Men Behind The Mystery

Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as the author Mark Twain, was an American writer and humourist. Today he is readily associated with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, among his many others works. Twain was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri. He became an apprentice to a printer at age 12, and shortly thereafter became a Mississippi River pilot - the experience that sparked Twain’s interest in joining Freemasonry.

Mark Twain presented his petition to Polar Star Lodge No. 79 of Saint Louis on December 26, 1860.  Polar Star Lodge No. 79 was primarily made up of River Pilots at this time, giving us a hint as to why Mark Twain might have been inspired to join the Craft in the first place.

In a twist of events shortly after Twain had been raised as a Master Mason, he left for the Nevada Territory to work as the private secretary to his brother Orion, who was secretary of the Nevada Territory and was subsequently suspended from his home lodge. Twain’s fraternal activity was put on hold for the most part, and there is not a lot of evidence of Lodge visits or conversations about his Masonic practices during this time. Once Twain returned to “the States” however, his Masonic interests expanded.

In April of 21, Mark Twain petitioned for readmission to his home Lodge and was reinstated.

The beloved novelist soon became a busy man; writing, tours, and the beginnings of fame kept him away from Saint Louis for long periods of time. On one of his first trips exploring Europe and the Near East, Twain is said to have been greatly impressed by Lebanon and its connection to Freemasonry. He ended up retrieving a piece of cedar and had it made into a gavel to send back to the Worshipful Master of his mother Lodge.

According to The Masonic Dictionary, “The Cedars of Lebanon are frequently referred to in the legends of Freemasonry, especially in the advanced Degrees; not, however, on account of any symbolical signification, but rather because of the use made of them by Solomon and Zerubbabel in the construction of their respective Temples.” reports that Twain “sent his lodge a gavel with this note: ‘This mallet is a cedar, cut in the forest of Lebanon, whence Solomon obtained the timbers for the Temple.’

Clemens cut the handle himself from a cedar just outside the walls of Jerusalem. He had it made in Alexandria, Egypt…”


Taken from: “Mark Twain and Freemasonry”, by Alexander E. Jones. Source: American Literature, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Nov., 1954), pp. 363-373. Published by: Duke University Press.
New Master for Neleus
"Big Red" Pegasus 13th September.