A Letter from the President


Elder Truman Keel

A letter from George Washington to the General Committee representing the United Baptist Churches of Virginia, written in 1789.

For the month of September there is a letter, from the above mentioned Committee, to George Washington. In that letter it is important to notice the mindset of the Baptist of Virginia and their relation with a central government. Their appreciation, respect, confidence and their prayers for the President and the national government stands out so vividly. What a wonderful relationship between the Baptist of Virginia and their president and government. Where is that today?

Likewise for the month of October Lord willing, there will be George Washington’s reciprocal letter to the Baptist Committee of Virginia. Notice the humbleness and the recognition of the divine hand of God.

These brethren had actually suffered some of these repressions and tyrannies. They declared that the liberty of conscience is dearer to us than property or life.

I pray; that we might once more, as Baptist, have the relationship we find manifested by both the Government and our national leadership.

Brethren, none of us know what changes may be facing us in this nation. We do have some ensamples set before us by our brethren. They were not fearful to contend for their civil and religious rights. God give us the courage, faith, strength and grace to stand for our liberties that we have enjoyed at the hand of God for so many years.

To the General Committee, representing the United Baptist Churches in Virginia.

Gentlemen, --I request that you will accept my best acknowledgements for your congratulation on my appointment to the first office in the nation. The kind manner, in which you mention my past conduct, equally claims the expression of my gratitude.

After we had, by smiles of Divine Providence on our exertions, obtained the object for which we contended, I retired, at the conclusion of the war, with an idea, that my country could have no farther occasion for my services, and with the intention of never entering again into public life. But when the exigencies of my country seemed to require me once more to engage in public affairs, an honest conviction of duty superseded my former resolution, and became my apology for deviating from the happy plan which I had adopted.

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 even 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. For you, doubtless, remember, I have often expressed my sentiments, that any man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious
opinions, ought to be protected in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.

While I recollect with satisfaction, that the religious society of which you are members, have been, throughout America, uniformly, and almost unanimously the firm friends to civil liberty, and the persevering promoters of our glorious revolution; I cannot hesitate to believe, that they will be the faithful supporters of a free, yet efficient general government. Under this pleasing expectation, I rejoice to assure them, that they may rely upon my best wishes and endeavors to advance their prosperity.

In the meantime, be assured, gentlemen, that I entertain a proper sense of your fervent supplications to God for my temporal and eternal happiness.
I am, gentlemen, your most obedient servant,

George Washington

• Letter copied from RELIGION IN AMERICA page 54-55.

• Inscription on John Leland's tombstone, from RELIGION IN AMERICA page 50:

Here lies the body of Reverend John Leland, of Cheshire, who labored 67 years to promote piety and vindicate the civil and religious rights of all men.

• Quote from Elder John Leland; from RELIGION IN AMERICA: When the work of regeneration occurs, man neither will assist nor resist.