In the sweltering summer of 1789, James Madison penned sixteen words in spare prose that became the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Herein the founding fathers of a young government pledged separation of church and state, thus guaranteeing religious freedom for its citizens and establishing a free marketplace for religion in the United States. Utterly unprecedented in Western history, this construction of a government without the interlocking authority of religion set a new course for faith and politics and has produced a vibrant religious culture unmatched anywhere in the world. First Freedom details the progression of religious liberty from pilgrims and Puritans to the creation of the Bill of Rights and how it shaped a new nation. The rich history explored increases our knowledge of—and gratitude for—a nation that protects the free exercise of faith.