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Wellspring of liberty [electronic resource] : how Virginia's religious dissenters helped win the American Revolution and secured religious liberty /
John A. Ragosta.
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2010.
description
viii, 261 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
9780195388060 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2010.
isbn
9780195388060 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
contents note
Virginians dissent -- Pleading for reform and demanding freedom -- British plans for success -- Did the dissenters fight? -- After the war -- What did they fight, and bargain for?
abstract
"Historians and the Supreme Court have repeatedly noted that the foundation of the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty lies in Virginia's struggle, turning primarily to Jefferson and Madison to understand this. In Wellspring of Liberty, John A. Ragosta argues that Virginia's religious dissenters played a seminal and previously underappreciated role in the development of the First Amendment and in the meaning of religious freedom as we understand it today."--BOOK JACKET.
catalogue key
8099608
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [237]-253) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2011-02-01:
Historian Ragosta (Univ. of Virginia School of Law) traces the transformation whereby Virginia went from the Colony that most persecuted religious dissent to the state that was most concerned with protecting religious freedom. In six succinct, closely argued chapters, Ragosta shows Presbyterian and Baptist dissenters wrestling with the Anglican established church during the American Revolution era. He argues that Virginia dissenters, who "found themselves important participants in the political dialogue" that accompanied the Revolution, went from tentatively pleading for "improved toleration" to demanding their "religious freedom." The parts of this story related to important Founding Fathers and the documents they wrote--such as James Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments" (1785) and Thomas Jefferson's "Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom" (1786)--have a well-established historiography. But Ragosta asks readers to expand their view to take in lesser-known participants and a broader historical framework for a better perspective on how the First Amendment came about. The volume concludes with a brief epilogue and two appendixes, one of which lists alphabetically the names of those who were persecuted for religion in post-1763 18th-century Virginia. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, researchers/faculty. M. G. Spencer Brock University
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A timely and useful book. Ragosta''s insistence on the agency of dissenters is refreshing and timely. This book makes a worthy contribution to the ongoing study of religious freedom in the United States." --Church History "This engaging, revisionist study reveals in new detail the contribution of dissenters-especially Baptists and Presbyterians-to the triumph of religious freedom in late-eighteenth-century Virginia. First bartering their support of the Revolution for greater toleration, the newly politicized dissenters turned after the war to public meetings and vast petitioning campaigns to push for the complete separation of church from state finally delivered in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. No one has examined this story with a sharper eye than John Ragosta."-Patricia U. Bonomi, New York University "Combining wonderful research with significant insights into Revolutionary-era America, John Ragosta adds new support for the assertions that religious establishment, in any of its forms, resulted in extensive persecution of dissenters and that the process of disestablishment was extremely contentious. Ragosta''s work will likely become required reading for scholars in the history of the separation of church and state." -Mark D. McGarvie, author of One Nation Under Law: America''s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State "Wellspring of Liberty is a detailed and important study of how Virginia''s religious dissenters demanded religious concessions in exchange for their support of the American Revolution, and it outlines the piecemeal, incremental nature of wartime and post-war religious reforms. This study significantly attributes much of the republicanization of Virginia to the dissenters who successfully negotiated, in a forced dialogue with establishment leaders, for disestablishment and religious freedom. Ragosta convincingly finds that the Revolutionary War was the wellspring of both republicanization and religious liberty."-Nancy L. Rhoden, The University of Western Ontario "In addition to offering a compelling, well-documented narrative of dissenters'' path to power, the author sheds light on the contemporary public discourse concerning the role of religion in the founding years of the American nation. This volume is a valuable addition to the shelves of historians, theologians, and the general public." --Baptist Studies Bulletin "The great appeal of Ragosta''s book lies in its ability to increase our understanding of the ideological genealogy of religious freedom...