Thomas Jefferson, then a Virginia state assemblyman, receives the petition and joins forces with the Baptists to propose the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Virginia.

Written by Thomas Jefferson and first submitted in 1779, the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom proposes ending state support of the Anglican Church.

Other religions, termed "dissenting religions," do not have freedom of worship.

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Banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Roger Williams establishes a colony he names "Providence" in present-day Rhode Island.

Williams had quarreled with Puritan authorities over their theology, their decision to remain within the Church of England and their failure to pay Native Americans for their land.

In 1624, King James officially charters Virginia as a royal colony.

Its inhabitants are required by law to be members of the Anglican Church and to pay taxes to support the church.

The document formally severing ties with the British government enshrines the American idea that "liberty" and "freedom" are rights given by God.

The idea of America as a land uniquely blessed by divine power will echo throughout American history.Henry's bill is defeated; Madison reintroduces Jefferson's bill, and it passes in 1786.The bill is listed on Jefferson's tombstone as one of his three most important accomplishments.Ministers such as George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards encourage individuals to make an immediate, intense and personal connection with the Divine.This emphasis on personal choice threatens to undermine the authority of ministers in established churches.In Boston, they establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony and strive to create a model Christian commonwealth.