George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Masons of King David’s Lodge, Newport, Rhode Island, 18 August 1790

To the Masons of King David’s Lodge, Newport, Rhode Island

[Newport, R.I., 18 August 1790]


I receive the welcome which you give me to Rhode-Island with pleasure—and I acknowledge my obligations for the flattering expressions of regard contained in your address1 with grateful sincerity.

Being persuaded that a just application of the principles, on which the masonic fraternity is founded, must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interests of the Society, and to be considered by them a deserving Brother.2

My best wishes, Gentlemen, are offered for your individual happiness.

Go: Washington


When Newport’s first regularly constituted Masonic lodge, that of St. John’s, was organized in the late 1740s, Moses Seixas and thirteen other Jews were among its members. The town’s second lodge, King David’s, was altogether of Jewish origin. Moses Michael Hays organized it in New York in 1769 and removed it to Newport in 1780 (see Samuel Brenton to GW, 21 Jan. 1785, n.1).

1A 17 Aug. 1790 evening meeting of King David’s Lodge accepted a proposal to prepare a public address to GW, and appointed a committee of three for that purpose. The address, which was signed by Moses Seixas, the Worshipful Master of King David’s Lodge, Henry Sherburne, and secretary William Littlefield and dated 17 Aug. 1790, was probably presented to the president by Seixas the next morning (Julius F. Sachse, Washington’s Masonic Correspondence [Philadelphia, 1915], 37–38).

The address reads: “We the Master, Wardens, and Brethren, of King Davids Lodge, in Newport, Rhode Island with Joyful hearts embrace this Opportunity, to greet you as a Brother and to hail you welcome to Rhode Island. We exult in the thought that as Masonry has always been patronised by the wise, the good, and the great; so hath it stood and ever will stand as its fixtures are on the immutable pillars of faith, hope, and Charity.

“With unspeakable pleasure we Gratulate you as filling the Presidential Chair with the applause of a numerous and enlightened people, whilst, at the same time, we felicitate ourselves in the honour done the Brotherhood by your many exemplary Virtues and emanations of Goodness proceeding from a heart worthy of possessing the Antient Mysteries of our craft; being persuaded that the wisdom and Grace with which heaven has endowed you, will ever square all your thoughts, words, and actions by the eternal Laws of honour, equity, and truth, so as to promote the advancement of all good works; your own happiness, and that of mankind.

“Permit us then Illustrious Brother cordially to Salute you with Three times Three and to add your fervent supplications that the Sovereign Architect of the Universe may always encompass you with his holy protection” (DLC:GW).

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