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About Andrew Furuseth

 “Andrew Furuseth”

“The man our lodge is named after”

Nordic roots ran deep in the waterfronts of the world. During “Andrew Furuseth’s day, Norwegians were drawn to ports like San Francisco by warm weather and steady work, the prospect of gold and adventure. Sailors, bred from generations of seaman in Norway and other Scandinavian countries filled boarding houses and saloons around the waterfronts of this country. They were by far the largest ethnic group at the turn of the century. Today about 2 to 300,000 still live in this area and are about seventh in ethnic group size.

Even though they were the largest ethnic group back then, little remains to remind us of them. Why? Probably because were by trade, transient. If they settled in an area, they would blend into their community very fast with their hard work ethics and moral background. Never the less, some reminders of their influence still remain. One such reminder flanks the entrance to the Seaman’s Union of the Pacific in San Francisco. The bust of “Andrew Furuseth”.

“Andrew Furuseth”, the fiery eyed and cantankerous man, who refused to submit to being just another seaman, spent most of his adult life fighting for his fellow man. The seaman of that day called him “St. Andrew”. Before he won the support to get the seaman’s act passed in congress, the word “shanghai” became a part of our vocabulary. Men were fearful of going to a port city because they were easily taken by force or drugged and before they knew it be a thousand miles away.

“Andrew Furuseth”

Birth name; “ Anders Andreassen Furusethstuen “

Born; March 12th, 1854

 This outstanding Norwegian, who died in 1938, lived to be 84 years old. Most of those years were spent fighting for the rights of the ordinary seaman.

    Lets think back 55 years to the day our first members, were gathered together trying to decide on who they should name their new lodge after. I’m sure there were many other well-known Norwegians (prominent people of that time) talked about before deciding on “Andrew Furusth”, A Norwegian born American.

     In 1915, the New York Times wrote an article stating; Abe Lincoln Had freed the slaves and “Andrew Furuseth” was the Abe Lincoln of the sea. At the same time, then president Woodrow Wilson was signing into law “The American Seaman’s Act”. (At that time called the La Follette Act). “Andrew Furuseth “ had spent 19 years lobbying congress, and Sen. La Follette to get them to pass this act protecting the ordinary seaman from being enslaved aboard ships for years.

     Once before, during the term of president William Howard Taft in 1912, through his persistent lobbying, the Act was passed by congress only to be vetoed by the president.

     This time, after a very long debate in congress, Sen. La Follette stood up and said; Mr President; As a land lubber I have listened to a man who has been a seaman all his life. I will never be able to find the right words expressing my gratitude to “Andrew Furuseth”, who during the last nineteen years has visited me almost every Sunday morning to talk with me about this law. He is a Sailor, an American Norwegian, and one of the most intelligent men I have ever met. For nineteen years he has occupied that seat up in that corner of the balcony, waiting for this bill to become law.

        Sen. Robert M. Follette was “Andrew Furusth’s close friend until he died.

          As dedicated as he was towards the plight of the ordinary seaman, he was equally against promoting his own greatness and wealth.

         He lived for others, helping to found the American Seaman’s Union, never taking more than a menial salary, living in a small hotel room, and never marrying.

        “Andrew Furuseth” died a poor man materially, but he was rich in the love and admiration of thousands of his peers.

        On Saturday January 22nd, 1938 “Andrew Furuseth died. He was almost 84 years old.

        On Sunday January 23rd, 1938  one day after his death, his body lay in state in the Auditorium of the Department of labor building, Washington D.C.

        He had seventy-one honorary pall bearers, among them, The Sec. Of Labor, nine members of the house of representatives, seven United States Senators, two Supreme court Justices, A Representative of Norway, and many Labor officials.

         Sen. Robert M. Follette delivered the eulogy. In it he said; ‘SIMPLE IN GREATNESS THROUGH THE YEARS YOU’VE STOOD. GREAT IN TASKS DONE IN STERN SIMPLICITY.

HIGH YOUR UNSWERVING RECORD FOR GOOD

OF DEVOTION, SACRIFICE, AND INTEGRITY

        “Andrew Furuseth” was cremated according to his wishes, his ashes taken aboard an American Warship and scattered in the winds of the Atlantic.

 

“Andrew Furuseth loved the sea”

“It was were he wanted to be”

This is a poem written by an anonymous close friend and read at his funeral

 

WHEN I AM DEAD

THEN TAKE MY ASHES FAR FROM SHORE

AND SCATTER THEM UPON THE WAVES

FOR I HAVE LOVED THE RESTLESS SEA

AND ALL THE YEARS OF LIFE I’VE KNOWN

WERE EVER LASHED BY STORM AND SWEPT

BY LIGHTNING’S FLAME AND DRIVING HAIL

AND I AT CLOSE OF DAY WOULD SLEEP

WHERE ALL GOD’S WILDEST STORMS ON EARTH

SHALL THUNDER REQUIEMS FOR ME

WHEN I AM DEAD

These tributes to “Andrew Furuseth” are an indication of how great this man was, not the least of which was a tribute written about him in the congressional record, of which a copy is hanging in our outer hall.

 Who can wonder why our founding members decided to name our Lodge after this great man.

 

"Happy Fodelsdagen Andrew Furuseth Lodge"