Talk:George Washington

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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the George Washington page.

This page is for discussing improvements to the George Washington article.


Why all the bold/emphasized text. Is there something about those quotes that are more important than the rest? I vote to remove bold. Liblamb 06:06, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Agreed, it makes no sense --Awiseman 15:40, 21 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've not had time to be very active here most of this month, but just happened to notice this as I was preparing to do a few things. As one of the people who has spent the most time working on this project (and in developing this page among many others), I have always objected to the idea that everything should be presented at the same level of emphasis, and I have always believed it makes immense sense in a collection of quotations for those that are most famous, and those that users tend to find the most notable to be emphasized by bolding. I believe it especially useful on longer pages where many famous and important statements would otherwise be much harder to find, and the practice has been used on many pages since the earliest days of Wikiquote. I have discussed it more fully at a few points in the past, and now when the subject occasionally comes up, I usually just provide a brief comment and links to some past discussions. ~ Kalki 16:23, 21 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is Washington Racist?[edit]

Are there any racist quotes from George Washington? I know he owned slaves although he said that all men were created equal. → Marcher Lord 23:29 26 November, 2006 (UTC) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 23:30, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Cannabis grower[edit]

In the German article an entry of his diary is cited: “Habe begonnen, die männlichen von den weiblichen Hanfpflanzen zu trennen … fast schon zu spät.” (7th August 1765) I would translate it to “Began to seperate the male from the female hemp plants … almost too late.” But since Washington presumely wrote his diary in English, we should take his wording. -- 08:45, 14 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Actually, we shouldn't even consider this quote unless we can find a published source in any language. Just saying "Tagebucheintrag [Diary entry], 7 August 1765" in de:George Washington does not provide a physical work that we readers and editors can use to verify a quote. This is a problem with many quotes, including quite a few in this current article. (Even citing speeches isn't sufficient unless we have a publication that provides a transcription of the speech.) Any effort to find and cite specific reliable publications for these and other articles' quotes would be greatly appreciated. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 13:31, 14 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am aware of published citations of such entries in Washington's diary, and frankly am slightly surprised they haven't as yet appeared here. The common interpretation made is that he stated his separation of the plants was "almost too late" because he was aware of psychoactive or medicinal properties of his plants, to be enhanced by such separation; but there have been assertions that this could have simply been in regard to concerns for development of the hemp fiber itself. I might search for sources on this within the next week or so, but I remain extremely busy with other things. ~ Kalki 14:57, 14 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It would be great if you find reliable sources. But I should clarify that I don't think we have to take up a position if Washington was a cannabis drug producer or if he made other use of it. This diary entry attests he was a cannabis grower—of whatever kind. -- 19:37, 22 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

George Washington's Diary scanned and put online here

Look at day 7 (August 7, 1765), it clearly reads "began to separate the male form the female .. bit to late"

The hemp quote from George Washington shows that he wanted to grow marijuana, since hemp does not need to be separated, therefore he does not need to say it is to late!

Cannabis Sativa Linnaeus does have the males separated if the sole purpose is fiber production, the pollinated plants will produce less fiber just as with marijuana production it will decrease yields because in both it start putting the energy into seed production. The male plants will also consume the resources required by the females. A second mid season planting can be done after the the males are culled in order to facilitate production of seed for the next season's crop. these males can be used to pollinate both the mature plants which will still produce plenty of fiber as well as a seed specific crop used for wildlife feed as well as oils and other products for human consumption. in the 1700s up through the early part of the 20th century these crops were single purpose crops, the general public wasn't interested in producing wildlife feeds, hemp milk and granola bars, they grew either to produce seed or fibers. Today's growers are trying to maximize values on the crops by producing cellulose, fibers and seed in the same crops. With today's engineering we produce feminized seed so that culling males is not needed and the cultivation process is as was outlined above, a late season second cropping for pollen production, this allows for the multi use crops to be produced with a lower impact and fewer production costs


Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote from this list please move it to George Washington.

  • As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality. I'm not sure how to address this issue, or if I'm doing this right, but this quote is from "Letter from George Washington to the Roman Catholics in the United States," May 15th 1790.-- 20:44, 14 August 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • As to pay, Sir, I beg leave to assure the Congress that as no pecuniary consideration could have tempted me to accept this arduous employment at the expense of my domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to make any profit from it.
  • Bad seed is a robbery of the worst kind: for your pocket-book not only suffers by it, but your preparations are lost and a season passes away unimproved.
  • Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.
    • Variant: Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.
      • Letter, dated August 19th, 1789 "To the Bishops, Clergy, and Laity of the Protestant Episcopal church in the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, in general Convention assembled." The quote is as follows: "...human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected..." The larger quote is as follows: "and the consideration, that human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected, will always continue to prompt me to promote the progress of the former by inculcating the practice of the latter."Ebt66 (talk) 16:21, 24 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      • Reference: (talk) 16:20, 24 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.
  • I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.
  • I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares.
  • I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.
  • If this nation expects to be ignorant and free it expects what never was and what will never be.
  • This is a quote from Thomas Jefferson: 1816 January 6. (to Charles Yancey) "If a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be."