[it] presents an interesting and detailed portrait of the politicization of Virginia''s religious dissenters that will undoubtedly be useful for students of Virginia''s religious history." --Virginia Magazine of History and Biography "Ragosta makes a valuable contribution to the field by showing how religious disestablishment in Virginia, which became the template for freedom of religion at the national level, was the hard-won product of political and military mobilization during the War of Independence and the early years of the peace. As a social history, it is a superb telling of an inadequately explored part of the revolution in Virginia.Wellspring of Libertydeserves to take a prominent place on the shelf of religious and social history during the American Revolution." --Reviews in History "This creative and accessible work is required reading for scholars of the Revolution, and it offers important revisions to the history of church and state in early America." --North Carolina Historical Review "Remarkably detailed and informative. Indeed, no one has told the story better...Ragosta''s book should become a staple among those books that examine the early history and development of the American ideal of separation of church and state. Works like this one that inform and help clarify a complex issue are of considerable value to scholars and students alike." --American Historical Review
"Focused, persuasive, and meticulously researched .Helps us to more precisely understand the true implications of the Great Awakening as well as the threat of establishing an Anglican bishop as catalysts to American independence."--Episcopal History "A timely and useful book. Ragosta''s insistence on the agency of dissenters is refreshing and timely. This book makes a worthy contribution to the ongoing study of religious freedom in the United States." --Church History "Relying on an impressive array of court records, letters, diaries, newspapers, sermons, denominational histories, and, most importantly, hundreds of petitions sent to the Virginia legislature... Ragosta leaves no doubt that dissenters were key players in Virignia''s transformation from an Anglican stronghold to a bellwether of religious freedom. An innovative and important book that sheds new light on Revolutionary loyalty, military mobilization in Virginia, and the origins of religious liberty in America." --American Journal of Legal History "This engaging, revisionist study reveals in new detail the contribution of dissenters-especially Baptists and Presbyterians-to the triumph of religious freedom in late-eighteenth-century Virginia. First bartering their support of the Revolution for greater toleration, the newly politicized dissenters turned after the war to public meetings and vast petitioning campaigns to push for the complete separation of church from state finally delivered in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. No one has examined this story with a sharper eye than John Ragosta."-Patricia U. Bonomi, New York University "Combining wonderful research with significant insights into Revolutionary-era America, John Ragosta adds new support for the assertions that religious establishment, in any of its forms, resulted in extensive persecution of dissenters and that the process of disestablishment was extremely contentious. Ragosta''s work will likely become required reading for scholars in the history of the separation of church and state." -Mark D. McGarvie, author of One Nation Under Law: America''s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State "Wellspring of Liberty is a detailed and important study of how Virginia''s religious dissenters demanded religious concessions in exchange for their support of the American Revolution, and it outlines the piecemeal, incremental nature of wartime and post-war religious reforms. This study significantly attributes much of the republicanization of Virginia to the dissenters who successfully negotiated, in a forced dialogue with establishment leaders, for disestablishment and religious freedom. Ragosta convincingly finds that the Revolutionary War was the wellspring of both republicanization and religious liberty."-Nancy L. Rhoden, The University of Western Ontario "In addition to offering a compelling, well-documented narrative of dissenters'' path to power, the author sheds light on the contemporary public discourse concerning the role of religion in the founding years of the American nation. This volume is a valuable addition to the shelves of historians, theologians, and the general public." -- Baptist Studies Bulletin "The great appeal of Ragosta''s book lies in its ability to increase our understanding of the ideological genealogy of religious freedom...[it] presents an interesting and detailed portrait of the politicization of Virginia''s religious dissenters that will undoubtedly be useful for students of Virginia''s religious history." -- Virginia Magazine of History and Biography "Ragosta makes a valuable contribution to the field by showing how religious disestablishment in Virginia, which became the template for freedom of religion at the national level, was the hard-won product of political and military mobilization during the War of Independence and the early years of the peace. As a social history, it is a superb telling of an inadequately explored part of the revolution in Virginia. Wellspring of Liberty deserves to take a prominent place on the shelf of religious and social history during the American Revolution." -- Reviews in History "This creative and accessible work is required reading for scholars of the Revolution, and it offers important revisions to the history of church and state in early