UPON the conclusion of the Revolution a
strong spirit was manifested for independence of the Mother Country
in all matters pertaining to the Craft. This disposition had been
apparent in many ways prior to the commencement of hostilities,
and at the close of the war was openly advocated. Most of the
Brethren had been actively engaged in the conflict, and all its
horrors, sufferings, and bloodshed but accentuated the bitterness
of the Colonists. It was natural, therefore, with the return of
peace, that an effort should be made in this direction.
Appropriately, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the Revolutionary spirit and the scene of the first encounters, assumed the lead. Its Grand Lodge declared for absolute independence. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania followed, and its voice was soon supplemented by that of others. The proposition was advanced to form a Masonic Union patterned after that of the States, wherein every Grand Lodge should have representation. It was intended to confer upon GEORGE WASHINGTON the distinctive honor of General Grand Master, but opposition to the plan soon developed. Unfortunately for the success of the plan many of the Tories, who had remained loyal to the crown, were active members of the Craft and exerted their influence to overcome the tendency of the time. Several Grand Lodges were thereby placed in opposition to the scheme, and it was abandoned, although not until the seed thus sown had borne fruit which eventually emancipated the Craft and established the existing American system of independent Grand jurisdictions. The death of WASHINGTON was largely instrumental in repressing temporarily the active movement for a General Grand Lodge. A few years later the plan was attempted to be revived, but failed to evoke the support anticipated. One of the strongest factors to this end was the jealousy of the various Grand Lodges of their jurisdictional rights, which they had now fully learned and thoroughly appreciated.
During the dark period of the Revolutionary strife, the labors of the several Lodges had been slight and indifferent except for the work performed by the Army Lodges. With the cessation of the sanguinary struggle the work was resumed, but it found the Lodges mostly disorganized and dispirited. The conditions prevailing were exact reflections of the status of the people and Colonies during the experimental period from the distrusted Confederacy to the formation of the Federal Government under the Constitution. But with the return of confidence in the stability of the Republic, under its written organic law, came a renewal of hope in the Masonic Institution, and thence its career became a progressive march toward the full consummation of its glorious purposes, unhindered save by the MORGAN episode, and demonstrating by its works its right to endure as the exemplar of principles at once gracious and divine.
The renewal of interest in Freemasonry induced the formation of many new Lodges throughout the Atlantic Slope, every portion feeling the effect of the revival, and the altar fires, new and old, dotting town and hamlet from the driven snows of the extreme north to the glowing warmth of the south. Then the Great Lights, like the sun in its course, began to tip the crests of the Alleghany and the Appalachian range of mountains, which were then the Western boundary of civilization, and soon thereafter to dart their beaming rays down the western slopes and across the lakes, the fountains of the St. Lawrence River, and the broad Valley of the Mississippi, "The Father of Waters," and its tributaries, and thence up the steep sides of the rugged and rocky granite piles of the Far West, dipping at length, across peaceful vales, into the broad and peaceful western sea. The Masonic and patriotic spirit and memories of the Masonic fathers of American Independence accompanied the Great Lights wherever the altars of Freemasonry were set up in the then vast wilderness filled with hostile tribes of Indians.
The first Lodge to be opened for work was at the town of Lexington in Kentucky under a charter issued by the Grand Lodge of Virginia, November 17, 1788, as Lexington Lodge, No. 25, the town and Lodge having been named after Lexington in Massachusetts, where the first blood was shed in the American Revolution. The next in order was American Union Lodge, the charter having been granted to it by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, February 15, 1776, as a Military Lodge in the Connecticut Line of the American army during the Revolutionary War, which found lodgment at Marietta, Ohio. It was opened by the Master, Lieutenant JONATHAN HEART, with Colonel BENJAMIN TUPPER and General RUFUS PUTNAM as Wardens. There were several Brethren who had been members of the Military Lodge, No. 10, also warranted by the St. John's Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and in all there were ten of these officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary army who met and elected their officers and opened this Lodge June 28, 1790. The Grand Lodge of South Carolina chartered Parfait Union Lodge at New Orleans, Louisiana, March 30, 1794, to French refugee Brethren from the Island of Hayti, while the Grand Lodge of North Carolina granted a charter to St. Tammaity Lodge, No. 29, at Nashville, Tenn., December 17, 1796.
From the altars of these first Lodges planted on the western slopes of the Alleghany Mountains the lights of Masonry began to burn like blazing beacons, lighting up the Mississippi Valley and its tributaries from the lakes to the gulf and casting over the barren wastes and stony sentinels of the plains and the sun - kissed shores of the Pacific a flood of golden light. Their united glow spread a sheen of effulgent brilliance over the vast expanse and started the flames upon new Masonic altars set up in every direction by the pioneer torch - bearers of the Craft. The French traders of St. Louis and St. Genevieve in the then French Territory of Louisiana, who purchased their goods at Philadelphia, were initiated into Masonry in the old French Lodges L'Amerite, Nos. 71 and 73, on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Those Lodges had been formed chiefly of officers and soldiers who had volunteered and served under Bro. LAFAYETTE in the American Revolution, and becoming imbued with the spirit of Freemasonry, awaited with patience the negotiations between THOMAS JEFFERSON, President of the United States, and NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, the Consul of France (both Masons), for the purchase and cession of Louisiana to the United States, which took place April 30, 1803. As their numbers became augmented from time to time, they at last made application in the year 1807 - 8, for a warrant of Constitution, which was granted by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, for Louisiana Lodge, No. 109, to be held in the town of St. Genevieve, Territory of Louisiana, OTHO STRADER being its first Master, and Dr. AARON ELLIOTT and JOSEPH HERTICH its first Wardens.
It numbered among its members PIERRE CHOUTEAU and BARTHOLOMEW BERTHOLD, the founders of the great American Fur Company, and many others, who subsequently became prominent merchants of St. Louis. This was the first Lodge established in what is now the State of Missouri.
The war with Great Britain in 1812 - 14 greatly disturbed the progress of Freemasonry in the valley of the Mississippi as well as elsewhere in the United States. For several years thereafter but little advance was made by the Craft in this region, but on November 29, 1818, the Grand Lodge of Kentucky granted a dispensation for Arkansas Lodge at the Post of Arkansas, but when Little Rock became the capital of Arkansas it surrendered its dispensation by reason of the removal of the seat of government. And thus Freemasonry on the west bank of the Mississippi River was established in its infancy. The first meeting of the Convention for the organization of the Grand Lodge of Missouri was held on WASHINGTON's birthday, February 22, 1821, and adjourned to April 21St of that year,, when it was duly organized. It may also be noted as of general interest that among the famous Masons of the Mississippi Valley, HENRY CLAY became the Grand Master of Kentucky and ANDREW JACKSON, the hero of the battle of New Orleans, became the Grand Master of Tennessee.
The Freemasonry of the Mississippi Valley was not hide - bound, nor were the strict rules and regulations which now generally govern it then enforced.
Non - affiliation and suspension for noii
- payment of dues were not then in vogue, nor were they considered
Masonic crimes, nor was membership then altogether confined to
one Lodge; but whenever and wherever one brother could render
a kind office to another it was freely given, even life for a
life in defense when rendered necessary. Not a party of hunters,
trappers or traders or any expedition set out from the Western
Mississippi cities or towns toward Texas, New Mexico, the Rocky
Mountains, to Oregon as then known, or California, but there were
the Brethren of the Mystic Tie to a greater or lesser extent to
be found among them, and the Grand Lodge of Missouri was their
lenient, fostering, protecting, and indulgent mother. In those
early days she did not invoke the stern rigor of the statutes
of her sovereignty, but allowed the elasticity of human nature
some recognition in the administration of her government. It is
true that there was a great laxity for want of a perfect system
and regularity at 'her Grand East in those early times but for
men of moral courage, stern integrity, fidelity to principles,
and Masonic obligations, and with physical strength, pluck and
daring, even to the risking of life itself, the material of the
jurisdiction of the then frontier Grand Lodge of Missouri was
the peer of any Grand Lodge.
While new altar fires were set aflaming in the West, those of the East were kept glowing. The progress along the Atlantic seaboard was constant and inspiring.
Many of the disputes arising from conflicts of authority were settled and the Craft placed upon a harmonious basis. In Massachusetts the two Grand Lodges ended their contentions by uniting on March 5, 1792, thereby restoring concord, encouraging labor, and assuring prosperity to the fraternity. St. Andrew's Lodge, which refused to acquiesce in the Union, finally united its fortunes with the new Grand Lodge, and thus completed the Masonic circle.
If the claim that the Massachusetts Grand Lodge was of the "Ancients" be true, then the coalition mentioned antedated the union in England of 1813 by twenty-two years. Immediately after the uniting of the Grand Lodges, a new "Book of Constitutions" was published, dedicated to GEORGE WASHINGTON, and this has since, with minor changes, been the manual of Massachusetts. The Grand Lodge officiated at the laying of the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument, June 27, 1835, General LAFAYETTE being present and assisting as a brother Mason. The MORGAN excitement affected the prosperity of the Craft in the State, as elsewhere, to great degree, the utmost bitterness prevailing, and leading eventually to the surrender of the Grand Lodge incorporation, but it was probably due to this Grand Lodge and one of its members that the utter idiocy of the agitation then prevailing was made patent to the people at large, who thereupon moderated their views and at length completely changed their ideas regarding the institution, so much so that the Legislature of the State has since been extremely considerate of Masonic interests, and has enacted many laws in its behalf.
