Maryland Blogger Alliance

Alliance FAQs

Latest MBA Posts

February 22, 2005

Happy 273rd birthday, George Washington

While I have the highest regard for The Big Trunk over at Power Line, I think he may have inadvertently understated the importance of George Washington's letter to the Jewish congregation in Rhode Island in 1790.

The Trunk speaks of the letter as being "one of the classic statements of religious toleration in America," but "toleration" is really the wrong word, as GW himself explained. As I pointed out my first-ever post at this blog, Jew in America, Washington's letter rejected the notion of "toleration" in favor of full citizenship:

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.
For Jews, who, during the best of historical times, were tolerated by the local rulers, one simply cannot emphasize too greatly how important this concept of citizenship really is.