Let's Learn From the Past: George Washington, Master Mason
Thursday, July 29, 2010
By Katie Cornelius, History Center intern
In 1752, George Washington joined the Freemasonry society. During the 18th century, masons adhered to liberal democratic principles such as freedom of religion, government loyalty and the necessity of charity. They also abided by the fraternal organization's secret nature and vowed not to spread word of Freemasonry's specific rituals.
On Aug. 4, 1753, Washington achieved the highest rank in the society, Master Mason. He was inducted at the age of 21 in Fredericksburg, Va.
Freemasonry remained important to Washington throughout his life. He attended military lodges during the Revolutionary War and, as president, laid the cornerstone of the Capitol using a silver Masonic trowel.
The Freemasons evolved from the rituals and practices of the stonemason's guilds in the Middle Ages. The society claims to trace its origins to King Solomon's temple in biblical times.
The first American Masonic lodge was erected in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin. The society attracted other founding fathers and presidents including James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford.
Masonic lodges can be found around the world, and it is believed that there are 2 million members of the Freemasons in the United States.
Don't miss your last chance to learn more about George Washington as part of the History Center's exhibition "Discover the Real George Washington: New Views from Mount Vernon," open through Sunday.