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Wellspring of LibertyHow Virginia's Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Secured Religious Liberty$
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John A. Ragosta

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195388060

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195388060.001.0001

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Did the Dissenters Fight?

Did the Dissenters Fight?

(p.87) 4 Did the Dissenters Fight?
Wellspring of Liberty

John A. Ragosta (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

It is difficult to measure mobilization by denomination in the eighteenth century because enlistment records do not indicate recruits' denominations; nonetheless, evidence indicates that dissenters supplied the support sought as part of the negotiations for religious freedom. While Anglican ministers tended to hold more prestigious posts on Committees of Safety and more high‐ranking appointments to the military, dissenting ministers enlisted and preached mobilization at least as effectively. Indeed, many Baptist ministers who had been personally persecuted mobilized to support the patriot effort. Enlistment data by counties support the conclusion that dissenters mobilized at least as effectively as Anglicans. The situation in Virginia differed dramatically from substantial loyalism demonstrated by North Carolina and Maryland dissenters who had significantly less reason to oppose local patriot leaders; the lack of loyalism in Virginia relates, in part, to the efforts of the establishment leaders to engage dissenters in the political dialogue.

Keywords:   American Revolution, mobilization, clergy, Committees of Safety, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Baptists, Presbyterians, Anglicans

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