Give Bigotry No Sanction Readings

Facing History and Ourselves has curated a collection of readings, written by staff members and scholars, that touch on the echoes of the letter exchange between George Washington and the Hebrew congregation of Newport. These readings address issues of religion, difference, and identity, and suggest that reflecting on these issues is just as important today as it was in 1790.

Religion in Colonial America

Puritans and Anglicans, Baptists and Quakers, Catholics and Jews, Native Americans and slaves, rationalists and revivalists: long before 1776, American settlers struggled to deal with religious difference. Learn some of the common experiences around religion in colonial culture that shaped the United States' balance among national law, local practice, and individual freedom of belief.

Learn about Religion in Colonial America

Reading
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Once Upon a Time in New York: A Temple Denied

Learn about the struggles that religious groups faced in building places of worship in early American history, and consider the parallels to issues of religious freedom today.

Reading
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Religious Freedom, Then and Now: Suspicion of Catholics Once Common in U.S.

Examine the rise of nativism and anti-Catholic prejudices in the 1800s in the US and consider connections to issues surrounding religious freedom today.

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Democracy & Civic Engagement

Alexis de Tocqueville on Democracy and Religion

Learn about how Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America (1835), viewed democracy, freedom, and religion.

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Democracy & Civic Engagement

Religious Freedom in Colonial Virginia

Explore the role of leaders and ordinary citizens in the history of religious freedom in colonial Virginia.

Reading
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Created Equal: How Benjamin Banneker Challenged Jefferson on Race and Freedom

When the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791, the liberties it provided were withheld from the hundreds of thousands of Africans living in slavery. In a public letter to Thomas Jefferson, a free African-American Benjamin Banneker challeneged the treatment of blacks and the continued existence of slavery.

Reading
Democracy & Civic Engagement

Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom

Investigate Thomas Jefferson’s foundational beliefs about religion, government, and religious freedom.

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Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.