George Washington & Religion

By Paul F. Boller Jr. | Go to book overview

II
WASHINGTON AS A CHURCHMAN

AFTER Washington's death, various religious groups with which he had been associated only in a casual way during his lifetime began competing with one another in claiming the first President as their own. Among Catholics, the tradition developed that Washington became a Roman Catholic shortly before he died or at least "was thinking of such a step before death overcame him."1 Baptists, on the other hand, insisted that Washington regarded Baptist chaplains as "the most prominent and useful" in the Revolutionary army2 and that in due course he requested baptism at the hands of Chaplain John Gano and was immersed in the Potomac River in the presence of forty-two witnesses.3 The Swedenborgians, for their part, while not insisting upon Washington's formal membership in the Church of the New Jerusalem, declared that he was especially sympathetic to their point of view and that he was an avid reader of Emanuel Swedenborg's theological tomes.4 Similarly, the

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George Washington & Religion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • I - Washington And the Pietists 3
  • II - Washington As a Churchman 24
  • III - Religion And the Social Order 45
  • IV - Washington And Christianity 66
  • V - Washington's Religious Opinions 92
  • VI - Washington And Religious Liberty 116
  • Appendix - Letters and Addresses by Washington To Religious Organizations 163
  • Notes 195
  • Selected Bibliography 219
  • Index 229
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