President Trump speaks in front of a painting by George Washington in the East Room of the White House in July. (Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post) In a chapter of his new The book "These Truths: A History of the United States," writes historian Jill Lepore about November 1783, when the last British ship left the port of New York, putting an end to the war of independence. Shortly after, General George Washington returned to town, returning victorious in a city he had hastily abandoned seven years earlier. He and his troops celebrated the celebration at Fraunces Tavern on Broadway, where, as reported by the Independent New York Gazette, Washington made 13 toasts. One of them was: "Let America be a haven for the persecuted on earth!" Today, President Trump has ordered more than 5,000 US soldiers to fend off a "caravan" of claimants. Central American asylum, telling Fox News' Laura Ingraham, "This is an invasion of our country. But our first president proposed asylum as one of America's strengths. Many times. In April 1788, while the constitution was under discussion and ratified by the states, Washington sent a letter to a persecuted Dutch preacher, urging him to emigrate with his flock, stating: "I had always hoped that this land would become a safe and pleasant land. Asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of humanity, to any nation whatsoever, "to settle in comfort, liberty and tranquility in a corner of the vast regions of America". Washington reiterated this hope a month later in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, describing how their new nation "promises to provide a high-capacity haven for the poor and the persecuted on Earth." His remarks about asylum continued during his presidency. In a proclamation of 1795, Washington asked Americans to pray to the Almighty to "make this country a safe haven for the wretched of other countries." Similarly, Washington would be repelled by Trump's measures to seal the border of legal asylum seekers. ? Should the Liberals scribble their words on their placards at the next protest? New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani has been talking about Washington in a tweet during the summer, at the height of the controversy over the separation of children. George Washington: "I had always hoped that this land would become a safe and enjoyable haven for the virtuous and persecuted part of humanity, regardless of its nation." – Michiko Kakutani (@michikokakutani) July 7, 2018 But while Washington claimed that the offer of asylum was offered to people from "all nations," an editorial of Fox News suggests that its intent was narrower, targeting high net worth individuals who were persecuted in Europe for extolling democracy in the US, and that would help the country's fledgling economy. And to be sure, when defeated British ships left Charleston at the end of the War of Independence, dozens of escaped slaves threw themselves into the water and swam after them, terrified to be forced to return to the servitude and seek asylum in America. Lepore, for its part, does not recommend invoking Washington in the ongoing debate. She did not note any federal law restricting immigration until 1881. There was no one checking passports on the wharves. The asylum was not a formal process in which one submitted documentation of political oppression on an I-589 form. "So, what is Washington doing? [in offering asylum to the Dutch preacher], it does not limit the asylum to a particular person or to people from a given region of the world, there are no restrictions. He has just offered the richness of his rhetoric to offer this special invitation and welcome, "she said. The word asylum may have a less specific meaning than it does today, but even as a "simple" concept, it was essential for Washington and its contemporaries, she says. "The settlements were considered from the beginning as an asylum of all kinds, mainly as a debtors' asylum," she says. "I mean, you were in debt in Europe and you went to the settlements, your debt would be forgiven. It was therefore an asylum for the poor. She also quotes the Constitutional Convention of 1787, chaired by Washington. [The epic bender to celebrate George Washington and the newly finished U.S. Constitution] "There are discussions about whether qualification for an elected position should be born in the country. And there's a very strange thing, where in the end they say, "Well, for the president, maybe." But for no other position, it's not necessary. You could have just landed, "she says. Nevertheless, she warns against the tweet of the founders. "Historians do not just Quotes that come out of a Google search, right? She said, "But is it a mistake in a deeply unethical way, the way politicians work?" No. Does that make our political conversation move forward? Probably not. "Read more Retropolis: The Mother Who Created George Washington – And Made It Miserable How did a painting depicting George Washington crossing Delaware at Christmas become "the cheap slave" of the nineteenth century: Trump, the # Immigration and the ugly history of the Chinese Act of exclusion of citizenship: a history lesson inspired by Trump on the 14th amendment .