NEH logo
[Return to Query]

Products for Grant FZ-231436-15

FZ-231436-15
The Unexpected Origins of Modern Religious Liberty
Linda Przybyszewski, University of Notre Dame

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FZ-231436-15

Competing Constitutional Traditions on Church and State: The Northwest Ordinance and the Cincinnati Bible War (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Competing Constitutional Traditions on Church and State: The Northwest Ordinance and the Cincinnati Bible War
Author: Linda Przybyszewski
Abstract: In the fall of 1869, two teams of lawyers squared off over whether the Cincinnati school board had the power to end a thirty-year tradition: Bible reading at the start of the school day. The battle became a national controversy in which the press across the country took sides. Throughout the Bible War, as it came to be called, supporters of the Bible in the schools pointed to clause in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, repeated in the Ohio Constitutions of 1802 and 1851: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” This powerful idea—that schools, religion, and the state rise and fall together—drew directly on the traditions of New England from where the men of the Ohio Company of Associates came. They asked the federal government to donate a section of land in each township for the support of schools and another for the support of a minister—a request that astonished and annoyed James Madison of Virginia. Yet the Ohio Company succeeded in gaining both provisions from the US Treasury. The early advocates of public schools in Ohio overwhelmingly pious Protestant and often ministers also shared in this idea. The story of the Northwest Ordinance and its legacy shows us how Americans first argued over religion’s place in the Republic, how rival church-state traditions lived on in new states, and then shaped the rise of new state institutions.
Date: 09/15/2016
Conference Name: Rights and Wrongs: A Constitutional Day Conference at San Francisco State University


Permalink: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/products.aspx?gn=FZ-231436-15