Editor’s Note: This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Robert Bellarmine, one of the Church’s most celebrated and prolific theologians, who was born in 1542 and went to his eternal reward on Sept. 17, 1621. In honor of this anniversary, CFN is pleased to publish the following scholarly treatment of a question that has gained attention in certain Catholic quarters, namely: Was Bellarmine a herald of republics? The author, Ryan Grant (founder/president of Mediatrix Press), has translated several of Bellarmine’s major works into English and in the process has gained expert knowledge of the Saint and his teachings on a multitude of subjects, including political philosophy. We are grateful to Mr. Grant for sharing his expertise in this two-part feature article (stay tuned for Part II).
The beatification of St. Robert Bellarmine in 1923 was the penultimate step in a battle which had begun on the very day St. Robert was laid to rest in the Gesu just over 300 years earlier. Although he was one of the very greatest and most celebrated theologians of his own time, Bellarmine also had detractors who opposed his beatification for one reason or another. His beatification brought celebration not only to the Jesuit order, but to a great many who celebrated his place in the history of the Church. It also brought a theory which was attractive to some men, that Bellarmine was really the main influence for modern democracy, or modern republicanism, or again, a veritable ghost writer of the United States Constitution.
Yet, while this is certainly attractive to Catholics looking to vindicate Catholicism’s place in the history of the U.S., it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The truth is that St. Robert Bellarmine, trained in the tradition of his time, was through and through a monarchist, though he was quite willing to accept other forms of government which had prevailed in various countries with the tacit consent of the people to be legitimate. Additionally, he was opposed to the very novel doctrine which had arisen in his time of the “Divine Right of Kings”, or what is often termed “absolute monarchy”, where the king is believed to rule exclusively by divine right, without any question of the Church or the people. But was he a herald of American Federalism?
Born in 1542, he entered the Jesuits at age 18, and after being trained in Aristotle at the Roman College he became a famous preacher. After some time in Genoa and Padua, he was sent to Louvain to preach, where he also founded a separate college for the Jesuits and mastered the Fathers of the Church, the great theologians of his day, and the teachings of the Protestants. This prepared him for the work for which he was best known, the Controversies. After being sent back to Rome in 1575, St. Robert was asked to develop courses in “Controversial Theology,” the forerunner to today’s “Apologetics”.
Though accomplished theologians before him had failed to develop the course, St. Robert succeeded brilliantly, aided by his photographic memory, because he could lay out issues topically, show what the Protestants had actually taught, and then provide the appropriate response from Scripture, the Fathers, and ancient Councils. In short order he was commanded to write it all down, and this became the Disputations on the Controversies of the Christian Faith, Against the Heretics of this Time. They run topically on Scripture, Christ, the Pope, the Church, the Sacraments, and the Economy of Salvation, in four volumes totaling over 2 million words in Latin. It is primarily there, in responding to Calvin — the first to champion the superiority of Aristocracy over monarchy since antiquity — that Bellarmine engages in political matters. He does so again in his treatise on the Specific Members of the Church, on the Laity, which follows his treatises on clergy and monks. In that work, he answers the Anabaptists who denied that any political authority should exist, and treats generally on the proper relationship between Church and State. In later works, subsequent to the Controversies, such as his war in letters with King James, or in his work in the Holy Office, he also draws his pen again to deal with the issues of politics, as well as Church and State. In all of these matters, his chief interest is in the origin of political authority, not necessarily in the contemporary exercise of it or in the history of how it developed. Really, political theory was not a subject in which he was particularly interested, except inasmuch as it was necessary to defend the Faith.
The Jefferson-Bellarmine Legend
If all this is so, how is it that many modern Catholics have labored so much to declare Bellarmine a herald of democracy, a system he derided as often as he could? We will look at the arguments and examine their historical validity in light of Bellarmine’s own writings.
The origin of the legend really begins with Gaillard Hunt, in his essay Cardinal Bellarmine and the Virginia Bill of Rights. Hunt was also the head of the manuscript division at the Congressional Library at Washington, D.C., which lent a certain authority to the argument. Since the writings of all other authors follow this path, such as Fr. Morehouse Millar and Fr. John Clement Rager, we will begin with a narration Hunt’s paper.
