Today, December 14, is the anniversary of George Washington’s death in 1799. He caught a chill riding horseback for several hours in the snow while inspecting his Mount Vernon farm. The next morning it developed into acute laryngitis and the doctors were called in. The common medical practice in those days was to bleed the patient in order to supposedly get rid of the so-called “bad blood.” So the doctors’ response to Washington’s illness was to cut his arm and bleed him heavily four times. Of course, we now kn.ow that was the worst thing the doctors could have done. So George Washington died at the age of 67.
Washington said, “Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.” “I should have been glad, had it pleased God, to die a little easier, but I doubt not it is for my good.” Washington’s last words were “Father of mercies, take me unto Thyself.”
The early biographers of George Washington all assumed that he was unequivocally a Christian. He was a practicing Anglican and regularly recited the Apostles and the Nicene creeds. Biographer Henry Cabot Lodge wrote that Washington referred to Jesus Christ as “the Divine Author of our religion.” Washington’s public statements and private letters are full of Christian references. Here are several examples. In a general order to his troops dated May 2, 1778, Washington wrote: “To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
Washington’s tomb at Mount Vernon is engraved with the words: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, sayeth the Lord. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”