Scripture, Rights, and Religion in American History

Scripture, Rights, and Religion in American History
March 20, 2013 12:00 ET

John Adams made an important observation when commenting on "Science of the Rights of Man." Americans, Adams said, "did not invent this foundation of Society. They found it in their religion." By tracing the concept of rights back to its invention by canon lawyers in the 12th century, Dr. Hutson will show that Adams was justified in making this statement. Dr. Hutson will also consider to what extent Adams' statement is valid in the United States today.

Dr. Dreisbach will examine the importance of the Bible at the time of America's founding. No book in the American founding era was more accessible or familiar than the English Bible, especially the King James Bible. It had a place of prominence in the education and rhetoric of many Americans of this generation. It was also featured prominently in the political discourse of the founding era, cited more frequently than any European political theorists or even school of thought. This lecture will consider the prominent, yet often overlooked, place and role of the Bible in late-eighteenth-century American political culture.

Dr. Daniel Dreisbach is a member of the department of law, justice, and society at American University. Professor Dreisbach's principal research interests include American constitutional law and history, First Amendment law, church-state relations, and criminal procedure. He has written extensively on these topics. He has authored or edited five books and numerous articles in scholarly journals. Among the courses that Professor Dreisbach teaches are American Legal Culture, Issues in Civil Justice, Civil Justice Systems and the Constitution, and The Constitution and Criminal Procedure. Dr. Dreisbach holds a J.D. form the University of Virginia and a D. Phil. from Oxford University.

Dr. James Hutson Dr. Hutson received his Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 1964. He has been a member of the History Departments at Yale and William and Mary, and since 1982, has been Chief of the Library's Manuscript Division. Dr Hutson is the author of several books among them: John Adams and the Diplomacy of the American Revolution (1980); winner of the Gilbert Chinard Prize, 1981; To Make All Laws: The Congress of the United States, 1789-1989 (Washington and Boston, 1989-90; 4th edition, Washington, 1990); The Sister Republics: Switzerland and the United States from 1776 to the Present (Washington, 1991; 4th edition, Washington, 1998); Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (5th printing, Washington, 2000).

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