PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The following excerpt from The Washington Hypothesis is a small piece of what the title describes, a hypothesis about George Washington and what he may have known about America as a land prepared by God. As stated in the Publisher's Note at the opening of the book, “A hypothesis is not a statement of fact, though it often reads like one. It is, rather, a jumping-off point, a tentative assumption made that provides a framework for examining and organizing facts.” This book includes both “demonstrable facts” and “bold conjecture” based on historical documents, published accounts, the author's own investigative research and, admittedly, some speculation. The author is not a historian. The following excerpt is speculative, both second-hand and anecdotal, told years later by an aging gentleman whose identity and credibility has been questioned. Whether you agree with the author's hypothesis or not, we hope that “readers will gain a new appreciation for the events that shaped America as a nation and for the greatness of its first president, George Washington.”
On July 4,1859, Anthony Sherman—one of Washington's soldiers at Valley Forge who was now 99 years old—was one of the last remaining veteran soldiers of the Revolution.
Before he died, he wanted to tell someone of an event he had witnessed at Valley Forge. So he asked his friend and journalist Wesley Bradshaw to meet him at Independence Hall—the place where the Declaration of Independence had been signed.
They sat down on a bench inside the hall, and the old man recounted a vision and prophecy Washington reportedly had received at Valley Forge. The prophecy spoke of a series of conflicts America had faced and would face, including wars and rumors of wars, whose descriptions sounded a lot like the war for independence, the American Civil War, and other future conflicts. The point of the vision was to tell Washington that America was God’s creation and would endure and be victorious over all these conflicts.
George Washington's Vision at Valley Forge
Below is an excerpt from the report entitled “Washington’s Vision,” as told directly from the memory of Sherman while sitting in Independence Hall:
The darkest period we had, I think, was when Washington, after several reverses, retreated to Valley Forge, where he resolved to pass the winter of 1777. Ah! I have often seen the tears coursing down our dear commander’s careworn cheeks, as he would be conversing with a confidential officer about the condition of his poor soldiers. You have doubtless heard the story of Washington’s going to the thicket to pray. Well, it was not only true, but he used often to pray in secret for aid and comfort from God, the interposition of whose Divine Providence brought us safely through the darkest days of tribulation.
One day, I remember it well [in Valley Forge], the chilly winds whistled through the leafless trees, though the sky was cloudless and the sun shone brightly, [Washington] remained in his quarters nearly all afternoon alone. When he came out I noticed that his face was a shade paler than usual, and there seemed to be something on his mind of more than ordinary importance.
Returning just after dusk, he dispatched an orderly to the quarters of the officer I mentioned who was presently in attendance. After a preliminary conversation of about half an hour, Washington, gazing upon his companion with that strange look of dignity which he alone could command, said to the latter: “I do not know whether it is owing to the anxiety of my mind, or what, but this afternoon, as I was sitting at this table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturb me. Looking up, I beheld standing opposite me a singularly beautiful female. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the cause of her presence. A second, a third, and even a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer from my mysterious visitor . . . . By this time I felt strange sensations spreading through me. I would have risen but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible.
“Presently I heard a voice saying ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn’ while at the same time my visitor extended her arm eastwardly. I now beheld a heavy white vapor at some distance rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated, and I looked upon a strange scene. Before me lay spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world—Europe, Asia, Africa and America. . . . ‘Son of the Republic,’ said the same mysterious voice as before, ‘look and learn.’ At that moment I beheld . . .[another] angel, standing or rather floating in mid-air, between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean in the hollow of each hand he sprinkled some upon America . . . . A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean, and sprinkled it out as before . . .”
Was the Angel Moroni One of the Angels?
