Enter your email address to receive updates by email:

subscribe in a reader like my facebook page follow me on twitter Image Map
Podcast Message Line: 512-222-3389
Logos Catholic Bible Software

« In The Mail | Main | The Woman Caught In Adultery »

August 10, 2006


Bob McCray

I'm glad Washington appears not to be anti-Catholic. One of the disappointments I have experienced as a former Baptist, former Assembly of God and now Catholic is I could/can always count on a sizable minority of each group to trash the other two.


I, too, find Washington's comments heartening. Even if he did hold this position for political reasons, I still find it somewhat admirable that he did so. Anti-Catholicism was well entrenched in the American Colonies at that time, so Washington was not likely to find a whole lot of people who agreed with him on the home front. And, for that matter, though I know less about it, anti-Semitism was probably pretty well entrenched, too. So I have to respect President Washington for rising above the general prejudices.

It is still somewhat problematic, though, that the Quebec Act of 1774, which granted religious freedom to Catholics in French Canada and in the Ohio Territory, had been numbered one of the "Intolerable Acts" by the American Revolutionaries, partly for that reason (though, to be fair, there was more than just anti-Catholicism involved).

Mark Scott Abeln

We celebrated Guy Fawkes day back at my public elementary school!


It is still somewhat problematic, though, that the Quebec Act of 1774, which granted religious freedom to Catholics in French Canada and in the Ohio Territory, had been numbered one of the "Intolerable Acts" by the American Revolutionaries, partly for that reason (though, to be fair, there was more than just anti-Catholicism involved).

The Quebec Act was also listed by Thomas Jefferson as among the "usurpations and oppressions" catalogued in the Declaration of Independence:

"HE [i.e., King George] has combined with others [i.e., Parliament] to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: . . . FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies"


Firstly, in fairness to the Father of Our Country I should point out some of the bizarre spellings are the result of my own poor typing when transcribing from the book. Specifically in line 2 it should be "childish custom of burning the Effigy" and in line 5 it's is Juncture rather than "Huncture". Everything else is the result of Washington's rather erratic 18th century spelling.

With regards to the Quebec Act, the biggest beef the Colonies had with is was that it effectively closed off the Ohio Valley from further settlement. Though I am sure that the toleration of Catholic worship in that territory may have also, unfortunately, been a cause.



Catholics have traditionally made up a large proportion of the US military. The Continental army during the American revolution was no different. It made perfect sense for Washington to forbid the practice apart from its potential for alienating French Canadians, not to mention the French.


I just read a very good history called Washington's Spies, by Alexander Rose. It's specifically about the Culper Ring in New York, but it deals with all sorts of Revolutionary War espionage and spyhunting.

Anyway, here's a quote from one of George Washington's letters on p. 197:

"...as we are often obliged to reason on the designs of the enemy, from the appearances which come under our observation and the information of our spies, we cannot be too attentive to those things which may afford us new light. Every minutia should have a place in our collection, for things of a seemingly trifling nature when conjoined with others of a more serious case may lead to very valuable conclusions."

Sounds like Sherlock Holmes, eh? Must be the hawklike nose!


Didn't Washington found a Montreal newspaper to spread the ideas of the 'Enlightenment' to those backwards French Catholiques?

And what are we to think of a man who would break an oath of loyalty to his king and country to ally himself with those perfidious Frenchmen against his own brethren?

J.R. Stoodley

I like your thinking BillyHW, whether you are being serious or not. I've always been a Loyalist at heart, though I acknowledge the United States as now a legitimate nation of course. There is still the issue of whether King George was the legit king or if it was the Jacobite Henry "IX", but I tend to think after about a century the line of James II had lost its claim, even if unfairly. The only way I see the American Revolution being ok is if we accept Henry IX's claim, but then we should have made him our king (which would have been tricky since he was Catholic and I think also beleived in the Divine Right and thus would not have tollerated much in the way of limitations on his power).

