Thomas Jefferson and Maximilien Robespierre: Encountering Issues of Church and State




Tatum, Talj Gordon.

Access rights

Worldwide access

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis seeks to compare and contrast how Thomas Jefferson and Maximilien Robespierre encountered the issues of church and state during their lifetimes. Both figures were faced with revolution in an Age of Enlightenment and both were undoubtedly influential figures in their respective revolutions. In matters of church and state, both Jefferson and Robespierre argued that the basis of morality the freedom of conscience were essential matters to study. However, the two came to strikingly different conclusions about what role the state should play in religion. Jefferson concluded that there should be a separation of church and state. Robespierre, on the other hand, concluded that the state must be directly involved in religion. Though he praised religious freedom, Robespierre played a leading role in the creation of a state-lead religion. In order to understand these differences, this thesis explores the similarities and differences in their personal faith, geography, culture, and education.