Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Presidents Day

Washington's Birthday is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February in honor the life and work of George Washington, the first President of the United States. It is also commonly known as Presidents Day to honor the office of President.

This federal holiday honoring George Washington was originally implemented by an Act of Congress in 1879 for government offices in the District of Columbia and later expanded, in 1885, to include all federal offices. As the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen, the holiday was celebrated on Washington's actual birthday, February 22, but on January 1, 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

This holiday was widely called "Washington's Birthday" and it wasn't until around the 1980's that it was publicly advertised and referred to as "Presidents Day".

Fourteen of our Presidents have been Master Masons (some went on to appendant bodies), but we had some who were either members of DeMolay or who never advanced all the way to Master Mason.  The Master Masons are as follows:
George Washington (1st President): Initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on Nov. 4, 1752, passed to the degree of Fellow-Craft on Mar. 3, 1753, and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on Aug. 4, 1753, in Fredericksburg Lodge (later No. 4), Virginia. He was named Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge #22, in  Alexandria, VA, April 28, 1788, and reelected Dec. 20, 1788, but there is no evidence he was ever installed or presided over any Masonic meeting.

James Monroe (5th President): Initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on Nov. 9, 1775, in Williamsburg Lodge #6 at Williamsburg, VA., but there is no record of his taking any further degrees. The records of Cumberland Lodge #8 in Tennessee, June 8, 1819, show a reception for Monroe as "a Brother of the Craft." It is possible that he was Raised as a Master Mason in 1776.

Andrew Jackson (7th President): He was possibly Raised in 1800. His lodge is un-known but he is said to have attended at Clover Bottom Lodge under the Grand Lodge of Kentucky. He was present in lodge at Greeneville in 1801 and acted as Senior Warden pro-tem. The records of St. Tammany Lodge #29 at Nashville, which became Harmony Lodge #1 under the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, show that Jackson was a member. He was very active in Freemasonry and served as Grand Master of Tennessee from 1822 to 1823.

James Polk (11th President): He was Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Columbia Lodge #31, Columbia, Tenn., 1820; and exalted a Royal Arch Mason in La Fayette Chapter #4 at Columbia in 1825.

James A. Buchanan (15th President): Initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on Dec. 11, 1816, in Lancaster Lodge #43, at Lancaster, PA. He was Passed and Raised in 1817, Junior Warden of his Lodge between 1821-1822, Master of the Lodge in 1825, exalted in Royal Arch Chapter # 43, in 1826, and Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

Andrew Johnson (17th President): He was Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Greeneville Lodge No. 119 now #3 at Greeneville, Tenn. in 1851. He was probably a member of Greeneville Chapter #82, Royal Arch Masons, since he joined Nashville Commandery of Knights Templar #1 in 1859. He received the Scottish Rite degrees in the White House in 1867.

James Garfield (20th President): Initiated and Passed in Magnolia Lodge #20, Columbus, Ohio, and Raised to a Master Mason in Columbus Lodge #3O in 1864. He affiliated with Garrettsville Lodge #246 in 1866 as well as with Pentalpha Lodge #23 in Washington, D. C. as charter member in 1869. He was exalted in Columbus Royal Arch Chapter 1866, and Knight Templar 1866. He also received up through the 14° Degree Scottish Rite 1872.

William McKinley (25th President): He is said to have been Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Hiram Lodge #10 in Winchester, West Virginia, in 1865, but William Moseley Brown is authority for the statement that this event took place in Hiram Lodge #21 at Winchester, Virginia in that year. McKinley affiliated with Canton Lodge #60 at Canton, Ohio in 1867 and later became a charter member of Eagle Lodge #43. He received the Capitular degrees in Canton in 1883 and was made a Knight Templar in 1884.

Theodore Roosevelt (26th President): He was Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Matinecock Lodge #806, Oyster Bay, NY in 1901.

William H. Taft (27th President): He was Initiated an Entered Apprentice on Feb. 18, 1909. He was made a Master Mason by the act of "Mason at Sight" in Kilwinning Lodge #356, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1901. Evidently, that made him a member at large, for the Grand Lodge issued him a demit and he became a member of that lodge.

Warren G. Harding (29th President): He was Initiated in Lodge #70, Marion, Ohio, Jun 28, 1901. He received no other degree until after becoming U.S. President where he was Passed and Raised in Marion Lodge #70 in 1920; the Master Mason degree occurring on Aug. 27, 1920. He was received the Royal Arch degrees in Marion Chapter #62 in 1921; Knight Templar in Marion Commandery #36, in 1921, Scottish Rite (33°)and Shrine in 1921.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd President): He was Initiated, Passed, and Raised in Holland Lodge #8, New York City, in 1911. He received the degrees of the Scottish Rite in Albany Consistory 1929, the Shrine in 1930.

Harry S. Truman (33rd President): He was Initiated on Feb. 9, 1909, in Belton Lodge #450, Grandview, Missouri, and, later in that year, he was Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason. In 1911, Truman was the 1st WM of the new Grandview Lodge #618. He served as Grand Master of Missouri between 1940-1941. He served as Worshipful Master of Missouri Lodge of Research while U.S. President, as well as Masonic Ritualist, District Lecturer, and Deputy Grand Master for several years, buried with Masonic rites in Independence, MO, in televised ceremony. He also received the degrees of the Scottish Rite, eventually getting consecrated as a 33° Scottish Rite Mason.

Gerald Ford (38th President): Initiated an Entered Apprentice on Sep. 30, 1949, in Malta Lodge #465, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Passed and Raised as a courtesy in Columbia Lodge #3, Washington, D.C., Apr. 20 &  May 18, 1951 respectively. He also received the degrees of the Scottish Rite.
 Thanks to Bessel who is a treasure trove of Masonic information.

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