Jamestown, Quebec, Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings

WEB RESOURCE This exhibition, from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, explores the international origins of the societies of Canada and the United States. The materials look at the settlement, history, culture, spiritual life and more of both the settlers and the native peoples who lived in these almost simultaneously established colonies.

Religion in the Colonies - I

PODCAST In this session recorded by Colonial Williamsburg, historian and interpreter John Turner discusses the results of establishment of the Anglican Church and the Great Awakening in colonial Virginia. Recorded April 17, 2006

Religion in the Colonies - II

PODCAST During this podcast, historian Bob Doares at Colonial Williamsburg discusses the range of positions on the issue of religious freedom in the various American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. He talks about the context for the groundbreaking work of colonial leaders Jefferson and Madison placing the idea of religious liberty into law. Recorded August 31, 2009.

Only in America: First Jews

PUBLIC RADIO BROADCAST Three hundred and fifty years ago, in September 1654, twenty-three impoverished Jews arrived by ship in New Amsterdam after having been expelled from Recife, Brazil. Adding insult to injury, Governor Peter Stuyvesant tried to expel them when they arrived. ONLY IN AMERICA is a series of radio programs that will show the progress of American Jews from this trickle of poor immigrants to today's thriving community of six million.

Religion in Early Virginia

WEB RESOURCE This Colonial Williamsburg site supports the podcast by Bob Doares. It outlines key ideas on the issue of religion in colonial Virginia including: the law mandated Virginians worship in the Anglican Church, the Church was supported by tax dollars, the line between religious and civil authority was blurred, the struggle for religious freedom paralleled struggle for political independence, Virginians not tolerant of non-Christian religions, and white women were primary guardians of family religious life.

Smallpox and the Covenant

PODCAST This Colonial Williamsburg podcast features historian Tony Williams talking about his book The Pox and the Covenant: Mather, Franklin, and the Epidemic That Changed America's Destiny that focuses on the clash between religion and science in 18th c. Boston. When small pox broke out in Boston in 1721, Cotton Mather supported smallpox eradication through vaccination when others believed that the pox was God's way of punishing people for sins. Recorded July 13, 2009.

Patrick Henry on Religion

PODCAST Patrick Henry was a strong believer in the need for established Christian religion in order for the peaceful management of the state. Patrick Henry's passionate beliefs come alive through Richard Schumann's interpretation of his views on the Colonial Williamsburg website. Recorded April 20, 2009.

Early Virginia Religious Petitions

PRIMARY SOURCES Here are images of 423 petitions submitted to the Virginia legislature between 1774 and 1802 from more than eighty counties and cities. Drawn from the Library of Virginia's Legislative Petitions collection, the petitions concern such topics as the historic debate over the separation of church and state championed by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, the rights of dissenters such as Quakers and Baptists, the sale and division of property in the established church, and the dissolution of unpopular vestries. Search by topic.

Williamsburg's Evangelical Preacher

PODCAST From this page, search by date or by name to access "Williamsburg's Evangelical Preacher." This Colonial Williamsburg podcast features interpreter Ron Carnegie giving background information about the charismatic colonial preacher George Whitefield. Recorded April 10, 2006. Select the year from the bottom of the page and scroll to the correct date. There is also a link to a transcript and background information.

Meet Gowan Pamphlet, Slave Preacher

PODCAST James Ingram, Colonial Williamsburg interpreter talks about the life and beliefs of the enslaved African American tavern worker Gowan Pamphlet. Born at the right time, this revolutionary figure was an electrifying force who challenged the Christian ideas of the Anglican Church after hearing the powerful preaching of George Whitfield and Presbyterian Samuel Davies. Recorded February 19, 2007. Select the year from the bottom of the homepage and scroll to the date. Choose from audio only, video and audio, or a transcript.

Religion and Revolution

WEB RESOURCE This background piece by Colonial Williamsburg provides useful information on the role of religion on the ideas behind the American Revolution.

Junipero Serra

WEB RESOURCE Junipero Serra, a priest in the Franciscan order of the Catholic Church, was a driving force in the Spanish conquest and colonization of what is now the state of California. This brief biography of Serra by PBS puts him in his context of both Church and conquest. It links to the American West documentary.

