Sunday, May 3, 2009

Jeffry Morrison on GW's Religion

From his profile at Regent University:

Dr. Jeffry Morrison is Associate Professor of Government at Regent University and a faculty member at the federal government’s James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation in Washington, D.C. He has also taught at Georgetown University, where he was Bradley Research Fellow in the Department of Government and Adjunct Professor of History, at the United States Air Force Academy, where he was an award-winning member of the Department of Political Science, and at Princeton University, where he was Visiting Assistant Professor and James Madison Fellow in American Ideals and Institutions in the Department of Politics in 2003-04. He graduated with distinction from Boston College and from Georgetown, where he received his Ph.D. He is co-editor of The Founders on God and Government (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), and author of John Witherspoon and the Founding of the American Republic ( University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), The Political Philosophy of George Washington (under contract, Johns Hopkins University Press), and articles on American political thought and public law.

[Yes I do feel a little weird about promoting the work of someone from the "Pat Robertson School of Government"; but it looks like this is real bona fide good scholarship.]

Dr. Morrison left a comment on John Fea's website about his conclusions on George Washington's religion contained in his book "The Political Philosophy of George Washington."

Dr. Fea is surely correct to admonish us to take Washington in his context, which was that of a nominal 18th-cent. Anglican. That said, it may be more difficult to argue that GW was clearly a Christian, if trinitarian belief is a necessary condition for being a Christian. As I've suggested in my POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), the evidence for his orthodoxy is ambiguous. Perhaps not conclusive either way, but ambiguous. --Jeffry Morrison

I look forward to reading the book!

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Blurb about Motrrison's book:

"Though Washington left little explicit writing on political philosophy, Jeffry Morrison examines his key writings, actions, education, and political and professional lives. He finds that Washington held closely to a trinity of foundational principles -- classical republicanism, British liberalism, and Protestant Christianity -- with greater fidelity than many of the other founding fathers. In unearthing Washington's ideological growth, Morrison reveals the intellectual heritage of his political thought and shows how these beliefs motivated him to action."

Sounds excellent, especially about Washington's "growth." Only a dedicated intellectual biographer has the patience to read it all, and build a timeline. Quote-grabbing tends to make a big formless soup out of someone's intellectual life.

And yes, "ambiguous" is about all we can say for sure about what went on in Washington's head.