N.C. Harmony In History: Arthur St. Clair

Throughout Masonic history, references to our Lodge are everywhere.

This is a reproduction of an article from The Pennsylvania Freemason (Vol 21, No. 3) originally published in August of 1975. Link.

Many Pennsylvania Masons,  although not widely known as great patriots, played vital roles  in Colonial Days to “build” a  new Nation.

Today, Pennsylvania Masons honor these “Giants” among men. Bro. Arthur St. Clair Among those whose names stand high not only as  Freemasons, but as military heroes, distinguished in civil,  political and cultural affairs, was Bro. Arthur St. Clair, born March 23, 1736. Member of the Continental Congress, 1785-1787, and its President in 1787, Bro. St. Clair was the first Governor of Northwest Territory, serving from its creation in 1787 until 1802. He was a member of an early British military Lodge. On September 8, 1791, he was one of those signing a  request for constituting a Lodge at Cincinnati, Ohio. (Nova Caesarea Harmony Lodge No. 2.) It is still in existence. The Warrant for this Lodge was granted by the Grand Lodge of New Jersey in 1791.

Bro. St. Clair settled in Ligonier Valley about 1764,  where he became a  member of Lodge No. 64, Greensburg [PA]. It is no longer in existence. He was a land owner and one of  the Valley’s outstanding citizens. He became Governor John Penn’s agent for the Western Pennsylvania frontier in 1771. When the revolutionary movement gained momentum, he became an active patriot. He was commissioned a Colonel of militia in July  1775, and assisted  in the retreat of the American army from Canada in that year. Promoted to Brigadier General in August 1776, he was with Bro. George Washington in the campaign and battles of Trenton and Princeton in the winter of 1776-1777. In 1777, Major General St. Clair was unable to defend Fort Ticonderoga, popularly believed to be impregnable, and was court-martialed in 1778.

Although he was acquitted “with the highest honor, he never again held prominent active service. He did, however, serve on the court-martial board that tried Major Andre at West Point in 1780. In 1802, following his term as administrator of the Northwest  Territory, he retired to “Hermitage,” his home near Ligonier, where he  built an iron furnace for the manufacture of stoves. His generosity and the failure of the government to  reimburse him for expenditures in the Northwest Territory cost him his fortune.

Bro. St. Clair died in poverty in his Bro. Arthur St. Clair log cabin home on Chestnut Ridge, Greensburg, Pa., on August 31,  1818. At his burial, Masonic services were conducted. His remains lie buried in Greensburg.