Quote Category: ‘George Washington’
President Monson praised the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge for its work in teaching people about America’s history and instilling patriotism and pride in their hearts. “When we build, let us think that we build forever,” he said, quoting English essayist John Ruskin and referring to the foundation’s great work. “Let it not be for present use nor for present delight alone, but let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for it and will be led in their hearts to say, ‘This our fathers did for us.”
“When we safeguard (the heavenly virtue of freedom), when we honor it, when we protect it, we will walk with Washington, we will pray with patriots, and we shall have peace on earth, good will to men,” President Monson concluded.
Evoking images of the Mayflower pilgrims and of George Washington at Valley Forge, Hinckley said the United States was founded on “an unequivocal trust in the power of the Almighty to guide and defend us.”
Revered as a prophet by members of the Mormon Church, Hinckley decried the disappearance of family prayer and attempts to remove reference to deity from society.
At times seeming to suppress tears, Hinckley recalled his visits to the American military cemetery in France, where his brother is buried.
“As I have stood before the cross that marks his grave, I have thanked God for the cause for which he died, for the great and eternal concepts” of human dignity, liberty and freedom to worship, speak and assemble.
Those concepts were handed down by God to the framers of the U.S. Constitution, Hinckley said.
“I pray that America may always be worthy of [God’s] blessing. There is no place for arrogance among us. There is no place for conceit or egotism. As we look to God, we will grow in strength.”
George Washington referred to this document [the Constitution] as a miracle. This miracle could only have been performed by exceptional men.
The Founding Fathers had no problems seeing the hand of the Lord in the birth of the nation. George Washington gave direct credit to God for the victory over the British in the Revolutionary War. But that did not end the need for inspiration and divine help.
A constitution was drafted. And thirty-nine of fifty delegates signed it. I would ask: Why is it that the references to God’s influence in the noble efforts of the founders of our republic are not mentioned by modern historians?
The fact that our Founding Fathers looked to God for help and inspiration should not surprise us, for they were men of great faith. These men had been raised up specifically by the Lord so they could participate in the great political drama unfolding in America.
The temple work for the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers has been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was president of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that, according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests at that time. When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it. Yes, with Lincoln, I say: “To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is . . . impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name and in its naked deathless splendor, leave it shining on.”
If ever this country needed the timeless wisdom of the father of our country, it is today. How much our country could benefit by following the wisdom of our country’s first president. Here are a few among many maxims:
“Let the reins of government then be braced and held with a steady hand, and every violation of the constitution be reprehended. If defective, let it be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon whilst it has an existence.” (To Henry Lee, October 31, 1786, Writings 29:34.)
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” (First Annual Address, January 8, 1790, Writings 12:8.)
“. . . the love of my country will be the ruling influence of my conduct.” (Answer to the New Hampshire Executive, November 3, 1789, Writings 12:175.)
“. . . a good moral character is the first essential in a man. . . . It is therefore highly important, that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.” (To George Steptoe Washington, December 5, 1790, Writings 10:123-24.)
“Let us unite, therefore, in imploring the Supreme Ruler of nations, to spread his holy protection over these United States; to turn the machinations of the wicked to confirming of our constitution; to enable us at all times to root out internal sedition, and put invasion to flight; to perpetuate to our country that prosperity, which his goodness has already conferred; and to verify the anticipation of this government being a safeguard to human rights.” (To the Senate and the House of Representatives, November 19, 1794, Writings 12:54.)
It would profit all of us as citizens to read again Washington’s Farewell Address to his countrymen. The address is prophetic. I believe it ranks alongside the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
My feelings about this tendency to discredit our Founding Fathers are well summarized by the late President J. Reuben Clark in these words: “These were the horse and buggy days as they have been called in derision; these were the men who traveled in the horsedrawn buggies and on horseback; but these were the men who carried under their hats, as they rode in the buggies and on their horses, a political wisdom garnered from the ages. As giants to pygmies are they when placed alongside our political emigres and their fellow travelers of today, who now traduce them with slighting word and contemptuous phrase.” (Stand Fast by Our Constitution, pp. 136-37.)
