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A Table of the Religious Affiliations of American Founders.

Table compiled by Ian Dorion
From time to time our readers have questions about the religious affiliations of American Founders. Remarkably, few scholars have spent much time researching the question, and most of those who list such affiliations do so only for signers of the Constitution.

Ian Dorion, a retired aeronautical engineer now living in Catemaco, Veracruz, Mexico, has been doing some research on this issue, and contributes the following table. The table lists the religious affiliation of every person that was a signatory to the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation, and every delegate to the Constitutional Convention, as best these affiliations can be determined from history. Founders are listed alphabetically. A key to symbols is found at the bottom of the table.

As you'll see, this list is not yet complete. Ian will continue to research this table, and will send us updates as he compliles information. Additionally, we should issue a word of caution concerning the vagaries of historical research. First, it's sometimes very difficult to determine a person's religion; historians can only go by the documents people leave behind, and many founders never wrote or said much about their religious beliefs. Additionally, church affiliation is an imprecise way of determining a person's beliefs; some religious people rarely attended church, only a small percentage of church attenders in the late 1700s were actually church members, and some church members were not particularly religious. George Washington, for example, was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church, but he was neither deeply religious, nor particularly Christian (most historians count him as a Deist). Similarly, just because two people are of the same relgion doesn't mean they see the world the same way. Both Jerry Falwell and Jesse Jackson, for example, are Baptists, but you'd be on shakey ground in claiming that their common religion implies anything like political similarity. These vagaries aside, this table should be a substantial help to anyone interested in getting a handle on the religious beliefs of America's founders.

You'll note that more than one affiliation is listed for some of the founders. Ian contributes the following explanation:

Additionally, Ian provides us with some specific comments about difficulties in determining the religious affiliations of the following signers: Daniel of St. Thomas Jennifer, William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jonathon Dayton, James Wilson, Hugh Williamson, Abraham Baldwin, George Clymer, and Gouverneur Morris.

Ian welcomes the help of anyone that wants to help him complete research on this table. Please e-mail him with relevant documentation at:

Don't e-mail us; Ian wants to verify all information relevant to the table before it gets placed on this page.

                      A Table of the Religious Affiliations 
                              of American Founders

Signer                      State       Doc.    Office          Affiliation (Ref.)

