Christian Character of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant/Baptist George Washington

Eric Jon Phelps
By Eric Jon Phelps December 8, 2010 16:57 Updated

Christian Character of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant/Baptist George Washington

Washington Crossing the Delaware River, Accompanied by Baptist Chaplain, Captain John Gano, December 25, 1776

“General Washington’s personal appearance was in harmony with his character; it was a model of manly strength and beauty.  He was about six feet two inches in height, and his person well proportioned,—in the earlier part of life rather spare, and never too stout for active and graceful movement.  The complexion inclined to the florid; the eyes were blue and remarkable far apart; a profusion of brown hair was drawn back from the forehead, highly powdered according to the fashion of the day, and gathered in a bag behind.  He was scrupulously neat in his dress, and while in camp, though he habitually left his tent at sunrise, he was usually dressed for the day.  His strength strength of arm, and his skill and grace as a horseman, have been already mentioned.  His power of endurance was great, and there were occasions, as at the retreat from Long Island and the battle of Princeton, when he was scarcely out of his saddle for two days.  Punctilious in his observances of the courtesies of society as practiced in his day, he was accustomed, down to the period of his inauguration as President, at the balls given in his honor, to take part in a minuet or a country-dance.  His dairy uniformly records, sometimes with amusing exactness, the precise number of ladies present at the assemblies, at which he was received at his tours through the Union.  His general manner in large societies, though eminently courteous, was marked by a certain military reserve.  In smaller companies he was easy and affable, but not talkative.  He was frequently cheered into gayety, at his fireside, by the contagious merriment of the young and happy, but also relapsed into a thoughtful mood, moving his lips, but uttering no audible sound.

Washington’s religious impressions were in harmony with the rest of his character,—deep, rational and practical.  On this topic, our remaining space admits of little more than a reference to the interesting article on this subject in the fourth section of the appendix to Mr. Sparks’s twelfth volume.  Washington was brought up in the Episcopal communion, and was a member of the vestry of two churches.  He was at all times a regular attendant on public worship, and an occasional partaker of the communion; and is believed habitually to have begun the day with the reading of the Scriptures [the AV1611 English Reformation Bible] and prayer in his closet.  His private correspondence, his general orders, and his public acts of all kinds contain devout recognitions of a divine Providence in the government of the world [as did Oliver Cromwell], and his whole life bears witness to the influence of a prevailing sense of religious responsibility.  In his last moments he breathed a truly pious spirit of resignation.  In his own affecting words, he died ‘hard,’ but he was ‘not afraid to go.’ Though prevented, by the rapid progress of his disease, and the almost total obstruction of the vocal organs [our dear George was strangling to death via a poison cup!], from expressing his feelings, he manifested to the last the submission of a sincere Christian to the will of the great Disposer. . . .

In the final contemplation of his character, we shall not hesitate to pronounce Washington, of all men that have ever lived, THE GREATEST OF GOOD MEN AND THE BEST OF GREAT MEN.

[Emphasis added in Bold]

Edward Everett, The Life of George Washington, (New York: Sheldon and Company, 1860), pp. 258-263.

Eric Jon Phelps
By Eric Jon Phelps December 8, 2010 16:57 Updated
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