George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Masons of New Bern, North Carolina, 21 April 1791

To the Masons of New Bern, North Carolina

[New Bern, N.C., 21 April 1791]


I receive the cordial welcome which you are pleased to give me with sincere gratitude.1

My best ambition having ever aimed at the unbiassed approbation of my fellow-citizens, it is peculiarly pleasing to find my conduct so affectionately approved by a fraternity whose association is founded injustice and benevolence.

In reciprocating the wishes contained in your address, be persuaded that I offer a sincere prayer for your present and future happiness.

G. Washington.


1The members of St. John’s Lodge of New Bern, chartered in January 1772, resolved on 1 April to present an address “to Brother George Washington, in behalf of this Lodge, on his arriving in this town” (Sachse, Washington’s Masonic Correspondence, description begins Julius F. Sachse. Washington’s Masonic Correspondence as Found Among the Washington Papers in the Library of Congress. Philadelphia, 1915. description ends 44–45). The address, which was dated 20 April and signed by Lodge Master Isaac Guion, Senior Warden Samuel Chapman, Junior Warden William Johnston, Solomon Halling, Edward Pasteur, James Carney, and F. Lowthrop, was probably presented before a public dinner on 21 April: “Right Worshipful Sir, We the Master, Officers and Members of St John’s Lodge No. 2 of Newbern, Beg leave to hail You welcome with three times three. We approach You, not with the language of adulation, but sincere fraternal affection—your works having proved You to be ‘the true and faithful Brother, the skilful and expert Craftsman, the just and upright Man.’ But the powers of eloquence are too feeble to express with sufficient energy the cordial warmth with which our bosoms glow towards You. We therefore most ardently wish, most fervently and devoutly pray—That the Providence of the Most High, May streng[t]hen, establish and protect You, in your walk through this life; and when You shall be called off from your terrestrial labors by command of our Divine Grand Master, and your operations sealed with the Mark of his approbation, May your soul be eternally refreshed with the streams of living water which flow at the right hand of God. And when the Supreme Architect of all Worlds shall collect his most precious Jewels, as Ornaments of the Celestial Jerusalem, May You everlastingly shine among those of the brightest Lustre” (DLC:GW). The address and GW’s reply were read into the lodge minutes at its next meeting, on 29 April, and GW’s original answer was lost, probably during the Civil War when the lodge’s property was pillaged.

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