George Washington and the Angel

According to an early account, our first president was given a divine vision of his country's future.

In the darkest, most difficult days of the American War of Independence, Anthony Sherman, a young aide to General George Washington, was standing outside the home of his commander-in-chief. It was in the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, where Washington had retreated with his ragged troops after several defeats by the British army.

Sherman saw Washington leave his house that chilly afternoon, looking pale and distracted. When the General returned, he fell into conversation with his aides and told them an incredible story. Many years later Sherman recounted the story to an old friend, and his account was published in the National Review of December, 1880, and mentioned in Sherman's biography. According to Sherman, this is what Washington said:

"I do not know whether it is owing to anxiety of my mind, or what, but this afternoon, as I was sitting at this table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturb me. Looking up, I beheld standing opposite me a singularly beautiful female. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the cause of her presence. A second, a third, and even a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer from my mysterious visitor except a slight raising of her eyes.

"By this time I felt strange sensations spreading through me. I would have risen but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed once more to address her, but my tongue had become useless, as though it had become paralyzed.


"A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible, took possession of me. All I could do was to gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor. Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed as if it had become filled with sensations, and luminous...”

The woman stood before him, silently, in a silver-blue dress. Finally she spoke. "Son of the Republic,” she said, “look and learn!”

Washington continued: “I now beheld a heavy white vapor at some distance, rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated, and I looked upon a strange scene. Before me lay spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world; Europe, Asia, Africa and America. I saw rolling and tossing between Europe and America the billows of the Atlantic, and between Asia and America lay the Pacific.

"At that moment I beheld a dark, shadowy being, like an angel, standing, or rather floating in mid-air, between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean in the hollow of each hand, he sprinkled some upon America with his right hand, while with his left hand he cast some on Europe.

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Johanna Skilling
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