Lamar Award

Each year New Braunfels Lodge #1109 presents the Mirabeau B. Lamar Award to a deserving student at New Braunfels High School and Canyon High School and to an outstanding teacher in each schools' feeder pattern. The award is named after Mirabeau Bonapart Lamar, a Mason and 2nd President of the Republic of Texas, who is considered the 'Father of Public Education in Texas'.

 

Masons have long been involved in public education in Texas. Stephen F. Austin was instrumental in persuading the Mexican government to include in their 1824 Constitution the provision for free public education. After the war with Mexico, the 59 man delegation to the convention that adopted the Texas Declaration of Independence included 22 Masons and the Masons insisted that the declaration include the provision "It shall be the duty of Congress as soon as circumstances permit, to provide by law, a general system of education." As it turned out, circumstances did not "permit" until 1854 when Governor Peace (a Mason) established our first free public school system.

 

In 1854, The Grand Lodge of Texas declared that 10% of its annual revenue would be set aside for public education and even appointed a Superintendent of Education to administer its funds. In 1854, there were 14 public schools funded by the Grand Lodge of Texas. This number rose to 100 by 1873. It is unfortunate that records do not identify the first school, but historians say that it was either the one opened/sponsored by Orphans Friend Lodge No. 17 at Fanthorp (now Anderson, near College Station) or the one opened/sponsored by Graham Lodge No. 20 in Brenham. Both are known to have been in operation in the 1840's. Masonry's contribution to public education in Texas was summed up in a statement by Dr. Frederick Eby, Texas historian and Professor Emeritus of the University of Texas, and incidentally, not a Mason: "Education in Texas is indebted to the courageous assistance of the Masonic Brotherhood for their labors in the establishment of the Public School system."

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