Early Virginia Religious Petitions


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Stained glass window of men inside a church praying, many with white old-fashioned wigs
[Detail] The Prayer in the First Congress, A.D. 1774.


Early Virginia Religious Petitions presents 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. The collection provides searchable access to the petitions' places of origin and a brief summary of each petition's contents, as well as summaries of an additional seventy-four petitions that are no longer extant. The collection complements the Library of Congress exhibition Religion and the Founding of the American Republic and is a collaborative venture between the Library of Congress and The Library of Virginia.


Petitioning in Eighteenth-Century Virginia