Just about all the founding fathers where Enlightenment types, generally Freemasons and Deists I think (before Darwin you couldn't easily be an athiest otherwise I bet they wouldn't have even had that small belief in God). Jefferson was particularly bad from what I've heard. Still, it is good to know Washington seems not to be as bad as many of the others, though I wonder if that stems from real tolerance or being so removed from Protestantism (despite officially being an Anglican) that he had no particular loyalty to either side of the Protestant-Catholic dispute or even to the Christian-Jewish one.

J.R. Stoodley

I meant to also say, I'm glad to be a New Yorker, the great loyalist state at the time. The rebellion (the First American Civil War in a way) was started by these New England liberals and Southern rebels.

On the other hand, there were some legitimate grievances with the mother country and some noble ideals inspiring the rebels, so the founding of our country (and I am very proud to be an American and consider myself quite patriotic, even if I wouldn't mind our joining the Brittish Commonwealth and acknowledging the Queen) so we are better off than England that started with completely unjustifed Ango-Saxon invasions (and then the Norman one which is more debatable) or France with its Frankish invasion and then the nasty French Revolution. You don't need to agree with the way your country was founded to be patriotic, otherwise almost no country could be proud of itself.

J.R. Stoodley

Shoot, I meant "the great loyalist colony at the time." Darn "patriot" education.

Some Day

you don't get no where pollitically without being one. And Washington and ALL the presidents are just puppets to those who "run it". The minute you disobey the Mason's orders, you end-up dead or never to be seen again, at least where it matters.

Some Day

I am a loyalist at heart too. I just wish the Brits where still Catholic.
I'm with the only monarchy that still is completely Catholic.
The Papacy.


Search on George Washington in the openbook blog and you'll find a post leading to a line of reasoning that George WAS Catholic...at least when he died. Apparently the slaves became upset when a priest came to visit his deathbed, they said that he converted then....I read it on the internet, it must be true.

J.R. Stoodley

I read there was a movement to make George Washington the Grand Master of all the American Masons. The plan fell through because the Grand Masters of each state lodge did not want to lose their power. Just imagine what might have happened if it became an established precedent for the President of the United States to be the Grand Master (head honcho) of all American masons, (and visa versa)

Or did it happen...DUN DUN DUNNNNNN

probably a gaffe, Petellius, but at the time of the writing, Gen. Washington was just that and there was no United States of America yet for him to be President of.

Brother Cadfael


I think Dan Brown's going to answer that question for us with his next book, which we be dealing, I understand with American freemasonry. I'm sure it will be impeccably researched and factual, at least for a work of fiction.


Anonymous 1:47:53 PM -

Not a gaffe at all. I realize that the Qubebc Act & Washington's General Orders of November 5, 1775 were both prior to the existence fo the United States. But I included the title "President" because the other statement in question, his letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, RI, was written in 1790. And if you look closely at the text of my prior comment, you will note that I refrained from using the title "president" until *after* I had mentioned the 1790 letter (specifically for this reason).

Some Day

The Masons we see and hear about are puppets too.


Is there any merit or reality to this "myth" that George Washington converted on his death bed? or that he had a devotion to the Blessed Mother?

henry o

I remembered reading a letter George Washington addressed to a group of Catholics, concerned what the future held for Catholics in the new republic.

I searched and found it on line:

[March 15], 1790


While I now receive with much satisfaction your congratulations on my being called, by an unanimous vote, to the first station in my country; I cannot but duly notice your politeness in offering an apology for the unavoidable delay. As that delay has given you an opportunity of realizing, instead of anticipating, the benefits of the general government, you will do me the justice to believe, that your testimony of the increase of the public prosperity, enhances the pleasure which I should otherwise have experienced from your affectionate address.

I feel that my conduct, in war and in peace, has met with more general approbation than could reasonably have been expected and I find myself disposed to consider that fortunate circumstance, in a great degree, resulting from the able support and extraordinary candour of my fellow-citizens of all denominations.

The prospect of national prosperity now before us is truly animating, and ought to excite the exertions of all good men to establish and secure the happiness of their country, in the permanent duration of its freedom and independence. America, under the smiles of a Divine Providence, the protection of a good government, and the cultivation of manners, morals, and piety, cannot fail of attaining an uncommon degree of eminence, in literature, commerce, agriculture, improvements at home and respectability abroad.

