Eric Sloane

Dateline: 29 January 2014

Painting by Eric Slaone

“No people,” said George Washington, “can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of these United States.” [In Washington's] time, everyone attended services every Sunday and the church was the center of each village. Conducting business on the Sabbath was punishable; toll bridges were free; it was the custom to walk to church if possible rather than upset the decorum of the day with horses and carriages. Generally speaking, church-going in America has decreased from ninety percent to someting less than ten percent.

The critics of early American life contend there was too much religion in those Puritan days. Even when you learned your alphabet, the illustrations were all Biblical (A for Adam, B for Bible, C for Christ, and so on). But we should remember that there were no school-books then, and the always present Bible became the major (and often only) textbook. There were no professional teachers, so the preacher of Sunday became schoolteacher all the restof the week. Without the church there would have been no early American schools.

The church in Washington’s time was the main support in American life: today it is more an embellishment. The churchgoer of yesterday sought main support from the church but the churchgoer today merely embellishes his life with his occasional attendance.

Just as religion once tied together the family and surrounded the whole American community, the nation and its government was likewise fathered by the profound belief in God.... It was the conviction of the founding fathers, and the frequent words of George Washington, that “to attempt government without God is impossible.” 

Like it or not, accept it or not, the Bible was once the main source of America’s identity.

—Eric Sloane, 
From, The Spirits of '76  (1976)


Everett Island Voice said...

Hi Herrick, in one of your posts back in December you talked about Eric Sloane andI was impressed enough to order 7 of his books from Amazon. His 'A reverence for wood" is just fantastic. The seasons of America Past is another great one as it made me recall how my father and Granddad still did things by the phases of the moon. SInce reading the book I have begun to pay attention to the phases as I did when I was a kid.It is really sad what we have lost and will never recover unless things go totally over the edge and we are forced by circumstance to go back to our roots. I, and two of my boys would be totally okay with that and would in all probability thrive in that atmosphere! Great series!!

Everett/Island Voice said...

OBTW I chose this way of signing in 'cause I can never remember my Google password!

Herrick Kimball said...


Eric Sloane books are great winter reading. A Reverence for Wood was one of the first of his books that I read.

wolfbay said...

We have a reverence for wood. Great book. My wife's ancestor was a Quaker put to death by being buried with stones by the Puritan theocracy. Longing for a Theocracy might not be a good idea. I don't want government telling me what to believe.