Opinion

Remembering George Washington’s Letter To The Hebrew Congregation Of Newport As Jews Find Themselves Surrounded By Those Who Want To Make Them Afraid

   DailyWire.com
Close up photo of George Washington on One Dollar bill
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For a Jewish immigrant to the United States, George Washington’s 1790 letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport stands as a document of stunning historical significance. While Jews were widely persecuted across Christian Europe and some parts of the Islamic world, Washington’s promise of religious freedom exemplified one of the founding principles which set the United States apart from all other nations on earth.

Here is Washington’s letter in full:

Gentlemen:

While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

In one letter of monumental importance, one stands out above the rest.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

This line, often known for its rephrased use in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton — and a further recycled use in Amanda Gorman’s over-celebrated Inaugural day poem, “The Hill We Climb” — relates to one of three portions of the Hebrew Torah. Micah 4:4, Kings 4:25, and Zechariah 3:10 all refer to living in safety under “our” vine and fig tree.

Washington most likely cited Micah 4:4, which reads:

Everyone will sit under their own vine

and under their own fig tree,

and no one will make them afraid,

for the Lord Almighty has spoken.”

It was doubtlessly intentional of Washington to reference Hebrew scripture while speaking with a Jewish congregation on the subject of religious freedom from persecution and discrimination. The unprecedented embrace of Jewish religious freedom at a time when Jews were widely despised across the world simply cannot be missed or under-appreciated.

While those words were unbelievably meaningful when they were first written, their significance grows as the Left aims to destroy the very foundation of the country. After all, it is no mistake that while the Left attempts to redefine every element of American life, they are simultaneously erasing those whose unmatched moral genius built the unparalleled system of freedom we enjoy today.

Jews — both secular and religious — have thrived in the United States because of the ideology promoted by the Founding Fathers. Washington’s desire — that Jews live free and unafraid — became a reality solely because of this ideology. However, because others have forgotten their words, this reality is under threat.

This is why it is not enough for Jews alone to value and protect the sentiment expressed in Washington’s letter. Non-Jews who also respect and love the United States must acknowledge and understand that if Washington were to witness the violence being committed against Jews in the streets of today’s America, he would correctly conclude that Jews cannot sit safely beneath their own vines or fig trees, and there are those who stand to make them afraid, and that this represents a pivotal change in the nation’s moral trajectory.

We simply cannot allow Washington’s words to be erased by the hungry claws of a radical Left in their bid to redefine what it means to be an American. The very notion of true religious freedom exemplified by the words, “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid” is at stake, and God forbid we ever discover what will befall Jewish Americans if we fail.

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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