Mervin B. Hogan

Southern California Research Lodge

The secret of Masonry is to keep a secret.

—Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, Vol. 6 p. 59.

The early decades of the 1800s in central upstate New York were, in a number of ways, the scene of great turmoil, accompanied hy furious community emotion and excitement. Politically, Dewitt Clinton caused a number of significant achievements:

Digging [of the Erie Canal] began at Rome, New York, on July 4, 1817. On October 2, 1825, salvos of cannon, set within earshot of each other all the way from Buffalo to New York, boomed the news of the opening of the entire waterway to rejoicing throngs along the banks. They also proved the starting guns of one of the greatest and swiftest developments in the history of commerce.

The building and operation of the Erie Canal brought voluminous traffic, with asociated entrepreneurs and camp-followers. Also great hordes of migrant workers with draft animals and conveyances, and heavy earth moving equipment. All the personnel had to be housed and fed. As part of the invading contingent were the stone masons and other organized groups of building and construction workers, all essential to the pursuit and accomplishment of the project.

The unknown promoters of a new, third political movement, known as the Anti- Masonic Party, initiated their enterprise by publishing in October 1826, at Batavia, Genesee County, New York, an expose of the rituals of the three Blue Lodge degrees, allegedly authored by Captain (?) William Morgan. This infamous, so-called author had disappeared from Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York, on September 12, 1826. These events were used to trigger at once a hysterical mushrooming of an emotional holocaust, and the prompt appearance of the Anti- Masonic Party.

In the neighborhood of Palmyra, Ontario County, New York, a local youth, Joseph Smith, Jr., was subjected to a series of experiences which he recounted, thereby further exciting the local region. A near-illiterate farm boy, some seventeen years of age, Joseph received a strikingly mysterious visit on the night of September 21, 1828 by a supernal personage named Moroni. This date was commemorated annually with a successive visit by the same heavenly being until September 22, 1827, when the visitor entrusted a collection of inscribed metal plates in a stone box to the young man. From these plates he later announced had translated, with supernal assistance, the Book of Mormon. This unique and remarkable volume was offered for public sale March 26, 1830 in Palmyra's one book store.

From the above dates it is evident the appearance and rise of the Anti-Masonic hysteria occurred concurrently with Joseph's sustained series of instructional visitations by the angel Moroni. Further, these two historic events were separated by only a few geographic miles. Canandaigua is about 12.5 miles south of Palmyra and some 46 miles east of Batavia, while Dalmyra is about 48 miles east of Batavia.

The three rituals of the Masonic Symbolic Lodge, and the four rituals of the Masonic Royal Arch Chapter, were not only widely distributed in printed full form to the public, but each was widely exemplified on public stages, for an admission charge and the political promotion of the Anti-Masonic Party. It is therefore evident that while Joseph was translating the Book of Mormon, he most likely learned from the noisy ambient all the basic, fundamental tenets of Masonry as presented ritually to each of the Order's candidates.

Clearly, for some fifteen years prior to his accepting and embracing Freemasonry personally in Nauvoo Lodge on March 15-16, 1842, Joseph Smitll, Jr. was well informed and thoroughly conversant as to the true character—the basic concepts, principles and goals—of the Ancient Order.

Joseph Smith, Sr. was made a Mason in Ontario Lodge No. 23 at Canandaigua, New York; being initiated December 26, 1817; passed March 2, 1818; and raised May 7, 1818. His older son Hyrum, born February.9, 1800, in the early 1800s became a youthful member of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112 at Palmyra; whose personal record is lacking Masonic details which were doubtless lost or destroyed due to the Morgan panic. Joseph Smith, Sr. and Hyrum were two of the appended eight witnesses who certified the reality of the metal plates as the source of Joseph's translation of the Book of Mormon. They were joined as a fellow witness by a younger member of the family, Samuel Harrison Smith, who became a Mason at Nauvoo. Hyrum was the Mason of the group of six founders of the Mormon Church on April 6, 1930. Two others of those founders, Joseph Smith, Jr. and his brother Samuel Harrison Smith, each was made a Mason later in Nauvoo Lodge.

This well known documented membership of Joseph, Sr. and Hyrum in the two neighboring Lodges is of great consequence. Since Masonry was widely recognized by the public at that time as an elite, selective institution, their membership openly attests the accepted status and high esteem the Smith family and its members held in the minds of those living closest to them and knew them best

Intrinsically Mormonism is a self-contained theocratic organization tremendously dedicated to the acquisition of material wealth and relentless power in every sense. The Mormon Church proselytizes aggressively, enthusiastically and continuously with militant zeal. Its tenets are based on unquestioning and unequivocal acceptance,—robotic obedience; not on free and unrestricted thought.

Presidency and the quorum of Twelve (Apostles), who are "the absolute leaders of Mormonism," advising the members they are not burdened with having to think for themselves or examine facts, as these are services provided them by the administration. Some sixty years ago the BYU faculty was bluntly directed, "You are not hired to think, you are hired to teach." A few years later the Church membership received the publishied dictum: When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done." Today the ever-present proclamation has been simply shortened: "Follow the Prophet."

