FACT CHECK: Did George Washington Say It’s ‘Impossible To Rightly Govern’ Without God, The Bible?

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claimed that President George Washington once said, “It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that Washington ever said this. His estate at Mount Vernon has listed the quotation as “spurious.”

Fact Check:

Washington and other founding fathers are popular targets for misattribution, this case included. While Washington’s governing prowess is well-regarded, there is no evidence he ever said the remark in question. (RELATED: Did George Washington Say This Quote About A ‘Government’s Right To Govern’?)

“The quote is frequently misattributed to Washington,” Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon says on its website. “The origin of the misquote is, perhaps, a mention of a similar statement in a biography of Washington first published in 1835. However, the quote that appeared in the biography has never been proven to have come from Washington.”

In that biography, written by James Kirke Paulding, the author claims that Washington said, “It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being.” Neither the quote claimed by Paulding nor the quote in the image appear in a collection of Washington’s writings or in any of his recorded speeches.

When discussing the role of religion in Washington’s life, Mount Vernon noted that he “did see God as guiding the creation of the United States,” but there is debate over whether Washington considered himself an orthodox Christian.

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter

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