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Friday, April 24, 2015
Theodore Roosevelt Masonic Birthday
On today's date in 1901 Theodore Roosevelt received his Third Degree and was made a Master Mason.
This is the petition that Brother T. Roosevelt completed to join his home town lodge Matinecock #806 in New York.The year is 1901.This was just weeks before President McKinley was assassinated. Here are some quotes from T.R. himself and some people close to him:
"One of the things that attracted me so greatly to Masonry that I hailed the chance of becoming a Mason, was that it really did act up to what we, as a government and as a people, are pledged to—namely, to treat each man on his merits as a man. When Brother George Washington went into a lodge of the fraternity he went into the one place in the United States where he stood below or above his fellows according to their official position in the lodge. He went into the place where the idea of our government was realized, as far as it is humanly possible for mankind to realize lofty ideal. I know that you will not only understand me, but sympathize with me, when I say that, great though my pleasure is in being here as your guest in this beautiful temple, and in meeting such a body of men as that I am now addressing, I think my pleasure is even greater when going into some little lodge where I meet the plain, hard-working men—the men who work with their hands—and meet them on a footing of genuine equality, not false equality—of genuine equality conditioned upon each man being a decent man, a fair-dealing man.” Roosevelt said at a later date: “Masonry should make, and must make, each man who conscientiously and understandingly takes its obligations, a fine type of American citizen, because Masonry teaches him his obligations to his fellows in practical fashion."
“If we could get wage-workers and employers in any given occupation or in any given district in a lodge together, I would guarantee the result . . . and I would guarantee it, because if that thing happened we would come into the lodge, all of us, each wanting to do what was good for his brother; each recognizing that in our government every man of us has to be his brother’s keeper; not recognizing it in any spirit of foolish emotionalism; not under the impression that you can benefit your brother by some act of weak, yielding complacency that will be a curse to him (and of course to you). That is not the way to benefit him."
"Masonry teaches us in this direction, and makes us care for the brethren that stumble and fall, and for the wives and little ones of those who are beaten down in the harsh battle of life."
“Masonry teaches and fosters in the man the qualities of self-respect and self-help— the qualities that make a man fit to stand by himself—and yet it must foster in every one who appreciates it as it should be appreciated the beautiful and solemn ritual— it must foster in him a genuine feeling for the rights of others and for the feelings of others; and Masons who help one another help in a way that is free from that curse of help, patronizing condescension."
“You take a lodge, where, as in the case in our own little lodge, you see the capitalist and wage-worker, men of all classes, men of every kind of social position and wealth, and see them meeting together with the feeling for one another that should always go with Masonry; when one sees a lodge such as that, a meeting such as that, one sees how a certain small fragment of our industrial problem is being solved."
“It is not possible to have the ideal that I would like to have; to have, as I said, all of the best of all classes and creeds represented in Masonry in every district; but it is possible for each of us to go out into the world trying to apply in his dealings with his fellows the lessons of Masonry as they are taught in the lodge, and as they are applied in the brotherhood.”
Such was the Roosevelt theory of Masonry enunciated only a few months after he was made a Mason. It was the theory which he held to until he died. In one of his last interviews quoted in the July, 1919, Mc-Clure’s Magazine he said:
“I violate no secret when I say that one of the greatest values in Masonry is that it affords an opportunity for men in all walks of life to meet on common ground, where all men are equal and have one common interest.”
At a stirring speech made before the Grand Lodge of New York in 1917, Roosevelt took the opportunity to advocate a large army to wipe out European tyranny. He personally wanted to lead such an army, a desire never realized.
James Amos, Roosevelt’s butler and private valet, made the following statement of his master:
“He was not much of a joiner. Of course, as President, he was elected to all sorts of organizations. But I think the only one he ever joined of his own volition was the Matinecock Lodge of Masons at Oyster Bay. And I am sure he did this largely because his gardener, Seaman, was the Master of the lodge. He used to go to the meetings occasionally. He enjoyed going there as a simple member while his own gardener sat in the seat of authority and presided and called him ‘Brother Roosevelt’.”
T.R. or he liked to be called Colonel was a real Mason.He went thru all three degrees and attended his home lodge often as he could.When T.R. proved up the lodge was packed and overflow of his fellow Masons standing on the front lawn.I was told that T.R. was the only candidate and he proved up perfectly. He visited lodges across the Globe.
He laid the Corner Stone and here is a cute story about that:
“The President of the United States, Brother Theodore Roosevelt, accompanied by his secretary and personal escort, arrived, his coming being signaled by ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ by the Marine Band. He was invested with an apron by the Grand Master, and at that moment a gust of wind lifted the presidential coat-tails revealing a healthy pistol on each hip. He was always prepared.”
Happy Masonic Birthday Brother Theodore.
Many Thanks to the Grand Lodge of North Dakota for providing information from their Masonic Grand Lodge Bulletin March 1958.