George Washington Quotes 1789

Each George Washington Quote on this page comes from the first year of his presidency and are taken from his own letters and addresses. Many of them are written to religious societies, ensuring them that he intends to respect their right to practice their religious beliefs in the way that they choose. Others cover such topics as his desire that Americans recognize that God gave them their recent victory and new government, his belief that generations of Americans would be blessed by the new government and the death of his mother. Each George Washington Quote is listed in chronological order and there are links to more both before and after this time period at the bottom of the page.

George Washington First Inauguration

"IT would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations; and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United states, a government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States." - First Speech after election as President, April 30, 1789

"I have often expressed my sentiments, that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience." - Letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, May, 1789

"May the same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivered the Hebrews from their Egyptian oppressors, planted them in a promised land, whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent nation, still continue to water them with the dews of heaven and make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah." - Letter to the Hebrew Congregations of the City of Savannah, Georgia, May, 1789

"After mentioning that I trust the people of every denomination, who demean themselves as good citizens, you will have occasion to be convinced that I shall always strive to prove a faithful and impartial Patron of genuine, vital religion; I must assure you in particular that I take in the kindest part the promise you make of presenting your prayers at the Throne of Grace for me, and that I likewise implore the divine benedictions on yourselves and your religious community." - Letter to Methodist Bishops, May, 1789

"While I reiterate the professions of my dependence upon Heaven as the source of all public and private blessings; I will observe that the general prevalence of piety, philanthropy, honesty, industry, and economy seems, in the ordinary course of human affairs, particularly necessary for advancing and conforming the happiness of our country. While all men within our territories are protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of their consciences; it is rationally to be expected from them in return, that they will be emulous of evincing the sanctity of their professions by the innocence of their lives and the beneficence of their actions; for no man, who is profligate in his morals, or a bad member of the civil community, can possibly be a true Christian, or a credit to his own religious society." -Letter to the Presbyterian General Assembly, May, 1789

"My dear Sir: I cannot fail of being much pleased with the friendly part you take in every thing which concerns me; and particularly with the just scale on which you estimate this last great sacrifice which I consider myself as having made for the good of my Country. When I had judged, upon the best appreciation I was able to form of the circumstances which related to myself, that it was my duty to embark again on the tempestuous and uncertain Ocean of public life, I gave up all expectations of private happiness in this world. You know, my dear Sir, I had concentered all my schemes, all my views, all my wishes, within the narrow circle of domestic enjoyment. Though I flatter myself the world will do me the justice to believe, that, at my time of life and in my circumstances, nothing but a conviction of duty could have induced me to depart from my resolution of remaining in retirement; yet I greatly apprehend that my Countrymen will expect too much from me. I fear, if the issue of public measures should not correspond with their sanguine expectations, they will turn the extravagant (and I may say undue) praises which they are heaping upon me at this moment, into equally extravagant (though I will fondly hope unmerited) censures. So much is expected, so many untoward circumstances may intervene, in such a new and critical situation, that I feel an insuperable diffidence in my own abilities. I feel, in the execution of the duties of my arduous Office, how much I shall stand in need of the countenance and aid of every friend to myself, of every friend to the Revolution, and of every lover of good Government." - Letter to Edward Rutledge, May 5, 1789

Red, white & blue bar

"It is only from the assurances of support which, I have received from the respectable and worthy characters in every part of the Union, that I am enabled to overcome the diffidence which I have in my own abilities to execute my great and important trust to the best interest of your country. An honest zeal, and an unremitting attention to the interest of United America is all that I dare promise." - Letter to Philip Schuyler, May 9, 1789

"The good dispositions which seem at present to pervade every class of people afford reason for your observation that the clouds which have long darkened our political hemisphere are now dispersing, and that America will soon feel the effects of her natural advantages. That invisible hand which has so often interposed to save our Country from impending destruction, seems in no instance to have been more remarkably excited than in that of disposing the people of this extensive Continent to adopt, in a peaceable manner, a Constitution, which if well administered, bids fair to make America a happy nation." - Letter to Philip Schuyler, May 9, 1789

