President George Washington

On February 22, 1732, George Washington was born and died on December 14, 1799. He lived only sixty-seven years and ten months. Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee described George Washington in his now-famous tribute as, “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Americans have honored George Washington because George Washington honored America. Consider what he accomplished in his nearly sixty-eight years of life[1]:

  • First President of the United States, 1789-97
  • Chancellor of the College of William and Mary, 1788-99
  • President of the Constitutional Convention, where the United States Constitution was formulated, May 14, 1787-September 17, 1787
  • Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, 1775-83
  • Delegate to the First and Second Continental Congress, 1774-75
  • Justice of Fairfax County, 1768
  • Member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1758-74
  • Aide-de-camp to General Edward Braddock, 1755
  • Official Surveyor of Culpeper County, 1748- 49
  • In addition to being politically involved, George Washington was also an active Episcopalian.
  • Considered the most popular man in the Colonies


Is there any wonder why Americans held Washington in such high esteem for generations? He led a life of sacrificial service to his state of Virginia and the new country of the United States.


From his father’s death until sixteen, George lived with his elder half-brother, Augustine, in Westmoreland County, just 40 miles outside of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Most of George’s education was through homeschooling and tutoring. In 1749, he received his surveyor’s license from the College of William and Mary. He later served as the college’s Chancellor from 1788 till his death.


In 1751, George Washington accompanied his older brother, Lawrence Washington. On the advice of physicians, the latter spent the winter in the West Indies in a desperate attempt to regain his health. The illness nevertheless grew worse, and before he died, Lawrence left his estate at Mount Vernon to George.[2] Thus, George Washington became a man of wealth and influence in the colony of Virginia.


We can see the secular accomplishments of George Washington. Some have considered Washington a non-religious man or possibly a deist. I want to emphasize his faith in a few pertinent examples to show that he was more than an accomplished soldier and politician. God was in the heart of the man.


First, consider this correspondence to his fiancé, Martha Dandridge Custis from Fort Cumberland. You judge his faith.

We have begun our march for the Ohio. A courier is starting for Williamsburg, and I embrace the opportunity to send a few lines to one whose life is now inseparable from mine. Since that happy hour when we made our pledges to each other, my thoughts have been continually going to you as to another Self. That an All-Powerful Providence may keep us both in safety is the prayer of your ever faithful and ever affectionate Friend.[3]


He married Martha Dandridge Custis (1731-1802) in 1759. She was the widowed daughter of Virginia Militia Colonel John Dandridge.


Second, let me re-emphasize the faith of Washington. On June 1, 1774, Wednesday, the same day the British blockade of the Boston Harbor was to begin; the Colonies called for a Day of Fasting and Prayer “…to seek divine direction and aid.” George Washington’s diary entry that day was:

Went to church and fasted all day.


The third is the famous account of Washington praying in the snow of Valley Forge. We have probably all seen the picture of him kneeling in prayer beside his horse in the woods. You may remember that a Quaker named Isaac Potts overheard his prayers for the nation. Potts opposed the war and Washington.


After the General had prayed, Potts went home in frustration. When his wife inquired about his distress, he said:

“Indeed, my dear, if I appear agitated, ’tis no more than what I am. I have seen this day what I shall never forget. Till now, I have thought that a Christian and a soldier were characters incompatible; but if George Washington is not a man of God, I am mistaken, and still more shall I be disappointed if God does not through him perform some great thing for this country.”


Time does not permit telling all of God’s providential aid stories to Washington. I have mentioned God’s preservation of him at the Battle of Monongahela in previous podcasts. The Indians had prophesied that he never would be killed by a bullet after they had tried to shoot him numerous times that day. There are many more examples.


Today as you reflect on George Washington, I hope you do so with appreciation. His sacrificial spirit led him away from the safety and luxury of Mt. Vernon to the deprivations of the Continental Army. I hope you admire his humble spirit as one who did not seek positions of power but could not refuse when his country called.


Have you ever thought about what George Washington and the other Founders would be doing today? How do you think they would handle the tyranny of the time? Do you think they would roll over to oppressive mandates and threats, or would they faithfully step up to the challenge?


Perhaps a good Bible passage for Washington would identify with the life and death of Jesus. In Mark 9:35 (NKJV), we read:

And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”


Ever since President Trump moved out of the White House, people have said that he was the greatest President in US history. I like many things about Trump, but I have a different point of view. I believe George Washington is likely the most significant American of all time and our greatest President. He demonstrated in his character that he is worthy of our esteem and imitation on many levels.


Let’s Keep The Light of Godly Character Burning!

[1] William J. Federer, American Quotations, 2013, p. 535.

[2] Ibid, p. 536.

[3] Ibid, p. 546.