March 2021

The Master’s Message    Portsmouth Freemasons | St. John’s

Greetings Brethren!

I am feeling introspective and sentimental today as we approach a date that, under normal circumstances, would be reserved for Four Square; a ceremony that has lost momentum since the loss of our beloved Nelson and Covid-19. In that vein, allow me to plagiarize my own Master’s Message from 2013:

And now we reflect upon and honor our most revered and most famous American Freemason, George Washington. Along with an entrance fee of 2 pounds and 3 shillings, young Mr. Washington was initiated into Fredericksburg Lodge on November 4, 1752 and would be raised to the sublime degree the following August.

As Masons, we would like to think that the tenets of our venerable institution molded our brother into a great and formidable leader. But brother Washington had already been adhering to a set of learned principles years before reaching the Masonic altar. When he was sixteen years of age, Washington had hand-copied Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and in Conversation. 110 Rules, to be exact, many borrowed from a set of principles first transcribed by French Jesuits in 1595. Historians have postulated that Washington reviewed these principles at the end of each day, that he might correct his actions upon the next.

If true, then I have no doubt he reviewed his Masonic tenets and obligations with equal rigor. I am reminded of one story in particular about the General’s men returning from the defeat of the British 46th Regiment. With them, a chest of regalia, furniture and implements belonging to a travelling military lodge constituted under the Grand Lodge of Ireland. Washington ordered for its immediate return; likely a confusing and awkward turn of events for most of his men.

Brother Washington was not the infallible and perfect specimen of humility as often portrayed. Some of his decisions as General, President or as a privileged Virginian are considered “controversial,” to put it politely. Nevertheless the lesson here is that Washington was a man who lived by a code, and worked to correct his actions and work on his flaws, as he was able to, leaving the rest to providence to iron out in the end. We all have our ghosts and as Masons we strive to correct our actions and be better men. What better model can a Mason have?




Worshipful Jonathan Neihart,

Worshipful Master

Contact:  (phone)  603 300 9093