The Landscape of Faith: Religious Property and Confiscation in the Early Republic

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter explores the fascinating story of the legal battles over colonial church property ownership in the new republic. Much is known about the law and politics of disestablishment in the early Republic. But what happened to all the land, such as glebe lands, that established churches had received from colonial governments before the Revolution? Forgotten today, this question burned brightly in a few of the postrevolutionary states. Fights over how best to disestablish—how to think about church property in a newly disestablished jurisdiction—consumed state legislatures and courts for decades. The discussion focuses on the litigious fate of Church of England lands in Virginia and Vermont.


colonial church property ownership, new republic, glebe lands, Church of England, Virginia, Vermont

Publication Title

Making Legal History: Essays in Honor of William E Nelson