America." -- North Carolina Historical Review "Remarkably detailed and informative. Indeed, no one has told the story better...Ragosta''s book should become a staple among those books that examine the early history and development of the American ideal of separation of church and state. Works like this one that inform and help clarify a complex issue are of considerable value to scholars and students alike." -- American Historical Review "Ragosta''s focused, persuasive, and meticulously researched argument has the potential to change how we think about nonconforming religion and the struggle for independence...Wellspring of Liberty not only provides insight into the particulars of the conflict for the largest, most populous, and richest colony--sometimes contrasting the situation in Virginia with the situation in other southern colonies as well--it helps us to more precisely understand the true implications of the Great Awakening as well as the threat of establishing an Anglican bishop as catalysts to American independence."--Anglican and Episcopal History "[Ragosta] presents a fascinating account for his readers about the established church''s control slipping from its grasp, the dissenters'' eventual success, and our inheritance of religious freedom."--Religioust Studies Review
"Focused, persuasive, and meticulously researched .Helps us to more precisely understand the true implications of the Great Awakening as well as the threat of establishing an Anglican bishop as catalysts to American independence."--Episcopal History "A timely and useful book. Ragosta''s insistence on the agency of dissenters is refreshing and timely. This book makes a worthy contribution to the ongoing study of religious freedom in the United States." --Church History "This engaging, revisionist study reveals in new detail the contribution of dissenters-especially Baptists and Presbyterians-to the triumph of religious freedom in late-eighteenth-century Virginia. First bartering their support of the Revolution for greater toleration, the newly politicized dissenters turned after the war to public meetings and vast petitioning campaigns to push for the complete separation of church from state finally delivered in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. No one has examined this story with a sharper eye than John Ragosta."-Patricia U. Bonomi, New York University "Combining wonderful research with significant insights into Revolutionary-era America, John Ragosta adds new support for the assertions that religious establishment, in any of its forms, resulted in extensive persecution of dissenters and that the process of disestablishment was extremely contentious. Ragosta''s work will likely become required reading for scholars in the history of the separation of church and state." -Mark D. McGarvie, author of One Nation Under Law: America''s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State "Wellspring of Liberty is a detailed and important study of how Virginia''s religious dissenters demanded religious concessions in exchange for their support of the American Revolution, and it outlines the piecemeal, incremental nature of wartime and post-war religious reforms. This study significantly attributes much of the republicanization of Virginia to the dissenters who successfully negotiated, in a forced dialogue with establishment leaders, for disestablishment and religious freedom. Ragosta convincingly finds that the Revolutionary War was the wellspring of both republicanization and religious liberty."-Nancy L. Rhoden, The University of Western Ontario "In addition to offering a compelling, well-documented narrative of dissenters'' path to power, the author sheds light on the contemporary public discourse concerning the role of religion in the founding years of the American nation. This volume is a valuable addition to the shelves of historians, theologians, and the general public." -- Baptist Studies Bulletin "The great appeal of Ragosta''s book lies in its ability to increase our understanding of the ideological genealogy of religious freedom...[it] presents an interesting and detailed portrait of the politicization of Virginia''s religious dissenters that will undoubtedly be useful for students of Virginia''s religious history." -- Virginia Magazine of History and Biography "Ragosta makes a valuable contribution to the field by showing how religious disestablishment in Virginia, which became the template for freedom of religion at the national level, was the hard-won product of political and military mobilization during the War of Independence and the early years of the peace. As a social history, it is a superb telling of an inadequately explored part of the revolution in Virginia. Wellspring of Liberty deserves to take a prominent place on the shelf of religious and social history during the American Revolution." -- Reviews in History "This creative and accessible work is required reading for scholars of the Revolution, and it offers important revisions to the history of church and state in early America." -- North Carolina Historical Review "Remarkably detailed and informative. Indeed, no one has told the story better...Ragosta''s book should become a staple among those books that examine the early history and development of the American ideal of separation of church and state. Works like this one that inform and help clarify a complex issue are of considerable value to scholars and students alike." -- American Historical Review "Ragosta''s focused, persuasive, and meticulously researched argument has the potential to change how we think about nonconforming religion and the struggle for independence...Wellspring of Liberty not only provides insight into the particulars of the conflict for the largest, most populous, and richest colony--sometimes contrasting the situation in Virginia with the situation in other southern colonies as well--it helps us to more precisely understand the true implications of the Great Awakening as well as the threat of establishing an Anglican bishop as catalysts to American independence."--Anglican and Episcopal History "[Ragosta] presents a fascinating account for his readers about the established church''s control slipping from its grasp, the dissenters'' eventual success, and our inheritance of religious freedom."--Religioust Studies Review
