Emessay Notes April 2009
In the February 2009 issue of Emessay Notes, MSA responded to a scurrilous attack on the Jewish community attributed to Benjamin Franklin. As a result of this reply MSA was made aware of correspondence between George Washington and King David’s Lodge #1, Newport, Rhode Island and as Washington phrased it “The Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island.” Part of what he said follows:
Letter to King David’s Lodge No. 1 Newport, RI
To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island
The following article was reprinted from The Texas Mason - Winter 2009.
Mirabeau B. Lamar, Texas Masonry, and Public Education
To understand the impact that the Masonic Fraternity had on Public Education in Texas, one must be aware of the importance of Education to the Masonic Fraternity. The importance of a good liberal education is part of the teaching of our degrees, and is covered in detail in our second degree.
Texas was founded by men who were Masons. From the Father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin, to every single president of the Republic of Texas, and often over half of the elected and appointed officials of the Republic, Masons held offices in Texas government. It is only natural, then, that these men would work to establish a system of education that reflected their Masonic values.
Noted Texas historian (and non-Mason) Frederich Eby, said it best when he wrote:
No Texas Mason did more for Public Education than Mirabeau B. Lamar.
Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar was born in Milledgeville, Georgia on April 16th, 1798, to a well-to-do family. He took advantage of every educational opportunity afforded him in the rural Georgia country where he was raised, and he loved to read and educated himself through books. But Lamar was no bookworm... as a boy, he became an expert horseman and an excellent fencer, and he won a gold medal as the Georgia State fencing champion. His skill on horseback and with a sword would serve him well during his military career. Lamar also was an excellent speaker, painted with oils, and was very good at writing poetry.
At age 25, Lamar secured a position as the private secretary to Georgia Governor. In this position, Lamar issued press releases and toured the state giving speeches on behalf of the governor. On one of his trips, he met Tabatha Jordan, whom he married in 1826. The couple had a daughter, and then a son.
Starting in about 1830, Lamar endured a series of tragedies. His father passed away, and then he lost two of his brothers. His wife Tabatha died of tuberculosis and a year and a day later, his son died.
Lamar was so devastated over the loss of his wife and son that in 1835 he closed his home, left his daughter Rebecca in the care of his mother, and boarded a stage in Columbus, Georgia, bound for Texas.
Soon after arriving in Texas in the spring of 1836, Lamar learned of the death of his friend and Masonic brother James Fannin at Goliad, and joined Masonic brother Sam Houston's army as a private.
Battle of San Jacinto and Texas Independence
On the eve of the battle of San Jacinto, parts of the Mexican Army had surrounded Texas Secretary of War and Masonic brother Thomas Rusk's squad of Texans. Lamar mounted his horse, and with a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other, he led a small band of men on a daring charge directly into the Mexican lines. They created a gap in the line, which allowed Rusk and his men to escape. The Mexicans were so impressed with Lamar's courage and daring, that as the Texans were racing back to the Texas lines, the Mexican Army cheered for him. When he arrived back at the Texan camp, Houston immediately promoted him to the rank of Colonel, and put him in charge of the cavalry for the Battle of San Jacinto the next day.
After the battle of San Jacinto and Texas' independence, Lamar was elected vicepresident of the Republic of Texas under Houston, and was the unanimous choice to replace Houston as president in 1838.
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