The Letters

In 1790, before the adoption of the First Amendment to the Constitution, President George Washington visited Newport, Rhode Island. Moses Seixas, an official of the Hebrew congregation of Newport, was among the representatives of the Newport community invited to welcome the President by reading a letter. This letter expressed hope that the newly formed government would accord respect and tolerance to all of its citizens, regardless of background and religious beliefs. Moved by Seixas’ letter, Washington penned a declarative and assertive reply in which he promised the new government would ensure not just tolerance, but full liberty of conscience to all.

Read more about the story behind the letters

The Letter from Moses Seixas

On August 17th, 1790, Moses Seixas, an official of the Hebrew congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, delivered a letter to President George Washington, who was visiting the state. In his public letter, Seixas thanks Washington for his leadership in forming the fledgling government of the United States, and also expresses hope that the young country would accord respect and tolerance to all of its citizens, regardless of background and religious beliefs.

Read the letter from Moses Seixas to George Washington

The Letter From George Washington

On August 21st, 1790, President George Washington wrote a letter to Moses Seixas and the Hebrew congregation of Newport, Rhode Island. Washington was responding to a letter from Seixas that expressed hope that the newly formed United States would accord respect and tolerance to all of its citizens. Washington’s response promised not only tolerance, but full liberty of conscience to all, regardless of background and religious beliefs.

Read the letter from George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, RI

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