Introduction to Freemasonry
H. L. Haywood
THE ORIGIN AND PURPOSE OF MASONRY
Once upon a time—it was seven or eight centuries ago—the various nations of Europe and of the British Isles were, as St. Paul had expressed it, “very religious.” There was nothing they loved better than to put up magnificent buildings for use by the church—cathedrals, which still fill us with wonder, chapels, monasteries, nunneries, and numberless other structures intended for use by worshippers, priests, monks and nuns.
The workmen who erected these fine structures were of a very high class, selected with great care, and paid more money than other laborers. They were generally called “Freemasons.”
It is easy to understand why they were called “Masons” because that word meant in those times “builders.” Among the Masons were learned men, who knew how to make difficult plans, and how to solve the vexing geometrical problems that arose from time to time; and skilled men who could throw up arches, who could carve, sculpture, and, it may be, could also paint and make stained glass windows. They were the aristocrats of all skilled workmen.
It is not so easy to explain why they were also called “Free,” because the most learned historians have never been able fully to explain this matter. It is believed that the Masons were exempted from many of the petty restrictions that hedged in other workmen, and that they were privileged to move about from place to place as the needs demanded, a thing not permitted to other laborers who were kept in one place all their lives. One thing is certain—there was as much difference between the Freemasons and more humble workmen as there is today between a drug clerk and a scientist, or between a village carpenter and an artist.
There came a time when no more cathedrals were built, especially in England, where the Freemasonry we now have originated. The Protestant Revolution came on, and along with it came a great prejudice against the kind of religion that had needed such buildings as the old Freemasons had been taught to build. The Freemasons’ Lodges declined; many of them went entirely out of existence; and what few remained had few members and exerted little influence. During that period these Lodges adopted the custom of “accepting” into membership men who had no purpose of engaging in the builder’s art. Such men were sometimes called “gentlemen Masons,” but more generally “Accepted Masons,” a term still in use among us.
The first of all Grand Lodges was established in London in 1717. Owing to many circumstances it made a number of changes in its work. Because of this a rival Grand Lodge came into existence in 1751, the members of which called themselves “Ancient Masons.” Many of the Lodges in this land were chartered by this “Ancient” Grand Lodge. This, no doubt, helps to account for the fact that about one-half of the Grand Lodges in the United States have adopted the title of “Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons.” The Masonry of those Grand Lodges not using “Ancient” in their titles is quite as old as in those that do.
The greatest change wrought by the founding of the first Grand Lodge (the Mother Grand Lodge of the World) in 1717 was that it caused its constituent Lodges gradually to discard all connections with actual building labors. The old craft of builders became a fraternity, the members of which used the tools and customs of the builders in a symbolical manner. This new symbolic, or emblematic, Masonry came to be called “Speculative,” a word that does not mean that Masons began to “speculate” about the mysteries of life in the manner of philosophers, but that they had become builders in a symbolical sense—builders of brotherhood among men, builders of righteousness, good will and charity. They retained much of the rtival and many of the laws and customs of the old-time builders but used them for a new purpose. It took nearly two hundred years for this profound change to come about.
There is much said in our Second Degree about “Operative Masonry.” This refers to the Masons of the early days who worked as laborers on buildings. The word “Operative” comes from a Latin root meaning “work;” when applied to Masonry it means the Masons who, prior to 1717, worked with their hands, and is used in a sense opposite to “Speculative Masons” who work with their hands and their hearts. The task at which Speculative Masons are employed is, in a large sense, much more difficult than the labors of the Operatives; men are more difficult to handle than stones are, and a universal brotherhood is a much harder thing to bring into existence than a cathedral; but at the same time the successful outcome of the labors of Speculative Masons is worth more to the world than any building could possibly be.
When you united with a Lodge you became a “Free and Accepted Mason,” or an “Ancient, Free and Accepted Mason,” as the case may have been.
As a Mason you are a builder. You are obligated to do your share in constructing a Temple of Brotherhood, under the ample roof of which there is room for all, of all races, religions, tongues, and nationalities. You are to build up inside yourself a manhood founded on truthfulness, good will, charity and morality; and in co-operation with your fellows, a world constructed on those virtues. In order that you can work harmoniously with your fellows you need organization; you have that in your Lodges and Grand Lodges. You need a plan to go by; you have that in the Trestle Board explained in the Ritual, which is the Blue Print showing what it is that Masonry is to do; and you need tools; you have them in the Working Tools given you in the Three Degrees, all of which, borrowed from the old Operative Masons, symbolically represent those moral powers and virtues necessary to construct the Temple of Brotherhood. Also it must be noted that the work on which Freemasonry is engaged is for all time, as well as for all people, therefore you need to be geared on to your fellows who have worked before you, but have gone to the Grand Lodge Above; you have this contact with the past through your traditions, your Ritual, your Landmarks, and your laws. It is a splendid thing to find one’s self thus co-operating with millions in the present and with other countless millions in the past at a work that will last through all the centuries to come and benefit all the world! To wear the Apron of the Mason is more honorable than to hold membership in the Star and Garter or any other Knightly Order, which is content to pin badges on a man’s coat but requires of him no service to the suffering world of men.
Because this work is so vast in its extent and so difficult in its character it is necessary that great care be exercised in selecting the men fitted to carry it on. The Operative Masons found this true of their own undertakings; they accepted among their apprentices only youths of unimpeachable character, of good report, and with sound physical bodies. To this rule they adhered with such strictness that it was kept at the center of their laws for centuries and centuries so that when Operative Masonry became transformed into Speculative Masonry this old rule, called “The Perfect Youth Doctrine,” was retained for a long time everywhere, and is still retained by many Grand Lodges. Gradually it is coming to be understood that the requirements for membership in a lodge of Speculative Masons cannot be the same as those for physical labor, therefore many Grand Lodges are gradually changing their customs, believing that it is better that a man have a finger missing, or an eye gone, than that he be unfit mentally and morally for fellowship with the brotherhood.
Not all men can be Masons. Those who are chronically ill should not be because they are unable to carry out their Masonic duties; and since the Craft is not a charitable organization, in the usual sense of “charitable,” it cannot afford to accept members who may later become a charge on its funds. Likewise the man who is too ignorant, or who lacks the normal quota of intelligence, should be kept out, not because Freemasonry is a high-brow institution for learned men, but because it requires intelligence to understand the mission of Masonry and to fulfill its requirements. And it is obvious that the man who is by nature unbrotherly, who cherishes bitter social or religious prejudices, and who does not understand the art of living harmoniously with his fellows, cannot become a very good Mason. The only man fitted to be a Mason is he who by nature and training can help carry out the grand purpose of Masonry.
Just as education is a much larger thing than any organized school can be, and just as a school must limit its membership very carefully, so must membership in our Craft be chosen with constant care, even though the purposes of Freemasonry are as lasting as time, and as broad as the race. This means that the machinery of organization called Lodges, Grand Lodges, etc., cannot be as broad in its membership as the ideals of Freemasonry. Some brethren think that because Lodges carefully limit membership to a chosen few the Craft should confine its services to members only, and keep itself within narrow compass; others hold that because the aims of the Craft are world wide therefore any and all should be received into membership. Neither of these extremes is sound.
Masons are picked men but they are not picked for a selfish purpose. The Lodge is a school wherein men may learn the art of living; the whole Fraternity is a great symbol of the world, including all, of both sexes; the plan of Masonry is that in the Lodge and the Fraternity members, like pupils in a school, may learn best how to live the brotherly life, and that they will live it outside the Lodge as well as inside. The Lodge therefore is an instrument, an agency of a purpose that reaches beyond itself; the more strict it is in regard to its own membership requirements, the larger will be its influence in the world outside its own tiled doors. All that has thus far been said may now help us to frame a working definition of Masonry, so that we can answer accurately the question, What is it to be a Mason?
A Mason is a man holding membership in good standing in a regularly and legally constituted Lodge. He has of his own free will and choice sought such membership in order that he may join with the Brotherhood in carrying out its great world wide purposes. He believes sincerely and in his own heart in those purposes, and in the teachings of Masonry. He tries to carry into practice outside the Lodge the life that is taught him inside it. These teachings he has inherited from Masons that have gone before, through many centuries. In order to preserve the good work of his Masonic fathers he is loyal to the landmarks: and in order to perpetuate that work in the present and future he is obedient to the laws and customs of the Craft.
Masons are builders, and builders only, not destroyers; if it becomes necessary that a religion be abolished, or a government overthrown, or a social revolution be brought about, such tasks must be left to other agencies. There is no provision in the Masonic Lodge for any such activities, and no room in it for warfare, hatred, or prejudice. The Fraternity upholds loyally the legally constituted government, whatever that may be; it works as the friend of all religions; and it accepts whatever may be the social system in vogue about it. Its Temple is not made with hands, so that other temples do not need to be thrown down in order to make room for it. Its Kingdom is not of this World, so that it does not quarrel with such kingdoms as are; the only race it recognizes is the human race, in which is ample room for all colors, tribes, and peoples; its influence is a leaven, not a program, a spirit, not a creed, and works on whatever may be the fortune for the time being of any dogma, science, or cult. If a Mason feels it necessary to make war on any church, government, or social class he must engage in it outside the lodge room, and as a private citizen, not as a Mason. One who hates his fellows, who cherishes bigotry, and who lusts to tear down the temples of others may be a member of a Lodge in a certain superficial sense, but he has never been made a Mason in his heart.
THE AMERICAN SYSTEM
No sooner is a man made a member of a Blue Lodge than he discovers the existence of other bodies of Masonry lying alongside, or beyond it. Each of these has its own organization, officers, laws, treasury, traditions, ritual, and purposes, and oftentimes its own separate building. In addition to these, the new member also finds that just outside the circle of Masonic bodies, strictly so-called, are other organizations, not properly described as Masonic, but nevertheless belonging in some sense to the Masonic world, and all requiring of their membership some kind of connection with the Blue Lodge. To the majority of Masons, as well as to those outside the Fraternity, this complicated machinery, as of wheels within wheels, is so bewildering that some knowledge of this array of organization is necessary to every Mason.
First, we shall examine the various organizations, five in number, that are strictly Masonic. These comprise Lodges of Master Masons, Chapters of Royal Arch, Councils of Royal and Select Masters, Commanderies of Knights Templar, and Consistories of the Scottish Rite, the last named of which must be understood as standing at the head of several Scottish Rite groupings to be described in due time. Brethren who prefer to lay out a subject in picture form sometimes liken this system to a tree, the trunk, representing the Blue Lodge, dividing into two main branches, one being the Scottish Rite, the other The York Rite, the latter term being applied, in America, to the Blue Lodge, Royal Arch, Royal and Select Masters, and the Knights Templar grouped together. Once a man is a member of a Blue Lodge,—some states require the new Brother to agree he will not petition for additional degrees for a period of from six to twelve months—he may at will go in “either direction,” and pass from the Lodge into the Scottish Rite, or else The York Rite; or he may go “both ways” at once. In either event he must, in order to become a member of any of the four main groups outside the Blue Lodge, pass through an initiation, pay a fee, enter his name in the book and then pay dues exactly as if each of these bodies existed alone. If a Blue Lodge member goes through the Scottish Rite, he enters first the Lodge of Perfection, and then by successive steps goes on to the Consistory; if he chooses The York Rite he enters first the Chapter of Royal Arch, and then passes on to the Knights Templar. Each of the bodies requires membership in good standing in the body immediately preceding, and all of them require membership in good standing in the Blue Lodge, so that if a man is dropped from the Blue Lodge he is automatically dropped by all other bodies that he may have joined.
The ritual of each of the Masonic bodies lying outside the Blue Lodge is divided into degrees, in the same fashion that the Blue Lodge itself has its three degrees. Usually these degrees outside the Blue Lodge are called “high degrees,” but it is better to describe these further grades as “additional degrees.”
The Blue Lodge is the heart, or root, or foundation of the whole Masonic system as we have it in America, though conditions differ in other lands; all of the higher degrees depend upon it, or take their point of departure from it, and exist to develop, and amplify, and enforce its teachings. Why it is called a Blue Lodge is something of a mystery; it is supposed that the name comes from the English custom early in the eighteenth century of lining the Master Mason’s apron with blue silk, but of that we cannot be certain. Many Masons dislike the name and refuse to employ it, but usage appears to have brought it to stay, and blue is universally Masonry’s symbolic color. The Masonry of the Blue Lodge is often described as Symbolic, or Craft, or Master Mason Masonry; in England it is generally called Ancient Craft Masonry. As every Master Mason knows, the Blue Lodge consists of three degrees, or grades, or steps—Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. All of the Blue Lodges in the United States are bound together under Grand Lodges, the sovereign governing bodies; each Grand Lodge is supreme in its own Grand Jurisdiction, of which, in this land, there are forty-nine, including the District of Columbia. A Grand Lodge controls all the Blue Lodges in its Grand Jurisdiction, but has no authority outside. There is no national body. These forty-nine Grand Lodges maintain Masonic unity in the nation by a system of Fraternal Relations—that is, as long as one Grand Lodge maintains fraternal relations with another Grand Lodge, the members of each may visit lodges under the other, and may dimit from one to another. As long as a man is a member of a given Blue Lodge, he must abide by the laws of his Grand Jurisdiction, wherever he may live.
Next after the Blue Lodge in the system of The York Rite (which might better be called the American Rite, seeing that its arrangement of degrees is peculiar to this country), comes the Royal Arch, known as Capitular Masonry by virtue of the fact that its degrees are conferred in chapters. These degrees are four in number—Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Holy Royal Arch. Each state has its own Grand Chapter, the principal officer of which is the Grand High Priest; and all the Grand Chapters, with very few exceptions, are organized in a General Grand Chapter, meeting every three years, with a General Grand High Priest at its head. Red is the color appropriate to the Capitular degrees. Its ritual system is a carrying to completion of the symbolical lessons of the Master Mason Degree, and reaches its climax by recovering to the candidate That Which Was Lost in previous episodes of the legendary drama.
The Royal Arch Mason may pass next into either the Council of Riyal and Select Masters, or into a Commandery of Knights Templar. The Council has control of the degrees of Royal Masters and Select Masters; a degree called Super-Excellent Master is conferred in some councils, but not always. The ritualistic Work of the Royal and Select Master’s degrees is considered to be held in a vault, or crypt, for which reason it is called Cryptic Masonry, or the Cryptic Rite; and like the systems of the Blue Lodge and of the Royal Arch, has to do with King Solomon’s Temple. The Council is unique among higher degree bodies in that it is not used as a bridge to something beyond it, but is valued for its own sake. For many decades it led a stormy existence, and at times seemed on the point of perishing, but of late years it has begun to come into its own among discriminating brethren, who cherish its two great degrees as among the most beautiful in all Freemasonry. The councils in each state are governed by a Grand Council, which holds a triennial assembly.
According to its own traditions, Knight Templar Masonry has descended to us from the Knights Templar, who bore the brunt of the warfare incident to the Crusades. It has charge of three orders (equivalent to “degrees”)—Red Cross, Temple, and Malta, organized into commanderies or encampments, all of which are under the control of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America, which holds its Conclave every three years. Black and white are the characteristic colors of this rite. Each member must be a Trinitarian Christian. Its purpose is to enforce the lessons of Masonry in a Christian fashion and under the forms of chivalry.
The Scottish Rite is, according to its theoretical scheme, an aggregation of thirty-three degrees, divided into seven sections, and it may be entered directly from the Blue Lodge. This rite originated in Europe during the eighteenth century, but the first Supreme Council, as now organized, was opened at Charleston, S. C., in 1801. All Scottish Rite bodies in the United States are divided under two grand jurisdictions; the Southern, embracing all states west of the Mississippi and South of the Ohio, with its seat at Washington, D. C.; and the Northern, in which are all states east of the Mississippi and north of the Ohio, with headquarters at Boston. At the head of each is a Sovereign Grand Commander, and under him is the Supreme Council of Grand Inspectors General. The schemes of degrees differs a little as between the two Grand Jurisdictions.
In the Northern Jurisdiction the degrees are thus divided: Symbolic Lodge, 1 to 3, inclusive; Lodge of Perfection, 4 to 14, inclusive; Chapter Rose Croix, 17 to 18, inclusive; Consistory, 19 to 32, inclusive; Supreme Council, 33.
The first three degrees are not conferred in English-speaking countries, where they are under the exclusive control of Lodges and Grand Lodges. An examination of the degrees as set forth in the table above will show that the Scottish Rite has its own version of the degrees worked by the Royal Arch and the Knights Templar, but these have each and all another character, so that the brother who passes through all the rites has opportunity to learn the lessons of Masonry from many points of view. The Masonry of the Blue Lodge, Royal Arch, and Council is, in a broad sense, moral and religious; in the Commandery, it is Christian; in the Scottish Rite, philosophical.
The Mason who travels into other lands will find many Masonic systems, some of them so different from ours in arrangement, principles and landmarks as to make fraternal relationship difficult or impossible. In a general way it may be said that in most Latin countries (Spain, Portugal, France, Central and South America, etc.), the Scottish Rite System is the foundation of all, as the Blue Lodge is among us: in Scandinavian countries is a system with some points of contact with these two, but otherwise unique; and in other countries, as in Italy, Germany, etc., there is a mixture of systems. For the most part, Latin Masonry is philosophical and political, and leaves religious beliefs to the private consciousness; whereas English-speaking Masonry is non-political and religious, and requires of its candidates a sincere belief in God.
To return in conclusion to American Masonry. We have here three grand divisions: Symbolic, or Ancient Craft Masonry; The York Rite; and the Scottish Rite. Dr. Mackey, whose “Encyclopedia” should be in the hands of every student, tried to substitute for “York Rite” the name of “American Rite,” arguing that it was not derived from York, and therefore should not be so called; but “York Rite” continues in general use and has no doubt permanently established itself. Only the bodies comprising these three Rites are Masonic; no others have any right to the name. All the auxiliary orders, or side degrees, existing for social purposes, and requiring of their candidates some connection with Freemasonry, are not a part of Freemasonry, except in a shadowy sense. There are so many of these, and some of them bulk so large, that an examination of them must be reserved for another chapter.
In the last paragraph of the preceding chapter was a reference to those organizations styled variously “Side Orders,” “Side Degrees,” “Auxiliary Bodies,” which, though they cannot be described as Masonic, are so closely connected with our American system of rites and degrees as to belong in a rough sense to the Masonic world and therefore come within the circle of the studies.
Of these Side Orders (to pick that term at random) the Order of the Eastern Star is generally and favorably known. Its supreme governing body is the General Grand Chapter, presided over by a Most Worthy Grand Matron associated with a Most Worthy Grand Patron. This national organization is composed of the majority of Grand Chapters (not all Grand Chapters are affiliated), of which there is one in each state, with a Worthy Grand Matron and a Worthy Grand Patron at the head. The local body is called a chapter, and is ruled by a Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron. In the chapter’s initiatory ceremonies are five degrees: (1) Jephthah’s Daughter, or the daughter’s degree; (2) Ruth, or the widow’s degree; (3) Esther, or the wife’s degree; (4) Martha, or the sister’s degree; and (5) Electa, or the Christian Martyr’s degree. Each of these represents one of the five points of a star. Christianity is the religious base of the Order. A male candidate must be a Master Mason in good standing; a woman must be the wife, widow, mother, daughter, or sister of a Mason.
As in the case of so many secret societies the beginnings of this Order are somewhat obscure but it is generally held that the honors as founder go to Rob Morris, the famous Kentucky Mason, ritualist, idealist, editor, poet, whose tireless experiments made him a storm center in Masonry seventy-five years ago. He borrowed his idea from Europe, more especially from France, where ever since the middle eighteenth century various attempts have been made “to extend the privileges of the Masonic institution to females.” The date for the organization of the Eastern Star is roughly given as 1855.
Between the Eastern Star chapter and the Masonic lodge there is generally a close and friendly relationship. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, however, does not permit its Master Masons to hold membership in the Eastern Star. Usually, a chapter is permitted to use the lodge room, and returns the courtesy by serving as a social center for the lodge brethren. Grand Lodges cannot extend official recognition to Grand Chapters—it is one of the landmarks that a woman cannot be made a Mason—but in most Annual Communications of Grand Lodge the Worthy Grand Matron is received as a “distinguished visitor” during “refreshment” and brings with her an exchange of felicitations.
Among the Side Orders for men, the Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America, popularly known as the “Shrine” easily holds first place in numbers, influence, and popularity. Shriners occasionally regale us with solemn stories about some ancient Mohammedan origin but this is fun, not history. The idea originated in the heads of William J. Florence and Dr. Walter M. Fleming and the first steps toward an organization were made in New York, June 16, 1871, with the famous New York Mason, Charles T. McClenachan, lending his powerful assistance. Mecca Temple, “the Mother Temple of all Shrinedom,” came formally into existence September 26, 1872. Damascus Temple was organized at Rochester, N. Y., four years afterward.
The Shrine is nationally governed by the Imperial Council, holding annual sessions, the convening of which, and the general celebrations attending, have become one of the most colorful events in American social life. This Imperial Council was organized in New York City June 6, 1876, and grew out of the developments of Mecca Temple. During its first eleven years it met in New York City or in other New York towns but since then has been moved about from city to city over the entire country. Walter M . Fleming was Imperial Potentate, as the head of the Imperial Council is styled, from 1876 to 1886; Sam Briggs followed, serving from 1886 to 1892; since then the Imperial Potentate has held office but one year. The local body is known as a Temple, and is governed by a Potentate.
The purpose of the Shrine has been described in the official history as “a desire to provide an avenue for relaxation, mirth, and merriment” for its members, who must be either Knights Templar or members of the Scottish Rite, 32°. No organization has ever more successfully fulfilled its purpose. The very name “Shrine” has become a synonym for fun. At times this fun seemed to be carried too far according to the thinking of groups of more conservative Masons, who have feared that the more ancient and sacred name of Masonry might be made to suffer. To counteract this fear the Imperial Council has of late years adopted more stringent regulations, and has enlarged its original scope to include the great scheme for a series of Hospitals for Crippled Children, the finest and greatest charity ever organized. At present writing there are more than 158 active Temples under the Imperial Council.
Where the Shrine requires of a candidate that he be either a Scottish Rite or Knight Templar Mason, the Grotto, its sister organization, is open to members of the Blue Lodge. It s full resounding name is “Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm.”
The Grotto was not invented. Like Topsy, “it just growed.” The first germ was planted in a little group of Masons who formed the habit of tarrying after Lodge to indulge in a social hour. This was in Hamilton Lodge, No. 120, Hamilton, New York, in the year 1889. Seventeen charter members effected a temporary organization on September 10 of that year and in June of the year following the Grand Council was formed. At the head of this Grand Council is the Grand Monarch. The local body, or “Grotto,” is headed by a Monarch. According to a recent report, there are about 150 active Grottoes.
In a certain number of cases the Grotto has encountered the same criticism as the Shrine, and for the same reason. It is not a Masonic body, but its conditions of membership are such as to bring it close to Masonry, and oftentimes the public press lumps it together with Lodges, Chapters and Consistories. This fact that it is thus popularly linked with the Craft, and in a sense has the good name of Masonry in its keeping, has caused some Grand Lodges to resent certain of its practices, notably a few of its public processions and entertainments. Ex-Grand Monarch Harold M. Harter issued during his term of office an edict looking toward the elimination of such features as have embarrassed Masons.
The Ancient Egyptian Order of Sciots was contributed to the ranks of Side Orders by California. It is similar to the Grotto in being open to Blue Lodge Masons and in its emphasis on sociability, but in other important respects differs much. Because of its noon day lunches and its devotion to community improvement it will earn for itself the sobriquet of “The Rotary Club of Masonry,” if nicknamers become busy.
The Sciots came into existence after this manner: in 1905 a number of Masons at the Mission Masonic Temple, San Francisco, formed a club wherein to discuss, untrammeled by the rules of the Lodge, the practical application of Masonic teachings. At first this new organization called itself “The Booster” and dubbed its head Kadih Al Malik, with the purpose “To be one family of boosters and Brothers,” and its slogan “Boost One Another”; in January of 1910, the name was changed to Sciots, to be governed by a Supreme Pyramid, presided over by a Supreme Pharaoh. The local body is called a Pyramid, and its presiding officer Pharaoh. Only one Pyramid can be organized in a city. Until recently this order has confined itself almost exclusively to California, but it is now branching out into other states, and may some day become really national.
