George Washington. "So Help Me God," and Kissing the Bible

Frederick B. Jonassen, a law professor at Barry University, has an informative piece at the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal on the inauguration of George Washington.  Jonassen argues that George Washington did not add “so help me God” to the oath of office at the first presidential inauguration on April 30, 1789, but he did pause to kiss the Bible during the same ceremony.  If this stuff is important to you, Jonassen’s article is worth a read, or at least a skim.

HT: American Creation

2 thoughts on “George Washington. "So Help Me God," and Kissing the Bible

  1. Jonassen's law journal article definitely deserves a look, if only because Jonassen refers to me in footnote 78.

    Yale law professor Akil Amar covers much of the same material in one section of his new book, America's Unwritten Constitution; The Precedents and Principles We Live By, but in a super-condensed and sometimes misleading manner. A simple example is where Amar says, “revisionists have recently challenged the traditional view that Washington solemnly uttered the phrase 'so help me God' at his first inauguration,” whereas, in contrast, Jonnasen says, “Among those [authors of So Help Me God in Presidential Oaths that are] mentioned as contributors are Michael Newdow, Glen P. Goffin, Ray Soller, and Matthew Goldstein. … The succeeding pages demonstrate the debt that I owe to the research found here, which is painstaking, meticulous, and thorough.”


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