Tuesday, July 24, 2007


The atmosphere of our country is charged with a theatening cloud of fanaticism...I had no idea, however, that in Pennsylvania, the cradle of toleration and freedom of religion, it could have risen to the height you describe. This must be owing to the growth of Presbyterianism. The blasphemy and absurdity of the five points of Calvin, and the impossibility of defending them, render their advocates impatient of reasoning, irritable, and prone to denunciation.
In our village of Charlottesville, there is a good degree of religion, with a small spice only of fanaticism. We have four sects [Episcopalian, Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian]...and all mix in society with perfect harmony. It is not so in the districts where Presbyterianism prevails undividedly. Their ambition and tyranny would tolerate no rival if they had power. Systematical in grasping at an ascendancy over all other sects, they aim, like the Jesuits, at engrossing the education of the country, are hostile to every institution which they do not direct, and jealous at seeing others begin to attend at all to that object.

Letter to Dr. Cooper, Nov. 2, 1822

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