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Balcony beneath The Apotheosis of Washington (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Balcony beneath “The Apotheosis of Washington,” in the Capitol Rotunda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beaumarchais enlists Pierre-Charles L’Enfant

Beaumarchais recruits Pierre-Charles L’Enfant: a coincidence
L’Enfant does not return to France
L’Enfant is initiated into Freemasonry
Washington commissions L’Enfant to be build a capital city
Thomas Jefferson supervises the building of Washington DC

Coincidentally, French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, (24 January 1732 – 18 May 1799), the gentleman who authored The Marriage of Figaro (Le Mariage de Figaro, 1784), recruited soldiers wishing to fight against the British in the American War of Independence (1775 – 1783). Among the men Beaumarchais recruited is major Pierre-Charles L’Enfant (August 9, 1754 – 14 June 1825), an architect and civil engineer who decided to settle in New York after the American War of Independence. In 1791, L’Enfant would be asked, by George Washington, to design what would be the future capital of the United States. George Washington wanted the United States to have an impressive capital city.

The National Mall was the centerpiece of the McMillan Plan.

The National Mall was the centerpiece of the McMillan Plan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pierre-Charles in the “Federal City”

George Washington, first President of the United States
George Washington, a Freemason
L’Enfant, a Freemason

When Pierre-Charles heard that a capital would be built, he wrote to George Washington asking to be commissioned to do this work, and Washington graciously obliged. Because Washington was a Freemason, he asked L’Enfant to include Masonic symbols in the layout of the city that would eventually be named after him. Freemasonry is not a religion. It is a fraternity. Consequently, integrating Masonic symbols would not violate the Enlightenment ideal of the separation of Church and State, an ideal also promoted by Freemasonry. Again, coincidentally, Pierre-Charles L’Enfant had been initiated in Freemasonry in New York, on 17 April 1789. He could therefore incorporate Masonic symbols in his layout, known as L’Enfant Plan. L’Enfant was never very active as a Freemason but, as an architect and civil engineer, he followed the instructions of his clients, at least to a point. The layout of Washington, D.C. contains Masonic symbols as do some of its buildings.

Masonic and Illuminist elements in the layout of Washington

The layout of Washington, D.C. may indeed feature Masonic elements and reflect the thinking of the Illuminati. George Washington was influenced by the Illuminati or “luminaries,” a movement rooted in the Enlightenment. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial has its Internet entry. On the Internet, one also finds a rather alarming entry entitled Washington D.C. and Masonic/Lucifer Symbology.

Dan Brown: The Da Vinci Code

Parisian Elements

L’Enfant also incorporated in his designs Parisian architectural elements our “Americans in Paris,” Thomas Jefferson in particular, had admired in certain buildings. Consequently, there was a will among members of the former American Delegation to remember their stay in Paris. Like tourists, they brought back “souvenirs.” They did so by inserting Parisian motifs in houses they had built and in their décor. Therefore, Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia) does reflect the involvement of the French in the American War of Independence, but these elements are not necessarily Masonic. I wonder if they visited Vaux-le-Vicomte. There can be no doubt that L’Enfant was inspired by Louis XIV‘s landscape artist André Le Nôtre and noted British architects:

“[t]he influence of Baroque architecture at Versailles, by André Le Nôtre [12 March 1613 – 15 September 1700], appears in his plan and it also bears resemblances to the London plans of Sir Christopher Wren PRS [20 October 1632 – 25 February 1723]  and John Evelyn FRS [31 October 1620 – 27 February 1706].”[ii]

French Coins

French Coins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thomas Jefferson as Architect

Supervising L’Enfant was Thomas Jefferson, whose home at Monticello Jefferson designed and redesigned personally. It included architectural features that had caught his eye in Paris. In fact, Monticello is a historical landmark and, in 1987, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jefferson also designed the University of Virginia, the first buildings. Jefferson had a passion for architecture.

“Thomas Jefferson, who worked alongside President Washington in overseeing the plans for the capital, sent L’Enfant a letter outlining his task for the capital which was to provide a drawing of suitable sites for the federal city and the public buildings. Though Jefferson had modest ideas for the Capital, L’Enfant saw the task as far more grandiose, believing he was not only locating the capital, but also devising the city plan and designing the buildings.” (See Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, Wikipedia.)

Problems arose. Allow me to quote Wikipedia:

“L’Enfant was supervised by three commissioners. In February 1792, Andrew Ellicott, who was conducting the original boundary survey of the future District of Columbia (see Boundary Stones [District of Columbia]) and the survey of the “Federal City” under the direction of the Commissioners, informed the Commissioners that L’Enfant had not been able to have the city plan engraved and had refused to provide him with the original plan (of which L’Enfant had prepared several versions.” (See Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, Wikipedia.)

