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Happy Presidents’ Day!
Did you know that George Washington and other Founding Fathers mentioned Muslims in their writings with respect?
America’s Founding Fathers established a nation founded on the concept of religious freedom. Many of their writings emphasized their belief that the nation should be open to people of all faiths – including Muslims. George Washington stated a willingness to hire “Mahometans,” and indeed people of any nation or religion, to work on his private estate at Mount Vernon if they were good workers. He also suggested a way for Muslims to “obtain proper relief” from a proposed Virginia bill that proposed taxes to support Christian worship.
In 1776, John Adams published book called Thoughts on Government in which he praised Muhammad as a “sober inquirer after truth” alongside Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, and other thinkers. During his presidency, he signed a treaty with Morocco which stipulated that the United States had no “character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen.”
Benjamin Franklin published his autobiography in 1791 in which he described a meeting place he belonged to that was designed to accommodate preachers of “all religious persuasions.” He wrote that “even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”
These stories and more are covered in ING’s online curriculum A History of Muslims in America .
Teachers can also request a live presentation or webinar by an ING speaker on the topic.