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George Washington on profanity

Betsy Ross

When it was reported to General Washington that the army was frequently indulging in swearing, he issued the following order on August 3, 1776, which also encouraged troops to attend public worship. Excerpt:

The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish, and wicked practice, of profane cursing and swearing (a Vice heretofore little known in an American Army) is growing into fashion; he hopes the officers will, by example, as well as influence, endeavour to check it, and that both they, and the men will reflect, that we can have little hopes of the blessing of Heaven on our Arms, if we insult it by our impiety, and folly; added to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation, that every man of sense, and character, detests and despises it.

Note: Before Joan of Arc led the French army in the siege of OrlĂ©ans against the British stronghold in 1428—she similarly had insisted her troops not curse and also attend mass on Sundays.