Before continuing with the report of this vision, I want to pause and take you to Salt Lake City. It was July 4, 1854, five years to the day before the old man Sherman recounted his witness of what happened to Washington at Valley Forge. Orson Hyde, an ordained Apostle of God, stood at the pulpit in the Tabernacle and boldly declared that the angel Moroni was in the camp of Washington. He stated:
“It was by the agency of that same angel of God that appeared unto Joseph Smith, and revealed to him the history of the early inhabitants of this country, whose mounds, bones, and remains of towns, cities, and fortifications speak from the dust in the ears of the living with the voice of undeniable truth. This same angel presides over the destinies of America, and feels a lively interest in all our doings. He was in the camp of Washington; and, by an invisible hand, led on our fathers to conquest and victory; and all this to open and prepare the way for the Church and kingdom of God to be established on the western hemisphere, for the redemption of Israel and the salvation of the world . . . . Under the guardianship of this same angel, or Prince of America, have the United States grown, increased, and flourished, like the sturdy oak by the rivers of water.”
Could this corroborate Sherman’s account? The principal angel in Valley Forge was, of course, described as a woman. But it was a male angel (or male angels) who anointed the land.
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As Washington’s vision continues, the Moroni hypothesis becomes ever more interesting. After the principal angel described to Washington what sounds like yet another conflict to hit the land—“thundering of the cannon, clashing of swords, and the shouts and cries of millions in mortal combat”—the male angel performed a familiar act, familiar to the LDS student, at least.
“Son of the Republic,” said the female angel, “look and learn.” Washington then beheld a male angel and, according to Sherman, told of how he watched as the angel “placed his trumpet once more to his mouth, and blew a long, fearful blast.”
“Instantly a light, as of a thousand suns, shone down from above me, and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud, which enveloped America. At the same moment the angel . . . who bore our national flag in one hand and a sword in the other, descended from the heavens attended by legions of bright spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America, who I perceived were well nigh overcome, but who immediately taking courage again, closed up their broken ranks, and renewed the battle.
“Again, amid the fearful noise of the conflict, I heard the mysterious voice, saying: ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ As the voice ceased, the shadowy angel for the last time dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America. Instantly the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious.
“Then once more I beheld the villages, towns, and cities springing up where I had seen them before, while the bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in the midst of them, cried with a loud voice: ‘While the stars remain, and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last!’ . . . while the people, kneeling down, said ‘Amen.’”
I cannot read this account without thinking of the biblical prophecy of the angel Moroni found in Revelation 14:6–7: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”
The Restoration of the gospel did not simply begin in 1820. The foundation was being laid years earlier in the battlefields of America—in Boston, Long Island, Saratoga, and Valley Forge. George Washington was a power player in the story of the Restoration, as he was building the nation, the foundation, for Christ to return, that He might bring His priesthood and truths of salvation.
Indeed, the forthcoming Restoration had nowhere safe to land. God needed to create the asylum, and Washington knew that he was helping God do just that. Writing from Valley Forge, he declared: “Even if the rest of the world continues to ignore us, we will fight on. For we are fighting not only for ourselves, but for all mankind. We are fighting for freedom and human dignity and the right to worship the God of our choice.”
Washington, no doubt, was doing his part to get this message out. Like Joseph at Liberty Jail, and like Lincoln in 1862, Washington was compelled to his knees while in the darkness of Valley Forge. And he was blessed for it. He had received an assurance from the Lord about the fate of America. As he led the nation in righteousness, he would be victorious. He needed to know this. Now he did.
Learn more about the inspiration and miracles surrounding George Washington in Timothy Ballard's new book, The Washington Hypothesis. Available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.
We know that George Washington was a moral man and an inspiring leader, but did he possibly know more than we suppose? Was he a national covenant maker like Moses, Abraham, Lehi, or Captain Moroni? Did he understand that he was fighting for the liberty of a promised land protected by God, a place where the Lord's holy temples could be built? The Washington Hypothesis explores the intriguing evidence that Washington and the other Founding Fathers knew the Lord had a greater purpose for America. It takes us on a fascinating historical journey through the miracles of the Revolutionary War to the foundational documents of this great nation to the symbolism evident in every corner of the nation's capital. Exploring how Washington's beliefs framed his every action, author Timothy Ballard draws compelling conclusions about the divinity of that great leader's calling. As we see the evidence of the Lord's hand in Washington's life, we may discover a much grander design at work in the founding of our nation—and thus a greater desire to strive to preserve those promised blessings.