Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mary Thompson on the Washington/G. Morris Exchange on Political Rulers:

Mary V. Thompson, Research Historian, Mount Vernon and author of In the Hands of a Good Providence: Religion in the Life of George Washington (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008) wrote me the following in an email, which she gave me permission to reproduce:

Dear Jon,

Thank you for the post you did about the May 1778 correspondence between Gouverneur Morris and GW; it was new to me (one of the problems of working with Washington materials is that there are so many things to go through)....

Anyway, my reading of the correspondence is based on a second definition of the word “unavailing,” which can mean, as you indicated, “useless,” but it can also mean “futile.” If I was reading you correctly, you were saying that Washington thought any information Jesus might have written to rulers would have been useless. As I understand Washington’s response, I think he was saying that, even if Jesus had written a chapter of instructions for rulers, it would have been futile, given the sinful nature of man (those rulers would have just ignored it or deliberately decided to violate what he’d required of them). Just a thought.



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