The Masonic Trowel

... to spread the cement of brotherly love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble emulation of who can best work or best agree ...

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

 Masonic quotes by Brothers

Search Website For

Add To Favorites

Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!

List of Contributors

PDF This File

Print This Page

Email This Site To ...

masonic heroes of the american revolution

by George F. Harrington, 32°, K.C.C.H.

Masons were leaders central to the success of the American Revolution

It is particularly appropriate to honor and recall the exploits of so many of our Founding Fathers this month when we observe Independence Day, July 4. Many of these patriots were Masons, and their lives form illustrious examples of courage. Most Americans know, for example, the main outlines of the lives of such famous Masons as George Washington, Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, the Marquis de Lafayette, Henry Knox, Joseph Warren, Baron Von Steuben, and Richard Montgomery. However, there are other Brethren, less known than these, who contributed greatly to the creation and preservation of our country. Here are brief sketches of a few of them.

Bro. Samuel Nicholas
Born in Philadelphia in 1744, was a successful businessman. On November 10, 1775, Congress commissioned him to organize and train five companies of marine forces, skilled in the use of small and large firearms, to protect America's ships at sea. They soon ably demonstrated these capabilities and were successful in forays in the Bahamas where they captured a large quantity of military supplies sorely needed for the war effort. During the winter of 1776–77, they provided reinforcements for Washington's small army, helped with the boats for crossing the Delaware River at Trenton, and fought in the Battle of Princeton. Though he never carried the title while he lived, Nicholas is considered the first Commandant of the Marine Corps. His achievements certainly exemplify the Marine motto Semper Fidelis.

Bro. John Glover
Born in 1732 and raised in Marblehead, Massachusetts, became wealthy from his fishing and mercantile enterprises. Commissioned to head the Marblehead Regiment after the Battle of Lexington, he joined General Washington at Cambridge where his men were trained for naval operations. They successfully engaged the British at sea and, later, triumphed over severe odds to evacuate the desperate remnants of Washington's army from Long Island to Manhattan. Had they not succeeded, the tide of the war would have completely changed. Bro. Glover and his forces were again challenged when called upon to ferry Washington's forces across the Delaware River on the famous Christmas Eve raid. Not only were they successful in moving Washington's troops to Trenton, they also carried back 950 prisoners to the Pennsylvania shore. He later participated in the Saratoga and Rhode Island campaigns. Clearly, his exploits were vital to the war effort.

Bro. Robert R. Livingston
Born in New York in 1746, was a well-known lawyer, diplomat, and statesman. He served in the Second, Third, and Fourth Provincial Congress of New York from 1775–1777, as well as a delegate from New York to the Continental Congress for the same years. Although he was a member of the Committee which drafted the Declaration of Independence, he did not sign the final document due to absence in New York to attend a meeting of the Fourth New York Provincial Congress. He became the first Chancellor of the State and, as such, he administered the oath of office to George Washington at the 1st Presidential inauguration in New York on April 30, 1790. He later became minister to France and, in association with James Monroe in 1803, brought about a great bargain for the U.S., the Louisiana Purchase. He had broad interests and, after retiring in 1804, became involved in improving agriculture, such as introducing gypsum as a fertilizer. He was also instrumental in the development of the steamboat with Robert Fulton. 


Bro. and Maj. Gen. John Stark
Born in New Hampshire in 1728, used the skills learned from a life on the frontier when he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the French and Indian War. Then, in 1775, he was commissioned a Colonel, fought at Bunker Hill, helped the fortifying of New York, and then joined General Gates in the Canadian Expedition. He returned to participate in the battles of Morristown and Short Hills. When he died in 1822, he was the last surviving General Officer of the Revolution.

Bro. William Whipple
Born in 1730 in Maine, went to sea, and, at age 29, he established a mercantile business in New Hampshire. A member of several committees of the Continental Congress, he was commissioned a Brigadier General in the New Hampshire militia in 1777 and served with distinction in the battles of Stillwater and Saratoga where he arranged the surrender of General Burgoyne. After helping to evict the British from Rhode Island, he returned to the Continental Congress, serving with distinction until 1782, when he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court in New Hampshire.

Bro. William Ellery
A signer from Rhode Island of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, was born in Newport in 1727. After graduating with honors from Harvard College, he tried a number of careers before deciding to study law. He left his thriving practice to join the Sons of Liberty and was elected to the General Congress each year until 1786. He described his experience of the signing of the Declaration of Independence: "I was determined to see how they all looked as they signed what might be their death warrant. I eyed each closely as he affixed his name to the document. Undaunted resolution was displayed in every countenance." Although recognized as one of the ablest and most influential members of Congress, Bro. Ellery retired in 1786 and accepted an appointment from George Washington to serve until his death as U.S. Collector of Customs for the District of Newport, a busy and active port of commerce.

Bro. Mordecai Gist
Born in Maryland in 1742, grew up in Baltimore and ran a successful shipping business. In 1775, he took part in organizing the Baltimore Independent Company of Militia which, in 1776, was part of the contingent sent to help Washington in New York. Instrumental in delaying the British at the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, he attended the Convention of Military Lodges at Morristown, New Jersey, and was elected its President on January 9, 1780. Though unsuccessful, one of this convention's resolutions was to recommend an American Grand Lodge with George Washington as Supreme Grand Master. Gist became Worshipful Master of the Maryland Military Lodge whose records were captured by the British at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina, August 16, 1780. However, these records were later returned to General Gist by Lord Cornwallis, the British General, himself a Mason, who surrendered at Yorktown.

