Monday, July 7, 2014

nonsectarian revolution

In response to an August 1776 address from the Association of Baptist Churches in Louisa County, Virginia Governor Patrick Henry remarked, "I am happy to find...that those religious distinctions which formally produced some heats are now forgotten.  Happy must every friend of virtue and America perceive that the only contest among us, at this most critical and important period, is, who shall be foremost to preserve our religious and civil liberties."

In a May 1776 sermon, Presbyterian pastor John Witherspoon, the sixth President of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), said, "Nor was there ever perhaps in history so general a commotion from which religious differences have been so entirely excluded."

The prison ships operated by the British off occupied cities like Charleston and New York held American Revolutionaries of various religious and ethnic backgrounds.  On a prison ship off Savannah, Georgia, for instance, Jewish-Americans Mordecai Sheftall and his fifteen-year-old son Sheftall Sheftall were messmates with Congregationalist minister Moses Allen.  

John Witherspoon, "The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men," 17 May 1776, in The Selected Works of John Witherspoon, ed. Thomas Miller (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1990), page 142.
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