To Bigotry No Sanction, To Persecution No Assistance

Democratic Thinker, Freedom of Religion

George Washington replys to Moses Seisas, Warden of the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, who has welcomed him in part: “we now … behold a government erected by the Majesty Of The People,—a government which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance, but generously affording to all liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship …

I am no bigot, and can hear a prayer from any gentleman of piety and virtue, and who is at the same time a friend to his country.—Samuel Adams.

To the Hebrew Congregation, Newport.


August 17, 1790.


Touro Synagogue
Newport, Rhode Island.

WHILE I receive with much satisfaction your address, replete with expressions of affection and esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in 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 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 was by the indulgence of one class of the 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 those 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 to 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.


Contributed by Democratic Thinker

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