Thomas Jefferson: Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom(1786)
Thomas Jefferson was a student of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, with its emphasis on human reason and science and the rejection of outmoded traditions and social structures. At the foundation of his political philosophy was his admiration for the yeoman farmer and a distrust of financiers and big-city interests. He favored a limited federal government and strong states’ rights. Although he was raised in the Church of England (the established church of Virginia), Jefferson also believed in the separation of church and state. After the Revolutionary War, Jefferson became a leader of reform in Virginia. The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, signed into law in 1786, was derived from a bill Jefferson drafted and submitted to the legislature.
Thomas Jefferson (Library of Congress)View Full Size