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The Rights of the People

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    CHAPTER XII. RELIGIOUS RIGHT IN THE STATES

    It has been shown in chapter 5 how that, upon the victory of religious right in Virginia in 1787, and the nationalizing of those principles by the example and provisions of the national Constitution made in 1787-1789, “In every other American State oppressive statutes concerning religion fell into disuse.” And that the statute of Virginia then established had since been incorporated-always in its principles and often in its very words-in every State constitution in the Union from that day to this.ROP 265.1

    This was not accomplished in a day, however, in the others of the original thirteen States. As also formerly stated, and the other States except Rhode Island had establishing religious in some form. This was so when the national Constitution was adopted. And being so, each State retaining control of its own peculiar institutions, the national Constitution was not made to prohibit State recognitions of religion, but only that the “Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It was hoped indeed that the moral effect of the example of the national Constitution would lead to the extinction of the thing in all the States. But the difficulties attending the creation of a national power at all, were so great that it was essential to attend to this one paramount object, and not try to accomplish too much at once and directly, lest nothing at all be done. Abraham Lincoln’s statement of the case as to slavery-the civil despotism-is so precisely the statement of the case as to established religion-religious despotism-that it could not be better defined; therefore we quote:-ROP 265.2

    “When our government was established we had the institution of slavery among us. We were in a certain sense compelled to tolerate its existence. It was a sort of necessity. We had gone through our struggle and secured our own independence. The framers of the Constitution found the institution of slavery amongst their other institutions at the time. They found that by an effort to eradicate it they might lose much of what they had already gained. They were obliged to bow to the necessity.... They did what they could, and yielded to necessity for the rest”-Springfield, III., Speech, July 17 1858, Political Speeches and Debates, p. 160.ROP 266.1

    Read “established religions” in place of “slavery” in this passage, and the case is perfectly stated as to that question also.ROP 266.2

    Thus the institution of slavery continued until, by a Supreme Court decision perverting the Constitution, an attempt was made to nationalize it, when it was abolished even in the States by the thirteenth amendment to the national Constitution, which runs thus:-ROP 266.3

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