Subasta 72 Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Holy Land Maps & Fine Art
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Washington, George. A Collection of the Speeches ...

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Washington, George. A Collection of the Speeches of the President of the United States... Addresses to the President, with His Answers.

FIRST EDITION. pp. 282, (1), (1 blank). Foxed. Contemporary blind-tooled calf, scuffed, rebacked. 8vo. Singerman 102.

Manning and Loring, Boston: 1796.

First official publication of the United States Government relating to American Jews.

     Among the contents of this anthology of George Washington's speeches and letters is the correspondence exchanged between him and the Jewish communities of America following his inauguration. The volume was "published according to an act of Congress" and thus, is the earliest official publication of the United States government that relates to Jews.
     Characteristically, American Jews chose not to unite and dispatch one letter to congratulate Washington upon his inauguration. The congregation in Savannah sent its own letter, and the communities of Philadelphia, New York, Charleston and Richmond sent one jointly. In response to the good wishes expressed in the latter letter, Washington reciprocated: "May the same temporal and eternal blessings which you implore for me, rest upon your Congregations."
     The Jews of Newport declined to sign the letters sent by the other congregations. This may have been because the citizenry of Rhode Island was divided as to whether or not to join the new Union and the state's Jews may have been hesitant to make a public statement on the matter by writing to the newly elected President. Nonetheless, when Washington visited Newport in 1790, Moses Seixas, the warden of the congregation, addressed him on its behalf. Washington famously replied: "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… 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."
     This volume, "Collection of the Speeches," contains the correspondence exchanged between President Washington and the Jewish community of Newport and the communities of Philadelphia, Charleston, New York and Richmond. (It also contains a second letter penned by Moses Seixas, this one in his capacity as the master of a local Masonic Lodge).
     During the struggle for the passage of the Maryland Jew Bill (to eliminate Jewish disabilities in the state) at the beginning of the nineteenth century, one supporter, Col. William G.D. Worthington, delivered an address before the State Legislature and read the entire correspondence between the Jews of Newport and Washington. The letters continued to be cited by Jews and their advocates throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries to demonstrate that the founding father had fully sanctioned their inclusion into the American nation.