The club instinct seems to belong to Masonry. In some countries the Lodge itself is a social club, but here the Lodge is of more serious constitution, so that the need for sociability has usually been satisfied by some extraneous organization. Many of these clubs are so purely local in nature and purpose as to have no national connections. In 1905 it occurred to S. R. Clute and a few of his brethren of the Masonic Club of Syracuse, New York, to work out some means whereby these local clubs might be brought together so as to provide for an interchange of courtesies and privileges. In response To a call issued by him and his club representatives from four other New York Clubs assembled at Syracuse and there brought into being “The League of Masonic Clubs,” with Bro. Clute as president. The first annual convention was held at Syracuse April 19, 1906, at which time the scope was broadened and the name changed to the “National League of Masonic Clubs.” Its nineteenth annual convention was held in New York City June 12, 1924, with more than 600 clubs enrolled, totalling a membership of about 500,000.
According to its constitution the purpose of this League is to form a “National Masonic Unit, for the service of all the clubs and the Grand Jurisdictions.” The League itself has grown to be a kind of national over-club with a program of its own, upon the trestle board of which is a plan to help build a national university at Washington, organize a national Masonic employment bureau, etc., etc.
The Tall Cedars of Lebanon has a respectable tradition of antiquity; it is claimed that Masons of 50 or even 100 years ago sought its membership. According to this same tradition it evolved from an old custom of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey of setting aside one night during the period of each annual communication for purposes purely social. After this custom had been fixed many years it occurred to some that a permanent organization might be erected upon it, and the Tall Cedars is the result.
It is said that David H. Lukens, Trenton, N. J., was among the first to conceive the idea, but the honor of founder is generally accorded to Rev. G. S. Gassner, who also wrote the ritual now in use. The Supreme Forest was incorporated at Trenton, N. J., March is, 1902. There are now some ninety-four local Forests (headed by a Grand Tall Cedar) in eighteen states with a membership in excess of 55,000. The presiding officer of the Supreme Forest is known as the Supreme Tall Cedar. Among the eight statements comprising “Our Aim,” as described by one published statement, is this description of the purpose of the Cedars: “A fraternal order, devoted to the promotion of closer fraternal relations between Masons of all lodges and to promotion of clean and original amusement.”
Among the most remarkable of all these Side Orders is one that admits no members over twenty-one years of age. The Order of De Molay for Boys is the darling child among them all, and enjoys privileges accorded to none others. It originated among a boys’ club led by Frank S. Land in Kansas City, Mo., March, 1919, and was so successful that within two years it numbered almost 2,000 members in Kansas City alone. The ritual, one of the secrets of its amazing growth, was written by Frank A. Marshall, and divided into two degrees, Initiatory and De Molay, both of them of rare effectiveness and teaching the boys filial affection and patriotism.
In its formative period the new order was sponsored by the Scottish Rite bodies of Kansas City. In 1921, a Grand Council was organized, to consist of not more than fifty members, elected for life, and representing all parts of the country. Each chapter, as the local body is called, must be sponsored by some recognized Masonic body, and is under control of an advisory council selected from the members of the sponsoring body. Owing to this arrangement the order, while it is in no sense a Masonic organization, and takes pains to teach that fact to its members, is under the supervision of Masonic bodies, a thing not true of any other Side Order. Sons of Master Masons and their chums, between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, having the general qualities of good character, are eligible to membership.
A similar organization, but of range and membership more limited, is the Order of Builders for Boys, an outgrowth of the activities of the Masonic Employment Bureau of Chicago under the leadership of Arthur Millard. Its beginning was sponsored by the Van Rensselaer Lodge of Perfection of Chicago. The first ceremonial was conferred on the sons of the members of that lodge in Masonic Temple, Chicago, March 2, 1921. There are two degrees in the ritual, Apprentice Builder and Builder.
A sister to the De Molays and the Builders is the Order of Rainbow for Girls, similar to them in purpose and organization, a product of Oklahoma. It came into formal existence at McAlester April 6, 1922, under the leadership of William Mark Sexson, now Supreme Grand Recorder, and started with a membership of seventy-six girls. A local chapter may be sponsored by an Eastern Star chapter, by a Masonic lodge, or by both. Girls between fourteen and eighteen from Masonic and Eastern Star homes are eligible for membership.
With the Rainbow may be bracketed a very similar organization for girls, the Order of Job’s Daughters, founded under the leadership of Mrs. W. H. Mick, of Omaha, Neb. The constitution, by-laws and ritual were prepared by LeRoy T. Wilcox, formerly prominent in Montjoie Commandery, Chicago. The first annual session of the Supreme Guardian Council was held at Omaha in 1921, with Mrs. Mick as Supreme Guardian. Daughters, nieces, sisters, and granddaughters of Master Masons and of members of the Eastern Star are eligible. The local body is called a Bethel. The order has its name from a phrase in the Book of Job, “The fairest daughters in all the land.”
Freemasonry is represented among colleges by three or four fraternities, the oldest among which is Acacia, founded in 1904, and now having thirty-one chapters. It is similar to other college frats, except that members must be Master Masons in good standing. It was the outgrowth of a Masonic club at the University of Michigan that had existed since 1894, and was incorporated May 12, 1904. It s membership is by invitation only; there is no solicitation.
IN THE PORCH
The Entered Apprentice or first degree is the oldest ceremony of its kind in Freemasonry, in all its forms, and wherever it may be practiced. A number of the best Masonic authorities (others disagree with them) believe that in the early days of Operative Masonry it was the only degree practiced.
The candidate who sought entrance into a Lodge of Operative Masons was a mere boy, usually about twelve years of age, and he had to serve an apprenticeship averaging seven years. He was brought into Lodge, after being voted upon, was there made to take a solemn obligation to keep inviolate the secrets of the Craft, was made to listen to one of the versions of the traditional history of Freemasonry, was indentured, or bound, to a Master Mason, was given instructions by the Master of the Lodge, and then entered his name in the Lodge’s roster. These ceremonies were made necessary in order to guard the trade secrets, by means of which the Operative Masons made their living. The ceremony was the “degree” or “initiation,” and after he had become thus initiated the candidate had entered the first “grade” of Masonry.
This ceremony somewhat revised and amplified was retained in the Masonic system when the members of “Four Old Lodges” met in London in 1717 and organized the first Grand Lodge of Speculative Freemasons. In its substance and principles this ancient ceremony continues to be used by us whenever a candidate is made an Entered Apprentice Mason.
The word “Apprentice” itself means, in almost every language, a “learner” or “beginner.” in our Speculative system he is a “youth” who has started out to learn the art and practice of Freemasonry as we now understand it. Sometimes the apprentice is spoken of as “a babe in Masonry,” because the word “initiation” itself signifies a new birth. The ceremony of initiation, according to this order of symbolism, is therefore a ceremony by means of which a man is “born” into the Masonic life.
In order to secure this honor a man of legal age must petition the Lodge nearest to his place of residence in a manner according to the forms specified by that Lodge. This petition states that he seeks membership of his own free will and accord, unmoved by motives of self gain, that he believes in God, and stands ready and willing to perform his Masonic duties and to abide by the laws and usages of the Craft.
Under Operative Masonry it was essential that such a candidate be hale and sound in body, not only because he would be called upon to do hard manual work, but also because the Craft was not a charitable organization and, therefore, necessarily was obliged to demand that its Apprentices be “perfect youths.” The qualifications for membership in the Speculative Lodge are somewhat unlike those that were necessary in the Operative Lodge; nevertheless the majority of Grand Lodges ordain that no man with maimed or mutilated body is eligible for membership. Along with these written requirements for qualification there are a number of requirements not written but understood: a candidate should be financially able to meet his money obligations while a member of a Lodge, he must have a good character, the rudiments at least of religion, and he must have sufficient education and intelligence to enable him to take his proper and active place among the members of such a Fraternity as ours.
After his petition has been submitted to the ordeal of the ballot and formally accepted, the petitioner becomes a candidate and is conducted through the initiatory ceremonies, at a time and place specified by the Lodge. From the time he knocks at the door for admission until he has heard the last word of his initiation every step, every word, every act has a symbolical significance designed to teach him what Masonry is and what will be expected of him. His very entrance into the Lodge is itself a ceremony, reminding him that in order to enter into any great world of human life a man must do it according to laws and customs. The real entrance into Freemasonry cannot be effected merely by walking through a door; it is an act in a man’s own will, a process in a man’s own mind; not otherwise can he become a Mason.
The Lodge into which he enters is a symbol of the world, its covering “the clouded canopy or starry decked heaven,” its dimensions toward all points of the compass, its form of a double cube to signify moral and spiritual perfection, its position east and west, and its situation on “the highest hills and lowest valleys,” to remind him that Freemasonry includes within its brotherhood men of all stations and degrees. It is a new life into which the candidate enters.
“A certain sharp instrument” reminds him that if he proves false to such an undertaking, or permits himself to lapse from his new obligations, there is a principle, or moral force, at work within his breast that will bring severe penalties upon him. Moral deterioration caused by a failure to live up to moral obligations—this is the only “penalty” known to the Craft, except those appertaining to the machinery of organization, such as suspension or expulsion.
If the candidate finds himself in darkness it is to remind him that insofar as the art of Freemasonry is concerned he is poor and bind, so that he will make no progress unless he is willing to follow his guide fearlessly. If he finds himself girdled by a cord it is to teach him that he is binding himself to a new loyalty, and that in its own way this new tie is as solemnly binding as are the bonds of wedded life, the obligations of a legal contract, or the moral requirements of friendship. This external cord is not removed until, symbolically, the man has been made a Mason in his heart, so that no external control is necessary. The hoodwink is not for the purpose of concealing anything from him—there is nothing to conceal—but to symbolize that he cannot see or understand Freemasonry until his own mind has received a n inner illumination.
At the center of the Lodge stands an altar, at the foot of which is given a prayer. This also has its symbolic purpose, for religion in its deep and universal sense stands at the center of the Masonic life.
The mystic journey about the Lodge room, similar to the ancient ceremony of “circumambulation” reminds the novice that he has a long journey before him and that it is necessary for him to keep in touch with his brethren and with their laws and officials if ever he is to arrive at the goal of his Masonic career. He travels to the East because he is seeking light, and it is traditionally the place and origin of light. It is fitting that the Worshipful Master is seated at that point of the compass because in all the formal work of the Lodge he rules and governs his brethren as the sun rules and governs the day.
The obligation is that part of the ceremony by which the candidate is bound legally to his brethren and in which, in the most solemn manner, he agrees to obey the laws of the Craft. This obligation is, in a general sense, the ground work of all Masonic jurisprudence insofar as it deals with the Lodge and its membership.
It is fitting that this obligation be taken in closest contact with those three Great Lights which lie open upon the altar. The Holy Bible is for Masonry (it is often described as the “Volume of the Sacred Law”) the Divine Law according to which the Supreme Grand Master of the Universe governs His own Great Lodge, which is the whole world of mankind. This Divine Law is the same for all human beings everywhere, in the present, in the past, and throughout the future. The other two Great Lights, the Square and Compasses, rest upon that first Great Light, and naturally so, because all the ordinances by which man governs himself rest finally upon the fixed and changeless ordinances of Divine Justice. The Square symbolizes all a Mason’s just dealings with his brethren and fellows; the Compasses, all those self-given laws by which he governs and controls himself.
The Lesser Lights, by means of which the Great Lights stand revealed, have long been a puzzle to the Masonic ritualist. One of the simplest explanations is that in Operative days each lodge room had a window in the east, west and south walls respectively and that these windows were thought to symbolize the sun and the moon, the only light by which Masons could work, and the Worshipful Master, whose skill and intelligence was a source of enlightenment to the whole body of craftsmen.
When thus bound to his fellows by the most solemn of all ties the candidate is invested with the “badge of a Mason,” the only badge known to the Craft. The Operative Mason used his long calfskin apron to protect his body and clothing from the rough stone with which he had to work; to the Speculative Mason this apron has come to be used symbolically, and means that the candidate has become a Craftsman whose duty it will be to labor with his brethren at the great Temple of Brotherhood. Symbolizing such a kind of labor the apron is justly said to be more ancient than the Golden Fleece or the Roman Eagle, more honorable than the Star and Garter.
If the candidate finds himself in an utterly destitute condition, not properly clothed or equipped with any working tools, it is to remind him that as individual apart, and by himself, he is blind and helpless; and that as a Mason he can never work alone, but must learn to work with his brethren.
