Our Dear-Bought Liberty: Catholics and Religious Toleration in Early America by Michael D. Breidenbach
One of the many excellent qualities of this deeply researched (1,101 endnotes) and highly readable work of historical revision is the clarity of its purpose:
American historians can no longer assume that Catholics in the early republic served merely as a contrast to its religious and political order. Instead, Catholics should be counted as proponents of complementary ideologies about church-state relations and contributors to the development of temporal independence and religious liberty in the United States. In this respect, the American founding was continuous with medieval and Renaissance debates over papal authority that shaped early modern political thought about state authority. The "Machiavellian moment" in America was as much about ecclesiastical republicanism as it was about political republicanism. The point is not to suggest that there was a Catholic moment in the American founding. Instead, a comprehensive account of the religious and political thought of the founding must acknowledge the complexity of its European antecedents, including conciliarism (146).
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