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George Washington Birthday Observed 20 Feb 06

General George Washington
O ETERNAL GOD, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen

"the General hopes and trusts, that, every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Right and Liberties of his country."

  • Washington was a member of the Truro Parish of the Anglican Church.
  • He was a vestryman of that church and served as church warden.
  • As a vestryman, he signed an oath of office that included holding to the orthodox Christian view of the Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, etc. A deist/Unitarian could not sign such an oath.
  • Vestry records show that Washington attended meeting regularly at various churches within his parish.
  • Washington drew plans for a new church building at Pohick and contributed money for the building project. He also contributed to other churches which he attended.
  • Major Popham, who served under Washington during the War, wrote that he attended St. Paul's Church with both Chief Justice Morris and General Washington and that he (the Major) had the “privilege and happiness to kneel with him (Washington)“ at communion. And the major said “I may say often--attended the sacramental table.“ There is also an account of Washington taking Communion with Presbyterians while encamped at Morristown.
  • Washington declared days of prayer and fasting; and his diary indicates that he himself fasted. For instance, his diary entry for 1 June 1774 reads: “Went to church, and fasted all day.“
  • Washington's position of national leadership led to his reluctance to speak out on Christian matters. In a letter he wrote to Brigadier General Nelson on 20 Aug 1778, he says: “The hand of Providence has been conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. But it will be time enough for me to turn preacher when my present appointment ceases; and therefore I shall add no more on the doctrine of Providence.“
  • In 1833, Washington's adopted daughter (Nelly Custis) wrote to historian Jared Sparks, expressing indignation that anyone would question Washington's Christianity. That's a very long letter and I won't reproduce it here.
  • Nelly Curtis' observations and conclusions were virtually unanimous with others.
    • Chief Justice John Marshall (Washington'/s biographer, associate, ally, and personal friend) wrote: “Without making ostentatious professions of religion, he was a sincere believer in the Christian faith, and a truly devout man.“
    • James Madison said that he did “...not suppose that Washington had ever attended to the arguments for Christianity, and for the different systems of religion, or in fact that he had formed definite opinions on the subject. But he took these things as he found them, existing, and was constant in his observance of worship according to the received forms of the Episcopal Church in which he was brought up.“
  • Jared Sparks, whose 20-volume collection of Washington's writings made him the best-informed biographer of Washington in the 19th century, attests to Washington's Christian character.

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