George Washington’s Charge to “Learn the Religion of Jesus Christ”

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Published on: August 29, 2014

In 1754, Colonel George Washington built Fort Necessity on Great Meadows, after a successful attack on the French in May. While encamped at Great Meadows, he received a letter from his brother Lawrence’s father-in-law, Mr. William Fairfax:

“I will not doubt your having public prayers in the camp, especially when the Indian families are your guests, that they, seeing your plain manner of worship, may have their curiosity excited to be informed why we do not use the ceremonies of the French, which being well explained to their understandings, will more and more dispose them to receive our baptism, and unite in strict bonds of cordial friendship.”

On May 12, 1779, General George Washington was visited at his Middle Brook military encampment by the Chiefs of the Delaware Indian tribe.

They had brought three youths to be trained in the American schools. Washington assured them:

“Brothers: I am glad you have brought three of the Children of your principal Chiefs to be educated with us. I am sure Congress will open the Arms of love to them, and will look upon them as their own Children, and will have them educated accordingly. This is a great mark of your confidence and of your desire to preserve the friendship between the Two Nations to the end of time, and to become One people with your Brethren of the United States….”

Washington continued:

“You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention; and to tie the knot of friendship and union so fast, that nothing shall ever be able to loose it… And I pray God He may make your Nation wise and strong.”

After George Washington retired from being General of the Continental Army, he wrote from Mount Vernon to the President of the Continental Congress, February 8, 1785:

“Toward the latter part of the year 1783, I was honored with a letter from the Countess of Huntington, briefly reciting her benevolent intention of spreading Christianity among the Tribes of Indians inhabiting our Western Territory; and expressing a desire of my advice and assistance to carry this charitable design into execution. I wrote her Ladyship…that I would give every aid in my power, consistent with the ease and tranquility, to which I meant to devote the remainder of my life, to carry her plan into effect… Her Ladyship has spoken so feelingly and sensibly, on the religious and benevolent purposes of the plan, that no language of which I am possessed, can add aught to enforce her observations.”

President Washington addressed Congress, November 6, 1792:

“Laws will expire during the present session. Among these, that which regulates trade…with the Indian tribes… Your common deliberations…will, I trust, be productive…to our constituents…by conciliating more and more their ultimate suffrage…and confirm their attachment to that Constitution…upon which, under Divine Providence, materially depend…their happiness.”

On AUGUST 29, 1796, from the city of Philadelphia, President George Washington dictated a “Talk” to the Cherokee Nation:

“Beloved Cherokees: The wise men of the United States meet once a year, to consider what will be for the good of all their people… I have thought that a meeting of your wise men once or twice a year would be alike useful to you… I now send my best wishes to the Cherokees, and pray the Great Spirit to preserve them.”

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