  • In a free and republican government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude.
  • It may be laid down as a primary position and is the basis of our system that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government owes not only a portion of his property but even of his personal services to the defense of it.
  • It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.
  • Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.
    • Rule from Washington's copy-book, as a schoolboy.
  • Lenience will operate with greater force, in some instances than rigor. It is therefore my first wish to have all of my conduct distinguished by it.
  • Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.
  • Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse. 18:22, 21 February 2016 (UTC) Letter to Bushrod Washington dated January 15, 1783Reply[reply]

  • My manner of living is plain and I do not mean to be put out of it. A glass of wine and a bit of mutton are always ready.
  • My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.
    • Variant: I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education which I received from my mother.
  • My observation is that whenever one person is found adequate to the discharge of a duty... it is worse executed by two persons, and scarcely done at all if three or more are employed therein.
  • Nothing is more harmful to the service, than the neglect of discipline for that discipline, more than numbers, gives one army superiority over another.
  • Occupants of public offices love power and are prone to abuse it.
  • Our country's honor calls upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion; and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world.
  • The liberality of sentiment toward each other, which marks every political and religious denomination of men in this country, stands unparalleled in the history of nations.
  • The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.
  • The tumultuous populace of large cities are ever to be dreaded. Their indiscriminate violence prostrates for the time all public authority, and its consequences are sometimes extensive and terrible.
  • To err is natural; to rectify error is glory.
  • We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dear-bought experience.
    • Variant: We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.
  • We ought to be persuaded that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained.
  • Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.

Removed from article on 2011·01·10 :

  • If I were to put a curse on my worst enemy, it would to be to wish him in my posistion now. I just do not know what to do. It seems impossible to continue my command in this situation, but if I withdraw, all will be lost.
    • this had been added to the article as "After the fall of Fort Washington, 1776 " — part of this statement, which I bolded, is attributed to him sometime after the Battle of Brooklyn Heights in George Washington : An American Life (2007) by Laurie Calkhoven, but I located no earlier sources even for that. There might be some slight variations in older publications, but I am not currently inclined to hunt for them. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 08:44, 10 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Forged Quote?[edit]

There has been a new Washington quote making the rounds in the last day or so. To the best of my knowledge, the quote seems to be a forgery and the origin seems to be this Op-Ed in the New York Times.

"It must be laid down as a primary position and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government owes not only a proportion of his property, but even his personal service to the defense of it."

A Google search brought up 7 results. After clicking to show the omitted results, it came up with around 450 pages, almost of all of them within the last day or 2. Can anybody find a source for this quote or is it a forgery as it appears? 19:18, 9 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The quote in question is a well documented one, though even if it were not, a misattribution, rather than a "forged" quote would be the proper term.

  • It may be laid down, as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defence of it, and consequently that the Citizens of America (with a few legal and official exceptions) from 18 to 50 Years of Age should be borne on the Militia Rolls, provided with uniform Arms, and so far accustomed to the use of them, that the Total strength of the Country might be called forth at Short Notice on any very interesting Emergency.
    • "Sentiments on a Peace Establishment" in a letter to Alexander Hamilton (2 May 1783); published in The Writings of George Washington (1938), edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, Vol. 26, p. 289

I will be adding it to the page, and add sourcing on a page where it already appears. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 19:41, 9 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The quote "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence—it is force!" may be legitimate[edit]

This page currently claims that this quote is disputed apparently because the earliest discovered source for this quote was W. M. in 1902 (Christian Science Journal and "no earlier or original source for this statement is cited." I performed a search on google books for this quote and found "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence — it is force" attributed to Washington in "National Party Platforms" by Donald Bruce Johnson, University of Illinois Press, 1840. Bad thing is that the book is not available in full text even though it should by out of copyright. All I can get out of google books right now is this portion of the text which includes the quote under dispute: "Today what George Washington, the first President of the United States, said is more true than ever before: 'Government is not reason; it is not eloquence — it is force.' With imperialism the Government has grown into a mammoth monster of ..." Does anyone know how this can be investigated further?? Gaytan (talk) 20:36, 5 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sometimes Google Books makes mistakes in determining the publication dates of books. In this case, the full title of the book to which you refer is: National Party Platforms, 1840-1956, and it was published not in 1840, but on January 1, 1956. BD2412 T 15:39, 6 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As an addendum, Eugene Volokh writes here about his own search for the quote, which included reading the actual speeches and publications in which it was first claimed to appear, but does not. BD2412 T 15:47, 6 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gouverneur Morris attribution[edit]

The following discussion formerly appeared in the spurious quotation section:

  • Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.
    • This appears to be an alteration of an supposed address to the Constitutional Convention, Mar. 25 1787.

