“…to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance”

On August 18, 1790 George Washington was welcomed to Newport, Rhode Island. Among the addresses given by the town’s citizens was one read by Moses Seixas from the Newport’s Hebrew congregation, expressing their affection and esteem for him and their gratitude to God for “a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance — but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship.” The letter also touched on their previous deprivation of rights because of their religion.

In his reply, Washington assured the Hebrew congregation in their unspoken concerns as he affirmed their hopes, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship,” in his unequivocal declaration of religious liberty, “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 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.”

He was also laying down a marker for religious liberty. He had been President for only a few months, and the Bill of Rights had yet to be ratified.

“The state legislatures of Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Georgia were in the process of debating the first ten Constitutional amendments (eventually known as the Bill of Rights) during the summer of 1790. Washington utilized heavy rhetoric, consistently reaffirming themes of liberty throughout his tour of Rhode Island.”1

Washington astutely recognized that to speak of tolerance was to imply two classes of citizens, and with the phrase, “All possess alike,” he swept the notion off the table, preempting the idea that, “the exercise of their inherent natural rights,” was to be decided by a select group. By saying that rights were inherent and natural, Washington reiterated the foundational ideas of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal, and that certain unalienable rights were endowed by God, not bestowed by man, and as such, the role of government was to secure those rights, not to give or take them away.

“…the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…

“—We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

“—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

And the words, “the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” undergirded Washington’s desire that, “every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

This congregation later became known as the Touro Synagogue, and Washington’s letter is read annually. This year’s reading will be this upcoming Sunday.

To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island
[Newport, R.I., 18 August 1790]

Gentlemen.

While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in 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 a 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 was by 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 figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.2

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1Yaari Tal, “Touro Synagogue,” The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington, accessed August 18, 2017, http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/touro-synagogue.
2“From George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, 18 August 1790,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-06-02-0135. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 6, 1 July 1790 – 30 November 1790, ed. Mark A. Mastromarino. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1996, pp. 284–286.]
See also:
Touro Synagogue, National Historic Site, http://www.tourosynagogue.org
.

Where Have You Been?

Welcome to new readers wondering why there are hardly any posts up during the last few months, and to old ones who have been thinking the same.

In case you missed An Unexpected Hiatus, two days after I wrote Ted Cruz: Constitution Man in March, I fell and broke both arms. I’ve had arm surgery, recovery in a nursing/rehab facility, and now I’m going to physical therapy. After initial optimism, my surgeon is now doubtful as to how much range of motion I’ll regain in my right arm—that elbow joint has two pins in it—but my physical therapist still fights the battle. I’ll also soon be wearing a brace that rachets out to gradually increase my arm extension.

It’s been difficult to use my computer—it’s been only a few weeks I’ve been able to type without painful elbow jars, and it’s still uncomfortable to type for any length of time. I’ve been online with twitter because I can use my phone to do retweets and brief comments. If you want my current thinking you can find it in the sidebar!

The very few posts I’ve done since March have been reposting and tweaking old ones. I’ve found it’s not just my ability to type, but also exhaustion. I’ve had to shelve re-editing my propanda series, and I’ve started drafts, but the energy hasn’t been there for finishing them for publishing! If only you could sit down with me, and we could talk!

Pamphleteer stampThis is the Pamphleteer stamp published for the Bicentennial. Bloggers have been called modern-day pamphleteers, and this is also a reminder of how important it is for us to be not only informed of current events, but to read about our American heritage and the whys and wherefores of our nation.

In Reagan’s Farewell Speech he charged us:

“If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let’s start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.”

Sadly, too many have forgotten what we did, and don’t know who we are, and that eradication of the American memory and erosion of the American spirit prevails in too many. However, that American spirit can be regained. Almost two hundred years ago, in 1818 John Adams tells us not only how it began, but how the American spirit is to be continued.

“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.”

I continue to be very grateful to God for His sustaining help, and I’m very thankful for my family. I would appreciate your prayers for my ongoing healing. Please continue to pray with me in petitioning God for his mercy and grace in this great time of need for our nation.

Thanks!

Sen. Ben Sasse on the Constitution and the Presidency

A few weeks ago Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) tweeted some pointed and important questions to Donald Trump on the Constitution, policy, and character. To the best of my knowledge Trump never answered those questions.

