doctrine found no recognition among the Christian nations of the 
Old World — that it had to wait for reci^^ilion by civil government 
until the seventeenth century, and then find it in the wilds of this 
New World? To answer [his queelion fully would consume more 
time than we h»ve at our dispoanl. Tt i.? sufficient to Bay that the 
explanation is to be fouii.i j . ' ; ■ ■•.■•■,.■•; u! Christianity through 
early departures from th. . .v Testament. In the 

beginning there were ;■ ninisters, and the only 

officer* in tb« dtnrrli' i i:i. In th« h 


the ministry was not a. c$ste, or order, like the Jewieh Priesthood, 
to whom bdlouged eioluaive prerogatives. In the beginniog. the 
churches were iadeperident bodlei^ — little republics, electing thmr 
own officers, receiving and disciplining tbeirovn members, Lrsnsact^ 
ing their own business and recognizing no lord but Christ. In the 
beginning, baptism uid charcli membership were reatrieted 1 
ballevere, and the boundary between the church »Qd the world waa 
clear and distinct But this state of things did not continue. De- 
partures set in about the second century — departures in church 
poli^, and then departures in faith, until we have orders ii 
ministry, mixed membership in the churches, churches subordinate 
to the ministry and to one another, and baptism changed It 
ing ordinance, essential to salvation. This latter change, the dogma 
o{ bapdsmal regeneration, led, naturally, to the baptism of the sick 
and of infants, and wrought a radical change in the membership of 
the churches. The church was no longer composed wholly, or < 
chiefly, of those who had been bom of the Spirit, but it gradually 
became filled with those who had been bom only of water, and who 
were brought up under the soul-destroying deludon that they had 
been regenerated in baptism ajid were consequently in a saved il 
The world was gmdiially swallowed up in the church and the 
church was cormpted by the world. With unregenerate church- 
members, possessed of all the propensities and passions of unregen- 
erate human nature, and with a Christian ministry tnosformed into 
a Christian priesthood, usurping authority over the churches and 
over one another, the way was open for the great apostasy, and for 
the rise of the Papacy, with all of its usarpations and intolerance. 

It ie but just to the honest and sincere persecutore, to say that 
they had a plausible Scriptural warrant for their nets. The apolo- 
gists for infant baptism and infant church- membersliip look r 
in the Old Testament and the Covenant of Circumdslon, and they 
very naturally burrowed their ideas of what a Christian comrnQDity, 
or government, ought to be, from the Jewish Commonwealth, of 
which circumcision was the n\pi iind seal of oitizenship. But the 
Jewish Commonwealth wa-t a Thi-of.r'- ;, in wiiieh the oivil and reli- 
gious were united under one govei " ~ ''"■ (lie civil authorities 
punished heresy and sin. I\>ii avlianlty Iriiunpll^l 

over the Roman Empire, ani* of the tpI»'' 

Chumh and State enguged tl 


did juBt what our Lord had forbidden, and put " the new wine " of 
OhrialUnilj into the "old bottles," or "akins," of the effete and 
cast-offpyeteDi of Judaism. It waa on the Old Testament that they 
built up their sjBtein.of PedobaplJsm with its union of Church and 
Slate. It was in the Old Testament that the; found warrant for 
using the eivil arm to punish and even to destroy the enemies of 
Uod. And it waa Old Testament example and object Immn tliat 
inspired the honest persecutor to feel, like Saul of Tarsus, that he 
WM veriiy doing God service in putting down heresy and in destroy- 
ing the heretic and the inlidel. 

But I must hasten un. Time will not admit of my tracing the 
progress of apostasy and the development of the Papacy, and its use 
of the civil power to punieh all who resisted the Papal authority, or 
refused to conform to the itomish creed and worship. When the 
Reformation began under Martin Luther, there were thousands of 
different names, scattered over Europe, who had loog suffered per- 
secution for conscience sake, and <*ho now came out of , their hiding 
places and hailed the great reformer as ihair leader ana deliverer. 
But to their amazement and disappointment, Luther was as intoler- 
ant towards them as the Papists were towards him. And the Augs- 
bui^ Diet, which set forth the Protestant creed, and which decreed 
that the German princes might cbooee between the Augsburg Con- 
feBsion and Bomitn Catholicism, decreed, at the same time, that (he 
subjects of each ptince most conform to his creed and practice. 
There waa no toleration for the people, even among Protestants, hut 
only for the princes, or rulers. Church and State continued their 
unholy alliance, and the church continued to use the civil power to 
compel conformity, and to punish nonconformists, or dhjsenters. 
Persecuted in one place, dissenters fled to another, and finally thou- 
sands of them took refuge in this Kew World, only to receive, in 
many cases, like treatment here. Among the<e came our Baptist 
forefathers, bringing with then an open Bible and an unquenchable 
thirst for lihertv. Their peculiar prindples naturally rendered 
them obnozions to Pedobapttst and Stale churches, wherever these 
eiiBled, and hence Baptists suHered persecution not only in Ma^a- 
chosetls and other Korthem colonies, but even in Old Virginia. 
But history repeated itself again, and the more tbey were perse- 
cuted, the more they multiplied, until, at the date of the Revolu- 
tion, they, together with the Presbyterians and other d 


Virginia, formed about two-thirds of the population. God's hand 
WDS !□ nil thia, preparing for the dellreraiice of his people from 
ecclesiastical tTrannj, and the deliTcnince of the Chnrch from nn- 
hol; alliance with the State. When the colonies began to show 
resiatance to Briliah oppression, the Baptists saw their opportunity. 
Tliey, IcH), longed for delivemtice from oppression, but it was not 
merely the oppression of the Mother Country, but the oppression of 
the E<^tabliEhment, and of those laws which denied to Ihem the 
rights of consdence and taxed them to support n church to which 
they did not belong, and in which they did not believe. And so 
they threw themselves iato the strugglefor Independence, making the 
reasoDHble request that the atrugsle should be for religious as well 
OS civil liberty. They did not mean to offer themselves on the altar 
of their country's independence, and then have that country deny 
to them the right to worship God according to the dictates of their 
own consciences. Their services were needed, their demand was 
reasonable, and their unquestioned patriotism won them &ivor and 
contributed to the success of their cause. It would be interesting, if 
we bad the time la follow that struggle, in all of its details, from 
beginning to end — one of the most important straggles which history 
records. It must suffice to say here, that, of all the participants in 
that sreat struggle, the Baptists were the only ones whose principles 
of voluntariness in religion, of a converted church-mem bership and 
of entire separation between Chorcb and State, marked them as the 
consistent friends and advocates of absolute religious liberty ; that 
they were the only ones whose previous history presented a consist- 
ent and unbroken record in favor of tliis principle ; that they were 
the first to strike for religious liberty in Virginia, and thai, while 
they did not write the longest, moat elaborate and most scholarly 
memorials, they managed (o make their views and wishes known to 
the Legislature and to the public, and they never wavered, or broke 
ranks in the engagement, but maintained a brave and consistent 
fight to the end. Tbe struggle began in 1775 and r^Lched its Srst 
culmination in 1779, when the Establishment was overthroim by 
the repeal of all laws levying taxes for its support. But the Bevo- 
lution was scarcely over before the friends of tbe old Establishment 
devised n scheme for reviving it under a modified form. Two bills 
were framed and presented to the Legislature, a General Incorpora- 
tion Sill and a Gleneral Assessment Bill, the one providing fc 



incoqroration of all the leading denomiDBtiona of Ihe Stale, ioclud- 
ing the Baptists, aud the other providing for their support by taxo- 
tinn. It nan a most subtle and plausihle scheme, as it was thor- 
oughly impartiftl and allowed every tai-payer the privilege of des- 
ignating the denomination which should receive his tax. It had the 
■dvanlage of being fathered by the "Orator of the Revolution," 
Pntrick Henry. It was backed by all the friends of the old Eatab- 
liphroent, and it finally won the support of the powerful and influen- 
tial Hanover Presbytery, whose leaders, according to the testimony 
of their own historian, Dr. Foole, were won over by the influence of 
Mr. Henry. It seemed aa though the hill would surely pas, and it 
H'us a most critical time for the cause of liberty. All denominadooB 
except the Baptidta hod gone over to this new and liberal scheme, 
which proposed to take them all in. And had they proven untrue 
to Ibeir principles, the cause would have been lost, and one of the 
brightest pages in Virginia's history would not have been written- 

"God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound 
the wise ; and Ood hath chosen the weak things of the world to con- 
found the things which are mighty ; and base things of the world, 
and things which are despised, hath Qod chosen, yeit, and things 
which are not, to bring to nought things that are ; that no flesh 
should glory in his presence." 

The historian tellit us that when Rome was overrun by the various 
tribes from the foreslH of Germany, nhe was enriched rather than 
impoverished thereby. For while the Germans did not possess the 
wealth and arta and culture of the Romans, they were rich in other 
things which Rome lacked ; they had threat capacity for civilization, 
love of personal freedom, and reverence for woman. And so we 
may say of the early BaplitttB uf Virginia, that while they could 
nut buust of great wealth, or culture, or refinement, they possessed 
some things of more real value, and whicji the (Commonwealth 
greatly needed. In the first place lhe>/ had rdigion — genuine religion ; 
not a sham, nor an empty form, but ihe old time religion of the heart. 
Then they had pergonal uvrlh or charruler, that choiucter wliich 
always follows from having genuine religion. And then, again, 
those early Baptibts had an ■anqiienehaNe love of liberty. The tniA of 
the New Testament maka men free indeed, and it inspires them with 
a love of freedom, not for themselves only, but for all men. And 
it was because they poesesHed these traits that the^r resisted the 


temptation of the General Incorporation and General Assessment, 
and stood their gproond amid the general desertion. Thej resolved 
to continue the fight, and asking their faithfal champion, Jas. 
Madison, to embody their views in a '^ remonstrance," they took the 
field and re-canvassed the State for signatures to their petition. As 
the people read that powerful and unanswerable argument, reaction 
set in ; the Presbyterian laity, who had never been much in favor 
of the bill, got after their clergy, and there was a hastily gathered 
convention at Bethel, in Augusta county, where that body placed 
themselves on record against the Assessment, and then for the first 
time gave their approval to Jefferson's Bill for Beligious Freedom. 
When the Legislature met in October, '85, the roll of signatures to 
the petition and remonstrance was so large that it* was rolled up the 
aisle to the clerk's table on a wheelbarrow. The Assessment Bill 
was dead, and Jefferson's bill was promptly brought forward and 
adopted. Having led in the fight for religious liberty in Virginia, 
our Baptist fathers, with the help of their brethren and friends of 
other States, secured its incorporatian into the Constitution of the 
United States. And now this tree of liberty has spread its branches 
over this New World, and the winds and waves have wafted its 
seed back to the Old, to bring forth like precious fruit there, quench- 
ing the fires of persecution, overthrowing religious establishments, 
breaking off the shackles that bind the consciences and enslave the 
souls of men, and hastening the progress of our race towards that 
glorious day when ''the kingdom of this world" shall be "the 
kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" 

In deulinf; wkb Ihe rise of the Baptisu in Virf^nia, it is proper to 

mind lh»t it occurred M a time that stood in mcch clo» 
relation than ouroivn to the preceding centuries of ignorance, intol- 
erance, and tyranny, and was ninth more dominated by tlie force 
of their coetoma and their priwcriptive spirit. There were special 
causes, also, at work in the colony to give edge to its temper and 
roughneas to ila manners. The planting of aettlements from the sea 
to the mountains and beyond involved a rough battling with nature 
ftod with savage foes that was not favorable to the cultivation of the 
gentler and softer elements of society. The primitive and unsettled 
conditions prevailing in many quarters, and oHeiing easy fadlitlea 
and cover to crimes and lawlessness, shsolutely demanded for the 
protection of life and property mo»t rigorous laws and summary pun- 
ishments. The importation and spreading over the plantAlions of 
thousands of untutored, half-savage Africana, and the severe mea- 
sures necessary to their restraint and training, yet further acquainted 
our forefathers with ucenes aud methods of rigor. Many of tbe acts 
transferred from English statute books to those of the colony 
ttboiinded in severest proTit^ions and penalties of revolting cruelly. 
Worse than all, by virtue of tlie Crowu and Parliament, the secular 
government wiuj joined in unholy union with the religious body, and 
civil officers were in»de the guardians of men's faith, and were 
clothed with magisterial power to enfurce obedience in spiritual 

Thus, when, in the providence of God, the early Baptists appeared 
in Virp^nia, the scene of their action was cumbered with peculiar 
difficulties and begirt with the gravetrt perils, A lurid reflection 
from the Towers, the Bedford jails, and the bmitbtield Urea of old 
reloped our early workmen and their work. The era of 


their appearance in many of its sterner aspects well suggests '^ The 
Days that Are Gone/' as satirized in song by Charles Mackay : 

" The days when obedience in right or in wrong 
Was always the sermon and always the song, 

• •••••• 

When difference of creed was the vilest of crime, 
And martyrs were burned, half a score at a time. 

When Justice herself, taking Law for her guide. 
Was never appeased till a victim had died. 
And the stealer of sheep and the slayer of men 
Were strung up together— again and again." 


William Fristoe, the historian of the Begular Baptists, who had 
personal knowledge of the facts which he relates, tells us that *'at 
their first rise among as, and for sometime after, they were stigma- 
tized with every name that malice could invent. " Among the abusive 
terms and phrases with which they were commonly branded, he 
mentions these: "Disturbers of the peace;" ** Ignorant and 
illiterate set ; " "Poor and contemptible class;'* "Schismatics;" 
** False prophets;'* "Wolves in sheepe' clothing ; " Perverters of 
good order ; " " Callers of unlawful assemblies." 

A prominent clergyman had printed and widely circulated a pam- 
phlet, in which he called upon Christians of every name to combine 
in opposing the new sect, whom he styled Anabaptists, whose preach- 
ers, he said, were " going about without any license, disturbing the 
order of neighborhoods and churches with wild doctrines." Others 
of the Established clergy openly warned the people against them, 
and held them up to public scorn by associating them with the mad 
rioters of Munster and Jack of Leyden. 

If the pioneers of our faith did not learn by experience the 
blessedness of the beatitude which says, "Blessed are the peace- 
makers," they must have known by a thousand experiences the 
comfort of that other beatitude which says : " Blessed are ye when 
men shall revile you, . . . and say all manner of evil of you 
falsely, for my sake." 


In popular movements, when prejudices and passions are deeply 
stirred, and bad men are supported by the sympathy of the multi- 


tilde, individuals may be commonly found read7 to step forth from 
the nuiks of the Phillistiaee, like Goliath of Gath, for Bing1e> 
handed combsL Such iiidiTidnal assailants sought often to throttle 
the gospel hk proclaimed bj our earlj preachers. Dutton Lane, itt 
hia und(>r(HkiDg to preach in Mecklenburg couotj, was rudely inter- 
rupted by a man of prominence and a magiatrate and Buramarily 
commanded to desist and not to preach there again. "Father" 
Samuel Harriss, when preaching at Fort Mayo, was similarly inter- 
rupted and accosted thus : "Colonel, you have sucked much elo- 
quence to-day from the mm cask; please give us a little, (hat we 
may declaim as well when our turn comes." 

Eobert Ware, while preaching in Middlesex, was confronted by 
two Bons of Belial, Dr. Sempie says, " who stood before him with a 
bottle, drank from it in his presence and then offered it to him, curs- 
ing him. They then drew out a pack of cards and began to play on 
the stage where he had been preacliing, wishing him to reprove 
them, that they might beat him." 

David Thomas, perhaps the most learned and scholarly of our 
early preacheiB, wna seized once by a ruffian, when preaching lo the 
northern part of the State, and dragged out of the house by liis 
hair. On another occasion a gun was levelled at him whilst preach- 
ing and the discharge only prevented by a bjalaoder'a seizing the 

Tliomas Waford, a devout and zealous layman, who lived near 
Culpeper Courthouse, and whose delight it was to travel ahead of 
certain of the old preachers and arrange meetings for them, was 
aasailed at a spring near one <if the meeting-places and severely 
beaten. He bore the scare of this bmtal violence to his grave, 
though he lived to be past four-score jeara. 

Personal indignities of this character were among the bitter 
pains and penalties endured by the fathers, and that in various 
places, from the mountains to the sea. 