According to Hunt, the story is this: Jefferson read in his library a book titled Patriarcha, or the Natural Power of Kings by one Robert Filmer, published posthumously in 1680. In it, Filmer makes a plea in favor of the Divine Right of Kings against the notion of “popular sovereignty,” which in those times referred to the notion that authority is voluntarily transferred from the people to the ruler, rather than descending upon the ruler immediately from God. Filmer considered Bellarmine as his chief opponent and quoted the Cardinal’s writings frequently. From this, Hunt argued, Thomas Jefferson, as well as George Mason and later James Madison, became acquainted with Bellarmine. Hunt asserts (from where we don’t know), “There were copies of some of his [Bellarmine’s] books in Virginia. Old Protestant ministers remember that when they studied divinity at the Episcopal High School near Alexandria, they heard Bellarmine quoted.” So obviously, Hunt argues, they heard his name and must have been acquainted with his ideas.
Furthermore, the sources which Jefferson and Madison cite often enough, Algernon Sidney and John Locke, do not lay out a theory of government as advanced as Jefferson and Madison; therefore, they must have gotten it from somewhere else, namely, from St. Robert Bellarmine’s writings. In closing out his 14-page article, Hunt adds:
“Were Mason and Jefferson conscious of their debt to Bellarmine, or did they use Filmer’s presentation of his doctrine without knowing that they were doing so? Did the Americans realize that they were staking their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in support of a theory of government which had come down to them as announced by a Catholic priest? We cannot answer these questions, but it should be a satisfaction to Catholics to know that the fundamental pronouncements upon which was built the greatest of modern revolutions, found their best support in the writings of a prince of the Church.”
Thus, we have the basis of the legend, in a nutshell. Fr. Morehouse Millar, as a contributor with Fr. Kenneth Ryan, S.J. in the book The Church and the State, attempts to give more concrete evidence by examining Bellarmine’s writings and attempting to show their place in the development of ideas coming down to Jefferson and Madison. Fr. John Clement Rager, S.T.D., in his doctoral paper, The Political Philosophy of St. Robert Bellarmine, attempts to show Bellarmine’s ideas as the blueprint of the U.S. Constitution and American Federalism.
The Historical Record
In terms of historical evidence, the legend rests upon the most tenuous of assertions. For example, the copy of Patriarcha in Jefferson’s library has been examined and it has scarcely been touched, showing no signs of frequent reading. As anyone who has known a bibliophile can attest, not every book on their shelf has been read. More than the mere possession of a book containing quotes from Bellarmine would have to be posited to make this claim serious, namely, references to Bellarmine in the writings of Jefferson, Mason, Madison, or others. And for the period leading up to the Virginia Declaration of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence, we find not one mention in letters, diaries, or even obiter dicta. Hunt’s claim that “Old Protestant ministers remember … that they heard Bellarmine quoted” is given without citation. William and Mary College, the oldest educational institution in Virginia, has no record of ever possessing a copy of Bellarmine’s Opera Omnia, nor an excerpt. The same can be said of the University of Virginia, and the library of the Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. If Hunt’s argument is to rest on presumptions, then it can equally be presumed on the other side that at least one copy would have wound up in an institution of the period if Protestant clergy had copies and quoted from them, even if only to denigrate them. Books in those times were expensive, and bringing them over from Europe no less so; generally, their estates would donate such books to universities after their deaths. It is difficult to imagine a Protestant minister bringing over large and expensive volumes of Bellarmine to a new country, rather than works of English divines or the ministers of Geneva.
In regard to various delegates of the committee which drew up the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Hunt makes the astounding (and no less specious) claim, “Several members of the committee had been educated in England…. It would have been difficult for them to escape some acquaintance with Bellarmine while they were studying in England. Eleven of the twenty-three members of the committee had gone to William and Mary College, where religious controversy raged. They, too, must have heard of the Italian controversialist from the answers which had been made to him. In 1722, there had been published in London a free translation by Thomas Foxton of Bellarmine’s Joys of the Blessed: Being a Practical Discourse Concerning the Eternal Happiness of the Saints in Heaven. Bellarmine was not unpopular in England, even among those who were most inimical to his faith.” Really, however, this is even more specious than the first claim. A man could be educated in England without ever hearing the name of a Catholic, unless it were St. Augustine. The reality is that the days of Anglicans buying up Bellarmine to see what the latest papist arguments were ended in the 17th century. Furthermore, a perusal of Foxton’s work compared with Bellarmine’s Latin shows plainly that this was a translation along the line of the English tradition of “repurposing papist works,” that is, removing Catholic elements to make it more appealing to the Protestant mind. This had been done with the venerable Dominican Louis of Granada, Jeremias Drexelius (author of Heliotropium), St. Albert the Great, and St. Bonaventure, all of which were popular enough. Yet, nobody maintains that they based their theory of government on Louis of Granada!
