George Washington became a member of the Order of the Freemasons in October 1752 by joining the Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His intention in joining this preeminent,
male-only fraternity was primarily to promote his social standing in Virginia. As a young man quickly growing in both wealth and influence, it only made sense for George Washington to associate
with other men of like standing. Also, he was drawn to the Freemason's belief in the ideals of the European Enlightenment (specifically, rationalism and fraternalism). He continued to be
involved in his lodge and others as he aged and became involved in the military and, later, in politics. Washington was first asked to become the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1777.
This prestigious position would have granted Washington authority not only in the Grand Lodge but also in the lodge's jurisdiction. However, since he was in the middle of serving as the
Continental Army's Commander in Chief at that time, he graciously declined. Nevertheless, the Freemason lodges located in the colonies did play a part in the war effort against the British. Many
of America's Founding Fathers were Freemasons: Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Richard Henry Lee, and John Hancock. Both before and during the war, these
colonial leaders would use the masonic lodges to hold meetings, where they would discuss their plans for standing against the British oppression. As the American War for Independence drew to an
end in 1783, Washington was approached once again to accept a position of leadership within the Freemasons. At this time, Washington was involved in several lodges in addition to the Fredericksburg
Lodge No. 4. The newly formed Alexandria Lodge No. 22 (located in Alexandria, Virginia) requested that Washington become its Master. Since the war was ending at this time and George Washington
was hoping to return to civilian life for the time being, he accepted this position. Because Washington was thrust back into politics soon after the end of the Revolutionary War, Freemasonry also
became a huge part of the first President's political career. The Bible on which George Washington swore the Presidential oath on during the very first United States Presidential inauguration
was taken from the St. John's Masonic Lodge No. 1 (located in New York). Additionally, the administrator of this Presidential oath was Robert Livingston, himself an established mason as well as
the Chancellor of New York. During President Washington's second term in office, he posed for a portrait in full masonic dress to be placed in his Alexandria Lodge. Upon his death, Washington's
funeral was conducted with Masonic honors. After the death of Washington, several architectural monuments were built by the Freemasons in his honor.