WASHINGTON’S VISION: A REMARKABLE PROPHECY OVER A CENTURY OLD
The last time I ever saw Anthony Sherman was on the 4th of July, 1859, in ” Independence Square.” He was then 91 years of age, and becoming very feeble; but though so old his eyes were dim as he looked at Independence Hall, he said he had come to gaze upon it once more before he was gathered home.
“What time is it?” said he, raising his trembling eyes to the clock in the steeple, and endeavoring to shade the former with a shaking hand. “What time is it?” I can’t see so well now as I used to.”
“Come, then,” he continued, “let us go into the Hall. I want to tell you an incident of Washington’s life, one which no one alive knows of except myself, and, if you live, you will before long see it verified.- Mark me, I am not superstitious, but you will see it verified.”
Reaching the visitors’ rooms, in which the sacred relics of our early days are preserved, we sat down upon one of the old-fashioned wooden benches, and my venerable friend related to me the following narrative, which, from the peculiarity of our national affairs at the present time, I have been induced to give to the world. I give it as nearly as possible in his [Washington’s] own words:
“When the bold action of our Congress, in asserting the independent colonies, became known to the world, we were laughed at and scoffed at as silly, presumptuous rebels, whom the British grenadiers would soon tame into submission ; but undauntedly we prepared to make good what we had said. The keen encounter came, and the world knows the result. It is easy and pleasant for those of the present generation to talk and write of the days of ’76, but they little know, neither can they imagine, the trials and sufferings of those fearful days. And there is one thing that I much fear, and that is that the American people do not properly appreciate the boon of freedom. Party spirit is yearly becoming stronger and stronger, and, unless it is checked, will at no distant day undermine and tumble into ruin the noblest structure of the Republic. But let me hasten to my narrative.
“From the opening of the Revolution we experienced all phases of fortune, now good and now ill, at one time victorious, at another conquered. I think the darkest period was when Washington, after several reverses, retreated to Valley Forge, where he resolved to pass the winter of ’77. Ah! I have seen the tears coursing down our dear old commander’s careworn cheek as he would be conversing with a confidential officer about the condition of his poor soldiers. You have doubtless heard the story of Washington going to the thicket to pray. Well it is not only true, but he used to often pray in secret for aid and comfort from God, the interposition of whose Divine Providence alone brought us safely through those dark days of tribulation.
“One day, I remember it well, the chilly wind whistled and howled through the leafless trees, though the sky was cloudless and the sun shining brightly; he remained in his quarters nearly the whole of the afternoon alone. When he came out I noticed that his face was a shade paler than usual, and that there seemed to be something on his mind of more than ordinary importance. Returning just after dark, he dispatched an orderly to the quarters of the officer I mentioned, who was presently in attendance. After a preliminary conversation which lasted some half an hour, Washington, gazing upon his . companion with that strange look of dignity which he alone could command, said to the latter:
“I do not know whether it was owing to anxiety of mind or what, but this afternoon, as I was sitting at this very table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something in the apartment seemed to disturb me. Looking up, I beheld standing exactly 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, third, and fourth time did I repeat the question, but received no answer from my distinguished visitor. . I began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensation which I have sometimes imagined accompanied dissolution. I did not think, reason, or move; all were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing fixedly and 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 and forefinger easterly. I now beheld a heavy white vapor at some distance, rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated and I looked upon a strange scene. Before me lay stretched 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, look and learn! A century cometh; look and learn,” said the same mysterious voice as before.
“‘ 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 he cast some upon England with his left. Immediately a dark cloud arose from each of those countries and joined in mid-ocean. A while it remained stationary, and then moved slowly westward until it enveloped America in its murky folds. Sharp flashes of lightning now gleamed through it at intervals, and I heard the smothered groans and cries of the American people.
“‘ A second time the angel dipped from the ocean and sprinkled it out as before. The dark cloud was then drawn to the ocean, into whose heaving waves it then sank from view, and the third time I heard the mysterious voice, saying, ” Son of the Republic, look and learn.”
“‘ I cast my eye upon America, and beheld villages, towns, and cities springing up one after another until the whole land from the Atlantic to the Pacific was dotted with them.
“‘ At this the dark, shadowy angel turned his face southward, and from Africa I saw an ill-omened spectre approaching our land. It flitted slowly and heavily over every village, town, and city of the latter, the inhabitants of which presently set themselves in battle array, one against the other. As I continued looking I saw a bright angel, and on his brow rested a crown of light on which was traced the word UNION, bearing the American flag, which he placed between the different nations 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, the second peril has passed, look and learn.”
“‘ And I beheld the villages, towns, and cities of America increase in size and numbers, till at last they covered all the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and their inhabitants became as countless as the stars in heaven or as the sands upon the seashore. And again I heard the mysterious voice, ” Son of the Republic, the end of a century cometh, 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, sprinkled it out upon Europe, Asia, and Africa.
“‘ Then my eyes looked upon a fearful scene. From each of those countries arose thick, black clouds, which soon joined into one; and throughout this mass 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, which country was presently enveloped in the volume of the cloud. And I dimly saw these vast armies devastate the whole country, and pillage and burn the villages, towns, and cities, which I had beheld springing up. As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, clashing of swords, and cries of the millions in mortal combat, I again heard the mysterious voice, saying, ” Son of the Republic, look and learn.”
“‘ When the voice had ceased, the dark, shadowy angel placed his trumpet to his mouth, and blew a long and fearful blast.
“‘ Instantly a light as from a thousand suns shone down from above me, and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America. At the same moment I saw the angel, upon whose forehead still shone the word UNION, and who bore our national flag in one hand and a sword in the other, descending from heaven attended by legions of white spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America, who, taking courage again, closed up their broken ranks and renewed the battle. Again amid the fearful noise of the conflict I heard a mysterious voice, saying, “Son of the Republic, look and learn.”
“‘ As the voice ceased, the dark, shadow angel, for the last time, dipped water from the ocean, and sprinkled it on 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 villages, towns, and cities spring up where they had been before, while the bright angel, planting the azure standard He had brought in the midst of them, cried in a loud voice to the inhabitants: “While the stars remain and the heavens send down dews upon the earth, so long shall the Republic last.”
“‘And taking from his brow the crown, on which still blazed the word UNION, he placed it upon the standard, while all 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 which I at first beheld. This also disappearing, I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious visitor, who in that same mysterious voice I had heard before, said, ” Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted: These perils will come upon the Republic; the most fearful is the third, passing which the whole world united shall never be able fo prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his Land, and Union.”
“‘ With these words the figure vanished. I started from my seat, and felt that I had been shown the birth, progress, and destiny of the Republic of the United States.’
“Such, my friend,” concluded the venerable narrator, “were the words from Washington’s own lips, and America would do well to profit by them. Let her remember that in Union she has Strength, in Disunion her destruction.” — American Citizen.
“How fecund [fertile, lush, abundant] is the Supreme Author of peace and order, and how inexhaustible in wisdom and treasures of goodness. He has founded man’s ministry and happiness on the same foundation, and appointed him to speak and act, only to do good, like Himself: and he cannot do good till he begin by being made happy, or vivified by the Word.” — Saint-Martin.
Source: Historic Magazine and Notes and Queries: Volume 15