This engaging, revisionist study reveals in new detail the contribution of dissenters-especially Baptists and Presbyterians-to the triumph of religious freedom in late-eighteenth-century Virginia. First bartering their support of the Revolution for greater toleration, the newly politicized dissenters turned after the war to public meetings and vast petitioning campaigns to push for the complete separation of church from state finally delivered in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. No one has examined this story with a sharper eye than John Ragosta.-Patricia U. Bonomi, New York University "Combining wonderful research with significant insights into Revolutionary-era America, John Ragosta adds new support for the assertions that religious establishment, in any of its forms, resulted in extensive persecution of dissenters and that the process of disestablishment was extremely contentious. Ragosta's work will likely become required reading for scholars in the history of the separation of church and state." -Mark D. McGarvie, author of One Nation Under Law: America's Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State Wellspring of Liberty is a detailed and important study of how Virginia's religious dissenters demanded religious concessions in exchange for their support of the American Revolution, and it outlines the piecemeal, incremental nature of wartime and post-war religious reforms. This study significantly attributes much of the republicanization of Virginia to the dissenters who successfully negotiated, in a forced dialogue with establishment leaders, for disestablishment and religious freedom. Ragosta convincingly finds that the Revolutionary War was the wellspring of both republicanization and religious liberty.-Nancy L. Rhoden, The University of Western Ontario
"This engaging, revisionist study reveals in new detail the contribution of dissenters-especially Baptists and Presbyterians-to the triumph of religious freedom in late-eighteenth-century Virginia. First bartering their support of the Revolution for greater toleration, the newly politicized dissenters turned after the war to public meetings and vast petitioning campaigns to push for the complete separation of church from state finally delivered in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. No one has examined this story with a sharper eye than John Ragosta."-Patricia U. Bonomi, New York University "Combining wonderful research with significant insights into Revolutionary-era America, John Ragosta adds new support for the assertions that religious establishment, in any of its forms, resulted in extensive persecution of dissenters and that the process of disestablishment was extremely contentious. Ragosta's work will likely become required reading for scholars in the history of the separation of church and state." -Mark D. McGarvie, author of One Nation Under Law: America's Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State "Wellspring of Liberty is a detailed and important study of how Virginia's religious dissenters demanded religious concessions in exchange for their support of the American Revolution, and it outlines the piecemeal, incremental nature of wartime and post-war religious reforms. This study significantly attributes much of the republicanization of Virginia to the dissenters who successfully negotiated, in a forced dialogue with establishment leaders, for disestablishment and religious freedom. Ragosta convincingly finds that the Revolutionary War was the wellspring of both republicanization and religious liberty."-Nancy L. Rhoden, The University of Western Ontario "In addition to offering a compelling, well-documented narrative of dissenters' path to power, the author sheds light on the contemporary public discourse concerning the role of religion in the founding years of the American nation. This volume is a valuable addition to the shelves of historians, theologians, and the general public." --Baptist Studies Bulletin "The great appeal of Ragosta's book lies in its ability to increase our understanding of the ideological genealogy of religious freedom...[it] presents an interesting and detailed portrait of the politicization of Virginia's religious dissenters that will undoubtedly be useful for students of Virginia's religious history." --Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, February 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Virginia's dissenters, primarily Presbyterians and Baptists, demanded religious liberty in return for supporting the American Revolution. The resulting negotiations not only brought Virginia, and America, religious freedom, but politicized dissenters and republicanized the polity.
