The Eye Witness Testimony of Isaac Potts

This story is well documented in the historical records. Isaac Potts, 26 years old, was a resident of Valley Forge, and as a Quaker was opposed to the war. He supervised the grinding of the grain which George Washington ordered the neighboring farmers to bring to his army. The fullest account of Potts' testimony is in the "Diary and Remembrances" of Rev. Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, a Presbyterian minister and a Princeton graduate (Original Manuscript at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Call no. PHi.Am.1561-1568).

"I was riding with him (Mr. Potts) near Valley Forge, where the army lay during the war of the Revolution. Mr. Potts was a Senator in our state and a Whig. I told him I was agreeably surprised to find him a friend to his country as the Quakers were mostly Tories. He said, "It was so and I was a rank Tory once, for I never believed that America could proceed against Great Britain whose fleets and armies covered the land and ocean. But something very extraordinary converted me to the good faith."

"What was that?" I inquired. "Do you see that woods, and that plain?" It was about a quarter of a mile from the place we were riding. "There," said he, "laid the army of Washington. It was a most distressing time of ye war, and all were for giving up the ship but that one good man. In that woods," pointing to a close in view, "I heard a plaintive sound, as of a man at prayer. I tied my horse to a sapling and went quietly into the woods and to my astonishment I saw the great George Washington on his knees alone, with his sword on one side and his cocked hat on the other. He was at Prayer to the God of the Armies, beseeching to interpose with his Divine aid, as it was ye Crisis and the cause of the country, of humanity, and of the world.

"Such a prayer I never heard from the lips of man. I left him alone praying. I went home and told my wife, 'I saw a sight and heard today what I never saw or heard before', and just related to her what I had seen and heard and observed. We never thought a man could be a soldier and a Christian, but if there is one in the world, it is Washington. We thought it was the cause of God, and America could prevail."

. . . . . . . . . . . .

George Washington was not known as a great public speaker, but as he was about to make a speech at the end of the war, he remembered a slip of paper in his pocket and he pulled out his glasses. The crowd went silent when he put his spectacles on as he said, "I see that you notice that I wear glasses. Well, it was to be.  I've not only grown old and gray, I've become almost blind in the service of my country." And with that simple, unrehearsed, spontaneous statement, everyone was moved to tears as they had been reminded of who this man was and what he had done for our country.

The respect for Washington was so great that the first proposal for his new title, recommended by John Adams, was, "His Glorious Highness, The President of the United States and Glorious Protector of Our Liberties." Congressman William McClay from Pennsylvania basically said, "What's with Adams? Doesn't he understand what we fought this thing for? It's to get rid of all of that stuff." But this story illustrates the high regard congress had for Washington.

 

Isaac Potts witnessing
George Washington's Prayer

 


Isaac Potts House
Was also George Washington's
Headquarters