The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts strongly advocated the establishment of a General Grand Lodge, the feeling against English domination of the Craft being very emphatic. The same spirit permeated the Craftsmen of Pennsylvania, probably the earliest home of Freemasonry in the United States. The propriety of severing official relations with the Grand Lodge of England was considered at the quarterly communication of the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge, held at Philadelphia in September, 1786, when it was formally declared that all ties except those of brotherly love and affection were determined. Thereupon the Grand Lodge, acting under the British warrant, was closed forever, and an independent sovereign body called the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was created. This action was concurred in by thirteen Lodges, which had theretofore worked under the authority of the English warrant. The former Grand Officers were continued in their positions with full powers. From this later Grand Lodge were issued warrants authorizing the creation of subordinate bodies in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana', Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Haiti, Trinidad, Cuba, and Mexico, in addition to army Lodges and two in South American countries. From these various bodies several Grand Lodges were subsequently organized. As illustrative of the extent of the Lodge powers and the freedom then prevalent in the conferring of various degrees which had not yet been separated into different orders, it may be observed that under the warrant of the Lodges, Nos. 2 and 3, the Knight Templar degree was conferred by these bodies during the period from 1783 to 1787. In 1782 - 1783 the Ahiman Rezon, containing the Constitutions of Pennsylvania, was published, the dedication being inscribed to WASHINGTON as General of the American armies and as a distinguished brother.
Originally, the Pennsylvania Brethren favored the establishment of a General Grand Lodge, having in view the selection of WASHINGTON as General Grand Master, but with his demise this sentiment changed and strong opposition to the plan developed. The Craft in Pennsylvania manifested a sincere affection for WASHINGTON at all times, and at his death mourned his loss as personal. On several public occasions WASHlNGTON attended the Grand Lodge, which is possessed of one of his Masonic letters. His legatees also presented to the Grand Lodge one of his Masonic aprons, and the Grand Lodge in turn voted $1,000 for the erection of a monument over his remains at Mount Vernon, and contributed a block of marble for the great WASHINGTON Monument in Washington, D. C.
LAFAYETTE, the associate of WASHINGTON in the gloomy days of the Revolution, was also cherished by the Pennsylvania Brethren both as patriot and brother, and upon his return to the United States was received with many manifestations of love and reverence. He was honored with membership in the Grand Lodge, and was received everywhere by the Brethren with every mark of esteem. The loyalty of the Pennsylvania Brethren has ever been pronounced, and every demand of the Government has been met promptly. When Great Britain in 1812 provoked its second war with the Americans, the Grand Lodge immediately offered its services in defense of the Quaker City, and upon the call for aid, five hundred and ten members responded. The same devotion to the flag inspired the organization of a relief association for Masonic soldiers enlisted in the Union cause during the Rebellion, but this help was not confined to members of the Craft, and gradually extended to all of the soldiers, and eventually resulted in the formation of hospital and other corps for the alleviation of the troubles incident to war. By enactment of the Grand Lodge in 1799, one - third of its receipts were devoted to charity, and these, with the accumulations from a bequest of $20,000 made by STEPHEN GIRARD, and of $50,000 donated by THOMAS R. PATTON, former Grand Treasurer, aggregate about $200,000. Through the loving efforts of the Brethren, a shelter for the aged, decrepit, and forlorn Mason, his wife, widow, and orphan has been established at Philadelphia, and in the beneficence of its work will rival the magnificence of the Temple, said to be the finest in the world, which has been erected in the same city by the same exalted spirits.
All of the New England Jurisdictions were nurtured by Massachusetts and she proved a worthy mother to all, giving of her substance and earnestness much that contributed to the early and permanent success of the Craft. The same spirit of independence which led the Colonies to throw off the yoke of the mother country, early induced the Craftsmen in the various portions of New England to establish their own Grand Lodges and year after year discovered them setting up their own altars. The first of the offshoots to erect its own Grand Lodge was Connecticut. St. John's Lodge, of which PAUL REVERE was at one time Grand Master, had chartered a number of Lodges in this territory of which six survived. A similar number had been warranted by the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, and four Lodges had received authority from the Provincial Grand Master of New York.
American Union, an Army Lodge, chartered by St. John's Lodge and attached to a Connecticut regiment was also working. These bodies, although working under different dispensations, labored in concord and eventually convened for the purpose of forming a Grand Lodge. The first meeting to this end was held in April, 1783, and the second in January, 1784, but the work was not consummated until May, 1789, when a Constitution was adopted and officers were elected. The Grand Lodge was formed by twelve of the Lodges and it was noted as remarkable that all of these Lodges were still in existence and represented at the centenary observance of the Grand Lodge in 1889. Under the Grand Lodge the Fraternity prospered and at the commencement of the nineteenth century the membership had grown to 3,000 - Some trouble was experienced from the establishment of spurious Lodges by JOASH HALL about the year 1800, but this was soon remedied.
Out of Connecticut came charters for Erie Lodge and New England Lodge which, with American Union, the Army Lodge before mentioned, assisted in the formation in 1808 of the Ohio Grand Lodge. The Grand Lodge was incorporated by act of the Legislature in 1821 and five years later voted $500 for a monument to WASHINGTON. In common with other Masonic Bodies, the Grand Lodge felt the effects of the MORGAN crusade, and it created such demoralization that in 1831 the Grand Treasurer was the only officer who did not refuse to continue in office.
Although new officers were elected at that session all but the Grand Master and Grand Treasurer failed to appear at the convocation the following year.
New Hampshire was the second of the Massachusetts branches to form a Grand Lodge. The first Lodge in this colony was warranted about 1737 and it remained the sole Lodge for forty-five years when another was constituted, but the latter did not long survive. During the period immediately following the cessation of hostilities between Great Britain and the colonies, several other Lodges were consecrated to the cause of Masonry. The first movement toward the creation of a Grand Lodge was a meeting of deputies at Keene in July, 1789, at which a resolution to that end was adopted. A second meeting was held the same month, but the Grand Master was not installed until April, 1790. For several years the Grand Lodge celebrated ST. JOHN's Day by parading to a church and there commemorating by appropriate services the recurrence of this Masonic patron's festival. The organization of Washington Lodge at Exeter, July 22, 1801, was marked by rather novel ceremonies.
The Grand Lodge was opened by the Grand
Master who thereupon summoned the officers of the new Lodge. These
were then severally examined and ascertained to be worthy and
well skilled in the Ancient Art. The Grand Lodge, headed by a
band of music, marched to the meeting - place of the new subordinate
where the Lodge was opened, the Grand Officers taking their official
positions. The Master was then obligated and inducted into the
Oriental Chair in the presence only of all attending Past Masters.
Then the procession was reformed and proceeded to a near - by
church where the ceremonies were enlivened by the music of a male
and female choir. After the consecration of the Lodge, investiture
of the Master, proclamation and prayer, the Brethren again formed
in procession and marched to a hostelry where a sumptuous banquet
had been provided by the stewards. Later the Lodge was closed.
This Grand Lodge was probably the first to establish a form of
application for the degrees. The form was adopted in 1802, the
first half being substantially the declaration now set forth upon
all of the petitions. The second half was a formal recommendation
of the applicant by two members of the Lodge who attested the
moral and other qualities necessary to constitute him a fit member
of the Craft, and two other members vouched for the petitioner.
In 1807 the Grand Lodge appointed a delegate to represent it in
a Grand Masonic Convention at Washington, D. C., authorizing him
to propose and agree to a systematic method of working and lecturing
in the United States, but it also expressed its opposition to
the formation of a General Grand Lodge as had been proposed.
The Grand Lodge of Rhode Island was organized on June 25, 1791, by two Lodges - one located at Newport and the other at Providence. The Constitution adopted provided for annual sessions, alternating between Newport and Providence. A memorial service was adopted in 1797. In this jurisdiction the Lodges were required to work under dispensations for several years before charters were issued, a practice which has since become general. It was not until the year 1800 that the Lodges of this State were numbered. New Lodges were usually constituted and the installations of officers held in public. Originally the Lodges had no authority to confer the Third or Master's degree, which was worked by a separate Masters' Lodge. Another strange regulation was that which declared that an Entered Apprentice did not become a member of the Lodge which conferred it.
This was supplemented by another requiring Fellow Crafts to apply by petition for, advancement. St. John's Lodge of Providence was the home Lodge of THOMAS S.
WEBB, who in 1813 - 1814 was Grand Master, and whose chief celebrity in the Masonic Institution is as the revisionist of the rituals of the several bodies. During WEBB'S mastership in 1814 the Grand Lodge fortified the harbor of Providence against the British, and he named the defenses Fort Hiram. An application was made to this Grand Lodge in 1811 for a warrant to open a Lodge on the Island of St. Bartholomew, but it was refused, the Grand Lodge placing its denial upon the ground of want of jurisdiction. The Grand Lodge in 1826, and again in 1848, revised its Constitution, and also in 1863 adopted a revision of the ritual. All of the Lodges but one acquiesced in the latter changes, and that one for continued contumacy was suspended.