When he is made to stand in the Northeast Corner, which is the corner where the cornerstone is laid, it is to show him that as a trained youth he is himself the cornerstone of the Order, just as trained youths are the cornerstones of civilization; and at the same time he is made to see that in becoming a Mason, entering upon the Masonic life, he has laid a new cornerstone within himself on which to erect a new structure of hope, character, and experience.
To equip him for such work he is furnished with the working tools of an Entered Apprentice: the Twenty-four Inch Gauge and the Common Gavel. The Twenty-four Inch Gauge stands for measurement and careful regulation; the Gavel symbolizes all those habits and moral forces by means of which he can chisel himself into shape in order that he may fit into his own proper place in the brotherhood, thereby becoming a Perfect Ashlar.
Thus initiated the candidate has become an Entered Apprentice Mason. He has the right to visit and sit in Lodges of the First Degree, to receive the appropriate instructions, and he can join in public processions, such as the laying of cornerstones; but he is not entitled to Masonic burial, cannot pay dues, speak, vote, hold office, or serve on committees. He is yet but a learner in the mystic art of Masonry, with a long road to travel stretching before him.
FELLOW OF THE CRAFT
In the old Operative Lodges, from which our modern Lodges of Speculative Masonry arose, the Masonic candidate was usually a boy of twelve or thirteen years of age, as indicated in the preceding chapter. He began his Masonic career as an apprentice, bound or indentured to some Master Mason. After he had served his probation and had proved his mastery of the art of Masonry, he was then made a full fledged member of the Lodge. As such he was called a Fellowcraft, or Fellow of the Craft, which means that he enjoyed all the rights and privileges of full membership; and at the same time, from the point of view of the art he had learned, he was called a Master Mason. For many generations these two terms were used interchangeably, and were not separated until the eighteenth century, when the present three degrees were adopted.
These three degrees are an elaborate allegory of the life of a man in this human world. The first degree represents his youth and early manhood; the second, his maturity; and the third his old age, with its ripe wisdom, and its thoughts of death and the life to come.
The Promotion of an Apprentice to the Second Degree is technically known as “passing,” just as we say of a man who has been made an Apprentice that he has been “entered,” and of a Fellowcraft when he has been made a Master Mason, that he has been “raised.”
The means by which an Entered Apprentice gains admission into a Fellowcraft Lodge, the Perfect Points of Entrance, is suggestive of the three jewels of the Fellowcraft. “The attentive ear” is that by which he receives instruction; “the instructive tongue” is that by which he teaches his younger brethren; and “the faithful breast” is that in which the secrets, arts, parts and mysteries of Freemasonry are safely preserved.
Symbolically speaking the Apprentice must necessarily begin to learn his art by working on the rough stones, or ashlars, as they come from the quarry; therefore his working tools are the twenty-four-inch gauge and the common gavel. The Fellowcraft is one who has progressed further in the art, sets the finished stone into its place in the wall, and for these reasons has for his working tools the plumb, square and level. By the square he sees that each ashlar has its proper angles; by the level he sees that the courses are laid on true horizontals; and by the plumb he sees that the wall is erected in a true perpendicular. In Speculative Masonry, this symbolizes the fact that a Fellowcraft must see to it that his character is such as fits properly into the Temple of Brotherhood.
The two Great Pillars through which the Fellowcraft passes symbolize those which stood on the porch of Solomon’s Temple, and thereby remind the candidate that when he enters into mature manhood he is passing into a sacred place, so that if he be wise he will keep all his human powers and natural faculties as sacred as Solomon’s Holy House. Also these Great Pillars symbolize birth. Once the candidate has passed through them he has entered into a life different from that he lived as an Apprentice. As an Apprentice he was a learner, and was treated as such; but now as a Fellowcraft he has become a mature workman, with increased responsibilities.
The two globes by which the Great Pillars are surmounted represent the heavenly and the earthly spheres, the former reminding the candidate of all that is above him, the second of all that is about and beneath him. The mature workman must make use of moral and spiritual truths and ideals as well as tools and material substances.
The lotus, or water lily, was frequently used among ancient peoples as an emblem of peace. It may be that the lily work about the capital of the Great Pillars is an echo of this, to remind the workmen that he fills only one niche in the great temple of co-operative effort, and consequently must work in peace and harmony with his fellows.
The network, which is the interlacing of an endless thread, typifies unity, and means that all the workmen together must labor toward the same end.
The pomegranate in ancient times was used very widely as an emblem of fecundity, perhaps because of the great number of seeds it contains. In our ritual it accordingly stands for plenty, suggesting to the workman that as long as he lives he will have use of an abundance of materials and receive rich rewards for his labor. The checkered pavement harks back, so most of our symbologists believe, to the use of mosaic work among the early cathedral builders. According to our monitors it typifies the checkered course of human life, with nights and days succeeding each other, with pains and sorrows interspersed among joys and successes. Some of the cathedral builders used the checkered pavement to symbolize the eternity of the world, so that when a man trod across it, he was reminded that days and nights succeed each other forever, and that there is plenty of time for the most ambitious human undertaking.
The candidate is reminded that Speculative Masonry, the secrets of which he is learning in his initiatory experiences, has descended to him from Operative Masonry, and that like his brethren of old he is a builder. But whereas Operative Masons wrought at structures of stone and wood, he is to devote himself to the more difficult task of building an upright manhood within himself and a great brotherhood in the world.
The Winding Stairs of the Second Degree are manifestly symbolical because there was no stairway inside of Solomon’s Temple. The three, five and seven steps of which they are composed remind one of the mystical use of numbers in ancient times; but in our monitors these numbers are made to refer to the three officers of the lodge, or else to the three degrees; to the five senses, or the five orders of architecture; and to the seven liberal arts and sciences, respectively.
The curriculum of schools in the Middle Ages, at which time the cathedral builders were in their prime, was divided into seven branches, in two groups; the first group was called the trivium and usually comprised grammar, rhetoric and logic; the latter group was called the quadrivium and comprised arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry. Among the builders, geometry was prized above all other arts or sciences and was looked upon as the foundation of all knowledge, so that its initial, the letter “G,” became a symbol of sacred and mystical significance.
The whole art of building was a practical application of geometry. It seemed to these Operative brethren that geometry was everywhere; the earth was an oblong square, the heavens were a globe, or dome, the stars moved in great curves, and the Great Architect of the Universe Himself was named the Grand Geometrician. Order, regularity, symmetry were everywhere. While it may be that our modern habits of thinking have led us to hold other theories concerning the structure of the universe, in its essence and principle, the ancient insight of the Operative Masons remains true. If a man looks upon the whole scheme of things as a shapeless, meaningless drift, like clouds of vapor wandering aimlessly about in space, it is manifestly impossible for him to draw any life plan upon his trestleboard, to work for ideals, to set up an aim for life, or to toil at any enduring structure. But when a man discovers that order is the secret and inner nature of creation, he has found a science which is indeed a science of life; through the years of existence he can be a moral and spiritual architect with the settled conviction that life has meaning and purpose.
This wisdom is necessary to a man, especially in the middle years, when often the way is so hard and the light is so dim. It is during that middle period of life that men forget their early dreams and find their ideals fading away because in the heat and burden and dust of toil the eternal verities grow dim.
What are the wages of a Fellowcraft? Symbolically they are corn, wine and oil. The corn typifies plenty, or abundance, representing all the fruits of toil. Wine, according to ancient symbolism, represents health or wholesomeness, and suggests the strength and well being of him who has not wasted himself in sloth and self indulgence. Oil is that which symbolizes peace, poise, calmness, the last mark of maturity and wisdom.
Many of our early ritualists saw in the second degree a drama of education. Such an interpretation is sound and right if by education one means all the habits, forces and influences that shape one’s mind and body to skill and maturity. The fellowcraft has left behind him the rudiments, the A. B. C.‘s appropriate to the Apprentice, but in entering the Inner Chamber he finds himself in need of a higher education, even that which appertains to the mature man. Such an education is as necessary to the adult, as a primer is to a child, so that he is wise who never lays down his working tools, but seeks to learn a new truth every morning and a new wisdom every evening.
THE MASTER DEGREE
“In all my research and study, in all my close analysis of the masterpieces of Shakespeare, in my earnest determination to make those plays appear real on the mimic stage, I have never, and nowhere, met tragedy so real, so sublime, so magnificent as the legend of Hiram. It is substance without shadow—the manifest destiny of life which requires no picture and scarcely a word to make a lasting impression upon all who can understand. To be a Worshipful Master, and to throw my whole soul into that work, with the candidate for my audience and the Lodge for my stage, would be a greater personal distinction than to receive the plaudits of the people in the theatres of the world.” Thus wrote Edwin Booth of the Third Degree. The more one studies that Degree, the further he works his way toward the center of it, the more he will come to agree with the great actor’s estimate of this marvelous ceremony.
Much point has been made by our critical historians of the fact that the present system of three degrees in the Blue Lodge did not come into use until some time after 1725, there having been only one or two degrees prior to that date. While this is true as regards many of the details and the present technical construction of the three ceremonies, it is not true at all of the great legend, or drama, which stands at the center of the Master Mason’s Degree, for that legend is undoubtedly very old—how old no man can tell. The most skeptical scrutiny of it shows it to possess all the ear-marks of a very great antiquity. In all probability the central idea in it goes back to ancient times, perhaps to the morning of the world.
The candidate who approaches the portals of a Master Mason’s Lodge should be not only prepared and proficient in the usual sense of that word, but should also have such knowledge and understanding of it as to enable him to appreciate a ceremony that is unquestionably not only the crown of all Masonic Degrees, but also one of the profoundest masterpieces of human art and thought anywhere in existence. By every moral and intellectual right a lodge should see to it that the Fellowcraft about to enter its mysteries should be intellectually, morally and spiritually prepared. The mere fact that he can repeat by rote the lectures of the First and Second Degree does not by any means prove that he is properly prepared for the Third Degree.
Of the three great tenets of the Craft taught in this degree—Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth—the greater emphasis has been laid on Brotherly Love and Relief; of Truth, what it is, and a Mason’s duty to seek it, not enough has been said. Brotherly Love is the extension to a fellow member of the Craft or the good will and kindliness given to a blood brother in a family; Relief is Brotherly Love in practice; Truth is the adjustment of one’s entire being to the realities of life as we men know them. If a man is bigoted, narrow-minded, ignorant, prejudiced, fearful of new knowledge, he can never become a Master Mason in his heart.
The scripture reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes which attends the candidates’ Mystical Journey through this Degree like a solemn and moving music, is an ancient poet’s picture of an approaching storm, before which men flee in fear. They shut themselves up in their houses and tremble like birds, stopping all work and pleasure. Such, says the old writer, is like the approach of death. Men are afraid of it, so that their knees give way under them, as if they expected it to bring an utter devastation in its wake. But this, so he contends, is a childish fear, for if men would only teach themselves that the Sovereign Grand Architect of the Universe is as much the Lord of Death as of Life, they would have no more fear of death than of sleep, or any other human experience. What the great foundation stones were to the Temple of Solomon this unwavering confidence is in the life of a Master Mason; it is the firm foundation on which he builds.
The search for That Which Was Lost comes to us from a mystical system of allegory and symbolism at least two and a half millenniums old, for it had its origin, in all probability, among those ancient Jews from whom we received the gift of the Old Testament.
According to their records and traditions, the Name of Deity was held inviolably sacred so that in the course of time only the high priest was permitted to pronounce it, and then only once a year on the great Day of Atonement. No man was permitted to write the Name; indeed the very vowels in it were kept secret so that even the learned knew only its consonants. Then came some national tragedy, perhaps the Babylonian captivity, when even the high priest lost it, or else the secret of it died with him. To recover the sacred name became one of the quests of the pious, and in this way a symbolical tradition came into existence concerning the Loss and Recovery of a Word. If it be understood that the Sacred Word stood for a knowledge of the Divine in man and in the universe, the old tradition becomes universally true. The search for that word, and all it signifies, is a secret motive in the breast of every true man. It is fitting, therefore, that the candidate in the Third Degree should seek That Which Was Lost.
The OB of the Third Degree is one of the pivotal and crucial moments in all the initiation ceremonies of the Blue Lodge, for it legally ties a candidate to the Craft, giving him the technical status of a Master Mason, than which there is in reality no higher grade in all the Fraternity.
