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The controversy of George Washington’s inaugural address

Written By | Apr 30, 2019
George Washington, In God We Trust, Dennis Jamison,

George Washington’s Inaugural by Gilbert Stuart = Public Domain

SAN JOSE: George Washington, the Father of the Country, would undoubtedly not recognize the United States today. Not only due to the scientific advancements that are existent in almost every corner of the U.S. Or the increased population spreading from Atlantic waters to the Pacific.

Washington would not recognize the government ruling America today. Today’s government is quite different from its Constitutional Convention blueprint.

It is highly likely that Washington would win election in 2020.

His opinion of the political parties would have eliminated him from any potential candidacy. Simply, he would resist being controlled by the elite of either party.

It is also possible that the American people would not view a military commander as a “suitable” candidate in 2020.

Furthermore, Washington was a genuinely humble man. A political rarity today. He was a polite man, a genuine gentleman and soft-spoken for a military commander.

Washington’s references to God

Currently, 21 Democrats have announced their intent to run for the position of POTUS in 2020.

Could any one of them hold a candle to Washington’s leadership capabilities? It is doubtful that any would possess Washington’s courage, dignity, and tenacious adherence to republican principles. In his own time, Washington was “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,” according to Major General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee III.

Washington would be hard to match among contemporary GOP politicians.

The idea that a public servant should not lie to the American public now seems an irrelevant, old-fashioned concept.

Candidates of both major political parties no longer seem to regard honesty as a virtue, but more as an annoyance.

Washington was elected unanimously as the first U.S. president on February 4, 1789

A majority of Americans had expected him to be their new leader, as he had led the troops during the war, then led during the convention that created the Constitution of the infant United States. Yet Washington wrote to Henry Knox in March of 1789 of his reluctance to proceed to his inauguration:

“… in confidence I assure you with the world it would obtain little credit that my movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings, not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution …”

The irony is that today many politicians are criminal culprits, and they should be facing criminal prosecution for crimes against the Republic for which Washington risked his own life to create.

Washington’s inauguration

On April 30, 1789, Washington, stood on the second balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, swearing the oath of office. Before an audience of approximately 10,000 spectators, wearing a plain brown broadcloth suit, Washington swore to fulfill the duties of  President of the United States.

Several distinguished officials, among them Vice President John Adams and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, appeared on the balcony with Washington. Chief Justice Jay held an open King James Bible.

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Placing his left hand upon the Bible, Washington raised his right hand, repeating the oath of office that he had helped to write. After the official oath, according to lore, Washington bent down to kiss the open Bible, first saying “So help me God.”

The phrase “So help me God,”  is now an entrenched part of the presidential oath. However, it raises controversy among some Americans. Some claim that Washington never said, “So help me God.” That “So help me God” is not written into the official records of the ceremony.

Nonetheless, present-day efforts to forbid the use of “So help me God” run counter to the Judeo-Christian foundations of the United States.

The argument against “So help me God.”

Some seek to eliminate the phrase “So help me God,” from the presidential oath. Michael Newdow is one such person. An atheist and attorney, Newdow filed a 2008 lawsuit to block reference to God when President Obama took the oath in 2009.

Even though it is the choice of the oath taker whether to include the words or not.

Democrats have tried twice to eliminate a reference to God in the past two presidential elections. Nevertheless, Washington’s words set a tradition difficult to break.

Washington’s Inaugural Address

However, if the atheists had trouble with Washington’s “So help me God,” they should be even more upset by what he said in the speech he delivered that 30th day of April in 1789.

He indicated America’s initial connectedness to God in his first inaugural address. Moreover, he had the audacity to offer gratitude to “that Almighty Being who rules over the universe.”

As President Washington delivered his address, some sources say that he spoke in a low voice that was sometimes inaudible.

However, his inaugural address was indeed a powerful expression of faith:

“… it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge.

In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

Newdow and his comrades would likely have sued Washington

Simply for inviting the Almighty God so thoroughly into the proceedings. However, in attendance at that inauguration was not only the President of the Constitutional Convention (Washington) but also many of the original delegates to the Convention. The very creators of the U.S. Constitution. None of which voiced any objection to the invocation of God into the political proceeding.

Many Americans have lost touch with our heritage.

Indeed, the nation has changed since the days of Washington and the founding generation. These  men had faith in an “Almighty Being.”  Therefore there was no intention of limiting the worship of God.

Nor any desire to restrict the freedom of others in their own religious practices. The people possessed their own relationships with God;

However, religion was a personal issue. Nothing the government had any right to restrict. Yet the very freedoms that protect those who are religious also protects those that would demand that government restrict such rights of belief.

Historian David McCullough believes the disconnect from our true heritage can be blamed on cultural amnesia.  However, some of the disconnects are due to calculated attempts to loosen Americans’ grip upon the founding ideals.

Especially any connectedness to God.

Washington’s allegiance to God

No matter how many progressive-revisionist historians reinterpret him, Washington offered his first-hand witness on how he was able to benefit from Heaven’s help in the fight for American freedom, and in the creation of a brand new government under the Constitution. Feeble attempts to diminish or ignore this do not negate that reality. It would be a shame to take them seriously.

On the occasion of his inauguration as the first American president, George Washington offered his humble gratitude to God for His help.

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He was evident in his words, and he meant them. As he ended his inaugural address, he thankfully invoked God’s blessing upon the new nation:

“I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since He has been pleased to favor the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”

Washington said and meant these words, and God did favor the American people for a long time. Unfortunately, Americans have become ashamed to speak the word God in public.

Think of how many politicians speak so fondly of their relationship with God in our time.

Think of how religious values have been chased from the public square.  Criminal elements within the political arena are dictating their values to America.

It is not too late.

However, Americans need to look for the Washingtons of this era. The men and women to help bring the nation back to the original blueprint of the Founders. To once again incur God’s blessing upon America.

Dennis Jamison

Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Currently retired from West Valley College in California, where he taught for nearly 10 years, he now writes articles on history and American freedom for various online publications. Formerly a contributor to the Communities at the Washington Times and Fairfax Free Citizen, his more current articles appear in Canada Free Press and Communities Digital News. During the 2016 presidential primaries, he was the leader of a network of writers, bloggers, and editors who promoted the candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. Jamison founded "We the People" - Patriots, Pilgrims, Prophets Writers’ Network and the Citizen Sentinels Network. Both are volunteer groups for grassroots citizen-journalists and activists intent on promoting and preserving the inviolable God-given freedoms rooted in the founding documents. Jamison also co-founded RedAmericaConsulting to identify, counsel, and support citizen-candidates, who may not have much campaign money, but whose beliefs and deeds reflect the role of public servants rather than power-hungry politicians. “TAKE NO PART IN THE UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF DARKNESS, BUT INSTEAD, EXPOSE THEM.” Ephesians 5:11