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quired as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Congress is thus deprived of all power to pass any religious test-act in respect to qualifications for office. The design, as stated by Justice Story in his “ Commentaries on the Constitution," was "to cut off forever every pretense of any alliance between Church and State in the National Government."

The exclusion of all religious tests was urged as an objection to the Constitution in the convention of Massachusetts called to act upon the question of its adoption. It was said that the effect would be to permit irreligious men and even Infidels to hold office, and that this might work serious harm to the public welfare. The Rev. Mr. Shute, who was a member of the Convention, forcibly said, in reply to this objection : “In this great and extensive empire there is, and will be, a great variety of sentiments in religion among its inhabitants. Upon the plan of a religious test the question, I think, must be: Who shall be excluded from national trusts ? Whatever answer bigotry may suggest, the dictates of candor and equity, I conceive, will be: None !" ("Elliot's Debates," vol. IV. pp. 118, 119.) The Rev. Mr. Payson, another member of the Convention, said: “Had there been a religious test as a qualification for office, it would, in my opinion, have been a great blemish upon the instrument.” (p. 120). The Rev. Mr. Backus also said: “The imposing of religious tests hath been the greatest en. gine of tyranny in the world.” (p. 148).

In the plan of a Constitution submitted to the Federal Convention by Mr. Charles Pinckney, on the 29th of May, 1787, it was provided that "the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion.” (“Madison Papers,” vol. II. p. 741). This provision not having been included in the Constitution as finally adopted, the omission was soon after supplied by the First Amendment, in which it is expressly declared that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." There was nothing in the Constitution to imply that, in the absence of this prohibition, Congress would have power to pass such a law; yet it was thought expedient to deny the

power in express language, and thus put the matter beyond doubt or controversy. The denial is made in the broadest terms. Not only is Con

. gress forbidden to establish any system of religion, or do anything involving this legal result; but it is also forbidden to prohibit, or in any way interfere with, the free exercise of religion by the people. “ It was," as remarked by Justice Story,“ deemed advisable to exclude from the National Government all power upon the subject;" and, as the result both sought and attained, “ the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith or mode of worship."

or mode of worship.” As citizens of the United States, they stand upon the same level and

enjoy precisely the same rights. The whole subject of religion is totally withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the General Government, not only by not being included in its powers, but by being expressly excluded therefrom.

So far, then, as the National Government is concerned, “the people of the United States," considered as a body politic, have no religion to teach, no doctrine of God to promulgate, and no form of worship to sustain or enforce. Their Constitution is purely secular in its objects, and its authority entirely human, without any pretense of any divine right. It is an organic expression of the theory set forth in the Declaration of Independence, that governments are instituted among men to secure the rights of men, and that they derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Those who framed the Constitution designed to make it exclusively a political instrument, and nothing else. It was not by accident, but by intention, that they omitted to embody any religious doctrine in it, that they prohibited all religious tests, and that the First Congress proposed, and the people ratified, an amendment that expressly denies any power to Congress on this one subject.

Very soon after the adoption of the Constitution and the ratification of this amendmentnamely, on the 4th of November, 1796—a treaty was concluded with Tripoli, in the eleventh article of which occurs the following declaration :

“As the Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquillity of Mussulmans ; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mohammedan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

This disclaimer by Washington in negotiating, and by the Senate in confirming, the treaty with Tripoli, was not designed to disparage the Christian religion or indicate any hostility thereto; but to set forth the fact, so apparent in the Constitution 'itself, that the Government of the United States was not founded upon that religion, and, hence, did not embody or assert any of its doctrines-and, hence, again, that, as a government, it had and could have no hostility to a “Mohammedan nation” on account of its religion. The language of this article in the treaty was used for a purpose, and that purpose was in exact correspondence with the fact as contained in the Constitution itself. Christianity, though the prevalent religion of the people when the Constitution was adopted, is unknown to it. The Constitution says that it shall be unknown as having any place in the organic law of the United States, or in the legislative powers of Congress.

Those who, in the discussion of the School question, speak of Christianity as being a part of the common law of the land are entirely mistaken, so far as the statement refers to the Government of the United States. The only common law of the United States is that which is found in the Constitution, and in laws enacted and treaties made in pursuance thereof; and it so happens that neither Christianity, nor any other system of religion, is any part of this law, or can be, so long as the Constitution itself shall remain unchanged. Congress cannot establish Christianity, and the Constitution has not done so, and, hence, it is no part of the law of the land, either statute or common, except as it may have been made such by the action of the respective States; and how far this is a fact, if so at all, is not the matter of our present inquiry. We are now dealing simply with the Government of the United States, and with “ the people of the United States," considered in their federal and national character as a political corporation. As such they have no religion, either Christian or Pagan, Catholic or Protestant.

Their Government is not a Christian government in the sense of giving any legal preference to, or sanction of, Christianity, or resting its authority upon any of its doctrines. It is simply a political organization, for secular and temporal ends, based upon the principle of popular representation, and upon nothing else, and formally and intentionally excluding religion from its scope.

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