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The Danbury Baptists' letter to Thomas Jefferson

The address of the Danbury Baptists Association in the state of

Connecticut, assembled October 7, 1801. To Thomas Jefferson,

Esq., President of the United States of America. 


Among the many million in America and Europe who rejoice in your

election to office; we embrace the first opportunity which we

have enjoyed in our collective capacity, since your inauguration,

to express our great satisfaction, in your appointment to the

chief magistracy in the United States: And though our mode of

expression may be less courtly and pompous than what many others

clothe their addresses with, we beg you, sir, to believe that

none are more sincere. 

Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious

liberty--that religion is at all times and places a matter

between God and individuals--that no man ought to suffer in name,

person, or effects on account of his religious opinions--that the

legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to

punish the man who works ill to his neighbors; But, sir, our

constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter

together with the law made coincident therewith, were adopted as

the basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and

such had been our laws and usages, and such still are; that

religion is considered as the first object of legislation; and

therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of

the state) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable

rights; and these favors we receive at the expense of such

degrading acknowledgements as are inconsistent with the rights of

freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those who seek

after power and gain under the pretense of government and

religion should reproach their fellow men--should reproach their

order magistrate, as a enemy of religion, law, and good order,

because he will not, dare not, assume the prerogatives of Jehovah

and make laws to govern the kingdom of Christ. 

Sir, we are sensible that the president of the United States is

not the national legislator, and also sensible that the national

government cannot destroy the laws of each state; but our hopes

are strong that the sentiments of our beloved president, which

have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of

the sun, will shine and prevail through all these states and all

the world, till hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the

earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow

of philanthropy and good will shining forth in a course of more

than thirty years we have reason to believe that America's God

has raised you up to fill the chair of state out of that goodwill

which he bears to the millions which you preside over. May God

strengthen you for your arduous task which providence and the

voice of the people have called you to sustain and support you

enjoy administration against all the predetermined opposition of

those who wish to raise to wealth and importance on the poverty

and subjection of the people. 

And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you

at last to his heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious


Signed in behalf of the association,  Nehemiah Dodge

                                      Ephraim Robbins

                                      Stephen S. Nelson

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