Establishment and dissent

Nine of the thirteen colonies inherited some version or other of church establishment. This meant that citizens subsidized the privileged church in each case through taxation, revenues exacted whether they shared the faith or were members of the particular body these supported. Such an official church provided the minister to pray or preach at public occasions such as Fast Days or Election Days. Dissenters were handicapped in various ways. They often had to acquire licenses to preach and gather at particular places. By 1765, many of the establishments had become quite relaxed and political leaders found it expedient not to impose penalties on dissenters too lightly. Yet young James Madison in 1774 could write to a friend that he was enraged over the

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