“The Man Who Would Not Be King.” by Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. George Washington is one of the most recognized figures in U.S. history. But familiarity breeds contempt. More often than not, Washington is an old painting on the wall – solemn, impersonal and distant – or the subject of childhood stories and nursery rhymes. We all know that he chopped down a cherry tree and had wooden teeth. The actual Washington is much more compelling. We can all see the brilliant flourishes of Jefferson's pen, Madison's constitutional handiwork or the success of Hamilton's economic policies, and that can cause us to overlook or underestimate the magnitude of Washington's achievement. Yet he really was, as Washington's greatest biographer, James Flexner, put it, the "indispensable man" of the American founding. ...And the key ingredient in all of these things was moral character, something that Washington took very seriously and which gave to his decision-making a deeply prudential quality and to his authority an unmatched magnanimity. "His integrity was pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision," Jefferson later observed. "He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man."
George Washington, Draft First Inaugural Address, April 1789: “The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes. Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchm[en]t can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.”
From George Washington's private prayer journal. "O most glorious God ... Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb, and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit.... Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy Son Jesus Christ.... Thou gavest thy Son to die for me, and hast given me assurance of salvation...."
"Cleanse my soul O Lord, I beseech thee, from whatever is offensive to thee, and hurtful to me, and give me what is convenient for me. Watch over me this night, and give me comfortable and sweet sleep to fit me for the service of the day following. Let my soul watch for the coming of the Lord Jesus; let my bed put me in mind of my grave, and my rising from there of my last resurrection; O heavenly Father, so frame this heart of mine, that I may ever delight to live according to thy will and command, in holiness and righteousness before thee all the days of my life."
"Almighty God…I yield Thee humble and hearty thanks that thou has preserved me from the danger of the night past, and brought me to the light of the day, and the comforts thereof, a day which is consecrated to Thine own service and for Thine own honor. Let my heart, therefore, Gracious God, be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do mine own works, but wait on thee, and discharge those weighty duties thou requirest of me."