Vermont was the next of the Massachusetts Masonic progeny to build its own household. Duly accredited delegates from three Lodges assembled at Manchester in August, 1794, and several preliminary meetings were held at which the necessary formula for the formation of a Grand Lodge were pursued and adopted. Eventually, on October 13, 1794, a Constitution was adopted and officers chosen. The growth of the Order was rapid, and many charters were granted. In fact, so great was the progress and so numerous the applications for warrants, that the Grand Lodge passed a number of measures tending to protect the Fraternity from imposition. Among other regulations it required the petition of five known Master Masons for a charter, the examination of the Master and Wardens as to their knowledge of the Masonic art, the approbation of the two nearest Lodges, and a distance of at least twenty miles between Lodges, unless at certain seasons of the year the Brethren would be obliged to travel round creeks and bays to get to the Lodge to which they belonged, in which case the Grand Lodge was authorized to dispense with the rule enforcing, distance. In January, 1802, the Grand Lodge adopted a standard work for the Lodges, and in January, 1804, it ordered the discontinuance of the chisel as a working - tool of the Entered Apprentice degree. In 1805 the Grand Lodge adopted a law conferring upon Master Masons the sole right to vote in the Lodges, and also conferred upon the Lodges the power to hear and determine all disputes between their members and to suspend, expel, and restore them, all without right of appeal. It may be noted as curious that the Grand Lodge, in 1807, directed the publication in local newspapers of the expulsion of members, to which was added a request to the publishers throughout the Union to reprint the item. Some years later the Grand Lodge provided the correlatively curious rule that all restorations to membership should be likewise printed in the public journals. This Grand Lodge also appropriated various sums in the first quarter of the nineteenth century for the distribution, gratuitously, of the Bible, and also aided several Bible societies. A sum of money was donated in 1824 to a Craftsman who had been deprived of his place and emoluments as an elder of a Christian church because he had become a Mason. This Grand Lodge also early expressed its disapproval of the use of ardent spirits, and also frowned upon public dinners at its communications, adopting a resolution to this effect in 1826, and in the following year it recommended to all subordinates to exclude the use of ardent spirits on all public occasions. It seems to have been the disposition of both the Grand and Subordinate Lodges of Vermont to aid all public movements, contributing moneys' freely toward the same, and in this manner advancing the interests of educational, colonization, and other projects. This jurisdiction suffered from the intense feelings aroused by the anti-Masonic agitation, 'the bitterness engendered thereby being almost beyond conception. Most of the Brethren held resolutely to their principles, and, though sore tried, the justness of their cause eventually triumphed, and since the progress of the Fraternity has been more than satisfactory. In this State the Legislature, during the height of the MORGAN excitement, passed a law making it a public offense to administer what were termed "extra - judicial" oaths, the law being aimed directly at the Masonic fraternity, and being designed to abolish all forms of obligations, but, as was to be anticipated, the law was ineffectual to accomplish the end desired.
The Craft had become a well - known and thriving institution in Maine at the date of its admission to Statehood, there being thirty-one Lodges, all of which had been chartered by Massachusetts. The State was admitted to the Union in 1819, and later in the same Year a convention of the Lodges was held to promote the organization of a Grand Lodge, twenty-nine of the Lodges being represented. In June, 1820, the representatives of twenty-four Lodges met, adopted a Constitution, and elected officers, the first Grand Master being WILLIAM KING, Governor of the State. The Mother Grand Lodge donated the sum of one thousand dollars to its youngest Masonic child, as the basis of its charity fund, and helped it in many ways. At the session of 1820 a proposition was made to the Grand Lodge to set apart one - tenth of all moneys to be received thereafter from charter and initiatory fees for the purpose of translating the Bible into various tongues and distributing the same without note or comment, but it was decided that as the funds of the Grand Lodge were devoted to other objects of charity, such as supplying the temporal wants of the needy, no part thereof could be applied, to such purpose. This Grand Lodge in 1824 adopted the report of a committee favoring the admission of candidates by solemn affirmation in all cases in which applicants had conscientious scruples against taking an oath. This invasion of one of the most sacred of the Landmarks of the Craft raised a cloud of protests throughout the United States, and eventually the Landmark was restored.
All of the Lodges in New York, with one exception, had been chartered by the English Grand Lodge of "Moderns" when the Revolutionary outbreak occurred, and all but one suspended labor until the close of the war. Many of the regiments stationed in New York City during its occupation by the British had attached to them so-called Army Lodges, which were exceedingly active, and in these Lodges Whigs and Tories, Federalists and Royalists, were accustomed to meet, forgetful for the nonce of the bitterness aroused by the conflict between the Crown and its Colonies. A Provincial Grand Lodge having been established in New York City in December, 1782, upon the evacuation of the British troops, it was decided to leave the Grand Warrant for use of the successors of the incumbent Grand Officers, most of whom, being British soldiers, were obliged to depart. The first American Grand Master of this body was WILLIAM COCK, who was succeeded by ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON in 1784. Two years later all Lodges in the State were ordered to deposit their warrants, so that the rank of all might be determined. In the same year a committee was appointed to consider the propriety of holding the Grand Lodge under its then warrant, and to effect a change if it should be thought expedient. This committee afterward reported that no change was necessary. The festivals of the two SAINTS JOHN were observed by the Grand Lodge in 1785 and 1789 with much ceremony. In August, 1790, the Grand Lodge declared in favor of a Supreme Federal Grand Lodge. Owing to conflicts between the "Moderns" and "Ancients" and a number of clandestine Masons, a check - word was adopted by the Grand Lodge in 1793, but the next year it was changed. The use of this safeguard was continued for several years. In 1796 it was resolved by the Grand Lodge to refuse to grant any dispensation or charter for a Lodge to any persons residing out of the State and within the jurisdiction of another Grand Lodge. JACOB MORTON was in 1801 inducted into the Grand Orient as successor of ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON with elaborate ceremonials, Knights Templar officiating and the Grand Master delivering a felicitous address.
The second war with England caused an emergency convocation of the Grand Lodge, September, 1814, seventeen Lodges responding, and the members, with other Brethren, devoted several days' labor toward the erection of a fort on Brooklyn Heights as a defense of the city. The Grand Lodge on June 5, 1816, prohibited the use of distilled spirits in Lodge rooms. For many years the jurisdiction was torn by dissentions arising from attempts to establish a second Grand Lodge.
Three Lodges of Albany in December, 1801, issued a circular to the country Lodges advocating the formation of another Grand Lodge. The Lodges divided upon the proposition, some of the country Lodges uniting with the city Lodges in opposition. Action was postponed until 1823, when it was discussed with much bitterness. Before this was settled the subordinates in ten of the western counties convened and petitioned the Grand Lodge for the formation of a second Grand Body in the western portion of the State. In June, 1822, another proposal was made to erect a new Grand Lodge in the country. Many objections were made to the Grand Lodge by the interior Lodges, the principal ones being in regard to payment of mileage and expenses of representatives, the right to vote, and representation of country Lodges by proxies to the Grand Lodge. The Grand Lodge was in many respects purely a city organization, and gradually excited the opposition of the country members. It was fast becoming discredited, and in June, 1822, the dissentions culminated in the organization of another, or country, Grand Lodge, which was known as St. John's Grand Lodge. Five years later the country and city Grand Lodges under a compromise treaty coalesced, it having been agreed that there should be but one Grand Lodge, that the records should remain in New York City, that the Grand Secretary and Grand Treasurer should be elected from that city, that the other officers should be chosen alternately from city and country, that Past Masters should not be represented by proxies, and that no Master or Past Master should represent more than three Lodges. New York State was the home and hotbed of the anti-Masonic crusade brought about by the MORGAN incident, and so intense was the excitement that all but seventy-two of the 502 Lodges surrendered their charters. For seven years no work was done. The Grand Lodge, to help allay the feeling of opposition, prohibited all public parades. Despite this inhibition and in the face of special notifications York, Hibernia, Benevolent, and Silentia Lodges, under the leadership of HENRY C. ATWOOD, resolved to appear in public to celebrate ST. JOHN's Day, 1837. The parade was held, three hundred joining in the same. In July succeeding ATWOOD was expelled, the specific charge being disobedience to the mandate of the Deputy Grand Master, who had warned him against proceeding with the march and celebration. The Lodges participating met and on September 12, 1837, established a Grand Lodge under the name of St. John's. This body and its subordinates were refused recognition by the American and European Grand Lodges, being declared clandestine, and so continued until 1850, when the St. John's Grand Lodge was merged with the Grand Lodge of New York and its members healed. In June, 1853, the St. John's Grand Lodge drew away from the Grand Lodge of New York, basing its action upon four grounds, the first being to the Grand Master, REUBEN H. WALWORTH, for his claimed disloyalty to the Masonic Institution; the second, that large amounts of money had been squandered; the third, that Lodges had been inordinately taxed, and the fourth the inquisitorial exercise of power over subordinate Lodges and individual members.
When the term of Grand Master WALWORTH expired, three years later, the St. John's bodies returned to the regular Grand, Lodge and the schism was finally closed. The St. John's Grand Lodge at this time had about one thousand members enrolled in its subordinates. The Grand Lodge of New York has ever been liberal in its charities and consistent in its help to the needy. In 1810 it provided instruction to fifty poor orphan children. In 18l2 the destitution and suffering of the people at Buffalo was relieved by the citv Lodges. Moneys were raised in 1815 for the presentation to each scholar in the Fraternity's free school of an outfit of clothing.
The movement to erect a building for the Grand Lodge in New York City and an asylum for Masons, widows, and orphans was started in 1843, and has since seen fruition in the magnificent Temple of the Craft in New York City and the more useful and gracious home at Utica. The Grand Lodge is the possessor of one of the finest Masonic Libraries in the world, and is adding to it constantly. Six of the original Lodges still exist, their antiquity not having impaired their vigor or usefulness.
Closely following the termination of the War of Independence, the various Lodges in New Jersey united to establish a Grand Lodge. Accordingly, the representatives of the different subordinates met at New Brunswick, and on December 18, 1786, organized the Grand Body, most of those participating having been actively engaged in the conflict. A number of the military Lodges connected with the forces operating in New Jersey joined in the creation of the Grand Lodge, accepting later the warrants of the new governing body. New Jersey was the theater of many of the notable encounters of the Revolution, and during the interims of warfare the members of the several Army Lodges and those Masons whose membership was in regularly located Lodges, availed themselves fully of the opportunities thus afforded to meet their Brethren of the Mystic Tie, and many strong and in some cases romantic attachments were formed which outlasted hostilities. Although the Grand Lodge was organized in 1786, it was four years later before its Constitution was formally promulgated and adopted. As might be expected, General WASHINGTON, during his prolonged stay in and about New Jersey, was a frequent attendant upon the Masonic communications, and his presence and inspiring words were always keenly welcomed. This jurisdiction, while consistently opposed to the creation of a General Grand Lodge, was nevertheless favorable to the appointment of WASHINGTON as Grand Master of the United States, and even went so far as to receive a favorable report from a committee, but the proposition meeting with no general favor, owing to the objection that it would create a precedent that might prove injurious to the Craft in general, was permitted to lapse. The anti-Masonic crusade affected this Grand Lodge to some extent, but not as much as the other jurisdictions to the north and east. After the gradual decline of prejudice growing out of the MORGAN trouble, the Lodges began to prosper, and their course has since been pleasant and beneficial.
Two months after peace had been proclaimed the Lodges meeting on the Eastern Shore of Maryland assembled at Talbot Courthouse to establish a Grand Lodge, representatives from five Lodges being present to forward the project. At the meeting when it was proposed to elect officers for the Grand Lodge, some question was made as to the right of the convention to do so. It was then decided to appeal to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania which had warranted most of the Maryland bodies for authority to set up an independent Grand Lodge. No definite reply to this request appears to have been given, probably for the reason that the supplicating bodies possessed the inherent right to establish their own Grand Lodge when they so determined. The convention met in July, 1783, for the second time, the Masters and Wardens of the Lodges being present instead of deputies. At this session the indisputable right of the Lodges to form an independent Grand Body was strongly declared and the assembly also elected a corps of officers. It was also decided that the Grand Lodge should meet quarterly and should sit at different places at its various communications. There were some members of the Grand Lodge who continued of doubtful belief as to their power to constitute a new Grand Body without the sanction of the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge, and the Grand Master of Maryland endeavored to obtain the final opinion of the Pennsylvania body, but without success, although a committee for the purpose of determining the question was appointed by the latter, but this committee does not appear to have made any report concerning the matter. Eventually the Maryland body concluded the matter by a declaration recognizing its right to form a Grand Lodge and the incident was considered closed. Thereafter there was no representation in the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania from Maryland. To settle all questions concerning the regularity and validity of the organization of the Grand Lodge in April, 1787, the officers of the different Lodges were summoned and the Grand Lodge was then formally reorganized and this date is generally accepted as that of the formation of this body. The three Lodges on the Western Shore, being two at Baltimore and one at Joppa, did not join in the establishment of the Grand Lodge but later submitted to its authority. With the settlement of the questions affecting the regularity of the organization of the Grand Lodge, the subordinates increased rapidly, twenty warrants being issued in the period to 1800, but of these seven became dormant.
For twenty years thereafter very little progress was made, but in 1820 interest in Masonry revived and for a decade there was great activity, no less than eighteen charters being issued for the establishment of new Lodges or the rejuvenation of old ones. In the following decade, however, there was a cessation of activity and the Fraternity lapsed to such extent that the entire membership did not exceed 300 and it was distributed among thirteen Lodges. This remarkable decrease in Lodges and membership was due wholly to the anti-Masonic excitement, but this decadent condition was of comparatively short duration and by 1845 interest was revived and the Craft began to prosper again and in the ensuing five years ten new Lodges were formed and many others revived. The Grand Lodge in 1797 Petitioned the Legislature for an Act of Incorporation which was granted finally in 1822. Under this Act the Grand Lodge continued to exercise its corporate powers for forty-four years when the Act was so amended as to enable the Grand Lodge to acquire additional property. A curious tribunal existed in this State up to 1872 called the "Grand Stewards' Lodge," composed of the Masters of the Baltimore Lodges and a Past Master from each Lodge in the State. Originally this Lodge was composed of the Deputy Grand Master and eight Brethren appointed annually by the Grand Lodge to which body was delegated the charge of the Grand Lodge Charity Fund. In time this Lodge extended its power and in addition to managing the financial interests of the Grand Lodge, received authority to act as an intermediate appellate court with power of discipline. After an existence of seventy-five years this Lodge was abolished, the Grand Lodge assuming its proper authority. This Grand Lodge on September is, 1793, in conjunction with the Lodge at Alexandria, Virginia, laid the cornerstone of the Capitol at Washington, D. C., the ceremonies being performed by GEORGE WASHINGTON, then President. This body also on July 4, 1815, laid the cornerstone of the WASHINGTON Monument in Baltimore, the Grand Master officiating and being the first monument erected to the memory of the distinguished patriot. On many occasions the Grand Lodge has been called upon to lay the corner - stones of public and private buildings and to participate in many public ceremonies. In 1845 a charity fund was established and much money was donated, ultimately reaching the sum of $54,000 which was invested in a new Temple which for many years was a losing venture. Many valuable records were destroyed Christmas Day, 1890, by a fire which consumed the old Masonic Hall on St. Paul Street.
Although the first warrant for a Lodge in Virginia was issued in 1741, a Grand Lodge was not formed therein until 1777. A number of Lodges were warranted by other Grand Bodies, but all were either united afterward to the Virginia Grand Lodge or surrendered their authority. Alexandria Lodge, No. 39, which was constituted by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, February 3, 1783, in April, 1788, surrendered its warrant and obtained one from the Grand Lodge of Virginia, and in 1804 gained permission to change its name to "Alexandria - Washington Lodge, No. 22." The Grand Lodge in 1798 declared against any member of the Virginia Lodges visiting the Lodges of the "Ancients," under penalty of expulsion, and this penal statute had the desired effect. WASHINGTON was made a Mason in this State on November 4, 1752, receiving the degrees in Fredericksburg Lodge. A monument to his memory was dedicated in 1858 by the Grand Lodge on the anniversary of his birth, with imposing ceremonies. The Grand Lodge also laid the cornerstone of the monument to commemorate the surrender of Yorktown, which the United States erected at the latter place. The Grand Lodge of Virginia was the parent of the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, which was formed in 1865, having chartered most of the Lodges which engaged in the formation of the latter, and also furnishing the form of Constitution which was used for several years. The prosperity of the Lodges in Virginia and West Virginia was sadly affected by the War of the Rebellion, but upon its culmination all again became successful and useful.
Among the earliest of the Colonies to receive the Masonic Institution was South Carolina, in which as early as 1735 a Lodge was constituted, known as Solomon's Lodge, located at Charleston, under a warrant issued by Lord WEYMOUTH, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England. At the same time that the warrant was granted to this Lodge, another was granted for a Lodge bearing the same name and located at Wilmington, North Carolina. The Charleston Lodge thus formed is still in existence. The Provincial Grand Lodge which had existed in South Carolina since 1737, declared itself in 1787 independent of England, and organized as a regular Grand Lodge. All the Lodges under this Grand Lodge were "Ancients." The "Moderns" in the same year formed a second Grand Lodge. For many years these bodies maintained a most unfraternal rivalry, the "Ancients" being particularly energetic, while the "Moderns" sedulously adhered to the old regulations that required the uninitiated to voluntarily seek them. In December, 1808, the two Grand Lodges united as the "Grand Lodge of South Carolina," but dissentions soon arose over the eligibility of the "Moderns," the "Ancients" holding that the former could not become "Ancients" except by submitting to the ceremonies of the latter. The dispute raged bitterly and other Grand jurisdictions interdicted the members. At length the "Ancients" revived their Grand Lodge and the civil tribunals were appealed to for relief. In 1817 the two Grand Lodges were again united upon terms mutually satisfactory and the Brethren have since abided together in peace and harmony. In this jurisdiction Orange Lodge, No. 14, has maintained a continuous existence since May 28, 1789.
In North Carolina the first Grand Lodge was formed in 1771 and it met alternately at Newbern and Edenton. Its records were destroyed during the Revolution. The Grand Lodge suspended its labors during the war, but it was reorganized in 1787 when new officers were elected and installed, all Lodges renumbered and new charters issued. In 1797 the Legislature enacted a law for the incorporation of the Grand Lodge, under which it has since acted. In 1856 the Grand Lodge established ST. JOHN'S College, a Masonic educational institution, at Oxford, and in 1872 converted it into an orphan asylum, which has been recognized by the people and State in many substantial ways.
The first Lodge in Georgia was known as Solomon's, 139, and was warranted by Lord WEYMOUTH, Grand Master of England. This Lodge existed until the close of the Revolution, when it ceased to exist. In 1786 the Grand Lodge was formed. The progress of the Fraternity thereafter was marked in the city of Savannah, but the country Lodges failed to prosper and in 1818 most of the interior bodies had ceased to exist. To remedy this condition of affairs a new Constitution was adopted in 1820 providing for quarterly meetings, those of March and June at Savannah and those of September and December at Milledgeville, and for the election of Grand Officers annually at the March meeting at Savannah. These changes did not, however, meet with the approval of the members generally and a conflict arose between the country and city members, the former vacating the work of the latter. At length a meeting was held in December, 1826, to correct the evils growing out of this condition of affairs, and a new Constitution was adopted abolishing the quarterly meetings and fixing the regular meeting - place at Milledgeville. The Savannah session of the Grand Lodge repudiated these acts of the Milledgeville communication and elected Grand Officers as usual. At the December meeting of the Milledgeville Grand Lodge, Grand Officers were elected, the March session at Savannah was declared illegal and the Brethren espousing the cause of the latter were expelled. As might be expected the bitterest feelings were engendered by this action, intensified by the course of one of the Savannah Lodges in adhering to the Milledgeville Grand Lodge. While these factional controversies were waging, the anti-Masonic crusade was begun and this served more than any other cause to reunite the warring partisans, and all Lodges but Solomon's, No. 1, of Savannah renewed allegiance to the Milledgeville Grand Lodge. In November, 1889, Solomon's, No. 1, was received into the Grand Lodge and the sentence of expulsion was removed, thereby completely restoring the harmonious relations of the Craft. The most notable event in the career of the Grand Lodge was its participation March 21, 1824, in the laying of the corner - stones of the monuments erected to the memory of Generals GREENE and PULASKI, in which ceremonies LAFAYETTE participated.