The Apostle Paul's enemies at Theasalonica, we are told, "gath- 
ered a company." Many companies were gathered to intimidate 
and silence the early apoetles of our faith in this State. 

One of "Father" Ilarriss' early meetings in Culpeper ended in 
confusion, the congregation having been invaded by Caplain Ball, at 


the head of a band of opposers, who, in attempting to prevent the 
preaching, brought on a scuffle and tumult. 

Whilst John Pickett was once preaching in Fauquier a mob 
rushed in on the meeting, seized the preacher, and split in pieces 
the pulpit and communion table. In the manuscript journal of 
Bichard Dozier, who was present at one of Lewis Lunsford's meet- 
ings in the Northern Neck, this record is made : ** After he began 
his discourse, a shocking tumult occurred and stopped him ; some 
blows passed ; pistols presented, and the stage broken down. Mr. 
Lunsford, in the meantime, went off to Mr. Hall's house. After 
many of us went to the house the persecutors came there and acted 
very indecently.'* Of Jeremiah Moore, the founder of numerous 
churches in Virginia, as well as of one in Washington city, Mr. 
Semple says: ^'A lawless mob seized Mr. Moore and another 
preacher who was with him, and carried them off to duck them. 
After they had ducked Mr. Moore's companion they discharged 
them both." The biographer of David Barrow, the founder of 
Shoulder's Hill and South Quay churches, relates that at a meeting 
held by him on Nansemond river a gang of well-dressed men came 
up to the stage, which had been erected under some trees, and 
sunc: one of their obscene songs. They then undertook to plunge 
both of the preachers. They plunged Mr. Barrow tvrice, pressing 
him into the mud. In the midst of their mocking they asked if 
they believed. He is said to have answered : ** Fes / I believe you 
intend to drown me " We are told further : "The whole assem- 
bly was shocked ; the women shrieked ; but no man durst inter- 
fere, for about twenty stout fellows were engaged in this horrid 

Many cases of mob violence like these, and others even more 
flagrant and shocking, marked the beginning of the Baptists in Vir- 
ginia, and show what good reasons our early preachers had to echo 
from their yearning hearts the apostolic appeal : " Brethren, pray 
for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glo- 
lified, . . . and that we may he delivered from unrecaonable and 
wicked m>en.*^ 


The strongest resistance which the early Baptists of Virginia 
encountered was the iron hand of the law, and the heaviest penalties 
endured by them were inflicted by magistrates and courts. 


It is an important and interesting inquiry why our fathers should 
have been treated as offender* abOTc all others; why, among the 
difvtenter', they Hhoiild have been singled out as th? miscreHnt!> who 
alone deserved the pain and ignominy of arrests, bonds, ImpriBoii- 
menu, and atripei^. The reason why they were so adjudged and 
treated is not far to seek. Tlie Separate Baptists, as their records 
■how, and many General and Regular Baptistfl as well, believed the 
right to preach the gospel was inalienable and divine, and quita 
beyond the pale of court jurisdiction or goTemmenlal control. There- 
fore, whilst others took the prescribed oaths, subscribed to the nec- 
essary articles, and secured licenses from the court fur certain 
preaching-places, many Baptist preachers proceeded to preach, as 
opportunities offered, without consulting the general court and 
regardless of legal sancdon. 

It was this bold and intrepid action that aroused against thern the 
resentment of clergyraen, the rage of magistrates, and the terror of 
courts. It was this that in so many instances on the soil of this 
"mother of States and of slatesmeo," led the fathers of our faith Co 
suffer the stings of the cruel lash, and to preach to tbeir fellow-men 
through the grated windows of our county jails. 

Preaching without license was the chief count in the indictment 
against John Waller, Lewis Craig, and James Childs when they 
were sentenced to jail in Spottsylvania in 1768. It van for this 
alleged crime that they went W priaon in Fredericksburg, singing as 
tbeir guard urged them along Che street : 

" Broad is the road tbat leads to deaCb, 
And thousands wnLk together there; 
But wisdom shows B, narrow pHth, 
With lujre iuid there a traveller." 

It was upon thissame charge that, in (he winter of 1771, William 
Webber and Joseph Anthony were shot up within the walls of 
Chesterfield jail — a prison that nae destined to tie longer used for 
the incarcerallon of Baptist preachers tlian any other in the SLate. 
Here were confined, for preaching (Ihrist and him crucified without 
the permit of a human court, Jeremiah Walker, John Weatherford, 
David Tinsiey, John Tanner and Augustine Eastin. The fiist min- 
isterial relief work over done in Virginia was by the Separate Bap- 
tists ut Hall's meeting-house, in Halifax, in May, 1774, when they 
made a contribution for the cornfort of their imprisoned brethren 


and set apart two days of fasting in behalf of their releasement. 
These noble prisoners and their sympathizers formed the bandana 
brigade among the old soldiers of our faith. The money sent to 
Patrick Henry for his employment in behalf of their release from 
prison was wrapped up in a handkerchief of the above description 
and by that noble patriot returned in the same way. When the 
malice of their enemies had erected a close, high plank fence in 
front of the jail windows to prevent the imprisoned preachers from 
exhorting the crowd without, a handkerchief displayed on a pole 
above the screen became the signal from the waiting people that 
they were ready to hear, when the stalwart voice of one of the pris- 
oners would send the truth home through the boards to the hearts 
of the listening company. Historic handkerchief I Never did a 
standard give signal in a worthier cause, or float before a nobler 
beleaguered band. 

It was for gathering a conventicle and preaching without the 
license of a human court, composed largely of irreligious men, that 
old ** Father Ireland" was called to record this piece of personal 
history : " At one time, preaching being over and ( while) concluding 
with prayer, I heard a rustling noise in the woods, and before I 
opened my eyes to see what it was I was seized by the collar by two 
men. . . . They told me that I must g^ve security not to teach, 
preach, or exhort for twelve months and a day, or go to jail. 1 
chose the loiter aUemative,'* The jail in which he was confined, with 
many attendant incidents of outrage and cruelty, was at Culpeper 
Courthouse, on the spot where the Baptist church now stands. He 
made this old prison memorable by the letters written during his 
confinement, which he dated from "My Palace in Culpeper. '^ 
Others among the early Baptists who were confined in this jail for 
preaching the gospel without license, or abetting the same, were 
Elijah Craig, Nathaniel Saunders, William M. Clannahan, John 
Corbley, Thomas Ammon, Anthony Moffett, John Picket, Adam 
Banks, Thomas Maxfield, and John Dulany. Well might James 
Madison have written, in 1774, from his home in Orange, with 
reference to most of these men: "That diabolical, hell-con- 
ceived principle of persecution rages among some ; and, to their 
eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for 
such purposes. There are at this time in the adjacent county 
not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for pub- 





liahing their religious seiitiaients, which are in the mMin very 

A fimoas portrait of Charlotte Corday has arrested many an 
earnetit gaze, and her pensive and Douirnl face has gathered intereat 
from the iron grating which fortna its Hetting. The faces and forma 
of many of the early Baptist preachers of this State should wear in 
our efes a pathetic and heightened interest as we look back throngh 
the years at them behind their prison bars. Who are those men of 
&ith and prayer lucked in the Caroline jail, as we look back to the 
Anguat days of 1771? They are John Burros, John Young, Ed, 
Herndon, Jamea Goodrich, Bartholomew Chooing, and Lenia Craig, 
under sentence for preaching Christ and hint cruciGed without the 
(Hmction of a secular court. Who are those that preach lo the 
crowd outside from the windows of the Middlesex jail at that 'iame 
period? They are John Waller, William Webber, James Green- 
wood, and Robert Ware. 

In the brick colonial edifice in Tnppahannock, where the Cen- 
tennial Baptist church now worship, four Baptist preachers were 
arraigned at the bar of Easer Court in 1774 as law-breakers, some 
of whom were consigned to prison. They were John Waller, John 
Bh^ckleford, Ivison Lewis, and Robert Ware. To (his list of braye 
and faithful men of Gud, who paid thus heavily for conacience 
sake, may he added John Aldeison, Jeremiah Moore, William 
Loocall, and Elijah Baker, who in different counties were placed in 
prison and heard the iron bolls turned against them. If it had been 
the aim of their persecntors, dnriDK the ten years that preceded the 
Eevolution, when ihe Baptists were rapidly gaining a footing in 
Virginia, lo incarcerate as many of them as there were pnrishea or 
.■^Jergjmen Ln the colony, we would have to concede that their pur- 
ose was fnlly accomplished. 

If any nhonld ask why this recurrence to the painful incidcnla of 

J buried past, the answer may be given that it may endear to ua 
e and principles for which our fathers sufTered, The noblest 
jnlB and benefits of life are hallowed in veneration and 
■fections by the paina and Bacrificea which they have cost. Thoughts 
of Gethsemane, of the Roaan soldiers, of the mocking multitude, 
of the thorny crown, and of the rtigged cross, intensify the precious- 
neaa of the hope in Christ. The boon of civil freedom and cousti- 
tntional goveroment won for us by our patriot sires is endeartd in 


our heart of hearts, as we remember their bleeding feet on the ice 
of the Delaware and amid the snows of Yallej Forge. And so 
should the heritage of our religious equality and spiritual freedom 
be entwined in our glowing and grateful breasts with a thousand 
sacred sentiments, and hallowed by a thousand endearing memories, 
as we recount our fathers' wrongs and hardships, bonds and im- 
prisonments, nobly endured for its sake. 

In glancing backward at Baptist beginnings in Virginia, we may 
well gather inspiration and hope for the future. It ought to nourish 
within us a spirit of the most vigorous and healthful optimism. In 
the days of our fathers we beheld law as trammelled by custom and 
fettered by ignorance. Justice b seen to have been bigoted and 
blind. Before her statue, in the garb in which our fathers knew her, 
we would feel much as Madame Roland felt when, on her way to 
the guillotine, she cried out before the statue of Liberty, and our 
cry would be: "O Justice I what crimes are perpetrated in thy 
name I'' 

But now we exult in freedom enlightening the world and in law 
unfettered and just We rejoice in the reign of Justice, whose 
equal scales and clear vision give promise of a coming day, when 
men will bow at her seat and say: ^^0 Justice I thou art pure as 
the spotless ermine that wraps thy sacred form.'' 

A review such as we now make is due the cause of historic justice. 
The writers of our history have not always been candid and just 
towards our Baptist fathers. A work widely used in our public 
schools today has this comment on the era of their oppression : 
"There was never any active religious persecution in Virginia." 
Another eminent Virginia writer says : " There was no terror in the 
law to any who chose to worship God in their own way and place, 
except a trivial fine for being absent from church." Again, he says: 
" In the history of the vestries of the Episcopal Establishment may 
be fairly traced that religious liberty which afterwards developed 
itself in Virginia." 

Our venerated fathers, misunderstood, maligned, and severely 
dealt with in their day, have been often since passed by in silence, 
and have as often had their motives and actions misrepresented or 
perverted. They sleep in their neglected graves, with never a look 
to give, a hand to raise, or a word to speak in their own defence. It 
becomes us, who have entered into their heritage, and sit beneath 


the shade of the goodlj tree planted bj their toils and watered by 
their tears, to vindicate their precious memory and perpetaate in 
faithfulness and truth the story of their deeds and sufferings. 

It would be but just to them and becoming in us to rear on the 
spot which we have consecrated to education, science, and religion 
in the capital of this State, so blessed by their deeds and hallowed 
by their sufferings, a fitting Memorial Hall inscribed with their 
honored names. What would better accord with the eternal fitness 
of things than that our Baptist host, who ''have passed through the 
midst of Jordan" like Israel of old, should, like them, ''take 
every man a stone upon his shoulder'' and build on the fair shore 
of our deliverance an enduring commemorative pile, so that, when 
our children shall ask their fathers, saying, What mean these stones? 
then shall they answer : These atones shall he for a memorial of the 
BAPTIST FATHERS OF VIRGINIA urUo their children forever. 




To the Honourable Peyton Bandolphy Esq,^ and the several delegaied 
Oentlemen, convened at RichiMmdy to concert Measures conducive to 
the Oood and Well-being of this Colony and Dominion^ the humble 
Address of the Virginia Baptists, now AssocvaAed in Cumberland, by 
DdegaJUs from their several Churches : 

GenUemen of the Convention — While you are (pursuant to the 
important Trust reposed in jou) acting as the Guardians of the 
Eights of your Constituents, and pointing out to them the Boad to 
Freedom, it must needs afford you an exalted satisfaction 1^ find 
your Determinations not only applauded, but cheerfully complied 
with by a brave and spirited people. We, however distinguished 
from the Body of our Countrymen by appellatives and sentiments of 
a religious nature, do nevertheless look upon ourselves as Members 
of the same Commonwealth, and, therefore, with respect to matters 
of a civil nature, embarked in the same common Cause. 

Alarmed at the shocking Oppression which in a British Cloud 
hangs over our American Continent, we, as a Society and part of the 
distressed State, have in our Association considered what part might 
be most prudent for the Baptists to act in the present unhappy Con- 
test. After we had determined ^' that in some Cases it was lawful to 
go to War, and also for us to make a Military resistance against 
Great Britain, in regard of their unjust Invasion, and tyrannical 
Oppression of, and repeated Hostilities against America,'' our people 
were all left to act at Discretion with respect to inlisting, without 
falling under the Censure of our Community. And as some have 
inlisted, and many more likely so to do, who will have earnest Desires 
for their Ministers to preach to them during the Campaign, we 
therefore deligate and appoint our well-beloved Brethren in the 
Ministry, Elijah Craig, Lewis Craig, Jeremiah Walker and John 
Williams, to present this address and to petition you that they may 
have free Liberty to preach to the Troops at convenient Times with- 



molestation or abuee ; and aa we are conHciooa of iheir strong 
attachment to American Liberty, as well aa their soundness in the 
prbciplea of the Chrifllian Religion, and great uaefnlnesa in the 
Work of the MiniBtry, we are willing they may come under yonr 
examination in any Matters yaa may think requisite. 

We conclude with our earnest prayers to Almighty God for Hii 
I)irine Blessing on your patriotic and laudable Resolves, for the good 
of Mankind and American Freedom, and for the success of our 
Annies in Defence of our LiTes, Liberties and Properties. Amen. 

Sign'd by order and in behalf of the Association the 14th of Aa- 
gnst, 1775. Sam"!. Habriss, Moderator. 

JoBH Waller, Cleric 

To the HrmaaToble the Speaker and Hoiat of DeUgaUi : 

The Memorial of l!ie Baptist Association, met at Sandy Creek, in 
Charlotte, the 16th day of October, 1780, in behalf of themselyea 
and those whom they represent, humtly sheweth ; 

That a doe Regard to the Liberty and Eights of the People is of 
the highest Importance to the Welfare of the State; That this 
heaven-bom Freedom, which belongs equally to every good Citizen, 
is ihe Palladium which the Legislatare is partionlarly introsted with 
the liuardianship of, and on which the Safety and Happiness of the 
Stale depend. Your Memorialists, therefore, look upon every Law 
or Usage now existing among us, which does not accord ivith tliat 
Republican Spirit which breathes in our Constitution and Bill of 
Rights, to be extremely pernicious and detrimental, nnd that such 
Law or L'sage should injmediately be abolished. 

Ai Religious Oppression, or the interfering with the Rights of 
Conscience, which God has made accountable t^i none hut Himself, 
is of all Oppression the most inhuman and insupportable, and as 
Partiality to any Religious Denomination is ila genuine otlsprinff, 
your Memorialists have with Grief observed that Religious Liberty 
has not made a single Advance in this Commonwealth without some 
Opposition. They have been much surprised to hear it s.iid of 
Things indisputably right and necessary, " It is not now a prol>er 
Time to proceed to such Affairs ; let us first think of defending our- 
I," &c, when there cannot, sorely, be a more suitable Time (o 


allow ourselves the iBlessings of Liberty, which we have in our own 
Power, than when contending with those who endeavor to tyrannize 
over us. 

