The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
Welcome Contents What's New Search this site
Visitors since 7/15/1998
Links Guest Book Contact Us
This site is eye friendly: Use your browser's view options to increase or decrease font size

So Help Me God: Did George Washington or Any Other President Say Those Words When Being Sworn in as President?

by Jim Allison

A Review of So Help Me God in Presidential Oaths

An article by Matthew Goldstein

I guess this is a full and complete article on "So help me God" at least in the eyes of Mathew Goldstein.

I have read the article and it is a decent article. I personally feel that Mike Newdow, who originally planned to write an article on the subject for publication in a law review journal or historical journal would have produced a better article. Events I am not going to go into here changed those plans.

There is one section that is kind of wishy washy. At one place, Matthew mentions that there was a lone voice claiming that Abe Lincoln has said "So help me God" one of the times when sworn in as President. He followed that up with some evidence why this claim probably wasn't factual.

Yet later on, he mentioned that maybe Lincoln did say those words. I think he should have gone with he did, or he didn't.

I did not go over this article with a fine tooth comb checking facts, etc. So I provide this link to it as it stands.

An Excerpt from Matthew Goldstein's article: So Help Me God in Presidential Oaths

George Washington's 18th century oath history
George Washington did not say shmG
No 18th and only one 19th century president appended shmG
New shmG "tradition" myth created in 20th century
Partial bibliography for preceeding
More George Washington myths and non-sequiturs


The research for this article is a collaborative effort with contributions from many individuals. At the end of November, 2004, Attorney Michael Newdow sent an e-mail to the Director of the First Federal Congress Project at George Washington University to see whether he could obtain more information about the 1789 bill to regulate the taking of an oath or affirmation as prescribed by Article six of the Constitution. Director Charlene Bickford's reply included the following comment about George Washington's first presidential oath of office recitation: "After much back and forth with the editors of the 'Papers of George Washington' [namely, Senior Editor Philander D. Chase, University of Virginia] and research in the sources [Documentary History of the First Federal Congress] that we have here, we were unable to locate any contemporary account [among the many eyewitness & newspaper accounts] that reported that he said those words." Mr. Newdow promptly passed this information to Jim Allison, a non-establishment activist. USAF LT. COL (Ret) Glen P. Goffin, Ray Soller and Matthew Goldstein also joined the research effort. This article is being written by Mathew Goldstein. [end excerpt]

In response to this preface, I commented to Mathew Goldstein

You said in that article:

"Mr. Newdow promptly passed this information to Jim Allison, a non-establishment activist. . . "

If you were going to use my name, which you didn't bother to ask my permission before hand (I had informed Mike and Ray in 2006 that I didn't want cited or my name used in connection with this project and I explained why to them), you could have at least gotten the information correct.

I am in no way, shape or form an activist. I have not been, I am not presently, nor will I ever be an activist.

What I am and what I have been recognized as by a number of sources is a historical and legal researcher and writer. Mike Newdow provided me with information he emailed me at that time because I was and still am one of his historical researchers. I was doing historical research for him in connection to several of his pending court cases. He provided that information to me so I could help him with the research into the SHMG project he was starting at that time.

I do thank you and salute you for the following which you included in that article: USAF LT. COL (Ret) Glen P. Goffin. Kindly alter it to read the late USAF LT. COL (Ret) Glen P. Goffin. Glen died in his sleep Thanksgiving night 2005.

Glen was in fact involved with us in the beginning on the research on SHMG. In the beginning there was just the three of us, Mike, Glen and myself. and that was the way it was from Feb 2005 to late 2005. However, Glen's failing health made it impossible for him to continue on with the research much beyond the end March 2005. But that doesn't alter the fact he did provide valuable information between Feb 5, 2005 and the end of March 2005. Therefore, I am glad to see you did include his name. It was the right thing to do.

I would appreciate you removing my name altogether or removing the incorrect activist comment and replacing it with the correct information: historical, legal researcher and writer. Also add the words "the late" in front of Glen's name.

Thank you.


[This request was sent to Matthew Goldstein approx Dec. 13, 2007 and to date (Jan 7, 2008) has not been acted upon

My original involvement in this project centered solely on the inaugurations of Washington. A new article will be added here in the near future that contains additional background information which Mike, Glenn and I located in Feb and March 2005 long before Ray or Matthew joined in this project and which is not included in this article.

One final item: This is touched upon in the Goldstein Article but there is a more complete article I wrote that can be found here: Congress Removed God—a Lesson in "Original Intent"

This article, which was previously published elsewhere, elicited the following commentary:

"The [pdf] attachment is a scholarly examination of the original intent of the founders about "oaths" by Jim Allison."

RubyJean Gould, Former acting President and current Secretary
Virginia Chapter Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
(March 4, 2006)

The article will be added to this web site in the near future in text form as well as pdf form.