Declarations of Faith

Playing to the religious vote isn't new. In 1800 it may have determined who became President

Bettmann Corbis; Stock Montage / Getty

Their supporters battled over which man was an infidel and which a hypocrite..

The narrow margin of the last presidential election left those on the losing side second-guessing themselves. Many of them blamed the loss on the opposition's appeals to Christian voters and their own candidate's failure to answer basic questions about his personal faith. Determined to win the next election, party strategists mapped plans to neutralize the religion issue. Those plans included buffing their candidate's image as a believer, condemning the other party's ties to evangelical extremists and hailing their side's devotion to religious liberty.

It may sound like the current presidential campaign, but the year was 1800 and the beleaguered candidate was...

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