      It is too probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful conflict is to be sustained. If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God. [The Encyclopedia Americana: a library of universal knowledge, 1918 Pg. 567]

      However is appears that it is unlikely that Washington addressed the convention at all on that date and the statement is reported (by Governor Morris) to have been delivered in a eulogy twelve years later, and is likely in Morris's words, not Washington's. [George Washington, Volume II / Lodge, Henry Cabot, 1850-1924 Chapter I -] James Madison wrote that George Washington addressed the convention only once and he provides an account of that address. [The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 by James Madison -]

[The above remarks, including the supposed citation for Washington's speech to the convention, are not an accurate account of Madison "Notes". Washington spoke on the first day of the Convention, which was May 25, not Mar. 25 as stated above. In his notes for that Day Madison writes the following concerning Washington's election as President of the Convention: "General WASHINGTON was accordingly unanimously elected by ballot, and conducted to the Chair by Mr. R. Morris and Mr. Rutlidge; from which in a very emphatic manner he thanked the Convention for the honor they had conferred on him, reminded them of the novelty of the scene of business in which he was to act, lamented his want of better qualifications, and claimed the indulgence of the House towards the involuntary errors which his inexperience might occasion." This is obviously just a summary of the topic headings he addressed, but the occasion is in no way inconsistent as a context for with the quoted admonition. Indeed it would have been a very suitable close.

However, other evidence sources the quotation to a letter Washington wrote to a friend prior to the convention. Moreover, the quote in question is consistent with Washington's character, his general emphasis on morality and good conduct when he was Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, and the observations he made about the importance of religion and morality to republican self-government in his "Farewell Address". The attribution to Washington was so widely accepted that it was engraved above the Fifteenth Street entrance to the Department of Commerce Bldg. in Washington, D.C., and on a bronze plaque above the Eighteenth Street doorway to Constitution Hall. On both those occasions an address to the Constitutional Convention is cited as the source.

Thus, even apart from their inaccuracy, the tendentious proofs offered here above to substantiate the notion that the quotation is spuriously attributed to Washington are, at the very least, questionable. It would be better to offer a more balanced presentation under the heading of "Disputed" rather than conclusively "Spurious" attributions.]

This passage is known to have come from Morris's 1799 funeral oration; the source that describes the passage as from a letter is an undocumented 1918 sermon by Ernest W. Stires. (Presumably the minister's memory failed him; in any case he gives no authority for this assertion.) As these are not Washington's words directly, but as remembered by Morris, I have moved them to an "Attributed" section, given a bit of the context, noted that not everybody agrees they are authentic, and moved the discussion to this page. S0208 (talk) 21:55, 15 December 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The "Impossible to Govern" Fake Quotation[edit]

The situation with this spurious attribution ("It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible") is both complex (in that the original Paulding version is unattributed, at least second-hand, and quite possibly his own invention, and at least three other men were involved in reshaping the saying to its commonly-quoted form) and difficult to summarize (in that there are many variations and it is frequently found attached to genuine material). A complete account would require an entire article (such as this one at Fake History but with more detail) and show exactly how it has been inserted into the Farewell Address, the 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation, Washington's first annual message to Congress, his 11 March 1782 to John Armstrong, and his 20 August 1778 letter to Brigadier-General Nelson, among others. For this entry at Wikiquote all genuine quotations should be omitted (they can be included in their proper place among the genuine quotations if desired) and perhaps a bare statement of the various documents to which the fake statement has been attached given. S0208 (talk) 23:10, 28 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also the paragraphs about the genuine nonsectarian piety in a quoted statement by Washington and about people feeling it necessary to invent quotations are pure editorializing. I personally agree with them as opinions, but they really don't belong here. S0208 (talk) 23:16, 28 March 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your latest revision seems more acceptable than your earlier one, which I initially was simply going to revise, rather than revert, but after examine a few things, I believed it omitted too much, and seemed to give some credence to some of the spurious attributions. I also believe some of the source quotations should be provided in this section, to indicate the processes by which various creation of spurious assertions tend to arise. I haven't examined things thoroughly as yet, and must be leaving soon, but I believe your latest revision is probably okay, at this point. As to the assessments of the non-sectarian piety of Washington, I believe his entire life attests to this, and I do not believe such statements are overly bold ones to make, in reference to the sectarian distortions some of the misattributions seem to foster. ~ Kalki·· 23:22, 28 March 2015 (UTC) + tweaksReply[reply]


User:Illegitimate Barrister or User:Mizsatomic, maybe this page can be featured? (I see why not) ---Atcovi (Talk - Contribs) 12:05, 21 March 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

External Links[edit]

Broken external link "'George Washington's Silent Lack of Piety' at Positive Atheism" that links to Is there a way to mark the link as broken? BaritoneJP (talk) 19:40, 6 January 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]