Adams, Andrew               CT          A                       CO(l)
Adams, John                 MA          D       President       CO(b)UN(a)
Adams, Samuel               MA          D/A                     CO(b)
Adams, Thomas               VA          A
Banister, John              VA          A
Baldwin, Abraham            GA          C                       CO(j,k)PR(n)
Bartlett, Josiah            NH          D/A                     CO(b)
Bassett, Richard            DE          C                       ME(g,j,m,n)
Bedford, Gunning, Jun.      DE          C                       PR(j,m)
Blair, John                 VA          C       Justice         PR(a)EP(n)
Blount, William             NC          C                       EP(n)PR(f,j)
Braxton, Carter             VA          D
Brearly, David              NJ          C			EP(n)
Broom, Jacob                DE          C                       QU(n)EP(m)
Butler, Pierce              SC          C                       EP(j,m)
Carroll, Charles            MD          D                       RC(d)
Carroll, Daniel             MD          A/C                     RC(d,j,n)
Chase, Samuel               MD          D       Justice         EP(a)
Clark, Abraham              NJ          D                       PR(c,e)
Clingan, William            PA          A
Collins, John               RI          A       Governor
Clymer, George              PA          D/C                     QU(j,n),EP(j)
Dana, Francis               MA          A
Dayton, Jonothan            NJ          C                       PR(n)EP(j)
Dickenson, John             DE          A/C                     QU(j,m,n)EP(j)
Drayton, William Henry      SC          A
Duane, James                NY          A                       EP(l)
Duer, William               NY          A
Ellery, William             RI(A)MA(D)  D/A                     CO(b)
Few, William                GA          C                       ME(j,k,n)
Fitzsimons, Thomas          PA          C                       RC(j,n)
(variant spellings: Fitzsimmons, Fitz-Simons)
Floyd, William              NY          D                       PR(c,e)
Franklin, Benjamin          PA          D/C                     EP(n)DE(j)
Gerry, Elbridge             MA          D/A                     EP(j)
Gilman, Nicholas            NH          C                       CO(j,n)
Gorham, Nathaniel           MA          C                       CO(j,n)
Gwynnett, Button            SC          D                       EP(k,o)
Hall, Lyman                 SC          D                       CO(b,k)
Hamilton, Alexander         NY          C                       EP(j,n)
Hancock, John               MA          A/D                     CO(b)
Hanson, John                MD          A
Harnett, Cornelious         NC          A                       EP(f)DE(f)
Harrison, Benjamin          VA          D       Governor
Hart, John                  NJ          D                       PR(c)
Harvie, John                VA          A
Hewes, Joseph               NC          D                       EP?(f)
Heyward, Thomas             SC          A
Heyward, Thomas, Jr.        SC          D
Holton, Samuel              MA          A
Hooper, William             NC          D                       EP(f)
Hopkins, Stephen            RI          D
Hopkinson, Francis          NJ          D                       Ep(l)
Hosmer, Titus               CT          D
Huntington, Samuel          CT          D/A                     CO(b)
Hutson, Richard             SC          A                       PR(l)
Ingersoll, Jared            PA          C                       PR(j,n)
Jefferson, Thomas           VA          D       President       DE(a)
Jennifer, Dan oF St. Thomas MD          C                       EP(j,n)
Johnson, Wm. Saml.          CT          C       Justice         PR(a)EP(j,n)
King, Rufas                 MA          C                       EP(j)CO(n)
Langdon, John               NH          C                       CO(j,n)
Langworthy, Edward          GA          A                       EP(o)
Laurens, Henry              SC          A                       HU(l)
Lee, Henry Lightfoot        VA          D/A
Lee, Richard Henry          VA          D/A     Senator
Lewis, Francis              NY          D/A
Livingston, Phil.           NY          D                       P(c)
Livingston, Wil.            NJ          C                       PR(j,n)
Lovell, James               MA          A
Lynch, Thomas Junr.         SC          D
Madison, James Jr.          VA          C       President       EP(a,j,n)TH(i)
Marchant, Henry             RI          A
Mathews, John               SC          A
McHenry, James              MD          C                       PR(j,n)
Middleton, Arthur           SC          D
Miflin, Thomas              PA          C                       QU(n)LU(j)
M'Kean, Thomas              DE          D/A                     PR(m)
Morris, Gouv.               NY(A)PA(C)  A/C                     EP(j)DE(i,n)
Morris, Lewis               NY          D
Morris, Robert              PA          D/A/C                   EP(j,n)
Morton, John                PA          D
Nelson, Thomas Jr.          VA          D
Paca, William               MD          D
Paine, Robert Treat         MA          D                       CO(b)
Paterson, William           NJ          C       Justice         PT(a)PR(j,n)
Penn, John                  NC          D/A                     UK(f)
Pinckney, Charles           SC          C                       EP(j,n)
Pinckney, Chas. Cotesworth  SC          C                       EP(j,n)
Read, George                DE          D/C                     EP(j,m,n)
Reed, Joseph                PA          A
Roberdeau, Daniel           PA          A
Rodney, Caesar              DE          D                       EP(m)
Ross, George                PA          D
Rush, Benjamin              PA          D                       PR(c,e)UN
Rutledge, Edward            SC          D       Justice         CE(a)
Rutledge, J.                SC          C                       EP(j,n)
Scudder, Nathaniel          NJ          A
Sherman, Roger              CT          D/A/C                   CO(b,j,n)
Smith, James                PA          D                       PR(c,e)
Smith, Jona. Bayard         PA          A
Spaight, Richard Dobbs      NC          C                       EP(f,j,n)
Stockton, Richard           NJ          D                       PR(c,e)
Stone, Thomas               MD          D
Taylor, George              PA          D                       PR(c,e)
Telfair, Edward             GA          A
Thornton, Matthew           NH          D                       PR(c,e)
Van Dyke, Nicholas          DE          A                       EP(m)
Walton, George              GA          D                       AN(o)
Walton, Jno.                GA          A
Washington, George          VA          C       President       EP(a,j,n)TH(i)
Wentworth, John Junr.       NH          A
Whipple, William            NH          D                       CO(b)
Williams, Jonothan          NC          A                       UK(f)
Williams, William           CT          D                       CO(b)
Williamson, Hu              NC          C                       PR(f,n)DE(j)
Wilson, James               PA          D/C     Ch. Justice*    EP(a)PR(e,n)DE(j)
Witherspoon, Jonothan       NJ          D/A     Minister        PR(c)(e)
Wolcott, Oliver             CT          D/A                     CO(b)
Wythe, George               VA          D                       EP(j)



A = Articles of Confederation
D = Declaration of Independence
C = United States Constitution


CE = Church of England
CO = Congregationalist
DE = Deist
EP = Episcopalian
HU = Huguanot
LU = Lutheran
ME = Methodist
QU = Quaker
PR = Presbyterian
PT = Protestant
RC = Roman Catholic
TH = Theist
UK = Unknown
UN = Unitarian


a = 1995 Information Please Almanac
b = The Congregationalist Library
c = Presbyterian Historical Society
d = U.S. Catholic Historical Society
e = Presbyterian Church, USA
f = North Carolina State Library
g = United Methodist Church
h = Lutheram
i = Memoirs & Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson, IV, p.512
j = A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States
    Constitution, M. E. Bradford
k = Georgia Public Library Service
l = Dictionary of American Biography (1936)
m = A History of Delaware Through its Governors 1776-1984 by Roger A. Martin
n = Library of Congress
o = Georgia Historial Society

Served without being confirmed by the Senate

Copyright 1997, Ian Dorian.
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