This restoration was preceded by a long period of preparation. The Pilgrims and other Europeans were inspired to find this American haven of refuge and thus people this land with honest and God-fearing citizens. Washington and his fellows were inspired to revolt from England and bring political liberty to this land, along with the more valuable treasure of religious liberty so that the soil might be prepared for the seed of the truth when it should again be sown.
We should be grateful for our Founding Fathers, for Washington and Lincoln, and for our boys and other great men who have fought and died for our freedom.
As we celebrate the birthday of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, one hundred and eighty-eight years ago, let us catch the spirit of that morning and awaken appreciation for the blessings and privileges that are ours if we but remain loyal and true to the Constitution of the United States as established by our Founding Fathers. . . .
After the Revolutionary War was over and nine years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Founding Fathers met in that same Old State Hall to frame the Constitution of the United States.
The French historian, Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot, while visiting in the United States, asked James Russell Lowell, “How long will the American Republic endure?” Lowell’s answer was: “As long as the ideas of the men who founded it continue dominant.”
And what were those ideas? Two fundamental principles were: Freedom from Dictatorship and Freedom of the Individual! This goes right back to our free agency, which is as precious as life itself. . . .
. . . Do we realize what it means to have a knock come at our door at night, and to have fear because it is the police, then to hear a voice commanding: “Open the Door!”? One woman who was alone got just such a command, and, scantily dressed, was taken, not down in the elevator, but rushed down four flights of stairs, put in a black wagon with guards on each side and carried off to prison. She was innocent, but the door closed behind her and that was the beginning of a nine-year prison sentence. This is a frequent happening in dictator countries in this the twentieth century!
That is the kind of treatment the spirit of man rebels against; that is why we had the Declaration of Independence; that is why we had the Constitution of the United States drawn up by men who were inspired; and that is why we have the Bill of Rights, granting protection to each individual. The government was established to protect the individual; the individual is not a part of the State, nor should he be used as part of the State. The government is set up to protect him in his rights.
What other fundamental prompted these men when they framed the Constitution – “the greatest instrument,” said one man, “ever written by the hands of man”? I name it as Faith in God, next to free agency, or correlative with free agency. As an illustration, during the critical time when the representatives of the colonies were trying to frame the Constitution in that Old State Hall, Benjamin Franklin, the oldest man present, arose and stated his faith in an overruling Providence and in the power of prayer, and then said:
I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: That God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. . . .
I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.
. . . However, the point I wish to make is that Benjamin Franklin emphasized that faith in God is a fundamental principle of the Constitution of the United States. I should also like to refer to a remark made by George Washington, who, following the establishment of the Constitution, and the acceptance of it by the thirteen Colonies, wrote this:
Of all the dispositions of habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . .
Actuated by these two fundamental and eternal principles – the free agency of the individual and faith in an overruling Providence – those 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, those who drew up the Constitution of the United States nine years later, gave to the world a concept of government which, if applied, will strike from the arms of downtrodden humanity the shackles of tyranny, and give hope, ambition, and freedom to the teeming millions throughout the world.
In education for citizenship, therefore, why should we not see to it that every child in America is taught the superiority of our Constitution and the sacredness of the freedom of the individual? Such definite instruction is not in violation of either the Federal or the State Constitution. . . .
Education for citizenship demands more emphasis upon moral and spiritual values. Our government was founded on faith in a Supreme Being as evidenced by the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, by George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin in the Constitutional Convention, and by a hundred other incidents prior to, during, and following the birth of this Republic. Said the Father of our Country: “We have raised a standard to which the good and wise can repair; the event is in the hands of God.” . . .
I love the Stars and Stripes, and the American Way of Life. I have faith in the Constitution of the United States. I believe that only through a truly educated citizenry can the ideals that inspired the Founding Fathers of our Nation be preserved and perpetuated.
