"It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things."
~ Theodore Roosevelt
Matinecock Lodge No. 806,
Oyster Bay, N.Y.
This photograph creates a lot of confusion. Our 26th President is frequently referred to as a Past Master because of this photograph. But here's the little known fact--he never sat in the East. He was never the Worshipful Master of a Lodge.
However, as you'll read below, he was very active as a Mason, and he was proud of his membership. I've never discovered how this photo came into existence, or why Teddy was portrayed as a Worshipful Master in it. Perhaps somebody out there knows and can enlighten us all.
Here's his Masonic biography as recorded in 10,000 Famous Freemasons by William R. Denslow:
"Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) Twenty-Sixth President of the United States. b. Oct. 27, 1858 in New York City. Graduate of Harvard in 1880;held honorary degrees from 13 universities. Member of the N.Y. state legislature, 1882-84, and in the latter year purchased a large ranch in N. Dak., where he resided for his health until 1886. Was U.S. civil service commissioner, 1889-95, and president of the N.Y. Police Board, 189597. Was assistant secretary of the Navy, 1897-98, but resigned to organize with Leonard Wood (later major general) the 1st U.S. Cavalry, popularly known as Roosevelt's Rough Riders. Distinguished himself in the Spanish-American War in Cuba. Was governor of New York from 1899-1900. Elected vice president of the U.S. for the term of 1901-05, he succeeded to the presidency on the death of William McKinley, q.v., on Sept. 14, 1901. He was elected to the presidency for the term 1905-09 by the largest popular majority recorded at that time. In 1912 he was defeated for the presidency as a Progressive Party candidate. In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize ($40,000). In 1910 he was special ambassador of the U.S. at the funeral of King Edward VII of England. Did much big game hunting in the West and in Africa. In 1914 he headed a party in Brazil, exploring a tributary of the Madeira River for about 600 miles; later it was named Rio Teodoro in his honor. He offered to raise a division in WWI and go with it to France, but President Wilson declined the offer. Wrote many books, including History of the Naval War of 1812; Winning of the West; Hunting Trips of a Ranchman; Life of Thomas Hart Benton; Life of Gouverneur Morris; Ranch Life and Hunting Trail; History of New York; The Wilderness Hunter; The Rough Riders; and many others. A member of Matinecock Lodge No. 806 of Oyster Bay, N.Y., he received his degrees, Jan 2, March 27, April 24, 1901, shortly after his election to the vice presidency.
Was made honorary member of Pentalpha Lodge No. 23, Washington, D.C., on April 4, 1904; honorary member of Illinois Masonic Veterans Ass'n., in 1903; honorary member of Masonic Veterans Ass'n. of the Pacific Coast, in 1901. He reviewed the annual inspection and review of Knights Templar on the ellipse of the White House on May 26, 1902; delivered an address at the Masonic laying of the cornerstone of the Army War College, Feb. 21, 1903; laid cornerstone of the north gate to Yellowstone Park, under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Montana, April 24, 1903; assisted in laying the cornerstone of the Masonic Temple at Tacoma, Wash. and gave a short address, May 22, 1903; broke ground for the Masonic Temple at Spokane, Wash. on May 26, 1903; was present at the memorial service by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on April 19, 1906 at Christ Church, Philadelphia, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin; attended the Masonic cornerstone laying of the House of Representatives' office building in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1906, delivering the address; delivered the address at the laying of the cornerstone of the new Masonic Temple, 13th St. and New York Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., June 8, 1907; was present in Masonic regalia at the laying of the cornerstone of the Pilgrim Memorial Monument, Provincetown, Mass. on Aug. 20, 1907, and delivered an address; visited the Grand Lodge of New York on May 11, 1917, and made an address. He visited lodges in many parts of the world, including Africa, Europe, and South America. His correspondence contains many letters to Masonic groups. He was a proud and active Freemason. d. Jan. 6, 1919."
And so, as we say, stands the record of a true and upright Mason.
~Todd E. Creason