The early Lodges in Florida had ephemeral existence, all constituted, for one cause or another, surrendering their charters or becoming extinct. This condition of affairs continued until the organization of several subordinates in the early years of the nineteenth century. Three of these Lodges met in July, 1830, and formed a Grand Lodge. This Grand Lodge "has the distinction of being the first Grand Body erected in a territory, Florida not being then admitted to Statehood. Its career has been harmonious and the Craft has prospered under its wise administration.
Although possessing a comparatively small enrollment, the members of this jurisdiction have worked in unison to promote the principles of the Fraternity and have a proud record for genuine charity. Lodges have been chartered in all of the principal cities and towns and the future of the Craft is bright indeed. The records of the Grand Lodge were unfortunately destroyed by fire in 1888, together with much other valuable property.
The Grand Lodge of Delaware was organized in 1806 under circumstances of such doubtful character, that for many years sister Grand Lodges refused it recognition. There seemed to be no concerted action by the Lodges as such for the formation of a Grand Body. A number of Brethren, said to have been nine, held a meeting at Wilmington, and decided to create a Grand Lodge for the better government of the Fraternity. A committee was accordingly selected to prepare the necessary articles, and in June, 1806, the same were received and approved, and temporary officers appointed. The Grand Lodge was then formally consecrated and established.
The distinctive events in the history of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia were its participation in the laying of the cornerstone of the new Capitol of the United States, and its dedication of the Great WASHINGTON Monument.
The cornerstone of the first Capitol was laid on September 18, 1793, by WASHINGTON, who was then President, assisted by the Craft, and the ceremonies were entirely those of the Fraternity. The Grand Lodge was in charge of the ceremonies attending the laying of the commemorative stone of the new Capitol, on July 4, 1851 - More recently the Grand Lodge placed the cap - stone of the WASHINGTON Monument, and performed the dedicatory services. Five Lodges united in establishing this Grand Lodge in February, 1811, the only subordinate not joining being Alexandria - Washington Lodge, which continued under the Virginia Jurisdiction.
The first Grand Lodge organized in the Mississippi valley was that of Kentucky, which was formed in October, 1800, by the Masters of five Lodges all under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Virginia. Among these Lodges was Lexington, No. 25, which is said to be the first Lodge organized west of the Alleghanies. The preliminary meeting of the representatives of these five Lodges was held in September, 1800, at Lexington, at which the inspiring cause for the setting up of a separate authority was declared to be the impossibility of extending the charities of the Virginia Grand Lodge to the Brethren and their families in Kentucky, and the difficulty of attending the Grand Lodge and receiving visits from the Grand Master. The Masters of the several Lodges participating exhibited the charters under which they were acting, and their own authorities as representatives whereupon the Grand Lodge was created in accordance with the customary forms.
Six years later the Grand Lodge Articles of Constitution were drafted by a convention of delegates. These were based upon the Virginia code and were adopted, and were in 1808 amended and then published. In 1802 the Grand Lodge established a charity fund, the moneys for the same being procured by a tax of one dollar for every subordinate initiation, and five dollars for every Grand Lodge initiation, and in this manner a large fund was accumulated. In 1867, a home for widows and orphans - the first of the Masonic homes - was incorporated, and the Grand Lodge evidenced its favorable consideration of this praiseworthy charity by levying a special tax upon the entire membership, and the funds thus derived were devoted to extension and maintenance of the home. The high - spirited denizens of Kentucky gave the State a reputation for dueling that reached to every quarter of the globe, and the tendency among them to resort to this means of satisfying their honor penetrated even beyond the lines guarding the Masonic Brotherhood. It accordingly early became necessary for the Grand Lodge to act upon several such incidents involving Brethren of the jurisdiction. A Brother who bore a challenge from one Brother Mason to another was in 1814 suspended by his Lodge, but on appeal to the Grand Lodge this sentence was modified and reduced to reprimand.
Four years later the Grand Master himself engaged in a duel with a member of his own Lodge, and was summoned by the Grand Lodge to answer for his conduct.
After considerable debate both Brethren were suspended from all Masonic privileges for one year.
The second of the Grand Lodges formed in the territory west of the Alleghanies was in Ohio. The first Lodge opened in that district was American Union Lodge at Marietta, being the same Lodge for which a warrant was issued by the St. John's Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as an army Lodge connected with the Connecticut Line. This Lodge held its first communication June 28, 1790, JONATHAN HEART being Master. In December, 1794, Nova Cesarea Lodge was organized at Cincinnati. In 1803 warrants were issued by the Connecticut Grand Lodge for Lodges at Warren and Worthington; in 1805 the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge issued authority for a Lodge at Zanesville, and in 1806 the Kentucky Grand Lodge warranted a Lodge at Cincinnati. Delegates from five of these Lodges met at Chillicothe in January, 1808, and decided to form a Grand Lodge, and fixed on January 2, 1809, for the first meeting. General RUFUS PUTNAM was the first Grand Master. At the session in January, 1809, but four Lodges were represented, and the question was at once raised whether or not four Lodges could form a Grand Lodge. According to the DERMOTT Constitution five Lodges were necessary to form a Grand Lodge. It was finally determined, however, to proceed with the organization of the body, which was accordingly formed. The validity of the formation of the Ohio Grand Lodge has never been attacked, though it did not conform strictly to the ancient usage in respect to the number required to constitute it. The Kentucky Constitution was adopted temporarily for the guidance of the Grand Lodge. Although American Union Lodge was represented at the preliminary convention it declined to submit to the authority of the Grand Lodge, asserting superior prior rights. Afterward the Lodge was declared clandestine, but on petition of several of the Brethren a new charter was issued to them in 1816, and since 1842 the Lodge has been extremely active. The Grand Lodge has no fixed meeting - place, the sessions being held annually at such place as has been previously chosen. The same effects were produced in Ohio by the anti-Masonic crusade as were noted in the other jurisdictions. The membership fell away in every direction, and the number of Lodges decreased from ninety-four to seventeen.
Since 1840 the progress of the Craft in Ohio has been steady, uniformly harmonious, and eminently satisfactory to the Fraternity at large. In all that makes for the betterment of the Fraternity and in the living exposition of its vital principles, Ohio has ever been foremost and is a worthy exemplar of beneficent acts well done.
The Masonic Institution was introduced to the territory now known as Louisiana by LAURENT SIGUR, who, with a number of Gallican refugees from the West Indian Islands, formed a Lodge in 1793 known as Parfait Union. The original authority of these Brethren being doubtful, they applied to the South Carolina Grand Lodge for a charter, which was granted. In the following year several discontented Brethren obtained from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Marseilles, France, a warrant for a Lodge called Polar Star, and in 1803 it was finally chartered by the Grand Orient of France. Several Lodges were also warranted by the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge, and one by the New York Grand Lodge. All of these Lodges were located in New Orleans, and all but Louisiana Lodge, which had been authorized by New York, and Harmony Lodge, worked in the French language. The Grand Lodge was formed in 1812 by seven of the Lodges, Louisiana and Harmony Lodges, the only bodies working in English, refusing to participate. The non-concurrence of these two Lodges did not, however, stay the organization of the Grand Body, which elected officers, adopted a Constitution and regulations and re-chartered the participating Lodges, and was subsequently recognized and greeted by the other Grand Lodges. For many years differences existed among the Lodges over the various rites worked by the different bodies, and these differences were the subject of much consideration and action by ONE of the difficulties which beset the writer of history is well illustrated by the fact that although the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, in the form in which we know it in America, is only about one - third of a century old, although it was organized by men who are still living, and although both of the two men who may justly be styled, so far as America is concerned, its founders, have written upon the very subject of its origin, yet no man now living, except one of the two already referred to, its first Imperial Potentate, Dr. WALTER M. FLEMING, can sit down to recount the origin of the American Shrine or its connection, if any there be, with an older with any assurance that his narrative will stand the test of time, when the capricious hand of Fortune shall have cast up to the light letters, diaries, minutes, and other documents which are as yet carefully and, it seems to us, unnecessarily and unwisely buried in darkness. To the present writer it seems as though Brother FLEMING in what he has written concerning the Shrine, has attempted to reveil rather than reveal the true origin of the American Order; and that a few distinct words from him concerning the particular local society to which RIZK ALLAH HASSOON EFFENDEE belonged, the nature of the latter's authority, and, perhaps, a copy of the "authority" which Brothers FLEMING and FLORENCE received to "introduce the Order" into America would have been of more historical value than the interesting account of the Bektash with which he has favored us. And this must not be considered harsh or even uncomplimentary criticism; for few qualities have ever been more highly esteemed among Masons than "silence and circumspection." And if the reader should think that, in his journey back to Mecca and the days of KALIF ALEE, and the Past Imperial Potentate occasionally strayed intentionally or inadvertently from the arid sands which mark the dry road of history, into the cool groves and beside the perfumebreathing fountains of the garden of Romance, yet must we admit that he had ample Masonic precedents for doing so. Indeed, for at least five hundred years from the day that the Brethren, at the behest of good King ATHELSTAN or some other ruler for whose now forgotten name that of the king is an honorable even if pseudepigraphus, substitute, comoiled the lonly legendary romance which we find in the Masonic "manuscript constitutions, down to within the memory of men still young partly perhaps on account of a lack of full knowledge of the real facts, it was deemed an act of Masonic piety, in an historian, to interweave with the thread of Masonic history and circumstance, however fictitious, which seemed to reflect honor or dignity on the Fraternity. The example of such romancing may have influenced Dr. FLEMING and others who have written concerning the Shrine; for we see results of that method of writing "history" and see them everyday not merely when an innumerable cloud of writers repeat the old fictions handed down or invented by an ANDERSON, a PRESTON, a LAURY, an OLIVER, a MITCHELL, or a MACKEY, but as often as our Masonic Knight Templar imagines that his organization is descended from that of DE PAYENs and DE MOLAY; our Scottish Rite Brother prates of FREDERICK the Great and "The Constitutions of 1786"; or our Royal Arch Mason or Royal and Select Master confounds the beautiful allegory of the Temple with history. "Such digressions as these," to quote the quaint apology of honest old PLUTARCH in his life of ALEXANDER, "the nicest reader may endure, if they are not too long."
