1779.017: Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom.

Published: 1779

Full Title: A bill for establishing religious freedom, printed for the consideration of the people.

Author: Virginia. General Assembly.

Place Issued: Williamsburg

Issuing Press: Dixon & Nicolson

Description: 1 sheet [1 pg.]; 23 cm. x 15 cm. (broadside).


Earliest known version of Jefferson's celebrated act; place and date of issue established by an editorial note in the Papers of Thomas Jefferson (II: 550). The bill was one of 126 proposed laws introduced late in the Assembly of May 1779 by a committee of revisors headed by George Wythe, then Speaker of the House of Delegates and Jefferson, then governor. Sheet lacks printer credit; typography consistent with the press of Dixon & Nicolson, which Jefferson employed during his gubernatorial tenure, so the attribution here. Evans, Swem and Sabin all date this broadside to 1785, and to the General Assembly wherein Jefferson's bill was finally debated and enacted (October 17, 1785 to January 21, 1786); as a result, those authorities also attribute this title to the press of James Hayes, then the state's public printer in Richmond; however Hayes did not begin printing in Richmond until 1781, a year after the state government removed there effective May 1780.

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