As the Completion of Beligious Liberty is what, as a Eeligious 
Community, your Memorialists are particularly interested in, they 
would humbly call the attention of your Honourable House to a few 
Particulars, viz. : First, the Vestry Law, which disqualifies any per- 
son to officiate who will not subscribe to be conformable to the Doc- 
trine and Discipline of the Church of England ; by which Means 
Dissenters are not only precluded, but also not represented, they not 
having a free Voice, whose Property is nevertheless subject to be 
taxed by the Vestry, and whose Poor are provided for at the Discre- 
tion of those who may possibly be under the Influence of Party 
Motives. And what renders the said Law a greater Grievance is, 
that in some Parishes so much time has elapsed since an Election, 
that there is scarcely one who was originally chosen by the People, 
the Vacancies having been filled up by the remaining Vestrymen. 
Secondly, the Solemnization of Marriage, concerning which it is 
insinuated by some, and taken for granted by others, that to render 
it legal it must be performed by a Church Clergyman, according to 
the Kites and Ceremonies of the Church of England ; conformably 
to which Sentiment Marriage Licenses are usually worded and 
directed. Now, if this should in Reality be the Case, your Memo- 
rialists conceive that the ill Consequences resulting from thence, 
which are too obvious to need mentioning, render it absolutely neces- 
sary for the Legislature to endeavour their Removal. This is an 
Affair of so tender a Nature, and of such Importance, that after the 
Restoration one of the first Matters which the British Parliament 
proceeded to was the Confirmation of the Marriages solemnized 
according to the Mode in Use during the Interregnum and the Pro- 
tectorate of Cromwell. And the Propriety of such a Measure in 
Virginia evidently appears from the vast numbers of Dissenters who, 
having Objections against the Form and Manner prescribed in the 
Book of Common Prayer, proceed to marry otherwise ; and also that 
in many Places, especially over the Ridge, there are no Church Par- 
sons to ofiiciate. On the other Hand, if Marriages otherwise sol- 
emnized are equally valid, a Declaratory Act to that Purport appears 
to your Memorialists to be highly expedient, because they can see no 
Reason why any of the free Inhabitants of this State should be terri- 



fSed tij a mere Mormo from their jiisl Righu and Prifilegee, or 
] bj others on Suspicion of their acting contrary lo I-Aw.* 
I To tbeae Considerationa jour Memorialists woiUd juat beg leave to 
I add tlmt thoBe who claim this Province of officiating at Marriage 
i &lemnitlM na their note Eight, undertake at the same Timt lo be 
\ the sole Judges of what they are tn receive for the some. 

Yonr Memorisliata homblj hope that your Honourable House 

I will take elTectual measures to redress these GrieTances in such a 

I Way as may manifest an equal Regard lo all the good People of thie 

I Commonwealth, however diversyfied by Appellations or ReUgious 

I Bentimenls ; and that, as it in your Glory ^a represent a free People, 

I you will be as forward to remove every just Cause of Offence as your 

I Constituents are to complain of them ; and in particular that you 

wiU consign to Oblivion all the Relicks of Religious Oppression, and 

make a public Sacritice of Partiality at the glorious Altar of Freedom. 

Signed by order. Sam ' l Habriss, Mod' r. 

John Williams, Clk. 

B October session of the General Assembly, 17B0, an act was 

d providing ; " That It sbnil and may be lawful for any mlnlstor 

ly society or congregation of ChrtsUona . . . U) eelebraW tho 

JSQf matrimony . . . and such marrlBges, dJiwJI oi f^ie A>rr- 

iled by d.Uamtiy\g ministers, shtM be, and tbey are hereby, 

tared good and valid In law."— Hen. Slaiutes at Lar([e,Vol. X., 




[Presented October 24, 1776.1 
To the Honorable the General Assembly of Virginia : 

The Memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover humbly represents : 
That your memorialists are governed by the same sentiments which 
have inspired the United States of America ; and are determined 
that nothing in our power and influence shall be wanting to give 
success to their common cause. We would also represent that dis- 
senters from the Church of England in this country have ever been 
desirous to conduct themselves as peaceable members of the civil 
government, for which reason they have hitherto submitted to sev- 
eral ecclesiastical burdens, and restrictions, that are inconsistent 
with equal liberty. But now when the many and grievous oppres- 
sions of our mother country have laid this continent under the 
necessity of casting off the yoke of tyranny, and of forming inde- 
pendent governments upon equitable and liberal foundations, we 
flatter ourselves that we shall be freed from all the incumbrances 
which a spirit of domination, prejudice, or bigotry, hath inter- 
woven with most other political systems. This we are the more 
strongly encouraged to expect by the Declaration of Rights, so uni- 
versally applauded for that dignity, firmness and precision with 
which it delineates and asserts the privileges of society, and the pre- 
rogatives of human nature ; and which we embrace as the magna, 
charta of our Conmionwealth, that can never be violated without 
endangering the grand superstructure it was destined to sustain. 
Therefore we rely upon this Declaration, as well as the justice of our 
honorable Legislature, to secure us the free exercise of religion accord- 
ing to the dictates of our consciences ; and we should fall short in our 
duty to ourselves, and the many and numerous congregations under 
our care, were we, upon this occasion, to neglect laying before you 
a state of the religious grievances under which we have hitherto 
laboured ; that they no longer may be continued in our present form 
of government. 


It 19 well known that in the frontier counties, which are jllsttj 
supposed to contain a fifth part of the inhabitants of Virginia, the 
dissenters have bome the heavy bunleua of purchasing glebes, build- 
ing cliiirchex, and supporting the established clergy, where there are 
very few Episcopalians, either lo assist in bearing the expenses, or 
to reap the advitnlage; and that throughout the other parts of the 
CiJuntry there are also many thousands of zealous friends and defen- 
<lers of our State, who, besides tlie invidious, and disadvaQtageoDB 
reetriclions to which they have been subjected, annually pay large 
tn.tes lo support an establishment from which their consciences and 
principles oblige them to dissent ; all which are confessedly so many 
violations of their natnral rights, and in their consequences a 
rcslmint upon freedom of inquiry and privatejudgment. 

In this enlightened age, and in a land where all of every danomi- 
nation are united in the most strenuous elTorls to be free, we hop« 
and expect that our representatives will cheerfully concur In remov- 
ing every species of religious, as well as civil, bondage. Certain it Is 
that every argument for civil liberty gains additional strength when 
applied to liberty in the concerns of religion ; and there ia no argu- 
ment in favor of establishing the Christian reli^on hut what may be 
pleaded, with eijual propriety, for establishing the tenets of Ma- 
homed by those who believe the Alcoran ; or if this be not true, it 
is at least impossible for the magistrate to adjudge the right of pref' 
erence among the various sects that profess the Cliristiau faith with- 
out erecting a chairof Infallibility, which would lead us back to the 
Church of Eoroe. 

We tieg leave farther to represent that religious establishments 
are highly injurious to the temporal interests of any coramonllj, 
"Without insisting upon the ambition, and the arbitrary prtxitlces of 
those who ore favored by government ; or the intriguing, seditious 
spirit which is commonly excited by this, as well as every other 
kind of opprevslon ; such establish ments greatly retard population, 
and consequently the progress of arts, sciences, and manufactories : 
witness the rapid growth and improvements of the Northern prov- 
inces, compared with this. No one can deny that the more early 
settlement and the many superior advantages of our country would 
have invited multitudes of artificera, mechanics and other useful 
members of society to Gi their habitation among us, who have either 
reuuuned in their place of nativity, or preferred worse dvil govem- 


ments, and a barren soil, where they might enjoj the rights of con- 
science more fully than they had a prospect of doing it in this. 

From which we infer that Virginia might have now been the cap- 
itol of America, and a match for the British arms, without depend- 
ing on others for the necessaries of war, had it not been prevented 
by her religious establishment 

Neither can it be made to appear that the gospel needs any such 
civil aid. We rather conceive that when our blessed Saviour 
declares his kingdom is not of this world, he renounces all depend- 
ence upon State power, and as his weapons are spiritual, and were 
only designed to have influence on the judgment and heart of man, 
we are persuaded that if mankind were left in the quiet possession 
of their unalienable rights and privileges, Christianity, as in the 
days of the Apostles, would continue to prevail and flourish in the 
greatest purity by its own native excellence and under the all dis- 
posing providence of God. 

We would humbly represent that the only proper objects of civil 
government are the happiness and protection of men in the present 
state of existence, the security of the life, liberty and property of 
the citizens, and to restrain the vicious and encourage the virtuous 
by wholesome laws, equally extending to every individual. But 
that the duty which we owe our Creator and the maimer of dis- 
charging it, can only be directed by reason and conviction, and as 
nowhere cognizable but at the tribunal of the universal Judge. 

Therefore we ask no ecclesiastical establishments for ourselves; 
neither can we approve of them when granted to others. This, 
indeed, would be giving exclu^ve or separate emoluments or privi- 
l^es to one set of men, without any special public services, to the 
common reproach and injury of every other denomination ; and for 
the reasons recited we are induced earnestly to entreat that all laws 
now in force in this Commonwealth which countenance religious 
denomination, may be speedily repealed — that all, of every reli- 
gious sect, may be protected in the full exercise of their several 
modes of worship, and exempted from all taxes for the support of 
any church whatsoever further than what may be agreeable to their 
own private choice, or voluntary obligation. This being done, all 
partial and invidious distinctions will be abolished, to the great 
honour and interest of the State, and every one be left to stand or 



fall, according to merit, which can never be the case bo long ts any 
one denominatiou is established In preference to others. 

That the great Sovereign of the Universe maj inspire you with 
tmanimity, wisdom and resolution, and bring you to a just deter- 
mination on all the important concerns before you, is the fervent 
prayer of your memorial isla. 

Signed by order of the Presbytery. 

John Todd, Moderator. 

Calkb Wallace, P. Clerk. 

To the Honorahle the Qenerat Aiiembly of Virginia : 

The memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover humbly represents. 
That your memorialists and the religious denominftlion with which 
ire are connected are most sincerely attached to the common interest 
of the American States, and are determined that our most fervent 
pimyers and strenuous endeavuiira shall ever be united with our 
fellow-eubjects to repel the astaults of tyranny and to maintain our 
common rights. In our former memorial we have expreKsed our 
hearty approbation of the Declaration of Eights, which has been 
made and adopted as the basis of the laws and goveroment of this 
State; and now we take the opportunity of testifying that nothing 
has inspired us with greater confidence in oar l-egislature than the 
late act of Assembly declaring that equal liberty, as well religious as 
civil, shall be universally extended to the good people of this coun- 
try; and that all the oppressive acts of parliament respecting religion 
which have been formerly enacted in the mother coimlry shall 
henceforth be of no validity or force in this Commonwealth ; as also 
exempting all Jlssenten from all leries, taxes, and impositions, 
whatsoever, towards supporting the Church of England as it now is 
or hereafter may be established. We would, therefore, have given 
our honorable I^eg^slature no ftuiher trouble on this subject, but we 
are sorry to find that there yet remains a variety of opinions touch- 
ing the pi«priety of a general atsessment, or whether every religions 
wdety shall be left to voluntary eontribiitiona for the maintenance 
of the ministers of the gospel who are of difierenl persuasions. As 
^lia matter ia deferred by our Legislatare to the disouuion and final 


determination of a fulure Assemblj, when the opiuion of ihe couatir 
in general shall be belter knovn, we think it our indlapenaible dut/ 
again to repent a part of ihe prayer of our ronner memorial, "That 
dlasenlera of every denomination may be eiemirfed from all taies 
fi>r llie support of any church whalaoever, further than what may be 
agreeable to the private choice or voluntary uhliifBtion of every indi- 
vidual, while the civil inagislraies no olherwine interfere than to 
protect them ali in the full and free exerciae of their xeveral modes 
of worship." 

We than represented as llie principal reason upon which this 
request is founded that the only proper objects of cLvii govemmenla 
are tlie happiness and protection of men in the present stale of exist- 
ence, the aecurily of the life, liberty and property of the citiieoB, 
and to restrain the vicious and encourage the virtuous by whotesoine 
la«a aquaUy eilendlog to every individual ; and that the doty 
which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can 
only be directed by reason and conviction, and is nowhere cognizable 
but at the tribunal of the universal Judge- 
To illustrate and confirm these assertions, we beg leave to observe 
that to judge for ourselves and to engage in the exercise of religion 
agreeable to the dictates of our own consciences is an unalienable 
right, which, upon the principles that the gospel was Qrst propagated 
and the reformation from popery carried on, can never be transferred 
to another. K»ther does the cLurch of Christ stand in need of a 
general assessment for its BUpport; and most certain we are that it 
would be of no advantage, but an injury to the society to which we 
belong; and as every good Christina believes that Christ has ordained 
a complete system of laws for the government of his kingdom, bo we 
are persuaded that, by his providence, he will support it to its Snal 
consummation. In the fined belief of this principle, that the king- 
dom of Christ aud the concerns of religion are beyond the limits of 
dvil control, we should act a dishonest, inconsistent part, were we 
to receive any emoluments from human establishments for Ihe sup- 
port of the gospel. 

These things being couadered, we hope we shall be excused for 
remonstrating against a general aaseaament for any religious purpose. 
As the maxims have long been approved, that every servant is to 
obey his master, and that the hireling is accountable for his conduct 
to liirn from whom he receives bis wages; in like manner, if the 


Legislature hoB anj rightful autburity over the miniatera of th« 
guep^l in the exercise of their sacred office, and it is their dut; to 
levj a, maintenance for them as such, then it will follow thiLt they 
may revive the old establishment in iU former extent, or orddn a 
new one for aay Beet they think proper; Ihey are ioviistcd with a 
power not only to determine, but it ia inoumbcut on them to declare 
who shall preach, what they shall preach ; to whom, when, at what 
places they shall preach ,' or to impose any regulations and restric- 
tions upou religious societies that they mar judge eipedienC.] 

These consequences are so plain aa not to be denied ; and they are 
BO entirely subvereive of religious liberty, that if they should take 
place in Virginia, we shonld be reduced to the melancholy necessity 
of saying with the apostles in like cases, "Judge ye whether it is 
best to obey God or man ;" and also of acting as they acted. 

Therefore, as it is contrary to on r principles and interests, and, as 
we think, Bubversive to religioUB liberty, we do again most earnestly 
entreat that our Legislature would never eitead any asxessment for 
religious purposes to us, or to the congregations under our care. 
And your memorialists, as in duty bound, shall ever pray for, and 
demean themselves as peaceful subjects of, civil govemmeul. 

Signed by order of the Presbytery. 

RiCHAiti> Sankey, Moderator. 

Timber Ridge. AprU S5, 1777. 

[Presented Mar ^ 1781.] 
To the HorumrabU i^xaker and Home of DeUijaUs of Virgiitia : 

Gentlemen — "The united clergy of the Presbyterian Church inVir- 
^nia, assembled in Presbytery, request your attention to the following 
representation. In the late arduous struggle for everything dear to 
as, a desire of perfect liberty and political equality animated every 
clasB of citizens. An entire and everlasting freedom from every 
Bpeciea of ecclesiastical domination, a full and permanent security of 
the unalienable rights of conscience, and private judgmentjand an 
equal share of the protection and favor of the government of all 
denominations of Christians, were particular objects of our expecta- 
tion, and irrefragable claim. < The happy Revolution efiected by the 
TirtuouB exertions of our conn try men of various opinions in religion, 
WIS a favorable opportunity of obtaining these desirable obiects 


without friction, contention, nr complainl. All 
almost, felt the claim of iListic« vrhen the rod of oppre 
Bcoarged them into Hensibility, fujd the poverful hand of c 
danger hid cordially united them against civil encroachment*. Tha 
members, therefore, of everj religious society had a right to expect, 
and most of them did expect, (hat former invidious and exclusive 
distinctions, preferences and emotumenta conrpj-red by the State on 
any sect alMve others would have been wholly removed. |riiey 
justly supposed that any partiality of this kind, any particular or 
illicit conne<:tton or commerce between the State and one descripliou 
of Christiana more than another on account of peculltir opinioaa 
in religion, or anything else, woidd be unworthy of the repreaeota' 
tires of a people perfectly free, and an infringement of that religious 
liberty which enhances the value of other privileges in a State nr 

We, therefore, and the numerous body of citizens in our communion, 
as well 03 in many others, are jastly dissatislied and uneasy that our 
expectations from the tegittlalure have not been answered io tjiese 
important respects. We regret that the prejudices of education, the 
inBuence of partial custom, and habits of thinking conSrmed by 
these, have too much confounded the distinction between mattera 
purely religious and the objects of human legislation, and have 
occasioned jealousy and duBatisfaction by injurious inequalities re- 
specting things which are connected with religious opinion towards 
diSerent sects of Christians. Tliat this uneasiness may not appear to 
be entertained without ground, we would wish to state the followiof; 
unquestionable facts for the consideration of the House of Dele^tee. 

