Skip to main content

After the war, there were many questions and concerns about religious freedom. In response, Washington reassured countless religious communities that they would have the freedom to worship as they chose.

Petitions to Washington

The Jewish people of Newport, Rhode Island, wrote to Washington in 1790. At the time, Jews were not considered "full citizens," and could not serve in office - they hoped that with Washington's presidency, that could change. Read more about the letter and Washington's response

Touro Synagogue

Moses Seixas

Moses Seixas was the author of the Tuoro Synagogue letter to Washington. Learn more about his life and dreams by clicking the link below.

Moses' Story

Vine and Fig Tree

While addressing petitions from religious groups, Washington often mentioned "vine and fig trees." Click below to learn what Washington meant and why it is important.

Why so many plants?

Judaism in America

Judaism in America

Where did the Jews live? Why do you think they decided to write to Washington?

Primary Source: Statute for Religious Freedom

In 1786, the Virginia Assembly passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This officially separated the Church of England from the Virginia Government, and set an example of religious freedom. Click below to read more.

Read the Source

Primary Source: Touro Synagogue

Washington received a letter from Moses Seixas on behalf of a Jewish congregation, the Truro Synagogue.

In it, Seixas asked Washington to create "a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance"

Read the entire letter - and Washington's response - by clicking the link below.

Read the Letter

Primary Source: Religious Petitions

Washington received many letters from different religious groups, all asking for religious freedom. Explore more letters in the link below.

View the Petitions

Why Religious Freedom?

Washington believed that a nation needed religion because it was fundamental to having a moral republic. What do you think he meant by this?

Watch Religious Freedom

Learn how George Washington successfully established religious freedom in America with this 15 minute film!

Religious Freedom Home

Click the link to go back to Religious Freedom Classroom Resources

Link to Homepage