James Madison Papers

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

[Outline B]

[23–24 December 1784]

I.  Rel: not within purview of Civil Authority. tendency of Estabg. Christianity 1. to project of Uniformity 2. to penal laws for supportg. it. ————— Progres[s] of Gen: Assest. proves this tendency ————— difference between estabg. & tolerating errour—

II. True question not—Is Rel: necesy.? are Religs. Estabts. necessy. for Religion? no. 1. propensity of man to Religion. 2. Experience shews Relig: corrupted by Estabt. 3. downfal of States, mentioned by Mr. H[enry]. happened where there was Estabts. 4. Experience gives no model of Gel. Asst? 5. Case of Pa. explained—not solitary. N. J. See Const: of it. R. I. N. Y. D. ————— factions greater in S. C. 6. Case of primitive Christianity. of Reformation of Dissenters formerly.

III. Decl: Rig[hts]. 7. Progress of Religious Liberty

IV. Policy. 1. promote emigrations from State 2. prevent [immigration] into it as asylum

V. Necessity of Estabts. inferred from State of Conty. ————— true causes of disease

1. War } common to other States &
2. bad laws produce same complts. in N. E.
3. pretext from taxes 4. State of Administration of Justice. 5. transition from old to new plan. 6. policy & hopes of friends to G. Asst. ————— true remedies not Estabt. but being out war 1. laws cherish virtue 2. Administ: justice 3. personal example—Association for R. 4. By present vote cut off hope of G. Asst. 5. Education of youth ————— Probable defects of Bill dishonor Christianity ————— panegyric on it on our side ————— Decl: Rights.1

Ms (DLC). Written by JM on the outer cover of a letter “Favd. by Colonel Taylor,” otherwise unidentified, with a later endorsement by JM: “Debate on the Bill for Religious Assessment.”

1Editor Hunt assumed that JM prepared these outlines (A and B) as a single document. There is nothing to substantiate this assumption and the notes in Madison, Writings (Hunt ed.) description begins Gaillard Hunt, ed., The Writings of James Madison (9 vols.; New York, 1900–1910). description ends , II, 88–89, imply a unity that probably never existed. The circumstances make it likely that JM spoke on this subject several times, but the outline he used initially is uncertain.

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