From Royal Prayer, by David Baldwin
George Washington’s own religious tenets and political objectives have come under scrutiny of late, with a number of largely unsubstantiated extrapolations made from the fact that he had been initiated on 4 November 1752 into the Fredericksburg Lodge Number 4, Virginia, as a Rosicrucian Mason, passing on 3 March 1753 and raised on 4 August 1753. He became a Templar Mason by 1768 and was elected Grand Master of the Templar Alexandria, Lodge Number 22 in Virginia, on 28 April 1788. He used the Holy Bible of Saint John’s Lodge Number 1 of New York City when taking the Oath of Office as President of the United States of America; the oath being administered by Grand Master Robert Livingstone, Chancellor of New York.
From the undisputed fact that many of Washington’s co-founders of the United States of America turn out to have been Freemasons, all kinds of speculative theories have been advanced. He has been cited as appointing Pierre Charles L’Enfant, an engineer in the continental army, in 1791 as the architect of the proposed new capital city, on ground selected by Washington that he termed the “Territory of Columbia” for building “Washingtonople.” L’Enfant’s original plan has been interpreted by some as incorporated Masonic symbols, and although Washington dismissed him in 1792, the eventual execution of the city plan has been interpreted as nevertheless maintaining significant Masonic symbolism.
The theory advanced is that if the Capitol building forms the top of a compass, the left leg of the compass becomes Pennsylvania Avenue, standing now on the Jefferson Memorial, while the right leg is Maryland Avenue. The square is formed by Canal Street and Louisiana Avenue. Inverted pentagrams and other symbolism are also allegedly identified. The whole alignment of the city has also been alleged by some to place the landmarks in the orientation of the celestial constellation of Virgo – thereby seeking the protection of the Virgin Mary for the city. The “reasoning” revolves around the Capitol on Jenkins Hill, where the Algonquin tribes held their grand councils, while the chiefs of their primary tribe, the Montauk, retained the ancient Egyptian title of “Pharaoh” – which means, child of the stars.
Yet amid these conjectures there is the contemporary description of the laying of the cornerstone of the Capitol building in the Columbian Mirror and Alexandria Gazette issue of 23 September 1793 which reads: “The President of the United States pro tem., and the Worshipful Master of No. 22, taking their stand to the east of a large stone, and all the Craft forming a circle westward, stood a short time in solemn order.” Certainly when Washington died, he was buried with full Masonic honors, members of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 acting as pallbearers.
It has been alleged that up to 53 of the 56 signatories to the Declaration of Independence were Freemason, as were three of the four in Washington’s first cabinet, 24 of his major-generals, and 30 of his 33 brigadiers. These numbers are adduced by some as yet further evidence of a pervasive Masonic influence around Washington’s dealings.
It is further conjectured that the design of the Great Seal of the United States incorporates Freemasonic symbolism in depicting an unfinished pyramid surmounted by an eye. But some explanations of its origins run counter to these conclusions, and serve to restore a less sensational (yet perhaps even more fascinating) character to Washington’s Christianity.
For example, the unfinished pyramid has its origins on an old colonial bank note designed by Francis Hopkinson, who was in turn consulted in 1780 by the Second Committee of Congress to propose a design for the new Great Seal. The Third Committee in 1782 subsequently adopted it.
Furthermore, instead of the Thompson design on the obverse side of the Great Seal depicting the Phoenix rising in company with 13 stars being some kind of “illuminati” symbolism connected with the 13 Degrees of Templar initiation, rather it represents in actuality simply the original 13 colonial states – the subject of Washington’s initial wish, in November 1782, to place under the throne and crown of American with Bonnie Prince Charlie as king.
Far stranger, though, is the content of a small book on fencing and dueling entitled Vindication of the True Art of Self Defence, written by the Deputy Governor of Edinburgh Castle, Sir William Hope, and published in 1724. A copy was presented to the Library of Congress as late as 1879. The book’s curiosity lies not so much in its content, as in what is written in Sir William’s hand on the otherwise blank flyleaves.
Here is written a prediction concerning the destiny of the United States, signed and dated 44 years before the outbreak of the Colonial War of Independence: “Writ at Cornhill, London 1732.” A couple of its predictions will suffice to give a flavor of its apparent accuracy:
Tis Chaldee says his fate is great
Whose stars do bear him fortunate.
Of thy near fate, Amerika,
I read in stars a prophecy:
Fourteen divided, twelve the same,
Sixteen in halfs—each holds a name;
Four, eight, seven, six-added ten—
The life line’s mark of Four gt. Men. . . .
This text therefore covers the years 1732 to 1901, during which span Sir William lights upon four great men of “Amerika” whose combined total in numbers is reached by adding the 4 + 8 + 7 + 6 = 25, and then adding 10 by creating the third column (i.e., tens). Grand total = 250. At his death Washington was aged 68, Abraham Lincoln 56, Benjamin Harrison 68, and William McKinley 58. The total of these years is 250.
The next 12 lines predict George Washington’s birth and the colonies’ striving for independence:
This day is cradles, far beyond the sea,
One starred by fate to rule both bond and free.
Add double four, thus fix the destined day
When service knees unbend ‘neth freedom’s sway
Place six ‘fore ten, then read the patriot’s name
Whose deeds shall link him to a deathless fame.
Add double four, thus fix the destined day. . . .
As the prophecy is dated 1732, Washington’s date of birth “beyond the sea” in Virginia, and 44 when added to 1732 gives 1776, we can deduce that it talks of the American Declaration of Independence. Finally, since there are six letters in the name “George” and ten in “Washington” it is clear that Washington is the subject of the prophecy.
The prophecy continues in much the same vein, predicting among other great events the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and concludes with the following four lines that anchor it in history:
These truths prophetic shall completion see Ere time’s
deep grave receives the Nineteenth Century!
All planets, stars, twelve signs and horoscope
Attest these certain truths foretold by William Hope.
A descendant of Sir William has added four lines as follows, which serve to introduce the Almighty into the working of the unfolding prophecy thus:
The learned hand that writ these lines no more shall pen for me,
Yet voice shall speak and pulses beat for long posterity
This soul refined through love of kind bewailed life’s labors spent,
Then found this truth, his search from youth, Greatness is God’s accident.
If the work is a forgery, it nevertheless works even as that, for predictions concerning Harrison and McKinley relate to events after the book was acquired by the Library of Congress in 1879. For example, the lines
Then eight ‘fore eight a later generation rules,
With light undimmed and shed in progress’ school
would refer to the eight letters in the spelling of “Benjamin” and eight also in “Harrison,” president from 1889 to 1893, his presidency climaxed in the famous Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893.