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I have removed certain unverifiable information from this article, including the statement that Ames "provided the wording for the First Amendment", and the following quote wrongly attributed to Ames:
"Why... should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble. The reverence for the sacred book that is thus early impressed lasts long; and, probably, if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind."
I can find no reputable source attributing any such quote to Ames - it appears to have been written by someone else many years later, then retroactively attributed to Ames as a way to bolster claims that such language has something to do with the meaning of the First Amendment. By the tone and tenor of that quote, Ames may as well be attributed as having said "kids these days ought not be allowed to bring cell phones into the classroom, and should devote their time at home to their chores and studies, not Nintendo." Ames lived at a time before compulsory education, public schools, and governmental bodies that had any say in the books being used. Finally, the debate over the language of the First Amendment is so well documented as to eliminate any possibility that Ames played a role in its language, which was intended to capture the sentiment of state charters drawn up before Ames was born. BD2412T 17:39, 25 January 2006 (UTC)
I take that back. Found it in Works of Fisher Ames (1809), but it appears that Ames wasn't actually referring to books that students read in school, but with which they are educated in the home. bd2412T 00:14, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure Ames' work could have inspired Ben Franklin to write Poor Richard's Almanac, since Franklin's work was largely done with publishing after 1758, and Ames didn't start his publication until after 1774. Perhaps Ames' almanac was "probably inspired by" Poor Richard's Almanac?
There is some controversy, fomented by advocates of the idea that the founders of the U.S. had intended, sub rosa, that there be an unofficial, official bias to Christianity, and others, to highlight Ames' role in the First Amendment over James Madison's. Ames made the motion to accept the final language in the House committee working on that part of the Bill of Rights; it was not the final language, however, and Madison himself chaired the "conference committee" (did they call them conference committees then?). A reliable history is available at the Legal Information Institute operated by Cornell's library: http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/amdt1afrag1_user.html22.214.171.124 12:55, 15 June 2007 (UTC)