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Clement T. Coote, Grand Master, 1834

Brother Coote is an interesting figure in the history of Free Masonry in Washington during the period of persecution from 1830 to 1840, and his years of service to the Fraternity, both in his lodge and in the Grand body, were troublous, indeed, but were met by him, in the language of a biographer, "with a patient and rather formal dignity." Happily, however, he lived to see Masonry again in the full tide of prosperity, and until the period of the Civil War was felt the influence of the stalwart service he had given to the Craft in the hour of trial. He passed away in the City of Baltimore, May 12, 1849, and his remains were interred May 15 at Congressional Cemetery, this city, the Grand Lodge conducting the ceremony with M. W. G. Master B. B. French in the East.

At the communication of the Grand Lodge, called to attend his funeral, Past Grand Master Keyworth presented a package of Masonic books and papers, late the property of Brother Coote, which had been entrusted to him to turn over to the Grand Lodge to be placed among the archives. The bequest was accepted and the disposition requested made.

Brother Coote was engaged in the dry-goods business on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W., between Ninth and Tenth Streets, was interested in a brewery on New Jersey Avenue near the Eastern Branch, was a lawyer by profession, and long held the position of Justice of the Peace with an office at the corner of Sixth and C Streets, North West. Of forceful, aggressive character he took great interest in the rather strenuous local politics of the day, as is evidenced by a so-called "broadside" aimed at him, which was published and circulated, and a copy of which may be seen in the Library of Congress. Withal he was a citizen of prominence and note. He served as a Councilman in 1826, and as Alderman from 1827 to 1834, most of the time as President of the Board.

In Masonic circles his activity and interest dated from his admission to the Order, in which he soon became a zealous and prominent member. He was initiated in Federal Lodge, No. 1, January 2, 1826; passed October 2, 1826, and raised October 14, 1826; was Secretary in 1827; S. W., 1828-29, and Master from 1830 to 1838, with a hiatus from November 1, 1836, to November 17, 1837, during which period the charter of his lodge was in the hands of the Grand Lodge. He served as Junior Grand Warden in 1830, Senior Grand Warden in 1831, Deputy Grand Master, 1832-3, and Grand Master in 1834, and as indicating something of the unusual difficulties of his position it may be noted that in October, 1834, Federal Lodge ordered the surrender of its charter, but Brother Coote and a few others, who had resisted this movement for some time, were able to postpone compliance with the mandate of the lodge and the actual surrender did not take place until November, 1836, a forcible reason for the delay being found in the fact that it may be presumed that W. Brother Coote, as Grand Master, did not desire to be left without the semblance of a lodge behind him.

AHGP District of Columbia

Source: History of the Grand Lodge and Freemasonry in the District of Columbia, compiled by W. Brother Kenton N. Harper, 1911.

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