President George Washington’s 1790 letter to Touro Synagogue stands as an inspiring statement of his broad vision of religious freedom. But behind it lurks an interesting question: to what extent was it informed by our first president’s own religious views?
Editor’s Note: On Aug. 17, 1790, the members of a synagogue in Newport, R.I., wrote to President George Washington to express their views on freedom of worship. Washington replied a few days later in an eloquent statement outlining the importance of religious freedom in America.
On the morning of Aug. 15, 1790, President George Washington and a small group of government officials boarded a boat in New York City, the first capital of the fledgling United States. Two days later, they arrived in Newport, R.I.