The mighty task set before a candidate in this degree is one for which he needs every possible equipment, most of all Light, which is a knowledge of the significant facts of life and an understanding of their meaning. The Operative Mason was compelled to seek Light on the mysteries of architecture; the Speculative Mason needs a larger and clearer Light, for he must comprehend the secrets of his own nature.
In Operative Masonry, the apron was a protection to the clothes of the workmen and at the same time a badge, to the outside world, of his membership in the Craft. Among us who practice a mystical architecture it signifies these same things, but in addition reminds a brother he must maintain purity of mind and heart, and that at the same time he has been called to a labor more difficult, more exacting, even, than the erecting of buildings. He has become a workman in the Temple of Human Brotherhood, which is at once the hope and salvation of the world.
It is sometimes said that the trowel is the Working Tool of a Master Mason. As a matter of fact all the implements and instruments of Masonry are his working tools; in his labors he will need them all; the trowel is simply that working tool which is most appropriate to his task as a Master Mason. It is an instrument used by Operative Masons to spread the cement that unites a building into one common mass. But we Speculative Masons are taught to use it for the more noble and glorious purpose of spreading Brotherly Love and affection, that cement which unites us into one sacred band or society of friends and brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, save the noble contention, or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree.
The profoundest of the many mysteries in the Third Degree is undoubtedly that strange tragedy which centers in H. A. For nearly two hundred years the best scholars of the Craft have sought for some historical origin of this moving drama, but in vain; when, where, and among whom it had its beginning it is impossible to say. Perhaps it would be most accurate to assert that its real beginnings are not to be sought in any geographical location or in any year of time, but rather in the depth of human nature. It is one of those readings of the life and fate of man that could never have been devised or contrived by any group or individual, but grew, like all the greatest myths and imaginative creations of the race, out of the instinctive and unstudied experiences of the soul. In some form or other one may find it in a dozen literatures, widely scattered over the world through thousands of years.
It is a tragedy about which one might fill many volumes with commentary and exposition, but if any man were to undertake such a work he would most probably in the end arrive at the same conclusion as that which is understood by the rank and file of the brethren, namely, that in this profound tragedy we have set forth after a symbolical fashion the truth that in the depth of a man’s nature, hidden there like a secret from the profane, is that which can neither be buried nor destroyed, but arises again out of all the deaths that are. It is a reading of human nature before which one instinctively bows in awe and wonder.
The deathless thing in man, and that in the universe by virtue of which he is deathless, is symbolized by the Spring of Acacia which is not at all a symbol of death, as it is so often interpreted, but a symbol of that which is deathless.
By the same token the raising is something more than a symbol of affirmation of the life to come. It is an event that occurs here and now, not at some future time or place, and means that there is that inside of us now which lives the eternal life. He who has discovered that immortal nature within his own being, understands it and builds upon it, is one who has raised himself out of perishable rubbish and already lives the Life That Shall Endless Be.
He who, led by the symbolical and allegorical indications of the degree, has discovered this truth about himself, will find that he has been raised not to an isolated self-centered life, but rather into a relationship of brothers and friends. His Masonry must penetrate into every possible nook and cranny of life, becoming adjusted to the Five Points of Fellowship.
All the emblems of the Third Degree are variations for the sake of emphasis of the central theme, intended to light it up by special teachings each of which, while it has great value in itself, must be understood and accepted in relationship to the whole.
Such, in broadest outline, is the nature and purpose of this great Masonic Degree. It is profound reading of human life, true to the depths of it, everywhere and always valid for all men. To understand it, to live by the power of it, and to walk in the light of it will mean for any brother a new life, accurately to be described as the walk and work of a Master Mason.
THE CRAFT IN AMERICA - I
Every brother who reads anything at all about Freemasonry must long ago have discovered how inadequate is the literature concerning the American Craft. Taking into consideration the great membership and the great influence undeniably exerted by the Fraternity in this nation, our exceedingly scant supply of books on the subject is something to scandalize us. The most unfortunate lack of all is any good history of American Masonry. Why such a book has never been written is very much of a mystery, for it is a great subject, full of dramatic interest and surprise, and instructive in many ways.
There are many traditions concerning the founding of the Craft in the early Colonies that have had a wide currency, but unfortunately lack any support of evidence. The wildest of all such tales is that of Augustus Le Plongeon who in a book published in 1886 averred that Masonry had been established in this Western Hemisphere 11,500 years ago.
In 1827 Francis Alger and C. T. Jackson discovered in Nova Scotia a rough stone on which were engraved what appeared to be the square and compasses, along with the date 1606. Early American Masonic writers looked upon this as a proof that Freemasonry was known in Nova Scotia at the very beginning of the seventeenth century, but subsequent very careful investigation into this case has quite disproved this theory.
A similarly unsubstantiated tradition is to the effect that Freemasonry was introduced into Rhode Island in 1566 or 1568 by a number of Jews who settled at Newport.
Made of the same flimsy material is the tale of how one John Moore wrote a letter in 1716 in which he says he “spent a few evenings in festivity with my Masonic brethren.” It is supposed that Moore, if ever such a man lived, was at that time in Philadelphia. There is no evidence whatsoever to show that such a letter ever existed.
Still another interesting rumor is that incorporated by Charles W. Moore in The Freemason’s Monthly Magazine, Vol. III, in which he reports a tradition that a Masonic Lodge practiced Masonry in King’s Chapel, Boston, in 1720. There is more substance to this tradition than to those above mentioned, but even so it has never been verified, and until further facts are forthcoming it must be left among the unsubstantiated traditions.
The first native American known to have been made a Mason was Jonathan Belcher, Royal Governor of the Colonies of Massachusetts and New Hampshire from 1730 to 1741; and later on also Royal Governor of New Jersey. In a letter dated September 25, 1741, addressed to the First Lodge at Boston, Belcher said, “it is now thirty-seven years since I was admitted into the Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons.” This would mean that Governor Belcher had been made a Mason (probably while in England) in 1704, the earliest authentic date in the history of American Masonry.
The earliest authentic record of the existence of a Masonic lodge in America has to do with a St. John’s Lodge at Philadelphia. There is evidence to show that such a Lodge existed in that city at least as early as 1730. It may be that there were Lodges prior to that time for in the issue of his Pennsylvania Gazette, dated December 3 to 8, 1730, Benjamin Franklin mentioned “several Lodges of Freemasons erected in this Province of Pennsylvania.” Franklin at that time was only twenty-four years of age and had not yet become a Mason, so that it is quite possible he was mistaken in making such an assertion.
Whether he was mistaken or not it remains certain that some kind of a Lodge was functioning in his city by 1730 or 1731 as we know from Liber B of St. John’s Lodge, Philadelphia city, a Lodge record discovered by Clifford P. MacCalla in 1884. An entry in this Lodge book is dated June 24, 1731 and shows that at that time there were at least fourteen members in the Lodge. Some of the entries indicate that certain brethren had been made Masons many months before so that in all probability the Lodge has been functioning at least as early as 1730.
At that time all American Masonry was necessarily under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of England, the Mother Grand Lodge of the world. That Grand Lodge had in 1721 adopted a regulation to the effect that no new Lodge could be established without warrant from the Grand Master; but while such a regulation became law in 1721 it did not become everywhere enforced for some years afterwards, and it is quite probable that the Lodge, or Lodges, in Philadelphia were originally organized according to “the ancient custom,” by which a number of brethren without warrant could establish a Lodge wherever they might find themselves.
One of the most important items in connection with Philadelphia Masonry is the fact that on June 5, 1730, the Duke of Norfolk, Grand Master of England, appointed Daniel Coxe of New Jersey to be Provincial Grand Master of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Thus far no evidence has been discovered to show that Coxe exercised his authority in the Colonies, though it is now known that he was on this side of the water during the life of his Deputation. However, the mere fact that such a Deputation was issued to him shows that there were Masons in the Colonies at that early date.
The most famous of the early Philadelphia Masons was Brother Benjamin Franklin. The exact date of his initiation is unknown, but the evidence indicates that it must have been in or near February 1730-1. An entry in Liber B under date of June 24, 1731, shows that he paid £2. 2s. 6d., probably as the balance of his initiation fees. The young printer was so zealous in his Masonic activities that on June 5, 1732, he was installed as Worshipful Master.
This St. John’s Lodge at Philadelphia functioned also as a kind of Grand Lodge. The first brother to serve as Grand Master was William Allen, who was exalted to that position on June 24, 1731 (New Style). Franklin himself became Grand Master in June, 1734.
In that same year, Franklin published an American edition of “The Constitutions of the Free-Masons” which, except for a few negligible differences, was a reproduction of the Anderson Constitutions published in England in 1723. So far as we know this was the first Masonic book ever published in America.
As stated above, the Masonic law in force by the Grand Lodge of England was to the effect that no Lodge could be constituted without warrant from the Grand Master, and that there is doubt as to whether the First Lodge in Philadelphia began with such a warrant. There can be no doubt, however, concerning the legal regularity of the establishment of the First Lodge in Boston. Brother Henry Price of that city received from Lord Viscount Montague, at that time Grand Master of England, a Deputation under date of 1733 authorizing him to be “Provincial Grand Master of New England and Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging.” Price received his Deputation in person while visiting London. Immediately upon returning to Boston he called a group of his brethren about him and organized a Provincial Grand Lodge on July 30, 1733. Immediately upon this, eighteen brethren petitioned him for a regular charter upon which to erect a Lodge in Boston. This prayer being granted these brethren were almost immediately constituted into a Lodge that held its first meeting on August 3, 1733, at which time one John Smith was made a Mason.
These Lodges, and all others subsequently organized up to the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, functioned under what is known as the Provincial Grand Lodge system. When the first Grand Lodge was organized in London in 1717 it became for a few years the custom of the Grand Master to constitute new Lodges himself; but as the number of these Lodges increased it became necessary for him to delegate his power to a substitute; and in the course of time, as a result of this practice, there grew up permanent Provincial Grand Lodges, the Grand Masters of which had authority only as delegated by the Grand Master of the Mother Grand Lodge. This system was extended to the American Colonies just as it was extended to other parts of the world so that, as already stated, from 1730 to the end of the Revolution all American Grand Masters were Provincial Grand Masters, appointed for a definite term of years, and wielding only such authority as was delegated to them from England.
It is also necessary to note that the division of English Masonry into two rival groups made itself felt on this side of the water. It will be recalled that in 1751 a New Grand Lodge was organized in London to become a rival of the older body that had been established in 1717. From 1751 To 1813 there was a great deal of rivalry and even of bitterness between these opposing Masonic powers. The Grand Lodge of 1717 came to be called the “Modern” and that of 1751 the “Ancient.”
Not long after its organization the Ancient Grand Lodge began to charter Lodges in the American Colonies, especially in Pennsylvania, Virginia and New York.
At the same time a number of Lodges were chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. In that period the present principle of exclusive territorial jurisdiction, which guarantees to every American Grand Lodge exclusive sovereignty over regular Lodges inside its own state, was not then recognized, so that the action of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the two Grand Lodges of England in setting up Lodges in the same territory was not deemed a violation of any principle of Masonic Jurisprudence.
Because of these conditions, it fell out that in the course of time, Provincial Grand Lodges were set up in the Colonies under three separate obediences. There was a Grand Lodge under Scotland in Massachusetts; a Grand Lodge in Pennsylvania and another in New York under the Ancients, and Provincial Grand Lodges in Massachusetts. New York, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia under the Moderns.
Because of the close connection between American Lodges and the Grand Bodies across the ocean, it can be easily understood that the Revolutionary War caused a great deal of dislocation in American Masonic activities. After it became apparent that the Colonies were to secure independence of Great Britain, Provincial Grand Lodges gradually began to set themselves up as independent Masonic Powers. The first American Sovereign Grand Lodge was organized in Massachusetts in 1777 with Joseph Webb as Grand Master. Other Provincial Grand Lodges followed in due time, each to one state, until at the present moment we have in the United States forty-nine Grand Lodges, including the one in the District of Columbia. An attempt was made during the Revolutionary War to organize a General Grand Lodge with George Washington as its head, but neither Brother Washington nor a sufficient number of Lodges could be found to agree with the proposal, so that the project was dropped. The same scheme has been undertaken many times since, and indeed is still proposed from time to time, but all the probabilities are that no General Grand Lodge will ever be set up in the United States.