The security of our religious rights upon equal and impaKial 
ground, intiead of being mads a fmviamentai part of our eonitUalum aa 
U ought lo have been, ia left to the precarious fate of common law. A 
matter of general and essential concern to the people is committed 
to the haiardof the prevailing opinion of a majority of the Assembly 
at its different seseiona. In consequence of this the Episcopal 
Church was virtually r^arded as the constitutional Church, the 
Church of the State at the Revolution ; and vna left by the/ramen of 
our Tireflenl gavareiaad in, iW sto/ion of ^agyid, pre-eminence vihich m/h 
had formerly aegaired under the smilta of royal farmiT, and even when 
the late oppressive establishment of that church was at length Ac- 
knowledged au unreasonable hardship by the Assembly in 177$, a 


Baperiorit; and distinction in name was Btill retuned, and it was ex- 
prcssly atylf d the entablUhal ehurrh aa before ; which title was con- 
tinued as late as the year 1778, and never formaLly disclaimed; our 
common danger at that time not permiuing the opposition to tho 
injustice to such dlslinctioo which it required and deeerred. 

But " a aent on the right hand of temporal glory as the estab- 
lished mother church " was not the only inequality then coun- 
tenanced, and idl) subeisting, of which we now have reason to regret 
and complain. Substantial advantages were also confirmed and 
BBcnred to her by the partial and inequitable decree of governraenL 
We hope the time past would have sufficed for the enjoyment of 
these emoluments, which that church long possessed without control 
by the abridgement of the equal privileges of others, and the aid of 
their property wrested from them by the hand of usurpation, but we 
were deceived. An estate eompated to bevm-lhieiierai hundred Ovnua'ad 
pmaidi in eSurcAes, gfeftei, ele., derived from the poeketf of all rttigious 
toeielie», vmi eidusicely and nnjiully appropriated to tlie benefit of one 
without compensation or restitution to the rest, who, in many places, 
were a large majority of the inhabilants. 

Nor Ie this the whole of the injustice we have felt in matters con- 
nected with religious opinion. The Episcopnl is af tually incorpora- 
ted, and hnown in law aa a body, so that it can receive and possess 
property for ecclesiastical purposes, without trouble or risk in se- 
curing it, while other Christian rarmraunities are obliged to trust to 
(he precorioos fldelity of trustees chosen for the purpose. The Epie- 
eopa] (Jerjj are tamidm-ed ax having a right, ei-officio, to celebrate mar- 
riagei throughout the State, while unnecoasarj hardships and reslric- 
tions are imposed upon other clergymen in the law relating to that 
Bubject passed in ITSO, which confines their exercise of that function 
to those counties where they receive a special license from the court 
by recomroendndon, for recording which they are charged with cer- 
tain fees by the clerk; and which exposes them to a heavy fine for 
delay in reluming certificates of marriages to the office. 

The venlrUt of the different porisies, a remjiant of hierarnhieal dnmi- 
(Mtum, have a right, by law, to levy money from the people of all 
denominations for certain purposes ; and yet these vestrymen are ex- 
clasively required by law to be members of the Episcopal Church, 
and to anbscribe a conformity to its doctrines and discipline as pro- 
/cased and praelieed in England, Siich preferences, dietincLions and 


advantAsea granled bj the Legislature exclustvelj ti 
Christiana, are regarded by a great number of your < 
glaring, unjust and dangerous. | Their continuance so long io s 
republic, without animadverHion or correction by the Aasembly, af- 
fords just ground for Hl&rm and complaint to a people who feel them- 
selvra, hj the favor of ProTidence, happily free ; who are constioua 
of having deserved as well from the Stale as those most favored ; 
who have an undonbted right to think themselves as orthodox in 
opinion upon every subject as others, and whose privileges are as 
dear to them. Such partiality to any eyetem of reli^ous opinion 
whatever is inconsbtent with the intention and proper object of well 
directed government, and obliges men of reflection to consider the 
Legislature which indulges it, as a party in religious differencea, 
insiead of the common guardian and equal protector of every class 
of citizens in their reli^oos as well as civil rights. We have 
hitherto restrained our complaints from reaching our representa- 
tives, that we might not be thought to take advantage from limes of 
coufu^on, or critical situation of government in an unsettled state 
of couvulsioa and war, to obtain what is our clear and incontestable 

But as the happy restoration of pc!aceaSbrds leisure for reSecCion, 
we wish to state our sense of the objects of this memorial to your 
honourable House upon the present occa^on ; that it might serve to 
remind you of what might he unnoticed in a multitude of busineBs, 
and remain as a remonstrance against future eucroachmenta from 
any quarter. That uncommon liberality of sentiment, which seems 
daily to gain ground in this enlightened period, encourages ns to 
hope from your wisdom and integrity, gentlemen, a redress of every 
grievance and remedy of abuse. And invaluable privileges have 
been purchased by the common blood and treasure of our countr;- 
men of diSerent names and opintone, and therefore ought to be 
secured in full and perfect equality to them all. We are willing to 
allow a full share of credit to our fellow-eitizens, however distin- 
guished in name from us, for their spirited exertions in our ordnons 
straggle for liberty; we would not wish to charge any of them, either 
ministeni or people, with open disoSection to the common cause 
of America, or with crafty dissimulation or indecision, till the issue 
of the war was certain, so ns to oppose their obtaining equal privil^ea 
ia religion ; nut we ifill resolute!; engage against any mDnopolj' of 

AFPEiijyiX. 231 

the honors or rewards of government bj aoj one sect of ChristianB 
more Ihon the rest ; for we ahun not a tonipariBon with any of our 
brethren for our eBbrte in the cause of our country, and assiiting to 
eslablbh her liberties, and therefore esteem it unreasonable that any 
of them should reap superior advantages for, at moat, but Equal 
merit We expect from the repreBentativea of a free people that all 
partiality and prejudice OD any aciKiunt vfhatever will be laid aside, 
and that tbe happiness of the citixena at large will be secured upon 
the broad basis of perfect political equality. This will engage cou' 
fidence in govemmeni, and umtuspicious afTeclioa towards our 
fellow-citiiens. We hope that the Legislature will adopt some 
measures to remove present inequality, and resist any attempt, 
either at their present session or hereafter, to continue those which 
WB now complain of. Thus by preserving a proper regard to every 
religious denomination as the common protectors of piety and 
virtue, you will remove every real ground of contention and allay 
every jealous commotion on the score of religion. The citizens of 
Yirglnia will feel themselves free, unsuspicious and happy in this 
respecL Strangers will be encouraged to share our freedom and 
felicity, and when civil and religious liberty go hand in hand, our 
late posterity will bless the wisdom and virtue of their fatheri!. We 
have the satisfaction to assure you that we arestendy well-wishers to 
the State, and jour humble servants. 

The Psesuvteet of FIakover. 

E Assembly, re Octobbb, 

To ihe EotumrabU Spaii:er and Houee of DcUgatts of Virrfinia: 

Gentlemen— The united clergy of the Presbyterian church of Vir- 
ginia assembled in Presbytery beg leave again to address your honor- 
able house upon a few important subjecla in which we find ourselvta 
interested as citbens of this State. 

The freedom we possess is so rich a blessing, and the purchase of 
it han been so high that we would ever wish to cherish a spirit of 
vigilatit attention to it iu every circumstance of possible danger. We 
are anxious to retain a full share of all the privileges which our 
happy revolution afibrds, and cannot hut feel alarmed at the con- 
tinued existence of any infringement upon theip or even any indirect 



attempt lending to this. Impressed vith thin idea as men, whose 
rights are sacred nnd dear to them, ought to be, we are obliged O 
express our sensibility upon the present occasion, and wc natura]l7 
direct our appeal to you gentlemen its the public guardians uf onr 
couDtTT's happiness and liberty, who are influenced we hope bj that 
wisdom and justice which joui high station requires. Conscious of 
the rectitude of our intention and the strength of our claim, we wish 
to apealc our sentiments freely upon (liese occasions, but at the same 
time with all that respectful regard which becomes ua n-ben address- 
ing the representatives of a great and virtuous people. It is with. 
pain that we find ourselves obliged to renew our complaints upon tha 
subjects stated in our memorial last spring. We deeply regret that 
such obvious grievances sliould esist unredressed in a Republic 
whose end ought to be the happiness of all the citizens. We pre- 
sume that immediate ri>dress would have succeeded a clear and jost 
reprefentation of them ; as we expect that it is always the desire of 
our representatives to remove real grounds o( uneaainesi, and allay 
jealous commotions amongst the people. Bat as the objects of the 
memorial, though very important in their nature, and more so In 
their probable consequences, have not yet been obtained, we request 
that the house of delegates would be pleased fo recollect vhat wefaad 
the honor to state to them in that paper at their last sessions ; to 
resume the subject in their present deliberation, and to give it that 
weight which ila importance deserves. The uneiiaineaa which we 
feel from the continuance of the greviances just referred to is in- 
creased under the prospect of an addition to them by certain er- 
ceptional measures said to he proposed to the Legislature. We have 
understood that a comprehensive incorporating act has been and is 
at present in aggitation, whereby ministers of the gospel as such, of 
certain descriptions, shall have legal advantages which are not pro- 
posed to be extended to the people at large of any denomination. A 
proposition has been made by some gentlemen in the hnuse of dele- 
gales, we are told, to ei1«nd tiiQ grace to us amongst others in our 
professional capacity. If this be so we are bound to acknowledge 
with gratitude our obligations to sucligenlJemen for their inclination 
to favor us with the sanction of public authority in the discharge of 
our duty. But as the scheme of incorporating clergymen, inde- 
s to which llu.y bdoag, is inconsistent 
t the liberty of dediainjc a 

A PrEiVDlX. 233 

such solitary honor should it bo again proposed. To form clergy- 
men into a distinct order in the community, and especially where it 
would be possible Tor them to have the principal direction nf a con- 
siderable public estate by such incorporation, has a tendency to 
render them independent, at length, of the churches whose ministera 
they are ; and this has been too often found by experience to pro- 
duce ignorance, immorality and neglect of the duties of their station. 
Beaideo, if clergymen were t« be erected by the State into a dis- 
tinct political body, detached from the rtst of the citizens, with the 
express design of "enabling them to direct spiritual matters," which 
we all possess without such formality, it would naturally lend to 
introduce the antiquated and absurd system in which government is 
owned in etlect to be the fountain head of spiritual influences to the 
church. It would eetabiish an imtnediate, a peculiar, and for that 
vpry reason, in ouropinion, Illicit connection between government and 
such 03 were thna distinguished. The Legislature in that case would 
be the head of the religious party, atid its dependent members would 
be entitled to all decent reciprocity In a, becoming paternal and 
fostering care. This we suppose would be given a preference, and 
crtating a distinction between citizens equally good, on account of 
something entirely foreign from civil merit, which would be a source 
nf endless jealousies, and inadmissible in a Republic of any other 
well directed government. ] The principle, too, which this system aims 
to establish is both false and dangerous to religion, and we take this 
opporlonity to remonstrate and protest against it. The real minis- 
ters oE true religion derive their authority to act in the duties of 
their profeasioa from a Idgher source than any Legislature on earth, 
however respectable. Their office relates to the careof the soul, and 
preparing it for a future state of exialence, and their administrations 
are, or ought to be, of a spiritual nature suited to this momenCons 
emcera. And it is plain from the very nature of the case that they 
should neither eipect nor receive from government any commission 
or direction in this respect. We hope, therefore, that the house of 
delegates share so large a portion of that philosophic and liberal 
dlsoemment which preTaiU in America at present, as to see this mat- 
ter in its proper light — and that they will understand too well the 
nature of their doty, as the equal and common ^ardians of the 
vhitrtered rights of all the citiEcnt, to permit a connection of this 
kind we have just now mentioned to subeist between them and the 


spiritual instructors of any religious denomination in the State. The 
interference of government in religion cannot be indifferent to us, 
and as it will probably come under consideration at the present ses- 
sion of the Assembly, we request the attention of the honorable 
House to our sentiments upon this head. 

We conceive that human legislation ought to have human affairs 
alone for its concern. Legislators in free States possess del^^ted 
authority for the good of the conununity at large in its political and 
civil capacity. 

The existence, preservation and happiness of society should be 
their only object, and to this their public cares should be confined. 
Whatever is not materially connected with this lies not within their 
province as statesmen. The thoughts, the intentions, the faith and 
the consciences of men, with their modes of worship, lie beyond 
their reach, and are ever to be referred to a higher and more pene- 
trating tribunal. These internal and spiritual matters cannot be 
measured by human rule, nor be amenable to human laws. It is the 
duty of every man for himself to take care of his immortal interests 
in a future state, where we are to account for our conduct as individ- 
uals ; and it is by no means the business of the Legislature to attend 
to this, for there governments and states, as collective bodies, shall 
no more be known. 

Eeligion, therefore, as a spiritual system, and its ministers in a 
professional capacity, ought not to be under the direction of the State, 

Neither is it necessary for their existence that they should be 
publicly supported by legal provision for the purpose, as tried ex- 
perience hath often shown ; although it is absolutely necessary to 
the existence and welfare of every political combination of men in 
society to have the support of religion and its solemn institutions, as 
it affects the conduct of rational beings more than human laws can 
possibly do. ^ On this account it is wise policy in legislators to seek 
its alliance and solicit its aid in a civil view, because of its happy 
influence upon the morality of its citizens, and its tendency to preserve 
the veneration of an oath, or an appeal to heaven, which is the 
cement of the social union.'^ It is upon this principle alone, in our 
opinion, that a legislative body has right to interfere in religion at 
all, and of consequence we suppose that this interference ought only 
to extend to the preserving of the public worship of the Deity, and 
the supporting of institutions for inculcating the great fundamental 


principleB of all religion, without which Bocietj could not euil; 
eiiat. Should it be thought neoessaiy &t present for the Asaembly 
to eiert the right of supporting religion in generul by an aBaesamcnt 
on all the people, we would wiah it to be done on tbe most liberal 
plan. A geaerat assesBment of the kind we have heard proposed a 
an object of such consequence that it excites much anxious specula- 
tion amongst your constituents. 

We therefore eameitly pray that nothing may be done in the 
case inconsistent with the proper objects of human legislation, or 
the Declaration of Rights, m published at the Ii«rolution. We 
hop« that tba asaeasment will not be proposed under the idea of sup- 
porting religion as a spiritual system, relating to the care of the 
soal, and preparing it for lis future destiny. We hope that no at- 
tempt will be made to point out articles of faith that are not essential 
to the preservation of society ; or to settle modes of worship ; or to 
interfere in the internal gofemment of religious communities ; or to 
render the minisler* afrcliginn independent of the viill of the people vihrm 
they tenie. We expect from our representatives that careliil atten- 
tion to the political equality of all the citizens which a republic 
ought ever to cherish, and no ichemeof an assesament will be encotu-- 
aged which will violate the happy privilege we now enjoy of think- 
ing for ourselves in all cases where conscience ia concerned. 

We request tbe candid indulgence of the honorable House to tbe 
present address, and their most favorable construction of the motives 
which induce us to obtrude ourselves into public notice. We are 
nrged by a sense of duty. We feel ourselves impressed with the im- 
portance of the present crisis. We have expressed ounelves in 
the plain language of freemen upon tbe interesting subjects which 
call for animadversion, and we hope to stand excused with joll, 
frentlemen, for the manner in which it is executed, as well as for the 
part we take in the public interests of the commnnily. In the 
present important moment we conceive it criminal !o be silent, and 
have therefore attempted to discbarge a duty which we owe our re- 
ligion as Christians, to ourselves as freemen, and to our posterity, 
who ought to receive from us a precious birtliright of perfect free- 
dom and political equality. 

That you may enjoy the direction of heaven in your present delib- 
erations, and possess in a high de^ee the spirit of your eialted 
itation, is the prayer of your sincere well-wishers, 

The Presbytery op Hanover. 


[Memorial of Ck>nventlon at Bethel, Au^st, 1785.] 

To the Honorable the Oeneral AsBembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia : 

The ministers and lay Representatives of the Presbyterian church 
in Virginia, assembled in convention, beg leave to address 7011. 