Main Description
Before the American Revolution, no colony more assiduously protected its established church or more severely persecuted religious dissenters than Virginia. Both its politics and religion were dominated by an Anglican establishment, and dissenters from the established Church of England were subject to numerous legal infirmities and serious persecution. By 1786, no state more fully protected religious freedom. This profound transformation, as John A. Ragosta shows in this book, arose not from a new-found cultural tolerance. Rather, as the Revolution approached, Virginia's political establishment needed the support of the religious dissenters, primarily Presbyterians and Baptists, for the mobilization effort. Dissenters seized this opportunity to insist on freedom of religion in return for their mobilization. Their demands led to a complex and extended negotiation in which the religious establishment slowly and grudgingly offered just enough reforms to maintain the crucial support of the dissenters. After the war, when dissenters' support was no longer needed, the establishment leaders sought to recapture control, but found they had seriously miscalculated: wartime negotiations had politicized the dissenters. As a result dissenters' demands for the separation of church and state triumphed over the establishment's efforts and Jefferson's Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom was adopted. Historians and the Supreme Court have repeatedly noted that the foundation of the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty lies in Virginia's struggle, turning primarily to Jefferson and Madison to understand this. In Wellspring of Liberty, John A. Ragosta argues that Virginia's religious dissenters played a seminal, and previously underappreciated, role in the development of the First Amendment and in the meaning of religious freedom as we understand it today.
Main Description
Before the American Revolution, no colony more assiduously protected its established church or more severely persecuted religious dissenters than Virginia. Both its politics and religion were dominated by an Anglican establishment, and dissenters from the established Church of England weresubject to numerous legal infirmities and serious persecution. By 1786, no state more fully protected religious freedom. This profound transformation, as John A. Ragosta shows in this book, arose not from a new-found cultural tolerance. Rather, as the Revolution approached, Virginia's political establishment needed the support of the religious dissenters, primarily Presbyterians and Baptists, for the mobilizationeffort. Dissenters seized this opportunity to insist on freedom of religion in return for their mobilization. Their demands led to a complex and extended negotiation in which the religious establishment slowly and grudgingly offered just enough reforms to maintain the crucial support of thedissenters. After the war, when dissenters' support was no longer needed, the establishment leaders sought to recapture control, but found they had seriously miscalculated: wartime negotiations had politicized the dissenters. As a result dissenters' demands for the separation of church and state triumphed overthe establishment's efforts and Jefferson's Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom was adopted. Historians and the Supreme Court have repeatedly noted that the foundation of the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty lies in Virginia's struggle, turning primarily to Jefferson and Madison to understand this. In Wellspring of Liberty, John A. Ragosta argues that Virginia's religiousdissenters played a seminal, and previously underappreciated, role in the development of the First Amendment and in the meaning of religious freedom as we understand it today.
Main Description
Before the American Revolution, no state more seriously discriminated against and persecuted religious dissenters than Virginia. Over 50 dissenting ministers, primarily Baptists, were jailed, and numerous Baptists and Presbyterians were beaten or harassed. African-American congregants were treated particularly viciously. By the time the U.S. Constitution was adopted, no state provided more extensive protection to religious freedom, nor did so in terms nearly so elegant as Thomas Jefferson's Statute for Establishing Religious Freedom. This dramatic change occurred because Virginia's dissenters, constituting as much as one-third or more of the population, demanded religious freedom before they would mobilize for the American Revolution; Virginia's establishment leaders, the same gentry leaders who led much of the persecution, had little choice but to grant that freedom. In return, dissenting ministers played an important role both in encouraging enlistments during the Revolution and themselves joining in the fighting. By comparison, British efforts to co-opt religious dissent were wan and failed to gain significant support in Virginia. By the end of the war, though, religious liberty was not yet complete, and with the necessity of mobilization eliminated, establishment leaders, led by Patrick Henry, sought to reinvigorate the formerly established church through a general tax to benefit all Christian denominations. This proved too much for the dissenters who had demanded religious freedom based on both their politics and theology; politicized by the negotiations during the Revolution and with James Madison coordinating legislative efforts, they rose up to quash the idea of a religious tax and insisted upon adoption of Jefferson's Statute. In doing so, these eighteenth century evangelicals demanded a strict separation of church and state. The impact of their joining the polity and the robust religious liberty which they left as a legacy still resonate today.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 3
Virginians Dissentp. 15
Pleading for Reform and Demanding Freedomp. 43
British Plans for Successp. 71
Did the Dissenters Fight?p. 87
After the Warp. 109
What Did They Fight, and Bargain, For?p. 137
Epiloguep. 161
Persons Persecuted for Religion, Eighteenth-Century Virginia, Post-1763p. 171
Denominational Support for Mobilization in Virginia during the American Revolutionp. 185
Notesp. 193
Bibliographyp. 237
Indexp. 255
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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