James Madison Papers

Madison’s Notes for Debates on the General Assessment Bill, [Outline A], [23–24 December 1784]

[Outline A]

[23–24 December 1784]

Debate on Bill for Relig. Estabt proposed by Mr. Henry1

1. limited

2. in particular

3. What is Christianity?2 Courts of law to Judge

4. What edition, Hebrew, Septuagint, or vulgate? What copy—what translation?

5. What books canonical, what apochryphal? the papists holding to be the former what protestants the latter, the Lutherans the latter what other protestants & papists the former

6. In What light are they to be viewed, as dictated every letter by inspiration, or the essential parts only? or the matter in generall not the words?

7. What sense the true one, for if some doctrines be essential to Christianity, those who reject these, whatever name they take are no Christian Society?

8. Is it Trinitarianism, arianism, Socinianism? Is it salvation by faith or works also—by free grace, or free will—&c &c &c—

9. What clue is to guide Judge thro’ this labyrinth? When the question comes before them whether any particular Society is a Christian Society?

10. Ends in what is orthodoxy, what heresy?

Ms (DLC). In JM’s hand, on a halfsheet, apparently prepared for the House debate. The heading was added by JM some time later.

1A dramatic reconstruction of the speech is found in Brant, Madison description begins Irving Brant, James Madison (6 vols.; Indianapolis and New York, 1941–61). description ends , II, 344–45. Brant infers that Henry’s power was so obvious that the opposition, including JM, wished to elect Henry governor and thus “get him out” of the legislature before passage of the Assessment bill. See JM to James Monroe, 14 Nov. and 27 Nov. 1784.

2JM used the ancient abbreviation “Xn” for Christian, and “Xnty” for Christianity. These have been expanded throughout.

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