The Duel That Never Happened: George Washington vs. William Payne (1755)

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The Duel That Never Happened: George Washington vs. William Payne (1755)
An Excellent Example Of Christian "Anger Management"

By Rev. Bill McGinnis, Pastor -
Director - Internet Church Of Christ -

The Duel That Never Happened: George Washington vs. William Payne (1755)
(When George Washington was a young man in his early twenties.)

"The following account, often published, appeared in the Alexandria Gazette August 25, 1874:"

"When Washington, in command of the Virginia Rangers was waiting at Alexandria the arrival of Braddock's forces, an exciting election contest occurred between Mr. Fairfax and Mr. Payne for the House of Hurgesses. Washington supported Fairfax with much zeal: and, high words passing between him and Payne in the market square, Payne struck Washington a blow which brought him to the earth. The troops rushed from the barracks, and would have made short work of Payne, had not Washington pacified them, assuring them that he knew the proper course to take in the premises. Duels were not then under the ban of public opinion. All supposed that a fight was imminent. Next morning, however, Washington sent for Payne, and when the latter entered the room he saw on the table, not pistols, but a decanter of wine and two glasses. 'Mr. Payne,' said Washington, 'to err is human. I was wrong yesterday, but if you have had sufficient satisfaction, let us be friends'. Weems relates that from that day Washington was Payne's idea of true manhood."

Source: "A Concise History Of The City Of Alexandria, Va., From 1669 to 1883," (page 11) by F.L. Brockett and Geo. W. Rock, as digitized by Google at

Another account of the same events . . .

"At the time Gen. Washington was stationed in Alexandria as a colonel of a British regiment, before the war of the revolution, an altercation took place in the court-house yard, between him and William Payne, in which Payne knocked Washington down. Great excitement prevailed, as Payne was known to be firm, and stood high, and Washington was beloved by all. A night's reflection, however, satisfied Washington that he was the aggressor and in the wrong, and in the morning he, like a true and magnanimous hero, sought an interview with Payne, which resulted in an apology from Washington, and a warm and lasting friendship between the two, founded on mutual esteem. "

Source: "Historical Sketches Of Kentucky," (page 443) by Lewis Collins as digitized by Google at

COMMENT: William Payne threw the first punch, thereby escalating a mere verbal argument into a dangerous physical attack. Thus Payne was in the wrong, and guilty of assault on Washington. But Washington -- following the teachings of Jesus -- did not seek retaliation of any kind, but instead sought to establish friendship, which he did. And when Washington died more than forty years later, Payne was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral. This is an excellent example of Christian "anger management."

Please also see our website about George Washington at =>

May the Lord bless this presentation.

     Rev. Bill McGinnis  <><

Blessings to you in Jesus Christ our Lord.

          Rev. Bill McGinnis

               Pastor -      
               Director -
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