'The Furthest Reaches of Tolerance'

A scholar explores the founding fathers' ambivalence toward Islam

'The Furthest Reaches of Tolerance' 2

Win McNamee, Getty Images

Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat who is the first Muslim elected to Congress, took the oath of office on Jefferson’s Qur’an.

A presidential contender is accused of being Muslim. Lawmakers question the patriotism of those who follow the Qur'an. And the United States is soon at war with an Islamic nation.

If you think America's fraught relationship with Islam began in your lifetime, think again. These events took place more than 200 years ago. Thomas Jefferson was the first presidential candidate suspected of supporting Islam, and those lawmakers were among our founding fathers.