From the East
Greetings from the East,
Brothers, I hope that your Labor Day weekend holiday was grand. Taking off a few days at the end of the summer always helps me start adjusting to the transition to fall.
In the last week of August we gained another Fellowcraft brother. In total we now
have four new Fellowcraft who are on their way to the third degree. We should be
scheduling a Master Mason‘s degree by the end of the year. I hope that you will make
plans to join us.
I look forward to seeing you in the lodge.
From the West
Welcome to Fall, my favorite time of the year!
This month’s topic involves the September 1793 laying of the cornerstone in the United States Capitol by the most famous Mason of all.
In 1792, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson proposed a design competition for the Capitol and the “President’s House” (later the White House). An amateur architect named William Thornton won the contest. Surveying followed and Pierre L’Enfant, an Entered Apprentice, tasked with laying the city plan for Washington, DC, secured a lease of quarries on Wigginton Island along Aquia Creek in Virginia to extract the stone needed for construction. On September 18, 1793, President and Worshipful Brother George Washington, along with 8 other brothers in full Masonic regalia laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol Building. A newspaper published during the time reported that it was “one of the grandest Masonic processions that ever took place.” Lodges No. 9 and 22 of Virginia, with all their officers and regalia, along with the volunteer artillery, paraded to receive Washington, who under full artillery honors then proceeded with the group in full Masonic regalia to the Capitol construction site. The procession march was two abreast and the order was: the D.C surveying department, artillery, various politicians, sword bearers, Entered Apprentices, the Holy Bible on grand cushions, Deacons with office staffs, Fellowcrafts, Stewards with wands, Master Masons, Wardens with Billy clubs (called truncheons), Secretaries with the tools of office, Past Masters in past master regalia, Treasures with the jewels, the band, Virginia Lodge No. 22 holding corn, wine and oil, and then George Washington bringing up the rear. The approach of the Capitol was choreographed with the brethren forming the angle of a hollow oblong square on the
steps and the lodges’ Worshipful Masters and Washington walking first past the square. The entire party walked to the southeast corner (note the northeast corner is now the custom) and Washington standing to the east of the stone and the entire craft forming a circle westward stood solemnly, followed by an artillery blast, a short speech from Washington who then formally laid the cornerstone. Not Surprisingly, thereafter, the entire group were led to a feast of 500 pounds of oxen bar-b-cue. I guess things don’t change.
The cornerstone no longer exists but a commemorative stone was laid on the anniversary in 1932. You can still see it today as I did a few years (my picture is below) and was surprised to find it literally in a closet. Since the Capitol has greatly expanded in size since 1793, and even 1932, the location is no longer the actual cornerstone of the building.
Sincerely and Fraternally,
From the South
Greetings from the South!
Freemasons belong to one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world, a group that began during the middle ages in Europe as a guild for operative stonemasons. At that time the skilled builders (Operative Masons) were involved in the building of cathedrals, castles, and churches. Today, Masonry is involved with “accepted” or “speculative masons”. The two difficulties that historians face when attempting to define Masonry are the lack of written records, even down to the 19th century, and the misinformation by masons and
non-masons alike from the earlier years.
With the beginning of September the lodge will be busy. We have four new Fellowcrafts, and the Annual Communication will begin on September 24th where the principal officers will vote on proposed amendments to the code.
Have a great labor day holiday. Be safe out there!