Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Quote: George Washington

Here is an excerpt of a letter from George Washington to the Jewish community of Newport, RI, in 1790:

"All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunity of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by 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....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."

- George Washington, cited by Susan Jacoby in Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism

I was really excited to see this; I think it's an excellent example of the ideals to which our nation should continue to aspire. Our "founding fathers" were full of contradictions (Washington was a slaveowner), but sometimes they did get it right.

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