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FREEMASONRY IN AMERICA
The Craftsman - 1866
Freemasons' Lodges in America are of recent date. Upon application of a number of brethren residing in Boston, a warrant was granted by the Right Honorable and Most Worshipful Anthony, Lord Viscount Montague, Grand Master of Masons in England, dated 30th April, 1733, a pointing the R. W. Henry Price, Grand Master of North America, with full power and authority to appoint his deputy, and other Masonic officers necessary for forming a Grand Lodge; and also to constitute lodges of free and accepted Masons, as often as occasion should require.
In consequence of this commission, the Grand Master opened a Grand Lodge in Boston, (sometimes called the "Grand Lodge of Modern Masons") on the 30th July, 1733, in due form, and appointed the R.W. Andrew Belcher, Deputy Grand Master, and Thomas Kennelly and John Quann, Grand Wardens.
The Grand Lodge being thus organized, order the designation of St. John's Grand Lodge, proceeded to grant warrants for instituting regular lodges in various parts of America; and from this Grand Lodge originated the first Grand Lodges in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Barbados, Antigua, Newfoundland Louisburg, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Surinam, and St. Christopher's.
In 1775, hostilities commenced between Great Britain and America. Boston became a garrison, and was abandoned by many of its former inhabitants. The regular meetings of the Grand Lodges were terminated, and the brethren of St. John's Grand Lodge held no assembly until after the re-establishment of peace.
There was at that time also a Grand Lodge holden at Boston, upon the ancient establishment, under the designation of "The Massachusetts Grand Lodge," which originated as follows:-
In 1755, a number of brethren residing in Boston, who were ancient masons, in consequence of a petition to the Grand Lodge of Scotland, received a dispensation, dated Nov. 30, 1752, from Sholto Charles Douglas, Lord Aberdour, then Grand Master, constituting them a lodge, under the title of St. Andrew's Lodge, (No. 82), to be holden at Boston.
This establishment was discouraged and opposed by the St. John's Grand Lodge, who thought their privileges infringed by the Grand Lodge of Scotland; they therefore refused to have any intercourse with the St. Andrew's Lodge for several years.
The prosperous state of St. Andrew's Lodge soon led its members to make great exertions for the establishment of an ancient great Lodge in America which was soon effected in Boston, by the assistance of travelling lodges, belonging to the British army who were stationed there.
1769, December, 27. - The festival of the evangelist was celebrated in due form. When the brethren were assembled, a commission from the Right Hon. and M.W. George, Earl of Dalhousie, Grand Master of Masons in Scotland, dated the 30th of May, 1769, appointing Joseph Warren to be Grand Master of Masons in Boston, and within one hundred miles of the same, was read, and he was, according to ancient usage, duly installed into that office. The Grand Master then appointed and installed the other grand officers, and the Grand Lodge was at this time completely organized.
Between this period and the year 1791, this Grand Lodge granted warrants of constitution for lodges to be holden in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York.
In the year 1773, a commission was received from the Right Hon. and M.W. Patrick, Earl of Dumfries, Grand Master of Masons in Scotland, dated March 3, 1772, appointing the R. W. Joseph Warren, Esq., Grand Master of Masons for the continent of America.
In 1775, the meetings of the Grand Lodge were suspended, by the town of Boston becoming a garrison.
At the battle of Bunker's Hill, on the 27th June, this year, Masonry and Grand Lodge met with a heavy loss in the death of Grand Master Warren, who was slain contending for the liberties of his country.
Soon after the evacuation of Boston by the British army, and previous to any regular communication, the brethren, influenced by a pious regard to the memory of the late Grand Master, were induced to search for his body which had been rudely and indiscriminately buried in the field of slaughter. They accordingly repaired to the place, and, by the direction of a person who was on the ground at the time of his burial, a spot was found where the earth had been recently turned up. Upon moving the turf, and opening the grave, which was on the brow of a hill, and adjacent to a small cluster of sprigs, the remains were discovered in a mangled condition, but were easily ascertained; (by an artificial tooth) and being decently raised, were conveyed to the State House in Boston; from whence by a large and respectable number of brethren, with the late grand officers, attending in procession, they were carried to the stone chapel, where an animated eulogium was delivered by Bro. Perez Morton. The body was then deposited in the silent vault; 'without a sculptured stone to mark the spot; but, as the whole earth is the sepulchre of illustrious men, his fame, his glorious actions, are engraven on the tablet of universal remembrance, and will survive marble monuments or local inscriptions.'
1777, March 8. The brethren who had been dispersed in consequence of the war, being now generally collected, they assembled to take into consideration the state of Masonry. Being deprived of their chief by the melancholy death of their Grand Master, as before mentioned, after due consideration they proceeded to the formation of a Grand Lodge, and elected and installed the Most Worshipful Joseph Webb, their Grand Master.
1783, January 3. A committee was appointed to draft resolutions explanatory of the power and authority of this Grand Lodge. On the 24th June following, the committee reported as follows, viz. :-
The committee appointed to take into consideration the conduct of those brethren who assume the powers and prerogatives of a Grand Lodge, on the ancient establishment in this place, and examine the extent of their authority and jurisdiction, together with the powers of any other ancient Masonic institution within the same, bed leave to report the result of their examination, founded on the following facts, viz.;-
That the commission from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, granted to our late Grand Master, Joseph Warren, Esq., having died with him, of course his deputy, whose appointment was derived from his nomination, being no longer in existence, they saw themselves without a head, and without a single grand officer; and in consequence it was evident that not only the Grand Lodge, but all the particular lodges under its jurisdiction, must cease to assemble, the brethren be dispersed, the penniless go unassisted the craft languish, and ancient Masonry be extinct in this part of the world.
That in consequence of a summons from the former grand officers to the Masters and Wardens of all the regular constituted lodges, a grand communication was held, to consult and advise on some means to preserve the intercourse of the brethren.
That the political head of this country having destroyed this connection and correspondence between the subjects of these states and the country from which the Grand Lodge originally derived its commissioned authority, and the principles of the Craft inculcated on its professors submission to the commands of the civil authority of the, country they reside in; the brethren did assume an elective supremacy, and under it chose a Grand Master and Grand Officers, and erected a Grand Lodge, with independent powers and prerogatives, to be exercised however on principles consistent with, and subordinate to the regulations pointed out in the constitutions of ancient Masonry.
That the reputation and utility of the Craft, under their jurisdiction, has been more extensively diffused by the flourishing state of the fourteen lodges constituted by their authority, within a shorter period than that in which three only received dispensations under the former Grand Lodge.
That in the history of our Craft we find, that in England there are two Grand Lodges independent of each other; in Scotland the same; and in Ireland their Grand Lodge and Grand Master are independent either of England or Scotland. It is clear that the authority of some of those Grand Lodges originated in assumption; or, otherwise, they would acknowledge the head from whence they derived.
Your committee are therefore of opinion, that the doings of the present Grand Lodge were dictated by principles of the clearest necessity, founded in the highest reason, and warranted by precedents of the most approved authority,
This report was accepted, and corresponding resolutions entered into by the Grand Lodge and recorded.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014