Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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THIS DAY IN VIRGINIA HISTORY

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January 16, 1786

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, 16 January 1786, Manuscript, Records of the General Assembly, Enrolled Bills, Record Group 78, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, 16 January 1786, Manuscript, Records of the General Assembly, Enrolled Bills, Record Group 78, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Virginia “Act for Establishing Religious Freedom” Was Adopted

The Virginia General Assembly adopted the Virginia “Act for Establishing Religious Freedom,” originally proposed by Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) in 1779. The statute declared that the state could not force any person to support or practice any religious denomination and prohibited the state from interfering with the religious practices of any person. The Virginia “Act for Establishing Religious Freedom” has been incorporated into other states' constitutions, and as a result has inspired many supporters of religious freedom.