Secularists, Religion and Government in Nineteenth-Century America tells the story of the diverse group of men and women who campaigned for a secular state. Across a series of fierce battles, from Sabbath laws to legislative chaplains to Bible-reading in schools, secularists argued that the United States was not, in political or constitutional terms, a Christian nation, in the process setting out their vision of true religion. Drawing on a neglected source, petitions to Congress, the book explores how this mobilization took place at the grassroots as much as at the elite level. The nineteenth century is often seen as the golden age of an informal Protestant establishment. But secularists in this era mounted a powerful and enduring case for a separation between religion and government.