Bro. John Marshall
Born in a Virginia cabin in 1755, had little formal education, but after reading law on his own, he took a six-week course at William and Mary College and was accepted by the bar. Impressed by Patrick Henry's memorable speech—"Give me liberty or give me death" before the Virginia House of Burgesses—both John and his father, Thomas Marshall, joined the "Minute Men" and were involved in actions at Great Bridge and Norfolk. Both served in the same regiment of the Continental Army at Valley Forge and fought at Brandywine, Monmouth, Germantown, Stony Point, and Yorktown. John returned to the House of Burgesses and served in the U.S. House of Representatives and as U.S. Secretary of State before becoming Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. In this position, he ruled on fundamental legal decisions which have shaped our nation ever since.

Bro. General Hugh Mercer
Born in Scotland in 1725 and received a medical education there prior to joining the army as a surgeon's mate. He immigrated to the Colonies and established a medical practice in Pennsylvania. He participated in the French and Indian War where he met George Washington who persuaded him to move to Fredericksburg, where he returned to his medical practice and became, like Washington, a Mason in Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4. When the Revolutionary War broke out, he returned to his military career, and the Continental Congress appointed him a Brigadier General. He took part in the crossing of the Delaware, and his troops were in the lead into Trenton on that historic December 26, 1776. At the Battle of Princeton, his horse was shot out from under him, and he was killed on the ground by British troops.

Bro. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenburg
Born in Pennsylvania in 1746, was the son of Henry M. Muhlenburg, the founder of the Lutheran Church in America. He traveled in Germany to study theology and returned to the Colonies in 1766 to become a pastor of Lutheran Churches in New Jersey. He moved to Woodstock, Vermont, in 1772, but in accordance with the practice of the day, he was required to go to England to be ordained an Episcopal priest before he could collect tithes. When he returned to America, he was assigned to an Episcopal parish in Virginia. A friend of George Washington and an ardent patriot, he became a Colonel in the army. He dramatically ended a famous sermon with these words: "There is a time for all things—a time to preach and a time to pray; but there is also a time to fight, and that time has now come." He quickly removed his clerical robes, revealing his Colonel's uniform, proceeded to the door, ordered drums to beat for recruits, and 300 members of his congregation responded. This group became the 8th Virginia Regiment or "German Regiment," and Bro. Muhlenburg successfully engaged in a number of battles. After the War, he returned to Pennsylvania to become a U.S. Congressman. He was elected Senator in 1801 but never served, having resigned to accept an appointment from President Jefferson as Supervisor of the Revenue for Pennsylvania and collector of customs at the port of Philadelphia.

Bro. Charles Wilson Peale
Born in 1741 in Chestertown, Maryland, studied under the famous artist Benjamin West in England, perhaps becoming exposed there to other Masons who were forming opposition to their colonial status. Returning to Annapolis in 1774, he began his career as a portrait painter but then volunteered for service in the Revolutionary War, serving as a Captain in the Battle of Trenton and Germantown before being elected to the Maryland State Legislature. As America's most accomplished formal portraitist, he was much in demand by the celebrities of that period and managed 14 sittings with George Washington, who was well known for limiting such imposition on his time. He painted many other famous Freemasons, including Hancock, Von Steuben, Franklin, Randolph, Jackson, and Clay.

Bro. James Jackson
Born in England in 1757, immigrated to Georgia at the age of 15. He was placed with a prominent Georgian family and began reading the law at the Savannah firm of Samuel Farley, a Freemason. When the war came, he already had demonstrated his strong belief in the cause and was instrumental in framing Georgia's first State Constitution. He had enlisted early in the militia, and when the British took Georgia, he rose to the rank of Colonel with distinguished service in battles in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. When the British were forced from Savannah, he, at the young age of 25, was assigned command of the city and eventually was promoted to Major General in the Georgia Militia. After the War, he embarked on a political career as Governor, U.S. Congressman, and U.S. Senator. He died in Washington and is buried in the Congressional Cemetery.

Bro. Israel Putnam
Born in 1718 in Massachusetts, farmed until he volunteered to serve in the French and Indian Wars. Made a Mason by a British Army Lodge, he performed so well militarily that he was named to head the Connecticut Militia. Captured by the Indians in a skirmish, he was rescued by French officers and eventually was released in a prisoner exchange. After returning to farming in Connecticut, he heard there was fighting at Lexington and Concord, left the field he was plowing, saddled his best horse, joined Dr. Joseph Warren in Massachusetts, was placed in charge of training the volunteers, and was directly involved in the Battle of Bunker Hill. He was at Warren's side when Warren fell and was the only Major General to serve from the start to end in the Revolution. When he died in 1790, over 3,000 people attended his funeral in Brooklyn, Connecticut, a small rural town.

back to top

[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership Development] [Education] [Masonic Talks] [Masonic Magazines Online]
Articles] [Masonic Books Online] [E-Books] [Library Of All Articles] [Masonic Blogs] [Links]
What is New] [Feedback]

This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United States or elsewhere.
It is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion
of Freemasonry, nor webmaster nor those of any other regular Masonic body other than those stated.

DEAD LINKS & Reproduction | Legal Disclaimer | Regarding Copyrights

Last modified: March 22, 2014