Saturday, February 19, 2005

James Madison to Edward Livingston

"I observe with particular pleasure the view you have taken of the immunity of Religion from civil jurisdiction, in every case where it does not trespass on private rights or the public peace. This has always been a favorite principle with me; and it was not with my approbation, that the deviation from it took place in Cong[ress], when they appointed Chaplains, to be paid from the Nat[ional] Treasury. It would have been a much better proof to their Constituents of their pious feeling if the members had contributed for the purpose, a pittance from their own pockets. As the precedent is not likely to be rescinded, the best that can now be done, may be to apply to the Const[itution] the maxim of the law, de minimis non curat."

James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

Read the letter at



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