Jefferson was inaugurated the third president of the United States on March 4, 1801, following one of the most bitterly contested presidential elections in American history. His religion, or the alleged lack thereof, emerged as a critical issue in the campaign. The Federalists vilified him as an unreformed Jacobin, libertine, and atheist. The campaign rhetoric was so vitriolic that, when news of Jefferson’s election swept across the country, housewives in Federalist New England were seen burying the family bibles in their gardens or hiding them in wells because they fully expected the Holy Scriptures to be confiscated and burned by the new administration in Washington.
~Quoted from Daniel L. Dreisbach’s Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State (New York University Press, 2002) 18