"If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the convention where I had the honor to preside might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society certainly I would never have placed my signature to it: and if I could now conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny and every species of religious persecution." - Address to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches of Virginia, May 10, 1789

"It shall still be my endeavor to manifest, by overt acts, the purity of my inclination for promoting the happiness of mankind, as well as the sincerity of my desires to contribute whatever may be in my power towards the preservation of the civil and religious liberties of the American People." - Letter to the Methodist Episcopal Church, May 29, 1789

"I am happy in concurring with you in the sentiments of gratitude and piety towards Almighty-God, which are expressed with such fervency of devotion in your address; Congregations in the United States a conduct correspondent to such worthy and pious expressions." - Letter to the German Reformed Congregations, June, 1789

"I know the delicate nature of the duties incident to the part which I am called to perform, and I feel my incompetence, without the singular assistance of Providence, to discharge them in a satisfactory manner. But having undertaken the task from a sense of duty, no fear of encountering difficulties, and no dread of losing popularity, shall ever deter me from pursuing what I conceive to be the true interests of my country." - Letter to the Citizens of Baltimore, June, 1789

Red, white & blue bar

"In proportion as the general Government of the United States shall acquire strength by duration, it is probable they may have it in their power to extend a salutary influence to the Aborigines in the extremities of their Territory. In the meantime, it will be a desirable thing for the protection of the Union to Cooperate, as far as the circumstances may conveniently admit, with the disinterested endeavors of your Society to civilize and Christianize the Savages of the Wilderness." - Letter to the Directors of the Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen, July, 1789

"In executing the duties of my present important station, I can promise nothing but purity of intentions, and, in carrying these into effect, fidelity and diligence." - Message to U. S. Congress, July 9, 1789

"It would ill become me to conceal the joy I have felt in perceiving the fraternal affection, which appears to increase every day among the friends of genuine religion. It affords edifying prospects indeed, to see Christians of different denominations, dwell together in more charity and conduct themselves in respect to each other, with a more Christian-like spirit than ever they have done in any former age, or in any other Nation." - Letter to General Convention of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church, August 18, 1789

"It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn." - Letter to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, September 5, 1789

"The liberty enjoyed by the People of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights. While men perform their social duties faithfully, they do all that society or the state can with propriety demand or expect; and remain responsible only to their Maker for the religion, or modes of faith which they may prefer or profess." - Address to the Quakers, October, 1789

"WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness: NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of his country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; -- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; -- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; -- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us. And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; -- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wife, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shews kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine." - First Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 3, 1789

Red, white & blue bar

"While just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support." - Address to the Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in North America, October 9, 1789

"I am persuaded, you will permit me to observe that the path of true piety is so plain as to require but little political direction. To this consideration we ought to ascribe the absence of any regulation, respecting religion, from the Magna-Charta of our country. To the guidance of the ministers of the gospel, this important object is, perhaps, more properly committed. It will be your care to instruct the ignorant, and to reclaim the devious, and, in the progress of morality and science, to which our government will give every furtherance, we may confidently expect the advancement of true religion, and the completion of our happiness." - Letter to Presbyterian Church leaders, October 23, 1789

"Your love of liberty - your respect for the laws - your habits of industry - and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness." - Letter to the Residents of Boston, October 27, 1789

"Awful and affecting as the death of a parent is, there is consolation in knowing, that heaven has spared ours to an age beyond which few attain, and favored her with the full enjoyment of her mental faculties, and as much bodily strength as usually falls to the lot of four score. Under these considerations, and a hope that she is translated to a happier place, it is the duty of her relatives to yield due submission to the decrees of the Creator. When I was last at Fredericksburg, I took a final leave of my mother never expecting to see her more." - Letter to Betty Lewis, his sister, on the death of their mother, September 13, 1789

"The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by the difficulty of its attainment, and the worth of characters appreciated by the trial of adversity." - Letter to the People of South Carolina, 1790

"Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness." - First Annual Message, January 8, 1790

"To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." - First Annual Address to Congress, January 8, 1790

If you liked this George Washington Quote page, there is lots more to learn about George Washington at our George Washington Facts page.

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If you enjoyed the George Washington Quote page, check out these inspirational quotes from some other Founding Fathers

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