A Secret You Don’t Know How to Hear

Franklin Lodg

When it was built, this was the tallest building west of the Appalachians. It’s the Masonic Lodge down in Franklin.

I really enjoy history. I think I even enjoy learning about the bad parts. But when I look at this building, I see a statement of fact I don’t know how to understand. This is the past saying something I don’t know how to hear.

I find that frightening, a little bit.

I don’t know what I want to say about this exactly, except that, I feel like, if you stared at it long enough, you would know something about American history you maybe didn’t want to know.

That building, each brick crafted by hand by people who couldn’t decline the work. Sent up a death-fall distance into the air to stack those bricks so that men could meet in secret and pretend they knew the mysteries of the world and then so that men could meet and send the Chickasaw on their death march.

I always feel weird about defending Andrew Jackson, but I have come to respect that Jackson knew what it would take to get the country white America wanted and that he didn’t gloss over or coddle or reconfigure or whatever that it took enslaving people and committing genocide. I also find myself respecting that he was willing to stand here in this building and be the enemy of the Chickasaw people to their faces.

There’s a kind of bluntness in Jackson’s person and actions that is alarming and unfamiliar. But I find myself growing more to respect that he did openly and let the chips fall where they may instead of, as we do now, doing it secretly and pretending it’s fine.