As mankind become more liberal they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality. And I presume that your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their Revolution, and the establishment of their government; or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic faith is professed.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your kind concern for me. While my life and my health shall continue, in whatever situation I may be, it shall be my constant endeavour to justify the favourable sentiments which you are pleased to express of my conduct. And may the members of your society in America, animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity, and still conducting themselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity.

G. Washington

henry o

BillyHW wrote:

"And what are we to think of a man who would break an oath of loyalty to his king and country to ally himself with those perfidious Frenchmen against his own brethren?"

Well, considering the shaky rationale with which the House of Hanover justified it's legitimacy...

And then what of Mary II's oath of loyalty to the sovereign of her homeland - and her own father to boot, for goodness sake?

And what of Elizabeth's plotting against her sovereign Mary I - her own sister no less?

What of Henry VIII's oath of loyalty to the head of his Church?

What of Henry VII's loyalty to his sovereign, Richard III?

What of Richard's duties to the little princes, Edward V and his brother? And to Edward IV?

What of Edward IV's loyalties to his sovereign Henry VI?

What of Henry IV's loyalties to Richard II?

Etc., etc., etc., etc...

J.R. Stoodley

henry o,

Your point being?

Just because various historical kings commited similar sins to those of George Washington does not excuse him.

St. Thomas More would not have liked the American rebellion. He was the loyal subject of King Henry VIII to the end. Try argueing with THAT!


The Founding Fathers were almost to a man "fundamentalist" Protestants, heavily involved in their congregations. Denominations that would not tolerate freemasons in membership.

The Freemasons and the Rosicrucians (and sometimes Catholics) lay claim to all sorts of historical figures, claiming them as members without any sort of historical justification.

Even towards the end of the 18th century, Protestants were terrified of Catholics. They'd all been read stories from Foxe's Book of Martyrs as children, probably the third widest-read book after the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress. The Papacy was still staunchly monarchist. Rerum Novarum had yet to be penned. The Spanish Inquisition was still a going thing, and while an arm of the Crown of Aragon and Castile, and not of the Papacy, woe betide the Protestant sailor shipwrecked off the shores of Spain!

The issue wasn't tolerance but fear of bloody persecution and imposition of absolute monarchy.

Things have changed since then.

J.R. Stoodley

Actually, the Founding Fathers were really staunch Catholics, but Protestants like to lay claim to all sorts of historical figures.

Even towards the end of the 18th century, Catholics were terrified of Protestants. Terrible persecutions in Germany, England, Scandinavia, and elsewhere were still a going thing. Woe betide the Catholic sailor who shipwrecked on the shores of Norway.

The issue wasn't tolerance but fear of bloody persecution and imposition of Protestant Absolute Monarchy like that of Elizabeth II.

Sorry about the sarcasm if it offends anyone, but I can't stand the rewritting of history.

J.R. Stoodley

Shoot, I meant Elizabeth I.

J.R. Stoodley

Whether it makes you think of me as a fool or not, here is a post about the religious affiliations of the Founding Fathers.


Note the deist qualification for Jefferson and Franklin, and I don't think there is any real question about the Masonry of Washington and Franklin. I was thinking mainly of the most important Founding Fathers not so much sheer numbers.

"You are going to find, Luke, that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."


According to Wikipedia, the sign of cross "is a practice dating to the earliest days of Christianity, it was generally rejected by the Reformers, and is entirely absent in Protestantism (with the exception of Lutheranism and Anglicanism)."

If this is true, then upwards to 63% (the total of Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopalians) of the signers of the Constitution could have made the sign of the cross when praying -- which is something that was done at the beginning of the every session.

As Neo would say: "Whoah!"


And that source outweighs their personal writings, how?

Mr. Stoodley, perhaps you are tired and cranky, but you are not winsome, nor scholarly. At least, not in that post. Not that I'm perfect, but what is your intent and purpose for posting like that here? Are you trying to help the cause of Ian Paisley and Michael Horton?

The comments to this entry are closed.

January 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31