The fact that a spiritual work had been repurposed does not mean these men ran out and found copies of Bellarmine—in Latin—in order to discover his teaching. The reality is that his commentary on political philosophy is not all in one place but found in treatises hundreds of pages apart, and not necessarily intelligible to one not trained in Catholic theology. Moreover, what religious controversy raged? From what source? If any question raged at all, it would have been disputes within the Church of England, seeing that every professor had to swear to the 39 Articles and the Westminster Confession, and recusant Protestants were hesitant to swear the former.
The real question is, how likely is it that George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison would have read Bellarmine cited by Robert Filmer, a name far better known amongst the American colonists than Bellarmine (whose name does not appear in any document of any political writer of this time)? On the one hand, it would have been unlikely that Jefferson or Madison or others had not heard of him at least through the works of theorists they did cite, namely, Algernon Sidney and John Locke. But at the same time, this does not prove they ever undertook to read Filmer. In the mid-18th century, the Divine Right of Kings doctrine was not a burning question amongst Englishman; it was a trope to attack the King and parliament. That issue had been settled by the Glorious Revolution of 1689, which saw James II, the last Catholic king, flee the throne to be replaced by William of Orange, who ruled by parliamentary consent. Kings gave up privileges ever more to fight wars on the continent, and King George III never at any point had the power granted to the U.S. President by the Federal Constitution. Nobody was debating absolute monarchy, and a book like Filmer’s would have been of as much interest to American colonists in the 18th century as a work in favor of secession from the 19th century would have on lawyers and politicians today.
As for the claim that Madison read as much as he could, and that the catalogue of Princeton shows that they held a copy of Bellarmine’s Controversies, it must be remembered that school boys in the colonies learned but the rudiments of Latin and would have begun university having read Caesar’s Gallic War commentaries and some of Cicero’s speeches. He would not yet have been proficient enough in Latin to read Bellarmine, especially given the adjustment in vocabulary and grammar necessary to make the jump from ancient authors to 16th-century writers. It is highly doubtful that Madison could have read Bellarmine at this time, and if he did, he left no testimony of the fact. We have, rather, the testimony of Gaillard Hunt himself in his Life of Madison, from 1902, where the name of Bellarmine is not even mentioned, let alone the latter’s supposed influence on the Declaration of Independence. What evidence, then, did Gaillard Hunt discover between 1902 and 1917? Whatever it might have been, he never mentions anything more than the just-so story of a copy of Bellarmine at Princeton.
We do know, however, what tradition and notion of English liberties that the American founders drew upon, because they tell us so. Jefferson went to the College of William and Mary and his closest companion was Professor William Small, as Jefferson attests in his Autobiography. Small was a Scotchman and heavily influenced by the republican notions of John Knox, James Buchanan, Milton, Sidney, and Locke. There is no evidence of Small quoting or citing Bellarmine in any of his correspondence. Madison was educated at Princeton, as we already mentioned, and his primary influence was Dr. John Witherspoon, a Scotch Presbyterian who drew upon Knox and Buchanan, figures who wrote of their republican views while Bellarmine was a mere professed Jesuit, not yet ordained and had not yet put pen to paper. While Filmer’s quotations of Bellarmine are noted by their absence in colonial thought, Milton, Sidney and Locke are ubiquitous. In 1790, in a letter to a law student, Jefferson suggests that he read “Locke’s little book on government, as perfect as far as it goes.” This is a far cry from Hunt’s assertion that Locke was not much read in the colonies. Besides Jefferson and Madison, we have such figures as Edwin Sandys, Patrick Henry, Henry Lee, as well as sermons of the clergy in New England and Virginia, all of whom speak about popular government in a long tradition that goes back to the very founding of American colonies, whose influences were not Bellarmine but Calvin and Beza.
Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford, Connecticut, declared in 1638, “The foundation of authority is laid firstly in the full consent of the people,” and further expounds that it is the people who elect magistrates, and the right to set bounds and limitations of the power and place to which it calls them. Filmer’s Patriarcha was not yet published, but I suppose one could invent some fairy tale of Hooker having a conversation with him, and hearing the name of Bellarmine, and there you have it, Catholic principles. Were anyone to invent such a nonsense tale, it could at least be said to rest on the same evidence which Hunt, Millar, and Rager lay down for the Jefferson legend. But this was not one isolated statement. The Rev. John Wise (d. 1725) declared that “the first human subject and original of civil power is the people, … all are naturally free and equal, going about voluntarily to erect themselves into a new commonwealth.” Sir Edwin Sandys, one of the leading figures in the early history of Virginia, declared that “if our God from heaven did constitute and direct a form of government, it was that of Geneva.” Both Hunt and Rager argue that Algernon Sidney and John Locke did not have a sufficiently advanced view of government to influence the American founders, so it must have come from somewhere else, and voilà — Bellarmine! As we shall see, this claim from both authors is utterly false and refuted by a mere comparison of Bellarmine’s writings with those of the American founders, as well as the writings of Sidney and Locke. But for the present, it is sufficient enough to show that it is the American and English tradition, not an historically unsubstantiated perusal of a critic citing Bellarmine, that formed the Declaration of Independence.
English Civil War and Glorious Revolution: Roots of American Independence
The tradition which influenced the political thinkers amongst the American colonies was one that went back to the Mayflower Compact, where “covenants” were made between the pilgrims to form a unified political body. The idea of independence on American soil took encouragement in the New England Union of 1643, which provided for assemblies to which four of the colonies were to send representatives. The timing of this Union aligns with the events in England at the time which formed the very matrix of English political theory, the English Civil War (1642-1651).
This war broke out after the long period of Charles I’s personal rule. Charles had imbibed the doctrine of Divine Right of Kings defended in print by his father, James I (VI of Scotland). Charles had extended ancient taxes to cover the whole country, and the first time the phrase “No taxation without representation” appears is in 1628 when parliament issued the “Petition of Right”, protesting the levelling of taxes without the consent of the House of Commons. Nevertheless, broke after the Bishops Wars and the Ulster Rebellion, Charles had no choice but to call a parliament. They were at loggerheads over the king’s control of the army, and taxes, and began using bills of attainder to arrest those closest to Charles. Thus, he fled to Nottingham, set up his standard, and declared the parliament in rebellion. There was nothing left but to fight for it. The country divided along “Royalist” and “Parliamentarian” lines. The war dragged on for seven years of determined fighting, resulting in the creation of the first permanent paid standing army in the British Isles since the Romans, with all classes of society taking up arms. The French had a civil war around the same time, the war of the Fronde (1648-1653), but this was limited largely to the aristocracy. The English Civil War involved all men, and now free men who had risen to command positions under their commander, Oliver Cromwell, began to get politically minded. Why should nobles receive preference to them? Shouldn’t all folk be able to vote? Why not abolish the aristocracy altogether? This led to the rise of a group known as the “Levellers”, led by John Lilburne. On the other side, Cromwell and his son-in-law, Henry Ireton, argued for aristocracy which would represent the body of the citizens justly and rightly. It must also be remembered that Catholics in England generally sided with the king, not parliament.
