George Washington to the Jewish Masons
of Newport, Rhode Island
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:
“Being persuaded that a just application of the principles, on which the masonic fraternity is founded, must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interests of the Society, and to be considered by them a deserving Brother.” [GEORGE WASHINGTON].
Newspaper. Gazette of the United States.
September 11, 1790. New York, John Fenno. 4pp. The letter of the Masons to Washington, and Washington’s letter of August 18, 1790 in response, printed in full on page 4. This issue also includes a piece on the “Character of Dr. Franklin.” (p. 2, col. 1).
Early in his presidency, Washington received many messages from civic leaders, fraternal organizations such as the Masons, and the elders of the great diversity of religions throughout America. Each offered the incoming president congratulations, praise lauding his deeds in war, peace, and politics, prayers on behalf of their congregations, and more praise for what they were certain he would accomplish as president. Washington’s responses to these addresses count among his most famous pronouncements, firmly establishing the liberty to practice one’s own faith as a bedrock of the new Constitutional government.
The Washington letters provide great examples of his very effective habit of incorporating the best thoughts or words from messages to him into his responses. One of his most celebrated quotes, for instance, proclaiming that the United States would give “to bigotry no sanction,” was adopted by him from Moses Seixas’s Newport Hebrew Congregation (Touro Synagogue) letter to Washington.
The Gazette, a champion of the new federal government, was printed in New York City when it was the nation’s capital, and is often considered the most significant newspaper of the 18th century.