Thursday, October 27, 2016


Early in his first term George Washington made tour of the New England states. At that time Rhode Island had not ratified the constitution so he skipped that state, In the summer of 1790 Rhode Island ratified the constitution and Washington, with Jefferson and New York governor Clinton in tow, set out for a visit.

At their first stop, Newport, the party was greeted by Moses Seixas. He was a merchant and spokesman for his congregation, Yeshuat Israel. In part of his greeting he noted that his congregation had been deprived of the"invaluable rights of free citizens."

Washington wrote this letter in reply. The underlined sections make it plain that he saw America as a place where we would all be free to worship as we believed and that one group was not set above another. Source Ron Chernow's bio Washington A Life. Letter text from the website of the Touro Synagogue. Located in Newport, Rhode Island it is the oldest Jewish congregation in the US and the oldest synagogue building still standing.


While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.
The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

The folks who claim the US was chartered as a "Christian nation" have no more understanding of history or the intentions of the founding fathers than they have of quantum physics. And they have no desire to learn...because as long as they remain ignorant, "history" can be whatever reality they have created for themselves.