Whatever the disputes on these points in the army, after the second phase of the Civil War they all agreed that the king needed to go, and on January 29, 1649, one-hundred and fifty years before the guillotines of the French Revolution fell, the English beheaded their own king, ushering in a republic. It would not last, Cromwell’s death (1658) caused the republic to fall apart, as his son Richard could not reconcile the disparate factions. Thus Charles II, the son of the dead king who had been crowned in Scotland but defeated by Cromwell, set sail from Breda in the Netherlands. He gave an edict of religious toleration, and monarchy began again as though the war had never happened. The Anglicans, who suffered and died for the established religion, would not allow religious toleration, and Charles had to renege on the Declaration of Breda or risk alienating the bedrock of his support. Crisis came in the form of his brother James’ conversion to Catholicism, sparking the Seclusion Crisis. James, as a Roman Catholic, could not possibly be king, Whigs like Algernon Sidney and John Locke argued, because he could not be head of a Church of which he was not a member. Additionally for these men, and their fellow Whigs, Catholicism meant arbitrary government, a denial of English liberties, and the loss of representation [!]. Algernon Sidney was abroad as an ambassador for the republic when Charles II was restored, but he decided that since parliament had acknowledged the restoration of the monarchy, it would be valid. In other words, the general consent and fact of Charles II sitting on the throne, which would have been sufficient for Robert Bellarmine, was not sufficient for Algernon Sidney. Instead, a direct and active involvement in the process was necessary. Sidney incorporated this in his Discourses on Government, which unlike Bellarmine, was widely read in the American colonies. Sidney would later be executed by Charles II for his republican views, and for his alleged involvement in the Rye House Plot. Locke would go into exile in the Netherlands with a great many Whigs, as James II, a Catholic, assumed the throne upon his brother’s death. James was not as crafty as his brother, and though a competent administrator he was no great leader. He alienated his support and soon found himself facing the invasion of William of Orange in 1688/89, brought on by the Whig elite. James fled, and the monarchy became temporarily elective. William and his wife, Mary (James’ daughter), had promised to abide by parliamentary legislation, and parliament declared itself supreme. John Locke would write the Act of Settlement, forbidding a Catholic to ever again sit on the English throne, and help draft the English Bill of Rights, along with his Two Treatises on Government. Both were household names in the colonies and considered heroes for their resistance to royal tyranny. Sidney became the most popular name in the colonies for a time, as they identified Sydney’s opposition to monarchy and Catholicism with their own.
American colonists were well versed in this history. The revolution of 1688 was the enshrinement of popular government, the rights of Englishmen, and the notion of constitutional law. It was this general notion of the rights of Englishmen and the special place which the colonies held that led to the formation of the Albany Congress of 1754, where Benjamin Franklin played a prominent role. This convention suggested the colonies govern themselves, save for the royal veto, under a president appointed by the king, and elected legislatures who would propose laws and taxes for the colonies. In fact, legislatures already existed in the colonies with the power to enact legislation since 1619.
We can add to this John Adams. The legend does not claim Adams was reading Bellarmine between the sheets; nevertheless, Adams’ views are useful in tracing this informing English tradition. Adams was raised in the reform tradition, although later in life he became a Unitarian privately, and he shows a particular dependence on a French Huguenot named Philippe du Plessis Mornay, who wrote under the pseudonym Stephanus Junius Brutus, in his Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos. Written in 1579, twelve years before Bellarmine’s De Laicis appeared, Mornay argues for Biblical controls of government, along the lines of Calvin, but with some advancement. There is a covenant between God, king and people, and a second between people and king. If a king rules tyrannically, unjustly, the people could resist or overthrow the government, thereby proclaiming their autonomy and the Biblical values of government. These ideas and principles were eminently influential upon the Mayflower Compact, and also upon Thomas Hooker, as witnessed in his election sermon. Adams frequently cited the Vindiciae, and again declared, “I love and revere the memories of Huss, Wickliff [sic], Luther, Calvin, Zwinglius, Melancton [sic], and all the other reformers, how muchsoever I may differ from them all in many theological metaphysical and philosophical points. As you justly observe, without their great exertions and severe sufferings, the USA had never existed.” Adams was certainly influential in the developments of 1775-1783, and a witness to a tradition of Calvinist influence through English history and struggles, which was already present in America for some time. It is true enough that many key founders such as Jefferson, Washington, Paine, et al, were Enlightenment Deists, but many others were of the Calvinist tradition. Consequently, the critical development (separate from Bellarmine)—the development of the English tradition which informed Sidney and Locke—was the notion of direct autonomy and participation, as well as the equality of all citizens of the nation and limited government as essential English liberties.
Thus, when the desire for independence was kindled by English taxation, there was already a long tradition of popular sovereignty from which to draw. In 1776, Richard Henry Lee offered his resolution that “these United Colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states.” Lee was tutored at his family home in Stratford Virginia—one wonders why it never occurred to Hunt, Rager, or Millar to suggest that a tutor had once heard Bellarmine mentioned and discovered his whole political philosophy! Furthermore, these were merely the ideas of the day, stretching back through the English tradition, even to Magna Charta, through to the Petition of Right, the Acts of Parliament during the English Civil War, and the doctrines of the Glorious Revolution which were expounded upon by John Locke. Later in life, Jefferson said, “The authority of the Declaration rests on the harmonizing sentiments of the day whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc.” In a letter to Madison, he adds, “[I] turned to neither book nor pamphlet, while writing it, and that I did not consider it as any part of my charge to invent new ideas altogether and to offer no sentiment which had never been expressed before.”
