Friberg painted "The Prayer at Valley
Forge" to celebrate our country's bicentennial
in 1976. Since then, Arnold Friberg's now famous painting
has become an important part of American history, reminding
us of the days our country hung in the balance. Many of
you are familiar with Arnold Friberg's painting, but do
you know the story behind the painting?
was during the cold and long winter of 1777-78 at Valley
Forge that General George Washington sought God's help on
Eye Witness Testimony of Isaac Potts
story is well documented in the historical records. Isaac
Potts, 26 years old, was a resident of Valley Forge, and
as a Quaker was opposed to the war. He supervised the grinding
of the grain which George Washington ordered the neighboring
farmers to bring to his army. The fullest account of Potts'
testimony is in the "Diary and Remembrances" of
Rev. Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, a Presbyterian minister
and a Princeton graduate (Original Manuscript at the
Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Call no. PHi.Am.1561-1568).
was riding with him (Mr. Potts) near Valley Forge, where
the army lay during the war of the Revolution. Mr. Potts
was a Senator in our state and a Whig. I told him I was
agreeably surprised to find him a friend to his country
as the Quakers were mostly Tories. He said, "It was
so and I was a rank Tory once, for I never believed that
America could proceed against Great Britain whose fleets
and armies covered the land and ocean. But something very
extraordinary converted me to the good faith."
was that?" I inquired. "Do you see that woods,
and that plain?" It was about a quarter of a mile
from the place we were riding. "There," said
he, "laid the army of Washington. It was a most distressing
time of ye war, and all were for giving up the ship but
that one good man. In that woods," pointing to a close
in view, "I heard a plaintive sound, as of a man at
prayer. I tied my horse to a sapling and went quietly into
the woods and to my astonishment I saw the great George
Washington on his knees alone, with his sword on one side
and his cocked hat on the other. He was at Prayer to the
God of the Armies, beseeching to interpose with his Divine
aid, as it was ye Crisis and the cause of the country,
of humanity, and of the world.
a prayer I never heard from the lips of man. I left him
alone praying. I went home and told my wife, 'I saw a sight
and heard today what I never saw or heard before', and
just related to her what I had seen and heard and observed.
We never thought a man could be a soldier and a Christian,
but if there is one in the world, it is Washington. We
thought it was the cause of God, and America could prevail."
. . . . . . . . . . .
Washington was not known as a great public speaker, but as
he was about to make a speech at the end of the war, he remembered
a slip of paper in his pocket and he pulled out his glasses.
The crowd went silent when he put his spectacles on as he
said, "I see that you notice that I wear glasses.
Well, it was to be. I've not only grown old and gray,
I've become almost blind in the service of my country." And
with that simple, unrehearsed, spontaneous statement, everyone
was moved to tears as they had been reminded of who this
man was and what he had done for our country.
respect for Washington was so great that the first proposal
for his new title, recommended by John Adams, was, "His
Glorious Highness, The President of the United States and
Glorious Protector of Our Liberties." Congressman William
McClay from Pennsylvania basically said, "What's with
Adams? Doesn't he understand what we fought this thing for?
It's to get rid of all of that stuff." But this story
illustrates the high regard congress had for Washington.
. . . . . . . . . . .
James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said about
George Washington, "The reason that I consider him to
be such a hero is... almost no one in human experience gives
up power willingly. Power is intoxicating and once
you have it you don't want to let it go and [Washington]
could have been king. He could have been monarch for the
rest of his life and passed it on to his heirs, but he served
two terms as president and would not accept a third term.
You talk about greatness. That really speaks to me."
world was watching during this moment of when George Washington
said he would give up his power after two terms as President
of the United States. King George of England said, "If
he gives up his power, as he said he would, he will be the
greatest man in the world." And George Washington
did it without a moments hesitation. Washington said
in one of his letters, "I'd rather be back on my farm
in Virginia than be emperor of the world."