The Thing that Sets the American Christian Apart

Categories: Religion

June 16, 2014

Image of a painting of young George Washington, first president of the United States of America.

Image of a painting of young George Washington, first president of the United States of America.

"The thing that sets the American Christian apart from all other people in the world is he will die on his feet before he'll live on his knees."

— George Washington


User Comments:
Jim - Oct 15, 2014 10:04:03 — There is no evidence that George Washington ever said this. Washington was a Deist not a Christian.
Jonas - Oct 15, 2014 11:50:37 — Thanks for the comment, Jim!  I don't want to falsely attribute any quote.  I'll look into that.  But whether he was a deist (lower case d - it is not a proper noun) or not is irrelevant.  The comment is about American Christians, not George Washington.  BTW, are you a historian?  Can you shed some light on your credibility?  Thanks again!
Jonas - Oct 15, 2014 11:55:40 — Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "The trouble with quotes over the Internet is that you never know if they are genuine." — Abraham Lincoln
Jonas - Oct 15, 2014 12:13:09 — I've found several Internet sources (so they gotta be reliable, right?) that attribute that quote to Washington as "quoted by Francis Scott Key to Admiral Alexander Cochrane while witnessing Fort McHenry's bombardment." (http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=155640.0)

But, yeah, a lot of sources say there are no historical documents that can be used to definitively attribute that quote to Washington.

So, Jim, I have to ask: Have you concluded that Washington did NOT say that?  If so, isn't that just as bad as someone else's conclusion that he did say it, based on Key's story?
Charles K.F. - Apr 26, 2016 01:50:57 — Your final statement to Jim about Key quoting Washington re "Christian Americans" neither showing documentation, now reaches a 2nd level of implausibility. That plus some glaring historical errors (it's Ft. McHenry and we hadn't been "colonies" for about 2 decades, plus the possibility of Glenn Beck or his clone as the speaker of authority) gives this submission, in my opinion, a weak C-, or about average for websites of this persuasion.
Mark - May 22, 2016 12:14:54 — It really doesn't fit the profile of Washingtom to say that. He didn't inspire a great deal of people to fight for him by indirectly insulting people who were not Christians. Besides he himself was not Christian and regularly scoffed at organized religion. There is not a document stating that he didn't speak the quote just like there is not a document stating that I spoke it. But you will never find a credible source that has this documented, because he likely didn't say it.
Doug - Jul 3, 2016 12:32:10 — I doubt any man living today can truly determine what a deist was or what they truly believed. I also believe that because of the reshaping of history by those who want to deny its value to the world, The things written about its founding fathers are tainted by a humanist mentality. Faith in our lives is to us a reality that we & others believe. For anyone to argue what that person thought or believed about anything particular is merely hypothetical. So as a Christian and realizing the impact God has on my life and others I know, Who's to say that God did not have a plan to raise up the United States to bring the Light to the lost in such a day as now, and he started with Men such as George Washington one of our founding fathers?
P. C. Carlander - Jul 16, 2016 08:58:09 — Historians at the Mount Vernon Presidential Library publicly state on their website that there is NO WRITTEN EVIDENCE that can attest to the authenticity of your claim. I submit that your desire to publish without verification places your credibility in jeopardy. "There is no known quote from Washington in any of his writings or papers that reflected this sentiment." http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/spurious-quotations/
Jonas - Jul 17, 2016 11:25:15 — 1. I don't know what Washington said or didn't say.  I'm not a historian or an expert on history or Washington.

2. Washington doesn't have to be a Christian to make a statement, even a positive statement, about Christians.

3. The mountvernon.org site reads "There is no known quote from Washington in any of his writings or papers that reflected this sentiment."  Just as you quoted, P. C.  I'm repeating it because I want others to read it carefully.  From what I've read, credible or not, the quote doesn't originate from Washington's "writings or papers".  That would explain why it isn't there.  Mountvernon.org doesn't claim that Washington never said it.  They only point out that there is "no known quote" in Washington's "writings or papers".  But thanks, P.C., for including the link.

