And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord, to promote the knowledge and practice of the true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
On June 8, 1783, in a letter to the governors of the states, he wrote:
I now make it my earnest prayer the God would have you and the State over which you preside, in His holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field; and, finally, that he would be most graciously pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation.
One merely has to read the prayers that Washington wrote in his own personal prayer book to understand how deeply he relied on God. In one, he wrote:
I have sinned and done very wickedly, be merciful to me, O God, and pardon me for Jesus Christ sake…. Thou gavest Thy Son to die for me; and has given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerely endeavoring to conform my life to His holy precepts and example.
John Adams, the first vice president of the United States and America’s second president wrote in his diary on July 26, 1796:
The Christian religion is above all the Religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of Wisdom, Virtue, Equity, and Humanity. Let the Blackguard Paine say what he will; it is Resignation to God, it is Goodness itself to Man.
On December 25, 1813 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson:
I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means, and my busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen.
On November 4, 1816 in a letter to Thomas Jefferson:
The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain my religion.
In a letter to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813:
I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.
Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion at all!!!” But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean hell.
Jesus is benevolence personified, an example for all men… The Christian religion, in its primitive purity and simplicity, I have entertained for more than sixty years. It is the religion of reason, equity, and love; it is the religion of the head and the heart.
Thomas Jefferson in America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, edited by newspaper columnist William J. Federer is quoted frequently. In the 1781, Query XVIII of Jefferson’s “Notes on that State of Virginia” he notes that: