1789 Inauguration Eyewitness

The 1789 inauguration of George Washington as the first President of the United States under the Constitution was a very important event. It established several precedents for inaugurations that have withstood the test of time, including many religious activities. Congress had set up a basic procedure for the inauguration but there were some of the details that Washington added in himself during this historic event — such as the phrase “so help me God” after the oath and the practice of giving an inauguration address. Below, from WallBuilders’ collection, is a May 3, 1789 excerpt of an eyewitness account of the inauguration that was printed in the newspaper, Gazette of the United States (May 9-May 13, 1789).

Philadelphia, May 8.

Extract of a letter from New-York, May 3.

“I was extremely anxious to arrive here, in order to be present at the meeting of the President and the two Houses. That event, however, did not take place til Thursday last, when The President was qualified was qualified in the open gallery of the Congress House, in the sight of many thousand people. The scene was solemn and awful, beyond description. It would seem extraordinary, that the administration of an oath, a ceremony so very common and familiar, should, in so great a degree excite the public curiosity. But the circumstances of his election—the impression of his past services—the concourse of spectators—the devout fervency with which he repeated the oath—and the reverential manner in which he bowed down and kissed the sacred volume—all these conspired to render it one of the most august and interesting spectacle ever exhibited on this globe. It seemed, from the number of witnesses, to be a solemn appeal to Heaven and earth at once, Upon the subject of this great and good Man, I may, ‘perhaps, be an enthusiast; but I confess, that I was under an awful and religious persuasion, that the gracious Ruler of the universe was looking down at that moment with peculiar complacency on an act, which to a part of his creatures was so very important. Under this impression, when the Chancellor pronounced, in a very feeble manner, “Long live George Washington,” my sensibility was wound up to such a pitch, that I could do no more than wave my hat with the rest, without the power of joining in the repeated acclamations which rent the air.”

George Bush on Prayer

George Herbert Walker Bush (1924-2018) served his country in the military during WWII, was ambassador to the UN (1971-1973), Vice-President (1981-1989), and President of the United States (1989-1993). From the WallBuilders’ Collection, below is a handwritten note by him written on the back of a June 1983 calendar that belonged to Barbara Bush that provides an interesting glimpse into his faith.

Lay down its [arms] –

Prayer can comfort & give strength.

We had a child very ill with cancer. In our world most of the kids wouldn’t make it. My Barbara asked the parents of a sick little guy named Joe how Joe was doing. The mother said “Remember what the Lord said – Let the little children that suffer come to me. Well Joe had a bad day, but our prayers will be answered.” It matters not that two words were mixed up (let the children vs suffer the little children), what counts was her faith and belief in prayer.

Lemuel Haynes Signed Common-Place Book

Lemuel Haynes

Lemuel Haynes, born on July 18, 1753, was a black American, abandoned at five months old by his parents and hired as an indentured servant. During his years of service, he was treated well and given the opportunity to attend school — a rare experience for blacks in that day. Haynes showed a talent for preaching from a young age and was frequently called on to give sermons and to proofread the sermons of others. When his term of indenture ended, he enlisted as a Minuteman in the American War for Independence and participated in the siege of Boston and the expedition against Fort Ticonderoga.

It was in 1785 that he became an ordained minister. During his decades of service as a pastor, as a black American he led churches that were all-white and some that were mixed (whites and blacks worshiping together — a circumstance many are unaware existed in America). In 1804, Lemuel received an honorary Masters degree from Middlebury College — the first black man to receive a degree of higher education in America. Lemuel Haynes died in 1833.1

From WallBuilders’ collection, below is a few pages from A Common Place-Book to the Holy Bible, published in London in 1738 and signed by Lemuel Haynes. A common place-book is defined as “a book in which noteworthy quotations, comments, etc., are written2 so this particular book includes noteworthy quotations from the Bible on various subjects.


1 For a complete biography of Lemuel Haynes see Timothy Mather Cooley, Sketches of the Life and Character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1827). Some online biographies of Lemuel Haynes include those found at Black Past and PBS.
2 “Commonplace Book,” Dictionary.com, accessed December 18, 2023.


“Ghosts of Christmas Past”

(from Charles Dickens “Christmas Carol” in 1843)

At Christmas, people all over the world pause to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We gather with family, exchange gifts, and hopefully read the Christmas story from the Bible (Luke 2:1-20). It’s a day of celebration! In 1950 during the Korean War, President Harry Truman reminded the nation of the importance of Christmas, and also urged them to remember those who served us in the military and would not be home for Christmas:

Many have forgotten the humble surroundings of the nativity and how, from a straw-littered stable, shone a light which for nearly 20 centuries has given men strength, comfort, and peace. At this Christmastime we should renew our faith in God. We celebrate the hour in which God came to man. It is fitting that we should turn to Him. Many of us are fortunate enough to celebrate Christmas at our own fireside. But there are many others who are away from their homes and loved ones on this day.

Our history abounds with examples of those who could not be home for Christmas. Usually this was because of an ongoing war, but there were other reasons as well. In fact, there have been times when they could not be home because they were not even on the planet!

The astronauts of Apollo 8 (the first manned mission to the moon) entered orbit around the moon on Christmas Eve, 1968. (Pictured here is one of the photos they took, showing Earth rising above the moon on Christmas Eve.) While circling the moon, the three astronauts hosted a live telecast in which all three read from Genesis 1 and then Frank Borman delivered a special Christmas greeting.

WallBuilders Collection includes a document signed by Frank Borman with the text of the Christmas Eve message. Also included is a prayer recorded by Borman on Christmas Day, 1968, which read in part:

Give us, O God, the vision

Which can see Thy love in the world

In spite of human failure.

This document is an amazing example of how Christmas has been celebrated not only here on Earth but also in space as well!

Presidents’ Resources

Many heroes and topics were discussed on the February 19, 2018 TBN show “America’s Hidden History” with David and Tim Barton. Below are some helpful resources to find out more! (Right click on the images for larger versions to download.)

George Washington

Isaac Potts Witnesses the Prayer at Valley Forge

(Library of Congress)

Rev. E. C. M’Guire, The Religious Opinions and Character of Washington (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1836), 158-169.

Benson Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1852), II:336n.

Benson Lossing, Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, by His Adopted Son George Washington Parke Custis (Philadelphia: J. W. Bradley, 1861), 275n.

George Washington’s Faith

Jared Sparks’ Collection of Washington’s Writings:

Read the books online.

Nelly’s Letter on Washington’s Faith:

Inserted into volume 12 of Sparks’ Collection.

George Washington’s Religious Activities

Vestryman at His Church:

Mount Vernon

Kept a Prayer Journal:

Read Online

First Presidential Prayer Proclamation:

WallBuilders’ Collection

Locks of Hair

These two locks of George Washington’s hair are from WallBuilders’ Collection.

John Adams

Called Himself a “Church Going Animal

“[f]or it is notorious enough, that I have been a Church going Animal for Seventy Six years, i.e. from the Cradle”

[Letter from John Adams to Benjamin Rush on August 28, 1811.]

Prayer Proclamation

From WallBuilders’ Collection:

Thomas Jefferson

Religious Activities

Helped Fund John Thompson “Hot Press” Bible:

Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), Vol. II, p. 979, February 26, 1798.

Helped Fund Thomas Scott Bible:

Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), Vol. II, p. 1195, December 21, 1807.

Involvement in Worship Services in the U.S. Capitol:


Library of Congress

See additional information in David Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies.

Jefferson’s “Bibles”

Read the book:

Google Books

Jefferson’s Writings on This Work:

Letter to Dr. Priestley on April 9, 1803

“Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus, compared with those of others” sent with a letter to Benjamin Rush on April 21, 1803

Letter to Joseph Priestly on January 29, 1804

Letter to John Adams on October 12, 1813

Letter to Charles Clay on January 29, 1815

Letter to Charles Thompson on January 9, 1816

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s Battle With God by Stephen Mansfield

Print from Glass Plate Negative

 Buy the book.

Dred Scott Supreme Court Decision

See the complete opinion.

Republican Party Platforms




13th Amendment Resources

Library 0f Congress

National Archives

John Quincy Adams’ Influence on Abraham Lincoln

John Quincy Adams. His Connection with the Monroe Doctrine (1823) by Worthington Chauncey Ford and with Emancipation under Martial Law (1819-1842) by Charles Francis Adams (Cambridge: John Wilson and Son, 1902), 72.

James Garfield

Biographical Resources:

Miller Center

White House

Handwritten Letter:

WallBuilders’ Collection

Franklin Roosevelt

Pearl Harbor Information:


The Avalon Project

War Bond Posters & WWII Bibles:



Roosevelt D-Day Announcement:


Handwritten Letter:

From WallBuilders’ Collection

Harry Truman

Proclamation at End of WWII:


Dwight Eisenhower

Religious Activities:

Inaugural Prayer:

WallBuilders’ Collection

National Prayer Breakfast Started:



“Under God” in Pledge of Allegiance:


“In God We Trust” National Motto:

Government Printing Office

Civil War Christmas Card

Below, from WallBuilders’ Collection, is a Christmas Card from Frank Browning (a Civil War quartermaster) to his sister, dated December 25, 1864.

The Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father
who art in Heaven.
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy
will be done on earth as
it is in heaven. Give us this
day our daily bread…And
forgive us our debts as we
forgive our debtors. Lead
us not into temptation but
deliver us from evil. For
thine is the kingdom &
the power & the glo-
ry forever.
H. Heath. Artist.

Executed by                                    Lieut. Heath

from                                                  to
Quartermaster                                Sister
Frank Browning                             Carrie,
U.S.A.                                                With love.

Dec 25, ’64
Merry Christmas.

Christmas Prayer from Lunar Orbit

The astronauts of Apollo 8 (the first manned mission to the moon) entered orbit around the moon on Christmas Eve, 1968. While circling the moon, the three astronauts hosted a live telecast in which all three read from Genesis 1 and then Frank Borman delivered a special Christmas greeting.

WallBuilders Collection includes a document signed by Frank Borman with the text of the Christmas Eve message. Also included is a prayer recorded by Borman on Christmas Day, 1968. Below is a scan and transcript of this document from our collection.

A Christmas Eve Prayer From Lunar Orbit
December 24, 1968

“Give Us, O God, The Vision
Which Can See Thy Love In The World
In Spite of Human Failure.

“Give Us The Faith, The Trust
The Goodness In Spite Of
Our Ignorance And Weakness.

“Give Us The Knowledge
That We May Continue To Pray
With Understanding Hearts,
And Show Us What Each One Of Us
Can Do To Set Forth
The Coming Of The Day
Of Universal Peace. Amen.”
Frank Borman

As Apollo 8 began its last lunar orbit, Astronaut William Anders said, “We are not approaching the lunar sunrise and for all people back on earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send to you.” The television camera aboard the spacecraft panned the lunar surface as Anders and his fellow astronauts recited in a medley the first eight verses of Genesis.

William Anders
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters and God, let there be light. And there was light. And God saw the light and it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.”

James Lovell
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters. And let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament. And divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called that firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.”

Frank Borman
“And God said let the waters under the heavens be gathered together in one place. And let the dry land appear. And it was so. And God called the dry land earth. And the gathering together of the waters He called the seas. And God saw that it was good. And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a merry Christmas and God bless all of you — all of you on the good earth.”

The USS Arizona sinks after it's bombed during the Pearl Harbor attacks in 1941.

Pearl Harbor Day

Seventy-six years ago today, on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was treacherously attacked by the Japanese, killing more than 2,000. This date was described by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as “a date which will live in infamy.” It was the worst naval disaster in American history, and brought declarations of war by Japan, Germany, and Italy against the United States, and by America against them. For four long years following this event, American men and women served and died on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific.

One story from this day at Pearl Harbor relates to the USS California (a battleship, pictured on the right in the aftermath of the attack). During the attack, it took three direct hits — two torpedoes and one bomb, killing about 100. It caught fire and the remainder of the crew made their way to shore before the ship sank. The California was salvaged, repaired, and returned to service during World War II (pictured on the left is the rebuilt ship).

WallBuilders Collection includes the December 7, 1941 “Orders of the Day” for the USS California for the day of the attack. Since that day was a Sunday, the orders include times and locations for church services for the ship’s crew:

745 — Rig for church (starboard forecastle, weather permitting).

0750 — Send boat to Officers’ Club landing for Chaplain Maguire.

0830 — Chaplain’s Bible discussion class (port side Crew’s Reception Room).

0830 — Confessions (Crew’s library).

0900 — Divine Service (Catholic).

1000 — Divine Service (Protestant)

Obviously the attack, which began around 8 am, interrupted this schedule, preventing these church services from taking place. This document is an incredible glimpse into the normal routine these sailors were expecting for the day — events that never happened.

On Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we remember the men and women who lost their lives. We also honor our veterans who have faithfully served our nation throughout the generations.

Civil War Baptism Competition

William Cogswell

The author of this letter, John Munroe, enlisted as a private in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry at the age of 19 on May 22, 1861, and served until mustered out on July 1, 1864. During the war he acted as the musician for K Company. 1 Aside from this, not much is known of Private Munroe.

The letter’s most notable character, Colonel William Cogswell, however, was perhaps one of the most famous members of the 2nd Massachusetts. Col. Cogswell served with exemplary distinction during the Civil War, finally being brevetted a Brigadier General. Afterwards, he was three times of the mayor of Salem, five times a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, then he was elected to the Senate of Massachusetts in the mid 1880’s. In 1886, Cogswell became a Republican representative in the Federal Congress—a position to which he was reelected to until his death in 1895.2

In one of the many addresses given during the memorial to his life, the speaker attested to his strong character saying:

When heroes were needed, Mr. Cogswell could easily be found. When the tender sympathies of a woman were needed, his heart was loaded with that sweet necessity of life.

His close companions, those whom he loved, knew him to be great in God’s holiest, sweetest, and tenderest gifts, as well as great in the heart that accomplishes the grand achievements of life.

He had a soul fitted to reprove the wicked. He had an arm potential against the oppressor. He had a heart dauntless in the face of danger, ever quick to respond when duty called him to action. The tear of a suffering child, the sigh of an unfortunate woman, and the pitiful look of the debased, all found sympathy in his great soul.3

The anecdote related by Private Munroe in the letter most likely happened towards the end of 1864 after the capture of Atlanta on September 2. General Sherman had appointed Cogswell to be the post-commandant during the period immediately after the completion of the siege.4

Below are the pictures and transcript of the letter.

A “Col” who would not be outdone

At the time the 2nd Regt Mass Inf was in in camp at or near Atlanta, a Michigan Regt was brigaded with it for a while. It being a crack “regt,” a great rivalry fell out between it and the Mass 2nd, also a crack Regiment under Col. Cogswell, and the latter had the better of the competition.

One day a wave of religion struck the Michigan crowd. We had been stationed at this place some little time and the Chaplains had begun to get in their work. When Soldiers are marching or fighting they don’t seem to give religion much thought, but when in Camp for a month and the muddy current of life settles a little it is very different.

At this particular time a regular revival broke out in the Michigan Regt. The Col himself was given that way, and you could find about as many Hymn books, as decks of cards about his Hd. Qs.* and as he rather led this return to a better and brighter life many of his boys naturally fell in and followed. Cogswell’s regiment, on the other hand, was decidedly a perverse and stiffnecked generation. If there was any religion in that regiment it was a secret and none ever knew it. One day while the Michigan revival was at its heighth [sic] an Officer was talking with Cogswell about it.

“Do you know, Colonel,” he said to Cogswell, “I understand that eleven of those Michigan fellows are going to be baptized to-morrow?” “The deuce they are!” said Cogswell, & all of scorn and incredulity. He thought he saw a scheme to outdo his brave Second Mass. He determined to thwart it. That evening on dress parade he addressed his regiment. He told them of the Michigan regiment and how eleven of them were going to be baptized in the river next morning.

“Now boys,” said Cogswell, and his voice trembled, “the Second Massachusetts can’t stand this. We’ve outfought, outmarched and outdrilled these Michigan men, and can repeat all of these solemnities any day in the week. They know it, too, and so ever they try to make a mean, sneaking detour, as it were, and give us the go-by in religious matters, thinking to catch us asleep and not at home, now Boys, if I were to call for volunteers to charge a battery of siege guns, or to just march calmly out to die there would be but one response. And that would be the Sutler.  Every man but the Sutler would step forward on the instant. To save the honor of the regiment then, when it is so insidiously beset by those people from Michigan, I now call on you for an unusual sacrifice.”

