A PUZZLEMENT

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by rsr, Sep 8, 2003.

  1. rsr

    rsr
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    I've been meaning to ask about this for a while.

    Gano Chapel at William Jewell College has a painting showing George Washington being baptized by John Gano, a Baptist pastor who was serving as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War.

    There are several versions; the most cogent is probably by Charles Koller:

    There are some other garbled versions, some of which say the painting depicts a baptism in the Potomac.

    THE IRON PEN

    This is appears to be incorrect; Gano was a chaplain for New Yorkers and the time referenced would make the baptism, if it happened, as occurring in the Hudson.

    But does anyone know the original source? I have not been able to find the story corrobrated by Gano or his descendants; the best I can find is a reference that attributes the story to Washington's "landlord" while he was a Newburg.

    Thomas Armitage spends a good deal of time with Gano in his A History of the Baptists, but doesn't mention the story.

    Is there any provenance for this account?
     
  2. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn
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    J. M. Holliday, in his The Baptist Heritage, also gives this account which goes back to Koller. Only difference is that it was evidently published previously in February, 1946 in The Northern (probably a publication of the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago). If that paper could be found (assuming it is the first time Koller published the article), perhaps it would give some source.
     
  3. rsr

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    I've also found a reference to the February 14, 1946, edition of the Texas Baptist Standard. Circumstantial evidence would be that the Standard was commenting on a recently published work.

    I still haven't found the original, though. Thanks for the help.
     
  4. J.R. Graves

    J.R. Graves
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    Dear rsr,

    Glad to see you are reading the LSB e-mails. I do not know a great deal more about this story other than what you already know. I do know that Ben Bogard and Bobby Sparks wrote a book entitled "President George Washington - A Baptist". This book was published by Bogard Press (The publishing arm of the American Baptist Association), but is now out of print. I have not yet read it. Also the Particular Baptist Press (http://www.pbpress.org/) recently published Volume 1 of the "Life and Ministry of John Gano". Volume 2 is to be published in the future and will continue some information on this story.

    I have also heard a Baptist preacher who visited First Baptist Church of New York City say that this painting of John Gano baptizing George Washington hangs in their historical room.
     
  5. rsr

    rsr
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    Well, this is a puzzlement. Are there multiple copies of the painting?
     
  6. rsr

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    An update:

    I have come across yet another version of the story, itself even less credible.

    Franklin Steiner, 1936

    Still looking. I am trying to find an e-mail address for the First Baptist Church of New York City and have failed so far.
     
  7. Mark Osgatharp

    Mark Osgatharp
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    Our church history teacher in Seminary made a very astute observation about this question: if Washington was ever a Baptist he wasn't a very good one because no one knows for sure whether he was or not.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  8. rsr

    rsr
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    I tend to agree. So why does this story keep showing up?
     

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