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Liberty and Man

Slaves and Blacks


The Philomathesian Society


Religion was another hotly contested subject among the Philomathesians. The views outlined in this section depict their belief in the brotherhood and dignity of all mankind, an ideal they used to dispute slavery and racism. They resolved that all religions should be tolerated, yet concluded that Catholics posed more trouble to America’s civil and religious institutions than blacks. While the Philomathesians respected religion, they did not think that the institution was beneficial to a nation. The following resolutions reflect the society’s complex views on organized religion.

1. March 23, 1804
“Would an equal toleration of all religions be beneficial to mankind?”
Decided in the Affirmative.[commentary]
2. October 16, 1805
“Did all mankind descend from one heir?”
Decided in the Affirmative.
3. November 23, 1808
“Is an established religion beneficial to a nation?”
Decided in the Negative.
4. May 22, 1816
“Ought religion to be established by law?”
Decided in Negative.
5. November 5, 1836
“Have we reason to apprehend more danger to our Civil and Religious Institutions from the Roman Catholics than from the Blacks?”
Decided in the Affirmative.[commentary]