George Washington's Beliefs

George Washington was more than just a puppet for individuals and advisors to use to spread their own ideas. Washington was a deep intellectual who had firm convictions and understood his great role as the first President of the United States was significant and about more than just his actions, but included his words as well. Espinosa says in Religion and the American Presidency “the president-elect was conscious that his actions would set precedent”. This knowledge forced him to contemplate all his actions and speeches in order to support and establish the United States in the best way possible. George Washington understood the importance of being the first person to occupy the office of the Presidency and established religious precedents …show more content…
He stated in a letter to Baptists in Virginia “no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution”. His words are strong and appear deliberate, as if to show just how personal an issue religious freedom was for him. He was willing to use his Presidential powers to set “barriers” for the defense of religious freedom. The Catholics of this time also saw this fire for religious freedom in Washington, when he “assured them that all citizens are ‘equally entitled to the protection of civil Government’”. His passion for religious freedom was not just for one sect or belief system, but rather for all religions.
This strong belief in religious freedom was not something that Washington believed in only for political gain, but was important to him in every aspect of his life. Jeffrey Morrison points out in his book The Political Philosophy of George Washington that “Washington demonstrated religious tolerance toward hired laborers at Mount Vernon”. Perhaps the best way to determine if someone believes what they say is to watch their actions, and Washington clearly believed and lived out his desire for religious pluralism and freedom in every aspect of his life. His fair treatment of his laborers is an example of
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He filled his speeches “with references to the guiding hand of Providence and other reverential but nonsectarian phrases, Washington balanced public piety with religious liberty in uniquely American ways”. Washington may have done this because of his strongly held belief that “religion was the foundation for virtue”. Washington’s Farewell Address makes this clear; “of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports”. This last phrase is crucial to understanding Washington because he is saying that religion and morality lead to political prosperity and in essence, are the foundation of government and all civic life.
Washington constantly quoted from the Scriptures and the Book of Common Prayer, a very Anglican book. By Washington repeatedly using these types of phrases and analogies from Scripture while tying it into American political culture he began to create a type of civil religion. This intermingling of religious phrases in the political sphere set a precedent that this type of speech is supposed to come from the office of the President. Whether or not people actually believed in God or the God of the Bible, people still found peace in hearing these types of references come from their leader. It united them

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