Today, the Jackson Presidential One-Dollar Coin remembers when he attended the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone at the first lock on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal on May 29, 1829.
From the American Masonic Record, and Albany Saturday Magazine of June 13, 1829:
The cry of the ignorant lovers of the marvelous, which denounces all masons because some wicked ones are supposed to have committed murder, begins to wax more faint.
The people who go round the country like peddlers, selling the pretended secrets of masonry at twenty five cents a head, turning every barn and school house into a sort of puppet show, in which a soi disant mason is to officiate as manager, find their business gradually diminishing.
Those who consider Masonry and its persecutors equally unworthy of the credit of convulsing a great nation, will be glad to hear, in addition to these facts, that the President of the United States, the Secretary of War, and other of the great dignitaries of the nation have recently countenanced the Masonic fraternity by attending the ceremony of laying the cornerstone of the first lock of the Ohio and Chesapeake canal, by the Grand Master of Masons in the District of Columbia.
The following, which shows the disposition of the Chief Magistrate to discountenance the persecution of a whole order for the faults of a few individuals, will be read with interest. [Boston Commercial Gazette.]
From the National Intelligencer.
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
Ceremony of Laying the Cornerstone of the First Lock.
The active contractors for the 8th section of this great national undertaking, having got the first Lock on the line ready for construction, invited the Grand Master of Masons in the District of Columbia to lay the cornerstone thereof, on Friday last, the 29th ult.
The Grand Lodge accordingly assembled in Potomac Lodge Room, in Georgetown, at 10 o’clock in the forenoon, and accompanied by a considerable number of other Masonic brethren, proceeded in cavalcade, to the 8th section of the Canal, about seven miles above Georgetown.
Here they were soon after joined by the President of the United States, (Past Grand Master of the State of Tennessee, who had been invited by the Grand Master of the District to honor the ceremonies with his presence,) attended by the Secretary of War, the Postmaster General, and the Mayor of Georgetown.
The company having assembled at the lockhouse (a neat stone edifice erected on the high ground, for the residence of the lock keeper) and partaken of some refreshment, the procession was formed and proceeded to the scene of operation—the President and other official gentlemen immediately in advance of the Grand Master, the contractors and officers of the work, and other citizens in the rear, and the whole moving to the fine music of the Marine Band, whose inspiring strains “through dale and thicket rung.”
On reaching the entrance of the lock, the Masonic procession was reversed in its order, and then advanced to the spot where the ponderous cornerstone was suspended, the President in front of the whole.
The assemblage being arranged on the extensive floor of the lock, the Grand Master laid the stone in its bed, with all the customary ceremonies of his ancient institution, which were rendered the more interesting from the fact that the gavel, or mallet, which he made use of was the same used by general Washington in laying the cornerstone of the Capitol.
Within a cavity in the stone were placed a set of the gold and silver coins of the United States, a copy of each of the District newspapers, and a silver plate, bearing on one side the following inscription:
“The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, commenced on the 4th of July, 1828, by John Quincy Adams, then President of the United States. This, the first Cornerstone of a Lock of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, laid the 29th day of May, A. D. 1829, A. L. 5829, by the R. W. Wm. Hewit, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of the District of Columbia. Andrew Jackson, President of the United States.”
On the Reverse.
“Officers of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company: Charles Fenton Merser, President; Phineas Janney, Joseph Kent, Peter Lenox, Frederick May, Walter Smith, and Andrew Stewart, Directors; Clement Smith, Treasurer; John P. Ingle, Clerk; Benj. Wright, Engineer in Chief; Nathan S. Roberts, and John Martineau, Members of the Board of Engineers; Robert Leckie, Insp’r of Masonry; Daniel Van Slyke, Eg, of the work; Theophilus Williams, Ass’t Eng; Walter W. Fenlon & Co. Con’tors; James A. Baker, Architect.”
Having completed the ceremonies, and pronounced a benediction on the work, the Grand Master offered to the President of the United States the opportunity of expressing anything which he might desire to say on the occasion.
The President returned his thanks for the opportunity afforded, and briefly expressed his convictions of the public importance of the great work of which the cornerstone just laid was a constituent part, and of the successful progress of which such abundant proofs were on every hand exhibited —the deep interest which he felt in it—his sincere wishes for its complete accomplishment, and his fervent hope that the prayer just uttered by the worshipful Grand Master for its success might be fully realized.
The procession then returned to the house, where refreshments had been profusely provided by the liberal contactors, and, after resting and refreshing themselves a short time, the President and his attendants, and the Masonic Fraternity, re-entered their carriages and returned to the city.
A number of citizens, attracted thither by the occasion, took the opportunity of being introduced to the President, whose presence, indeed was unexpected to most of them, and, therefore, as well as considering the excessive heat of the day, and the badness of the route for carriages, was the more gratifying.
Many of our citizens who had never visited any part of the work since its commencement, embraced this opportunity of doing so, and accordingly left their carriages, and walked up the line of the canal, for two or three miles to observe the progress which had been made on the different sections as they passed.
The magnitude of the excavations, and the height, the beauty and solidity of the extensive walls which face the Potomac in those places where it washes the feet of the river embankment, appeared to surprise as well as gratify, all who now, for the first time, witnessed what had been done within the brief space since the work was commenced—especially when they understood that the line for forty or fifty miles, exhibited similar and even greater proofs of the vigor with which the work has been pressed forward by the company and its agents.
The pleasure of viewing this magnificent work, with the additional attraction which the beautiful and romantic scenery of the Potomac presents at every step, will soon render a ride up the Canal one of the most delightful excursions which any portion of the Union can offer.
The Jackson Presidential One-Dollar Coin shows with an artist’s image of a lockhouse on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, circa 1864.