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Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia's Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Secured Religious Liberty (review)

Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia's Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and... REVIEWS Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia's Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Secured Religious Liberty. By John A. Ragosta. (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. 261. Cloth, $34.95.) Reviewed by Thomas E. Buckley, S.J. In what is primarily a work of advocacy, John Ragosta argues that religious dissenters, principally Baptists and Presbyterians, bear the most conspicuous responsibility for the transformation of Virginia during and immediately after the Revolution from a British colony where the Church of England was legally established to a state with an essentially modern separation of church and state. While he acknowledges that James Madison and Thomas Jefferson contributed important ``writings,'' Ragosta insists that ``it was the dissenters who bargained for, and fought for, religious freedom'' (11). He wants their voices represented both in the history and the ``current legal and . . . judicial decisions'' on church and state (170). Perhaps the author's legal background has sensitized him to the importance of negotiations between adversaries, because he reiterates this theme throughout the book. In one camp he locates the supporters of the Anglican establishment who controlled the assembly and keenly desired to mobilize all Virginians to wage the Revolution. In the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Early Republic University of Pennsylvania Press

Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia's Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Secured Religious Liberty (review)

Journal of the Early Republic , Volume 31 (3) – Aug 11, 2011

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Pennsylvania Press
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1553-0620
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Abstract

REVIEWS Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia's Religious Dissenters Helped Win the American Revolution and Secured Religious Liberty. By John A. Ragosta. (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2010. Pp. 261. Cloth, $34.95.) Reviewed by Thomas E. Buckley, S.J. In what is primarily a work of advocacy, John Ragosta argues that religious dissenters, principally Baptists and Presbyterians, bear the most conspicuous responsibility for the transformation of Virginia during and immediately after the Revolution from a British colony where the Church of England was legally established to a state with an essentially modern separation of church and state. While he acknowledges that James Madison and Thomas Jefferson contributed important ``writings,'' Ragosta insists that ``it was the dissenters who bargained for, and fought for, religious freedom'' (11). He wants their voices represented both in the history and the ``current legal and . . . judicial decisions'' on church and state (170). Perhaps the author's legal background has sensitized him to the importance of negotiations between adversaries, because he reiterates this theme throughout the book. In one camp he locates the supporters of the Anglican establishment who controlled the assembly and keenly desired to mobilize all Virginians to wage the Revolution. In the

Journal

Journal of the Early RepublicUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Aug 11, 2011

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