If there is any doubt in your minds about this being a blessed land in which you live, and that an all-powerful hand directs its destinies, remember that it was the Lord himself who raised up wise men to give to us our Constitution [D&C 101:80]—the greatest palladium of human rights that any people have ever known. . . .
. . . He [the Lord] watched over them [the Pilgrims] and safeguarded their descendants and those who followed them to America, and in due time, there came an opportunity to establish liberty such as humankind had not known before. The Lord raised up Washington, and with him that body of men who fought valiantly to establish for us in this land a government for which surely we are all grateful. . . .
The Lord has watched over his land: He directed Columbus to these shores: he led the Pilgrims here; he established the Constitution of the United States, and through the Prophet Joseph Smith restored the everlasting gospel to bless the children of men. If they will accept it and obey it, it will result in the salvation of the human family.
During the great struggle for independence in the country under the leadership of George Washington, our Heavenly Father was preparing the way for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purity.
He gave to certain individuals the inspiration to frame the Constitution of the United States that has been referred to in this conference, the greatest palladium of human rights that we know anything about. Under such a Constitution the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth one hundred nineteen years ago. . . .
Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and his brother Hyrum (the great-great-grandfather of the man who sits at my left here on the stand and grandfather of the man who sits behind me in this congregation) died as martyrs at the hands of a wicked mob. They were sacrificed not for any wrong they had done but because they had sought to teach the truth and call the people of the world to repent before it was too late. The work has gone on and under the Constitution of the United States we have been permitted to carry on in this great land. We have been permitted to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our missionaries of course have gone all over the world, but I am speaking now of the United States of America. However, there are many people, many men and women in this land, some of whom may be friends or relatives who are misguided by the idea that the Constitution of the United States isn’t as fine a system of government as they have in Russia or Germany or Italy or some other part of the world, notwithstanding the fact that the Lord himself said that he raised up the very men who framed the Constitution of the United States and directed that the membership of this Church should pray for and sustain those who represented the Constitution of this land. I hold in my hand the Bible and can read the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses for the guidance of the people wherein the Lord told Moses what the people should live for and do. If those Ten Commandments had been lived up to by the people of the world down to the present time, this earth could long ago have been celestialized. But the people refused.
You know, and I know, that the Ten Commandments contain the will of our Heavenly Father, and I am grateful, not only for the civil laws but also for the laws God has given to us. I feel bound to conform my life to the teachings of the Ten Commandments. I feel equally bound to sustain the Constitution of the United States which came from the same source as the Ten Commandments. Unless the people of this great nation can realize these things and repent, they may forfeit the liberty that they now enjoy, and the blessings that are so multiplied among us. I do hope and pray that they will discover before it is too late that God has spoken again. Your responsibility and mine is to let our light so shine that others seeing our good works will be constrained to glorify him who is the Author of our being.
From my childhood days I have understood that we believe absolutely that the Constitution of our country was an inspired instrument, and that God directed those who created it and those who defended the independence of this nation. In other words, that He fought with Washington and others in the Revolutionary War.
I pray for the people of the world; not only for the Latter-day Saints, but I pray God’s blessings upon every loyal, patriotic man and woman that is endeavoring to do right, and to uphold the laws of the countries where they reside. I pray God’s blessings upon the President of these United States of America. I thank God for the loyalty and the patriotism of the Latter-day Saints. I thank God that we believe that the constitution of our country was given to us under the inspiration of the Living God, and that the Lord supported George Washington and the patriot fathers of this country. I pray that God will inspire us to continue loyal and true to him, to our country, and to its institutions; and that we may in very deed preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by our acts; that, as we grow in years and increase in understanding, we may grow in the power and ability to live the Gospel, that our example of integrity, of honesty, of loyalty to God and country may inspire others to investigate the message of life and salvation.
We look upon George Washington, the father of our country, as an inspired instrument of the Almighty; we can see the all-inspiring Spirit operating upon him. And upon his co-workers in resisting oppression, and in establishing the thirteen colonies as a confederacy; and then again the workings of the same Spirit upon those men who established the constitution of the United States.