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Free Masonry and the War
REPORT OF THE
Referring to the previous action of this Grand Lodge, and the previous reports of this Committee, and to the resolutions of this Grand Lodge, for all the history of our past action in relation to the Masonic bodies, and to the Masons of the United States, the Committee report:
Since their last Report, the Committee have come into the possession of the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York at its Grand Annual Communications in June, 1863, and in June, 1864; of the Grand Lodge of Maryland at its Annual Communication in November, 1863; and of the Grand Lodge of Wisconsin at its Grand Annual Communication in June, 1864.
These Proceedings furnish proper Masonic evidence of the action of these Grand Lodges; and the extracts made by Committees of Correspondence from the proceedings of other Grand Lodges, furnish evidence of the spirit and action of the Grand Lodges from whose proceedings these extracts are made. From these sources of information, we are prepared to recommend action which we believe this Grand Lodge is bound, in justice to itself, and to the Masons under its care, to take at the present time.
These proceedings and extracts show, that in many, if not all the Grand Lodges of the United States, we are stigmatized as traitors and rebels; and by the authority of Masonic bodies, Masons, as Masons, are urged to invade our country and destroy us; and reproaches and insults are heaped upon us. We therefore believe it is our duty to place on our records a vindication of our position, and the position of one country in the present conflict between the Confederate States and the United States.
We know that Masonry and politics are entirely separate from each other; but when our enemies, as Masons, misrepresent our position, bring false charges against us, and apply to us terms of insult and reproach--terms intended by their very falshood to gloss over and justify the usurpation and oppression they are attempting to practice on us, it becomes our solemn duty to vindicate our characters as men, and the character of our country, and this vindication may properly be spread on our Masonic Records; for we do not understand that sort of Masonry by which a man may be a good Mason and a dishonest man--i.e. a traitor and a rebel who deserves extermination: nor do we understand the sort of Masonry which makes Masons desire fraternal intercourse with traitors and rebels.
We regret our inability to present this vindication in a manner worthy of the subject and the occasion; but we will submit our views, in the hope they will meet the favor of this Grand Lodge.
We believe if all human governments which ever existed over men on this earth were analyzed, they would be found to rest on one of two principles:
1st. Coercion of the people governed, without regard to their consent or wishes.
2d. Consent of the people governed.
1st. The first of these principles is despotism. As a foundation of government, it has been repudiated in America since the Revolution of 1776. Our fathers fondly hoped that by the treaty of peace of the 22d April, 1783, they had finally established the American doctrine that all government for them and their posterity must rest on the consent of the governed; and this continued to be recognised as our fundamental principle of government until our enemies undertook, by the present war, to establish by coercion a government over us; to which we not only refuse our consent, but for which we have the strongest feeling of loathing and detestation.
2d. The second principle, viz: consent of the people governed, when qualified by proper constitutional restrictions, becomes a limited Monarchy or a Constitutional Republic.
When the constitutional restrictions are wise, and the government is honestly administered within them, such a government confers a greater degree of happiness on its people, and developes a greater amount of strength, than any other form of government.
But if there are no constitutional restrictions, or if the government is dishonestly administered, without regard to those restrictions, it becomes one of the most oppressive tyrannies on earth. It becomes a government of factious demagogues who, by some delusive but popular cry, obtain power, inflame the passions of the people, administer the government to promote their own ambitious ends, and crush every constitutional right, and every man of integrity who differs from them; or it may become a wild anarchy, in which the fiat of an irresponsible popular majority is the only power, and which sweeps away, by every storm of popular passion, every right, no matter how ancient or how sacred.
It was a government founded on the consent of the people of each State, restrained by wise constitutional provisions, and honestly administered within those provisions, our ancestors endeavored to establish, and for such a government we are now contending. This, we think, will be apparent from a few brief statements.
Our ancestors, by the treaty of peace of 1783, established for themselves and their posterity the great principle that all government must be founded on the consent of the people of each State. That treaty recognised by name each State as a sovereign and independent State.
At that epoch, the States were united by Articles of Confederation which committed the management of foreign affairs to a Congress chosen by the State Legislatures. These Articles continued in force until 1789, when a Constitution was formed by a convention, the members of which were chosen by each State; and this Constitution was submitted in each State to a sovereign convention elected by the people of that State. The conventions adopted the new Constitution, and thereby abolished the old Articles of Confederation.
Clearly, that Government was founded on the consent of the people of each State, and guarded by such constitutional restrictions as it was supposed would insure its honest and fair administration within those restrictions; and as this form of government was adopted and put in operation within seven years of the date of the treaty of peace which established the great principle that all governments must be founded on the consent of the people of each State, it is not to be presumed that its framers intended to renounce that principle either for themselves or their posterity. There is no such renunciation in the Constitution, and a fair construction of that instrument shows none was intended.
Let us examine this instrument. We remark first--
By adopting this Constitution, our ancestors ventured on an experiment in government. They attempted to divide the powers of government between two different classes of agents, but both deriving their powers from the people of each State acting separately as States.
I. To the United States they assigned the management of foreign intercourse, both for war and peace, including the regulation of foreign commerce and some domestic subjects which it was supposed could be put under general and uniform regulations, such as coining money, fixing the standard of weights and measures, regulating commerce with the Indian tribes and among the States, carrying the mails, establishing uniform laws of naturalization and bankruptcy, and granting patents for useful inventions.
This government was confessedly one of limited powers. The powers granted to it were all enumerated; and the legislative power of Congress was limited to the passage of such laws as were necessary to carry into execution the granted powers. As the legislative power is co-extensive with all the other powers of the government, this limitation restrained the powers of all the other departments of the government to the grants of the Constitution. Under this restriction, the laws of the United States and the acts of the government were limited to the subjects enumerated in the Constitution.
The government operated directly on the property and persons of the people, but only as incidental to the powers granted, and to carry them into effect.
II. Let us now see what remained to each State.
All the objects of human government class themselves under three heads, and are embraced in them:
1. Lands, estates, and interests in lands, and all contracts relating to them.
2. Personal property, and all rights, obligations and contracts relating to it.
3. Persons, personal rights, and all laws and contracts relating to them, including our social and civil rights.
These three classes embrace the great mass of human rights and human legislation; and over them the power of each State is and has always been sovereign and supreme. This is established by the constant exercise of this sovereignty by each State, its recognition by the other States, and by the United States Government.
The importance of this subject must be our excuse for more detailed statements.
1. Lands, &c. That the entire sovereignty over lands in the territorial limits of each State is vested in that State, is proved by its constant exercise.
All laws creating and regulating estates in lands, the titles to those estates, the modes of conveyance among the living, or passing by inheritance or devise from the dead; all laws regulating liens, mortgages and registrations, are passed by the States in which the lands are situated; all questions affecting interests in lands are settled by the supreme power of the State in which they are situated.
When questions as to lands are drawn to the decision of the courts, they are usually acted on in the State courts. If the courts of the United States obtain jurisdiction from the non-residence of the parties, or other cause, they always follow the decisions of the State courts; or in other words, carry the State laws into effect.
The United States can, in the exercise of its government, interfere with lands only incidentally to its granted powers. The only case in which she can acquire direct sovereignty or jurisdiction over lands, is where, under the Constitution, and by the consent of the State, lands are purchased for forts, dock-yards, &c., and the sovereignty of the State over such purchase is actually ceded by her.
This doctrine is unquestioned as to the old thirteen States. Some questions have been raised as to the new States created out of the public lands; but all these questions have been settled in favor of the sovereignty of the States by repeated decisions. We will cite only one of them. In the case of Pollard vs. Hagan, 3 Howard 212, the Supreme Court of the United States decided--
"That the United States never held any municipal sovereignty, jurisdiction, or right of soil in and to the territory of which Alabama or any of the new States were formed, except for temporary purposes, and to execute the trusts created by the acts of the Virginia and Georgia Legislatures, and the deeds of cession executed by them to the United States, and the trust created by the treaty of the 30th April, 1803, with the French Republic ceding Louisiana."
It was decided that, when the State was admitted into the Union, the right of eminent domain passed to the State. And it has been repeatedly and firmly settled that, when the United States executed the trust for which she held the public lands, and sold any part of those lands, the lands so sold were held by the purchaser under the laws of the State as fully as lands were held in the old thirteen States.
The same doctrines are settled as to lands ceded by the Florida treaty.
2. Personal property, rights in it and contracts relating to it.
By the uniform practice of all the States, full sovereignty exists in each State over personal property and contracts relating to it within the State.
The State decides what subjects may be personal property, and the mode of its transmission by delivery, gift, bill of sale, deed--by will or statute of distributions. It grants probate of wills, administrations, regulates the powers and duties of executors, administrators, guardians, trustees, &c. All trusts, mortgages, pledges; all loans and gifts; all questions as to bonds, bills of exchange, notes, &c.; all questions of usury, interest, borrowing or lending, are regulated by its laws. The only exceptions to this sovereignty are in the right of the United States to pass uniform laws of bankruptcy, and as incident to its power to regulate foreign commerce and the coasting trade, to pass laws in reference to the titles of vessels, and to regulate vessels in the exercise of its admiralty and maritime jurisdiction. In all other respects, the United States can touch personal property only incidentally in the exercise of the limited powers granted to them.
3. Sovereignty over the persons and personal rights of the people is vested in, and has uniformly been exercised by each State in its territorial limits.
The State sovereignty alone can punish murder, arson, robbery, rape, assaults, and generally all crimes against persons and property in its territory. It alone can define and punish crime. Each State in its own territory has the sole power to regulate the relations of husband and wife, parent and child, master and servant--to sanction marriages, grant divorces, and to regulate all the social and civil rights of the people in its territory.
Supreme sovereign power over the persons and personal rights of all persons within the territorial limits, is vested in each State, with the following exceptions:
1. If a citizen enters the army or navy of the United States, he becomes subject to the articles of war, and may be punished for offences against those articles by the authorities of the United States.
2. Offences against other laws passed to carry into execution the powers granted to the United States may be punished by that government--such, for example, as robbing the mails, counterfeiting her coin, &c.
3. Treason committed against that government by persons owing allegiance to it may be punished by its authority.
From this it is manifest that sovereignty over all the vast and multifarious concerns of life is vested in the States; and the only exceptions are in the power of the U. States government to interfere with persons and property in some limited cases, and as incidental to the powers granted in the Constitution. It is also manifest that the powers granted to the United States were to enable them to use the common means of the States to protect them from invasions or aggressions of foreign powers, and on some few specified domestic subjects to establish uniform rules of action.
The powers granted to the United States are therefore secondary in their character, and subordinate to the States they were designed to protect.
III. The third remark we make is that on all these subjects the sovereignty of each State is exclusive.
No State has a right to pass any law, or do any act, affecting lands, personal property or persons in any other State of the United States. No State can grant divorces, solemnize marriage, or change the relations of parent and child, master or servant, in any other State, for the power of each State over all these things is exclusive within its own territory. From this exclusive power, it follows that every State, as to all of these powers, is foreign to every other State. In all respects each State is as fully exempted from the legislative, executive, or judicial action of every other State, as it is from similar interference from Great Britain or any other European State.
IV. The tenth article in amendment of the Constitution of the United States, declares--
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, or prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or the people."
It is obvious that this reservation is to the people of each State; because a reservation of a right is a retention of that right by the former owner; and as the right of sovereignty over lands, persons and property was vested in the people of that State, this reservation continues it to them; and consistently with this reservation, exclusive sovereignty has been continuously exercised by the people of each State over their own State, separate from, independent of, and foreign to every other State.
The doctrine of those who would consolidate the Union and deny State rights is, that the powers reserved by this article were reserved to the people of the whole Union. This construction does violence to the terms of the article. It converts a reservation into a grant. It is absurd. It cannot be conceived that within seven years after the termination of a war which established the principle that the foundation of government over each State was the consent of the people of that State, and that each State, in its domestic sovereignty, was foreign to every other State--the men who had periled their all to establish this principle, should grant away the separate sovereignty of each State to the whole people of the United States, and should make that grant in terms which, by literal construction, reserved that sovereignty to the State as it formerly existed: and furthermore, it is absurd, that if they had done this, the exercise of the sovereignty of each State should have continued without question or doubt for seventy years.
But among the rights of the people of each State, was the right to give or withhold their consent to any government attempted to be set up or continued over them. This right was not granted to the United States, or prohibited to the people of each State. It was therefore reserved to them with all their other rights of sovereignty.
V. The powers granted to the United States were granted to protect the great mass of rights vested in each of the States from foreign aggression, and to regulate some few matters of common interest They were therefore subservient and subordinate to the great mass of social, civil and property rights vested in the States.
But from the necessities of government, the powers which would accumulate in the hands of the United States were immense; and if those powers should be corruptly used, and by concerted action with portion of the States perverted to the oppression of other of the States, a conflict must arise between the corrupt United States government and the States acting with it, and the States sought to be oppressed; for it is the duty of the State attempted to be oppressed to preserve from the lawless action of the government of the United States, and the States acting with it, the immense mass of social, civil and property rights confided to it.
This is precisely the conflict which has arisen between the United States and the Confederate States. The gradual encroachments of the United States on the sovereignty of the States; the constant interference with the domestic institutions of some of these States by other States and by the United States; the persevering efforts by class legislation to make the agricultural mere tributaries to the manufacturing and commercial States; the unceasing efforts to consolidate the Union, viz: to set aside all constitutional restrictions on the government of the United States; the manifest design to reduce all power to the fiat of a popular majority; the formation of a great sectional patty to accomplish these objects; the inflammation of the passions of the people of the greater part of the United States against some of the States of the Union;--these things made it the duty of the States now composing the Confederate States to withdraw from the United States.
VI. In so doing, they violated no provision of the Constitution of the United States; for there is no provision forbidding a State to withdraw from the Union. The State of Virginia, when she entered the Union, expressly reserved the right to withdraw at her pleasure. As she entered on equal terms with every other State, this must have been considered the right of every other State.
There is no provision of the Constitution forbidding a State to withdraw from the Union. The reasoning which would deny this right to a State, is founded on the assumption that the government of the United States exists over each State without the consent of its people--i.e., it is a despotism.
We have shown this government was laid on the foundation of the consent of the people of each State; and it cannot be replied that our ancestors in 1789 made a compact by which they attempted to take from their posterity the benefit of this great principle--for no such compact existed--and the reasoning which attempts to set it up, is founded on the hypothesis that men who resisted the government that had theretofore existed over their fathers, because they, the posterity, withdrew their consent to the continuance of that government over them, intended to deprive their posterity of rights they themselves exercised and called inalienable and sacred. Such reasoning rejects consent as the foundation of government, and places it on coercion. It disregards all constitutional restrictions, and finds its pabulum in the proud and avaricious desire to set up a great government which will extend its power to the ends of the earth, and enable the merchant and the manufacturer of the North to make money out of all "nations, kindreds and tongues;" and this money to be made by so regulating commerce with the States, that the agricultural States may be made tributary to the commercial and manufacturing States. From such a Union we believe it was the solemn duty of our State to withdraw; and since her withdrawal we have abundant evidence that we were right.
It is impossible to believe the savage and barbarous warfare waged on us--the desolation of farms, driving families that had been affluent from their homes without shelter, raiment or food; the destruction of furniture and raiment, even to the garments of the new-born babe; the destruction of agricultural implements and mills; burning towns, bombardment of cities; the outrages practised on feeble old men and helpless females--it is impossible to believe that these things spring from any recent feeling. We find in them evidence that feelings of rancorous hatred and malice have long been cherished against us in the Northern States. It is true, that before this war, men of the North, who desired office at our hands, or who desired lucrative trade with us, have approached us with professions of brotherly love and affection, and have assured us that the hatred and malice of which we complained were confined to a small fanatical party, and were reprobated by the great mass of the community. But we have seen this fanatical party exalted to the chief power of the governments, both Federal and State, and exalted because of this very hatred to us. We have seen men who were the loudest in their professions of attachment to us, coalescing with this fanatical party, placed among its leaders, and are now seeking our blood with all the avidity of tigers. We have seen the whole population of the North gloating with fiendish exultation over the accounts of barbarities inflicted on us, and rejoicing in the hope that our people were doomed to extermination by the lingering horrors of famine and starvation. With such a people we can never again unite in any government, and although our sufferings may be great, yet we rejoice we are separated from them.
VII. In withdrawing from the United States we have violated no allegiance.
We have always been taught that allegiance is due to a government for the protection it afforded the persons, families, rights and property of the citizens--that allegiance and protection are reciprocal.
To our State government we have always looked for the protection of our persons, families, property and rights as citizens, and to it, in the highest sense, our allegiance is due. It is true the United States government was once entrusted with limited powers, given to protect us against foreign enemies, and to regulate our commerce with foreign friends; and as long as it performed those duties honestly, its powers were permitted to remain. But when it attempted fraudulently to use them for our destruction, they were withdrawn by the sovereign action of our State. It is no longer our government. We owe it no allegiance, and all persons owing it allegiance are to us foreigners and aliens, and during this war must be alien enemies.
VIII. In withdrawing from the United States we have violated no duty as Masons.
The Constitutions of Masonry teach us,
"Whoever will be a true Mason is further to know, by the rules of his art, his allegiance as a subject and citizen will not be relaxed, but enforced. He is to be a lover of quiet, peaceable and obedient to the civil powers which yield him protection and are set over him where he resides or works, so far as there is no infringement of the limited bounds of reason and religion."
This duty as Masons we honestly perform by adhering to the sovereign power of our own State. It is under our State government we hold all our rights as husbands, fathers, and owners of property. It is by its benign laws that the purity, honor and fair character of families are preserved. It is by its laws all our affairs with our neighbors are regulated and the rewards of our industry secured. It is under it we reside and work.
The United States government has infringed the bounds of religion and reason by attempting to set over us an usurped and tyrannical despotism. Masonry does not require us to yield allegiance to usurpers and tyrants.
We think it behooves us to put this vindication of ourselves as men and citizens on our records and permit it to go down to our successors. For while Masonry has nothing to do with war or politics, the vindication of our characters as honest men and good citizens is dear to us, and we feel we are doing justice to Masonry in preserving our fair fame from men who have borrowed the garb of Masonry to make the assault.
Leaving this defence, we proceed to the proper Masonic enquiries.
In entering on these we discriminate between Masonry and the organizations which regulate its government and utter its teachings. Masonry itself is a universal brotherhood of good men of ever clime and nation, associated for objects of benevolence, charity, relief to the worthy, and the promotion of the peace, purity and the happiness of mankind. Men having its secrets, conforming to its obligations, and worthily practising its precepts, are to be received as brethren from every part of the earth.
But the organized bodies having charge of its government and teachings are not an essential part of Masonry. They are as distinct from it as the preachers and hierarchy of a church are from the pure and holy religion of Christ. The hierarchy may become corrupt, they may pervert their powers and teachings so as to become preachers of unrighteousness and of war and rapine. They may make their church organizations the supporters of political wickedness in high places, and impel their followers to all the atrocities of unjust war. They may, by their corrupt teachings, render themselves unworthy to be called ministers of religion. But the disgrace and reproach is their own, and ought not to be imputed to religion. Indeed, the true followers of religion ought to be more attached to it and labor harder to preserve it from perversion.
This illustration will properly apply to Masonry. The Lodges and Grand Lodges charged with its government and its teachings may become corrupt and try to pervert its organized powers from the pure and peaceful ends of the Institution to unmasonic and improper purposes, and thereby render themselves unworthy depositaries of its power and teachings; but this should not cause us to value Masonry the less, or deprive a truly worthy brother of its indefeasible benefits.
We are forced, by the information we have before us, to the conclusion, that the Masonic bodies at the North, to carry on this ruthless and savage war waged against us, are making their organizations instruments to support the usurped power of the present administration of the United States government.
We pass without comment the charges of treason and rebellion, "so-called seceding States," and other terms of reproach in these publications, though we must regard them as manifesting that the Masons of the United States are deficient in brotherly love and respect.
We call attention to the following particulars:
1. In the address of Grand Master Crane to the Grand Annual Communication of New York in June 1863, in page 16, is the following sentence:
"Finding, on several occasions when presentations were made by Lodges and members of Lodges to individual Masons belonging to the army, of swords sashes and other implements used in the prosecution of the war, language had been used which was eminently calculated to weaken those Masonic bonds throughout the whole of these States, and which it is our duty more than ever to strengthen, I issued a circular note to all the Lodges, that on such and all other like occasions their members should refrain from pursuing a like course when congregated as Masons, which request, I believe, has generally been respected."
Now this is a clear confession that the Masonic bodies of New York are making themselves parties to this war. They are furnishing implements to be used in the prosecution of the war to men in the army, are holding Masonic meetings, and inflaming not only popular passions, but the passions of Masons against us.
From his address we infer the Grand Master approves the substance of the thing. He makes no objection to the thing itself, but recommends mild language. He tithes the mint, annise and cummin, and neglects the weightier matters of the law.
2. The second thing to which we draw attention is the teaching that Masonry has politics, which make it the duty of Masons to engage in the war, coupled with exhortations to them to enlist in it. As a specimen of these teachings, we refer to the address of G. M. Drummond to the Grand Lodge of Maine. This particular part of the address is found in the Transactions of the Grand Lodge of New York, Jan. 1863, from page 50 to 53.
We cannot take time or spare space to spread the whole of this extract on the Minutes; so much as discusses Masonic duty directly will be extracted.
The G. M. commences this part of his address by assigning his reasons for rejecting a proposition to unite in a Masonic convention in reference to the war. He declares that as Masons we have peculiar duties in the war, and to ascertain those we must look to the circumstances in which we are placed. To ascertain the circumstances in which we are placed he gives his view of the settlement of America and the Revolutionary war. He says of the men, (of the Revolutionary war,) "Rejecting the doctrine of the divine rights of kings, they announced as the corner-stone of their government the equality of man." He says in eighty years the United States became a mighty nation, extending from the Lakes to the Gulf, and our flag was known and honored throughout the world.
We pause here to say that in these views of Grand Master Drummond we have the key to the motives of the people of the United States in this contest. They ignore all constitutional provisions, assume that the United States government was founded on the natural equality of man, that it is a great nation, and their pride and interest in its power actuate them in waging this war against us.
But we resume. The G. M. proceeds to say that amid this prosperity the thunderbolt of civil war was launched from the Southern sky--a portion of the citizens appealed from the ballot box to the bayonet. (We consider this a misrepresentation of history.) He says: "On one side they are seeking to overthrow the government and establish one for themselves; on the other, to sustain the government and maintain the Union in its integrity." "The power of men to govern themselves is the question." It is to be determined whether a government of "the people can be sustained."
We must express our surprise that the M. W. G. M. did not perceive that when we wished to establish a government for ourselves we only exercised our right of self-government; that in sustaining the government of the Union, (i. e.) of the Northern States, he was violating our right of self-government, and denying the natural equality of man. When he speaks of maintaining the Union in its integrity he must mean in its territorial entirety, and not in the sacred regard for the Constitution which constitutes its integrity, and he must know it is the Northern States who deny the right of the people to govern themselves.
With this comment we pass the political disquisition which the M. W. G. Master introduced to establish the duty of Masons.
He then says, "in this most momentous crisis our duty as Masons is not uncertain:"
"By the ancient charges a Mason is bound to be a peaceable citizen, and not to be engaged in plots and conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the nation."
"Says an old Masonic law: 'But if it ever so happen that a brother should be a rebel against the State, he is not to be countenanced in his rebellion, however he may be pitied as an unhappy man.'
"Twelve years ago a distinguished Mason, in an address before the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, used this language: 'Free Masonry demands from all her children obedience to the civil authority and subjection to the powers that be. No man is a good Mason who is not a patriot as well as a philanthropist in principle as well as practice.'
"Our own DUNLAP has said: 'The true Free Mason must be a true patriot,' and he asked, 'Is not our cause and its success in achieving the object for which it was instituted identical with that of our common country?' Is it not the primary and fundamental object of our Institution to propagate those everlasting principles of truth and morality which lie at the foundation of our nationality, and form the great under-current in the tide of our national progress?'
"Another writer says: 'Masonry has her politics, but not the politics of a party or country. Her political creed maintains the natural equality of mankind, admits of no ranks except the precedence due to merit, sanctions no aristocracy except the unobtrusive nobility of virtue.'
"This characteristic of Masonry accounts for the genial soil, for her growth and expansion, this country has afforded. On the other hand, Masonry by its teaching and practice has been a pillar of support to the government. Free institutions and Masonry are mutually beneficial to each other. Masonry supports the government, and the government supports Masonry. Said Lafayette: 'The Masonic institution in the United States affords an important pillar of support and union to its free institutions and its happy form of government.'
"Our duties then are plain: we must sustain the government as the very ark of the covenant. Though brothers be arrayed in arms against us, we must, nevertheless, do our duty. We may pity the unhappy condition of those of our Order who may be numbered in the ranks of the rebellion, but we cannot stay our hands in the support of the government."
He then alludes to the duties of charity; says he is glad to know there are some among the misguided Southern brethren who have not forgotten all their Masonic duties; states the conduct of M. Wor. J. Q. A. Fellows; says there are Masons from Maine (not in prison) in New Orleans, who, he hopes, will not fail to repay Grand Master Fellows, and then says:
"Let Masonry have its perfect work at home and in the field; but let us rally to the support of that flag beneath whose folds our Institution has so long reposed, and let us find in its stars an emblem of the starry canopy above.
"Our fathers' blood has hallowed it, 'tis part of their renown,
And palsied be the caitiff hand would pluck its glories down."
He then speculates about Masonry cementing the Union when peace returns.
We have extracted the argument of Worshipful Grand Master Drummond on the duty of Masons in this war. We propose to make a few remarks on the argument, as we believe it is a fair specimen of the Masonic teaching of the North, and we think it heresy. We believe Masonry has maintained its high position in the world by separating the man as a Mason from the man as a subject or citizen, holding him by its obligation to perform his duty as a Mason, and leaving him to perform his duty as a subject or citizen according to his conscience. We believe Masonry teaches universal benevolence and a fraternal brotherhood of its members of every nation. Masonry inculcates peace, charity and good will among all people, more especially among its own brotherhood.
That the teaching of this address does violate the character of Masonry and attempt to make Masonry an instrumentality in supporting the present war of the United States against us, and does attempt to pervert Masonry and Masonic duty into a political and warlike duty, is apparent by its careful consideration.
The teacher gives an unfair and perverted statement of the principles on which the government of the United States was founded and of the course of the Southern States in this conflict. This is obviously done to cover the South with odium and prepare his readers for the unfair and disingenuous argument he makes on Masonic duty.
He states, "The duties of Masons in this conflict are not uncertain."
He quotes two passages. from an ancient charge.
Now we hold the ancient charges of the York Masons in the highest reverence, and the very charge from which we believe these extracts are taken, is, with some slight variations in phraseology, the charge published by our Grand Lodge for the government of its Masons. But we think it uncandid and unfair to pick out of this charge particular phrases to countenance the two unfounded assumptions he makes, viz: that Masonry considers the United States a nation, and, condemns the act of the people of one or more of the States for withdrawing their consent to the continuance of its government over them as a violation of Masonic duty by plotting against its peace and welfare; and secondly, that the United States is a State, and the people who withdrew lawfully from its government are rebels and to be pitied as unhappy men.
We believe Masonry teaches no such thing. It has no alliance or connection with the government of the United States, and efforts to pervert it to such an end, are not only a violation of its principles, but degrade it to the condition of a subservient tool of tyrants and usurpers. We think the use attempted to be made of these ancient charges perverts and dishonors Masonry.
To sustain himself, the G. M. quotes from modern writers.
Now we must say we have not the respect for modern writers that we have for the ancient charges. Each writer must be judged on his own merits; and the careful reader of modern Masonic literature will find it has its due proportion of crude and prurient trash.
On the address delivered twelve years ago in Tennessee we have no comment to make. We take it to be the author's exposition of his views, and it may go for what it is worth.
But on the quotation from Dunlap we must look differently. We have not before us the address of Dunlap from which this extract is made. But, judging from the extract itself, and G. M. Drummond's interpretation it, we must pronounce it an obscure and weak attempt to make Masonry a political institution.
He asserts a true Free Mason will be a patriot. We grant that he will, as a subject or citizen, do his duty to his country; and as Free Masonry is of universal obligation, we suppose his political conduct belongs to his duty as a man and not as a Mason. But Mr. Dunlap, making the assertion that a Mason is a patriot, attempts, by two interrogations, to identify Masonry with the United States. In his first interrogatory, he asks, "Is not our cause and its success in achieving the object for which it was instituted, identical with our common country?" In this interrogatory he must be understood as asserting the cause of Masonry and of the United States to be identical. This sounds to us as one of the boldest and weakest pieces of demagogueism to be found in any modern writer on Masonry, and if true, it would at once strip Masonry of that universal character she has maintained from the days of King Solomon.
He sustains his assertion by asking if the primary object of Masonry is not to promulgate the everlasting principles of truth and morality, which lie at the foundation of our nationality, and form the under-current in the tide of our national progress. Observe, he assumes that the primary object of Masonry is to teach truth and morality. These certainly are among the great objects of Masonic teaching, but are not the only ones; for Masonry was designed to form one universal brotherhood of all good men on earth.
But he assumes that the truth and morality taught by Masonry lie at the foundation of the nationality of the United States.
We have always understood the Union was founded on the Constitution of the United States, and that it did not, in any proper sense, constitute a nationality. But passing the question whether the Constitution made a nation, we do not think truth and morality can any more be predicated of this Constitution than of any other compact of government by which conflicting interests are reconciled. To speak accurately' truth and morality cannot be predicated of the compact of government' but of its administration. Truth and morality are, properly, the qualities of men administering the government. The argument that Masonry teaches truth and morality, proves nothing as to the Constitution of the United States. If this be anything more than an idle flourish in a holiday address, it sets aside the Constitution of the United States as the foundation of the government, and attempts to substitute for it vague ideas of truth and morality. We think this is a deliberate violation of truth and morality; for the men who administer the government swear to maintain the Constitution; and by setting it aside, they commit perjury and violate all morality and truth.
How far the under-current of the prosperity of the Northern States was due to truth and morality, or how far it was due to rapacity and unfair dealing, we will not here discuss. We wish to enter our protest against these efforts to identify Masonry and the nationality of the United States, as a gross Masonic heresy.
But G. M. Drummond quotes another writer, who says: "Masonry has her politics." This is a Masonic heresy; and it is not rendered the less odious by the assertion that her politics are not of a party or country. He states three marks of the political creed of Masonry: 1st. The natural equality of mankind. 2d. It admits of no ranks except the precedence due to virtue. 3d. It sanctions no aristocracy. He then says this characteristic, viz: this political creed of Masonry, accounts for its genial soil and its growth and expansion in this country, and argues to show it is one of the pillars of the government.
Now, if the statement that Masonry has politics, and the characteristic of her politics was limited to an internal view of the Institution, without any relation to the government and social institutions of the earth, we should be satisfied to say the piece was incautiously worded, and gave an erroneous view of Masonry within its Lodges. But it is probable it was written in relation to the governments and institutions of the world, and to establish the very inference W. G. M. Drummond draws from it, viz: that Masonry has politics and in her political character is one of the pillars of the government of the United States.
The proposition that Masonry has politics, is at war with all the Masonic teaching of the ancients. That it rejects rank is inconsistent with its establishment by King Solomon; and that it refuses its sanction to aristocracy, is inconsistent with the records of long lists of royal and noble men who have been called to preside over the Institution.
But this is not the worst aspect of this teaching. It makes Masonry a society for propagating the most radical creed ever preached on earth; one which, preaching the natural equality of man, rejects all ranks or established distinctions of society, and all constitutional restrictions, and then degrades Masonry into an institution to inflame Masonic brethren against each other, and thus sustain the usurpation of the government of the United States. That this last statement is a fair representation of the object for which it is used, appears from the subsequent parts of the Worshipful G. Master's address.
He says: "Our duties (i. e., as Masons) are plain; we must sustain the government as the very ark of the covenant. (Observe, he ignores the Constitution of the United States; and by the government he must mean the administration.) And though brothers are arrayed in arms against us, we must do our duty. We may pity the unhappy condition of those of the Order in rebellion, but must not stay our hands." And he exhorts them to let Masonry have her perfect work at home and in the field; to rally to the flag and let its stars be an emblem of the "starry canopy,"--i. e., of Heaven; and then follows the poetry.
Now, this is mere sophomoric trash, and would be unworthy of notice but for the fact that it is an earnest and deliberate effort to make Masonry a political institution, identified with the United States, and an earnest exhortation to Masons, as Masons, to enter on a horrid fratricidal war, as subservient to the plans and conduct of the then administering the United States government.
3. The third thing to which we ask attention, is the action of the Lodges in encouraging men to enter this war by conferring on them the degrees of Masonry as a reward for thus enlisting.
On page 65 of the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York, we find the following extract from an address of the Deputy G. Master to the Grand Lodge of Indiana:
"In several instances I have granted dispensations to Lodges to confer degrees upon persons in their jurisdiction without requiring them to wait the time contemplated by their by-laws, it having been represented to me that such parties had enlisted in the service of the United States, and were about to leave for the seat of war. Such cases as these would have justified the action of the Lodge without the necessity of a dispensation, but the parties should be well known and of unblemished character."
On this the Committee of Correspondence in New York remarks:
"The Deputy G. Master was of course amply justified in issuing his dispensation in the instances to which he alludes. Indeed, there could be nothing appealing more warmly to the patriotism and gratitude of a true Mason than a case just of this character."
This extract shows these Grand Lodges are making Masonry a party to this war. The act of enlisting to carry war into our country, with all its horrors and devastations, killing their brethren, driving the families of Masons from their homes and exposing them to all the insults and indignities of a brutal soldiery, are acts which appeal to the gratitude of all true Masons. And they invest men with the panoply of Masonry the better to practice these horrors on us.
The true spirit of these Lodges will be found in an extract on page 66, from the Report of a Committee of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, in reply to the Grand Lodge of Nebraska, quoted without dissent by the New York Committee:
"We, as Masons of Indiana, say to our brethren who have or may enter into the service in defending the Constitution of the United States, 'You have our approval. March on to glorious victory. Drive from our land the desolating hand of rebellion, but remember when you have subdued your foe he is no longer such. Extend to him those God-like attributes--mercy and charity.'"
It is our duty as Masons to suppress the feelings of scornful defiance such utterances excite, but we must notice this in a Masonic point of view.
This emanates from Indiana, a State carved out of the territory ceded by Virginia to the United States for the common benefit of all the States. The title to every homestead and to every Lodge in this State rests on the liberality of Virginia. Virginia has never devastated the State of Indiana, nor did those Masons fear she would. Yet as Masons, they urge Masons, in fierce and vindictive language, to invade and desolate Virginia--urge them to "march on to glorious victory--drive from our land the desolating hand of rebellion." We notice this sentence not only as vindictive, but as a deliberate suggestion of falsehood. "Our land!" They did not fear the desolation of their land. It was the land of Virginia they wished desolated, and this because they falsely stigmatise our exercise of the unalienable right of self-government as rebellion. We say this is making Masonry a political engine, to urge Masons to fratricidal war, to deeds of rapine and violence, and by prevarication and suggestions of falsehood.
As to their tender of mercy and charity--we have already seen too much of the mercy and charity extended by their chosen agents, Lincoln, Butler, Hunter, Sheridan, Sherman and others who conduct this war, to wish their mercy or charity.
IV. Another evidence that the Grand Lodges of the United States are making Masonry subservient to this war, is found in granting dispensations or warrants to Military Lodges, to attend their armies in the invasion of our country.
As it may be supposed a Masonic precedent for these Military Lodges is found in the British Military Lodges, we here notice the difference.
In Great Britain the army is a permanent establishment. Some of the regiments in it were established in the seventeenth century, and have maintained perpetual succession since. Others were established since, but maintain their perpetual succession.
The distinction between the Military State and the Civil State is well known in Great Britain. Men who go into the army, go into it as a profession for life, and few return to civil life. Their homes are with their regiments, and these regiments are ordered on duty to any part of the colonies of Great Britain; so that the men have no permanent abode. It was proper to give these men the benefit of Masonry; and as the chief object was to afford Masonic intercourse to these men at home and in the colonies within the jurisdiction of their own government, the fact that they might, when transiently in a foreign country, where Grand Lodges existed, work occasionly under their own charters, did not give evidence of hostility to those Grand Lodges; and although in the way Masonic jurisdiction of Grand Lodges is now settled, (especially in America,) it would be an interference with Grand Lodge jurisdiction, yet in the time these Lodges were created such an interference was not designed.
Let us see now the difference in the Lodges established with the army of the United States. That army is raised solely for the purpose of invasion and conquest of the Southern States. In these States Grand Lodges existed, each having a jurisdiction co-extensive with the geographical limits of the State.
It is admitted, if any Grand Lodge of the United States had in times of peace granted authority to any number of its citizens travelling through, or sojourning in, the Southern States, to form Lodges and work as Masons without the permission of the Grand Lodge in whose jurisdiction they worked, such an act would be an hostile invasion of the Grand Lodge in which they worked. This being so, we cannot see how the hostility and disregard of the jurisdiction of the injured Grand Lodge is diminished, by the fact, that these Masonic powers were attempted to be conferred on men visiting that jurisdiction solely for hostile purposes. It does make the Grand Lodges direct parties to that hostility, and attempts to make Masonry a means of giving aid and comfort to enemies.
Again: the army in which these Lodges are established is temporary in its character, composed of citizens who have volunteered or been drafted from private life, and who retain their homes and relations in private life, and expect to return to it. Some of these officers and men have entered the army with the ambitious desire to win military distinction, as a means of obtaining offices of honor and profit under their own governments; others that they might amass fortunes by obtaining lucrative positions and contracts; others with the expectation of thriving on the plunder and robbery of the Southern people; others with the hope they might remain in the conquered country on the estates from which they ejected the men they falsely stigmatized as rebels, and might live among an abject and cowed population as the satraps and trusted friends of the conquering power. But whatever may have been the motives with which these men entered the service, they all designed returning to civil life, and retained their relations with it. The grant of Masonic powers to these men was, therefore, intended to make Masonry a stimulant to their efforts to subdue us, and an agency in the war.
Again: the working of these Lodges were irregular and unmasonic. Whether this arose from the looseness of the grants or from the unworthiness of the hands in which it was placed, we do not know. That the fact exists, is proved by the complaints of the Grand Lodges themselves. From among these complaints we select a report of a Committee of Wisconsin, pages 71 and 72:
"The Select Committee to whom was referred so much of the Grand Master's Address as relates to the initiation of residents of Wisconsin in Military Lodges established in the army by the Grand Lodges of other jurisdictions, have had the same under consideration, and report:
"That during the present war several of the Grand Lodges have established, by dispensation, what are denominated Military Lodges, the officers and members of which are volunteers from the respective States, by the Grand Lodges of which such Lodges are established. A Lodge so established travels with the regiment or brigade to which it is attached, and is opened and held at such times and places as may be convenient, and wherever its members may happen to be located by the exigencies of the service. Authentic information has been received that persons who have been for several years, and still are residents of Wisconsin, have been initiated in such Lodges. That some of such persons would, doubtless, have been rejected if they had applied to the Lodge nearest their residence, and where they were known, and that others had already been rejected at home. What has occurred in reference to residents of this jurisdiction has undoubtedly occurred to residents within the jurisdiction of other Grand Lodges. We have no hesitation in saying that this is an evil which ought to be promptly remedied. Of what use is it for the fraternity of Wisconsin to labor to maintain a high standard of personal qualifications, and to sustain the dignity of the character of Free Masonry in this jurisdiction, if these unworthy and rejected applicants are to be thrust upon the Craft by other Grand Lodges, through the medium at Dispensated Lodges working outside their territorial jurisdiction? We say by the Grand Lodges of other States, for in the opinion of the Committee, it is the Grand Lodge which establishes a travelling Lodge, rather than the Lodge itself, which is responsible for its transactions. At all events, it is with the Grand Lodge alone that we have to do. Whenever a Grand Lodge deems it proper to establish a travelling Military Lodge, it should make due provision that the Lodge so established should not interfere with the jurisdiction of other Grand Lodges, and should give it no more extensive power than it may lawfully grant to ordinary Lodges within its jurisdiction. We feel confident that this subject, being brought to the attention of our sister Grand Lodges, they will see the propriety of staying the wrong which they are thus inflicting upon the Fraternity in other jurisdictions."
From this it clearly appears that these Lodges were conferring Masonic character on unworthy men, who could not obtain it at home, and initiated men who never were under the jurisdiction of their Grand Lodges. How far this evil goes, we know not; but we have reason to fear they make white men Masons who were under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Virginia. And when we see some of the Grand Lodges teaching that Masonry has politics, and her politics teach the equality of mankind and the support of the nationality of the United States, we have reason to fear that the canon of Masonry, which limits its benefits to the free-born, is through these Lodges to be set aside, and Masonry made an instrument to subvert all our social and governmental institutions.
V. The act of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia in granting a dispensation to Union Lodge in the city of Alexandria and within the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge.
That we do not misrepresent this act, or draw improper conclusions from it, we ask that so much of the report of the Committee of Correspondence of the Grand Lodge of New York as contains the documents on this subject, commencing at page 153, with the words, "Documents Relating," and ending on page--with the words, "and the dispensation granted," and so much of the address of G M. Stansberry in May, 1862, as relates to this subject, commencing on page 102 with the words, "In February last," &c., and ending on page 103 with the words, "be continued under dispensation," be put on record with this report.
We call attention to the fact that the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia was specially convened on the 12th of February, 1862. The Grand Master states it was convened to decide a question beyond his province. He states he has received a petition from Theodore G. Palmer and nine others, who are vouched for as worthy Master Masons, praying for a dispensation to form a new Lodge in Alexandria. He says Palmer represents there is no Lodge working in that city. The charter cannot be found, had been removed, and the Masons residing there are cut off from the enjoyment of Masonic privileges. He says: "It is also stated" (but he does not say by whom) "that the Grand Lodge of Virginia forbids those working under her jurisdiction to recognize or hold Masonic intercourse with Masons who adhere to their allegiance to the Union."
He then says, under ordinary circumstances, a petition of this kind could not, for a moment, be entertained, because to grant this dispensation would be an invasion of the territory of a sister Grand Lodge, an act which the Masons of this country uniformly repudiated, but says: "The question for us now is whether the present state of things will justify us in establishing a new precedent to afford our brethren of the loyal part of Virginia the rights and benefits of our Order."
On that he has not formed a decided opinion, but intimates it is desirable it should be done if it can. He says if the dispensation can fairly be considered an invasion of the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, he inclines to think it ought to be refused; but asks, "can it be so considered if that Grand Lodge has practically and voluntarily repudiated her jurisdiction over the loyal portion of her territory and left the Fraternity there without the means of Masonic intercourse," &c. He then proceeds to argue that the portion of Virginia invaded by the army of the United States, is in the condition of a territory in which Masonry in an organized form never existed, and that any Grand Lodge may grant a charter to Lodges to work there, and those Lodges may form a Grand Lodge. The subject was referred to a Committee, and the Grand Lodge was called to refreshment.
On the 14th February, B. B. French, P. G. M. of G. L. D. C., addressed to G. M. Stansberry a vindictive and truculent letter, in which he takes up the assertion that the Grand Lodge of Virginia forbids those working under its jurisdiction to recognize or hold Masonic intercourse with Masons who adhere to their allegiance to the United States; denounces the Grand Lodge, and counsels the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia to issue dispensations to loyal and worthy Masons anywhere in Virginia to open Lodges, and proceed to work until the Grand Lodge of Virginia shall return to the principles of Free Masonry and assume her legitimate sphere among the Grand Lodges of the Union.
We pause here for some comments.
In pure old English, we pronounce the statement that the Grand Lodge of Virginia forbids Masons working under its jurisdiction to recognize or hold Masonic intercourse with Masons adhering to their allegiance to the Union, a LIE.
Grand Master Stansberry says the charter could not be found, and everything pertaining to the old Lodge in Alexandria had been removed. He says, under ordinary circumstances, the petition for the dispensation could not be entertained for a moment; but the question was, whether, in the present state of things, they shall establish a new precedent to afford their brethren in the loyal portion of Virginia Masonic privileges.
Now, remember, this address was delivered ten months after the armed invasion of Virginia, about eight months after the battle of Bull Run, and the object attempted to be artfully covered up by the Grand Master is apparent. The armed invasion of Virginia had then forced the Confederate army back about twenty-five miles from Alexandria, and the question was, whether the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia should establish a precedent for establishing Lodges in the rear of the invading army. The statement that the charter could not be found, and everything pertaining to the old Lodge there had been removed, afforded no pretext for creating a new Lodge there. It afforded evidence that the old Masons of Virginia had fled with horror from the invasion, carrying with them all that was sacred to them in Masonry. Who the men petitioning for the dispensation are, we know not. They may be a portion of those greedy cormorants who follow the track of an invading army to batten off the spoils of the oppressed. Yet the Grand Master gravely states the question is, whether they are to set the precedent for establishing new Lodges in the territory from which Masons had been forcibly driven. In other words, was Masonry to render itself subservient to an aggressive invasion of the country, and sustain, by its sanctions, the political and military power of the invader?
He seems himself to shrink from the gross Masonic heresy implied in this question. He inclines to think it cannot be done if it be an invasion of the territory of the Grand Lodge of Virginia; but in the form of a query he suggests, the Grand Lodge of Virginia had practically and voluntarily repudiated its jurisdiction over all the loyal portion of Virginia. Now, Grand Master Stansberry knew when he made this suggestion he was making a false suggestion; for he well knew no officer of the Grand Lodge of Virginia could visit Alexandria without great danger of being incarcerated in one of the bastiles of the United States.
The Grand Lodge of the District Columbia assembled again on the 15th February, 1862, and Grand Master' Stansberry again addressed them. He now discloses his object more fully. He says he has made up his mind. He argues the dispensation may be granted if it does not invade the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Virginia. Says, in Masonry, as in civil government, we must regard the government de facto; argues that the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia over the Masons in Alexandria was taken away by its retrocession to Virginia; that the Masonic status is regulated by the government of the United States, and says:
"Now, the Federal Government does not acknowledge, at the present time, the jurisdiction of the disloyal government of Virginia over that State. On the contrary, it recognizes another government loyal to itself; and quite exceptional, irregular and provisional in its stead." Inquires, if the action of the Federal Government is the guide, are we (the Grand Lodge D.C.) to recognize a disloyal Grand Lodge any more than the Federal Government recognizes a disloyal State government. He then inquires into the loyalty of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, and says: "If disloyal, we (the Grand Lodge D. C.) are not bound to respect her jurisdiction."
Now here we have the mask thrown off. The question whether the existing state of things justifies establishing a new precedent in invasion of our rights, is answered by alleging the Grand Lodge of Virginia is disloyal; thus plainly making the Masonic right of Masons depend on their opinions of the Constitution of the United States.
The Grand Lodge, by a vote of 27 to 12, approved issuing the dispensation.
At the semi-annual communication in May, 1862, the Grand Master stated he had issued his dispensation, for Union Lodge in Alexandria, to Theodore G. Palmer as Master, Geo. W. Knab as S. W., and E. H. Delaney, J. W. He says an attempt has been made to represent that act as unfriendly to the Grand Lodge of Virginia, and an invasion of her jurisdiction. Says he did not so intend it, and does not so regard it. He then insultingly says, if this Grand Lodge has the interests of universal Masonry at heart, it must approve his conduct; says if we cannot extend protection to those ordinarily under our control, we must consider it an act of true friendship in any one who will; and then says : "If I, as the nearest relative, neighbor or friend of a man suddenly stricken with paralysis undertakes to protect his family, and guard his interests until his return to consciousness and vigor, that judgment must be perverse indeed that could only see in such an act an act of unfriendly invasion of his rights." "The illustration (he says) is exactly in point." Says he does not wish to enlarge his jurisdiction, &c.; says, the moment this Grand Lodge resumes the active control of the Fraternity in Alexandria, the dispensation will be surrendered to her, &c., and immediately adds:
"In a communication, received a few days ago from Brother Palmer, he requests the dispensation may be continued, with a view to the formation of a new Grand Lodge of Virginia and the extension of the boundaries of the District of Columbia to the old limits." "I recommend that Union Lodge be continued under dispensation."
We have, as Masons, much to bear in the conduct of men calling themselves Masons, and have to restrain the expression of our natural indignation at insult and unjust reproach. In the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia there is so much deliberate insult, such studied prevarication, and so much hostile and fraudulent invasion of our Masonic rights, that we find it difficult to notice their transactions temperately; but it is our duty to examine them, and we must do it briefly.
Grand Master Stansberry convened the Grand Lodge on the 12th of February, 1862, to consider this dispensation. He then stated the lie we have already noticed. Said, under ordinary circumstances, the petition could not be for a moment entertained; but the question was, whether, in the present state of things, they were to establish a new precedent. On that question he pretended to decline expressing an opinion; but urged the action on the false suggestion that this Grand Lodge had voluntarily repudiated her jurisdiction over what he called the loyal portion of Virginia--and in the form of queries, argued that that portion of her territory was now a Masonic waste, in which any Grand Lodge might charter a Lodge.
Having grown more bold, he on the 15th February said his doubts were removed. He then argues the action of the Federal Government was to establish the status of Masonic jurisdiction. The Federal government had refused to recognize the disloyal State government of Virginia. Inquires whether this Grand Lodge is disloyal; asserts it is, and says: "If disloyal, we are not bound to respect her jurisdiction." And in May, 1862, he says he intended nothing unfriendly. He attempts to throw the odium of his unmasonic conduct on us by saying, if we have the interests of Masonry at heart, we must approve his conduct--insultingly compares us to a paralytic, and represents himself as a true friend taking care of our property--suggests, when we resume our jurisdiction he will surrender the dispensation to us--then peeps from behind the mask and says Palmer is applying to have the dispensation continued with a view to the possibility of forming a new Grand Lodge of Virginia and restoring Alexandria to the District of Columbia.
The mere statement of these points in his course shows the serpentine duplicity of this Grand Master. From the first suggestion, that the question was whether they were to set a new precedent, to the announcement that Palmer wished a continuance of the dispensation in view of the probability of forming a new Grand Lodge of Virginia, the object kept steadily in view, through all his subterfuges and contortions, is the overthrow of our Masonic jurisdiction. When he announced that the charter of the old Lodge could not be found, and everything pertaining to it had been removed, he knew the old Masons working in Alexandria had fled from the ruthless invaders of their homes; and his effort to form a new Lodge was an effort to supplant them by new men. When he pretended that he was as our next friend taking care of our rights, and offering this new Lodge under his dispensation to us, he knew (for he discloses it in the next sentence) that Palmer wished this dispensation continued to form a new Grand Lodge of Virginia and transfer Alexandria to the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia.
If men are to be judged by their acts, but one judgment can be passed on this transaction. It is that this was a deliberate and persistent effort to supplant the Grand Lodge of Virginia and place in its stead a new Grand Lodge that would be a subservient tool of the men administering the government of the United States. A Grand Lodge that, under the pretext of loyalty to the United States, would deprive of their Masonic rights all men who did not support the tyrannical usurpations of Lincoln and his followers. It was a deliberate effort on the part of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia to make Masonry a political engine to overthrow our government and institutions, and to make Masonry a mere agency in the hands of the corrupt party wielding the government of the United States.
We regret these things. But it is our duty to put them on record, that the conduct of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia may forever be known to our children and successors--and in so doing, we do not feel we are bringing a reproach on Masonry; for the shame and disgrace of these transactions attaches not to Masonry, but to the unworthy men who have sought thus to degrade it--men who themselves are unworthy of notice; but who have an accidental importance from being Grand Master and Past Grand Masters of a little Grand Lodge, with five miles square of territory, and which derives its sole consequence from its location at the seat of government of the United States; a location which gives its members a special opportunity of selling themselves and their principles to the men corruptly administering that government.
We state with pleasure, that we do not find in the documents before us, that the conduct of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia has been approved by any Grand Lodge of the United States.
In the report of the Committee of Correspondence of the Grand Lodge of New York on this subject we find some things which give us pleasure, but mingled with much that repels us from the writers. An article from the pen of Past Grand Master Simons has especially attracted our attention. It has much political acerbity and many erroneous views in relation to the conflict between the United States and the Confederate States; but it also contains many sound Masonic views. We extract the following paragraph, in which we most cordially concur. He says:
"Masonry can have no sympathy with the horrors of war, no desire to add fuel to the flame of angry passion roused to its utmost intensity by the incidents of strife. On the contrary, her mission looks to the fraternization of the nations, to the speedy coming of the time when justice may be secured without resort to war. The administration of a cup of water to the wounded or dying, the drying up a single tear, is to her more glorious than though her banner floated in the van of a thousand victories; and when her disciples forget this, whenever they mingle in the bitter waters of secular strife, they turn aside from the true design and falsify the very spirit of her lessons."
We also notice with approbation that the Committee of Correspondence say they have no more right to prescribe their views of allegiance to us than to the Grand Lodge of Canada.
But it is our duty to say, that even these sentiments are accompanied with such expressions of political acerbity and reproach, and such truculent denunciations of our government and of us as citizens, that self-respect would forbid us as men to hold personal intercourse with the persons uttering them. If Masons at the North who entertain correct Masonic opinions wish them to have their perfect work, they should learn to suppress such angry utterances.
Before leaving this subject, it gives us pleasure to say, that from the brief extracts of the opinions of the Grand Lodge of California found in these documents, we hope that Grand Lodge has taken true Masonic ground in relation to this war.
It now remains to express our views of the present and future action this Grand Lodge should take in reference to the Masonic organizations of the United States.
When our State withdrew from the United States, the United States became to us a foreign power; and all persons owing allegiance to that government became to us aliens, and when they waged war on us alien enemies.
During the continuance of this war it is inconsistent with our duty to our country to hold correspondence with the Lodges and Grand Lodges of the North. Masonry is essentially a secret society, and the occasions are few in which she should make public her proceedings outside of her own membership. No correspondence with bodies of men in the enemy's country ought to be tolerated by the government. But even if a regular correspondence could be held, it might encourage the delusion that a portion of our people desired to return under the government of the United States. We are well satisfied with the pure, wise and patriotic administration of our government, and cannot consent to any act which would for a moment encourage the delusion that any portion of our people desire a re-union with the United States. During this war all communications with the Masonic organizations of the North must cease.
But this war will end and peace return; and the war must end in one of two ways: 1st, by our extermination; or 2d, by the acknowledgment of our separate independence as States. A third idea--i. e., reconstruction of the Union, is sometimes held forth at the North; but this is so abhorrent to us and to our people that we prefer extermination to it.
Now we know the United States cannot exterminate us. It may kill many of our people and inflict great injuries on us, but its power must stop very far short of extermination. The only end of this war, then, is in recognising our separate independence; and when peace thus comes, it places the people of the United States forever to us as aliens. We can then never resume the peculiarly intimate relations which by comity existed between the Masonic organizations of the United States and ourselves. We can have with them no other relations than we hold to all the Masonic bodies of the world.
By comity, peculiarly intimate relations fomerly subsisted between the Grand Lodges of the United States and ourselves. We were drawn into an intimacy with those Grand Lodges which existed with no other Grand Lodges in the world. If we are not misled by the documents which we have read, there has been on the part of many, and perhaps all of those Grand Lodges, a disposition to abuse the power these close relations gave them. We believe they have attempted to use Masonry as an instrumentality of war on us. We think the Lodges have perverted Masonry from its true end, and have used it as a means of sustaining the most unjust and wicked war which was ever waged on earth. When the design to destroy and exterminate us was openly avowed by the rulers chosen by the people of the United States, the Masonic bodies have been found urging Masons to engage in this war as a Masonic duty. Candor compels us to say that to these organizations we feel an aversion, as bodies that have proved themselves to be unworthy depositories of Masonic power and perverted teachers of its doctrines.
We recommend no Masonic intercourse ever be held with those Grand Lodges or their subordinate Lodges, unless it is sought by them and satisfactory evidence given to us that the Grand Lodge thus seeking intercourse with us has not attempted to convert Masonry into a means of sustaining the war against us.
We think the conduct of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia has been so grossly unmasonic--so marked by the determination to make Masonry a degraded political agency, and a subservient instrument of the government of the United States in its nefarious effort to destroy our liberties, and its determination to subvert our jurisdiction by falsehood and fraud has been so clearly manifested, that it is the duty of this Grand Lodge to denounce it as a corrupt Institution, no longer worthy to be considered a Masonic Body, and that we never can recognise it as a Masonic Body. We recommend that the Lodge attempted to be established by it in Alexandria, by name of Union Lodge, be declared a clandestine Lodge--all its members and Masons working with them be declared clandestine Masons, and all persons attempted to be made Masons in that Lodge be declared spurious Masons.
We also recommend that all Travelling or other Military Lodges attempted to be established or authorized to work in our jurisdiction and without our consent, by any of the Grand Lodges of the United States, be declared clandestine Lodges--all their members and all Masons working with them be declared clandestine Masons, and all persons attempted to be made Masons in such Lodges be declared to be spurious Masons.
In reference to the course to be pursued by Masons under our jurisdiction toward individual Masons of the United States, we say, that although we believe the conduct of the Grand Lodges and subordinate Lodges of the United States has been grossly unmasonic, yet the rights of individual Masons, who have not participated in this unmasonic conduct, are not forfeited by the unmasonic conduct of these Lodges. We believe there are many worthy Masons arrayed against us from various causes, which it is not our duty to judge. We hold their rights and duties as subjects and citizens are entirely distinct from their Masonic rights and duties; and however Masons may differ on political questions, as long as they worthily perform their duties as Masons, their individual Masonic rights are indefeasible. The conduct of all Masons under our jurisdiction, towards individual Masons of the United States, must be left to their own consciences. All we can say to them is, remember the duties you have assumed, and act in their spirit as far as duty to God, your country and yourselves will permit.
S. S. BAXTER, Chairman.
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