Religion in Early America

June 28, 2017 – June 4, 2018

Thomas Jefferson’s private text, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth—colloquially known as the Jefferson Bible. Photo: Hugh Talman, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, West Floor Plan

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.