“And boys,” continued Cogswell, in tones of deepest feeling, “I don’t want you at this crisis in the career of a noble regiment to whose undying fame we all have contributed our blood, to weaken or hang back. Eleven of our rival are to be baptized tomorrow morning, and I now call for 25 of my brave fellows to volunteer to also be baptized. We’ll see their 11 and go ____ 14 better.” The line hesitated a moment, and at last a soldier asked for further & fuller light. “Are you going to be ‘mersed [sic for immersed] too, Colonel?” he inquired. “I will never,” said Cogswell, “shriek from a peril to which I invite my men.

“Should the Col of the Michigan regiment attempt any trick of personal baptism, I too, will go. Should he baptize any of his Officers, officers of equal rack in the 2nd Mass will be there to uphold the honor of their Regiment.”

“As the story comes to me now, it would seem as a first play these people meditate only the baptism of eleven privates, and to it rests with you my men, to say, whether at this juncture their plot shall succeed, or whether with 25 brave volunteers for this special duty we will retain our proud prestige as the crack regiment of this Brigade; and the unmeasured Superior of this particular outfit from Michigan.”

The 25 Volunteers stepped forward, and Cogswell issued an order to the Chaplain to baptize them at the same time and place with their hated rivals.

Truly Yours,

John Munroe


1 Alonzo H. Quint, The Record of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, 1861-65 (Boston: James P. Walker, 1867), 425, 469.
2 “Address of Mr. Moody,” Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of William Cogswell (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1897), 19.
3 “Address of Mr. Henderson,” Memorial Addresses (1897), 38.
4 “Biography: William Cogswell,” American Battlefield Trust, accessed December 13, 2023, https://www.civilwar.org/learn/biographies/william-cogswell.

The USS Arizona sinks after it's bombed during the Pearl Harbor attacks in 1941.

Pearl Harbor – Orders of the Day for the USS California

The USS California (a battleship stationed in the Pacific) was one of the eight battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor. During the attack on December 7, 1941, it took three direct hits — two torpedoes and one bomb, killing over 100 crew. The California caught fire and the remainder of the crew made their way to shore before the ship sank. It was later salvaged, repaired, and returned to service during World War II before being decommissioned in 1947.

Below is the December 7, 1941 “Orders of the Day” for the USS California, from WallBuilders’ Collection. Since that day was a Sunday, the orders include notations for church services for the ship’s crew.


Sunrise: 0626                                                                                                                                         Sunset: 1720

MEDICAL GUARD: 00-09 PENNSYLVANIA                                                                               09-24 MARYLAND

GUARD SHIPS: 00-09 PENNSYLVANIA                                                                                     09-24 MARYLAND


Sunday 7, December 1941


1. Duty boats: 2 M.S.; 2 & 4 M.L.’s; 2 M.W.B.

2. Duty sections: Officers, 2: Crew, 2. Gasoline Petty Officers, a.m. JUHL, S.F. 3c.; p.m. LEHNE, S.F.3c.

3. Working division, F; Relief working division, 6-S.


0545 – Send 40′ M.L. with four hands (anchor watch) to Merry Point Naval Stores Landing to pick up ice. Wood, L.K., Sea. lc., in charge.

0600 – Send M.W.B. with signalman to ascertain ships in this sector.

0745 – Rig for church (starboard forecastle, weather permitting).

0750 – Send boat to Officers’ Club landing for Chaplain Maguire.

0830 – Chaplain’s Bible discussion class (port side Crew’s Reception Room).

0830 – Confessions (Crew’s library).

0900 – Divine Service (Catholic).

0945 – Quarters for duty section.

1000 – Divine Service (Protestant).

1700 – Supper for crew.

1930 – Movies on quarterdeck.


1. There will be another Flying Squadron dance at the Aiea Club house on Tuesday, December 9, at 2000. There are 23 tickets available. Men desiring to go register names at ship’s library immediately.

E.E. Stone.

* Handwritten Note (top right): “Dope Sheet from U.S.S. California for the day she was sunk.”