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Chapter 6 - Summary Give Me Liberty!: an American History

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James Moore
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Deists (like Jefferson) wanted to free politics and exercise of intellect from religious control

States disestablished established churches

o No more state funding or special legal privileges

o Constitutions declared a commitment to “the free exercise of religion”

o Catholics gained right to worship without religious persecution

o Exceptions:

Every state but NY barred Jews from voting or holding office

Massachusetts retained its Congregationalist establishment and public funding for religious

institutions

Jefferson and Religious Liberty

Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom: A Virginia, drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1777, and enacted in 1786, that

guarantees freedom of, and from, religion

o Eliminated religious requirements for voting and office holding

o Eliminated government financial support for churches

o Eliminated government forcing one to choose a religion

o *This is 1 of the 3 accomplishments Jefferson wished to be remembered for (not even Presidency included)

Religious liberty drew a line between government and the realm of private life

James Madison successfully resisted a Virginia tax to support Christian churches

o Reinforced principle that the US was an asylum to the persecuted and oppressed

Religious freedom proliferated religious denominations

Christian Republicanism

Supporters of evangelical religion and of republican government both believed

o In the absence of moral restraint (provided by religion and government) human nature was likely to succumb

to corruption and vice (immoral, wicked behavior)

Religious leaders viewed the revolution as part of God’s plan to promote the development of a good society

o World could be perfected, Christ did not have to destroy world

A Virtuous Citizenry

Virtue: The ability to sacrifice self-interest for the public good

Some (Jefferson, Adams, Rush) made plans to establish free public schools to equip future citizens

o With the “principles of freedom”

o For making wise decisions in the election on representative

Knowledge among all citizens was essential for government based on the will of the people to survive

Defining Economic Freedom

How did the definition of economic freedom change after the Revolution, and who

benefited?

Toward Free Labor

Rapid decline in indentured servants and apprentices

o Paid domestic service now an occupation for blacks and women

o Lack of freedom that came with these jobs before were now incompatible with republican citizenship

By 1800, indentured servitude was gone and sharpened the distinction between

o Freedom and slavery

o Northern economy (“free labor”—wage workers and farm ownership) and southern economy (slavery)

The Soul of a Republic

Could a republic survive with a sizeable class of dependent Americans?

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Chapter 6 - Summary Give Me Liberty!: an American History

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