What was and wasn't mentioned in the Declaration of Independence

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,106
#1
It indirectly mentions the Navigation Act, depriving them of trade with the world, despite the fact that Spanish America had similar restrictions.

It also indirectly mentions the Quebec Act, talking about establishing an arbitrary system of government in a neighboring province and expanding its borders. There was concern that the west was going to be part of Quebec, Catholic, under French law with no elections or trial by jury. The religious issue was not mentioned, probably mainly not to offend France and Spain, but also not to offend US Catholics and Quebec.

There is no mention of issues with the Church of England, despite the Revolution resulting in it going from being established in most colonies to being a tiny minority. A high percentage of the delegates were still Church of England, they didn't want to offend patriot Anglicans, and it also could be offensive to France and Spain.

The Proclamation of 1763 is not mentioned, even though it was a major cause of the revolt and war. Obviously, this would have been offensive / threatening to Spain and maybe France.
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,932
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#2
Religion was avoided because Americans themselves were religiously diverse. Eventually we would enshrine religious neutrality in the First Amendment, but that was still in the future. Even the understanding and application of the First Amendment's non-establishment clause would evolve in the early 19th century.

Many things are mentioned and not mentioned in the DoI. Care to narrow your question?
 
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Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,891
Caribbean
#4
It also indirectly mentions the Quebec Act, talking about establishing an arbitrary system of government in a neighboring province and expanding its borders.
Not sure where you meant to go with this. There is a multitude of ideas NOT mentioned.

Among the mentions, IMO, it is significant that the 27 offenses are omitted as delegated powers in the Articles of Confed and Const.

As to the Quebec Act, you might look at the
Resolutions of the Continental Congress October 19, 1765
In there is explicit language re "Protestant Kingdom," "Protestant Colonies," and the "Protestant Succession" (which I take as a reference to the English Bill of Rights of 1689 - no "Papists" in the monarchy).

I don't understand your reference to issues with the Church of England.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,891
Caribbean
#5
Religion was avoided because Americans themselves were religiously diverse. Eventually we would enshrine religious neutrality in the First Amendment, but that was still in the future. Even the understanding and application of the First Amendment's non-establishment clause would evolve in the early 19th century.

Many things are mentioned and not mentioned in the DoI. Care to narrow your question?
I would not use the term "diverse" to describe 1770-1780 American religiosity. Well over 90% would fall into the (my terms) Bible-believing non-papists, loosely "Protestant." The Catholic population was about 25,000(?) out of 3 million,
How Many Catholics
which by math is less than 1%. I suspect Jews, Muslims, etc, were a small fraction of the Catholic 1%.

There is plenty of evidence to show that the different denominations could debate with and disperse from each other over even small issues of rite, ceremony or theology, but there should be no overlooking that they were in substantial agreement about major issues. There may have been enshrining of neutrality in the federal constitution, the government that had no jurisdiction (police power) over the land that made up the states, but the state constitutions did plenty of enshrining.
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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#6
I would not use the term "diverse" to describe 1770-1780 American religiosity. Well over 90% would fall into the (my terms) Bible-believing non-papists, loosely "Protestant." The Catholic population was about 25,000(?) out of 3 million,
How Many Catholics
which by math is less than 1%. I suspect Jews, Muslims, etc, were a small fraction of the Catholic 1%.

There is plenty of evidence to show that the different denominations could debate with and disperse from each other over even small issues of rite, ceremony or theology, but there should be no overlooking that they were in substantial agreement about major issues. There may have been enshrining of neutrality in the federal constitution, the government that had no jurisdiction (police power) over the land that made up the states, but the state constitutions did plenty of enshrining.
I think we agree on all significant points. I used the term 'diverse' only to mean that while many of the founders wanted to establish a religion there was no consensus on which Protestant religion to establish. The founders therefore chose neutrality not necessarily because they thought it was best but because they could not agree on anything else. You are correct about some of the states having established religions in the 18th century, but that ended by 1830 when all of the states had embraced religious neutrality.
 