When the Revolutionary War came on, Masonic brethren were somewhat divided among themselves over the question of allegiance to England or to the patriotic move for independence, but it is evident that a majority of the brethren were on the side of the patriots. It may be said in a general way that wherever Tory sentiment was found in the Craft, it flourished in Lodges under Modern warrants and that the majority of Masons and Lodges under the Ancient Grand Lodge were sympathizers with the Colonies. The outstanding exception to this general rule was found in the State of New York where the Ancients were for the most part on the side of the British.
It is impossible at this late date to learn much about the internal conditions in early American Lodges. For one thing it was deemed un-Masonic in those days for anything concerning the Fraternity to appear in the public print; for another thing, Lodges did not take the care they now do to maintain and preserve their records, so that in nearly all cases Lodge records, and even the records of Grand Lodges, are no longer in existence. Therefore, in picturing conditions in pre-Revolutionary times we are left very largely to conjecture. Many early Lodges met in private homes or else migrated from one room to another, frequently meeting in taverns. Often Masters and Secretaries lived long distances apart and saw each other but seldom. Records were usually thought of as being the private property of Lodge secretaries so that in many cases a new secretary began a completely new set of records, as did his successor in office, and Lodge records were very often stowed away in private residences or else completely destroyed.
The more diligently we search for information concerning our early American brethren, the more disappointed we are at the paucity of facts we are able to learn about them. From what we do know, however, we have every reason to believe that if we could discover the full and detailed story of the beginnings of American Masonry and of its developments during the first half century of its history here, we should have every reason to feel proud of it. We know that in many of the earliest Lodges the most active leaders and members were prominent in their communities, among them being professional men, legislators, prosperous business men, and patriotic leaders. Masonry meant much to those brethren, not only in their private lives but in their public affairs. Not otherwise would it have been possible for the Fraternity to muster under its standards so many of the greatest men of the Colonies at the approach of the Revolutionary War; not otherwise such men as Washington, Franklin, Hamilton and scores of others whose names shine in our history would not have taken the active part in the Fraternity we know they did take.
THE CRAFT IN AMERICA — II
In the previous chapter a brief account was given of the founding of Masonry in the American Colonies, along with a few suggestions as to its rapid development up to the time of the Revolution.
It has been estimated that there were at least ten military Lodges at work in armies on both sides of the contest. These Masonic bodies operated under what came to be known as “ambulatory warrants;” that is, these warrants were so framed that a Lodge was privileged to carry its charter about with it as the exigencies of war might make necessary, and to hold stated communications and make Masons wherever it might be convenient. A large number of men famous in the Revolution in both armies were raised in such Lodges; and these brethren either during or after the war organized many lodges among themselves, so that the military lodges of the Revolution helped much to spread Masonry throughout the land. Thus far no effort has ever been made, except by Brother Sidney Morse in his very excellent Freemasonry in the American Revolution, one of the volumes in the Little Masonic Library, to write a history of the Craft during the Revolutionary period. Such a work of several volumes, written comprehensively and in detail, is very badly needed because there is a sense in which the Revolutionary period was really a new beginning in the evolution of American Freemasonry.
One of the most significant events of the Revolution was an attempt to form a General Grand Lodge, with Brother George Washington as General Grand Master. A convention of army Lodges met at Morristown, New Jersey, on Dec. 27, 1799, for the purpose of discussing this project. The convention appointed a committee to send a formal address to the existing Grand Lodges which was done on Feb. 7th of the following year. At an emergent session in Jan. 1780, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania voted in favor of the project and cast a ballot for Washington for the office. However, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts refused to uphold the movement and the Grand Lodge of Virginia took no action at all, so that the project died. Subsequent efforts to organize a General Grand Lodge were made from time to time for forty or fifty years, but always ended in failure.
When it became clearly seen that the Thirteen Colonies had succeeded in winning their independence, the colonial brethren were confronted by a difficult situation. Hitherto their Grand Lodges had functioned as Provincial Grand Lodges under the immediate authority of the Grand Lodge of England; their entire legal system was based on that situation, and all their customs and usages took it for granted. Every Grand Master that had ruled over them acted on authority received from the Grand Master of England and carried on his activities under immediate English control. With the success of the Revolution the question everywhere arose, “What shall be done?” The way out was found by Massachusetts brethren, who in 1777 organized a Grand Lodge for Massachusetts to be sovereign and supreme in its own territory, with Joseph Webb as the first Grand Master. One by one other states followed this lead until the Masonic Craft in all Colonies where Masonry was organized had become organized squarely on an independent American basis, owing no allegiance to any Masonic power outside. In so doing these new independent American Grand Lodges adopted the now famous principle of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction, by virtue of which an American Grand Lodge is sovereign and supreme in its own state but has no authority in any other state and is not permitted to organize Lodges wherever any American Grand Lodge is in control. This principle, everywhere in effect in the American system, is so alien to the customs of European Grand Bodies, that our European brethren have great difficulty in comprehending it; this accounts for much of the difficulty American Grand Lodges have in establishing fraternal relationship with Grand Lodges abroad.
The American Fraternity made steady progress during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The Masonic Apron accompanied the flag as the flag was carried farther and farther westward into the frontiers. Lodges were organized in military posts, in log houses in the wilderness, and among the Indians. The War of 1812 had little permanent effect on the Fraternity except that the military activities incident to it served to carry Freemasonry over a still larger territory.
It may be that the very prosperity of Masonry in that period paved the way for an almost deadly setback in the 1820’s. Men began to fear that this secret society might transform itself into a political conspiracy after the fashion of secret societies in Europe. This fear appeared to receive a certain amount of justification when leading Masons unblushingly advertised for votes during political campaigns on the basis of their membership, a misguided act that always has caused trouble.
During this same period, and especially in New England and the Middle West, the Country was swamped by a series of religious revivals, many of which were of the fanatical type. Hundreds of professional revivalists went from community to community holding “protracted meetings,” after the fashion of Charles G. Finney, the most famous of them all. Finney himself became rabidly opposed to Freemasonry because he believed it was contrary to the teachings of the New Testament, in which he found a number of verses apparently condemning the taking of oaths, etc. These men and their followers also looked with jealousy on the Lodges because they believed that as men became active in Lodges they ceased to be active in the churches and, therefore, the very growth of Freemasonry was sapping away the strength of organized religion, a theory still found in some quarters, though it is absolutely without foundation.
This fear or jealousy of the Craft reached such a point that during the 1820’s it became more or less definitely organized as the Anti-Masonic Crusade. In 1821 the Presbyterian church denounced Masonry; the Methodist denomination denounced it in 1826; Congregationalists, Quakers, Lutherans, Universalists and many other sects or followings followed suit. Politicians seeing in all this the possibility of a new political alignment, at any rate the possibilities for the control of a large bloc of votes, took advantage of the situation to organize a new political party which adopted for itself the name of The Christian Party in Politics. This was in 1830. In 1831 this new party nominated for the Presidency William Wirt of Maryland and for the Vice-Presidency Amos Ellmaker of Pennsylvania. Thirteen states were represented at the convention, the first national political convention ever held in America.
Meanwhile an unfortunate event had occurred in the State of New York that brought this whole opposition to Freemasonry to a head and set the country afire with hatred for the Craft. This was the famous Morgan Affair and it happened in 1826.
Little is known about William Morgan. He was born in Virginia in 1774 or 1775; he was, apparently, a stone mason by profession; married a girl half his age; engaged in various occupations during his career, one of his efforts being in the brewery business in Canada. He moved to Batavia, New York, and became a member of a Masonic Lodge, though it is not known when or where he was made a Mason, if ever.
Owing to his dissolute character Morgan was not held in very high esteem by his brethren. When a group of them found that he had signed his name to a petition asking for a Royal Arch charter they secretly destroyed the petition and drew up another with his name omitted. This angered him so that he decided—or at least it is believed, for many of the details have been lost—to have revenge. His revenge took the form of publishing a so-called expose of the Masonic work.
He arranged with one David C. Miller of Batavia to print this book. But while this printing was under way Miller’s shop took fire and the plates were destroyed. Shortly after this Morgan was arrested on a charge of petit larceny and placed in jail at Canandaigua, a little town not far from Batavia.
One day a party of men in a carriage rode to the jail at Canandaigua and asked for Morgan. The jail keeper himself was absent but his wife brought out the man. Morgan was taken into a carriage and driven away. He was never seen again. What became of him nobody was ever able to discover.
The disappearance of Morgan, under such circumstances as above described, lashed the community into a whirlwind of excitement. Everywhere it was said that the Masons had made away with him, doubtless had murdered him. Like a spark dropping on a trail of powder this incident set the whole of the Middle West, the East, and New England aflame with a veritable craze of anti-Masonry.
It proved almost fatal to the Fraternity. In 1824 the Grand Lodge of Virginia had only seven Lodges in attendance at its Annual Communication; the Grand Lodge of Maine did not meet at all for several years; the Craft in New Jersey lost two-thirds of its membership; New York had 480 Lodges in 1826; this fell to seventy-five Lodges in 1835. The Anti-Masonic Party, with most of the churches and with a political organization behind it, carried on a well directed national campaign with the sole object of destroying Freemasonry. It published hundreds of different periodicals, had hundreds of paid lecturers in the field, and brought every imaginable kind of pressure to bear on state legislatures to outlaw Freemasonry from America. An effort was even made to take the matter into the National Congress with a view to having some kind of national laws passed against secret societies. In many communities it was a perilous thing to be a Mason. Brethren met in secret; Lodges were held at night in the woods; many Masonic Bodies kept no records at all of their activities, lest they be betrayed to the enemy. It was a period of desolation from which the Craft was many years in recovering.
THE CRAFT IN AMERICA — III
The Anti-Masonic crusade was not the only serious problem with which our forefathers of the 1820-1865 period had to deal; they were also confronted by other difficulties almost equally serious, among which the chief, perhaps, was the anarchy existing in nearly all states in regard to the Ritual.
Today, and except in Kentucky, every state has within its own borders an officially accepted form of working, and this is made obligatory on every Lodge. But it was not always so; and the degree of uniformity we now enjoy came about as the result of much labor, many heart-breaks, and in spite of almost general opposition, some account of which it is now in order to give, albeit in briefest form.
Although, during the period just now under review, the general form of ritualistic working (derived for the most part from the Ancient Grand Lodge that was organized in England in 1751) was everywhere pretty generally the same in practice, the detailed form of it was left very much to each local Lodge, and in a great many cases to the individual Master himself. It was often the case that one Lodge in a city would use a version of the Ritual varying in a dozen ways from that used by another Lodge in the same city. Also it often happened that a Worshipful Master this year would use his own favorite version of the work; and the Worshipful Master next year would use a different version.
To make confusion all the more confounded a large number of “degree peddlers,” “ritual mongers,” and other irresponsible individuals went about through the Fraternity, each one hawking his own wares, endeavoring, for a consideration, to persuade Masters and Lodges to adopt some recommended form of the work. One can easily imagine, even at this far off date, what a condition of anarchy this was in ritualistic practices; and by the same token it is easy to understand why the rivalry of the various versions, each of which was attributed to some famous ritualist, such as Cross, Barney, Webb, etc., caused so much heart-burning among the Fraternity leaders who had the welfare of the Craft sincerely at heart.
The first ambitious attempt to bring about general uniformity of ritual culminated in what is now the famous “National Masonic Convention” held at Baltimore, Maryland, beginning May 8, 1843, which was convened as the result of a previous Masonic Convention held at Washington, D. C., in March of the preceding year. Brother Dr. John Dove of Virginia was elected President of the Convention. During his address upon taking the chair Dr. Dove stated the purpose of the Convention in this wise:
“For the first time in the Masonic history of the United States of North America, the Craft have found it necessary and expedient to assemble by their representatives, to take into consideration the propriety of devising some uniform mode of action by which the ancient land-marks of our beloved Order may be preserved and perpetuated, and by which posterity in all time to come may be enabled to decide with certainty upon the pretentions of a brother, no matter in what section of our blessed and happy land he may reside. . . . For these purposes, I see assembled before me brothers who represent sixteen of the twenty-three Grand Lodges composing the Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States.”
The committee on the general objects of the Convention submitted a report in which it was stated that the purpose of the assemblage was, first, to produce uniformity of Masonic working; second, “to recommend such measures as shall tend to the elevation of this Order to its due degree of respect throughout the world at large.” The first of these recommendations was adopted by the Convention and four committees were appointed to make recommendations; but the second recommendation was laid on the table.