As citizens of the State, not so by accident, but by choice, and 
having willingly conformed to the system of civil policy adopted 
for our government, and defended it with the foremost at the risk of 
everything dear to us, we feel ourselves deeply interested in all the 
measures of the Legislature. 

When the late happy Revolution secured to us exemption from 
British control, we hoped that the ^loom of injustice and usurpation 
would have been forever dispelled by the cheering rays of liberty 
and independence. This inspired our hearts with resolution in the 
most distressful scenes of adversity, and nerved our arm in the day 
of battle. But our hopes have since been overcast with apprehensions 
when we found how slowly and unwillingly ancient distinctions 
among the citizens, on account of religious opinions, were removed 
by the Legislature. For although the glaring partiality of obliging 
all denominations to support the one which had been the favorite of 
government was pretty early withdrawn, yet an evident predilection 
in favor of that church still subsisted in the acts of the Assembly. 
Peculiar distinctions and the honor of an important name was still 
continued ; and these are considered as equally partial and injurious 
with the ancient emoluments. Uur apprehension on account of the 
continuance of these, which could have no other effect than to pro- 
duce jealous animosities and unnecessary contentions among different 
parties, were increassd when we found that they were tenaciously 
adhered to by government, notwithstanding the remonstrances of 
several Christian societies. To increase the evil, a manifested dispo- 
sition has been shown by the State to consider itself as possessed of 
supremacy in spirituals as well as temporal; and our fears have be^i 
realized in certain proceedings of the General Assembly at their last 
sessions. \ The ingrossed bill for establishing a provision for the 
teachers of the Christian religion, and the act for incorporating the 
Protestant Episcopal church, so far as it secures to that church the 
churches, glebes, etc., procured at the expense of the whole com- 
munity, are not only evidences of this, but of an impolitic partiality 
which we are sorry to have observed so long. 


We, therefore, in the nnme of tbe Presbyterian church in Vir- 
ginia, beg lenve lo exercise our privilege as free men in remonstral- 
ing against the former absolutel;, and against the 1atl«r under the 
reatrictiouB above ei pressed. 
1 We oppose the bill — 

Secaiise it is a departure from the proper line of legislation ; be- 
cause it is unneeesBary, and inadequate to ila professed end— impolitic, 
in many respects — and a direct violation of tbe Declaration of Rights. 

The end of civil government isaecuritj- to the temporal liberty 
and property of mankind, and to protect them in the free eiercise 
of relicion. Legislators are invested with poxen from tbeir oon- 
atitaents for this purpose only ; and tbeir duty eiteuds no further. 
'Religion is altogether personal, and the right of exercising it un- 
alienable ; and it is not, cannot, and ought not to be, resigned to the 
will of the society at large ; and mach less to the Legislature, which 
derived its aulhorltj wholly from the consent of the people, and is 
limited by the original intention of civil association. '. 

We never resigned lo the control of government our right of de- 
termining for ourselves in this important article ; and acting agreea- 
bly to the convictions of reason and conscience, in discharging our 
duly lo our <:reator. And, therefore, it would be an unwarrantable 
stretch of prerogative in the Legislature to make laws concerning it, 
eicejit for protection. And it would be a fatal symptom of abject 
alavery in us were we lo submit lo the usurpation. 

The bill is ahto an unneceasarr and inadequate expedient for the 
end proposed. We are fully persuaded of the happy inlluences of 
Christianity upon the morals of men ; but we have never known it, 
in the history of its progress, so effectual for this puqKise, as when 
left to its native excellence and evidence lo recommend it, under the 
all-directing providence of God, and free from the intrusive hand of 
the civil magistrate. It« Divine Author did not think it necessary 
to render it dependent on earthly governments. And experience haa 
shown that this dependence, where it has been eQected, has been an 
injury rather than an aid. It has introduced corruption among the 
teachers and professors of it wherever it has been tried for hundreds 
of years, and hiia been deaf ructive of genuine morality, in proportion 
lo seal, of the powers of thin world, in arming it with the sanction 
of legal terrors, or inviting to its profession by honors and rewards. ! 

It is urged, indeed, by the abettors of this hill that il would belhe 


means of cheriahing religion and morality among llie citizens. I But 
it appears from fact that tbeee din l>e promoted onlj by the internal 
coaviction of tliB mind and its voluntary clioice, whicii Bucti eatab- 
lisUmenta cannot efTcct. 

I We further remonatHite against the bill al an impoliti 
it disgiistH eo large a proportion of the citizens that it would weaken 
the influence of government in other reapecw, and diffiise a spirit of 
opposition to the rightful eiercise of oouatitutional autliority, if 
enacted inf^ a law. , 

It partially supposes the Quakers and Menonists to t 
faithful in conducting the religious interests of their society than the 
other sects — which we apprehend to he contrary to fact. 

It unjustly aubjeelB men who may be good citizens, but who have 
not embraced our conunon faith, to the hardship of supporting a 
aystem they have not as yet believed the truth of; and depiivea 
Ihem of their property for what they do not suppose to be of im- 
portance to them. 

It establishes a precedent for further encroachments by making 
the L^islature jadges of religious truth, llf the AaHembly have a 
right to determine the preference between Cliristianity and tlie other 
systems of religion that prevail m the world, they may also, at a 
convenient time, give a preference to some favored ? 
Christians. ' 

It discourages the population of our country by alarming thow 
who may have been oppressed by religious establishments in other 
countries, with fears of the same in this ; and by exciting o 
citizens to immigrate to other lands of greater freedom, 

It revives the principle whicb our ancestors contested (o blood, of j 
attempting to reduce alt religionB to one eUindard by the force of 
civil authority. 

And it naturally opens a door for contention among citueu of' J 
different creeds and different OE)inians respecting the eiteotdftlM A 
power of government. 

The bill is also a dErect violation of the Declaraliii> ■•' (ll^tiH; 
which ought to be the standard of all laws. The aiUum''- ■^J*' 
clearly infringed upon by it, and any eiplicatioa *lll"> 
been given of it by the &iends of this n 
so as to justify a departure from its literal r 
used to deprive us of other fundamental pj 


For these reaaoQS, and other that might be produced, we con- 
ceive itonr duty to remonBtrale and protest againBt the said hill, and 
earnestly urge that it may not be enacted into law. 

We ntsh also to engage your attention a little farther, irhile we 
request » revision of the act for iDoarpomting the Protestant Eplaco- 
pal Church, and state our reason for this request. We do not desire 
to oppose the incorporation of that cbiirch for the better manage- 
ment of its temporaliiUs ; neither do we wish to lesson the attach- 
ment of any of the membere of the Legialature in a private capacity 
lo the interest of that church. We rather wiah to cultivate a spirit 
of forbearance and charity lowardu the members of it, as the servants 
of one common Maater who differ in some particulars from each 
other. But we cannot consent that they shall receive particular 
notice or favor from government as a Christian society, nor peculiar 
dbtinctions or emoloments. 

We find by the Act that the convenience of the Epiacopal Church 
hath been consulted by it in the management of their interest as a 
religions society, at the eipense of other denominations. Under the 
former eslablbhment there were perhaps few men who did not at length, 
perceive the hardships and injustice of a compulsory law, obliging 
the citizens of this State, by birthright free, to contribute to the sup- 
port of a religion from which their reason and conscience oblige them 
to dissent. Who then would not have guppoHed that the same sense 
of justice which induced the Legislature to dissolve the grievous 
establishment would also have induced them (o leave to common use 
the property in churches, glebes, etc, which had been acquired by 
common purchase. 

To do otherwise was, aa we conceive, to suppose that long pre- 
scriptions could sanction injustice, and that lo persist in error is to 
alter the essential difference between right and wrong. As Chris- 
tians, also, the subjecta of Jesus Christ, who are wholly opposed to 
the eiereiie of the spiritual powers by civil mleiB, we conceive our- 
selves obliged to remonstrate against that part of the incorporating 
act which anthorizss and directs the regnlation of spiritual concerns. 
This is such an invasion of Divine prerogative that it is highly ex- 
ceptionnble on that accoimt, aa well aa on account of the danger to 
which it exposes our religious liberties. JesuB Christ hath given 
sufficient authority to his church for every lawful purpose, and it ii 
forsaking his authority and direction for that of Mlible men, to 



eipect or lo gnmt the sanclion of civil Uw W authorize the regula- 
tiou of any Cliriatian aocietj. It ie iJ»o dangerous to our iiberlieB, 
because it createa an iDvirlious distictJon on account of religioi 
opinion, and ezolU to & superior pitch uf grandeur, as the chorch 
of tlie State, a aociety which ought to be contented with receiving 
the Btune protection from government which the other societies enjoy, 
without aspiring to superior notice or regard. The Legislattlre is- 
BUinee lo itself by that law the aathoritative direction of this church 
in Hpirituals, and con be considered in no other light than its head, 
peculiurly interested in its welfare, a matter which cannot be indif- 
ferent to us, though this authority has only as yet been extended to 
those who have requested it, or acqoiesceil in it This church is 
now considered as the only regular church, in view of the law, and 
it is thereby raised lo a state of unjust pre-eminoice over others. 
And how far it may increase in dignity and induence in the State 
by these means at a future day, and especially when aided by the 
emoluments which it possesses, and the advantages of funding a y^rj 
large sum of money without account, time done can discover. But 
we esteem it our duty lo oppose the act thus early, before the matter 
be entangled in precedenlit more intricate and dangerous. Upon the 
whole, therefore, we hope that the exceptional port of this act will 
be repealed by your honorable House, and that all preferences, dis- 
tinctions and advantages contrary lo the fourth article of the Declajv 
ation of Rights will be forever abolished. 

We regret that full equality in all things, and ajuple protection 
and security to religious llberiy, were not incontestibl; fixed in the 
constitution of the government. But we earnestly request that the 
defect may be remedied as for as it is possible for the Legislature to 
do it, by the adopting the bill in the revised law for establishing 
religious freedom. (Chap. 83 -of the Report). 

That heaven may illuminate your minds with all that wisdom 
which is necessary for the important purposes of your deliberation, 
is our earnest wish. ^ And we beg leave to assure you, that however 
warmly we rosy engage in preserving our religion, free from the 
shackles of human authority, and opposing clauos of spiritual de- 
nomioBtions in civil powers, we are zealously disposed to support the 

Kverament of our country, and to maintain a due submission 1« the 
vful exercise of its authority, j 
Signed by order of the Convention. 

John Todd, Chairman. 
AUesi :— Daniel McCallk, Clerk, Bethel, AuguBla Coont^, ISOi 


[Retigious Herald-I 

Bro. Editor— The Hon. Wm. Wirt Henry, in his article of 
October Tth, stye : ' ' Up to this date, the adoption of the Virginia 
CoQBlitulion in 1T7G, it thus appears that the views of the Presbj- 
teriaoB and BaptiBta in N'irginia, an the subject of religious libertj, 
coincided, and Dr. James cannot point to a siogle eipre^sion of any 
representatiye body autlioriied to apeak for the PreebjterianB which 
indicated the contrajry." 

I accept the challenge, and will meet it, fiiat, bj referring him to 
(he record of the Freebjteriana, on that BObject, from their origin, 
mider Calvin, down to the time when man; of them fled ^om per- 
secution, in the old world, to America ; and, secondly, by a review 
of !>. Foote'a Sketches and the Memorials of the Hanover Presby- 
tery, given by him. 

It wOl certainly not be claimed that, at the time of their settle- 
ment in this new world, they were in harmony with the Baptists on 
the question of soul liberty. That they should have learned some 
wholesome lessons from their own suSerings, is not to be wondered 
at. The wonder is that they did not learn mote — that they did not 
learn belter than to use the civil power for the oppression of others, 
a« they did in the Northern Colonies, wherever they had control of 
the civil arm. Their course was diiTerent in Virginia, but why? 
Was it because they were conslilntionally and imequi vocally opposed 
to any sort of union between Church and State, and opposed to the 
use of the latter to sustain the former, and to suppress what they 
might be pleased to call heresy ? If we, like Patrick Henry, are to 
be "guided by the lamp of eiperince," and if we are "t« judge the 
future by the past," we shall lind it eitremely difficult to answer this 
qnestien in the affirmative. The record of the Presbyterians up to 
that lime— the lime of their settlement in Virginin — would seem to 
require a negative answer. Who will dare say that, had they been 
in the position of the Episcopalians, they would not have done here 


what thej had done elsewhere ? But ihcy were Tew in Virginia, at 
that lime, wliile Episcopacy was the established religion. 

It is not difficult to understand why they should have sided irilh 
the Baptists, the most numerous and powerful body of dissenuts, aa 
against the oppressive EKlablishment. Nor ia it dilScult to see that 
tlie result of this alliance waa to bring Preabyteriana and Saplisis 
into closer Bympathy and inW greater unanimity of opinion on the 
vital question of freedom of conscience. Uence ne are prepared to 
admit that the Hanover Presbytery was in advanoeof their denomina- 
tion in America, and that they occupied higher ground than had 
liitherto heen occupied by any other Presbyterian body. But we do 
not believe that, at the date of the Revolution, they were in full 
accord with their Baptist brethren on that question. And we will 
now undertake lo sustain this opinion by a review of Dr. Foole'B 
"Sketches," a standard Presbyterian authority. 

We have already discussed Dr, Foole'a mesning when he spoke of 
the contest in Virginia "for an ill-defined liberty of conscience." 
He vraa then describing the state of things when the principle of 
religious liberty was incorporated in the Bill of Eights in 1770. We 
ue willing to grant " that Dr. Foote, in this passage, is speaking of 
the growth of the principle of religious liberty among the people U 
la^e." But we are not willing lo grant that he "has no more 
reference to Presbyterians than to any others." It is roaoifest from 
his history that he is chiefly concerned about the attitude of bis own 
people, for while he touches upon the proceedings of the Baptists and 
others, he gives a most elaborate account of the proceedings of the 
H^iover Presbytery, quoting in full their Memorials to the General 
AsBembly, frcfm 1776 to 1785, oonceming the last of which he says : 
" Thit paper txprtaed Iht true /Kling of the Pr^byUrian ehureh, after 
maeh prirole aitd puiiie disatasion!' 

Now, I mMnlaui that aU along, from 1775 to 1785, Dr. Poote is 
"tracing the growth of the principle of religious liberty" among his 
own people, and that he means, in the language above quoted and 
which I have Ualieiaed, to assert, that, after mueh private and public 
diseuision, running through that Revolutionary period, the Preeby- 
terians of Virginia reached the goal, at last, in the unanimous adop- 
tion of the Memorial of August, 1785, in which, for the first time, 
they asked that JeSerson's Bill for the Establishment of Baligious 
Freedom might become the law of the Slile. If that is not Dr. 
Footfl's meaning, then I have failed to understand him. 


But Mr. Henry would point to the Memorials of the Hanover 
PrcBbytery as telling a different atory, and lie quotes from them 
largely to sustain his view. Unfortnnately for hia view, there are 
some things in thoae Memorials which he does not quote, and which 
I will now give to jour readers, and which will enable them to 
decide between Mr. Henry and Dr. Howell. 

In order to appreciate the Memorials in question, and the attitude 
of the Hanover Presbytery in that transition period, we must keep 
in mind the very important distinction between the church polity of 
Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Eaptista — the three principal 
deoomioBtioDB Chen in Virginia. Episcopacy ia "the government 
of the church by biuhops or prelates." Presbyterian iam is '"that 
form of church government which invests presbyters, or elders, with 
all spiritual power, and admits no prelates over them." The Bap- 
tist church polity, known as the independent or republican, lodges 
the government in the hands of the members of the local church. 
Now, supposing that all three of these sects were in favor of an 
establishment, and of the support of the church by taxation, it 
would be impossible for them to agree as to the particular form of 
the establishment. The Episcopalians would want the clergy incor- 
porated, independently of the congregations ; the Baptists would 
insist upon the incorporation of the members of the church as such, 
without distinction between clergy and laity ; while the Presbyte- 
rians, occupying a middle grouod, would oppose both of these 
schemes, and iiuist that the act of incorporatian should be so framed 
as to leave the government in the hands <if the eldera, but not so as 
to make the preaching tlders independent of their congregations. In 
the nature of the caae, an estubliahment which woold suit either of 
the extremes would destroy Presbyterianism as a system of church 
polity. Let us keep this well in imnd, as we scan the Memorials of 
the Hanover Presbytery, and let us remember that, at the date of 
the Revolution, Episcopacy was the eatahlisbed religion in Virginia, 
that the Baptists were the most numerous body of diesenters, and 
that the Presbyterians, though a very respectable and influeiltial 
body, were too few in numbers to hope for such an establishment as 
wotild acoord with their views. The best that they, the Presbyte- 
rituis, could do was to cooperate with the Baptists in the effort to pull 
down the existing establishment and to place all upon an equal foot- 
ing before the law. Now to the Memorials which they sent up to 
the Legislature from 1776 to 1785. , ^ j, .. 



