Wednesday, September 25, 2019

An Essay Collection on US Church-State Relations

Disestablishment and Religious Dissent: Church-State Relations in the New American States, 1776-1833, edited by Carl H. Esbeck and Jonathan J. Den Hartog, is available from the University of Missouri Press on November 1st but may be ordered now at a prepublication discount for $30.  Use code DRD2019 here or when calling 800-621-2736.
Disestablishment and Religious DissentThe American Revolution set in motion a round of constitution making in the colonies, several of which soon declared themselves sovereign states and severed all remaining ties to the British Crown. In forming these written constitutions, the delegates to the state conventions were forced to address the issue of church-state relations. Each colony had unique and differing traditions of church-state relations rooted in the colony’s peoples, their country of origin, and religion.

This definitive volume, comprising twenty-one original essays by eminent historians, law professors, and political scientists, is a comprehensive state-by-state account of disestablishment in the original thirteen states, as well as a look at similar events in the soon-to-be-admitted states of Vermont, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Also considered are disestablishment in Ohio (the first state admitted from the Northwest Territory), Louisiana and Missouri (the first states admitted from the Louisiana Purchase), Maine (carved from Massachusetts), and Florida (wrestled from Spain under U.S. pressure). The volume makes a unique scholarly contribution by recounting in detail the process of disestablishment in each of the colonies, as well as religion’s constitutional and legal place in the new states of the federal republic.
An endorsement:

“Myths, half-truths, and downright errors surround popular perceptions of the American separation of church and state. This outstanding book, with its first-rate roster of historians and legal scholars, demonstrates that American church disestablishment proceeded state by state, in many different ways and over a lengthy period of time. It will be of great interest to historians of the early United States and may be even more important for those who wrestle with challenging church-state questions in our own day.” —Mark Noll, professor of history, University of Notre Dame.

--Dan Ernst