In sharp contrast, Freemasonry never invites a man, nor asks him to become a Mason. In whatever way, or due to whatever causes, the ancient institution has appealed to the man, or in some way attracted his favorable attention, that awakening must be in the nature of a motivating force prompting him, of his own free will and accord, to approach the Lodge personally and seek membership in the body on his own initiative. He must petition the Lodge in writing and he elected by a unanimous ballot of the brethren. Masonry is constituted of men from all religious persuasions and the convictions of each man's religion are strictly his private personal concern. The very designation, "free and accepted Mason," sharply states two of the principal attributes of the order. The individual Mason is obliged to make his own decisions, be personally responsihle especially to himself—for his commitments and actions; and then live with them and their consequences as time moves on.

Mormonisrn embraced Freemasonry in Illinois with incredible enthusiasm. When Joseph Smith added by revelation the temple and temple rites to its tenets, Mrmonism hecame a modern-day mystery religion. He announcrd that the temple ordinances were the restored Masonic teachings and rites in the pristine form which God had bestowed on Adam in the Garden of Eden. Joseph suggested that the Masonic Church on earth ought to he in constant communion with the Masonic Church in the heavens, thus constituting a universal brotherhood indeed, not withstanding its many nations, races, religions, civilizations and Iawgivers.

A summary of changing circumstances, with the passage of time implied above, is recounted by Albert Pike in Morals and Dogma:

Though Masonry is identical with the Ancient Mysteries, it is so in this qualified sense; that it presents but an imperfect image of their brilliancy: the ruins only of their grandeur, and a system that has experienced progressive alterations, the fruits of social events and political circumstances. Upon leaving Egypt, the Mysteries were modified by the habits of the different nations among whom they were introduced. Though originally more moral and political than religious, they soon became the heritage, as it were, of the priests, and essentially religious, though in reality limiting the sacerdotal power, by teaching the intelligent laity the folly and absurdity of the creeds of the populace. They were therefore necessarily changed by the religious systems of the countries into which they were transplanted....Each people, at all informed had its Mysteries .. In the modern Degrees three things are to he recognized: The image of primeval times, the tableau of the efficient causes of the Universe, and the book in which are written the morality of all peoples, and the code by which they must govern themselves if they would be prosperous. (pp.625-5)

When installing Nauvoo Lodge, Grand Master Abraham Jonas made Joseph Smith, Jr. and his immediate administrative associate, Sidney Rigdon, each a Mason at sight, March 15-16, 1842. Birgam Young was the first candldate made a Mason in Nauvoo Lodge; being initiated April 7, passed april 8 and raised April 9, 1842, three successive days. Joseph and Brigam were the initial two of the first five presidents of the Mormon Church [Smith, Young, Taylor, Woodruff and Snow] who were made Masons by that frontier Lodge which during its brief life, recorded 1,529 membersb

The climactic crisis and tragedy of the contentions between the two institutions were the lynch murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, June 27, 1844, at Carthage Jail, Illinois. Machinations and opportunistic actions largely brought to pass the disastrous consequences in that state. The ill-conceived, unfortunate conflict and interface were abruptly and totally terminated when the Mormons were forced to flee from their mid-west homes and abandoned possessions. The depresssing, disheartening exodus was formally initiated February l5, 1846 by Brigham Young, when he and associates drove their overburdened wagons and teams across the solidly frozen surface of the Mississippi River into lowa Territory.

It has been commonly known for nearly a century and a half that vicious friction has always existed hetween Utah Masonry and the Mormon Church. The real reasons for this long standing rancor has rarely even been suspected or surmised. The Mormon professor of history at Southern Illinois University Stanley B. Kimball, uniquely stated, competently and authoritatively his relevant evaluation:

Of the three older standard treatments, S. H. Goodwin, Mormonism and Masonry (Washington, D.C. Masonic Service Association, 1924); Anthony W. Ivins, The Relationships of "Mormonism" and Freemasonry (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1934); and E. Cecil McGavin, Mormonism and Masonry, 4th enlarged ed. (Salt Lake City; Bookcraft, 1956), the latter is the least vacuous and discursive. Ivins and McGavin knew almost nothing about Masonry and Goodwin knew even less about Mormonism. (p. 91)

Actually the purposely clouded situation followed when both the Masons and the Mormons, with mutual understanding, each falsified to some extent its versions of the account of the situation.

With the Mormons, understandably, their venture into Illinois Masonry had so soured them, it was an experience they wished to distance themselves from as far as possible. In the new Deseret Territory, the forcibly driven desert outcasts held cleeply sustained emotions against the perverted, ill-directed Illinois Masonry which had viciously promoted and participated in the murders of Joseph and Hyrum. That same enemy had then continued to add physical damage, destruction and death to their initial lethal outrages hy further devastation in burning down the Mormons' homes, destroying and stealing their property, causing and inflicting human death, and then literally driving the destitute and suffering victims from their pillaged land and burned homes, and farther, until they had been forced from the very State of Illinois itself. In their new abode, Brigham faced the largely individual burdensome responsibility of establishing and successfully administering, literally from sheer rock bottom, a theocratic state in an unwanted, remote and totally isolated salt desert. Paralleling his anything but attractive colonizing demands were the highly differing complexities of re-locating the church he headed and directing it as a viable and expanding enterprise.