The first Memorial ia that of Kovember 11, 1774, which was pre- 
sented to the Hoiifle of Burgeeses June 5,1775, and nhich places them 
alongside of the Baptials as aKainst the toleratioD act and against an; 
legislation nliich did not give to them equal rights, etc., with their 

The neit is that of October, 1776, to which reference has beea 
made in former articles. That was a noble production, written, 
doabtleaa, bj their ablest men. The quotations made bj Mr. Henry 
would leave little room for doubt Cliat the Hanover Presbjter; was, 
by thiB memorial, fullj and unequivocal ty commitled to the broadest 
religioos libertj and the most entire separation between Church and 
State. Bat the following extract., towards the close of the ineaiorial, 
raises a little doubt. Aft^ discussing the questions in hand at 
some length, tbej saj : "And for the reasons recited we are induced 
eamestly to entreat, that all laws now in force in this Common- 
wealth, which countenance religious domination, laaj be speedtlv 
repealed — that all, of everv religious sect, may be protected in the 
full exercise of their several modes of worship ; and aemplodfrom all 
tax^ far the lupporl oj nny eAtiriA loiuWoeKer, fiirther than what may be 
tLffratable to Ihfir orni priTile rJiotee or voluntary obligalion." Marfe 
those italicized words. We will hereafter see how those words may 
be construed when the Establiahment ia torn down and the time for 
readjustment comes. 

The neit memorial is that of April, 1777, which refers to the 
variely of opiniiTti (ourftinp the propriety of a grueral asxiame«<, and 
calls the attention of the L^islature to their prayer in their former 
memorial : "That djasentersof every denomination may be exempted 
from all laies for the support of any church whatsoever, further than 
what may be agreeable to tlie private choice or voluntary obligation 
of every individual ; while the civil magistrates no otherwise inter^ 
fere, than to protect them all in the fidl and free exercise of their 
several modes of worship." Now, weigh well the following &om 
the latter part of the same memorial : " These things being consid- 
ered, we hope we shall be ercused for remonstrating against a g^eral 
assessment for any religions purpose. As the maxims have long 
been approved, that every servant is to obey his master ; and that 
the hireling is accountable for his conduct to him from whom he, 
s his wages ; in like manner, if the Legislature has any right- 

ful authority o' 


of the gospel in the e: 


BBcrad office, and it is their Aaty to levj a miinteDance for them as 
such ; then it will foUow that they may revive the old fotabliahmenl 
in its former extent ; or ordain a aew one for any sect tbey think 
proper ; they are invested with a power not only U) determine, but it 
is incumbent on them to declare who shail preitch, what they ehall 
preach ; to whom, when, at what plaoea they shall preach ; or to 
impose any regulationa and restrictions npon religious EOcieties that 
they may judge expedient." TKtqaeition vrili come up, ax one reads 
IhU, vihelhet they objected to an aaeaameid, per se, or whether tkeg were 
tfraid ihii any asseesmenf bill, tehich coidd be adopted, would give the 
Stale the right to iTUerfere in the gocemment of ihe ch-urA 

I find no other memorial until M»y, 1784 ; but Mr. Henry finds, 
in April, 1T30, the following record : "A memorial to the Assembly 
of Virginia from this Preebylery, to abitain from interjering in the 
ffovei-nmeitt of the chareh, was prepared, and being read in Presbytery, 
ia appointed and directed to be transmitted to the House." You will 
observe that their great concern was lest the State shoM inlerfere m 
the goi'Fnoaent of the diureh. The estabLshment had been virtually 
destroyed the year before, and Jefferson's bill for establishing religions 
freedom had been reported the same year, 1779, but this memorial 
of 1780 ignores it. Why did not the Presbyterians rally to the sup- 
port of that bill ? Was that, too, " accidental " f The sequel will show. 
There is an ominous silence for four years, until May, 17S4, when 
the Hanover Presbytery is heard from again, ia a lengthy memorial, 
covering two pages of Dr. Foote'a book, the burden of which is a 
protest against certain peculiar privileges which were still granted 
the Episcopal church, and demanding that the Legislature should 
be impartial. Not one imrd about the assessment, «or a vm-d about 
Jefferson's hilL ^Vhat's the matter? We thinlt their long silence on 
these topics was due to the fact that there was division among them. 
They were not agreed. They had started out in October, 1776, with 
"their faces as though they would goto Jerusalem," but there was 
a side door in that memorial, through which they might turn aside 
and stop at Samaria. There was a growing sentiment in favor of 
"the new theory of an establishment," which would "take them 
in," and in October, 17S4, that theory gets a majority vote In Pres- 

I>Bt me here introduce the lestunony of Semple, "in whose accu- 
racy as a historian " the Hon. Mr. Henry "has great confidence." 


Semplesajs, p. 73; "The BaptUte, we believe, were the only sect 
who plainly remonstrated [againat the asaessment]. Of some olhen 
it is said that the laltj and muilstry were at variance upon the aub- 
ject, BO as to paralyze their eiertions either for or against the bill' 
Tbeae remarka, by the by, apply only to religiona societiea, actio;; aa 
such. Individuals of all sects and parties joined in the opposition." 

Let us now eiamine the memorial of the Hanover Presbytery of 
October, 1784. I wiU qaole at length, that your readers may the 
better comprehend it^ nature. After referring to their former me- 
morial (May, 1TS4], and ex presaiog regret that " immediate redresB" 
had not been granted, they my ; ''The uneasiness which we feel 
jrom the continuance of the grievances just referred to, ia increaaed 
under the prospect of an addition to them by certain etceplionable 
measures said to be proposed lo the Legislature. We have understood 
that ft comprehensive incorporation act haa been and is at present in 
agitation, whereby ministers of the gospel, as such, of certain descrip- 
tions, shall have legal advantages which are not proposed to be 
extended to the people at large of any denomination. A propoiitioQ 
has been made by some gentlemen of the Rouse of Delegates, we 
ore told, to extend the grace to ub, amongst others, in our professional 
capacity. If this be so, we are bound to acknowledge our obligations 
lo such gentlemen for their incliaation to favor us with the sanction 
of public authority io the discharge of our duty. But aa the scheme 
of incorporating clei^ymen, ijidepaulerti nf the rdigious communitia 
to which Ihey belong, is inconsistent with our ideas of propriety, we 
request the liberty of declining any such solitary honor, should it be 
again proposed. To form clergymen into a distinct order in the 
community, and especially where it would be possible for them to 
have the principal direction of a considerable public estate by each 
incorporation, has a tendency to render them independent, at length, 
of the churches, whose ministers they are ; and thb has been loo 
often found by experience to produce ignorance, immorality, and 
neglect of the duties of their station." The memorial then goes on 
to show how the tendency of this measure woidd be to make " the 
Legislature the head of a religioua party," composed of ministers, 
and "the fountain head of spiritual influences lo the church," etc. 
It proceeds: " Religion, therefore, as a spiritual system, and its 
n a professional capacity, ought not to be under the direc- 

a of the State." . . . "Should it he thought necessary at 


praeent for the Aseemblj to exert this right of supporting religion 
ID general bj an oaaessment on all the people, we would wiah it to be 
done on the most liberal plan, A general assessment of the kind we 
have heard proposed is an object of such consequence that it excites 
much anxious speculation amongst jour conatitnents. We therefore 
eamtBtlj pray that nothing may be done in the case inconsistent 
with the proper objects of homan legislation, or the DeclaralioD of 
Eights as published at the Refolution. We hope that the Baaesament 
will not be proposed under the idea of supporting religion aa a 
spiritual system, relating to the care of the soul and preparing it for its 
future destiny. We hope that no attempt will be made tc point ont 
arliclea of faith that are not essential to the preservation of society ; 
or to settle modes of worship ; or to interfere in the internal govern- 
ment of religions communities ; or to render tlie ministera of religion 
indepatdfnt of Ihe will of tke people wham thtn/ serve." 

Along with this memorial — which your readers can criticise for 
themselves— was sent up to the Legislature "a plan, agreeably 1o 
which alone Presbytery are willing to admit a general ossestiment for 
the support of religion bylaw." The leading principles of this plan, 
M given by Dr. Foote, are as follows : " 1st. Religion as a. apiritu^ 
system is not to be considered as an object of human legislation, bnt 
may, in a civil view, as preserving the existence and promoting the 
happiness of society. 2d. That public worship and public periodical 
,o the people be maintained, in this view, by a general 
it for this purpose. 3d. That every man, as a good citizen, 
be obliged lo declare himself attached to some religious community, 
publicly known U> profess tlie belief of one God, his righteous prov- 
idence, our accountablenesa to him, and a future Blate of rewards and 
punishments," etc, etc, I need not quote any further. It ia mani- 
fest that the Hanover Presbytery were not unconditionally opposed to 
incorporation and assessment bills ; but that, while irreconcilably 
opposed to any bill which would be acceptable to Kpiscopalians, in 
that it incorporated the clergy to the exclusion of the laity, and thus 
made them independent of their congregations, etc., they were quite 
willing for the Legislature to pass on incorporation acton the "plan" 
which they proposed — a plan which, among otlier things, required 
every citizen to belong to some religious society, and to profess faith 

The General Assembly met in October, 17S4, and steps weretaken 


looking to the passage of incorporation and assessment bills. The 
joomal for the House of Delegates has, for November 18, the fol- 
lowing entry : "A petition of John Todd and John B. Smith, . . . 
explaining so much of the memorial of the Hanover Presbyterj as 
respects the incorporation of religious societies, and praying that the 
distinction therein stated may be preserved." On the 24th of 
December, the vote on the assessment bill was postponed until the 
fourth Thursday in November, 1785, and the bill was ordered to be 
printed and distributed among the people. The Hanover Presbjrtery 
met at Bethel, Augusta county. May 19, 1785, and ''a petition 
was presented to the Presbytery from the session of Augusta congre- 
gation, requesting an explication of the word 'liberal^ as used in the 
Presbjrtery's memorial of last fall ; and also the motives and end of 
the Presbytery in sending it to the Assembly." Trovhle in the camp ! 
**A committee was appointed to prepare an answer and report. On 
motion, the opinion of Presbytery was taken — whether they do 
approve of any kind of an assessment by the General Assembly for 
the support of religion. Presbytery are unanimously against such a 
measure.'* Madison's " Remonstrance " m«m after thai measure dealing it 
deadly blows^ and the tide of opposition vhu swelling every day. The 
Presbyterians issued a call for a ''General Convention of the Pres- 
byterian body," to be held at Bethel, August 10, 1785, where they 
again fell into line with the Baptists on a right about march f The 
memorial of this ([Convention was the first Presbyterian memorial which 
aakedfor the parage of the '* bill for Establishing Religious Freedom.'' 
And it was this memorial which Dr. Foote said '^ expressed the true 
feeling of the Presbyterian churchy after much private and public discus- 
sion." Their otherwise satisfactory memorials of *76 and '77, which 
were sent up while the Establishment was in force, were open to 
criticism, and left some room for doubt whether they would be un- 
willing to accept a modified form of Establishment, i. «., an Estab- 
lishment which would not be destructive of their own system of 
church polity. And when we duly consider two significant fact^— 
viz., (1) the almost unbroken silence of the Presbytery fromtlnl 
time ( 1777 ) down to the year 1784, when they exposed 
to severe criticism at the hands of Jefierson and Mi 
and (2) the fact that Jefferson's bill for 
dom, though before the legislature from '^f 
the approbation of their official body, hfy 


hastUf called Convention of Aoguat, 1785, I think we are justified 
in concluding- that Dr. Foote, in the language above quoted, means 
to saj that not until 1TS6 did the Presbyter! alls of Virginia reach 
■olid itanding ground on the great question of Boul liberty. Both he 
and Dr. Baird speak of the action of Presbytery in 17S4 aa a "viavrr' 
iwf" in the fight, and thej very naturally put the most liberal and 
charitable construction upon it by attributing it to a conviction, on 
Ihe part of Presbytery, that some sort of assessment would he made 
anyhow, and to a desire to render it as unobjectionable as possible. 
But let us see how their action was viewed by others. I have already 
(August 12) given the opinions of James Madison and Dr. Hawks. 
There are two or three others whose ttstimuny ought to be heard. 

Thomas Jefferion, in giving an account of the atrnggle from 177G 
to 1779, over the question "whether a general assessment should 
not he established by law, on every one, to the support of the pastor 
of his choice, or whether aU should be left to voluntary contribu- 
tions," says : " Some of our dissenting allies, having now secured 
their paRicalar object, went over lo the advocates of a general as- 
sessment" Jefferson's Works, Vol. I., p. 39. 

Prof. Tucker, in his Life of Jefferson, Vol, I., p. 98, says of the 
same Btruggle : "The advocates of the latter (voluntary) plan were 
only able to obtain, at each sesaion, a suspension of those laws which 
provided salaries for the clergy — the natural progress in favor of lib- 
eral sentiments being counterbalanced by the fact that ecrme o/ the dii- 
tenling aects, siilh the exception of the Bapliiis, satisfied with having 
been relieved from a tax which they felt to be both ui^ust and de- 
grading, had no objection to a general assessment; and, on this ques- 
tion, voted with the friends of the church." 

Riva, in his Life and Times of Madison, Vol. I., p. 602, says of 
the assessment hill '■ " What is opecially remarkable is, that in a 
memorial presented by the united clergy of the Presbyterian church, 
which had hitherto distinguished itself by its real in favor of 
aciple of unlimited rdigious freedom — an opinion was now 
wl, «8 cited b ihe journal of the House of Delegates, that ' a 

far ihr tiimmri nf rrh'/iiifii alighl lo bealcuded (o those 

It is, jierliapa, not to be 
■ itrnthe mrJtnl tima to nee 


With the evidence thus given by these several witnesses, I submit 
the case to the juxy — ^your readers. I feel confident that their ver- 
dict will be that, *' at the date of the Bevolution," '' the views of 
the Presbyterians did riot fully coincide with the views of the Bap- 
tists on the subject of religious liberty/' Whether they will agree 
with Dr. Howell, that ''the new theory of an Establishment" was 
of Presbyterian parentage, I am not quite so sure. Beally, Bro. 
Editor, I am beginning to have a touch of sympathy for that cast-ofi 
child. It seems now to have been like Melchisedec, ''without 
father or mother." Had it not fallen into disrepute and come to an 
" end of life," it would have been quite different. The real parents 
would have been willing to own their o£^ring. We read in "an 
old book" of a contest between two women, both of whom had be- 
come mothers in the same house, and about the same time. One of 
the infants having died, its mother disowned it and set up a claim to 
the living child of her neighbor, and the case came before a very 
wise judge for adjudication. We will not say that Dr. Howell was 
a Solomon, but we will venture the opinion that he succeeded quite 
well in determining the true parentage of two other o£^ring, which 
were bom during the night of the Bevolution — ^viz., the "bill for 
Establishing Beligious Freedom," and the "New Theory of an 
Establishment" It is certain that the Presbyterians of Virginia 
never asked for the former until the latter was dead. 

G. F. James. 

CWp«per, Vol 



ICerUrai BaptUt, JulySe, 1888.'] 

Some of your readeza know that, ever ainue Ihe struggle for relig- 
ious liberty in Virginia was ended in 1785, by the defeat of the 
"General AsHessment" and the passage of JeSeiaon's " Statute for 
Eeiigioua Freedom," many of our Presbyterian friends have been 
trying to get rid of the reproach of having broken ranks in the 
midst of that fight, and to make it appear to the world that the 
PreabyleriaQB did equally Taliant and faithful service with the Bsp- 
tiate. In some respects, at least, their case is similar to that of a 
certain company of the Eighth Virginia Infantry in the battle of 
BbII'h Bluff. Soon after the battle opened in earnest, this company, 
for some cause, not necessary to explain here, fell back and did nut 
stop until they bad cleared the woods in which the battle was rtglng. 
finding that the other companies had not followed their example, 
but were holding their ground against the enemy and beating them 
back, the captain rallied his men, faced them about and marched 
them back at double-quick to rejoin their comrades. Fortunately 
for their reputation, they got back into line just in time to join in 
the final charge with those who had borne the heat and burden 
of the day. They had the modesty and discretioii, however, not to 
claim equal credit with those mho did not fail back. 

