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Arguing from James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessment (1785) and Thomas Jefferson’s Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779) as well as Biblical references, course texts and outside sources …

  1. Define what is meant by the phrase “The American Experiment” in connection to the establishment of democracy and religious freedom in the Unites States,
  2. Explain the tensions, factions, forces and ideologies vying for dominance during this struggle to form the government ideals, philosophies and documents for the United States in late 1700s and the early 1800s,
  3. Describe the formation of the United States’ Constitution and the subsequent Bill of Rights in view of the ideological tensions mentioned in point #2 above,
  4. Evaluate the effect “The American Experiment” of democracy and religious freedom has had on forming the uniqueness of the culture of the United States,
  5. Formulate some of the implications these documents and this culture will have upon the nation of the United States over the next 100+ years of its history.

“The American experiment was unique and improbable in 1776, when Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and the American colonies defied Britain, the most powerful nation on earth at the time. As we look around the world at how difficult it is for democracy and freedom to take hold and flourish, America seems like a political miracle.

“In 1787, when the Founding Fathers had hammered out the U.S. Constitution in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin told an inquiring woman what the gathering had produced, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” Jefferson also knew how great the American experiment’s appeal would be to others. “The flames kindled on the 4th of July, 1776, have spread across too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume the engines and all who work them.” The self-evident truth that “all men are created equal; endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” remains the powerful philosophical and moral foundation of a successful foreign policy no less than it is the foundation of the American republic itself. Yet, as we are seeing today, the advance of freedom and democracy is not a straight path, but one that also sustains setbacks.”

James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessment (1785), found here:

Thomas Jefferson’s Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779), found here:

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