Historical Notes: I had a Dream. One Mason dreams of Secret Handshakes and an Appointment from fellow Mason President Johnson

Another letter is found in “The Papers of Andrew Johnson: September 1868-April 1869,” from M.J.W. Ambrose dated 1869. A persuasive letter pressuring fellow mason- President Andrew Johnson, to offer an appointment to Ambrose; albeit, not the chaplaincy since Johnson declined to ‘honor’ a fellow mason’s earlier request.

From Mordecai J.W. Ambrose
No. 47 Everett St. Cincinnati, O. January 29, 1869

Sir:
A few days after your inauguration I presented you with a recommendation duly endorsed, for the [sic] speciality of U.S. Chaplain. But your excellency declined to honor it. This has been greatly to my injury in every sense of the word; and I should not now renew my application to you for any thing—-preferring to die under the frowns of those whom I have assisted to elevate and sustain, and the ingratitude of my country which I have unwaveringly labored to preserve.

I now renew my application; not that I expect a Chaplaincy, not-withstanding it is my preference.

I trust I may receive some appointment that may give me life again. Pension agency, collectorship, Gubernatorial chair of some one of the territories, consulate, inspector, or any appointment of some worth that may be in your power to make. I can forward you the necessary recommendation at any time.

This I certainly would not now ask but for the reason that I saw you in a dream last night in your office room; some two or three gentlemen were present, and in due time you gave me audience, and your countenance soon lost its austerity toward me, and I again saw the President with a pleasant countenance in familiar conversation with me, and extending his hand I accepted it cordially, when you gave me the grip of an entered apprentice mason, passed to that of a fellow-craft. And then to that of a master mason, in the lawful way. You then gave the sign of distress of a Royal Arch Mason which was recognized and answered by me as I best could without its being recognized by those for whom it is not.

When I took my leave, you [sic] eschorted me to the door and pleasantly and cordially gave me an appointment. “So mote it be.”

Please do not misinterpret the spirit of the man from this little [sic] narative of an act of sleep.

M.J.W. Ambrose, M.D.
Late Chaplain U.S.A.

Undoubtedly to his chagrin, Ambrose received no appointment from President Johnson. Medical journals record M.J.W. Ambrose duly noting his medical opinions on various cases. He is found in “The Stethoscope: A Monthly Journal of Medicine and the Collateral Sciences” (Vol. IV). Here, The Stethoscope documents one of Ambrose’s medical cases: Criminal Abortion, and Trial for Murder.

M.J.W. Ambrose is buried in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Spring Grove Cemetery. Cincinnati Hamilton County, Ohio. Plot Garden Lawn, Section 104, Lot 329. Courtesy of Find a Grave

Notes: ALS, DNA-RG94, ACP Branch, File A-17-CB-1869, M.J.W. Ambrose.
Ambrose (1815-1903), a Methodist minister who served as chaplain of two Kentucky regiments during the war, continued to reside in Cincinnati where he was listed in the directories as a physician and dentist. CSR, Mordecai J. W. Ambrose, RG94, NA; Pension Records, Mordecai J.W. Ambrose, RG15, NA; Cincinnati directories (1867-81).

For more information on M.J.W. Ambrose visit the National Archives. “Faith on the Firing Line Army Chaplains in the Civil War.” Spring 2016, Vol. 48, No. 1 | Genealogy Notes.

See more at links, sources, notes & publications for M.J.W. Ambrose

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