America as a Religious Refuge: The Seventeenth Century

WEB RESOURCE This Library of Congress page in Religion and the Founding of the Republic puts the founding of the 13 colonies in the religious historical context of the persecutions that followed the 16th-17th c. religious wars in Europe.

Religion in Eighteenth-Century America

WEB RESOURCE This Library of Congress page in Religion and the Founding of the Republic traces the religious development of 18th c. America. All are based on primary sources related to the Anglican and protestant faiths, deism, and the Great Awakening.

Religion and the American Revolution

WEB RESOURCE Some late 18th c. religious leaders played a major role in the American Revolution by offering a moral sanction for opposition to the British. As a recent scholar has observed, by turning colonial resistance into a righteous cause, and by crying the message to all ranks in all parts of the colonies, ministers did the work of secular radicalism and did it better. The Revolution split some denominations like the Church of England, whose ministers were bound by oath to support the King, and the Quakers, who were traditionally pacifists.

Missions of California (Series)

CHILDREN'S BOOKS Entries in this six-volume series each have a different author but the format is the same. The titles include Missions of the Los Angeles Area, Missions of the Southern Coast, Missions of the Inland Valleys, Missions of the Monterey Bay Area, Missions of the San Francisco Bay, and Missions of the Central Coast. The coverage is relatively balanced in that is gives both Spanish and Native American perspectives of the process of colonization. There is a vocabulary list, a pronunciation guide and an index in each book. Lerner, 2008. Grades 4-8

The Missions of California (Perspectives on History)by Phyllis Emert

BOOK This brief book focuses on California from the mid-18th to the early 19th centuries when the Spanish government used the mission system to convert local natives in Alta California to Catholicism. Missions also performed an economic function as they trained native people in farming and industrial skills, which would support the mission communities of religious leaders, soldiers, and converted natives. This anthology looks at the founding of twenty-one California missions, the controversial relationship between the missionaries and the neophytes, and the impact of Spanish architecture and daily lifestyles at the missions of California. History Compass publishing

Never Turn Back: Father Serra's Mission by James J. Rawles

BOOK This biography of Serra paints a sympathetic portrait of the priest but also looks at the impact of his work in founding the California missions on Native American lives. Raintree-Steck Vaugh, 1993. Grades 4-8

Pioneer Jews: A New Life in the Far West by Harriet and Fred Rochlin

BOOK This book traces the story of the Jewish experience in America from their first arrival in 1654 to the early 20th c. There are biographical sketches of significant people. Houghton Mifflin, 2000. HS and adult

Religion and Witchcraft in Colonial America

VIDEO John Demos, Professor of History Emeritus at Yale and the author of several books on early America and witchcraft, discusses the role of religion and witchcraft during the Colonial Era. He places the Salem Witch Trials in context and presents a larger picture of how early Americans viewed the spiritual world and their place in it. Recorded June 27, 2008 for Gilder Lehrman. Length: One hour.

William Penn: Visionary Proprietor

WEB RESOURCE This historical article by Tuomi J. Forrest for the Crossroads American history curriculum. It describes the founding of Pennsylvania by William Penn and the influence it and Quaker ideas had in early American society.

Freedom of Conscience -- Jews and Quakers

VIDEO + DISCUSSION GUIDE This segment from Dutch New York film describes the experiences of both the Sephardic Jews and the Quakers as they settled in New Amsterdam in search of religious freedom. The director of New Netherland colony, Peter Stuyvesant, was not initially welcoming of the Jews and the Quakers, but ultimately was advised by his superiors in Amsterdam to allow people of all faiths to practice their religion. This WNET video also describes how the Quakers drafted a list of grievances, later called The Flushing Remonstrance, which is one of the roots of religious freedom in America. Transcripts and discussion questions support the media. Elem - MS

Puritanism and Predestination

WEB RESOURCE This Divining America page by Christine Heyrman guides teachers in explaining the complex idea of predestination, a key component of Puritan theology. Puritan membership was limited to the "visibly godly," meaning those men and women who led sober and upright lives. Calvin taught that God, in his infinite mercy, would spare a small number of "elect" individuals from the fate of eternal hellfire that all mankind, owing to their corrupt natures, justly deserved. That elect group of "saints" would be blessed, at some point in their lives, by a profound sense of inner assurance that they possessed God's "saving grace." MS - HS

Salem Witch Trials

Primary sources provide details the narratives of popular, textbook history often neglect. In this video segment, historian Elizabeth Reis analyzes testimony from the Salem Witch Trials, looking at what both confessions and denials say about religious and social norms among the Massachusetts communities involved. MS-HS

Religion in Africa: Common Themes

WEB RESOURCE This section of the PBS website entitled This Far by Faith, shows the relationship between African beliefs and how enslaved people developed the strength to cope with oppression from coming to America until 1775.

