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The first Jews arrived in America with Columbus in 1492, and we also know that Jews newly-converted to Christianity were among the first Spaniards to arrive in Mexico with Conquistador Hernando Cortez in 1519.In fact, so many Jewish conversos came to Mexico that the Spanish made a rule precluding anyone who could not prove Catholic ancestry for four generations back from migrating there.236): "No Christian community in history identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed their own lives to be a literal reenactment of the Biblical drama of the Hebrew nation...these émigré Puritans dramatized their own situation as the righteous remnant of the Church corrupted by the 'Babylonian woe,' and saw themselves as instruments of Divine Providence, a people chosen to build their new commonwealth on the Covenant entered into at Mount Sinai." Previously, during the Puritan Revolution in England, (1642-1648) some Puritan extremists had even sought to replace English common law with Biblical laws of the Old Testament, but were prevented from doing so.To them, England was Egypt, the king was Pharaoh, the Atlantic Ocean was the Red Sea, America was the Land of Israel, and the Indians were the ancient Canaanites.They were the new Israelites, entering into a new covenant with God in a new Promised Land.70): "At the time of the American Revolution, the interest in the knowledge of Hebrew was so widespread as to allow the circulation of the story that 'certain members of Congress proposed that the use of English be formally prohibited in the United States, and Hebrew substituted for it.'" Their Biblical education colored the American founders' attitude toward not only religion and ethics, but most significantly, politics.
Numerous examples can be found which clearly illustrate to what a significant extent the political struggles of the colonies were identified with the ancient Hebrews.(In America, Bible study and Hebrew were course requirements in virtually all these colleges and students had the option of delivering commencement speeches in either Hebrew, Latin or Greek.)(2) Many of the population, including a significant number of the Founding Fathers of America, were products of these American Universities ― for example, Thomas Jefferson attended William and Mary, James Madison Princeton, Alexander Hamilton King's College (i.e. Thus, we can be sure that a majority of these political leaders were not only well acquainted with the contents of both the New and Old Testaments, but also had some working knowledge of Hebrew.Notes Abraham Katsch in The Biblical Heritage of American Democracy (p.Many of these colleges even adopted some Hebrew word or phrase as part of their official emblem or seal.Beneath the banner containing the Latin "Lux et Veritas," the Yale seal shows an open book with the Hebrew "Urim V'Timum," which was a part of the breastplate of the High Priest in the days of the Temple.