George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Gillis, 28 March 1797

From James Gillis

Alex[andri]a March 28th 1797

Most respected Brother

Brothers Ramsay & Marsteller wait upon You with a Copy of an address which has been prepared by the unanimous desire of the Antient York Masons of Lodge No. 22. It is their earnest request that You will partake of a Dinner with them and that You will please appoint the time most convenient for You to attend.1 I am most beloved Brother Your most Obedt hble Servt

James Gillis. M[aster]


James Gillis (1758–1807) was a Scot who was practicing medicine in Virginia. He served as Master of the Alexandria Lodge from December 1795 to December 1797.

1The address of the Masons of Lodge 22, dated c.28 Mar., which appears in its entirety in CD-ROM:GW, includes these words: “Under the supreme architect of the Universe You have been the Master Workman in erecting the Temple of Liberty in the west, on the broad basis of equal rights—In your wise administration of the Government of the United States for the Space of eight Years, You have Kept within the Compass of our happy constitution and acted on the square with foreign Nations and thereby preserved Your Country in peace and promoted the prosperity and happyness of your fellow citizens . . .” (DLC:GW). The meeting and dinner took place in Alexandria on 1 April, when the above address was read by Gillis (Brockett, Lodge of Washington, description begins F. L. Brockett. The Lodge of Washington. A History of the Alexandria Washington Lodge, No. 22, A.F. and A.M. of Alexandria, Va., 1783-1876. Alexandria, Va., 1876. description ends 54).

GW’s reply of 1 April reads: “While my heart acknowledges with Brotherly Love, your affectionate congratulations on my retirement from the arduous toils of past years, my gratitude is no less excited by your Kind wishes for my future happiness. If it has pleased the supreme architect of the Universe to make me an humble instrument to promote the welfare and happiness of my fellow men, my exertions have been abundantly recompensed by the Kind partiality with which they have been received; and the assurance you give me of your belief that I have acted upon the square in my public Capacity, will be among my principles enjoyments in this Terrestial Lodge. G. Washington” (LB, DLC:GW; Df, DLC:GW). Dennis Ramsay (1756–1810) of Alexandria, son of GW’s friend William Ramsay (d. 1785), was an active Mason and served as a pallbearer at GW’s funeral. Philip G. Marsteller (d. 1842), the son of GW’s commission agent in Alexandria in the 1780s, Philip Marsteller (d. 1804), was a merchant in Alexandria.

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