Religion in Early America

The Jefferson Bible

The role of religion in the formation and development of the United States is at the heart of this one-year exhibition that explores the themes of religious diversity, freedom, and growth from the colonial era through the 1840s. National treasures from the Museum’s own collection are on view, such as George Washington’s christening robe from 1732, Thomas Jefferson’s The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, also known as “The Jefferson Bible,” and Wampum beads. Significant objects on loan include Massachusetts Bay Colony-founder John Winthrop’s communion cup, circa 1630; a Torah scroll on loan from New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel, founded in 1654; a chalice used by John Carroll, the first Roman Catholic bishop in the U.S. and founder of Georgetown University; and a first edition of the Book of Mormon. The objects represent the diverse range of Christian, Native American, and African traditions as well as Mormonism, Islam, and Judaism that wove through American life in this era.

On July 12, join us online for a Facebook Live tour of Religion in Early America. Curator Peter Manseau will be answering questions, sharing objects and stories, and showing us highlights of this new exhibition. RSVP today for reminders of this online tour.