“I am for freedom of religion,
and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over
another.” - Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799
working title of my current manuscript is Faith and Freedom in
Fredericksburg: Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Statute of Religious
Freedom (Copyright 2010).
book will present: Thomas Jefferson’s time at Fredericksburg in 1777, his
meeting at Weedon’s Tavern (known as Smith’s at the time) in which he agreed
to author the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, the story surrounding
the writing of it, why Jefferson took so much pride in its completion, and
how the results are commemorated to this day. Additional modern-day looks
will include regional details on Fredericksburg’s Religious Freedom Monument, the establishment of the
Jefferson Institute, and the city’s annual multi-denominational celebration
that acknowledges freedom of religion in America.
of Thomas Jefferson’s experiences in Fredericksburg and the roots leading up
to the VA Statute has not been examined definitively in any single study –at
least from the angle at which I am pursuing it. In 1998, Cambridge Studies in
Religion and American Public Life Series included a book titled The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom:
Its Evolution and Consequences in American History, but as this book
looks at the statute from more of a political and sociological perspective,
my study is more regional.
Steven Waldman has also published a broad examination titled Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and
the Birth of Religious Freedom in America, but once again, my focus will
be on the local experience and influence on the birth of the document, not
how it has affected the public square today. In essence my book will be a
two-sided examination of both Jefferson and the statute as they relate to Fredericksburg Virginia.
working closely with the Thomas Jefferson Library, as well as the Central
Rappahannock Regional Library while obtaining a variety of primary and
secondary sources including Jefferson's
Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767-1826,
selections from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson including his Thoughts on Religion, and local
references from the CRRL’s archives to include The Laws in Virginia (1819 First Edition). Additionally, I have
acquired copies of materials from the catalogs at the University of Mary Washington and the College of William and Mary, as well as articles
from local publications like The
Freedom Record and the Thomas
Jefferson Institute Quarterly.
outlined a general framework for the manuscript and time-lined a schedule
that would have me ready for submission to the publisher sometime in mid-late
2012. This will be my 7th book and certainly the most challenging, ambitious
and scholarly to date. I can provide a marketing and target project proposal
who are interested in discussing this project further may contact me directly
at firstname.lastname@example.org. In
addition to the book, I also anticipate writing several associated articles
for magazine/newspaper publication, as well as a lecture.
Aubrecht (May, 2010)