Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-75dct Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-19T14:52:38.022Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Tribespeople, Idiots or Citizens?: Religious Liberty and the Reforging of the American Public Philosophy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 April 2015

Extract

“There is … evident opportunity in the growing philosophical and cultural awareness that all people live by commitments and ideals, that value-neutrality is impossible in the ordering of society, and that we are on the edge of a promising moment for a fresh assessment of pluralism and liberty.”

— The Williamsburg Charter

George Washington's home, Mount Vernon, is among America's most visited sites. But one of the most fascinating things at Mount Vernon is one of the least noticed — the key to the Bastille, the forbidding Paris fortress whose fall on July 14th, 1789, became the symbol of the French Revolution.

The key hangs in the hall at Mount Vernon, oversized for its classically-proportioned surroundings and often overlooked. But it once spoke eloquently for the highest hopes in both nations. Six weeks after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in September 1787, Jefferson rejoiced at the meeting of the Estates General and the prospect of applying revolutionary American principles to France. In that same spirit, the Marquis de Lafayette took the key of the Bastille in 1789 and sent it to his good friend Washington as a symbol of their common vision of the future. Their hopes were to be dashed. Sobered by the reign of terror and the revolutionary ugliness from Robespierre and Danton to Napoleon, both Americans and French supporters of the United States revised their views. For example, Gouverneur Morris, the U.S. Ambassador to France, wrote home in disgust: “They want an American Constitution with the exception of a King instead of a President, without reflecting that they have not American citizens to support that constitution.”

Type
I. Commentary on The Williamsburg Charter
Copyright
Copyright © Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University 1990

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1. Letter of July 10, 1789 to Carmichael, William, Sparks, Jared, ed, 2 The Life and Writings of Gouverneur Morris 75 (Gray & Bowen, 1832)Google Scholar.

2. Murray, John Courtney, We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (Sheed & Ward, 1960)Google Scholar.

3. The Williamsburg Charter, 8 above.

4. See Noonan, John T. Jr., The Believer and the Powers that Are: Cases. History, and Other Data Bearing on the Relation of Religion and Government xvi (Macmillan, 1987)Google Scholar.

5. Berman, Harold J., Religious Freedom and the Challenge of the Modern State, in Hunter, James Davison and Guinness, Os, eds, Articles of Faith, Articles of Peace: The Religious Liberty Clauses and the American Public Philosophy 48 (Brookings, 1990)Google Scholar.

6. Id at 42.

7. Id at 43.

8. The Williamsburg Charter, 9 above.

9. See The Williamsburg Charter Survey, 257 below.

10. Hodgkinson, Harold L., California: The State and its Educational System (Institute for Educational Leadership, 1986)Google Scholar.

11. Hodgkinson, Harold L., All One System: Demographics of Education, Kindergarten through Graduate School (Institute for Educational Leadership, 1985)Google Scholar.

12. The Washington Post, 03 2, 1988, A20Google Scholar.

13. See Lutz, Donald S., Religious Dimension in the Development of American Constitutionalism, 39 Emory L J 21 (1990)Google Scholar; Elazar, Daniel, Covenant as the Basis of Jewish Political Tradition, 2 Jewish J of Sociology 5 (1978)Google Scholar; Gaffney, Edward McGlynn, Of Covenants Ancient and New, 2 J Law & Relig 117 (1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14. Maritain, Jacques, The Possibilities for Co-operation in a Divided World, Inaugural Address to the Second International Conference of UNESCO, 11 6, 1947Google Scholar.

15. Tipton, Steven, Religion in an Ambiguous Polity, 39 Emory L J 191, 196 (1990)Google Scholar.

16. See Rawls, John, The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus, 7 Oxford J of Legal Studies 1 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17. Murray, at 65 (cited in note 2).

18. Id at 45.

19. The Williamsburg Charter, 7 above.

20. Mayer, J.P. & Kerr, A.P., eds, Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville 55 (Doubleday, 1970)Google Scholar.