Sunday he took to twitter again to make some comments on the Constitution and the Presidency. He’s expanded them into an open letter to Trump supporters on his Facebook page. You don’t have to join Facebook to read it. I highly recommend it. Senator Sasse has some important reminders about who we are as a nation.

Here’s a sample from many of his tweets last night:

 

 

Washington With Some Words On The 2016 Election

We call it his Farewell Address, but in truth it was an open letter from George Washington to Americans for whom he held:

“…a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to the permanency of your felicity as a people…”

Think about that for a minute.  Let Washington’s words sink in. He was well aware of dangers that would come to our Republic, and he left us his analysis and prescription on what was all-important to the permanency of our felicity—our happiness—as a people.

In its introduction to the Farewell Address Heritage Foundation comments:

“…With the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the Farewell Address constitutes the central statement of the American purpose.”

You can read the entire letter at the Heritage link. The quotes I’m pulling from it are Washington’s warnings about those who would destroy our government, and his advice on the mindset and lives of Americans who would preserve it.

Washington reminds us of the basis of our government, the foundational importance of the rule of law, and the subversion of those principles by those who would undermine and destroy the principles of the Constitution.

Consider Washington’s words as part of the “central statement of the American purpose.” Consider them carefully before you vote.

“…The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

Now carefully read the next few paragraphs.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency…”

“However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

“Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown…”

I see in these above words of Washington not only an indictment of Leftists and progressives such as Obama who have subverted the law for their own ends, but also an indictment of a demagogue such as Trump who “answers popular ends,” feeding emotions as he declares he’ll make America great again, even as he says things that reveal his ignorance of the Constitution and promise a strongman use of power that would destroy our heritage as a free people.

Washington also advised us on the mindset necessary for the preservation of our liberties.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Washington recommends to us the blessing of religion and morality, but here there is also an indictment of self-identified conservatives whose words and lives indicate they flatly disagree with Washington that, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Current events prove Washington was right.

The corruption in the White House, the betrayal by Congress of their constituents, the sensationalism and immorality fostered by the media, and the you-only-live-once mentality of Americans have brought us to the present dilemma.

Hear these poignant words, and take to heart the wisdom this great man left for us.

Washington, George“In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will controul the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated…”Washington, George signature
Farewell Address, September 19, 1796

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Each year on George Washington’s Birthday, the United States Senate reads Washington’s Farewell Address. Would that they would heed his words.

Signature of George Washington, Raeky: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.

New Hampshire Profile: Of Men & Pigs

We lived in New Hampshire for almost ten years. The state has changed. It was solid red when we moved there in late 1993, and it was fighting off the purple when we left in 2003. I remember driving through a small town with a sign on a post giving the amount of tax money it sent to D.C. It also gave the amount coming from D.C. back to it— $0. While that didn’t account for defense spending and other indirect benefits, it shows you the mindset of the-then Granite State.

Old Man of the Mountain 4-26-03The Old Man of the Mountain, also known as The Profile, was a granite formation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire made famous by Daniel Webster in this tribute to his state:

“Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades: shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers, a monster watch; and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men.”

This photograph was taken on April 26, 2003, coincidentally on the weekend we were traveling in our move back to Florida. A week later on May 3, weakened over time by its fissures, the Great Stone Face collapsed and fell.

The Old Man of the Mountain has been on New Hampshire signs, license plates, and the state quarter.  It was the old symbol of New Hampshire, and its rock-hard conservative mindset. An incident occurred on Tuesday that might serve as a new symbol. The Boston Globe ran the story, 600-pound pig escapes from NH farm, tries to go vote.

It’s fitting that a pig tried to vote on the day New Hampshire went for a socialist and a progressive-populist. The state that built men has become the state that goes for political pork and the profane.

That’s not to advise pessimism, but to advise we ask God for mercy. Culture may be upstream from politics, but upstream from culture is our understanding of God and man, and right and wrong in responsibilities and relationships. “At heart, all political problems are moral and religious problems.” Tuesday’s results indicate how deep the rot goes and how widespread the problems are.

“But as the animals look from Napoleon to Pilkington, from man to pig and from pig back to man, they find that they are unable to tell the difference.”
George Orwell, Animal Farm.

Daniel Webster was right. God makes men. Pray that in His grace He makes men and women who are His, here, right now, in our nation.