The reticence, already alluded to, of the writers from whom we might have expected most light, makes it possible to say little with absolute certainty concerning this Ancient Arabic Order, so favored of Masons, except that it is no part of Masonry and probably has no present connecting link with Arabia. Yet, on the other hand, there may be danger that a healthy revolt from the fictions administered by the pseudo - historians of the credulous ages may result the pendulum swinging too far in our jumping at the conclusion that the Shrine had no ancestor, but was invented, in New York in the eighth decade of the last century, out of whole cloth.
That conclusion we may reject with confidence. That the Shrine, as we have it, was greatly modified perhaps we should say reconstructed in New York about 1871 may be freely conceded; but that it was not then evolved, and that it had an ancestor, is no less certain. What its ancestry was is the unsolved riddle.
In a letter written in 1882 by Bro. WILLIAM J. FLORENCE, 32° - the well-known actor that writer claims to have met that ancestry at Marseilles, France, in 1870. At that time, says the letter, he was introduced by a banker's clerk who "knew him to be a Mason" into what Bro. FLEMING styles "Bokhara Temple of the Arabic Bektash." What was the Bektash? It is usually stated and this is the view of Dr. FLEMING that the Bektash was an Order instituted by KALIF ALEE, "cousin - German and son-in-law" of MOHAMMED at Mecca, Arabia, A. D. 644, though others say "in the year of the HEJIRA 25, A. D. 656." It was organized, we are told, "as an Inquisition or Vigilance Committee, to dispense justice and execute punishment upon criminals who escaped their merited deserts through the inability or tardiness of the courts of justice." "The original secret intention was to form a powerful alliance among prominent, sterling men who would, upon a valid accusation, proceed to a trial ignoring all fear or favor, judge and execute, if it were merited, and within the day or hour inflict the death penalty, at the same time observing every precaution as to secrecy and security." Another purpose of the organization is said to have been "to promote religious toleration among cultured men of all nations." Its organization was perfected "and did such prompt and efficient service that they (sic) speedily excited the alarm of all the criminal classes throughout the domain of the Star and Crescent." It derived its name, "Bektash," "from the peculiar tall, white hat or fez which was always worn by the highest officials in the Mosque or during services and devotions in the Shrine." It is not to be confounded with that warlike sect, the Bektash Dervishes, although the latter are said to be "in alliance with the Bektash or Shrine" and are "counted among its most honorable patrons." Notwithstanding this disclaimer by Bro. FLEMING, it will be found that much that he and those who have followed his accounts have to say about "Shrines" in Cairo, Jerusalem, Constantinople, etc., seems to relate solely to the Shrines of the Bektash Dervishes and not to what we may style the Bektash proper.
The ceremonial of the latter is declared to be, or to have been originally "crude, membership being acquired on taking the 'Arab oaths.' The Order is said to have had a continuous existence in Oriental countries, and now gathers around its Shrines the best educated and most cultivated classes among Mohammedans, Hebrews and Christians."
Thus far we have been able to follow Bro. FLEMING and our other authorities with entire complacency, both on account of our implicit confidence in their sincerity, and because we are in possession of no information which conflicts with what they have told us. But when they go a step further and not only claim the Rosecrucian WEISHAUPT as a member of the Bektash but assert that he revived that Order, in Bavaria, in 1776, and identify it with the Illuminati; or when evidently identifying the Shrine with nearly every Hermetic, Kabalistic or Rosecrucian Fraternity known to Western Europethey claim Lord BACON, FREDERICK THE GREAT, GOETHE, SPINOZA, KANT, MIRABEAU and a long list of other occultists as members of the Bektash, we come to "the parting of the ways." We can go with them no further; nor do we think there is anywhere a single Masonic scholar who would, without new and convincing evidence, acquiesce in those statements which are inconsistent with all the evidence yet known to students at large.
Passing that point, then, and coming to more recent times leaving, it must be confessed, a considerable hiatus in the pedigree of our Order we are told by Bro. FLEMING that: -
"As to the Shrines or Bektash prevailing as independent bodies throughout Oriental Europe, their numbers reach away into the thousands. They are formed in all the large cities, after leaving Paris: Marseilles boasts no modest one; thence, to Rome, Naples, Cairo, Alexandria, Malta, Damascus, Tunio, Algiers, Tangier, and on and on through the endless territories of Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, and Syria, comprising vast thousands of Shrines, or Bektashheeyeh, and its (sic) millions of Disciples, all characterized by the same insignia, all derived from Mohammedan faith, and robed in steel, gold, and glory, and exemplified in a pomp and power unknown to any other institution on the globe."
Surely a brilliant and striking picture! Perhaps it may be as well to consider at this point, though it slightly interrupt our narrative of the origin of the American Shrine, to what extent recognition would be accorded by a Bektash at, say, Damascus, to a Noble of the Mystic Shrine hailing from America, or even to a Disciple from a Bektash at Paris or Marseilles. On that point Bro. FLEMING says:
"An European, or a member from the Western Hemisphere, coming into any of the Shrines of the East, must, primarily, be vouched for by reliable authority or by one or more of the Moslems, who are satisfied that the stranger is entitled to enter. This endorsement having been received, the visitor or foreign member is escorted into the ante - chamber of the Shrine, where he is catechized through an interpreter that he is duly and truly qualified to enter. After such sanction is rendered, he is required to perform the ablution of purification from all sordid intentions; then, to take a preliminary obligation; and then, requested to kiss or salute the Holy Black Stone, a symbol of the same in the Mosque at Mecca; and, after burning the incense, as a purification of all siti and forbidden purposes, he is clothed in a garment or gown of pure white and a white fez. He is guided into the inner sanctuary or sacred Shrine, there conducted before the altar, and caused to subscribe to the Moslem oath, which is administered by an interpreter, and (is) then led to the Potentate, who proceeds to administer the secret obligation of the Holy Bektashheeyeh, which comprises the ceremonials of such as are permitted to make the Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca. This ceremony is both complicated and intricate, and not admissible to repeat or put in matiuscriptal form. It varies somewhat from our own form of ceremonies, but adheres closely to our own text of Mohammedan Attributes. The regalia, jewels, and general paraphernalia conform to such as we use in our own Temples, except, perhaps, more elaborated and more permanent in their texture; the insignia, jewels, and special badges of the Order are very similar to our own, only, perhaps, more gorgeous. The degree, as conferred, differs greatly from our usual ceremony, more particularly by containing all the ceremonies of the dancing, whirling, and howling Dervishes, which is (sic) simply impossible to the European. This is followed by the Muezzin cry to prayer. The degree of 'Kaabahil Allah,' or the entrance into the Holy Sanctuary of the Mosque, is then conferred, the details of which I am not qualified to explain. But it is an elaboration of our present degree of the Shrine, particularly adapted to the Mohammedan rule, and difficult to adapt to a Christian country."
From this quotation which we have extended somewhat further than strictly essential to the point immediately under consideration assuming the correctness of its statements, we may infer that "an European or member from the Western Hemisphere," however well vouched for, would at best be received but as one imperfectly initiated. He would be re-obligated according to the "Moslem oath," and would take "the secret obligation of the Holy Bektashheeyeh" exactly as though he had never taken it before. In other words, he would in Masonic parlance be "healed." But, owing to a fact very honorable to the occultism of the far East, the circumstance that an American Shriner may gain admission to an Asiatic Bektash, is not absolutely conclusive evidence that the two Orders are identical, or even related.
In the Orient, especially in Central and Southern Asia, the occult Fraternities, though fairly numerous, are not of mushroom growth, or designed primarily to promote financial, social, or insurance ends. They are depositaries of the most sacred mysteries of religion and the profoundest teachings of philosophy. They are, to the initiate, the most sacred of all human institutions; but are so only because the ends at which they aim are the most important to which the human soul can aspire. In some of them, so broad a conception of humanity is developed in the minds of the greatest of their adepts, and so profound an appreciation of the sacredness of the search for truths by means of the occult initiation, that instances are not unknown where initiates of one cult have extended a most appreciative and sympathetic welcome to those whom they had come to recognize as sincere seekers after the same "Lost Word" through an entirely different initiation. It may be safely stated as a general rule that, owing to racial differences of temperament between the Asiatic and the European, almost any Oriental Fraternity would extend to an Occidental Fraternity of similar ends and aims, irrespective of any connecting link between the two far more consideration than it would ordinarily receive from the other, were matters reversed.
