250th Anniversary of George Washington's Initiation into Freemasonry In Fredericksburg, Virginia on Nov. 4, 1752
A young man, a farmer and surveyor, not yet 21, who had been directed by his mother "in the mental, moral, and religious character of his youth as to give an exalted tone to every action of his after-life, and early in his history to fit him to pass through the Mystic Rites of Masonry," did so, having paid an entrance fee of two pounds and three shillings, "in the presence of a chosen band of Brethren in Fredericksburg Lodge." Thus, R.W. Grand Master Edgar A. Tennis (1902-1903) spoke of Bro. and President General George Washington in his "Address of Welcome," to Grand Lodge and to honored guests, Bro. and President Theodore Roosevelt and Bro. and Pennsylvania Governor William A. Stone, among many others. They were gathered for the Sesquicentennial Celebration of Bro. Washington's Initiation into Freemasonry, held in the Masonic Temple, Philadelphia, on Nov. 5, 1902.
In 1952, the 200th anniversary of the Initiation was noted with much less fanfare. R.W. Grand Master Albert T. Eyler (1952-1953) noted in his address at the Annual Grand Communication on Dec. 27, 1952: "...Masonic recognition of this supremely important event has been given. Over and over again his pre-eminent place in the Craft has been acknowledged and emphasized. This is as it should be. In loving remembrance of all he accomplished in our national life and in our Fraternity, every true Mason's heart thrills with pride that he, too, was one of us. And all through his written records we find him expressing his unbounded confidence in the brethren during the trying times of the Revolutionary War and the early years of our beloved Republic..."
Already by 1780, even before the end of the Revolution, the idea of one grand master for all of the colonies, was gaining popularity. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania held a session in January of that year, and considered "the Propriety as well as the necessity of appointing a Grand Master over all the Grand Lodges formed or to be formed in these United States...." The members elected Bro. Washington to the position. The minutes were sent to other grand lodges, but especially after Massachusetts made no determination, apparently nothing came of the proposal.
Bro. Washington, for his part, was passed to the degree of a Fellow Craft Mason on Mar. 3, 1753 in Fredericksburg Lodge and raised to the degree of a Master Mason on Aug. 4 of the same year. Later he became a member of Alexandria Lodge, presumably because it was close to Mount Vernon. In May 1788, Alexandria Lodge No. 39 under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, transferred its allegiance to the new Grand Lodge of Virginia, becoming Lodge No. 22. Bro. Washington had the unique distinction of being the last Worshipful Master of Lodge No. 39 and the first of Lodge No. 22. In 1805, the Lodge was given permission to change its name to Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 in honor of its most illustrious member.
This year, as we mark the 250th Anniversary of that "supremely important event...in loving remembrance of all he accomplished in our national life and in our Fraternity," let us ever be worthy of Bro. Washington's "unbounded confidence in the brethren during the trying times" we now face.