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Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,249
Albuquerque, NM
#7
First, lets be clear about the Declaration. It is a declaration of intend, a manifesto justifying a rebellion against lawful authority. It has NO legal standing nor has there ever been any enforceable constraints or privileges based soley on the Declaration of Independence. Much of the Declaration is a reiteration of the revolutionary's grievances against the King, but the first two graphs have provided generations of inspiration for Americans and the world at large. Here is a link so that our members can read for themselves. The colonies could not, and did not use the Declaration to organize, coordinate, and fight the revolution. The working document was the Articles of Confederation that describes a structure between Colonies rather like the EU is today. Even before the fight was won, the Articles were problematical, and within a decade proved so ineffective and inefficient that the infant nation appeared to most as a dead-letter.

Enter the U.S. Constitution, and transformation from a collection largely independent states, into a single nation. Many saw in the Articles an opportunity to build a purer form of Democracy, but like the Greek City-States the system proved itself incapable of governing a nation at the end of the 18th century. Jefferson built and led the Democratic-Republican Party glorifying those ideals and a foresaw a nation of small rural farmers, and swore to tear down all the changes made by the Federalists responsible for the U.S. Constitution. He won in 1800 and did try as hard as the current Executive to turn back the clock. The Founders positively hated the idea of partisan politics, even as they had to deal with them every day and on every conceivable bit of national business. The representational form of government we enjoy has many Fathers and Mothers (of Invention), but is vaguely an improvement on the Roman Republic.

The Constitution is a distillation of what Enlightenment Thinkers and leaders believed to be the last word on political science, and governance. The Founders weren't starry-eyed idealists, but hard-headed civic-minded advocates for their own constituents. They acted out of recognition of human frailty, greed, and lust for power. The religious wars of the previous century(s), and the "domination of the many by the few" convinced them to separate religion from government, while preventing government from interfering in matters of faith and doctrine. Secular government has been a great benefit to the West, while other parts of the world still supports Theocratic governments with some of the most important policies and decisions rendered by clerics.

Here's a link to the Articles: https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=articles of confederation
 
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Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
3,891
Caribbean
#9
I think we agree on all significant points. I used the term 'diverse' only to mean that while many of the founders wanted to establish a religion there was no consensus on which Protestant religion to establish. The founders therefore chose neutrality not necessarily because they thought it was best but because they could not agree on anything else. You are correct about some of the states having established religions in the 18th century, but that ended by 1830 when all of the states had embraced religious neutrality.
Where did such conversation occur?
"Which Protestant religion to establish"? BTW, Protestantism is a religion. Not choosing a sect is not the same thing as not choosing a religion.

New Jersey
"...but that all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect. who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity, enjoyed by others their fellow subjects.
Vermont
"And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz.
" I ____ do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Diverse, the rewarder of the good and punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the scriptures of the old and new testament to be given by divine inspiration, and own and profess the protestant religion.""
GA, NC and SC
also specifically mention Protestant as a requirement for public office.

Neutrality? You can be any flavor of Protestant. Editorial comment: IMO, the lack of "separation" of church and state is not readily apparent because Jesus, in particular, does not exhort the believers to use violence and murder against so-called heretics for their conscience.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,932
Dispargum
#10
Where did such conversation occur?
"Which Protestant religion to establish"? BTW, Protestantism is a religion. Not choosing a sect is not the same thing as not choosing a religion.
I'm sure our differences are only those of terminology. You are correct that most, if not all, of the early states guaranteed the free practice of religion. I used the term 'religious neutrality' to indicate the absence of an established religion aka a state supported religion - the use of tax dollars to support one religion (Anglican, Presbyterian, Congregationalist) over all of the other religions. This is how the First Amendment uses 'religion' when it says 'no established religions' - no sect can be established over another. Several states established religions as they wrote their first state constitutions in the 1770s. Many of these states did away with established religions in the 1780s and 1790s. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire still had established religions in 1800. The last of these three states (Massachusetts) did away with their established religion in 1833.

Religion and the State Governments - Religion and the Founding of the American Republic | Exhibitions (Library of Congress)
 

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