In a powerful challenge to conventional wisdom, Philip Hamburger argues that the separation of church and state has no historical foundation in the First Amendment. The detailed evidence assembled here shows that eighteenth-century Americans almost ...
never invoked this principle. Although Thomas Jefferson and others retrospectively claimed that the First Amendment separated church and state, separation became part of American constitutional law only much later. "Hamburger has written an extremely important book. His prodigious learning and ingenious interpretations overturn the conventional wisdom, forcing even the most passionate defenders of separationism to recognize how much of the story of religious liberty has taken on mythical dimensions." —Alan Wolfe, Books and Culture "This richly documented and cogently argued book challenges conventional interpretations of separation of church and state as a constitutional standard in American history and promises to reshape the debate on the constitutional and prudential relations between religion and American public life." —Daniel L. Dreisbach, American University