The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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Is it true that Madison said " . . . the purpose of separation of church and state . . . "

There is a bogus quote that is found on the Internet being offered by separationists:

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries. ----James Madison, 1803, letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., "2000 Years of Disbelief"

OR

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries. - James Madison

OR

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries. - -- James Madison, letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803.

Until such a time as someone provides a complete and proper cite for the above quote it has to be viewed with high suspicion.

by Jim Allison


Place in this section: QUOTES BOGUS, PROBLEMATICAL, ETC

An email to me concerning this quote several years ago:

From: boston@us.net
Subject: James Madison quote
To: JALISON@infi.net
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 14:47:09 -0500 (EST)

JIM:

Does this quote ring a bell with you? I have heard it before, but I'll be darned if I can actually find it in any of Madison's writings. Do you know if it's legitimate?

<----Forwarded Message ---->
From: ACLUVT@aol.com
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 10:11:28 -0500 (EST)
To: isbell@au.org
Subject: James Madison quote

Hi,
We're trying to find the source of the following quote from James Madison, used by Molly Ivins: "The purpose of the separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries."

Can you help? Or give us to someone who might know? Thanks.

Leslie Williams
Executive Director
ACLU of Vermont
-----------------------------
Rob Boston
Assistant Director of Communications
Americans United
boston@au.org
(202) 466-3234


I [jalison] emailed back at that time that I had no record of any such quote. In addition he also was told the same thing by Prof. Robert S. Alley: Editor of James Madison on Religious Liberty Promethrus Books (1998) See below:

From: boston@us.net
Subject: Re: James Madison quote
To: jalison@infi.net
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 15:16:46 -0500 (EST)

Jim:

Thanks for your help with that Madison "quote." I touched base with Bob Alley (who is one of our trustees) and he also could not confirm it. I e-mailed the folks in Vermont and recommended they do not use the quote.
-----------------------------
Rob Boston
Assistant Director of Communications
Americans United
boston@au.org
(202) 466-3234


[currently]

Date: Fri, 5 Nov 2004 22:07:34 -0800 (PST)
From: richard [deleted]
Subject: verification of a madison quote
To: jalison@cox.net

Hi Mr. Allison,

First, I wanted to say that I love your site.. it has been a very valuable resource for me over the past few years. But now, down to business...there is a James Madison quote floating around the Internet, that I believe may be erroneous. The most extensive description I can find of it is from positiveatheism.com, as follows:

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries." -- James Madison, letter objecting to the use of government land for churches, 1803, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

I have contacted the editor of the James Madison Papers, and the author of the book listed above, and neither of them were able to find the source of that quote. The only sources I can find on the internet have the description listed above or less. I thought maybe you might know something about it, or if it is unverifiable, that you could add it to your 'problematic quotes' page.

thanks for your time,

richard

[me again]

Madison did object to the use of government land for churches in one of his vetoes in 1811. But that has nothing to do with the quote in question.

* Madison's vetoes: Some of The First Official Meanings Assigned to The Establishment Clause (1811)

The only thing in 1803 is this, and it doesn't apply:

OCTOBER 1, 1803

Notes for annual message, Oct. 17, 1803: alterations and additions, etc [1]
(3) after "assure"-are proposed "in due season, and under prudent arrangements, important aids to our Treasury, as well as," an ample etc.
Quere: if the two or three succeeding paragraphs be not more adapted to the separate and subsequent communication, if adopted as above suggested.
(4) For the first sentence, may be substituted "In the territory between the Mississippi and the Ohio another valuable acquisition has been made by a treaty etc."[3.] As it stands, it does not sufficiently distinguish the nature of the one acquisition from that of the other, and seems to imply that the acquisition from France was wholly on the other side of the Mississippi
May it not be as well to omit the detail of the stipulated considerations, and particularly that of the Roman Catholic Pastor. The jealousy of some may see in it a principle, not according with the exemption of Religion from Civil power. In the Indian Treaty it will be less noticed than in a President's speech.[4.]
FOOTNOTES:
[1.] For TJ's third annual message to Congress, Oct. 17, 1803, see Ford, VIII, pp. 266-7.
[3.] TJ's message announced the acquisition of territory by treaty from the Kaskaskia Indians; see Ford, VIII, pp. 269-70.
[4.] TJ accepted JM's suggestion to omit any discussion of Indian treaty requirements to maintain a Roman Catholic priest, leaving the stipulations in the treaty to "the competence of both houses.... as soon as the senate shall have advised its ratification"; see ibid.
Source of Information:
James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, Washington, Oct. 1, 1803, Notes for annual message, Oct. 17, 1803: alterations and additions, etc.[1.], The Republic of Letters, the Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1776-1826, Edited by James Morton Smith, Vol. II, 1790 -1804, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London, (1995) pp 1297-98.


The only known references to separation in the writings of Madison are the following:

JUNE 3, 1811

To the Baptist Churches on Neal's Greek on Black Creek, North Carolina I have received, fellow-citizens, your address, approving my objection to the Bill containing a grant of public land to the Baptist Church at Salem Meeting House, Mississippi Territory. Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have other wise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself

Source of Information:

Letter to Baptist Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811. Letters And Other Writings of James Madison Fourth President Of The United States In Four Volumes Published By the Order Of Congress, Vol..II, J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, (1865), pp 511-512.


MARCH 2, 1819

The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State.

Source of Information:

Letter to Robert Walsh from James Madison. March 2, 1819 Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, in Four Volumes, Published by Order of Congress. Vol. III, J. B. Lippincott & Co. Philadelphia, (1865), pp 121-126. James Madison on Religious Liberty, Robert S.Alley, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, N.Y. (1985) pp 82-83)


1817-1833

Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and Gov't in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents' already furnished in their short history. . . .

Source of Information:

Madison's Detached Memoranda. This document was discovered in 1946 among the papers of William Cabell Rives, a biographer of Madison. Scholars date these observations in Madison's hand sometime between 1817 and 1832. The entire document was published by Elizabeth Fleet in the William and Mary Quarterly of October 1946.


JULY 10, 1822

Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together . . .

Source of Information:

Letter to Edward Livingston from James Madison, July 10, 1822. Letters and Other writings of James Madison, in Four Volumes, Published by Order of Congress. VOL. III, J. B. Lippincott & Co. Philadelphia, (1865), pp 273-276. James Madison on Religious Liberty, Robert S.Alley, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, N.Y. (1985) pp 82-83.


SEPTEMBER 1833

. . .I must admit moreover that it may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency to a usurpation on one side or the other or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them will be best guarded against by entire abstinence of the government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order and protecting each sect against trespasses on its legal rights by others". . . .

Source of Information:

Letter to Rev. Jasper Adams from James Madison, September, 1833. Writings of James Madison, edited by Gaillard Hunt, [not sure what the volume number is but have enough information presented here to locate the letter] microform Z1236.L53, pp 484-488.


Avoid using the quote.

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