Famous American Trials: Salem Witchcraft Trials 1692

WEB RESOURCE From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft; dozens languished in jail for months without trials until the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts subsided. This Famous Trials site by Douglas Linder provides primary sources of testimony, petitions and much more to understand the issues in depth.

Anglican Church in Virginia

WEB RESOURCE This Colonial Williamsburg resource provides background on how the established Anglican church worked in colonial Virginia.

Dissent in Massachusetts Bay

WEB RESOURCE There was not too much room for religious disagreement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Puritans defended their dogma with uncommon fury. Their devotion to principle was God's work; to ignore God's work was unfathomable. When free-thinkers speak their minds in such a society, conflict inevitably results. This overview links to resources about Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, Thomas Hooker and Mary Dyer.

California Missions, 1780-present

WEB Resource Establishing religious authority to convert Native Californians to Catholicism was central to Spanish colonization. Spain's 21 California missions stretched along the El Camino Real route linking San Diego to Sonoma. This mission system was established in the late 18th century, largely under the guidance of Father Junipero Serra. Serra, a politically powerful Franciscan priest, personally founded nine missions, expanding the system into Alta California.The text is relatively short and there are many images of the missions themselves and more information on individual missions.

Plea for Religious Liberty by Roger Williams

PRIMARY SOURCE Drawn from The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution (1644): A Plea for Religious Liberty by Roger Williams, this document outlines the reasons the it is essential for all people to have liberty of conscience. In 1644, Williams published this famous work. The Bloody Tenent is a fierce attack on religious and political intolerance in both England and New England. One can see his arguments re-emerge over 100 years later in Madison's arguments for religious liberty that became part of the US Constitution/Bill of Rights. This site is difficult to use because there are many advertisement breaking into the text.

Religion in the Original 13 Colonies

WEB RESOURCE This Pro-Con site selects the religion references in colonial and early national state constitutions.

Great Awakening Comes to Weathersfield, Connecticut: Nathan Cole's Spiritual Travels

PRIMARY SOURCE In the 1730s and 1740s many rural folk rejected the enlightened and rational religion that came from the cosmopolitan pulpits and port cities of British North America. Instead, they were attracted to the evangelical religious movement that became known as the Great Awakening. The English Methodist George Whitefield and other itinerant ministers ignited this popular movement with their speaking tours of the colonies. This is a primary source account from Nathan Cole.

"A Devil to Tempt and a Corrupt Heart to Deceive," John Dane Battles Life's Temptations

PRIMARY SOURCE Born in England, John Dane and his Puritan family emigrated to Ipswich, Massachusetts, in the late 1630's. Like many Puritans he was raised to carry what historian Philip Greven calls an "inner disciplinarian" within his conscience at all times. Dane's mother taught him: "Go where you will, God will find you out." In this narrative, Dane relates the temptations he faced over the course of his life and how he applied her warning. (spelling updated)

"As They Had Been in Ancient Times"- Pedro Naranjo Relates the Pueblo Revolt, 1680

PRIMARY SOURCE In the late 17th-century, Spain's empire in the Americas extended north to New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California, where Spanish soldiers, settlers, and missionaries began to settle. The missionaries resettled the indigenous Pueblo people into peasant communities, building forts and missions to subdue and convert them to Catholicism. The New Mexico Pueblo people resisted Spanish conversion efforts and forced labor demands. Their sporadic resistance became a concerted rebellion in 1680 under the leadership of El Pope. The revolt was the most successful Native American effort to turn back European colonists, and for over a decade the Pueblos were free from colonial intrusion. But in 1690 the Pueblos were weakened by drought and Apache and Comanche raiders from the north. Spain retook territory and interrogated and punished the rebels in their "reconquest" of the Pueblo. A Keresan Pueblo man called Pedro Naranjo offered his view of the rebellion and its causes.

