In a clear and original treatment of a controversial topic, historian James H. Hutson describes the rise of organized religion in America and its interaction with government from the arrival of Protestant and Catholic groups in New England and the middle Colonies in the early 17th century to the establishment of new religious groups in the early decades of the 19th century. By interpreting the Puritans’ arrival in New England in the context of European religious persecution, he lays the groundwork for his examination of the evolving relationship between church and state in America. The history of Rhode Island Baptists and Pennsylvania Quakers prefigured the principles of religious freedom and separation of church and state laid down in the founding documents of the US. Hutson describes the founding of the federal and state governments and the founders’ attitudes toward religion’s role in government. Hutson’s own expertise and the Library of Congress’s rich documentation of this period give particular weight and interest to this period.