Andrew Ellicott

Andrew Ellicott had not been commissioned to design the layout of the future Washington, D.C., but he took over the project and modified L’Enfant Plan. George Washington dismissed L’Enfant without remuneration for the work he had carried out. Later on, L’Enfant would be remunerated, though barely so: $3,800, enough to pay a few creditors. After leaving the “Federal City,” L’Enfant surveyed and platted Indianapolis, Indiana, and Perrysburg, Ohio, but he was now in disgrace and would die in poverty. When he grew old, friends provided a refuge at Green Hill, a Maryland estate in Chillum, Prince George’s County. Chillum is where L’Enfant was first buried.

The McMillan Commission (1901-1902)

Pierre-Charles Rehabilitated
The National Mall
Pennsylvania Avenue
The Capitol Building
The “Grand Avenue” 

The future would bring recognition to L’Enfant. In 1901 and 1902, his plans were used by the McMillan Commission “as the cornerstone of a report that recommended a partial redesign of the capital city. Among other things, the Commission’s report laid out a plan for a sweeping mall in the area of L’Enfant’s widest ‘grand avenue’, which had not been constructed.” (See c, Wikipedia.)

The Society of the Cincinnati (1783)

The Society of the Cincinnati
La Société des Cincinnati de France
Louis XVI ordains the Society of the Cincinnati
The French ‘connection’

In the course of his career, Pierre-Charles, an aristocrat by birth, had become “Peter.” Thomas Jefferson had asked him to paint a portrait of George Washington. He also designed the badge for the Society of the Cincinnati, a society commemorating the involvement of France in the American War of Independence. L’Enfant would also establish a French branch of the Society, La Société des Cincinnati de France, ordained by Louis XVI. The Society of the Cincinnati is a “hereditary, military, and patriotic organization formed in May 1783 by officers who had served in the American Revolution. Its objectives were to promote union and national honours, maintain their war-born friendship, perpetuate the rights for which they had fought, and aid members of their families in case of need.”[iii]  The Society of the Cincinnati also remains a testimonial honouring the presence of the French in America during the American Revolutionary War, which is its most important role. France was impoverished, but its military wanted to fight for the independence of the United States and Louis XVI signed the Treaty of Alliance (1778) with France. George Washington would be elected the Society’s first President and its headquarters are the Larz and Isabel Anderson House in Washington, D.C..


Jean-Jules Jusserand
Lying in State, the Capitol rotunda
Pierre-Charles re-interred
Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia

At the request of Jean Jules Jusserand, a French Ambassador to the United States during World War I, the United States recognized L’Enfant’s contributions to his adopted nation. In 1909, after lying in state at the Capitol rotunda, L’Enfant’s remains were re-interred in the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. L’Enfant’s name is included in the list provided by Wikipedia (The Society of the Cincinnati). La Fayette is listed as Gilbert du Motier and Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, as Pierre L’Enfant. (See The Society of the Cincinnati, Wikipedia.) “At his first inauguration in 1791, President Washington took his oath of office on a Bible from St. John’s Lodge in New York. During his two terms, he visited Masons in North and South Carolina and presided over the cornerstone ceremony for the U.S. Capitol in 1793.”  (See George Washington Masonic National Memorial.)

(Photo credit: Google images)

The Society of the Cincinnati (Photo credit: Google images)


Sources and Resources:

BBC History: The American War of Independence: The Rebels and the Redcoats,
by Professor Richard Holmes
L’Enfant Plan is an online document
The Masonic Career of Major Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, by Pierre F. de Ravel d’Esclapon, 32°, Valley of Rockville Center, N.Y. (March-April 2011)
Washington, the Mason: http://gwmemorial.org/washingtonTheMason.php
United States Presidents and the Illuminati/Masonic Power Structure, by Robert Howard
George Washington Masonic National Memorial
The Masonic Trowel
Washington D.C. and Masonic/Lucifer Symbology
The Society of the Cincinnati
La Société des Cincinnati de France
The Larz and Isabel Anderson House


[i] “[A]t Holland Lodge No. 8 F&AM, which the Grand Lodge of New York F&AM had chartered in 1787. L’Enfant took only the first of three degrees offered by the lodge and did not progress further in Freemasonry.” (See Pierre-Charles L’Enfant, Wikipedia.)    
[ii] “Pierre Charles L’Enfant”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 22 May. 2014
[iii] The “Society of the Cincinnati”.  Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 22 May. 2014 <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/117977/Society-of-the-Cincinnati>. 
Gershwin plays “Swanee”


Jefferson’s Monticello

Pete Seeger sings “Way down upon the Suwannee River,” by Stephen Foster 


© Micheline Walker
22 May 2014
The insignia of the Society of the Cincinnati 
(Photo credit: Google Images)