In Utah, the Mormons viewed Masonry as a thing of the past. They had learned much as they lived through the harrowing disasters caused by a perverted Masonry unleashed into a raging destructive force. They clearly realized their pioneering future in the selected outlying region of Old Mexico needed Freemasonry like their covered wagons needed a fifth wheel.

Professor Stanley B. Kimball enlightened the situation considerably when he stressed a distinctly unique colonizing feature of the Mormon migration west (4) with the statement:

It is a curious fact that the Mormons, who did not want to go west in the first place, were the most successful in doing so. Mormons were not typical westering Americans; whereas others went for a new identity, adventure, furs, land or gold, they were driven west for their religious beliefs. The pioneer group [Brigham Young's party of July 24, 1847] was not concerned just with getting themselves safely settled but in making the road easier for others to follow. Furthermore, the Mormons transplanted a whole culture, not just isolated, unrelated individuals. (p. x)

A major complication to understanding the clash hetween Utah Mormons and the Utah Masons is largely due to the fact that each organization has more or less planned it that way, and then adhered to their particular course. Each party has deliberately intended to keep the status quo as it has been for nearly a century and a half, and neither side has stated its real story nor its whole story. one dodge that served each party well for decades was, with tongue in cheek, to imply or infer, there was but one history of the long clash: namely, that the beginning of the antagonism originated in Illinois, crossed the plains full-blown with Brigham Young and his pioneers, taking vigrous root in Utah. Nothing could he further from the truth.

Immediately granting that the termination of problems involving human emotions is anything but explicit and determinable with exactitude, the unquestionable fact is: the initial ugly phase of the Mormon/Masonic holocaust per se closed sharply and totally with the exodus of the Mormons from Illinois. There was no Mormon/Masonic situation whatsoever in the Territory of Utah until General Albert Sidney Johnston's troops arrived there and their attached Rocky Mountain Lodge No. 305, AF&AM, chartered by the Grand Lodge of Missouri. This was the first presence of organized, regular Masonry in what is now the State of Utah.

It is not possible to describe the limited and restricted frugality of the frontier life which immersed the founders and early Mormons from the early 1800s in upstate New York, to about 1870 in Utah. Certainly the coming, of the railroad brought a new variety of outside influences, including Masonry, into Utah s Mormon culture as the calendar opened on the 1879s. The Grand Lodge of Utah Free and Accepted Masons was founded in Salt Lake City on January 16, 1872.

The first documented anti-Mormonism sponsored by Utah Masonry is the oft- published expose of the Mormon Temple Ritual, "Lifting the Vail. (sic) The Endowment House Mysteries Fully Explained," n.a. The Daily Tribune, Sunday Morning, September 28, 1879. This unsigned presentation was due to Robert Newton Baskin, who had been made a life member of Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 2 on July 8, 1878. Baskin was a driving, vicious power broker who exerted tremendous influence anonymously behind the curtain. He accomplished his ends in this manner most successfully.

Hate is a long-shadowed word. Yet it is the very key to penetrating the shell of the little understood, but confusingly durable, impasse binding the interests of Utah Masonry and the Mormon Church. A sustained and intimate Utah residence would likely fail to help one as he seeks the source of the omnipresent stress one senses about him in Utah. A few Mormons and only a few Masons have grasped an inkling of the factors relating to the real and true self-interests which motivate each party, or realize the unbroken mutual practice of never acknowledging the existence of the rationale. The searcher stands frustrated, since he is unaware the situation is never laid on the table, never acknowledged, and never discussed.

One must know the Mormon Church rests on the claim it was founded in an atmosphere of the supernatural and the miraculous, and aims to have that striking presence pervade the accounts of all events or circumstances in its history. From its very beginning, all supposedly scholarly publications of the Church have been written under its supervision, or edited by it, to conform to its inexorable mandate: nothing will be made public unless it augments the positive image of the institution. With this mind-set, the Church cannot tolerate any tarnishing of its supernal aura by a shadow cast by such a common, ordinary, mortal social entity of the world as Freemasonry. Hence, its goal is to expunge any trace of the Ancient Order from every page of its history.

Utah Masonry's problem is a deep-seated psychological one. It stems from the unique forces and circumstances under which Utah Territory was colonized. When the Utah Grand Lodge was organized January 16, 1872, every member was an openly declared Mormon hater. This circumstance essentially held until January 31, 1984, when the body repealed its continuous, long-standing, un-Masonic restriction. In such an intense, enduring atmosphere of repulsion, the Utah Masons simply and understandably could not accept nor adjust to the established fact that the Joseph Smith family of Palmyra, New York was an exemplary Masonic family, and the Mormon Church had its very birth roots deeply and firmly planted in quality Masonic soil.