In this episode, we explore the meaning of the Free and Accepted which first occurs in the Roberts Print of 1722, a term applied in the symbolic allegories to the builders of Solomon’s Temple.
Mackey, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, say:
The title “Free and Accepted” first occurs in the Roberts Print of 1722, which is headed The Old Constitutions belonging to the Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, and was adopted by Dr. Anderson in the second edition of the Book of Constitutions, published in 1738, the title of which is The New Book of Constitutions of the Antient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. In the first edition of 1723 the title was, The Constitutions of the Freemasons. The newer title continued to be used by the Grand Lodge of England, in which it was followed by those of Scotland and Ireland; and a majority of the Grand Lodges in this country have adopted the same style, and call themselves Grand Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons. The old lectures formerly used in England give the following account of the origin of the term:
“The Masons who were selected to build the Temple of Solomon were declared FREE and were exempted, together with their descendants, from imposts, duties, and taxes. They had also the privilege to bear arms. At the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the posterity of these Masons were carried into captivity with the ancient Jews. But the good-will of Cyrus gave them permission to erect a second Temple, having set them at liberty for that purpose. It is from this epoch that we bear the name of Free and Accepted Masons.”
In this episode, we explore the significance of Geometry as it relates to Freemasonry. An old attribution, its scientific and philosophical connections hold greater resonance than its computational counterparts with paper and pen.
In the modern rituals, geometry is said to be the basis on which the superstructure of Masonry is erected; and in the Old Constitutions of the Medieval Freemasons of England the most prominent place of all the sciences is given to geometry, which is made synonymous with Masonry. Thus, in the Regius MS., which dates not later than the latter part of the fourteenth century, the Constitutions of Masonry are called “the Constitutions of the art of geometry according to Euclid,” the words geometry and Masonry being used indifferently throughout the document; and in the Harleian No . 2054 MS. it is said, “thus the craft Geometry was governed there, and that worthy Master (Euclid) gave it the name of Geometry, and it is called Masonrie in this land long after.” In another art of the same MS. it is thus defined: “The fifth science is called Geometry and it teaches a man to mete and measure of the earth and other things, which science is Masonrie.”
The Egyptians were undoubtedly one of the first nations who cultivated geometry as a science. “It was not less useful and necessary to them,” as Goguet observes (Orig. des Lois., I., iv., 4), “in the affairs of life, than agreeable to their speculatively philosophical genus.” From Egypt, which was the parent both of the sciences and the mysteries of the Pagan world, it passed over into other countries; and geometry and Operative Masonry have ever been found together, the latter carrying into execution those designs which were first traced according to the principles of the former.
Speculative Masonry is, in like manner, intimately connected with geometry. In deference to our operative ancestors, and, in fact, as a necessary result of our close connection with them, Speculative Freemasonry derives its most important symbols from this parent science. Hence it is not strange that Euclid, the most famous of geometricians, should be spoken of in all the Old Records as a founder of Masonry in Egypt, and that a special legend should have been invented in honor of his memory.
– “We are raising a generation that is historically illiterate”
While visiting with some high school teacher friends, I asked how American History was being taught today. I always had a fondness for history, even if the teacher was boring. I particularly enjoyed learning about the American Civil War, and the events leading up to it. I saw it as an epoch event which defined the American character. The aftermath of the Civil War was also interesting including carpetbagging and the corruption of the Grant administration. Most of what I learned came from History and Social Studies classes I took from elementary school to high school. I didn’t take any formal history classes in college, but learned a lot through the other courses I took. To accent the meaning of a subject, the professors often found it necessary to describe its historical roots.
I was dismayed to learn American History was being taught superficially. Remarkably, it was taught starting from World War II and progressing to today. It was also my understanding the high school history teacher made extensive use of DVD video clips as opposed to lectures which I found rather odd. Videos provide excellent stimuli, but their tightly worded scripts do not always provide the rationalization for an event.
