Volume LVMay 2008Number 2

Masonic National Treasures
(in addition to our own Masonic Temple)

The movie "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" indicates "Masons built clues into everything." While that statement was meant to build excitement and intrigue, below are some edifices with authentic Masonic heritage, as well as the story behind an infamous non-Masonic symbol:
  • The idea for the Statue of Liberty was born amongst a group of French Masons, including Oscar and Edmond de Lafayette, grandsons of the Marquis de Lafayette (a friend of Bro. and President George Washington); Henri Martin, a noted historian; and Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a member of Lodge Alsace Lorraine. The Grand Lodge of New York was asked to perform a cornerstone ceremony, as had been a tradition in America with major public and private buildings and monuments since President Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in 1793. The ceremony was held on Aug. 5, 1884, and among the items placed in the copper box within the cornerstone are: a copy of the U.S. Constitution; George Washington's Farewell Address; 20 bronze medals of each president through Chester Arthur, seven of whom were Masons; copies of New York City newspapers; a portrait of Bartholdi; a poem on Liberty by E.R. Johnes; and a list on parchment of the Grand Lodge officers. During his speech, then-M.W. Grand Master Frank R. Lawrence said, "No institution has done more to promote liberty and to free men from the trammels and chains of ignorance and tyranny than has Freemasonry." (based on "Masonry and the Statue of Liberty," by Grand Lodge of New York M.W.P.G.M. Robert C. Singer, published on http://www.masonicworld.com/education/).
Other Masonic cornerstone layings include the White House, Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Smithsonian Institute and the Department of Labor Building.
  • Mount Rushmore National Monument was the work of Bro. John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, Howard Lodge No. 35 of New York, N.Y. He was behind the selection of the four presidents, which includes two Masons: Bro. George Washington and Bro. Theodore Roosevelt. He began the project in 1927 and, after his death in 1941, the carvings were completed by his son, Bro. Lincoln Borglum, Battle River Lodge No. 92, Hermosa, S.D. The project required the labor of 400 men.
  • The George Washington Masonic National Memorial, located in Alexandria, Va., is the only Masonic building maintained by the 51 U.S. Grand Lodges. It houses President George Washington's Watson-Cassoul Apron, Sash, Past Master portrait, Working Tools and Trowel used in the laying of the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol.
  • The Great Seal of the United States - the eye above the pyramid, as found on the dollar bill, is not a Masonic symbol, despite the references made in "National Treasure." Bro. Benjamin Franklin was on the original design committee, however none of the final designers were Masons. The all-seeing eye is a symbol that dates back to Ancient Egypt. According to a Masonic Service Association of North America article by Dr. S. Brent Morris, P.M., Patmos Lodge No. 70, Ellicott City, Md., the eye in the pyramid "represents an active intervention of God in the affairs of men, while the Masonic symbol stands for a passive awareness by God of the activities of men." A pyramid has never been a Masonic symbol. Conspiracy theorists connect the Masons to the U.S. dollar, insinuating Masons' attempts to control wealth.

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