Chris Beneke on George Washington on Civility in Wartime

Chris Beneke has a great post over at Religion in American History. It reminds us that George Washington would not allow his troops to burn effigies of the Pope during siege of Boston in 1775.

Beneke writes:

General David Petraeus’ warning this week about the dangers posed to U.S. troops by Koran burning in the states brings to mind a notable incident in American religious history. Amid the siege of British-occupied Boston in 1775, the recently appointed commander of the Continental Army, General George Washington issued an order that must have resulted in some grumbling in the ranks. For decades, English and American Protestants had burned effigies of the Pope to celebrate the thwarting of (the Catholic) Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up Parliament on November 5, 1605. Bostonians marked the anniversary in a particularly lively way that featured fireworks, two flammable “Popes,” and one grand fistfight. But in November 1775, with Catholic support for the American war effort desperately needed, an irritated Washington ordered his soldiers to forgo their beloved Pope’s Day festivities.