The school’s interpretation of American history spans a paltry 73 years. I guess anything happening before 1940 was considered inconsequential, such as:
– The Great Depression and Dust Bowl
– Prohibition, bootlegging, and the rise of organized crime; e.g., Al Capone
– Women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment
– The court martial of Gen. Billy Mitchell
– The Roaring Twenties, featuring flappers, “The Charleston”, and Jazz
– Isolationism, the RMS Lusitania, Eddie Rickenbacker, Sgt. York, Gen. Pershing, and the League of Nations
– Building of the Panama Canal
– John L. Sullivan, Jack Johnson, and Gentleman Jim Corbett
– The “Black Sox” scandal
– The Spanish-American War, including the Rough Riders and “Remember the Maine”
– The San Francisco earthquake and Johnstown flood
– The contributions of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, et al.
– The World’s Fairs of Philadelphia, Chicago, Buffalo, and New York City (twice)
– The rise of Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.
– The works of Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, etc.
– The Passenger Pigeon and near extinction of the American Bison
– The Wounded Knee Massacre
– Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Gen. Custer, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn
– Manifest Destiny and “Seward’s Folly”
– Sutter’s Mill and the Gold Rush
– The impeachment of Andrew Johnson
– Abner Doubleday and the Cincinnati Red Stockings
– The Civil War
– John Brown raid on Harpers Ferry
– The Dred Scott Decision
– The Mexican–American War
– Tammany Hall and “Boss” Tweed
– The assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, and William McKinley
– The Lincoln-Douglas debates
– The Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act
– Sugar-Rum-Slave triad
– “Old Hickory” and his dismantling of the Second Bank of the United States, and paying off the National Debt
– The War of 1812 and the Battles of Tippecanoe and New Orleans
– The burning of the White House and Washington
– Lewis and Clark Expedition and the Louisiana Purchase
– Jefferson’s Democrat-Republicans vs. Hamilton’s Federalists.
– The founding of the District of Columbia and Pierre Charles L’Enfant
– The Whiskey Rebellion
– The significance of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights
– The Articles of Confederation
– Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold
– The Declaration of Independence
– The Revolutionary War, from Bunker Hill to Yorktown
– Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense”
– The effect of the British monarchy and taxation
– The French and Indian Wars
– American whaling and fishing industries
– Williamsburg, St. Augustine
– The Plymouth Colony and Compact
I guess these subjects are meaningless and carry no lessons of merit. Without such background, I seriously doubt students have an understanding of how our country was formed, struggled through hardships, and evolved. Without such knowledge, I do not believe students have a true appreciation for what our country is, our identity, why it must be defended, and will likely repeat the same mistakes. I realize math, science, and languages are important, but American history is vital for good government and citizenship.
Beyond this, I was stunned to learn “World History” was taught only beginning from World War I which was mind-boggling to me. What about Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, China and Japan, The Inquisition, The Wars of the Roses, The Magna Carta, Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Amerigo Vespucci, Christopher Columbus, Capt. James Cook, Galileo, Sir Isaac Newton, Napoleon Bonapart, Charles Darwin, Joan of Arc, Socrates, Confucius, etc.?
I guess this also meant nothing and I wasted my time learning about it.
We are raising a generation that is historically illiterate and have a very sketchy, thin knowledge of the system on which our entire civilization is based on. It is regrettable and dangerous. Historian David McCullough
And, No, Samuel Adams was not our second president.
Keep the Faith!
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The Beehive is proud to present once again a paper that comes from the weekly Masonic Newsletter of Brother Wayne Anderson of Canada. Anderson sends out a new article each Sunday and to get on the mailing list all one needs to do is to E-Mail him at email@example.com.
Leon Zeldis, an Israeli Freemasonry, is a towering figure in Masonic leadership and Masonic literature.
