When Ron Chernow was travelling the country last year to talk about his new biography of George Washington, he was often asked about Washington’s 1790 letter to the Jews of Newport, R.I. — the one that famously promised that the United States government would give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
“There were very few speeches that I made where people didn’t ask about that letter,” Chernow recalled. “I can vouch for the fact that there’s tremendous curiosity out there.”
He’s curious, too. Even though Chernow spent six years reading through Washington’s papers to research his book, and was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for his effort, he’s never seen the original letter. In the last decade, hardly anyone has.
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