This Convention was too small to count for much (it consisted of only twenty-three members all told) and though a number of Masonic leaders were in it, its membership was not sufficiently influential to leave behind it any large or lasting results. After nine days of discussion it recommended a Triennial Convention of delegates from all Grand Lodges, but this did not meet with the approval of American Grand Bodies; and it also, more or less indirectly, resulted in the publication of The Masonic Trestle Board by Charles W. Moore of Massachusetts. Unfortunately its author fell into a controversy with Dr. Dove which materially reduced the influence of that effort.
Another, and more widely influential effort at establishing uniformity of work, was later undertaken by a body of men working under the leadership of Rob Morris. Morris, born in 1818, was made a Mason in Mississippi, March 5, 1846. He was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, 1858-59. Believing that the variations of the work and the evils of ritual mongering constituted the most serious handicap under which the American Craft was laboring, he organized a secret society of Master Masons which he called “The Conservators,” the purpose of which was, by a process of boring from within, to persuade Lodges and Grand Lodges to adopt a form of work recommended by this secret group.
The career of The Conservators was not by any means a happy or peaceful one. Grand Lodges resented having an outside organization interfering with their own internal efforts; individual Lodges and individual Masons resented the presence in their midst of a secondary secret society, the organization and methods of which smelled suspiciously of Jesuitism. Wherever The Conservators were enabled to gain foothold they acted as an irritant and became the occasion of numberless controversies. All this was sufficiently unpleasant at the time, but it served in the long run to compel the Craft to give some serious thought to the whole question of the need for uniformity of work within each Grand Lodge and so in the long run made for the good of the Order.
The upshot of the whole movement in the American Craft was that in due course of time each Grand Lodge came to adopt (and that in the face of many objections and much opposition) its own official version of the Ritual and to enforce it upon every Lodge within its obedience. The remarkable fact, in view of the whole history of the American Ritual, is not that today the work varies from state to state, but that it should vary so little. Such divergencies as now exist are really of slight consequence and in almost all instances concern only details.
It is impossible to give any extended account of the history of the Craft during the Civil War period. It was exceedingly unfortunate that the Fraternity, so soon after the subsidence of the Anti-Masonic craze, and before it had become firmly knit together in a national sense, should be compelled to pass through the fiery ordeal of civil war; nevertheless it passed through that ordeal in a manner of greatest credit to itself. Indeed, no other institution in American life had a prouder record, or more consistently tried to adhere to its own principles and ideals. Until the time w a r actually broke out, Grand Masters and Grand Lodges almost without exception used every possible means to help divert the catastrophe; and after the struggle began the great majority of American Grand Bodies did everything they could to hold back the hatreds and passions set loose by the conflict. Numberless instances are on record to show how in the midst of battle the Mystic Tie held without breaking; such instances prove that down underneath their tumultuous emotions men continued to hold fast to the dream of a brotherhood.
Immediately after the war was concluded, Masonic Grand Bodies adopted every possible expedient to bring about once again the unity of the Fraternity. Grand Bodies, North and South, became a united family within a very few years after Lee’s surrender.
The Fraternity emerged from the civil war period and from the last aftermath of the Anti-Masonic Crusade intact, but to a large extent chastened and subdued. The brethren became cautious; they kept their Masonry more and more to themselves; they insisted that Freemasonry should be not only secret but secretive.
Masonic thought, during the period from the civil war until about 1900, was to an extent not often realized, very largely under the influence of the writings of Dr. George Oliver and his school. Dr. Oliver was an English Masonic Scholar and writer who produced a long list of Masonic books, each of which laid great stress upon the antiquity, the esoteric character, and the religiousness of Freemasonry. Masons almost universally accepted literally the old tradition that the Craft had been organized by King Solomon at the time he was building his temple and any theory appearing to controvert this was looked upon with suspicion.
Then came the present period, which set in somewhere near the year 1900. The Craft began to grow; each state had its own Grand Lodge, sovereign and supreme. These Grand Lodges worked out a system whereby to act in harmony one with another without jeopardizing their sovereignty. A great throng of young men began to knock at the doors of the Lodge. Gradually the center of gravity passed from the elders to the juniors. The new spirit of youthfulness, ambitiousness, and almost daring disregard of traditions, a desire for experimentations, an insistence that Masonry make a practical application of itself in social life, spread through the entire Fraternity. This movement was augmented and accentuated by the world war, at which time a great multitude of young men sought initiation preparatory to going abroad.
Accordingly we now find ourselves living in the midst of a new Masonic era, marked off from the preceding period by all manner of distinctions. The Craft now numbers in this land more than 16,000 Lodges and about 3,000,000 members; and a great majority of active Masons are of middle age or younger. It is because of this influx, and because of the eager youthfulness of the majority of members that we have witnessed the rise of so many side orders, most of which are devoted to sociability and fun.
While this new development carries within itself promise of all manner of good things to come, at the same time it is attended by its own problems. There is the problem of numbers; how can this multitude of members be transformed into well informed carefully directed Masons? There is the problem of bringing about a closer unity of Grand Lodges; since Freemasonry has become more like a public institution than a great secret society, how can the forty-nine Grand Lodges of the nation be brought into a unity of activity, to the end that Freemasonry may mean the utmost possible to American life? There is also the problem of foreign Masonry; the rapidly augmented power of the Craft in this nation is making it increasingly worth while for foreign Grand Bodies to seek official recognition from American Grand Lodges.
Such are a few of the problems that now confront the American Craft. Most of these problems, as has already been noted, arise from two facts: the abnormal increase in membership; and the taking up of the reins by younger men. How to solve these problems, how to make the past slip into the future without dislocation, how to organize and direct to sane and constructive issues the immensely increased influence of Freemasonry, these are the problems that now face Masonic statesmanship in this country.
BOOKS TO READ
These chapters presuppose that the readers will be, to some extent or other, eager for more light on the Craft which we all love. Such a desire for light leads naturally to the reading of books, therefore it may be of service in this chapter to offer some hints concerning a course of Masonic reading, having particularly in mind the beginner, who often finds himself very much bewildered when left to discover what is and what is not worth reading about Masonry.
Inasmuch as thousands of volumes have been published, it will be impossible to do more than to offer a partial list of titles, the selecting of which should not be taken to reflect in any way on the value of those not mentioned. Also it may be said that it is no part of the present purpose to urge that readers purchase these books, or to have this article serve as an advertisement. If the books here described may be purchased through your Grand Lodge bureau it is for the convenience of readers solely, and not because the bureau is trying to set itself up as a commercial bookseller.
There was published some little while ago a tiny volume, written by the present writer, entitled Thumbnail Outline of Freemasonry (paper, 15c), that may be used as a kind of primer of Masonic history; it was written in language as simple as possible, and left out of account a multitude of details in order that the general outline of the story might stand the more clearly in view.
This could be followed by Story of the Craft, by Lionel Vibert, (cloth, $1.60 postpaid), a book of 88 pages in which one of the masters of modern Masonic scholarship sets down what may be described as the attested fundamentals of historical fact. The Mason who begins his reading with such a book will be saved from wandering off into by-ways, or being misled by unauthorized statements.
After this might come The Builders, by Joseph Fort Newton (cloth, $2.15 postpaid), one of the most famous and widely read books on Masonry that has ever been written. It is a prose poem from beginning to end in which the facts of history, otherwise so dry and hard, blossom like flowers, and Masonry itself becomes transfigured into one of the forms of the spiritual life.
After having read The Builders the student will be prepared for Freemasonry Before the Existence of Grand Lodges, by Lionel Vibert (cloth, $1.70 postpaid), a little book of 167 pages in which its author brings into small compass the findings of the best modern scholarship on moot points of Masonic origins. Over and above the information it contains, this volume possesses two virtues: first, it helps to keep one inside the boundaries of legitimate scholarship, and to prevent his wandering off after false lights; second, it is the best possible preparation for a reading of the volumes in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum which, because of their number and bulk may otherwise prove so confusing.
Ancient Freemasonry and Old Dundee Lodge, No. 18, 1722-1920, by Arthur Heiron, (cloth $7.25 postpaid), is good to read at this juncture because it offers a concrete case of the development of one early London Lodge, and by its vivid pictures of life in the early eighteenth century English Craft makes it easier for a modern reader to picture conditions at that period. Primarily a story of Dundee Lodge it is more than a mere Lodge History, but is rather a cross section of the whole of the early history of Speculative Masonry.
Speculative Masonry: Its Mission, Its Evolution and Its Landmarks, by A. C. MacBride (cloth, $2.15 postpaid), is a blend of history, philosophy, and jurisprudence, characterized by the ripe wisdom of an experienced Craftsman, who wrote out of love of his theme and in a manner easy to read.
Of an entirely different character is Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods, by J. S. M. Ward (cloth, $8.40). Its author argues that Freemasonry descended from the rites and practices of primitive people, and interprets the history and ritual of the Order accordingly. This central thesis may be unusual but the book is interesting for all that, chiefly from the numerous examples of rites and symbols brought from distant places with which its pages are filled, and which oftentimes throw a revealing light on Masonic practices.
With these books behind him a beginner is prepared to tackle The Concise History of Freemasonry, by R. F. Gould, the premier Masonic historian. Gould wrote it some years after he had published his great History of Freemasonry in six volumes but it was not an abbreviated form of that magnum opus, and should be read quite independently of it. It begins with the Ancient Mysteries and carries the history down to the present, concluding with chapters on the history of the Craft in all the important countries, all of it treated with rigorous scholarship. A number of important discoveries have been made since it was written, so that a reader needs to check it against more recent writings but for all that The Concise remains as indispensable work. A Revised Edition, prepared by Fred J. W. Crowe, was published in 1920. After it has been carefully studied the larger History, one edition of which was published in America and which may be found secondhand, should next be read—if a reader has an abundance of time and patience, for the task is not easy.
Mackey’s Revised History of Freemasonry, in seven volumes ($56.00 for the set), edited by Robert Ingham Clegg, covers the same general field as Gould’s larger History but to an American Mason possesses three advantages: first, it is easier to read; second, it contains more material on American Masonry; and third, it is more modern, having been revised four or five years ago.
Among the more specialized studies of Masonic history, of which so many have been written, three are to be especially recommended. The Origin of the English Rite of Masonry, by William J. Hughan (cloth, $5.15 postpaid), is a classic in its field. It s author was one of the most cautious of historians, and carefully avoided everything unsupported by the most indisputable proof; to read him is a good discipline in the ethics of the intellect. Henry Sadler’s Masonic Facts and Fictions (secondhand) marked something of an epoch in the literature of Masonic history by disposing of the old theory, stubbornly adhered to by Gould, that the founding of the Ancient Grand Lodge was a schism, and by rehabilitating the reputation of Laurence Dermott, the brilliant Grand Secretary and virtual founder of that important Grand Body which played such a part in the early developments of American Masonry. Of similar value, and equally indispensable, is Melvin M. Johnson’s Beginnings of Freemasonry in America (cloth, $3.65 postpaid), in which are set down all the known items of American Masonry from the beginnings to 1750. It will remain for many years to come the principal authority in its field.
Having familiarized himself with the story of Masonry the reader will find himself equipped to turn to a study of its ritual and symbolism, than which nothing can be more fascinating. If one accepts Gould’s dictum that the examination of our history and our ritual should be proceeded with conjointly the lists on the two subjects should be intermingled; but experience has usually shown that it is best to become familiar with the history first, because it is impossible to understand the ritual if it is wrested from its framework of history.
An excellent and recent brief introduction to the field will be found in Masonic Ritual: Described, Compared, and Explained, by J. Walter Hobbs (cloth, 90c postpaid), an English brother prominent in English research lodges. Though devoted for the most part to the workings used in England, it contains material of general interest.
Symbolism of the Three Degrees, by Oliver Day Street (cloth, $2.15 postpaid), covers the same general field as Mackey’s work on the same subject, described later, but in a more concise and modern form, and treats of the more important symbols and portions in order as they appear in the Blue Lodge ritual. It is the best introduction to its subject in existence.
Symbolical Masonry, by the present writer, (cloth, $2.15 postpaid), is a running interpretation of the work of the Three Degrees, so arranged that it begins with the signing of the petition and follows a candidate through to the end of the Third Degree, always in such a manner as to keep the obligations of secrecy.
Signs and Symbols of Freemasonry, by Dr. George Oliver (cloth, $2.40 postpaid), has now become somewhat out of date (it was published in 1841) but it is still worth reading, alike for much sound learning and for its inspirational power. Dr. Oliver was the most influential Mason of his period, with an ingenious fertile mind, and of almost endless fecundity, who influenced the Craft on this side of the water almost as much as in England. So much of that influence has been permanent that no Mason can afford to neglect him, though many of his theories are now out-moded and some of them seem quaint.
The most widely read work in this field is The Symbolism of Freemasonry, by Dr. Albert G. Mackey (cloth, $3.65 postpaid), second in the extent of his influence only to Albert Pike, if indeed he was second to him. Dr. Mackey began his career as a Masonic author in the premodern period, when Oliver’s influence was as yet unspent; he finished it after Gould, Speth, Hughan, Crawley and others had inaugurated a new epoch; it will everlastingly stand to his credit that he was open minded enough to accept the findings of the new school. So also will stand to his everlasting credit his private character and his record of service to the Craft in both of which he has never been excelled by any man. Much of his ripest scholarship, founded on the classics and of his best thought went into the making of his Symbolism. It may be questioned at many points, but as a whole it is almost a classic of its kind.
The majority of readers will not be content to confine all their reading to history and ritual, nor should they. Those interested in jurisprudence will wish to read Lectures on Masonic Jurisprudence, by Roscoe Pound (cloth, $1.65 postpaid), and Masonic Jurisprudence, by Mackey, cloth, $3.65 postpaid), the former a study of fundamentals, the latter a practical handbook, very widely used. Those interested in Masonic philosophy will turn to The Philosophy of Freemasonry, by Roscoe Pound (cloth, $1.35 postpaid), in which are careful studies of the leading Masonic thinkers of the past by the Dean of the Department of Law of Harvard University; and possibly to The Great Teachings of Freemasonry, by H. L. Haywood (cloth, $2.15 postpaid), consisting of eighteen chapters, each of which is an examination of one or two of the principal tenets of the Order. And those interested in essays will find many volumes at hand.
Under this last head would come The Men’s House, by Joseph Fort Newton (cloth, $2.15 postpaid), a collection of essays and addresses; Studies in Freemasonry, by John L. Sanford (cloth, $1.65 postpaid), the last chapter of which deals with Burns and Scott as Masons; Freemasonry, Its Aims and Ideals, by J. S. M. Ward (cloth, $4.20), a collection of chapters on various moot questions, some of them of a highly controversial character; and the pleasantly written volumes by J. T. Lawrence, the most prolific of Masonic essayists, among which are By-Ways of Freemasonry (cloth, $2.50 postpaid); Sidelights on Freemasonry (cloth, $2.50 postpaid); and The Perfect Ashlar (cloth, $2.55 postpaid).
Perhaps the most valuable work in this field of essays and general literature is The Little Masonic Library, published by the Masonic Service Association. It contains twenty cloth bound volumes on a large variety of themes, some of them hitherto published, others new. The entire set sells for the unprecedentedly low price of $5.00.
These lists are not complete nor exhaustive, nor was it intended that they should be; but the brother who reads them through in the order given will find himself equipped to read with critical appraisal any other work that he may encounter; and he will have a background of Masonic knowledge possessed by few in this or any other country. Could a sufficient number of brethren possess themselves of such a background, the future of the Craft would be safe whatever betides, for in Masonry as elsewhere, knowledge is power, and light is needed lest we unwittingly go astray.
THE GRAND LODGE OF MICHIGAN
GRAND LODGES stand at the center of all the national activities of Freemasonry. Although they are not in essence any more important than local Lodges they dominate the scene for many of those larger studies of the Craft which, I take it, is the general purpose of this book, therefore it will be useful to devote a separate chapter to them.
The Grand Lodge of Michigan had its first beginnings in and about Detroit. Detroit was settled by M. DeLaMothe Cadillac in 1701 as a military post and Indian trading center. For fifty-nine years after that founding, it and its territory remained under the control of France. It passed into British control with the Treaty of Paris in 1763, becoming a part of the Canadian Province of Quebec. The British in turn relinquished it in 1796, when it passed under the American flag, and so remained, except for a brief period during the War of 1812.
In 1764 there was in Detroit the 60th British Regiment, known as the Royal American, composed of “New York gentlemen.” Perhaps it was because of the latter fact that when Masons in that regiment and in the community decided to organize a Masonic Lodge, application was made to the Provincial Grand Lodge of New York for a warrant. Such a warrant was issued by Provincial Grand Master George Harrison, April 27, 1764, the Lodge to be called Zion No. 1. It was in this famous old Lodge, which came to number many of the most prominent Detroit citizens on its roster, that Michigan Masonry had its rise; and it is worthy of note that this start was made within only a little more than thirty years after the Craft had found a foothold in the American Colonies.
Unfortunately all records of that early Lodge have been lost, except for its charter; perhaps the written records perished with the fire that left Detroit a field of ashes in 1805. The charter had been returned to the archives of the Grand Lodge of New York and there remained unnoted, until a few years ago when it was returned to Zion Lodge. It may be that the Lodge had surrendered its charter before 1794; of that we cannot be certain. We know that in the latter year it received a new charter from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Canada, with headquarters at Quebec; this document was for a body to be called Zion Lodge No. 10, and it was dated September 7. The Lodge was instituted December 19, 1794.
Within two years Detroit passed back into the control of the United States. As a result of that, though after some years, Zion No. 10 surrendered its charter (whether its first or second we do not know) to the Grand Lodge of New York and received from that Grand Body a new charter dated September 3, 1806. Upon this authority Zion was reorganized in July of the following years as “No. 1 at Detroit.” It so remained until during the War of 1812, while the British were occupying the city, when it permitted its activities to lapse for more than a year thereby, according to the laws of the Grand Lodge of New York, automatically forfeiting its charter. With the reconquest of Detroit by American troops, and while Cass was Governor of the Territory the brethren petitioned for a renewal of their charter; this was granted by the Grand Lodge of New York, March 14, 1816; Zion Lodge then became No. 62, and this was later changed to No. 1.
During the years from 1821 to 1824 four other Lodges were chartered by New York, one at Detroit, one at Pontiac, one at Green Bay, and the fourth at Monroe. On June 24, 1826, delegates from four of these bodies met to form a Grand Lodge, and adopted a constitution and elected Lewis Cass Grand Master. This organization was completed December 27, 1826, and the new Grand Lodge received formal and official recognition from New York in June of the following year, by which action it was given its rightful place as a regular and duly constituted Grand Lodge, sovereign and supreme within its own jurisdiction. Little is known of its early history but it appears that it met regularly during 1826 and 1827, and also doubtless in 1828 and 1829.
Then came the infamous Morgan affair, as a result of which such a mania of opposition sprang up throughout the country that Freemasonry appeared to be in danger of its very existence. Thousands of Lodges passed away and many Grand Lodges either suspended all operations or else worked on so badly crippled as to accomplish very little. Michigan was so hard hit by this silly craze that Grand Master Cass suspended all work by Grand Lodge and advised the local Lodges to do the same; all of them complied except the gallant little Lodge at Stony Creek.
An attempt was made to revive the Grand Lodge of Michigan in 1841; but other Grand Lodges, and also the Baltimore Masonic Convention of 1842, held that since no Grand Lodge officers had been elected in the interim the Grand Lodge of Michigan had passed out of existence, and that the Michigan brethren were under necessity to organize a new Grand Body. This was an error in Masonic jurisprudence; as a matter of fact the last Michigan Grand Master duly elected was in office until his successor was appointed or elected.
A convention was held at Mt. Clemens in 1840 to get the Grand Lodge properly reorganized but nothing came of the effort, and the meeting adjourned until the following year. An attempt was then made to secure formal recognition of the revived Grand Lodge but without success, though such recognition should have been given. Upon this failure, three of the older Lodges surrendered their charters to New York and from that source secured new charters; they then went through the form of dissolving the old Grand Lodge and organized a new one in its place. This was in 1844. The new Grand Lodge began work with nine Lodges on its roster and has been growing ever since, until now it ranks among the most powerful Grand Bodies in the nation, with about 145,000 members on its rolls.
Its official title is The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Michigan. It holds its Annual Communication on the fourth Tuesday in May. It consists of its Grand Officers, Past Grand Masters, of Worshipful Masters or their legal representatives, Past Masters in good standing in Lodges in the jurisdiction, and of members of standing committees who are not legal representatives of Lodges. Past Masters and Committee members have not the right to vote. The quorum calls for the presence of legal representatives from fifty or more chartered Lodges. Grand Lodge officers according to their rank and title are The Most Worshipful Grand Master, The Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master, The Right Worshipful Senior Grand Warden. The Right Worshipful Junior Grand Warden, The Right Worshipful Grand Treasurer, The Right Worshipful Grand Secretary, The Right Worshipful Grand Lecturer, The Right Worshipful Grand Chaplain, The Worshipful Senior Grand Deacon, The Worshipful Junior Grand Deacon, The Worshipful Grand Marshal, Brother Grand Tiler.
The history of the Grand Lodge of Michigan is as typical as one will anywhere find. If Master Masons will study it as such they will gain a clear insight into the purpose and meaning of Grand Lodges themselves, as they function in Freemasonry, as they are organized, what are their powers, and how they are variously related to each other. In such a study a number of important points will become clear.
Grand Lodges grow; they are not manufactured. The first Grand Lodge ever formed was accepted as a better means of meeting situations that had arisen, and the same can be said of every one organized since, because there are needs in the Craft which nothing else can satisfy. Without a Grand Lodge, no two local Lodges in a state would use the same ritual, or teach the same things; a Mason would have no way of changing his membership from one to another, or from one state to another, for in so doing he could not tell whether the Lodge to which he might go would be practising legitimate Masonry or not. Nor could there be any means by which all the local Lodges could act together in a large way, so that the whole Craft would sink into ineffectuality, with little influence on the life of the nation. What is sometimes called the “authority” of Grand Lodges inheres in it; that is, it is necessary in the very nature of things, and is consequently not arbitrary artificial, or trumped up, and cannot be tyrannical as long as it is right and sound.
What is called the “jurisprudence” of a Grand Lodge is its rules and regulations for governing itself and for performing its proper services to its local lodges. These laws and regulations are themselves necessary, and spring out of conditions that must be dealt with. In them there is nothing artificial or arbitrary, and without them the Craft would be helpless, like a body without bones.
The history of the Grand Lodge of Michigan is full of romance, of human interest and dramatic surprises. It s code and its machinery of organization may seem dry enough to the average Mason, but if that Mason will go behind the scenes to learn about the men who have carried on, what those men have been, what they have done, and under what conditions, he will discover as entrancing a chapter of history as can be anywhere found. It is that story, that story of the actual men at work for Masonry, their hopes that have been often shattered, their dreams that have failed, their sacrifices, their strivings, and their achievements, that is Masonry’s real story. When so understood, a Mason will find the reading of Masonic history as interesting as any tale in fiction.
The same may be said of the history of all the Grand Lodges of this nation taken together. It is quite romantic as the story of Michigan, and for the same reasons. Grand Lodges worked on the frontier, among the Indians, against odds, and in spite of setbacks. The French and Indian wars of the eighteenth century raged about them, as did the Revolution; the War of 1812 broke over their heads; the Anti-Masonic Crusade was to them as a furnace seven times heated; the Civil War for a time seemed to threaten their existence. They were not something aloof and alone, like some cold machine apart from human endeavoring, but bone of the bone and blood of the blood of the people, suffering with the people, and growing with them; their history is a part of the history of our nation, than which nothing in all time is more enthralling. The brother who permits the mere apparatus of committees, regulations, rules, and officials to stand between him and this human story is denying himself one of the richest privileges of his membership.
An introduction to freemasonry, by H.L. Haywood — Haywood, H. L. (Harry LeRoy), 1886-1956.
An Introduction to Freemasonry
H. L. HAYWOOD
Author of Symbolical Masonry, Great Teachings of Masonry and Editor of the New York Masonic Outlook.
Prepared and Distributed by
THE COMMISSION ON MASONIC EDUCATION OF THE GRAND LODGE OF MICHIGAN, F. & A. M.
MASONIC TEMPLE, DETROIT, MICH.
Copyright 1925 by the MASONIC NEWS