Tuesday, February 20, 2007

George Washington

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
--- George Washington, (signed by John Adams in 1796) Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11, 1797
It is worth noting the "Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, Barbary" when sent to the Senate for ratification, passed unanimously. Only the third such unanimous vote in the young Senate's history. The vote was unanimous without debate or dissent. Imagine the hew and cry by the present crop of American Puritans if such a vote, containing such language, were held today.

As we celebrate the birthday of our first President, at a time when wearing one's religion on one's sleeve is all the rage - NeoPuritans and Politicians alike - observe the death of the Father of our Country:

It is interesting to note that the Father of our Country spoke no words of a religious nature on his deathbed, although fully aware that he was dying, and did not ask for a man of God to be present; his last act was to take his own pulse, the consummate gesture of a creature of the age of scientific rationalism.
-- Brooke Allen, The Nation
If only we had leaders of such private and sterner stuff today. Happy birthday, Mr. President.

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