Amendment I (Religion)

Document 13

Patrick Henry, Religious Tolerance

1766Stokes 1:311--12

Much learning hath been displayed to show the necessity of establishing one church in England in the present form. But these reasonings do not reach the case of this colony. . . .

. . . A general toleration of Religion appears to me the best means of peopling our country, and enabling our people to procure those necessarys among themselves, the purchase of which from abroad has so nearly ruined a colony, enjoying, from nature and time, the means of becoming the most prosperous on the continent. . . .

. . . When I say that the article of religion is deemed a trifle by our people in the general, I assert a known truth. But when we suppose that the poorer sort of European emigrants set as light by it, we are greatly mistaken. The free exercise of religion hath stocked the Northern part of the continent with inhabitants; and altho' Europe hath in great measure adopted a more moderate policy, yet the profession of Protestantism is extremely inconvenient in many places there. A Calvinist, a Lutheran, or Quaker, who hath felt these inconveniences in Europe, sails not to Virginia, where they are felt perhaps in a (greater degree).

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 5, Amendment I (Religion), Document 13
The University of Chicago Press

Stokes, Anton Phelps, ed. Church and State in the United States. 3 vols. New York: Harper & Bros., 1950.

Easy to print version.