Lastly, Jefferson had abandoned religion in youth and had become a Unitarian by profession. He publicly espoused Deism and was an active member of Freemasonic lodges, not only in the U.S. but also in the Lodge of the Grand Orient in Paris. In general, although he abhorred the Catholic Church as a body, his attitude toward religious persons was ambivalent. It would have been a trifling manner to point to a Jesuit and declare that he had found his principles useful, as Jefferson also cites the Bible (which he didn’t believe in), and Magna Charta, written by a Catholic bishop. We can illustrate this most clearly from a letter of Jefferson to his son-in-law about the best books to study on various topics. “In political oeconomy I think Smith’s wealth of nations the best book extant. In the science of government Montesquieu’s spirit of laws is generally recommended. It contains indeed a great number of political truths; but almost an equal number of political heresies: so that the reader must be constantly on his guard. There has been lately published a letter of Helvetius who was the intimate friend of Montesquieu and whom he consulted before the publication of his book. Helvetius advised him not to publish it: and in this letter to a friend he gives us a solution for the mixture of truth and error found in this book. He sais [sic] Montesquieu was a man of immense reading, that he had commonplaced all his reading, and that his object was to throw the whole contents of his commonplace book into systematical order, and to shew his ingenuity by reconciling the contradictory facts it presented. Locke’s little book on government is perfect as far as it goes.” Two things must be observed here. Jefferson had no trouble at all in recommending what he found good and correct in Montesquieu, but warning against what he found wrong or problematic. If he had in fact taken the time to read Bellarmine, and found this influential, it would have been easy for him to do the same. Secondly, he tells us what book he actually did find influential, namely, that of Locke. Thus, it should be clear enough from the historical analysis, that the premise underpinning the whole legend, that Jefferson possessed an obscure book on an issue which nobody debated, that happened to quote Bellarmine, proves nothing more than that the owned a book. The preponderance of actual evidence, however, shows that a vast current of ideas in the English tradition produced a notion of equality and representative government embodied in the Virginia Declaration as well as the Declaration of Independence which were well trodden, in common circulation, attributed by those authors, and at the same time entirely foreign to the writings of St. Robert Bellarmine, whom they give no evidence of knowing or having read. This doesn’t automatically make American governmental principles a bad thing, or show they can never be reconciled in any way to the Catholic faith, but they do show their genesis had nothing to do with Catholicism, let alone a 16th-century Italian Cardinal.
To be continued.
 Calvin retracted himself in a later edition of his works, but it is the earlier view which St. Robert critiques in the controversies.
 Catholic Historical Review, October 1917, pp. 276-289. I have used a reprint made by the library of congress in pamphlet form numbered pages 1-14, and accessed via the Haithi Trust.
 Ibid., p. 11.
 Ibid., p. 14.
 Ibid., p. 11.
 Hunt, p. 11.
 Hunt, p. 8. The influence of Locke is an interesting point of debate, but beyond the scope of this paper. As some of Locke’s works were much read, others not as much. On the one hand, secular historians make too much of a “secular Lockean view” in order to divorce America from its historic Protestant roots, and the progenitors of the Jefferson-Bellarmine legend attempt to minimize Locke’s influence to peddle the legend in its place.
 These debates largely broke out in the New Model Army, as units began putting out papers on the reform of government and condemning parliament for not redressing issues. A summary of these debates may be found in Purkiss, The English Civil War: Papists, Gentlewomen, Soldiers, and Witchfinders in the Birth of Modern Britain, 2006, pp. 487-493.
 Charles II had always been partial to Catholicism, partly on account of his mother, partly on account of being hidden from Cromwell’s forces in a priest-hole with a Jesuit, who convinced Charles to do what he could to lighten the burden of Catholics in England. He converted to the faith on his deathbed.
 Peverille Squire, The Evolution of American Legislatures: 1619-2009, University of Michigan Press.
 John Adams to F.C. Schaeffer, November 25 1821, cited in James h. Hutson, The Founders on religion: A book of Quotations (Princeton, 2005), pp. 15-16.
 Letter to Thomas Mann Randolph Jr., 30 May 1790. My emphasis.