In this connection it remains only to add that, while in earlier years of the American Shrine its members might have been received in the Bektash Bodies in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean bodies of which those at Marseilles and Algiers, respectively, are perhaps the best known if not also the oldest with some hesitation, and rather as initiates of a similar than of an identical Order, and were, no doubt, subjected to the "healing" procedure already mentioned, yet, since rumors of the phenomenal growth of the American Order during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, and of its influence and magnificence in the New World, spread through Northern Africa and the Levant especially through the return of Orientals from the World's Fair at Chicago in 1893, there has been a very noticeable disposition, on the part of those bodies, to fully identify the American Shrine with their own Order, and to recount with pride the tale of the splendors with which it has pleased ALLAH to endow the Bektash in its new home beyond the pillars of Hercules. As a result, the American Noble of the Mystic Shrine unquestionably has a more exalted standing in what we may call the Bektash Bodies, in the countries about the Mediterranean than he had twenty years ago.
On the fact that those bodies are numerous, influential, and scattered over a wide district, the evidence seems ample. When, in their modern form, they originated, or under what circumstances, has not been told. That they trace from ALEE, the Kinsman of the Prophet, we may think neither proven nor disproven by any accessible evidence. Let us, then, pass their former history, as an enigma to be solved when future generations shall find out the right, and consider the rise of the New Temple in the Occident.
The genesis of our American Order dates from the visit of Brother WILLIAM J. FLORENCE to the Temple of the Arabic Bektash at Marseilles, already mentioned. In that Temple, FLORENCE tells US he found many distinguished visitors and members who seemed absorbed in learning "how the French of Marseilles had succeeded in getting possession of such interesting secrets." If they found out, it is a pity our informant did not tell us what they found. It is also tantalizing to be told of the existence of "interesting secrets," and augments any doubt one may have as to the exactness with which the American Shrine is a reproduction of the Marseilles or other Bektash; for we think it will be readily admitted that, however "interesting" the American Shrine may be, the possession of any particularly remarkable "secrets" is the very last feature it would arrogate to itself.
Of Brother FLORENCE'S visit to the body at Marseilles, and of his subsequent movements, Brother FLEMING speaks as follows:
"He at this time simply witnessed the opening session of the exoteric ceremonials which characterize the politicoreligious Order of Bektash of Oriental Europe. A monitorial historic and explanatory manuscript he also received there. It did not embrace the esoteric Inner Temple exemplification or obligation, nor the 'Unwritten Law,' which is never imparted to any one except from mouth to ear. Shortly afterward Mr. FLORENCE was similarly favored in Algiers and Aleppo. Through letters and commendations he finally secured the manuscript monitor history and descriptive matter from which sprang the Order in this country. It was in Algiers and Aleppo that he was received into the Inner Temple under the domain of the Crescent, and first became possessor of the esoteric work, the Unwritten Law,' and the Shayk's obligation. Subsequently he visited Cairo, Egypt, and was admitted and collected more of Oriental history and the manuscript of 'Memorial Ceremonials.' But Mr. FLORENCE was never fully recognized, or possessed of authority, until long after his return to America. All he possessed was a disconnected series of sheets in Arabic and French, with some marginal memoranda made by himself from verbal elucidation in Aleppo. Through Professor ALBERT L. RAWSON, these with others received afterward through correspondence abroad, comprised the translations from which the Order started here."
Another account states that FLORENCE returned to the United States in 1871 and suggested to Dr. FLEMING that they establish "the Shrine" in New York; that FLEMING had already received "detached and mutilated sections of a translation of the ritual" which had been "brought to America by a member," together with some vague history and ritualistic sections brought from Cairo by SHERWOOD C. CAMPBELL of New York; but that, as the FLORENCE ritual "came from Oriental Europe" and was "marked with certain sections of the Koran for notes and allusions which facilitated revision, Dr. FLEMING, with the assistance of Professor RAWSON, compiled the work which became the foundation of the Order in America.
Dr. FLEMING states that, "Mr. FLORENCE and myself received authority to introduce the Order here"; and elsewhere we are informed that that authority or, rather, that "Jurisdiction over the Order for America" was given to Dr. FLEMING by "the Arabic scholar, RIZH ALLAH HASSOON EFFENDEE"; but whence the latter's authority was derived, or in what manner he transmitted it, we are not told.
It is stated that the ritual now in use in America is "a translation from the original Arabic" found "in the archives of the Order at Aleppo," and carried thence to London, in 1860, by RIZH ALLAH HASSOON EFFENDEE, who afterwards placed it in the possession of Dr. FLEMING. In Arabic this ritual is known as the "Pillar of Society" and called the "Unwritten Law," in distinction from the Koran, or "Written Law."
On June 16, 1871, at the Masonic Hall, at No. 114 East Thirteenth Street, New York City, Brothers FLEMING and FLORFNCE conferred the "new Order" upon the following named Scottish Rite Masons: EDWARD EDDY, 33°; OSWALD MERLE D' AUBIGNE, 32°; JAMES S. CHAPPELL, 32°; JOHN A. MOORE, 32°; CHARLES T. MCCLENACHAN, 33°; WILLIAM S. PATERSON, 33°; GEORGE W. MILLAR, 33°; ALBERT P. MORIARTY, 33°; DANIEL SICKLES, 33°; JOHN W. SIMONS, 33°; and SHERWOOD C. CAMPBELL, 32°; and, with these and ALBERT L. RAWSON, 32°, "Arabic Translator," they, on September 26, 1872, instituted Mecca Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine the first of present Temples in the United States. As the "next session" was not held until January 12, 1874, it will be seen that the Order did not grow rapidly at first. But on January 4, 1875, a Temple called Damascus was organized at Rochester, N. Y.; and Dr. FLEMING, Potentate of Mecca Temple from 1871 to 1886, invested the following thirty-third degree Masons with the rank and prerogatives of Past Potentates, to enable them to act in establishing Temples throughout the country, to wit: ORIN WELCH, Syracuse, N. Y.; CHARLES H. THOMSON, Corning, N. Y.; TOWNSEND FONDEY, JOHN S. DICKERMAN and ROBERT H. WATERMAN, Albany, N. Y.; JOHN F. COLLINS, N. Y. City; JOHN L. STETINUS, Cincinnati; VINCENT L. HURLBURT, Chicago; SAMUEL H. HARPER, Pittsburgh, Pa.; and GEORGE SCOTT, Paterson, N.J.
By what has been said, attention is attracted to two important facts: First, that in America, membership in the Order has from the beginning been limited exclusively to Masons. This is probably not always the case in the allied Temples in the Orient, to which we have alluded, and cannot always have been the case with them if the Bektash is of any such antiquity as is claimed for it, for it is the merest romance to claim that any Freemasonry existed in Asia or Africa between the twenty-fifth year of the Hejira and the same year in the eighteenth century of the Christian Era. The second fact which attracts our attention is, that in earlier years of the Shrine in this country the Order was conferred upon Scottish Rite Masons only. Later, the rule was relaxed; the Royal Arch Masons, who were also Knights Templar, were also made eligible. Cogent reasons both for and against that innovation could be presented. It must have tended to weaken, to some degree, the very exalted opinion formed of the American branch of the Order by what we may, by way of distinction, call the Bektash Bodies, in the Orient; for, around the Mediterranean, "Masonic" Knights Templar were practically unknown, and the Royal Arch ranks only as a fourth or fifth degree. It may be conceded, also, that it was unfortunate that, if no knowledge of "Ineffable Masonry" was to be demanded of candidates for the Shrine, the change did not either render all worthy Master Masons eligible or else limit membership to Scottish Rite Masons of the 32°, and Masons of the "American Rite" who had taken the whole of that Rite, Royal and Select Masters. The Select Master has had an opportunity to complete the study of one of the allegories of Masonry, while the Knight Templar who had taken neither the Scottish Rite nor the Cryptic degrees has seen but a broken pillar. But, on the other hand, had the Shrine been reserved for Scottish Rite Masons exclusively, it would have augmented the popular error that the Shrine is a Masonic Body, an error based solely on the fact that its membership is confined exclusively to Masons and, in particular, the further error that the Shrine is "the highest degree in Masonry." Indeed, in connection with that error, it is not improbable that, in time, the degree of the Shrine would have been regarded as a rival of the 33', and the Order might thus have aroused the ill - will and hostility of the Supreme Councils of the 33°. But perhaps the strongest vindication of the step taken when the standard of admission was lowered is found in the resultant experience that it has made the Shrine a "center of union and the means of conciliating true friendship" between Brethren who, separating at the door of the Lodge, had traveled different paths, the one in the Scottish Rite and the other in the so-called American Rite; and who might, therefore, but for the Shrine, "have remained at a perpetual distance," but who, in it, find themselves once more under a common rooftree.
In June, 1876, an Imperial, that is, governing Council of the Order was organized in New York City, with the following officers, all of them, except where otherwise stated, belonging to Shrines in the State of New York: WALTER M. FLEMING, Imperial Potentate; GEORGE F. LODER, Deputy Potentate; PHILIP F. LENHART, Chief Rabban; EDWARD M. L. EHLERS, Assistant Rabban; WILLIAM H. WHITING, High Priest; SAMUEL R. CARTER, Oriental Guide; AARON L. NORTHROP, Treasurer; WILLIAMS. PATERSON, Recorder; ALBERT P. MORIARTY, Financial Secretary; JOHN L. STETINUS, Cincinnati, First Ceremonial Master; BENSON SHERWOOD, Second Ceremonial Master; SAMUEL HARPER, Pittsburgh, Marshall; FRANK H. BASCOM, Montpelier, Captain of the Guard; and GEORGE SCOTT PATERSON, Outer Guard.
