"George Washington's Vision"
In the National Tribune, 1880, an article
appeared giving an account of the "Vision of Washington" at Valley
Forge. The account was told by a gentleman named Anthony Sherman,
who supposedly was at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78.
The story has been published several times.
This afternoon, as I was sitting at this
table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturb
me. Looking up, I beheld standing opposite me a singularly beautiful
female. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not
to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language
to inquire the cause of her presence. A second, a third and even
a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer
from my mysterious visitor except a slight raising of her eyes.
By this time I felt strange sensations
spreading through me. I would have risen but the riveted gaze
of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed
once more to address her, but my tongue had become useless, as
though it had become paralyzed.
A new influence, mysterious, potent,
irresistible, took possession of me. All I could do was to gaze
steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor. Gradually the surrounding
atmosphere seemed as if it had become filled with sensations,
and luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarefy, the mysterious
visitor herself becoming more airy and yet more distinct to my
sight than before. I now began to feel as one dying, or rather
to experience the sensations, which I have sometimes imagined
accompany dissolution. I did not think, I did not reason, I did
not move; all were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing
fixedly, vacantly at my companion.
Presently I heard a voice saying, "Son
of the Republic, look and learn," while at the same time my visitor
extended her arm eastwardly, I now beheld a heavy white vapor
at some distance rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated,
and I looked upon a stranger scene. Before me lay spread out in
one vast plain all the countries of the world - Europe, Asia,
Africa and America. I saw rolling and tossing between Europe and
America the billows of the Atlantic, and between Asia and America
lay the Pacific.
"Son of the Republic," said the same
mysterious voice as before, "look and learn." At that moment I
beheld a dark, shadowy being, like an angel, standing or rather
floating in mid-air, between Europe and America. Dipping water
out of the ocean in the hollow of each hand, he sprinkled some
upon America with his right hand, while with his left hand he
cast some on Europe. Immediately a cloud raised from these countries,
and joined in mid-ocean. For a while it remained stationary, and
then moved slowly westward, until it enveloped America in its
murky folds. Sharp flashes of lightning gleamed through it at
intervals, and I heard the smothered groans and cries of the American people.
A second time the angel dipped water
from the ocean, and sprinkled it out as before. The dark cloud
was then drawn back to the ocean, in whose heaving billows in
sank from view. A third time I heard the mysterious voice saying,
"Son of the Republic, look and learn," I cast my eyes upon America
and beheld villages and towns and cities springing up one after
another until the whole land from the Atlantic to the Pacific
was dotted with them.
Again, I heard the mysterious voice say,
"Son of the Republic, the end of the century cometh, look and
learn." At this the dark shadowy angel turned his face southward,
and from Africa I saw an ill-omened specter approach our land.
It flitted slowly over every town and city of the latter. The
inhabitants presently set themselves in battle array against each
other. As I continued looking I saw a bright angel, on whose brow
rested a crown of light, on which was traced the word "Union,"
bearing the American flag, which he placed between the divided
nation, and said, "Remember ye are brethren." Instantly, the inhabitants,
casting from them their weapons became friends once more, and
united around the National Standard.
"And again I heard the mysterious voice
saying "Son of the Republic, look and learn." At this the dark,
shadowy angel placed a trumpet to his mouth, and blew three distinct
blasts; and taking water from the ocean, he sprinkled it upon
Europe, Asia and Africa. Then my eyes beheld a fearful scene:
From each of these countries arose thick, black clouds that were
soon joined into one. Throughout this mass there gleamed a dark
red light by which I saw hordes of armed men, who, moving with
the cloud, marched by land and sailed by sea to America. Our country
was enveloped in this volume of cloud, and I saw these vast armies
devastate the whole county and burn the villages, towns and cities
that I beheld springing up. As my ears listened to the thundering
of the cannon, clashing of sword, and the shouts and cries of
millions in mortal combat, I heard again the mysterious voice
saying, "Son of the Republic, look and learn" When the voice had
ceased, the dark shadowy angel placed his trumpet once more to
his mouth, and blew a long and fearful blast. "Instantly a light
as of a thousand suns shone down from above me, and pierced and
broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America. At
the same moment the angel upon whose head still shone the word
Union, and who bore our national flag in one hand and a sword
in the other, descended from the heavens attended by legions of
white spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America,
who I perceived were will nigh overcome, but who immediately taking
courage again, closed up their broken ranks and renewed the battle.
Again, amid the fearful noise of the
conflict, I heard the mysterious voice saying, "Son of the Republic,
look and learn." As the voice ceased, the shadowy angel for the
last time dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America.
Instantly the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies
it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious!
Then once more I beheld the villages,
towns and cities springing up where I had seen them before, while
the bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in
the midst of them, cried with a loud voice: "While the stars remain,
and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the
Union last." And taking from his brow the crown on which blazoned
the word "Union," he placed it upon the Standard while the people,
kneeling down, said, "Amen."
The scene instantly began to fade and dissolve, and I at last
saw nothing but the rising, curling vapor I at first beheld. This
also disappearing, I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious
visitor, who, in the same voice I had heard before, said, "Son
of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted: Three
great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is
the third, but in this greatest conflict the whole world united
shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic
learn to live for his God, his land and the Union." With these
words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt
that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown to me the birth,
progress, and destiny of the United States.