Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States when he returned to his home Lodge (so the story goes) to find that his gardener had been elevated to Grand Master of the Lodge. Teddy humbly gave all obeisance and respect to his gardener in the latter’s role as Grand Master, without further comment, content in the belief that within the Lodge that was as it should be.
Theodore Roosevelt did not join the Freemasons until he was already 42 years of age, in 1901, the same year he became President of the United States following the death of William McKinley. Roosevelt was a native of New York City, Harvard educated, a writer of history including a definitive work on the Naval War of 1812, a noted outdoorsman and hunter, an adventurer-soldier during the Spanish-American War, and a former Governor of New York.
As President he would win the Nobel Prize for helping to broker a peace ending the Russo-Japanese War. He established the United States Navy as the dominant military force in the Pacific and made it into a modern service. He was completely devoted to Masonry, for reasons he expressed when completing his application to join in 1901.
“One of the things which attracted me so greatly to Masonry that I hailed the chance of becoming a Mason,” he wrote, “was that it really did act up to what we, as a government and as a people, are pledged to – namely, to treat each man on his merits as a man.” According to Roosevelt, the practice of Masonry teaches “…the qualities that make a man fit to stand by himself…”
Although Roosevelt came to Masonry later in his life after a lifetime of achievement, it did little to dampen his enthusiasm for its concepts and teachings. Late in his life Roosevelt reiterated his reasons for joining Freemasonry and for his enthusiastic embracing of it, telling McLure’s Magazine that Freemasonry represented a place where all men are equal and share a common interest. After joining, Roosevelt made a point of visiting Lodges on all of his travels across the globe for the rest of his life.