The Presbyterians of Bevolutiooary times went into the fight as 
allies of the Baptists and others, as against the EstabUshment and 
apparently in favor of absolute religions freedom. Bin when tlie lir»t 
ahocic of Ihe battla resnltpd in the overthrow of the existing Eslub- 

:ird General 
Solitary and 
itioir ground 
.l>k union of 


Charch and State and the support of religion bj taxation. With 
Madison's '' Bemonstrance " in one hand and their petitions to the 
General Assembly in the other, thej canvassed ererj county until 
the Presbyterians, ashamed of themselves, and convinced that Mad- 
ison and the Baptists were going to win the day, ordered a *' right 
abouf in their Convention of August, 1785, and came in with the 
opposition before the legislature which met in October. They are to 
be congratulated that they did righi ahovi and join the Baptists in 
the final charge. And had they been content with the credit which 
was their due, it would have been far more honorable and creditable 
to them. But they are not content with their just meed of praise. 
Many of them claim equal credit with the Baptists and have been 
doing so for years. But your readers, while somewhat accustomed 
to hearing the cry, will be amazed to learn that the Presbyterians 
and not the Baptists were the pioneers in that struggle for religious 
liberty in Virginia, and that '' the largest part of the credit of this 
great work *' belongs "to the Hanover Presbytery. '* And yet such 
is the claim now set up in the year of our Lord, 1888. The basis of 
the claim is an old manuscript of a memorial of the Hanover Pres- 
bytery dated November 11, 1774, discovered by the Hon. Wm. Wirt 
Henry, published for the first time in the (hniral Presbyterian the 
16th of last May. Some unknown friend did me the kindness to 
send me a copy of the paper which gives the memorial in full, 
together with a prefatory note from the discoverer and a lengthy 
notice from the editor. It is claimed for this long-hidden doc- 
ument, which, according to Mr. Henry, eluded the search of the dil- 
igent investigator, Dr. Foote, that it antedated all other petitions to 
the Virginia Assembly claiming equal rights for dissenters, that it 
was '' the advance guard of that army of remonstrances which so vig- 
orously attaked the Establishment, and finally overpowered it, and 
established perfect religious liberty on its ruins;'' and that it, 
'^aken in connection with the able memorial of Hanover Presbv-. 
tery of 1776 and 1777," was actually the source whence Thomas Jef- 
ferson "got his views of religious liberty." The Baptists are no 
longer to stand at the head of the religious liberty class, but must 
yield that place to the Presbyterians. Such is the result of this 
recent discovery ; that is, if Mr. Henry and the editor of tlMi 
Central Presbyterian are correct in their reading and interpretai 
of this manuscript But, unfortunately for them, this maniw 


like the New Testament, will not re«d the wa; thej want it to read. 
Let ue look at it for a moment and see what it says in behalf of the 
Preabjteriima of 1774. 

It eeema that "in 1772 a bill was introdnced into the House of 
EurgesseB, having for its professed object the better security of the 
religious liberty of Protestant dissenters in the colony, but really 
contrived for their oppression in several partlculara." For eiatn- 
ple, the bill required dissenting ministers to preach only at regularly 
licensed preaching places, never to hold Berrlcea with closed doors, 
and never to receive and baptize serranls without the consent of 
their masters. These restrictions were doubtless aimed chiefly at Ihe 
Baptists, but they applied to all dissenters alike. And this memo- 
rial of the Hanover Presbytery in 1774 is simply a respectful and 
well written protest against those provisions of the bill which they 
regarded as "grievous and burdensome," and an appeal to the 
Assembly for all the privileges which were granted to dissenters 
under the "English Toleration Act. " The ground of their protest 
and appeal wai "an instrument of nriting under the leal of the 
colony, containing the most ample assurances that they (the Presbyte- 
rians who came from Pennsylvaniai to Virginia) should enjoy the 
full and free exercise of their religion and all the other privileges 
of good subjects." This agreement was made by Governor Gooch 
aliout the year 1738, and " for the encouragement ofall Presbyterians 
who might be inclined to settle in the colony." The fact of such 
agreement is stated in the beginning of the memorial and urged as a 
sufficient reason why they should not be harassed by oppressive and 
restrictive legislation. But there are always two sides to such a coo- 
tract, and, if the Colonial Government waa bound by this agreement 
of 1T3S not to oppress the Presbyterians who clairaed protection 
under it, so were the Presbyterians bound lo ncquiesce in and sub- 
mit to the eiisting establishment in Virginia and not lo seek ita 
overthrow. Accordingly there is not the slightest intimation given 
in this memorial of any disloyalty to the establishment, or of any 
deure even lo be relieved of taxation for its support. They accept 
in good faith the existing order of things, aud only ask that 
"faith," SB to that agreement oF 1738, "be fidhj tejit." What makes 
this doubly certain th«t this memorial is no "advunce guard" of 
« TntnBnM«n,M. •«i'..i iiim ot.wjohmeDt," and no religious liberty 
Us close, Uiey referred to the 



"English Act of Tolenidoo,", and aak for dissenters in Virginia 
the same privileges as are granted under that act to dissenleia in 
England. This is the sum and substance of iheir memorial. No 
protest against the Eatahlishmeut ; no appeal for anything more 
than the broadest toleration, and no hint that tbej recognized anjr 
difference ijetween toleration and liberty^ and if we are to judge Mr. 
Henry and the editor of the Cenirai Prfsbi/ttrian by their comments 
upon this docotnent, we most saj that (Aej have not yet Isarned the 
diflerence, and need that some one should instruct them in the way 
more perfectly. It is not at all surprising that the Presbyterian his- 
torian, Dr. Foote, in giving a full and detailed account of what Che 
Presbyterians did for religious liberty in Virginia, did not see any 
reason for laying this memorial before his readers. And when we 
come to think about it, it should not be a matter of surprise to as 
that men who can so read the New Teat^menC as la find infaai bap- 
tiajn and tprinlUituj there, should be able to find the great doctrine of 
Trliijiims liberlj/ In this memorial of the Hanover Presbytery. 

It would have been a little more generous in the editor had he 
been content with claiming too much fur the Hauover Presbytery as 
to their achievements in that memorable eiruggle. But he must 
detract from the Baptists, by reiterating, in (he face of the (eeti- 
mony of Serople and that of the Journal of the Convenljoa of '75, 
the statement that "Che Sral Baptist memorial of 1775 simply 
asked 'for the liberty of preaching to the troops at convenient 
times without molestation or abuse ;' " and also by informing his 
readers that the Presbyterian memorials " far surpass in ability and 
learning those of the Baptist Association," whose ministers were 
"without learning and without patronage." All the greater shame, 
then, upon the Presbyterians of that day, that khe; did noC really 
lead in the fight for religious liberty, but came In behind the Bap- 
lists, as the records clearly prove, then broke ranks in the midst of 
the contest, and allowed the " unlearned " Baptists to go down in 
history as "the only sect" that never deserted the standard of Jef- 
ferson and Madison in that memorable struggle which culminated in 

On one occasion, during the Revolution, the famous Tarleton, in 
marching through the Carolinaa, stopped at the house of a patriot 
lady and called for dinner. Forgetful of the proprieties of the occa- 
sion, he began to (»iticiae Colonel Washington, saying to his hostess 



"I hear that he is bo illiterate that he cannot write his name.'' 
The high-spirited dame retorted that he could at lesat "makehi^ 
mark" — referring to a recent encounter iietwetn Washington and 
Tarleton, in irhich the latter came US' second best and nith the mark 
of WashkDKton's sword upon hia person. Granted thoit the Baptists 
of those Eevolutionarjt times could not talk and write as well as 
their Presbyterian allies, they succeeded quite well in making the 
political lenders of that daj understand the meaning of religious 
Liberty, as dietinguisbed from mere toleration, and thej made a 
mark on the page of Virginia's history which can never be edhced 
— a record of courage, and piety, and unfaltering demotion to the 
priooipleB of civil and religious liberty which no faithful historian 
will ever assail. The Baptists of the present day, though more 
learned and cultivated, have no cause to blush at the mention of their 
fathers of the Revolution. 
CWpeper, Va. 




To the Honorable the General Assembly of the OommonweaUh of Virginia : 

We, the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth, having 
taken into serious consideration a bill, printed bj order of the last 
session of General Assembly, entitled *' A bill establishing a provis- 
ion for teachers of the Christian religion'' ; and, conceiving that the 
same, if finally armed with the sanctions of a law, will be a dangerous 
abuse of power, are bound, as faithful members of a free State, to 
remonstrate against it, and to declare the reasons by which we are 
determined. We remonstrate against the said bill : 

Because we hold it for a fundamental and unalienable truth, ** that 
religion, or the duty which we owe to the Creator, and the manner 
of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not 
by force or violence."* The religion, then, of every man must be 
left to the conviction and conscience of every man ; and it is the 
right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right 
is, in its nature, an unalienable right It is unalienable, because the 
opinions of men depending only on the evidence contemplated by 
their own minds, cannot follow the dictates of other men. It is 
unalienable, also, because what is here a right towards man is a 
duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to 
the Creator such homage, and such only, as he believes to be accept- 
able to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in 
degree of obligation, to the claims of civil society. Before any man 
can be considered as a member of civil society he must be considered 
as a subject of the Governor of the Universe. And if a member of 
civil society who enters into any subordinate association must always 
do it with a reservation of his duty to the general authority, much 
more must every man who becomes a member of any particular civil 
society do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sover- 
eign. We maintain, therefore, that in matters of religion, no man's 
right is abridged by the institution of civil soctety, and that religion 

♦Declaration of Rights, Article XVI. 


ifl vhollj uempE from ita cognizance. True it ia thai no other rnle 
exists by which nnj question which may divide a Bociety can be ulti- 
mately determined but by the will of the majority. But it ia also 
true that the majority may trespasa on the rights of the minority. 

Because, if religion be exempt from the authority of the society at 
large, still less can it be subject to that of the legislative body. The 
latter are but the creatures and vicegerents of the former. Their 
jurisdiction ia both derivitive and limited. It is limited with regard 
to the coordmate departments ; more necessarily ia it limited with 
regard to the constituents. The preservation of a free government 
requires not merely that the metes and bonnds which separate each 
deportment of power be invariably maintained, but more especially 
that neither of them he suffered Ui overleap the great barrier which 
defends the rights of the people. The rulers who are guilty of such 
encroachment exceed the commissioD from which they derive their 
authority, and are tyrants. The people who submit to it are gov- 
erned by laws made neither by themselvea nor by an authority de- 
rived from them, and are slaves. 

Becouse it is proper to take alarm at the first esrperiment on our 
liberties. Wo hold this prudent jealousy to be the SrsC duty of citi' 
lens and one of the noblest characteristics of the lale revolution. 
The freemen of America did not wait until usurped power had 
atrengtnened itself by exercise and entangled the question in prece> 
dents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they 
avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere thia 
Iceaon too much soon to forget it. Who does not flee that the same 
authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other 
religions may establish with the same ease any particular sect of 
Christiana in excluaion of all other sects 7 That the same authority 
which can force a citizen lo contribute three pence only of his prop- 
erty for the support of any one establishment may force him to con- 
form to any other establishment in all cases whetsoever. 

Because the hill violates that equality which ought to be the basis 
of every law, and which is more indispensable in proportion as the 
validity or expediency of any law is more liable to be impeached. 
"If all men are by nature equally free and independent,"* aU men 
are to he considered as entering into society on equal conditions, ae 
relinquishing no more, and therefore retaining no lets, one than 

•DeclaraUon or RJgbts, Article I. 


another of their nBtiind rights ; above all are they t< 
aa retaining an " eqiwl title to the iree exercise of religioD accord- 
ing lo the dictatea of coDBcience."* Whilst we assert for onreelfes 
& freedom to embrace, to profess and observe ( he religion which we 
believe to be of divine origin, we otpnot deny an equal freedom to 
those whose minda have not yielded lo the evidence which his 
convinced us. If this freedom he abused it is an oGence against God, 
not tLgainst man. To God, therefore, and not to man, muat an 
account of it be rendered. 

Ab the bill violates equality by subjecting some to peculiar bur- 
dens, so it violates the same principle by granting to others peculbr 
exemptions. Are the Quakers and Menonists the only sects who 
think a, compulsive support of their religions unnecessary and un- 
warrantable? Can their piety alone be intrusted with the care of 
public worship? Ought their religions to be endowed, above all 
others, with extraordinary privileges, by which proselytes may be 
enticed from all others 7 We Ihinl; too favorably of the justice and 
good sense of these denominations to believe that they either covet 
preeminences over their fellow-citizens or that they will be seduced 
by them from the common opposition to the measure. 

Because the bill implies either that the civil magistrate is a com- 
petent judge of religious truths, or that he may employ reli^on as 
an engine of civil policy. The fiiBt is an arrogant pretention, falsi- 
fied by the extraordinary opinion of rulers, in all ages and through- 
out the world ; the second, an unhallowed pervtrsion of the means 
of salvation. 

Becaose the Establishment proposed by the bill is not requisite for 
the support of the Chri5tian|religion. To say that it is, is a contradic- 
tion to the Christian religion itself, for every page of it disavows a 
dependence on the power of this world ; it is a contradiction in fact, 
for it is known that this religion both existed and fiourished, Dot 
only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every oppo- 
sition from them ; and not only during the period of miraculous aid, 
but long after it had been left to its own evidence and the ordinary 
care of Providence : nay, it is a contradiction in terms, for a reli- 
gion not invented by human policy must have preexisted and been 
supported before it wu established by hnman policy ; it is, moK- 

'DecUratloD of High la, ArUcle XVI. 


over, lo weaken, in those who profeu this religion, a pious confi- 
dence in its innate excellence and the patronage of ita Author, and 
to roster in those who still reject it usuEpicion that its friends are too 
conscious of ita fallacies to trust it to its own merila. 

Because experience witnesses that ecclesiaetical ealablishmenls, 
instead of maintaining the puritj and eSicacj of religion, have bad 
a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal 
establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been ita 
Truita? More or less in all places pride and indolence in tlieclergj ; 
ignorance and servility in the laitj ; in both, superstition, bigotiy 
ftnd persecution. Enquire of the teachers of Christianity far the 
ages in which it appeared in its greatest lustre. Those of eveiy sect 
point to the ages prior to ila incorporation with civil policj. Pro- 
pose a restoration of thb primitive elate, in which its teachers de- 
pended on the Tolunloj-y rewards of their fiocka, many of them pre- 
dict its downfall. On which side ought their testimony to have 
greatest weight, when for or when against theii interest? 

Because the Establishment in question is not necessary for the 
support of civil government. If it be nrged as necessary for the 
support of civil government, only as it is a means of supporting reli> 
gion, and it be not necessary for the latter purpose, it cannot be nec- 
essary for the former. If religion be not within the cognizance of 
civil government, how can it« legal eatablishment be said to be nec- 
essary to civil government? What intloence, in fact, have ecclesi- 
astical establishments had on civil society 7 In some instances they 
have been seen to exact a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of civil au- 
thority ; in more instances have they been seen upholding the 
thrones of political tyranny ; in no instance have they been the 
guardians of the liberties of the people. Eolers who wished to sub- 
vert the public liberty may have found an Established clergy con- 
venient auxiliaries. A just government instituted to secure and 
perpetuate it needs them not. Such a government will be best sup- 
ported by protecting every citizen ia the enjoyment of his religion 
with the same equal hand which protects his person and his prop- 
erty ; by neither invading the equal rights of any sect, nor sufiering 
any sect to invade those of another. 