In this paper from the Inaugural Lecture pronounced on the establishment of the Dr. Ren 0 Gar0a Valenzuela Chair of Philosophical and Masonic Studies, Universidad La Repblica, Santiago, Chile, 12 September 1996 he tells us:
“As another millennium comes to an end, we observe the growing chasm between our ever accelerating technological progress and the immobility – if not backsliding – in the moral and intellectual development of the human race. We should not be surprised, then, if apocalyptic movements and fanatical cults appear here and there, with increasing frequency.”
Zeldis explains that what Freemasonry is all about, what its calling in the world is first:
“In my opinion, the first fundamental principle that sustains our institution, more important that charity, mutual help, tolerance, and all other virtues that we cultivate, is simply personal responsibility. Masonry gives us support, shows the way, stimulates us and tends us the symbolic tools to make our task easier, but in the final account, it’s ourselves who must wield the tools, each at his own pace, following his own music and way through life. That is personal responsibility.”
And secondly he adds:
“The second principle, no less important than the first, is the possibility of finding a common ground, of working together, involving collaboration and developing feelings of fraternal affection among persons with the most diverse backgrounds, with different social and ethnic origins, speaking diverse languages, belonging to different cultures, religions and political movements. Despite all these enormous differences, which Freemasonry recognizes and accepts, it still insists in demonstrating that there is a common level of humanity that binds us all, a joint yearning towards the far distant goal that makes us fellow travelers on the road to truth. Our ideal is capable of surmounting all inequalities.”
This is a monumental work and deserves to be read in its entirety.
Projection of the Values of Freemasonry in its Actions for the Benefit of Society
Leon Zeldis, FPS
If there is something in which the majority of contemporary thinkers are in agreement, is that we are experiencing a world crisis. As somebody said: “God is dead, communism has fallen, and I myself don’t feel so good.” From the sublime to the ridiculous in less than twenty words.
There is talk of a crisis of values, the end of ideology, the oil crisis, the ozone crisis, the AIDS crisis, the economic crisis. Sometimes it appears that the word crisis is in crisis because of overuse.
The fact is, whether a situation of crisis does exist or not, the sensation of crisis undoubtedly does, and this is almost the same thing.
It is not only anxiety due to uncertainty about the future. The malaise affecting us has deeper roots, and perhaps less conscious as well. The Angst of our time is comparable to the sensation of somebody who is sliding down a slope without being able to reduce his speed, or seeing what. lies behind the net hillock. Worse still, he doesn’t know why he is there in the first place. The “future shock” brilliantly predicted by a writer a few years ago is no longer in the future, but a daily reality. Knowledge acquired with great effort in the course of years becomes outdated in a matter of weeks. We have hardly finished learning a new computer program when another appears, better than the previous one… and different. The problems of work, in the family, in society, are becoming more severe. We are sick of novelties.
As another millennium comes to an end, we observe the growing chasm between our ever accelerating technological progress and the immobility – if not backsliding – in the moral and intellectual development of the human race. We should not be surprised, then, if apocalyptic movements and fanatical cults appear here and there, with increasing frequency.
To speak of the new Middle Ages has become hackneyed. Berdiaeff, the Russian philosopher, writing after World War 1, already gave this tide to one of his books. The death of God was proclaimed by Nietzsche over a century ago. So let us leave aside these shopworn concepts, and within the limited space we have available let us examine instead in what way we might alleviate our condition, even if perfect solutions are not within our reach.
Better light a candle than curse the darkness, says the old Chinese aphorism. This is precisely my intention. It could not be otherwise, taking into consideration the optimist and meliorist vision of the human condition implicit in our Masonic ideology.
Freemasonry proclaims the possibility of improving society, starting with the betterment of the individual. Hence the vital importance our Order assigns to education, as a means of advancement and rectification, both of the individual and of society as a whole. Education is the best medicine against prejudice and intolerance. Education is the highest form of charity.
