President 1789-1797 / Master Mason 1753
George Washington became a Mason at age 20 in 1753. It is suggested that he may have attended approximately nine Masonic lodge meetings during the remaining 46 years of his life, and probably never presided over any lodge.
However, George Washington wrote letters in which he said he was happy to be a Mason and in 1791, described Masonry as being “founded in justice and benevolence… the grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race.”
Asked more specifically about Freemasonry in 1798, Washington wrote; "So far as I am acquainted with the principles and Doctrines of Free Masonry, I conceive them to be founded on benevolence and to be exercised for the good of mankind. If it has been a Cloak to promote improper or nefarious objects, it is a melancholly [sic] proof that in unworthy hands, the best institutions may be made use of to promote the worst designs."
Interestingly, brother George Washington took his oath of office as the first President of the United States with his hand upon a Bible from St. John’s Lodge No.1 of the Ancient York Masons. Since then, George Washington’s Inaugural Bible has been used for the inaugurations of Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush.
Additional use has been made in the funeral processions of Presidents Washington and Abraham Lincoln and in the center-stone laying of the U.S. Capitol, the addition of the Washington Monument, the centennials of the cornerstone laying of the White House, U.S. Capitol, and the Statue of Liberty, the 1964 World’s Fair as well as the launching of the aircraft carrier George Washington.
The Washington bible is, interestingly, still in active use by St. Johns Lodge when not on civic display.