In the context of Jewish History, it is often said that New Hampshire was the last state to remove legal disabilities on Jews in 1877 (which technically pushes the US quite far down the timeline for Jewish emancipation in spite of the tolerance in the federal constitution), because it had a state ban on non-Protestant officeholders (and the Religious Test part of the constitution was not yet incorporated to the states as I understand it).

However, while I know that this law was changed in 1877, was it actually enforced? Are there records of (analagous to the first Jewish MPs forbidden to take their seats in the UK) state representatives elected but not allowed to serve because they refused to take a Protestant Oath? Or was the law just a dead letter (like the provisions in the Texas constitution barring atheists from office)?

  • 4
    Some quality references would make this a really good question.
    – Brian Z
    Jul 5, 2021 at 1:43
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    Unlikely that at that time (second half of 19th century) Jewish man could win elections for public office. Therefore, prohibition was mostly aimed at Roman Catholics.
    – rs.29
    Jul 5, 2021 at 19:32
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    @rs.29 - Almost certainly yes. US political institutions had their genesis quite soon after James II and the Glorious Revolution, when Catholicism in government had proven itself a very real threat to the state. The distrust took far longer to die out than the actual threat did. It was actually still an issue when Kennedy ran for President in 1960 (but not when Reagan did the same in 1980). I think its quite correct that the idea of a non-Christian getting elected didn't even occur to the people who wrote that law. If it was also anti-Jew, that was collateral damage.
    – T.E.D.
    Jul 6, 2021 at 18:45


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