Spark meaningful conversations about religious freedom, the nature of democracy, and civic participation with this timeless multimedia collection.
Presented by Facing History and Ourselves in partnership with the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom, the Give Bigotry No Sanction project, is anchored in George Washington’s 1790 Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island—a foundational document of religious tolerance. The project inspires thoughtful conversations about matters of religious freedom in our increasingly diverse society.
Facing History and Ourselves has created a suite of resources for our educator audience that focuses on the letter exchange between George Washington and the Hebrew congregation of Newport, RI. Lesson plans, videos, and much more will help teachers bring a study of the letter exchange and the issues surrounding it into their classrooms.
Facing History and Ourselves has curated a collection of readings, written by staff members and scholars, that touch on the echoes of the letter exchange between George Washington and the Hebrew congregation of Newport. These readings address issues of religion, difference, and identity, and suggest that reflecting on these issues is just as important today as it was in 1790.
This set of Facing History lesson plans helps educators teach the letters exchanged between George Washington and the Hebrew congregation of Newport, RI. These lesson plans feature historical background and activity ideas for exploring the history and themes of the letters, and questions to help guide students through a thoughtful reflection of the events presented in the letters.
After sharing the letters between George Washington and the Hebrew congregation of Newport, RI with your students, you may want to ask your class to reflect on religion and freedom in America today by writing their own letters. See examples of letters written by Facing History students.
In 1790, before the adoption of the First Amendment to the Constitution, President George Washington visited Newport, Rhode Island. Moses Seixas, an official of the Hebrew congregation of Newport, was among the representatives of the Newport community invited to welcome the President by reading a letter. This letter expressed hope that the newly formed government would accord respect and tolerance to all of its citizens, regardless of background and religious beliefs. Moved by Seixas’ letter, Washington penned a declarative and assertive reply in which he promised the new government would ensure not just tolerance, but full liberty of conscience to all.