BecauBi the proposed Establishment is a departure from that gen- 
erous policy which, offering an asylum to the persecuted and 
oppressed of every nation and religioti, promised a lustre to oiir coun- 


tamelan- ^H 
>f holding ^M 
■rsecution. ^| 

try and an accession to the number of its ciliicnj. What 
choly mark is the bill of sudden degeneracy. Instead of 
forth an atylum to the persecuted, it ia itself a signal of persecution. 
It degrades from the equal rank of citizens all those whose opiniomi 
in religion do not bend to those of the legiiilatiTe authority. Dis- 
tant as it may be, in its present form, from the inquisition, it diffoa 
from it only in degree ; the one is the first step, the other the ktit 
in the career of intolerance. The magnanimous sufferer under the 
cruel scourge In foreign regions must view the bOl as a beacon on 
our coast, warning him (o seek some other haven, where liberty and 
philanthropy in their due extent may olfer a more certain repose 
Irom his troubles. 

Because it will have a like tendency to banish our citizens. The 
allarements presented by olh^er siluationa are every day thinning 
their number. To superadd a iresh motive to emigration, by revok- 
ing the liberty which they now enjoy, would be the same speciee of 
folly which has dishonored and depopulated flourishing kingdoms. 

Because il will destroy that moderation and harmony which the 
forbeoriuice of our laws to intermeddle with religion has prodaeed 
among its several Beets. Torrents of blood have been spilt in the old 
world by rain attempts of the secular arm to extinguish religioui dis- 
cord by proscribing all diflerencea in religious opinion. Time has at 
length revealed the true remedy. Every relaxation of narrow and 
rigorous policy, wherever it has been tried, has been found to 
assnage the disease. The American theatre has oihibited proofs 
that equal and complete liberty, if it does not wholly eradicate il, 
Bufflcieutly destroys its mntignsjit influence on the health and pros- 
perity of the State. If, with the Baliitory efl'ecta of this system under 
our own eyes, we begin to contract the bounds of religious freedom, 
we know no name that will too severely reproach our folly. At least 
let warning be token at the first fruits of the threatened innovation. 
The very appearance of the bill has transformed that "Christian 
forbearance, love and charity,"* whicli of late mutually prevailed, 
into animosities and jealousies which may not eoon be appeased. 
What mischiefs may not be dreaded should ilm enemy to the public 
ijuiet be armed with the force of a law 1 

Because the policy of the bill is adverse to the dilTusJon of the 

• Declaration of Blglils, Article XVI. 



lighl of CiirUtianity. The first wish of those who ought to enjoy this 
precious gift ought lo be that it may be imparted to the whole race of 
mankiad. Compare the number of those who have as yei received 
it with the nomber still remaining under the dominion of false reli- 
gion!i, and how small is the former I Does the policy of the biU tend 
to lessen the disproportion 7 No ; it at once diecoursgea those who 
•re Btrangers to the light of troth from coming into the regions of it, 
and countenancea bj example the nations who contiune in darkness 
in shutting out those who might convcj it to them. Instead of lev- 
eling, as for as possible, every obetacle to the victorious prngres* of 
truth, the bill, with an ignoble and unchristian timidity, would cir- 
cnmscribe it with a wall of defence againxt the encroachments of 

Because attempts to enforce by l^gal sanctions acts obnoxious to so 
great a proportion of citizais tend to enervate the laws in geoeral 
and to slacken the bands of socletr. If it be difficult to execute any 
law which is not generally deemed necessary or salutary, what must 
be the case where it is deemed invalid and dangerous? And what 
may be the efl'ect of so striking an example of impoteney in the Gov- 
ernment on its general authority 7 

Because & measure of such singular magnitude and delicacy ought 
not to be imposed without the clearest evidence that it is called for 
bj a majority of citizens ; and no satisfactory method is yet pro- 
posed by which the voice of the majority in t\iit case may be deter- 
mined or its influence secured. " The people of the respective coun- 
ties are indeed requested to signify their opinion respecting the adop- 
tion of the bill to the neit session of the Assembly," but the repre- 
sentation muHt be made equal before the voice either of the repre- 
sentatives or of the counties will be that of the people. Our hope is 
that neither of the former will, after due consideration, espouse the 
dangerous principle of the bill. Should the event disappoint us, it 
will still leave us in full conftdence that a fair appeal to the latter 
will reverse the sentence against our liberties. 

Because, finally, " the equal right of every citizen to the free 
exercise of his religion according to the dictates of conscience" is 
held by the same tenure with all our other rights. If we recur to its 
origin it is equally the gift of nature ; if we weigh its importance it 
cannot be less dear to ua ; if we consult the " Declaration of those 
rights which pertain to the good people of Virginia as the basis and 



foundation of govern mpiit,"* it is enumerated with equal Bolemnit^, 
or ratber with studied empbnsijj. Eitlier, then, we must aaj that the 
will of the Legislature is the onlj' measure of th^ authorit;, and 
thai in the plentitude of this authority thej maj sweep away all our 
fundameatol righta, or that they are bound to leave this particnlar 
right untouched and sacred ; either we must say that they may con- 
trol the freedom of the press ; may abolish the trial by jury ; may 
swallow up the executive and judiciary powers of the Stale ; nay, 
thai they may anniliilate our very riglit of suflrage and erect them- 
selvea into an independent and tereditary assejnbly ; or we must say 
that they have no authority to enact into D law the bill under con- 
sideration. We, the subscribers, say that the General Assembly of 
this Commonwealth have no such authority ; and that no eflbrt may 
be omitted on our part against so dangerous a usurpation, we oppose 
to it tliis remoQStrance, earnestly praying, as we are in duty bound, 
that the Supreme Lawgiver of the universe, by illuminating those to 
whom it is addressed, may, on one band, turn their councils from 
every act which would aflronl his holy prerogative or violate the 
trust committed to them, and on the other guide them into every 
measure which may be worthy of hia blessing ; may redound to their 
own proiQe, and may establish most firmly the liberties, the prop- 
erty, and the happiness of this Commonwealth. 

•Virginia Bill of BIgbls. 




*' Be it enacted bj the General Assembly, That no man shall be 
compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or 
ministry whatsoever ; nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested or 
burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on ^uscount 
of his religious opinions or belief ; but that all men shall be free to 
profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of 
religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or 
affect their civil capadties.'' 

AnabaptiatB 210 

Albemarle Countj. 69, 73, 161 

Amelia Coont; 113 

Amheral Coimly 69, 73, 94, 121, 161 

Accomac County 20 

Angusta County 60, 73, 92, 93 

Alderson, John 215 

American Cyclopedia 36 

Ammon, Thomas 30, 214 

Anthony, Joseph 29, 213 

Arnold, Benedict 112 

Aasemblj* of Virginia, 68-^3, 84-90, 91, 92-100, 114, 117, 124, 127 

Assessment, General 90, 122, 123, 125, 126, 12B, 134, 135, 139 

Baker, Elijah 215 

BftU, Captain 211 

Bancroft' e History 14, 18 

Banks, Adam 30, 214 

Baptists 12, 26, 27, 49, 50, 122,131, 134, 143, 149, 151, 161 

162, 167, 168 

Baptisla Peraecuted 18, 19, 29-34, 210-217 

Baptiat Petitions, 32, 33, 38, 39, 41, 52, 65, 74, 93, 114, 115, 119, 122 

Appendix, C, 

BaptUt Associations... 50, 51, 52, 101, 102, 104, 106, 114, 118, 119 

Baptist General Committee 14, 119, 126, 137, 133,143, 144 

146, 151 

Baptist Committee of Correspondence 14 

Baptist Principles 201-203 

• The word "Awembly" In aaed often for the " House of Burgeasea," 
which paBsed away with the Revolution, and for the " House of Dele- 
galea," wtilch Is the lower house of the present Qeneral Assembly. 

266 INDEX. 


Baptists Consistent with their Principles. 203-208 

Barrow, Darid 212 

Barbour, Hon. John S 60 

Baxter, Richard. 191 

Braddock's War. 26 

Beale, Dr. George W 209 

Berkeley, Goyemor. 18 

Beyerl/s History of Virginia 21 

Briggs, Goyemor. 155 

Bishop of London '. 28 

Bitting' s Century History of Strawberry Association 171 

BiU for Establishing Beligious Freedom 10, 103, 106, 140, 263 

Botetourt, Goyemor 35 

Buckingham County 69, 116 

Burgesses, House of. 31, 32,33, 34, 35, 38 

Burruss, John 29, 215 

Carr, Dabney 35 

Campbell's History of Virginia 96 

Caroline County. 90 

Caroline Jail 215 

Cathcart, Dr 167 

Chambers' Library of Uniyersal Knowledge 63 

Cramp's History 191 

Craig, Elij ah 30, 214, 218 

Craig, Lewis. 29, 213, 215, 218 

Central Baptist 251 

Central Presbyterian 252, 254 

Chewning, Bartholomew 29, 215 

Childs, James 29, 213 

Colonial Conyention, 1775 49-55 

Conyention of 1776 58-67 

Continental Currency 112 

Constitution of United States 151-158, 159, 164 

Congressional Library 7 

Corday, Charlotte 215 

Correction of Semple and Howell 56 

CorreipondeDce of BipliBtB— With Henry 1S9, 170 

With Waahington 171-174 

Witt Jefferson 174-176 

With Madison 177 

ComwJlis 112 

Cowpena 112 

Culpeper Coontj 92, 161, 163 

TheJaU 30 

Cumberlnnd County 84, 90, 115 

Dark Daja 

Dnvies, Samuel 

Declaration of Delegates.. 

"Dissenting AUiea" 

Dover Meeting House 

Dolauey, John 

Donnwre, Governor. 

. 113 


Eastin, AuguHtine. 29, 213 

England Under Prelacy 15 

Eighth Virginia Infantry at Ball'a Bluff. 251 

Episcopalians 10, 98, 99, 122, 124, 139, H8 

Episcopal Clergy 21, 27, 28, 37, 76, 128, 129, 13B, 148, 210 

"EaUbliahment,"* oc "Eatabliahed Church," 10, 31, 36 

50, 68-79, 84, 66, 94-95, 146 ' 

Essex County 93, 215 

French and Indian War, EffeM of 25 

Friatoe'a History of Ketooton AtaociatioQ 12, 30, 34, 58, 74 

87-88, 132, 142 

Foole'B Sketches of Virginia.. 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 27 

28, 40, 54, 81, 103. 118, 126, 131, 136, 137, 140, 190, 243 

Ford, Reuben 137, 138 

Flnvanna County. 161 

268 INDEX, 


Oarrard, John 13 

Graham, Rev. William. 131 

Glebes. 142, 145 

Greenwood, James 29, 30, 215 

Gooch, Governor 22, 23 

Gk>ochland Countj. 161 

Goodrich, James 29, 30, 215 

Hampden-Sidnej College 123 

Hanover Presbytery 12, 40, 70, 89, 103, 113, 244-260 

Harris, •* Father" SamueL 211,219, 221 

Hassell' s Church History 18 

Hawks* " History Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia*' . . 28 

31, 54, 96, 141, 144, 145 

Henry, Patrick 26, 32, 33, 35, 47, 49, 57, 98, 99, 128, 130 

131, 136, 150, 151, 152, 153, 159, 161, 197, 214 

Henry, Hon. William Wirt 7, 53, 182, 241, 245, 252 

Henry, James 93, 136 

Hening^s Statutes , 17, 19, 28, 221 

Hemdon, Edward 29, 215 

Howell's " Early Baptists of Virginia. 51, 52, 64, 98, 101 

102, 105, 107, 120 

Howell, as an Authority, Defended. 109 

Howell, Hon. Morton B Ill 

Howison's History of Virginia. 108 

Incorporation Bills 124, 125, 128, 129, 142, 144 

Ireland, James. 30, 214 

Jefferson, Thomas 10, 33, 35, 57, 80-81, 92, 106, 107, 159 

174-176, 197, 249 
Journal of the Virginia Assembly, House of Burgesses, or House 
of Delegates, 8, and throughout the book. 

Ketocton Association 12, 13, 30, 38 

King's Mountain 112 

Laws Against Dissenters 17, 18, 19 

Leland, John 85, 146,152, 155, 161 

INDEX, 260 


Leland's Works 171 

Leland's Virginia Chronicle 86 

Lewis, Ivison 30, 215 

Locke, John 14 

Long, Br. John C 63 

Loocal, WilHam 215 

Loval, WilHam 30 

Louisa County 161 

Lunenburg County 94, 120 

Lunsford, Lewis 212 

Luther, Martin 15 

Lutherans 10, 70 

Madison, James 36, 36, 37, 57, 58, 60, 62, 107, 128, 129 

130, 135, 138, 150, 152, 154, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163 

164, 165, 177, 196, 197 

Madison's Remonstrance 134,208,248, 256 

Makemie, Francis 11, 20 

Marriage Law 19, 20, 93, 103,104, 117, 137 

Mason, George. 62, 64, 151 

Maxfield, Thomas 30, 214 

Massachusetts 192 

Meade, Bishop 28, 96, 116, 146 

Methodists 10, 75 

Methodist Episcopal Church 148 

Mecklenburg County 86 

Memorial Hall 217 

McTyeire, Bishop 193 

Middlesex County 211, 215 

McCalla, Daniel...* 240 

Milton, John 191 

Monroe, James 162 

Moffett, Anthony 214 

Moore, Jeremiah 212, 215 

New Claim as to 16th Article of Bill of Bights 64 

"New Theory *' of a State Religious Establishment 98, 250 

Non-Jurors 115 

Newman, Dr. Albert Henry 194 

270 INDEX, 


Ocooquon Church 66 

Orange Countj 161 

Opeckon 13 

Parson's Cause 25 

Persecution of Baptists and Quakers 18, 19, 29-31 

Presbyterians ... .11, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 39, 40, 47, 99, 100, 122 

136, 137, 139, 144, 148, 189, 190, 191, 192, 196, 197, 241, 254 

Presbyterian Qergy 123, 124, 125, 126, 130, 131, 135, 139 

Presbyterian Petitions 39, 40, 42, 70, 89, 123, 126 

Appendix, D* 

Presbyterian " Plan " of Incorporation, etc 126, 247 

Presbyterian Church Polity in the Way of Agreement with 

Episcopalians. 243 

Presbyterians and Beligious Liberty 251 

Pickett, John 212, 214 

Prince Edward County 68, 115, 116 

PoUard, Prof. John 192,197 

Puritans. 194 

Quakers 10, 18, 19, 139, 268 

Bandall's Life of Jefferson 96 

Bandolph, Edmund. 64 

Rayner's Life of Jefferson 55, 97 

, Beformation Under Luther 15 

Beligious Herald 8 

Bevival of Beligion 147 

Bichmond County 21 

Bives' Life and Times of Madison 36, 37, 64, 129, 130, 154 

159, 160, 168, 249 

Boberts, George 51, 53 

Bobinson, Dr. E. G 82, 135 

Boland, Madame 216 

Sandy Creek 13 

Sankey, Bichard 227 

Saunders, Nathaniel 214 

Shackleford, John 30, 215 

VBUnghter, Dr. Philip 59 

V SUverj Question 146 

I SpKka' Writings of Washington 174 

e's History of Virginia EapOals 12, 17, 19, 27, 29, 30, 38 

50, 97, 101, 102, 104, 100, 118, 119, 134, 137, 143, 147. 149 
190, 24e 

Steams, SLubal 13, 26 

Smith, Dr. Justin A., Modern COiiirch Historj 11 

Smith, E«T. John BUir 153 

Scotland and "Presbytery" IB 

Solemn League and Covenant . 191, 193 

Spoltsjlvania County. 16], 213 

Strother, Frenoh 58, 59 

Taylor's "Virginia Baptist MinlHtera" 30 

Taylor, Dr. George B 135 

Tanner, John 29, 213 

Tappahannock 215 

Torleton, VonqiiiBhed by a Woman 254-255 

■ Tiadey, David 29, 213 

Todd, John 225, 240 

I Itoy, Dr.a H Ill 

I Thomafl, David 66, 211 

L Toleration, First Cases of 20, 21 

Promoted by French and Indian Wat. , 25 

"'Toleration Bill" Proposed 34, 35 

Opposed by Baptists 38. 41 

By Presbyterians 40-42 

Fails on Account of Eevolution 47, 48 

thicker' I Life of Jefferson 96, 249 

"Toleration Act" of England 10, 20 

IWaford, Thomns 211 

^WaUace, Caleb 326 

Waller, John 29, 30, 213,215, 219 

Walker, Jeremiah 29, 51, 53,107, 213, 218 

Ware, Robert 29, 30, 211, 216 

Wuhington, George 112, 150, 159