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Capitol Cornerstone Laying Ceremony in 1793

U.S. Capitol Cornerstone Laying Ceremony

From the Columbian Mirror & Alexandria Gazette
September 25, 1793

George-Town, Sept. 21.

   On Wednesday last one of the grandest MASONIC Processions took place, which perhaps ever was exhibited on the like important occasion: It was in all probability much facilitated by an advertisement which appeared many days before in several news-papers of this state.

   About 10 o’clock, Lodge, No. 9, were visited by that Congregation, so graceful to the Craft, Lodge, No. 22, of Virginia, with all their Officers and Regalia, an directly afterwards appeared on the southern banks of the Grand River Potomack: one of the finest companies of Volunteer Artillery that has been lately seen, parading to receive the President of the United States, who shortly came in sight with his suite — to whom the Artillery paid their military honors, and his Excellency and suite crossed the Potomack, and was received in Maryland, by the Officers and Brethren of No. 22, Virginia and No. 9, Maryland whom the President headed, and preceded by a bank of music; the rear brought up by the Alexandria Volunteer Artillery; with grand solemnity of march, proceeded to the President’s square in the City of Washington: where they were met and saluted, by No. 15, of the City of Washington, in all their elegant regalia, headed by Brother Joseph Clark, Rt. W.G.M. — P.T. and conducted to a large Lodge, prepared for the purpose of their reception. After a short space of time, by the vigilance of Brother C. Worthy Stephenson, Grand Marshall, P.T. the Brotherhood and other Bodies were disposed in a second order of procession, which took place amid a brilliant crowd of spectators of both sexes, according to the following arrangement.


Viz. — The Surveying department of the City of Washington.
Mayor and Corporation of George-Town.
Virginia Artillery.
Commissioners of the City of Washington, and their attendants.
Stone Cutters, Mechanics,
Two Sword Bearers.
Masons of the 1st. Degree.
Bibles &c. on the Grand Cushions.
Deacons with Staffs of Office.
Masons of the 2d degree.
Stewards with wands.
Masons of the 3d degree.
Wardens with truncheons
Secretaries with tools of office.
Past Master with their Regalia.
Treasurers with their Jewels.
Band of music.
Lodge No. 22, of Virginia, disposed in their own order.
Corn, Wine, and Oil.
Grand Master P.T. George Washington , W.M. No. 22, Virginia,
Grand Sword Bearer.


   The procession marched two a-breast, in the greatest solemn dignity, with music playing, drums beating, colors flying, and spectators rejoicing; from the President’s Square to the Capitol, in the City of Washington; where the Grand Marshall called a halt, and directed each file in the procession, to incline two steps, one to the right, and one to the left, and face each other, which formed a hollow oblong square; through which the Grand Sword Bearer led the van; followed by the Grand Master P.T. on the left — the President of the United States in the Centre, and the Worshipful Master of Number 22, Virginia, on the right — all the other orders, that composed the procession advanced, in the reverse of their order of march from the President’s Square, to the south-east corner of the Capitol; and the Artillery filed off to a defined ground to display their maneuvers and discharge their cannon: The President of the United States, the Grand Master, P.T. and the Worshipful M. of No. 22, taking their stand to the East of a huge stone; and all the Craft, forming a circle westward, stood a short time in silent awful order;

The Artillery discharged a Volley.
The Grand Marshall delivered the Commissioners, a large Silver Plate with an inscription thereon which the missioners orders to be read, and was as follows:

This South East corner Stone, of the Capitol of the United States of America in the City of Washington, was laid on the 18th day of September 1793, in the thirteenth year of American Independence, in the first year of the second term of the Presidency of George Washington, whose virtues in the civil administration of his country have been as conspicuous and beneficial, as his Military valor and prudence have been useful in establishing her liberties, and in the year of Masonry 5793, by the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several Lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge No. 22, from Alexandria, Virginia.
Thomas Johnson, David Steuart and Daniel Carroll, Commissioners, Joseph Clark, R.W.G.M. pro tem,., James Hobam and Stephen Hallate, Architects.” Collin Williamson, Master Mason.

The Artillery discharged a volley. The Plate was then delivered to the President, who, attended by the Grand Master pro tem., and three Most worshipful Masters, descended to the cavazion trench and deposited the plate, and laid it on the corner-stone of the Capitol of the United States if America, on which were deposited corn, wine, and oil, when the whole congregation joined in reverential prayer, which was succeeded by Masonic chanting honors, and a volley from the Artillery.

The President of the United States, and his attendant brethren, ascended from the carazion to the East of the corner-stone, and there the Grand Master pro tem., elevated on a triple rostrum, delivered an oration fitting the occasion, which was received with brotherly love and commendation. At intervals during the delivery of the oration several volleys were discharged by the Artillery. The ceremony ended in prayer, Masonic chanting honors, and a 15-volley from the Artillery.

The whole company retired to an extensive booth, where an ox of five-hundred pounds weight was barbecued, of which the company generally partook with every abundance of other recreation. The festival concluded with fifteen successive volleys from the Artillery, whose military discipline and maneuvers merit every commendation. Before  dark the whole company departed with joyful hopes of the production of their labor.

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