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The Strange Tale of Bob Dole 33 and the Panama Canal Treaty

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Sen Bob Dole - Freemason, 33rd Degree - YES!

by Paul H. Bock, M.M.

As a follow-up to a previous post on Senator Bob Dole, the following information is provided. This info was extracted from "Freemasonry in American History" by Allen E. Roberts, pp. 408-410, and "List of Lodges Masonic," 1992 edition.

Senator Robert Dole is a Freemason and member of Russell Lodge No. 177, Russell, KS. He was elevated to the 33rd Degree in 1975. The following story is an example of a Freemason working to protect his beloved Craft:

Under the provisions of the Panama Canal treaty of 1977, the Carter administration agreed to return to the government of Panama all U.S. property in Panama, including the only private property: The Sojourner's Lodge, A.F. & A.M., located at Cristobal. This Lodge had been constituted in 1913 by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. (NOTE: A 1967 treaty, never ratified by the U.S. Senate, stipulated that this property would never be transferred to the Panamanian government).

Pleas by the Lodge to have the property excluded fell on deaf ears in the State Department (no surprise there!) and the Panamanian government refused to renounce its claim on the property. In desperation the Lodge turned to Bob Dole. Acting on the advice of his legislative aide, Robert L. Downen, a member of Albert Pike Lodge No. 303 in Wichita, KS, and once named outstanding Demolay in Kansas, Senator Dole reviewed all documents relevant to the Lodge's claim and then went to the Carter administration. Once again, the State Department turned aside the Lodge's claim.

About a week before the crucial Senate vote on the Canal Treaty, Senator Dole announced that he planned to introduce an amendment to the Treaty specifically excluding the Lodge property, and to force a vote on the amendment before the vote on the Treaty. Panic-stricken and fearing that the Treaty might be defeated as a result, the administration re-entered negotiations with Panama. Four days before the scheduled vote the administration produced a written guarantee from Panamanian President Torrijos which stated in part, "We recognize the validity of the title now held by the Sojourner's Lodge of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.. ...The entry into force of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977 will not in any way impair the validity of this title."

Both Senator Dole and Bob Downen were made Honorary Members of Sojourner's Lodge.

As a final note, as of 1992 the Sojourner's Lodge is still listed as an overseas lodge holden to the GL of MA. Also listed are the Amcon and Balboa Lodges, Balboa, and the Sibert Lodge at Gatun, as well as several lodges in countries other than Panama and all holden under the GL of MA.

Paul H. Bock, Jr.
Hamilton-Thompson No. 37
Purcellville, VA

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