4. What credibility?
Rich - Sep 3, 2016 11:34:12 — First, lets be real, no human in the history of the world has encapsulated every important thing they have ever said on paper. Second, the evidence points to Washington being a Christian not a deist. Definition by dictionary.com "The belief that God has created the universe but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws. Deism thus rejects the supernatural aspects of religion...". In his inaugural address to the nation Washington said "it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States." (source: archives.gov) These are not the words of a man who believes in a distant impersonal god, these words who a man for whom the Christian God had personal relevance.
old man - Sep 5, 2016 05:13:11 — for anyone to infer or allude to George Washington being anything but a highly pious Christian is beyond delusional and sadly incapable of rational debate.
Jonas - Oct 9, 2016 10:45:46 — Boy, oh Boy! I sure do love sucking on dudes penises.
gym - Apr 13, 2017 11:45:55 — I fairly sure the actual Washington quote was "The thing that sets the American Christians who want to repeal Obamacare apart from all other people in the world is he will die on his feet before he'll live on his knees."
Phililp - May 15, 2017 03:20:32 — I haven't found any evidence that George Washington said this. However, I want to add this to the discussion in case anyone else out there is looking: I think that most historians would agree with me that this quote is not in the personality of George Washington, and its unlikely that he said it. George Washington was a Christian, but he believed very much in religious freedom and is documented defended the rights of people of other religious. It doesn't seem within character for George Washington to have said a backhanded insult to all non-Americans and non-Christians. Furthermore, George Washington was not a patriot. Hi main identity was with that in Christianity. He was not a believer in innate American exceptionalism or in the habit of putting America or Americans on a pedestal. With this in mind, if George Washington were to share a sentiment like this, it would be something like "A Christian would rather die on his feet than live on his knee." Because of the way the quote is worded, I don't think its possible that it was said by George Washington. People do things out of character, nobody's perfect, but with no written evidence, we have to go by the character of George Washington and there is not evidence he would not have said something like this.
Audrey  - Sep 25, 2017 11:36:52 — just wondering if anyone kmow if the people in under fire at the fort were specifically Christians, or just general citizens/ military families, or whoever....
MeeMaw T - Sep 30, 2017 09:35:23 — Okay ... You don't like the word Christian? Amending: "The thing that sets the American apart from all other people in the world is he will die on his feet before he will live on his knees." It describes Americans then and now.
MeeMaw T - Sep 30, 2017 09:35:23 — Okay ... You don't like the word Christian? Amending: "The thing that sets the American apart from all other people in the world is he will die on his feet before he will live on his knees." It describes Americans then and now.
Melanie suter - Oct 5, 2017 10:13:14 — Actually there is proof the writer of our national anthem quoted Washington as key was held on a British ship during the battle of Fort McHenry. Keys later wrote about his experience that fateful night.
Milo Yaqui Indian - Oct 12, 2017 07:16:09 — The quote in question has more historical evidence that George Washington said it, when francise scott key was addressing the British admiral during the bombing of fort Henry and he quoted what he heard (eye witness account) George Washington say months earlier. So everybody saying other wise is wrong and as a historian have brought forth more concret evidence. God bless you all in the name of my Beautiful Savior Jesus Christ!!! FYI- Although there is controversy about George Washington's religious beliefs, there is no evidence he held a Deism belief. Before the Revolutionary War he was Anglican (Church of England) which meant after the war, he was Episcopalian. So he was clearly a Christian Historian and Pastor ===
DivaDeeNYC - Oct 30, 2017 09:48:18 — https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/who-said-it-better-to-die-on-your-feet-than-live-on-your-knees/amp/
DivaDeeNYC - Oct 30, 2017 09:51:19 — Mejor morir a pie que vivir en rodillas. Men of the South! It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees! Emiliano Zapata (c. 1877-1919), attributed
Jonas - Nov 1, 2017 12:25:37 — Clearly, Zapata plagiarized Washington. LOL
J. David - Nov 3, 2017 05:46:37 — I like the quote, genuine or not. It is the truth.
Edward Robinson - Nov 12, 2017 08:50:38 — Is there actual PROOF that Washington didnt say this?
Ed Darrell - Mar 2, 2018 08:50:43 — Washington did not say it. Zapata, probably. La Pasionaria, yes. FDR, most likely. Washington, no. See: https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/who-said-it-better-to-die-on-your-feet-than-live-on-your-knees/amp/ Also see Mt. Vernon's "spurious quotations" list: http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/spurious-quotations/ It's highly unlikely Francis Key told it to any British officer during the Battle of Baltimore. No reason, and most of the rest of the account of Key's work at that battle, in the account that says Key said Washington said it, is completely false. See: https://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/dont-fall-for-the-star-spangled-voodoo-history/
Ed Darrell - Mar 2, 2018 09:26:23 — On his death bed, George Washington told Martha to preserve only those letters that would disproved "that nut case, Jonas Maxwell in 2018, if he insists on trying to put words in my mouth. Tell him I did not say anything about dying on one's feet. Goddamit, Martha, I'm dying in bed!" You can read about it at Mt. Vernon, in Washington's house, at the display on the library for the estate. I've seen it, I'm sure.
Kevin Flanagan - May 29, 2019 10:55:59 — The reference to American Christian, if it was made at all, was to make a distinction with the other people on the continent: the heathens. In other words, Indians. Thats kind of obvious by the context. Most white people in the colonies were Christian. But that doesnt mean Washington viewed the nation as the theocracy so many modern-day Christians would like to see today
James  - Jul 4, 2019 07:57:52 — Jonas is full of crap and even admits he is not a historian or an expert on history. He's a self proclaimed Christian who only thinks all true Christians must believe the way he does.
Nic  - Jul 15, 2019 04:08:23 — Actually George Washington was an Anglican Christian he attended the Anglican Church of England and held military service's there.

© 2010-2013 Jonas Maxwell. All rights reserved.