Masonic Monday – George Washington

George Washington

Welcome to a new series called Masonic Monday, in which I’ll highlight the lives of some notable Masons. It is only fitting to begin with the “Father of Masonry in America,” our first President, George Washington.

Since Washington’s time as leader of the Continental Army and President are well-known, we’ll skip that part and look at a few lesser-known facts about him.
1. Washington loved dogs. He always kept some, and spent time with them every day. Some of his dogs’ names include Truelove, Sweet Lips, Ragman, and Madame Moose. Can you imagine the dignified General/President calling “Here, Sweet Lips!”? Sounds more like Hawkeye on M*A*S*H.
2. Washington inherited slaves when 11 years old, and kept slaves the rest of his life. His views on slavery evolved through the years, however (especially during the Revolution) and he freed them in his will when he died.
3. At age 14, Washington considered joining the Royal Navy. Luckily for us, his mother refused to give her permission, which was required at that age. Ironically, it was Washington who later created the U.S. Navy, by signing the Naval Act of 1794.
4. Did Washington ever chop down a cherry tree? Well, maybe at some point in his life, but the story about the cherry tree and “cannot tell a lie” is itself a fabrication. So is the story about throwing a silver dollar across the Potomac.
5. Washington’s first occupation was as a surveyor in Virginia, at age 17.
6. At age 20, Washington was initiated as an Entered Apprentice (Freemason) at Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia on November 4, 1752. He was passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft on March 3, 1753, and raised a Master Mason on August 4, 1753. He was later made an honorary member of Alexandria Lodge No. 39 (now Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22) and Holland Lodge No. 8, New York, NY. Washington later served at least 2 terms as Master of the Lodge, and he remained a Freemason in good standing his entire life.

The minutes of the meeting at which Washington was raised a Master Mason.

7. Washington did wear dentures, but they were not made of wood. Instead, various sets were made of assortments of ivory, bone, metal, and human teeth (including some of his own, saved for that purpose).
8. Washington did not like to have his portrait painted. He called it “irksome” and a waste of time, and would only do so when requested by a group with a “particular purpose,” so that artists or others could not “use” his image – either for money, or in promotion or opposition of political or other ideas.*
9. Nevertheless, Washington agreed when his Masonic Lodge requested that he sit for a portrait in his Master’s regalia. This portrait was painted in 1794 by William Williams, and was presented to the Lodge in October of that year.

William Williams’ portrait of Washington in his Master’s regalia.

10. June 24 of many years saw Washington celebrating St. John the Baptist’s Day with one Masonic Lodge or another, and December 27 of many years found him in a Lodge celebrating St. John the Evangelist’s Day.
11. Washington was elected President of the United States unanimously both times – the only President to ever be unanimously elected. He took his oath of office on the Bible from St. John’s Lodge No. 1.
*Quotes from letter written by Washington to Henry Lee, Governor of Virginia, dated July 3, 1792. May be seen in the George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. […] George Washington, the 1st president: I posted some fun facts about him previously. Washington was initiated as an Entered Apprentice Freemason at Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in […]

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  2. […] How will you celebrate the 4th of July? That is, of course, Independence Day, when our forefathers, led by George Washington, declared these United States to be free and independent. We’ve talked before about George Washington. […]

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