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Suffer Not the Evil One': Unitarianism and the 1826 Maryland Jew Bill

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Eisner, Eric 


In 1818, a spectre haunted Maryland—Unitarianism. That year, Unitarians dedicated a new church for their young movement, the “First Independent Church of Baltimore.” American Unitarianism was still emerging from the liberal wing of Congregationalism, and this was its first extension outside of Massachusetts. In 1819, the Boston theologian William Ellery Channing delivered the “Baltimore Sermon,” a widely reprinted defence of the beliefs and principles of Unitarianism, on the occasion of the ordination of Jared Sparks, the first minister of the Unitarian church in Baltimore. Also in 1818, Thomas Kennedy, a Presbyterian Maryland legislator, initiated the long debate over the Jew Bill, when he introduced legislation to allow Jews to hold state and local office in Maryland. The contentious fight to grant full political rights to Jews lasted until 1826, when the Jew Bill became law.



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Journal of Religious History

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