Monday, August 17, 2009


Once again I will refer to one of my favorite books, “The American Patriot’s Almanac,” in bringing George Washington’s remarks of August 16, 1790 to your attention. At that time he journeyed to New England on a goodwill tour, and addressed gatherings in Newport, Rhode Island.

Responding to a letter from the warden of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Washington responded with the following:

“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 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 in giving it on all occasions their effectual support”.

With another reference to "The American Patriot’s Almanac," it is noted that Claremont professor Harry Jaffa pointed out that Washington’s letter was the first time in history that any ruler spoke to Jews as equals. Washington closed the letter with a quote from Scripture, “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 in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

Your Commander suspects that you, too, will immediately recognize the hypocrisy of Washington and his fellow Founding Fathers to fail for years to neglect the terms of the Declaration of Independence concerning slavery. Fortunately for all mankind Abraham Lincoln resolved that injustice, but my point in bringing Washington’s words is this: one must wonder how George Washington and his contemporaries would have addressed the hatred that flows across the Middle East toward individuals of different religious persuasions?

I bet scholars of various disciplines today could have a field day addressing that question.


No comments: