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New Settlements

The British establish their first colony in Virginia, under the Church of England – other religious groups, like Puritans, Jews, and Catholics, also begin to settle in the colonies.




The French and Indian War Breaks Out

Washington enlists in the British army and fights in the French and Indian War. He must sign a statement rejecting the Sacraments of the Catholic Church (or risk losing his commission).

Access Washington's Journal

I do declare there is no transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, or in the elements of the bread and wine, at or after the consecration.

George Washington's vows rejecting the Catholic Church



The Revolutionary War Begins

The Revolutionary War breaks out. In order to succeed, Washington must unite his soldiers, who practice a diversity of religions.

Religion in the War

In order to unite people of different faiths, Washington embraces the religious diversity of his army. He worships with different denominations, gives thanks to a common deity, and encourages soldiers to act on their morals.



Winning Independence

Washington is successful in leading his troops and wins the American Revolution, signing the Treaty of Paris.

More on the American Revolution

Washington's Presidency

Washington is sworn in as the first president of the United States under the new Constitution.


Petitions Arrive

As the new president, Washington made it a priority to visit communities across the United States to understand the concerns of the American people. Many wrote to Washington, expressing their desire for religious freedom.


Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now... behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People—a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance—but generously affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship

The Touro Synagogue Hebrew Congregation's Address to President Washington


The Bill of Rights is passed

Congress passes the First Amendment to the Constitution through the Bill of Rights, ensuring religious freedom for citizens of America.

Interact with the Bill of Rights

Excluding Others

It is important to note that although the Bill of Rights ensures religious freedom in America, it does not initially include enslaved or indigenous peoples.


Enslaved are Set Free

Enslaved peoples are free and made citizens through the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. They are now free to practice whatever religion they choose. Native Americans are still not included in religious freedom.


Religious Freedom for Everyone

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act is enacted, which includes indigenous populations in religious freedom. Now, all peoples of America are allowed to practice the religion of their choosing!