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This set of Facing History lesson plans helps educators teach the letters exchanged between George Washington and the Hebrew congregation of Newport, RI. These lesson plans feature historical background and activity ideas for exploring the history and themes of the letters, and questions to help guide students through a thoughtful reflection of the events presented in the letters.
Journals can provide students with a space to process their thoughts, feelings, and uncertainties during this difficult time. Use the tips and writing prompts in this resource to help your students establish a practice of journaling.
After sharing the letters between George Washington and the Hebrew congregation of Newport, RI with your students, you may want to ask your class to reflect on religion and freedom in America today by writing their own letters. See examples of letters written by Facing History students.
At the heart of Facing History's project on the Reconstruction era is our belief that the lifeblood of democracy is the ability of every rising generation to be active, responsible decision-makers. This website features a video series with accompanying lessons and primary source documen
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.
The links on this page are suggested for teachers who would like to gain additional insight on sensitive topics that are relevant to the Reconstruction era. These links are referenced within The Reconstruction Era and the Fragility of Democracy unit.