May 1 On this date in 1865, William McKinley (U.S. President 1898-1901) received his 1st degree in Hiram Lodge #21, Winchester, Virginia.
WHY PRESIDENT MCKINLEY BECAME A MASON
When General Horatio King asked William McKinley how he happen to become a Mason he explained: “After the Battle of Opequam, I went with our surgeon of our Ohio regiment to the field where there were about 5,000 Confederate prisoners under guard. Almost as soon as we passed the guard, I noticed the doctor shook the hands with a number of Confederate prisoners. He also took from his pocket a roll of bills and distributed all he had among them. Boy-like, I looked on in wonderment; I didn’t know what it all meant. On the way back from camp I asked him:
“Did you know these men or ever see them before?”
“No,” replied the doctor, “I never saw them before.”
“But,” I persisted, “You gave them a lot of money, all you had about you. Do you ever expect to get it back?”
“Well'” said the doctor, “If they are able to pay me back, they will. But it makes no difference to me; they are brother Masons in trouble and I am only doing my duty.”
“I said to myself, If that is Freemasonry I will take some of it for myself.”