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Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Topic: Predicaments of Early Republican LifeTopic: ReligionTopic: PoliticsTopic: ExpansionTopic: Equality
Topic: Religion
Overview of Living the Revolution
Resource Menu: Religion
Text 1. Online Exhibition
Text 2. Jefferson/Madison
Text 3. Adams/Jefferson
» Reading Guide
•  Link

Text 4. American Bible Society
Text 5. Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church
Text 6. Rev. Peter Cartwright
Text 7. Richard Allen
Text 8. Background
RESOURCE MENU » Reading Guide Link

Reading Guide
3.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Correspondence, 1812-1823; excerpts from ten letters   John Adams
  Thomas Jefferson

Let's revisit two "Founding Fathers"—Adams and Jefferson—as they reflect in their senior years on life, religion, and the young republic. In 1812, when these excerpts from their correspondence begin, Louisiana is admitted as the first state from the Louisiana Territory, construction has just begun on the National Road, the War of 1812 is declared, and most of the revolutionary leaders have died. Jefferson is 69 years old, having written the Declaration of Independence three decades earlier and left the presidency four years earlier. Adams, eight years older at 77, has been out of public office for a dozen years. They have time to reflect, worry, reconsider, affirm—and write numerous letters each day. What are the "general principles" on which the Union was formed? Where does religion fit in these principles? Where does Christianity fit? What causes them anxiety or assurance about the state of the Union? In what do they have faith? 6 pages.

Discussion questions
  ·  On what "general principles" did the writers of the Constitution agree, according to Adams and Jefferson?
  ·  Where do the two men place Christianity within these "general principles"?
  ·  What aspects of organized religion support the republic? endanger the republic?
  ·  What excesses of religious authority in Europe must be avoided in America?
  ·  What are the religious beliefs of Jefferson and Adams? How do they compare with those of the evangelical preachers Cartwright and Allen?

» Link

Topic Framing Questions
  •  How was religious freedom defined in the new republic?
  •  How did rationalists and evangelicals differ on the place of religion in a republic? How did they agree?
  •  How did diverse religious communities contribute to a shared national identity?
  •  How could church-state separation co-exist with the conviction that religion is critical to a nation's strength?

Toolbox: Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Predicaments | Religion | Politics | Expansion | Equality

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