A letter’s journey, from founding father to religious question
Washington (CNN) - Standing over the letter, one would never know its unique story. Worth millions at auction, reading it unveils that it stands as a testament to religious freedom in America. But as it stares up, idly sitting there, the stories of “erotic” behavior, twisted ownership and historic encounters are lost on those lucky enough to see it.
The primary spirit of the letter is clear – the United States government will assure religious freedom, giving “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
George Washington wrote those words in a 1790 letter to the the congregation of a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. He was hoping to reassure the congregation that the budding government of the United States would allow free expression to all religions. Since then, Jews in America have flourished.
The letter is addressed “To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island,” but it is kept from public view, which hurts and angers those who think private ownership defies the letter’s original sentiment.
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