George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Masons of Georgetown, South Carolina, 30 April 1791

To the Masons of Georgetown, South Carolina

[Georgetown, S.C., 30 April 1791]


The cordial welcome which you give me to George Town, and the congratulations you are pleased to offer on my election to the chief Magistracy receive my grateful thanks.1

I am much obliged by your good wishes and reciprocate them with sincerity—assuring the fraternity of my esteem, I request them to believe that I shall always be ambitious of being considered a deserving Brother.

G. Washington.


Prince George’s Lodge, No. 16, of Georgetown, apparently the only “Modern” Lodge of Freemasons to address GW, was one of the six original lodges warranted in the colony by the Grand Lodge of England before 1756, having received its charter in 1743. In the 1730s dissenting Freemasons in Britain split from the English Grand Lodge, believing that its 1723 Book of Constitutions had introduced too many innovations, and styled themselves “Ancient” in opposition to the label “Modern” they pinned to their brethren. In 1756 Boston’s St. Andrew’s Lodge, founded in 1752, was the first “Ancient” lodge to be warranted in America, receiving its charter not from the “Modern” Grand Lodge of England, but from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, which was sympathetic to the “Ancient” movement. See 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 51; Tatsch, Freemasonry in the Thirteen Colonies, description begins J. Hugo Tatsch. Freemasonry in the Thirteen Colonies. New York, 1929. description ends 33–38, 89, 90; Bullock, Revolutionary Brotherhood, description begins Steven C. Bullock. Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730–1840. Chapel Hill, N.C., and London, 1996. description ends 85–133.

1Addressed “To Our Illustrious Brother George Washington—President of the United States,” the address, signed by Isaac White, Robert Grant, Abraham Cohen, Joseph Blyth, and James Carson, was presented to GW before a public dinner on 30 April: “At a time when all men are Emulous to Approach you to Express the lively Sensations you inspire as the father of our Country—Permit us the Bretheren of Prince George’s Lodge No. 16. to have our Share in the general Happiness in Welcoming you to Georgetown—& the pleasure of reflecting that we behold in you the Liberator of Our Country—The distributor of its equal Laws & a brother of our Antient & most honourable institution. At the same time indulge us in Congratulating you on the truly honourable and happy Situation in which you now Stand as the Grand Conductor of the Public Interest of these United States. Having by your Manly Efforts caused the beautious Light of Liberty to beam on this Western Hemisphere—and by the Wisdom Heaven has Graciously endowed you with Established the Liberties of America on the justest and firmest Basis that was ever yet Recorded on the Annals of History—you now enjoy the Supremest of all Earthly Happiness—that of Diffusing Peace liberty and Safety to Millions of your fellow Citizens. As a due reward for your Patriotic Noble and Exalted Services We fervently Pray the Grand Architect of the Universe long to bless you with Health, Stability and Power to Continue you the Grand Pillar of the Arch of Liberty in this Vast Empire which you have been so eminently Distinguished in Raising to this pitch of Perfection at which we now behold it. May the Residue of your life be Spent in ease Content & happiness and as the Great Parent of these United States may you long live to See your Children flourish under your happy Auspices and may you be finally Rewarded with Eternal Happiness. We Conclude our present Address with a fervent wish that you will continue as you have hitherto been, the friend of our Antient and Honourable Order and of all Worthy Masons” (DLC:GW).

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