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18 – Jan. 18 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


In a publication called Sightler Publications of Greenville, S.C., additional confirmation has been given of the historic meeting between Rev. John Leland and James Madison, the Father of the US Constitution.  The Baptists of Virginia, along with Patrick Henry, initially stood in opposition to the ratification of the constitution.  Our  forefathers feared a constitution that did not provide safeguards against limiting the powers of a centralized government.  Without clear assurance that government could impose a “state church” upon the entire nation!  With Leland’s mind and Henry’s oratory they were sure to defeat the ratification of the constitution when it came before the Virginia state convention if they were elected delegates from Orange Co.  When Madison, also from Orange, Co. was told by Joseph Spencer that the Baptists opposed ratification he went to see Leland at his house.  Madison agreed, that if elected to append a Bill of Rights to the constitution, including a First Amendment to prevent of an official “state church.”  Leland withdrew his name and threw his support to Madison for delegate.  Ratification was by 19 votes, 187-168.  Two witnesses confirm that such a meeting did take place between Rev. Leland and Madison, George Nixon Briggs, a Baptist and Gov. of MA, who spoke to Leland in 1837, and John Strode Barbour, a native of Orange, Co.  This is Chronicled in an article by Samuel Chiles Mitchell, Prof. at the U. of Richmond, which appeared in the Religious Herald of Oct. 18, 1934, entitled James Madison and His Co-worker John Leland.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins, pp. 37-39.

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