Charisma Cites George Washington's Slaveholding As Proof Of His Christianity

While George Washington’s religious faith is to this day a matter of debate, Charisma is out with an article by pastor Eddie Hyatt insisting that Washington was an evangelical Christian just like Charisma readers.

Hyatt recycles the dubious Valley Forge prayer story and also cites prayers found in a supposed journal from a twenty-year-old Washington that historians regard as “patently false.”

Not only does Hyatt cite discredited tales and fake quotes, but he actually mentions Washington’s ownership of over 300 slaves as proof that he was a Christian:

Some have challenged Washington’s faith because he was a slave owner. But what is often not told is the fact that when Washington was challenged on how his keeping of slaves was inconsistent with his profession of faith in Christ, he began setting in motion a compassionate plan, at great personal cost, to make Mt. Vernon slave free. He offered freedom to all who wanted to go, but realizing that some did not have the knowledge and skills to prosper on their own, no one was forced to leave. Those who chose to stay began receiving wages for their work. Washington was much beloved by the black workers on his plantation whom he fed well, encouraged to marry and build families, and made sure they were well instructed in the gospel. Many, therefore, chose not to leave and became employees of the estate. Children were not released until they were of age and were provided with food, clothing, shelter and education. His own actions expanded his vision and he wrote, “I clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union.”

Maybe Hyatt should read about the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 or about Washington’s attempts to kidnap and re-enslave Oney Judge, a slave who escaped from his plantation, before he claims that Washington “offered freedom to all who wanted to go” and only kept them in inhumane bondage to help them “prosper on their own.”

In 1847, Rev. Benjamin Chase wrote a letter to the editor of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator describing an interview he had conducted with while she lived as a runaway slave in New Hampshire, where Washington had sent men to capture her and her child. Chase noted that Judge’s reports of Washington drinking and playing cards on Sunday might have mattered more to some doubters of the former president’s Christian faith than his ownership of hundreds of slaves:

She says that she never received the least mental or moral instruction, of any kind, while she remained in Washington's family. But, after she came to Portsmouth, she learned to read; and when Elias Smith first preached in Portsmouth, she professes to have been converted to Christianity.

She, and the woman with whom she lives, (who is nearly of her age,) appear to be, and have the reputation of being imbued with the real spirit of Christianity. She says that the stories told of Washington's piety and prayers, so far as she ever saw or heard while she was his slave, have no foundation. Card-playing and wine-drinking were the business at his parties, and he had more of such company Sundays than on any other day. I do not mention this as showing, in my estimation, his anti-Christian character, so much as the bare fact of being a slaveholder, and not a hundredth part so much as trying to kidnap this woman; but, in the minds of the community, it will weigh infinitely more.

Great names bear more weight with the multitude, than the eternal principles of God's government. So good a man as Washington is enough to sanctify war and slavery; but where is the evidence of his goodness?

This woman is yet a slave. If Washington could have got her and her child, they were constitutionally his; and if Mrs. Washington's heirs were now to claim her, and take her before Judge Woodbury, and prove their title, he would be bound, upon his oath, to deliver her up to them. Again — [New Hampshire Gov.] Langdon was guilty of a moral violation of the Constitution, in giving this woman notice of the agent being after her. It was frustrating the design, the intent of the Constitution, and he was equally guilty, morally, as those who would overthrow it [emphasis in orignal].

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