So, Help Her God

Sarah Palin’s new book, America By Heart: Reflections On Faith, Family and Flag, repeats the debunked myth that George Washington, at his first inauguration, added the phrase “So help me God” to the oath of office. The myth was started by Washington Irving and repeated by Rufus Wilmot Griswold in his 1854 book The Republican Court, or, American Society in the Days of Washington.

Washington Irving told the story of how he was present at the first inauguration.

Submitted by -David Drumm (Nal) — guest editor

However, Irving was barely 6 years old at the time and had observed the proceeding from 200 feet away. There’s no way he could have seen, let alone heard what happened. There is no other report or evidence that George Washington said what Irving claimed.

But that’s enough for Sarah Palin, who is well-known for believing in myths.

Newdow v. Roberts, a federal lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, sought to enjoin the Hon. John Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, from adding the phrase, “So help me God,” to the Presidential oath of office. The dismissal was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit in 2009 as moot, and due to lack of standing for future inaugurations. Roberts did add the phrase, “So help me God” to the end of a flubbed oath.

From Peter R. Henriques, Professor of History, Emeritus, at George Mason University:

One of the most widely held myths about George Washington is that immediately after he took the prescribed oath to become the nation’s first President, he solemnly added the words, “So help me God” and thus began a tradition that has been followed ever since.

In fact, an examination of the historical evidence demonstrates that claim  [that Washington added the words, “So help me God”] is almost certainly false.

H/T: Talk To Action, Chris Rodda, American Creation, History News Network.

-David Drumm (Nal)

139 thoughts on “So, Help Her God”

  1. Buddha Is Laughing
    1, December 4, 2010 at 7:52 pm
    One cannot unwind a journey into darkness without first unwinding the first step.

    1, December 4, 2010 at 8:12 pm
    And if you continue to look in the rear view mirror surely you’ll miss the road ahead.


    You two are getting very pithy 🙂

  2. Good Evening Mike Spindell; so good to have you gracing these blawg pages again.

    Last summer I told some of my family–all Republicans–that the one Republican for whom I might vote would be Mitt Romney. Then he said the following about Sarah Palin. Any person who thinks Ms. Palin is as Romney described below is lying, insane, or so evangelical that they will only politically support another Christian with similar extreme, nonsensical faith beliefs.

    “She’s a qualified, capable person.”

  3. To follow a path to a destination requires a starting point as well as an end point. Nothing exists in a true vacuum.

    You forget something, bdaman.

    I’ve been predicting trouble all along.

    I understand chaos and its sensitive dependence on initial conditions.

    It’s called the butterfly effect.

    You cannot change or avoid disequilibrium unless you address the initial state of a dynamic system. The only way to avoid chaos is to change the initial state to one where disequilibrium does not occur. And even that is not a guarantee. It is, however, the logical place to start rather than trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. Addressing the initial conditions stands a chance of avoiding disequilibrium and the eventual resultant chaos. Not addressing the initial conditions stands no chance at all. In this case, the critical initial state is the abandonment and destruction of the rule of law – it will cause society to collapse. It’s not a matter of if, but when. At this late date, restoring the rule of law probably will still not totally avoid chaos, but it could mitigate the damage.

  4. And if you continue to look in the rear view mirror surely you’ll miss the road ahead.

  5. One cannot unwind a journey into darkness without first unwinding the first step.

  6. Then you miss the point and the causal factor in all this mess if you don’t want Bush held accountable too. He’s the one who suspended habeas corpus and ordered torture.

    Buddha I didn’t say anything about not holding Bush accountable.

    I’m not worried about Bush at the moment. I’m not worried about the future president. I’m worried about the current one because he’s in charge at the moment. Bush is not making any decisions now. The president in 2012 is not making decisions now. Obama is.
    Thats what I meant.

  7. A repost:

    “The majority of the American people now fail to question authority, debate policy, seek accountability or demand answers. Indifferent we have become to the dangerous ways of our government or to our own plight. Every generation has seen its ability to understand, question and analyze dwindle with each subsequent decade that passes. Soon the day will arrive when complete drones our descendants become, completely subservient to the will of the rulers, shackled in chains of ignorance, transformed into exploitable energies deficient of free-thinking minds.”

  8. Trying Bush and Cheney in a court of law is only an itsy bitsy piece of a solution. The whole system has become twisted with elected officials getting rich off of bribes (or who blatantly lie in order to keep their positions–think about the twists and turns J Mc has had to do this election cycle)…and we have a large portion of our media people ignoring important facts in favor of the spectacular and in some cases getting rich for outright lying (and laughing all the way to the bank).

    These two crucial groups have failed to defend the constitution and the people for whom the govt exists.

    I know WHAT needs to be done–like making laws that prohibit the deception, the absence of truth in journalism. It’s the HOW to get the change we want…how to get those laws passed when the very people who can pass the laws are in on the deception.

    Where are the solutions to deal with the rich and powerful that are the ruling class of this country….that hold our politicians and media in the palm of their hands?

    Deal with this and maybe the likes of Bush and Cheney would find themselves in a court of law.

  9. The Solution is standing up for what is right and just. bush and cheney are criminals. they lied to start an illegal war.

