Skip to main content

Washington At Valley Forge

March 2023
1min read

On page 101 of the Oct. ’63 issue of A MERICAN H ERITAGE you characterize as apocryphal the story of Washington praying in the woods at Valley Forge. Please inform me of reading matter that supports the view you present. I am inclined to agree with you, but I’d like to have some basis for asserting it to pupils.

The best summation of the evidence is in George Washington and Religion, by Paul F. Boiler, Jr., (Southern Methodist University Press, 1963) pp. 8–11. Boiler says that the Valley Forge story is “without foundation in fact,” despite its being the favorite, perhaps, of all those who wish to make Washington a pious figure. Its inventor was the same Parson Weems who invented the story of Washington and the cherry tree.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "April 1964"

Authored by: Francis Russell

In the summer of 1915, 1,300 blue bloods played soldier for thirty days at Plattsburg. A bully time was had by all—even though it was a far cry from the real thing

Authored by: Francis Biddle

Long before he founded his Quaker commonwealth in America, he stood up for religious freedom against the awesome power of the Crown—and put the entire English-speaking world in his debt

Authored by: Harold A. Larrabee

William Miller applied good Yankee arithmetic to biblical prophecies and convinced thousands that the hour of Christ’s Second Coming was upon them

Authored by: C. Bradford Mitchell

The nation’s waterways, once crisscrossed by countless ferries, are now bridged or tunnelled, and all but a few of the romantic old surface shuttles are, alas, sounding their final whistles and bells

Authored by: Lately Thomas

An exile from his own land, ex-Senator William Gwin dreamed of lostmines in Sonora, an Eldorado for unreconstructed Confederates, and a title in Maximilian’s Mexico

Authored by: C. Vann Woodward

The Birth of Jim Crow

Authored by: Archie Robertson

Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, both plain and fancy, the milk is yet, the schnitz-un-gnepp delights the soul, and the soup is thick enough to stand on

From a long-obscure life of Cortés, written by his own secretary, comes a narrative of the incredible splendors of Moctezuma’s Axtec capital

Featured Articles

Rarely has the full story been told about how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.