Friday, March 11, 2016

Watching Washington at Federal Hall

Every year, New York Freemasons stage a re-enactment of the first inauguration of George Washington as president of the United States on (or about) the anniversary of the historic occasion in 1789, and the 2016 event has been announced. From the publicity:

George Washington Presidential
Inauguration Re-enactment
Friday, April 29
11 a.m.
Federal Hall
26 Wall Street

Please join us as we commemorate the inauguration of George Washington and the Heroes of 1776—many of whom were Free and Accepted Masons—and to proclaim our heritage.

Magpie file photo
Statue of Washington at Federal Hall.
Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago, on April 30, 1789, George Washington was sworn in as the nation’s first president, and gave the first inaugural address. The American government was based in New York that year.

Congress had met for the first time on March 4, 1789 in the former city hall at the corner of Wall Street and Nassau Street, which a year earlier had been redesigned by Pierre Charles L’Enfant in the Federal architecture style—the first such building design in America—thus the building was renamed Federal Hall.

This event is sponsored by the George Washington Inauguration Reenactment Committee of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York.

Click here to read about Washington and his adding “So help me God” to his oath.


Ray Soller said...

Here's a YouTube video of
The 225th Anniversary Reenactment of George Washington's Inauguration.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I lean toward GWash NOT saying so help me God, but everybody did back in those days, esp in New York where it was in the law.

Anybody who claims to know one way or the other is bullshit. 'Re-enactments' like this are bullshit too if they take a side in a historical controversy, passing off their opinion as fact.

Feh. Historical trivia amounting to nothing. GWash swore on a Bible, which means more than whatever words he used in doing so.


Magpie Mason said...

I doubt the men participating in the re-enactment are fully briefed on the debate over whether Washington said "So help me God." That isn't the point of the event.


Ray Soller said...

Tom, you should give the Masons a break.

If it weren't for Chancellor Livingston providing for the use of the Masonic treasured, 1767 London published, King James Bible with its frontispiece portrait of King George II, then
1) Charles Thomson, former Secretary of the Continental Congress, might have, could have come up with an American published, Aitken's Bible, or
2) maybe Vice President John Adams might have, could have come up with a genuinely revolutionary bible like the Geneva Bible.

Imagine now, if either of these two cases had occurred, then just how many more people would be absorbing David Barton's view of a Christian America.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I don't even know what "David Barton's view of a Christian America" even means, Ray. It's just the sort of unspecific snark that annoys me so much around here.

Despite a few real whoppers on trivial matters, Barton's overall thesis is rather modest and defensible. People should read him for themselves rather than listen to vague slime from his critics.


Contrary to what critics imply, a Christian nation is not one in which all citizens are Christians, or the laws require everyone to adhere to Christian theology, or all leaders are Christians, or any other such superficial measurement. As Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) explained:

[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world. 8
So, if being a Christian nation is not based on any of the above criterion, then what makes America a Christian nation? According to Justice Brewer, America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.” 9

Founding Father and U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall agreed:

[W]ith us, Christianity and religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people our institutions did not presuppose Christianity and did not often refer to it and exhibit relations with it. 11
Christianity is the religion that shaped America and made her what she is today. In fact, historically speaking, it can be irrefutably demonstrated that Biblical Christianity in America produced many of the cherished traditions still enjoyed today, including:

A republican rather than a theocratic form of government;
The institutional separation of church and state (as opposed to today’s enforced institutional secularization of church and state);
Protection for religious toleration and the rights of conscience;
A distinction between theology and behavior, thus allowing the incorporation into public policy of religious principles that promote good behavior but which do not enforce theological tenets (examples of this would include religious teachings such as the Good Samaritan, The Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, etc., all of which promote positive civil behavior but do not impose ecclesiastical rites); and
A free-market approach to religion, thus ensuring religious diversity.
Consequently, a Christian nation as demonstrated by the American experience is a nation founded upon Christian and Biblical principles, whose values, society, and institutions have largely been shaped by those principles. This definition was reaffirmed by American legal scholars and historians for generations but is widely ignored by today’s revisionists.