Historic Valley Forge

Washington's Religious Views

Q.Could you please tell me the primary source where George Washington states "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible"? and Could you please tell me if there is any proof that George Washington was a Christian? I understand he does not speak much about his being a Christian in his writings but that he did attend church. Would you happen to have any quotes by him? Thank you for your help.

A. While the quotation you cite has been widely attributed to Washington, there is no evidence that he is the source. The University of Virginia has been publishing volumes of Washington's work since 1968 and hundreds of letters to and from Washington, diary entries, text of speeches and other work are all available to the public. Another great place to look is at the Library of Congress. You can do a search for specific topics or phrases from his writings.

The Mount Vernon website has pages devoted to Washington's religion and to spurious quotations attributed to him, including the one above (as well as "I cannot tell a lie" . . . the cherry tree incident never happened either).