OF AMERICAN FREEMASONRY
by Julius F. Sachse
The American Freemason - June 1911
THERE are but few Masonic
historians in America. For the one thing, original material is
scarce and opportunities for study along productive lines are
few. The ordinary chronicles of Lodges and Grand Lodges are, of
course, not to be counted as serious historical work. It is
necessary and valuable labor, but it throws no great amount of
light on things and times obscure. Then, again, a peculiar type
of man is required for historical work worthy of the name. He
must have the resources both of scholarship and of native
ability. He must have an absorbing love for research, an
almost infinite patience, and an analytical faculty denied to
most. And then, as Masonry goes in America, he must have
abundant private means or the steadfast backing of a rich
Grand Lodge or other body.
Were we asked to give first
place among those who in jurisdictions of the United States have
devoted themselves to Masonic historical work, the choice would
fall at once, and most likely by common consent, upon Brother
Julius F. Sachse, Grand Lodge Librarian of Pennsylvania, Bro.
Sachse has all the essential qualities enumerated above. He
possesses likewise the training which comes of years of such
work, and an enthusiasm proof against all disappointments and
discouragements. For the rest, he has a rich field in which to
glean - that of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Whatever can be
gathered there is of interest to every American Mason, as added
light is cast thereby upon Craft beginnings in what is now the
On April 29 the Masonic Veterans of
Pennsylvania, having as their guests Masonic Veteran
associations from all over the country, met at Philadelphia for
a three days' session. Before these assembled and singularly
informed Masons Bro. Sachse delivered an address, which are here
permitted to give in full. It will be found replete with
information. - EDITOR FREEMASON.
It is meet and right
that you should meet here in Philadelphia - the City of
Brotherly Love - the mother City of Freemasonry in the western
world. We may well say, Masonically speaking, that this is holy
ground. Here within the bounds of the old city proper, the first
altar was erected in the new hemisphere, upon which rested our
Great Lights, within the well-tiled portals of the Masonic
Lodge. The Brethren were few in number at that early
It was at the beginning of the eighteenth century, when
the several brethren who had been made abroad, and now living
in the Province, came together in this city and erected a
lodge of Free and Accepted Masons according to the
"immemorial usage" and began to work according to the old
Manuscript Constitutions. That the example of these Masonic
pioneers was followed in other parts of the Province is shown by
Franklin's notice in his "Pennsylvania Gazette" No. 108,
December 3 to December 8, 1730, wherein he states that lately
several Masonic Lodges have been erected within the Province.
The written records of these early Lodges, alluded to by
Franklin, have all been lost with the exception of the Ledger of
St. John's or First Lodge in Philadelphia - and a draft of their
By-Laws. We have also the Manuscript Constitution of St. John's
lodge, written by Bro. Thos. Carmick, dated 1727, which,
according to well founded tradition, was the legal Masonic
authority under which our first Lodge and Grand Lodge were
formed; the latter in the year 1731, it being the third oldest
Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the world - England
in 1717 and Ireland in 1729 being our only seniors.
earliest work in America was undoubtedly the same work and
ritual which obtains within this jurisdiction to the present
About the time our first Grand Lodge was formed in
Philadelphia, certain conditions arose in England which in
the wisdom of the brethren composing the Grand Lodge of
England, brought about changes in the time honored ritual;
changes in which the Grand Lodge of Ireland refused to
concur; thus came about the term "Moderns" as applied to the
Grand Lodge of England, while those Brethren who refused to
acquiesce in the changes were termed "Ancients."
changes in the ritual became known in Pennsylvania, they were
accepted by the local Grand Lodge, thus conforming to Grand
Lodge, and they became and were known as "Moderns."
was during the middle of the eighteenth century a number of
Brethren in England, longing for the old ritual, and such as
owed fealty to the Grand Lodge of Ireland formed Lodges in
London and elsewhere, the outcome of which was the "Grand
Lodge F. & A. M., according to the old Constitutions" which
in turn issued a warrant for a Grand Lodge in Pennsylvania,
dated July 15th, 1761. It is under this Grand warrant, as it
were, that you are now assembled; a copy of this document lies
here before you.
In the sixth decade of the eighteenth
century, you will note there were two Grand Lodges in
Pennsylvania, the "Moderns," 1731, and the "Ancients" of 1761;
the former composed chiefly of the aristocratic element of the
Province; the latter of the bone and sinew of the infant
community; and as the political troubles, owing to the Stamp Act
and other encroachments of the home government increased, the
"Moderns" gradually lost ground, while the Lodges and
prestige of the "Ancients" rapidly increased.
finally, the Revolution broke out, it sounded the death knell of
the "Moderns" organization in Pennsylvania, whose members were
chiefly Tories, while the Grand and Subordinate Lodges of the
"Ancients" were almost solidly patriotic.
this point. we have but to look at the list of warrants issued
during those troublesome times, which it is well stated "tried
No. 19. A Regimental Warrant was issued for the
Pennsylvania Artillery in the service of the U. S.
20. A Regimental warrant for the North Carolina Line.
One for the Pennsylvania Line.
No. 29. One for the Military
No. 36. One for the New Jersey
No. 37. One for the Maryland Line.
number of documents relating to these old Military Lodges have
been found among the archives of the Grand Secretary and are now
in the custody of the Librarian for collation and indexing, and
the writer is happy to say that we will now have some insight
into the vicissitudes of these Lodges, and in several cases a
complete list of those patriotic Brethren who fought and in
some, cases gave up their lives to achieve the liberty of this
country which we are now all enabled to enjoy.
Lodge of Pennsylvania "Ancients," being the oldest in America,
was from the beginning looked upon by the Brethren in adjoining
Provinces and abroad as the Masonic fountain-head, as it were,
in the Western World. Petitions for warrants under its
Jurisdiction were presented almost as soon as its organization
was completed. Thus from 1765 to 1770 seven of these warrants
were granted, viz: Three for Maryland, two for Delaware, one for
Virginia and one for New Jersey.
Subsequently, up to the
year 1832, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania warranted no less
than fifty-one foreign Lodges, and one Provincial Grand Lodge,
Delaware 5 Nos. 18-33-44-63-96
Georgia 1 No.
Illinois 1 No. 107
Louisiana 8 Nos.
Maryland 6 Nos.
Missouri 1 Nos. 111
New Jersey 2 Nos.
N. W. Territory 1 No. 78
Ohio 1 No. 105
Carolina 4 Nos. 27-38-40-47
Virginia 2 Nos. 39-41
1 No. 205
Cuba 2 Nos. 175-181
Cape Francois 1 No.
Havana 5 Nos. 103-157-161-166-167
Mexico 1 No. 191
Domingo 8 Nos. 47-87-88-89-95-97-98-99 Provincial Grand
Trinidad 1 No. 77
Uruguay 1 No. 217
The Lodge in
Uruguay, No. 217 on the roster, was warranted during the
anti-Masonic excitement, February 6, 1832. So great was the
feeling against the Fraternity that eleven years intervened
before our Grand Lodge was petitioned to warrant a new Lodge.
This was Honesdale Lodge No. 218 in Wayne County, September 4th,
1843, and which is still a bright luminary in the Masonic
horizon. It will be seen that during the existence of our Grand
Lodge, from the time of its formation until the anti-Masonic
period, no less than 152 local Lodges were warranted, of which
50 are still on the active roll, the others having been vacated,
surrendered their warrants, or succumbed during the eventful
years of emotional bigotry in 1827-1832.
Fraternity of Pennsylvania, working according to the old
Constitution, "Ancients" passed through several periods of
serious trial - for instance, the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783;
the financial period of Continental money, 1782-1789; the loss
of Freemason's Hall in Lodge Alley, 1786; the burning of the
Chestnut Street Hall, 1819; the anti-Masonic period before
mentioned; the panics of 1837 and 1842, which necessitated the
temporary sale of the Chestnut Street property. All, however,
were eventually successfully overcome, until now our Grand Lodge
is housed in this magnificent Temple, which is rightfully called
the "Masonic Wonder of the World," owned by the Brethren without
a single penny of debt or encumbrance.