    I am embarrassed to be an American. The minute we stop being honest is when these bastards win

  10. Late to the show,but in time to SHOUT OUT!!!,to Mike S.

    Hope the Holiday went well for you and the Family.

  11. If you read this blog long enough, you’ll see that solutions are indeed often offered.

    Most of them start with putting Bush and Cheney on trial for war crimes.

  12. On here as everywhere, lots of complaints about the people in power, lots of defense of people (like SP)instead of searching for fact and truth. Palin complains about others but offers no solutions in her book. Anyone can complain and anyone can find people in history to support their beliefs.

    No one has solutions. People are angry (tea party, militia groups, progressives), but as long as we are so divided, there will be no solutions.

    Palin happens to be only one divisive spokesperson for her brand of thinking (which seems to be ‘what’s good for me should be good for everyone’) With so many people, it’s their way or the highway–everyone else is wrong wrong wrong, or EVIL, lol.

    That’s why Palin doesn’t need defending. She needs to be helped to grow-up (mature thinking?) and realize that the world is not black and white, nor is it merely shades of gray but instead a whole array of colorful choices that need to be sifted carefully with logic and reason.
    And only then, solutions offered!

  13. Oh yea, I’m voting Palin’s an idiot and grifter. That her and her husband waged war on every level for years against her ex-brother in law while she occupied a position of power is evidence. If ‘petty’ was a crime she and Todd would be in jail for it.

  14. Mike, hello ther, nice to see a posting from you!

    “I got caught up in my own mythology of the cool, black President who will change things for the better”

    True enough, you and millions of others. Myths though are projections, projected answers to questions and needs that are universal. In that regard, if that is correct, then Obama is just being Obama and can’t be ‘blamed’ for that.

    What is interesting is the deep need the millions of voters that constructed the Obama myth, or bought into it, had for that myth. There are a lot of people that want to be living in a country (or political reality) that is not the one we inhabit currently and projected that need (by embracing the campaign rhetoric) for change and progress onto someone that wasn’t up to the task.

  15. “Ever think about the old line “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?

    Yes I have and perhaps you should too. It represents the way of thinking, and mythology, that has held humanity back from actually creating a decent world. It’s one of those phrases that sound good in the saying, but are innately stupid in the doing.

  16. Upsets me? No, Kurt.

    She’s simply annoying.

    Like all willfully ignorant and purposefully stupid people.

    As to faulty logic?

    Evidence is not faulty logic. You just can’t properly evaluate it. That’s called either stupidity or denial on your part.

    And you don’t have to be personally acquainted with a narcissist to recognize one in action.

    As to what she would do? She’d be worse than Bush. She only wants property owners to have the right to vote. That makes her a fascist in fact.

    You mistake me for an Obama fan. Insult that treason abetting turd all you want, just don’t forget your boys started the ball rolling – G.W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

    She’s unelectable absent fraud. She was brought to the forefront by conservatives too, so you can’t pawn that off on liberals either.

  17. Rafflaw:

    “The reason why she lost in 2010 wasn’t McCain’s presence on the ticket, it was because of her presence on the ticket.”

    I think you need to read that book Mike Spindell noted above. She is the reason McCain did not lose by a larger margin.


    I never said I was a Palin fan. But I could be if she upsets you and others so much. Ever think about the old line “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?

    The left and right have gone so far off the deep end that it has brought the country to the point of electing Sarah Palin because she is not a liberal. She would do less harm than another Obama presidency. That is how bad he has been.

  18. Obama had lots of expert help in staging that myth and playing it just right to the audience. It was an illusion which is why it all fell apart so quickly.

    The Democrats know their audience.

  19. Buddha is Laughing:

    1) Stupid – Every word that comes out of her mouth is evidence.
    faulty logic

    2) Vapid – She couldn’t name any news that she reads on a regular basis or any other SCOTUS decision than Roe v. Wade.
    old news

    3) Venal – She quit on her duty to the people of Alaska because she saw money and power to grab.
    why did she quit? Were the charges legitimate?

    4) Narcissist – Every word that comes out of her mouth is evidence. She loves herself so much she uses her children as political props.
    do you know her personally? if not your are talking with the complete authority of the uninformed.

  20. Speaking of mythology, as I did in the previous post, this defines the context in which I view Palin and many of her cohort. They are caught up in a mythological view of life and the world and are too far gone to even question their own premises. This is what makes dealing with them so difficult. Talking with them is like talking with a rabid follower of some sports team, who has an inability to distinguish themselves from the fortunes of the team.

    The author who has given me the greatest insight on the phenomenon of the crucial role mythology plays in our world is Joseph Campbell, although there are too many other insightful writers covering aspects of the subject to name. Many of us do not lack intelligence, but lack the ability to constantly re-examine our own premises and thus they find their thinking ruled by mythology. i.e. John Wayne was a heroic figure.

    In this respect I’ve had to come around to the thinking of those like Buddha, or FFLEO among many here, that Obama is not an agent of change in any way, but merely another enthralled by those who wield the real power in this country. In other words just another political egotist more interested in his position, than in doing the business necessary to benefit the overwhelming majority of the American people. Unfortunately, I got caught up in my own mythology of the cool, black President who will change things for the better

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