There are no contemporary accounts indicating that Washington actually said, "so help me God." No newspapers, magazines or books from the time period indicated that Washington added those words. The first time that anyone ever suggested that Washington had said, "so help me God" took place in 1854, sixty-five years after the event, in Rufus Wilmot Griswold's book, The Republican Court, or American Society in the Days of Washington [page 141]. Griswold hadn't attended Washington's inauguration, but he cited the famous writer Washington Irving as a witness to the ceremony.
Friday, February 3, 2012
Jim Bendat's 2012 edition of his book, Democracy's Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President 1789-2013, is now available. His chapter on George Washington's first inauguration, So help me, So help me Not, starts on page 26. Here's a snippet: