Colonial Religion

Primary Source Set

In British North America, the distinctive religious attachments of the thirteen independent colonies affected their colonization and development. These colonies varied in their approach, from Massachusetts’ initial establishment as a Puritan stronghold to Penn’s “holy experiment” in religious tolerance to Virginia’s reliance on the Church of England for guidance. Each colony employed a moral/religious compass when establishing their rule of law and viewed religion as a way to include or exclude individual members of society. The leaders of religious movements were also leaders in colonial government, since religion and government were inseparable to the seventeenth-century mind. In the mid-eighteenth century, the sermons of the First Great Awakening shook America’s religious foundations to the core and helped to form a new American moral consciousness, which played a critical role in the creation of a distinctive American mindset fully established by the wake of the American Revolution.

Additional resources for research

  1. Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, the Library of Congress.
  2. Religion in Colonial America: Trends, Regulations, and Beliefs, Facing History and Ourselves.
  3. Religion, Colonial Williamsburg.

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