WHAT CONDITION OUR DISPOSITION IS IN
“[I]t is to be hoped that individual dispositions will at length mould themselves to the model of the law, and consider the moral basis on which our religions rest, as the rallying point which unites them in a common interest…” Thomas Jefferson, 1818.
This quote is from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Mordecai-Manual Noah, in response to a discourse given by Noah at the consecration of the newly built Congregation Shearith Israel in New York in 1818. Noah sent Jefferson, and other leading Americans, his address in order to champion the cause of American Jewry.
Noah was born in 1785 and has been called the most influential American Jew of the early 19th century. Noah was born to a German Immigrant, Manuel Noah, who served in the Militia during the Revolutionary war, and to Zipporah Phillips, the daughter of Jonas Phillips who was an outspoken defender of human rights. It is no wonder that Mordecai–Manual Noah was involved in politics, amongst other endeavors, and eventually became Consul to Tunis. Noah was recalled by the State Department due to reasons of religion.They claimed that his religion prevented him from performing his duties favorably. After being recalled he was extremely disappointed but it encouraged him to work hard to clear his name and to reassert his worth. He focused his attention on journalism and eventually become the editor of the National Advocate.
This letter, from Yeshiva University Museum’s collection, will be displayed at the National Museum of American History in the exhibition To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington & Religious Freedom opening June 29, 2012. The exhibit’s centerpiece is George Washington’s historic letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island.Yeshiva University Museum is proud to have this letter shown alongside George Washington’s letter; two letters from great champions of freedom and tolerance of religion.
Letter. May 20th, 1881. Gift of Charles J.Rosenbloom. Collection of Yeshiva University Museum (1986.059).