Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mark Tabbert on ‘George Washington, Freemason’

Mark A. Tabbert
This is premature—the ink on the contract may not be dry yet—but also scratches an old itch. I want to report to American Creation readers the inevitability of a serious biography-history on the subject of George Washington the Freemason by Masonic scholar Mark A. Tabbert. The author figures the book will be published in about three years, a deadline I assume might be intended to coincide with the tercentenary celebration of the emergence into the public of Freemasonry, which occurred in London in 1717.

It is a necessary book. Practically all existing literature on the subject of Washington the Mason was published in adoration of both the man and the fraternity. Much of that offers a childlike mythologizing (think Grant Wood’s spoof of Washington the youth, with a 60-year-old face, taking the rap for felling the cherry tree) of the subject, and none of the material is recent enough to have profited from modern research abilities and standards. I wouldn’t say Tabbert aims to eviscerate anyone, but there is a need to cut to the truth. Too many within and without the fraternity think Washington lived and breathed Freemasonry. Too many believe the man had almost nothing to do with Masonry. The truth, I imagine, is somewhere between, and encompasses information that will birth a new understanding of American Freemasonry’s most famous brother.

A cropped image of Parson Weems' Fable by Grant Wood.
Oil on canvas, 1939.

For the past nine of his twenty years of museum experience, Tabbert has served as Director of Collections of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. Prior to that, he devoted almost seven years a Curator of Masonic and Fraternal Collections at the National Heritage Museum (now the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library) in Lexington, Massachusetts. He also is a leader in the fraternity itself, having served as President of the Masonic Library and Museum Association, as Treasurer (previously Secretary) of the Masonic Restoration Foundation, as Trustee and Founding Fellow of The Masonic Society, as a published scholar in the most prestigious research lodges and research societies in Freemasonry in the United States and England, and in numerous other capacities in the fraternity that share responsible scholarship. Among his books are American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities.

My point: He knows his business, and he is capable of rendering an honest portrait of Freemason George Washington based on what one of my former teachers at university calls “the best obtainable version of the truth.”

Tabbert’s book will be published by an academic press. The most credible books attempting to define this subject were published under Masonic auspices, the most recent dates to 1952, to commemorate the bicentenary of Washington’s initiation into Freemasonry. For fun (my word, not his) Tabbert maintains a blog where interested readers can follow his research. American Creation readers who want the truth about Freemason George Washington and related subjects should check it out, as the most recent post addresses Masonic membership among the Founding Fathers.

Disclaimer: Mark Tabbert not only is my brother Mason, but also is a friend.

1 comment:

Jonathan Rowe said...

I look forward to reading it.