"Whom I Must Join"- Elizabeth Ashbridge, an 18th-Century Englishwoman, Becomes a Quaker

PRIMARY SOURCE Elizabeth Ashbridge (1713-1755) began life as a vivacious girl with a "wild and airy" temperament and ended it as a sober Quaker. Born in England, Ashbridge eloped at fourteen and was widowed five months later. After rejection by her family and a three-year visit with relatives in Ireland, she sailed for America as an indentured servant, arriving in New York in July, 1732. This selection from her autobiography begins as Ashbridge sets out from her home in Long Island to visit relatives in Philadelphia. By then she had undergone an intensely felt spiritual search and had married her second husband, a teacher with a penchant for violence and drink. Ashbridge's dispute with her second husband over her Quakerism ended only with his enlistment in the army and subsequent death. She married a third time, to a Quaker named Aaron Ashbridge, and died while visiting Quakers in England and Ireland.

"The Pulpit Being My Great Design" : A Minister in Early 18th-Century New England

PRIMARY SOURCE This primary source reveals the tensions in the late 18th c. between a religious and an Enlightenment view of the world. Eighteenth-century New Englanders increasingly found themselves living within the imperial context of the European wars and Enlightenment ideas that flowed across the Atlantic. John Barnard, the long-time minister of Marblehead, Massachusetts, was influenced by those ideas. While Barnard held traditional providential beliefs in God's responsibility for events, his life history also revealed an increasing layer of newer scientific beliefs and values.


PRIMARY SOURCE Law and custom in 17th c. New England gave male property owners authority over the women, children, and other dependents of their families. Women who spoke up or stood out merited suspicion, and many were accused, prosecuted, and occasionally executed for the crime of witchcraft. Women could be excommunicated, as Ann Hibben was in 1641, for "usurping" her husband's role, or, as Anne Yale Easton was in 1644, for expressing "unorthodox opinion." During the notorious Salem Village trials of 1692, magistrates put credence in rampant accusations of witchcraft by hanging 19 people, fourteen of them women. Anne Hutchinson, a prominent Boston woman, was tried and banished from Massachusetts in 1637 after attracting a religious following and "casting reproach upon the faithful Ministers of this Country." Although Hutchinson was never accused outright of being a witch, the delivery of a deformed, stillborn infant to one of her female associates in 1638 was interpreted by the Puritan fathers as the Devil's work. This illustration from an eighteenth-century chapbook (a cheaply printed pamphlet) presented a "monstrous" birth as a sign of witchcraft.

The Maryland Toleration Act 1649

PRIMARY SOURCE The Maryland Toleration Act of 1649 did not bring religious freedom, as is sometimes assumed. It did try to solve a problem of conflict between two groups of Christian settlers Catholics and Protestants.

Excerpts from Massachusetts Body of Liberties 1641

PRIMARY SOURCE (Excerpt) The Massachusetts Body of Liberties was the first legal code established by European colonists in New England. It was one of the earliest protections of individual rights in America.Compiled by the Puritan minister Nathaniel Ward, the laws were established by the Massachusetts General Court in 1641.

Letters Between Thomas Jefferson and the Danbury (Connecticut) Baptists (1802)

PRIMARY SOURCES This entry includes both the letter from the Danbury Baptist congregation to Thomas Jefferson and his answer. It is a good source for learning about his interpretation of what the Founders considered was the meaning of the Establishment Clause.

Jefferson, Religion, and the Public Schools

WEB RESOURCE This is an excerpt from Constitutional scholar Leonard Levy's book "Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side." It looks at Jefferson's views on the role of religion in pubic education.

Native American Heritage of Los Angeles

WEB RESOURCE The Native American Heritage of Los Angeles When the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo arrived in what was to become Los Angeles in 1542, his ship anchored off Santa Catalina Island where it was greeted by a large canoe filled with Indian people who called themselves kumi.vit, and who would later be identified as the Gabreleno/Gabrielino-Tongva. The Gabreleno-Tongva occupied the area as well as the four southern Channel Islands. There were about 50 permanent villages in the area (some sources indicate that there may have been as many as 100 villages), each with 100 to 300 inhabitants.