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Famous Men and Masons

From the end of World War I to the end of World War II Freemasonry was through no fault of its own drawn into the most public centers of European conflict, and had the misfortune to become, when war was loosed, one of the casus belli; as when one of Hitler's announced reasons for opposing Czechoslovakia was that President Benes was a Freemason; and when, later, Ptain tried over the radio to justify himself as against Daladier on the ground that Daladier was a Mason (see on this latter Pierre van Passen's great book, Days of Our Years; van Passen himself belonged to the Grand Orient of Franee). In consequence of these new world developments the question as to who is and is not a Mason has become more than one of idle curiosity; has indeed become almost a specialty, and apparently has established itself as a regular department in Masonic periodicals and books.

A roster of public men and of men of eminent fame in the arts and sciences of Europe, Britain, and this Continent would fill this whole volume; those here given are selected to show from how many quarters of the compass Masons come; and how Freemasonry appeals to nothing in a man except that he is a man; and that like St. John's New Jerusalem in the skies it opens its gates North, South, East, and West.

In an address to the Duke of Kent, Grand Master of England, April 30, 1941, the Pro Grand Master quoted "words used by the Prime Minister [himself a Freemason] the last time when he broadcast to the nation." (Churchill.) Irving Bacheller, author of Eben Holden, was made a Mason in Kane Lodge, No. 454, December 5, 1899. The Rev. S. Parkes Cadman was raised in Shekomenko Lodge, No. 458, Pleasant Valley, N.Y., June 18, 1892; and from 1909 was a Grand Chaplain, Grand Lodge of New York, until his death, July 12, 1936. Sir Walter Besant, famous for the books he wrote, notably the great series of volumes on the history of London, was made a Mason in Mauritius in 1862; it was Besant who first conceived the idea of forming the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, and suggested it to W. R. Rylands, who started the movement.

Luther Burbank was made a Mason in Santa Rosa Lodge, Calif., August 31, 1921. His great forerunner, Charles Darwin, was not, it is believed, himself a Mason but most of the men in his family were, including his almost equally famous grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin. Rear Admiral Byrd is a member of Kane Lodge, No. 454, New York City; in 1930 the Lodge presented him with its Explorer Medal; he in return presented the Lodge with the U.S. flag he had carried over the South Pole.

William Jennings Bryan was made a Mason in Masonic Lodge, No. 19, Lincoln, Neb., April 15, 1902; he later affiliated with Temple Lodge, No. 247, Miami Fla. Irving Berlin, America's most popular composer, is a Mason; in the New York Masonic Outlook, page 11, September, 1930, he expressed a love and admiration for the Craft.

H. P. H. Bromwell, Colorado's most famous Mason, author of Restoration of Masonic Symbolry, a work of prodigious erudition, was made a Mason in Temperance Lodge, No. 16, Vandalia, Ill., in 1854. Edward Gibbon, historian, was a member of Lodge of Friendship, No. 3, a very old Lodge of which an excellent history has been published, in London; his Grand Lodge Certificate was dated December 19, 1774. Clarence Boutelle, it will satisfy many inquirers to know, author of Man of Mount Moriah, was made a Mason in Rochester Lodge, No. 21, 1885; and was a contributor to Masonic periodicals.

The author of The Last Days of Pompeii, Lord Bulwer-Lytton, w as a Mason, a Rosicrucian, and wrote the poem, "The world may rail at Masonry." Davy Crockett was a Mason the Texas Grand Lodge Magazine published a photograph of his R.A. Apron but his affiliation remains unknown. Bolivar, the George Washington of South Ameriea, was made a Mason in Cadiz, Spain. Gran Martin, who won the independence of the Argentine, was made a Mason in England, founded a Lodge in Rio de Janeiro, and had a copy of the Book of 11, Constitutions translated into Spanish. Edwin Booth, the actor, was a member of New York Lodge, No. 330, N.Y.C. Sibelius, the composer of "Finlandia," is a SIason, and composed a musical accompaniment for the Degrees. Houdini, magician, was made a Mason in the afternoon musicians' and actors' Lodge, St. Cecile, No. 568, New York City, August 21, 1923; he accumulated an expert's library on magic, occultism, ete.; (see The New York Masonie Outlook; March, 1927; page 206; and The Master Mason; April, 1926; page 293).

William F. Kuhn, one of Kansas City's most eminent citizens, a son of Alsatian emigrants, born in Lyons, N.Y., April 15, 1849, grew up in Michigan among the celery farms, graduated from Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio, in 1871, taught a while; graduated from Jefferson Medieal College, Phila.; settled in Eldorado, Kans., for four years, then moved to Kansas City, where he practiced, taught medicine, and all the while had his heart in Masonry, having been made a Mason at Belle Center, Ohio; during his three years as General Grand High Priest he evangelized the Craft throughout the country "on the necessity for the Holy Royal Arch." Bro. David Eugene Smith aroused general interest when he presented the Grand Lodge Library of New York with a number of original documents written or signed by famous Eighteenth Century Frenchmen and Masons; one of them, a certificate which belonged to Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin (it is not believed that he invented the guillotin or that it was named for him), carries a constellation of signatures once known over Europe (see The New York Masonic Outlook; February, 1929; frontispiece)- Arthur Nash, famous as the founder of the "Golden Rule Nash Business" in Cincinnati, was a Masonry-made man, became a Mason in Masonic Blue Lodge, in 1909, Waterville, Ohio; he will long be remembered in Cincinnati for the help he gave to the S2,000,000 Temple Fund. Wilbur D. Nesbit, author of the poems "My Flag and Your Flag," and "I Sat in Lodge With You" was a member of Evans Lodge, No. 624, Evanston, III., famous for its Masters' Lectures.

General Douglas D. MacArthur, like his father before him, is a Mason; like President Taft, he was "made at sight," the Grand Master of the Philippine Islands conferring that honor in January, 1936, at Manila, where the General affiliated with Manila Lodge, No. 1, thereby coming under a Grand Jurisdiction which admits Chinese and men of almost every other Asiatic nationality. touch is made of the fact that so many commanders in the Allied armies and navies are Masons, but it calls for no comment; Lodge life means more to army and navy men than to civilians. Thomas R. Marshall, Viee-President for eight years, was a member of the Supreme Council, N.J., from 1911; from the time he retired from the Vice-Presidency until his death in 1925 he devoted the whole of his time to Freemasonry. Captain Frederick Marryat, author of MT. Midshipman Easy, with the British Navy in the War of 1812, became a Mason in Lodge of Antiquity No. 2, one of "The Four Old Lodges," while the Duke of Sussex was W.-.M.-. and Marryat became a Warden; he was in the most distinguished Lodge in the world, which had written in its books the names of Anderson and Desaguliers, and of which William Preston had been Master; Prime Minister George Canning, who fathered the Monroe Doctrine on our President Monroe, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan, were among his Lodge mates the great two-volume history of the Lodge by Bros. Rylands and Firebrace is a gallery of men famous in Masonry as well as in the public life of Britain; Christopher Wren is said to have been a Master of it.

Lord Chesterfield was a Masons as were most of the men in the Stanhope family, and was once asked to be Grand Master of the Antient Grand Lodge; though author of Chesterf eld Ss Letters to his Son, a treatise on diplomatic manners and courtly behavior, there was no effeminancy in him, and he held many high offices of state, being once the Governor General of Ireland. (see Gould's History; Vol. II; page 159.) The Craft in Ireland then (as now) was starred with famous names the Duke of Wellington among them (Lodge No-494; Dec.7,1791), and Laurenee Dermott, creator of the Antient Grand Lodge.

The American Craft, though the fact is overlooked or generally unknown, owes more to Ireland and the Antients, of which it was mother and exemplar, than to the Grand Lodge of 1717, because our rules, customs, and Ritual generally are of Irish origin; and if American students and Research Lodges will turn to the subject they will open up the richest of the unexplored fields of American historical research. When they do they will become acquainted with the author of one of the very few Masonic classics--classic when considered solely as literature the re-written version of the Anderson Constitutions composed by the gifted John Pennell, published by the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1730; Gould, with a harshness of judgment which too often was his weakness, described it as "little more than Anderson's publication [it was Grand Lodge's, not Anderson's, publication] brought down to date"; but Penned re-wrote the whole of it, and his Irish Brother, Dean Swift, could not have done it better, if as well.

Admiral George W. Baird, once Grand Master of District of Columbia and for years writer of its Foreign Correspondence Report, who had fought in the Mexican War, had supervised the installation of the first electric lighting on an Ameriean Naval vessel, who illustrated his letters with little cartoons in color of an amazing skill, discovered onee where a monument to a Mason had had its Masonie emblems defaced, and then went on to discover that there was at work a general endeavor to erase out of history and other records the Masonie membership of famous Ameriean public and military men; he became so wrathful that he began a nation- wide investigation at his own expense of time and money; it resulted in his publication in The Builder of a long series of "Memorials," which was in part later re-issued as one volume in the Masonic Service Association's Little Masonic Library but he was never able to prepare more than a portion of his overflowing material for print. (The Freemasons, by Eugene Lennhoff, one of the most powerful of Masonic books, is a gallery of hundreds of famous European Masons; Oxford University Press; New York; 1934. Famous Masons, by H. L. Haywood; Masonic History Company; Chicago; 1944, contains short biographies of one hundred famous Masons [famous for their work in the Craft], and long chapters on "Presidents Who Were Masons.")

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