On September 18, 1793, President George Washington dedicated the United States Capitol. Dressed in Masonic apron, the president placed a silver plate upon the cornerstone and covered it with the Masonic symbols of corn, oil and wine. After a prayer, the brethren performed “chanting honors.” Volleys of artillery punctuated the address that followed. Like the entire ceremony, the silver plate identified Freemasonry with the Republic; it was laid, “in the thirteenth year of American independence . . . and in the year of Masonry, 5793.”

If, as Thomas Jefferson argued, the Capitol represented “the first temple dedicated to the sovereignty of the people,” then the brothers of the 1793 ceremony served as its first high priests. Clothed in ritual vestments, Washington and his brothers consecrated the building by the literal baptism of corn, oil and wine—symbols of nourishment, refreshment and joy, or, as some versions interpreted them, Masonry, science and virtue, and universal benevolence. In exemplifying the goals of a free and prosperous society, Masons mediated between the sacred values of the community and the everyday world of stones and mortar.

The fraternity’s position on Capitol Hill, one of the many such consecration ceremonies over the next generation, provided a powerful symbol of Masonry’s new place in post-Revolutionary America. No longer an expression of the honor and solidarity of a particular social class, the fraternity increasingly identified itself with the ideals of the nation as a whole. The order, brothers argued, represented, taught and spread virtue, learning and religion. Masons thus did more than lay the Republic’s physical cornerstones; they also helped form the symbolic foundation of what the Great Seal called “the new order for the ages.” — Steven C. Bullock, from Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840


Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1830-1840

Steven C. Bullock

A gung-ho look at Freemasonry through the eyes of a clearly right-wing Mason. Complete historical overview of the Freemasons from Revolutionary times to the Wild West, showing how our country was created by the Masonic Order, and influenced by the rites and passages of the Masons’ rituals as well as the secret symbolism of the Freemasons. TD

Publisher: University of North Carolina
Paperback: 421 pages

Robert Fludd and Freemasonry: Being the Rosicrucian and Masonic Connection

A.E. Waite

“Waite seeks to show the connection of the Rosicrucian stream of initiation and its relationship to mystic Freemasonry and the liaison between them, Robert Fludd.”

Publisher: Holmes
Paperback: 28 pages

Strange Masonic Stories

Alec Mellor

“This book is not a history of Freemasonry. It is not even a historical account of certain Masonic events. It is a collection of short stories that are products of the author’s imagination, though each one is founded on Masonic fact.”

Publisher: Macoy
Paperback: 208 pages