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The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions, Volume IIThe Long Eighteenth Century c. 1689-c. 1828$
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Andrew Thompson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198702245

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198702245.001.0001

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Dissent in the American Colonies before the First Amendment

Dissent in the American Colonies before the First Amendment

Chapter:
(p.183) 9 Dissent in the American Colonies before the First Amendment
Source:
The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions, Volume II
Author(s):

Catherine A. Brekus

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198702245.003.0010

Many of the early migrants to the American colonies came from Dissenting backgrounds. There were many reasons why it was difficult to enforce religious uniformity across the Atlantic, including the diversity of religious traditions and the rise of the Enlightenment, particularly Locke’s emphasis on the sanctity of conscience. However, the role played by Presbyterians, Baptists, and Quakers in arguing for freedom of conscience needs to be acknowledged as well. Their pressure to create a formal separation of Church and state was vital. The 1689 Toleration Act and the revivals of the Great Awakening undermined the principle of church establishment in early America and led to divisions between different religious groups. In 1789, Dissenters contributed to the passage of the First Amendment, which guaranteed religious freedom and prohibited the establishment of a national church.

Keywords:   Baptists, Congregationalists, First Amendment, freedom of conscience, Methodists, Presbyterians, Quakers, thirteen colonies, toleration

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