Meetings of the Imperial Council have been held annually ever since, and its officers elected, at first triennially, but in later years annually. As early as the beginning of the year 1877, it was announced that the Imperial Council had perfected its "ritual, statutes, history, diplomas, dispensations, and charters"; and within the next two years the foundations were laid for the elaborate ceremonial, gorgeous scenic effects and realistic dramatic renditions of the ritual which are now characteristic of the Order. In 1877 there were four Temples represented in the Imperial Council; and the Nobles regarded the progress of the Order as eminently satisfactory when the close of the year 1879 showed thirteen Temples, with a total membership of 438. But, satisfactory as was that progress, it sinks into insignificance when compared with the growth of the Order during the last dozen years, which, indeed, has exceeded all precedents among similar societies. On May 1, 1901, its total membership was 60,422, distributed among eighty-three Temples in as many cities; and its present net increase of membership is at the rate of nearly five thousand per annum. The Order was introduced into the Pacific Northwest by the establishment of Al Kader Temple, at Portland, Oregon, January 3, 1888; Algier Temple, at Helena, Montana, March 23, 1888; Afifi Temple, at Tacoma, Washington, August 1, 1888; El Katif Temple, at Spokane, Washington, June 10, 1890; and El Korah Temple, at Boise, Idaho, June 23, 1896. Some accounts of these Temples will be given in later pages.
The annual sessions of the Imperial Council have been held in the following cities: In New York, in 1876, 1878, 18801885; in Albany, N. Y., 1877, 1879, 1880; in Cleveland, 1886, 1896; in Indianapolis, 1887; in Toronto, 1888; in Chicago, 1889; in Pittsburgh, 1890; at Niagara Falls, 1891; in Omaha, 1892; in Cincinnati, 1893; in Denver, 1894; at Nantasket Beach, 1895; in Detroit, 1897; in Dallas, Texas, 1898; in Buffalo, 1899; in Washington, D. C., 1900; in Kansas City, 1901; and in San Francisco, 1902.
Its Imperial Potentates have been: WALTER M. FLEMING, of New York; SAM BRIGGS, of Ohio; WILLIAM B. MELISH, of Ohio, elected 1892; THOMAS J. HUDSON, of Pennsylvania, 1893; WILLIAM B. MELISH, again, 1894; CHARLES L. FIELD, of California, 1895; HARRISON DINGMAN, of Washington, D. C., 1896; ALBERT B. McGAFFEY, of Colorado, 1897; ETHELBERT F. ALLEN, of Missouri, 1898; JOHN H. ATWOOD, of Kansas, 1899; Louis B. WINSOR, of Michigan, 1900; PHILIP C. SHAFFER, of Pennsylvania, 1901; and HENRY C. AKIN, of Nebraska, 1902.
It is not allowable to convey to the reader who is not a Noble of the Order any conception of the peculiar forms and ceremonies which are found within the zealously guarded doors of its Temples, nor would it be easy to do so were it permissible; for there are some things which can be apprehended by the eye alone, or by the reason; but others which require no less than the action of all the five senses at one time, and these, aided by a mind rendered receptive and a body duly prepared in accordance with the most approved formulae, as well as by a conscience void of offense. It may be mentioned, however, that the same respect for justice, and the same disapproval of the lawbreaker, which led the KALIF ALEE to found the original Bektasb, still flourish in all their pristine vigor within the precincts of the Shrine, but, of course, without the punitive feature which characterized the KALIF'S sodality. Moreover, because the Nobles are all Masons, and because the overwhelming majority of them are Masons who appreciate to the highest degree the incomparable value of Masonry and Masonic principles, and for this reason chiefly, and not because the ritual expressly undertakes to reiterate Masonic principles, as such the basic virtues upon which Masonry itself is established Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and justice; Faith, Hope, and Charity; Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, not only permeate every precinct of the Shrine, but are there practically exemplified to a degree known to few other societies.
The ritual and ceremonies in which the precepts of the Shrine are clothed, unlike those of most other societies, are not taken from the Jews or from those who worshiped the gods of Greece, Rome, or Egypt, or from Knightly Orders of the Middle Ages, but are those which characterize the followers of Mohammed. Being Masons, the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine cannot conceive that there can be more than one God, by whatsoever name He be called. In this Shrine He is called upon under His name, ALLAH; but neither Mohammedanism nor any other sectarianism is taught in the Shrine. The frequent appearance of the Nobles in public procession, clad in gorgeous apparel, accompanied by strange music, and often traveling with elephants, camels, dromedaries, and other Asiatic animals, has rendered the public so familiar with the general appearance of their regalia and the general conduct of the Nobles when journeying on missions of peace and charity, and conducting candidates on their way to the happy Gates of Initiation, that no more would seem necessary to be said under this head. These public appearances have also conveyed to the outer world the impression that there is much jollity and gaiety among the Nobles of this Order. The impression is a correct one. The Temple of the Mystic Shrine is not a house of mourning. Though the neophyte may travel across the hot sands of the desert with a calm dignity that inspires the admiration of all beholders; though he may ascend to the loftiest heights to grasp the mystic cord which, like the mighty sheet seen by PETER in his vision, seems to be let down from the seventh heaven to sustain and support him; and though he may hold on to the rope, as it were, "amid the crash of matter and the wreck of worlds," with a devotion which inspires the most profound emotion, yet there are, within the Shrine, other scenes than these. It is not well that man should forever climb, without rest or refreshment, in his search for that which is high. The mind, as well as the body, may lose its balance. Even old OMAR KHAYYAM, the Poet Laureate of our Order, tells us:
"You want to know the secret, so do I;
Low in the dust I sought it, and on high,
Sought it in awful flight from star to star;
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My soul went knocking at each starry door,
Till, on the stilly top of heaven's stair,
Clear - eyed I looked and laughed and climbed no more."
And therefore - few, we think, who have entered its portals will deny it - there are descents within the Shrine as notable as any other feature in it. In some Temples it has been shown that even the ceremonies of the "whirling Dervishes" are not - pace Dr. FLEMING, whom we have quoted to the contrary - impossible to the European. These occasional descents from "the stilly top of heaven's stair" are, for reasons before assigned, not without benefit. Their tendency is to restore men to that level upon which, it is the boast of the Craft, Masons should always meet. Then, too, LULU is rarely absent, and the "traditional banquet" never!
"He may live without love - what is passion but pining?
But where is the man that can live without dining?"
"To relieve the distressed is a duty incumbent on all men; but particularly on Masons. On this theme we contemplate, and by its dictates endeavor to regulate our conduct." Indeed, so indispensable a feature is "the traditional banquet," that in connection with the fact that the Order usually initiates a large sum of money in fees, it has been held by some of the most learned Sages of the Order that "The Mystic Shrine has but one Landmark: There must never be any money left in the treasury." However this may be, in all Temples where the principles of the Order are properly respected, the banquet - board invariably groans with the best the market affords, the wines are the rarest that money can buy, and camel's milk is as abundant as the sands of Arabia. Hence it is that the assemblies of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine are known far and wide as the meeting place of -
"Jest and youthful jollity,
Quips and Cranks and harmless Wiles,
Nods and Becks with wreathed Smiles.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides."
Two peculiarities of American life and American Masonry, in connection with, what has been said concerning the nature of Shrine meetings, throw light on the extraordinary popularity of the Order, and help to answer the question as to what its future will be. The strenuous, restless, nerve-destroying life led by the American of our day; the wild, mad, unceasing struggle for wealth and business, political or professional success, mean destruction, both for the individual and for the race, unless the tension of almost incessant strife be broken, now and then, by periods of complete change of life and thought, through entire substitution of scene or environment.
Were Masonic Lodges conducted now and in America as they were conducted everywhere in the eighteenth century, and as some of them are, to a certain extent, in England yet were an hour of every meeting set apart to "talk Masonry," and the Lodge made a place for social intercourse, gay diversion, and complete mental relaxation a place to bring the latest story and the jolliest song, while, as in olden times, the punchbowl was always full, and the brimming glass went round the American Mason would probably find in the Lodge itself, as his fathers did, a sufficient release from the cares of life, and the only tonic needed to keep him invigorated for even the exhaustive life of today. But, changed as our Lodges are unavoidably changed, both by mutation in public sentiment as to certain social pleasures, and by an apparently unavoidable necessity of devoting nearly all their time to the single matter of conferring degrees; compelled, as the Lodges seem to be, to almost totally neglect the social side of Masonry, and the same being equally the case, and for the same reasons, with the so-called High Degree Bodies it is inevitable that the Mason should now look elsewhere for that relaxation and recreation which, in olden time, he found in the Lodge. Most fortunately by a happy accident, it would almost seem the Shrine came into American life just at the right time to supply that want, one of the most important needs of the age. And it is no reflection on the Lodge that the Mason goes from it to the Shrine to supply the demands of his social nature, to recuperate both mind and body by wisely becoming, for a few hours, as nearly a boy again as he possibly can. On the contrary, it is no doubt a benefit to the Lodge to relieve it from some of the lighter features, which our fathers, in the absence of social clubs, engrafted upon it, and permit it to devote itself uninterruptedly to the more important purposes for which Masonry exists. The Shrine would not be what it is did not its members carry into it the noble lessons which they learn at the sacred altar of Freemasonry; and the Mason returns from the Shrine to the Lodge, refreshed and recuperated, and with a new zeal to learn and teach the grand old truths of which the Lodge is the custodian.
We have never known a Shriner who was disappointed in the Shrine. Her features are so many and so varied that they are never exhausted and never tire. As was said of Egypt's Queen: "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety."
When, in connection with this, we consider as has been suggested above that the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine supplies a real need of the age, and especially of the life of the American Mason as he finds life in the twentieth century, we must draw the conclusion that its future is bound to be one of continuing and increasing prosperity, and that its popularity or usefulness cannot wane as long as American life and American Masonry remain similar to what they are today.
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