Now let me say a
word in regard to our library and museum. If you will refer to
the preface of our first Ahiman Rezon, original edition of 1783,
you will find the following advice to the brethren at
"The officers of Lodges, and those members who wish to
be more completely learned in the grand science and sublime
mysteries of Ancient Masonry, will think it their duty, as
opportunities offer, to furnish themselves or their Lodges,
with at least one copy of all approved and duly authorized
books on Masonry, which may be published by the learned
Lodges, or illustrious Brethren, in different languages and
countries of the world, from time to time."
our present Committee on Library have sought to carry out to its
fullest extent, and we are now in a position to claim that we
have the largest and most diversified collection of Masonic
literature in America. Over eleven thousand volumes, both pro
and con; over thirty thousand volumes of proceedings and of
Masonic periodicals; we have on file every one published in
America, besides many published abroad, all of which are
available to the members of the Craft.
As to our museum
and its collection of Masonic exhibits, this will have to speak
for itself. I will say it has no equal in the Masonic world. The
prime mover in planning and the establishing of the Museum was
Bro. Samuel W. Latta, a member of the Committee, in which he was
heartily seconded by the Chairman, Bro. Wanamaker, and the
fellow members of the Committee on Library. The Committee's
plans were approved by R.W. Grand Master Kendrick in 1907.
In 1908, this room was set aside for museum purposes by the
Committee on Temple under direction of R.W. Grand Master Orlady.
At the beginning of July the cases were completed, and early in
October (Founders Week) the exhibits were installed. You will
see many relics here of the past, not alone from our own
country, but from almost every quarter of the globe. Nor is the
present period, our own time, wanting. You will find that this
Masonic exhibition is not merely a Pennsylvania one, but that it
is a Universal one; taking in every state in our Union, the
British possessions in America; Asia, Africa and Australia, as
well as Great Britain and the Continent from Sweden and Norway
in the north to Italy in the south, from France in the west to
Turkey in the cast. The collection is not limited to nation or
kind so long as the subject bears on Freemasonry.
will note that this monument is but in its swaddling clothes, it
is as yet but three years old, and the Committee in charge is
still active and ever alert to add to and increase this great
collection for the edification and instruction of the
Special attention is called to the unique copy of
the Masonic portrait of Washington, painted in pastel by William
Williams in Philadelphia in 1794, for his Lodge at Alexandria,
Virginia, originally warranted by the Grand Lodge of
Pennsylvania in 1793, being No. 39 on our own roster, and now
No. 22 under the Grand Lodge of Virginia. The painting before
you is the only replica ever permitted to be made of this
portrait, and is doubly interesting as the work was done by a
great grand-daughter of Thomas Jefferson. Before you also is the
Masonic apron embroidered by Madam Lafayette for Washington,
and brought over to him by General Lafayette in 1784. It was
also worn by Brother Washington when he laid the corner stone of
the present Capitol in September, 1793. Many of the relics you
see here date from provincial, colonial and revolutionary days.
The most precious and important of all, however, are the
manuscripts and documents in our own archives, which are now
gotten in condition to make them available.
documents for almost a century were supposed to have been
destroyed in the burning of the Chestnut street hall in 1819,
Such, however, was fortunately not the case, as a large part of
these old records were saved and taken to the house of Grand
Secretary George A. Baker, at the N. E. corner of Fourth and
Cherry Streets. These papers and documents were listed and
placed in six wooden boxes securely locked, and were
successively stored in the rebuilt Chestnut Street Hall,
Washington (Third Street) Hall, the New Masonic Hall of 1855,
and lastly in one of the vaults of the new Temple at Broad and
Filbert Streets in 1873. Here they remained for years unknown
and forgotten, until after the death of the R. W. Grand
Secretary, Michael Nesbit, in 1896, when it occurred to Bro.
John A. Perry, Deputy Grand Secretary, to investigate the
contents of these old boxes, and upon seeing what they
contained, at once recognized their great value, and brought his
important discovery to the notice of the Grand Officers, who now
have placed them at the disposal of the Committee on Library,
under whose direction the Curator is arranging, collating and
indexing these precious historical documents.
conclusion, I will express the hope that after examining this
great universal Masonic collection, you will bear it in mind,
when you return to your homes, and see that your own
jurisdictions are worthily and properly represented in this
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