Tuesday, August 25, 2009

George Washington and Sarah Vowell

I came across this quote by George Washington while reading Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates (p. 244):

"All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States...gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance."

This was Washington's response, addressed "to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island," to their question about whether the new United States government would uphold the freedom of religion they had enjoyed in Rhode Island.

I, personally, find his statement of moving beyond mere tolerance to be very progressive, even though we as a country haven't lived up to that.

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