However, education, commented Kraus, is something most people receive, many transmit, but very few have. The problem, as with so many other philosophical questions, lies in the definition of our terms. If education is conceived as simply a transfer of information, we shall fall into the condition observed by Trevelyan: a great many people know how to read, but are incapable of recognizing what is worth reading.
Condorcet, in 1790, clearly indicated the ends of public education, and the first objective he postulated is the following: “Offer all individuals of the human species the means to provide for their needs, ensure their welfare, know and exercise their rights, understand and fulfill their duties.” Please note: not a word about mere accumulation of knowledge. We could hardly improve on this definition, even today.
Nowadays, data is obtained with utmost ease. It’s enough to have access to a computer terminal, and the whole world of information is at your fingertips. If we suffer, it’s not because we lack information, but because we are overwhelmed by it. We have a surfeit of information. The importance of education is precisely the acquisition of a capacity to judge, to categorize, to personally classify and evaluate the quality of the information received, not only from the factual, but also from the ethical and teleological standpoints.
Particularly in our present world, submerged in a maelstrom of stimuli and distractions that pull us apart from the essential, where, as noted by Umberto Eco, the mass media do not restrict themselves to transmitting an ideology, but have become an ideology themselves, the spirit of serene and academic examination is a last refuge of the thinking man.
The university thus becomes the fortress of Humanism, the forum where all ideas are brandished and debated within the greatest freedom, restricted only by the freedom of others . That, likewise, is the function that must assume Masonry in its Temples, and that is only one parallel among many that link both institutions, University and Freemasonry.
This may be an opportune moment to underline the fact that Masonry, as a social and historical phenomenon, must be studied as part of the History of Ideas, and its philosophy, without question, belongs in the stream of philosophical ideas of Western civilization and is inseparable from it.
The same refreshing and humanistic impulse introduced in Europe during the Renaissance, that led to the study of the classics and brought about a rebirth of architecture, beginning with Bacon established the bases of the inductive and experimental method of scientific research that would eventually lead to the development of present day science. This creative impulse resulted in the foundation of the Royal Society of England in 1660, the first society devoted to scientific research, and on the other hand, it found expression in the creation of the premier Grand Lodge in London, on June 24, 1717. It need not surprise us to learn that many personalities in science and philosophy were active in creating the one and the other.
Putting together science and philosophy is not accidental. The roots of modern science lie in Renaissance philosophy — and Natural Philosophy was an early name for physical science.
Freemasonry is intimately connected with social changes and the development of ideas in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. No serious study of the beginnings of Speculative Masonry, for example, can ignore the role played in English society at the time by the important influx of Huguenots, fleeing France after the St. Bartholomew massacre. According to one author, the most important single English contributor to the Enlightenment was John Locke, who believed in religious toleration and was in almost unbroken contact with French-speaking Protestants from 1675 until his death in 1704. A Huguenot, John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683-1744) who was a scientist of note, had an important influence on the beginnings of English Freemasonry, serving as its third Grand Master (1719) and later as Deputy Grand Master for several years.
Likewise, a serious study of Masonic philosophy must address the Rosicrucian phenomenon in the 16th and 17th century, the development of the Hebrew Cabala and its Christian offshoot, the different semi-secret and semi-occult groups that flourished in Europe from the end of the Middle Ages until the Victorian age, from Dante Alighieri’s Fideli D’amore through Baron Tschoudy’s pseudo-Templars and down to the Golden Dawn created by Wynn Wescott and MacGregor Mathers in the last decades of the 19th century.
On the other hand, a study of European or Western philosophy that ignores Masonry is also incomplete. A writer of the stature of Lessing (called the first German playwright of importance) could author the “Masonic Dialogs”, and poets such as Kipling and Burns wrote many a Masonic poem, apart from the influence Masonic thought may have had on their work.
However, let us return to the theme proposed at the beginning of my talk. Having observed the prevailing malaise of our “global village” and having established the validity and placement of Masonic philosophy within an academic framework, we should focus now our attention on the principles of Masonry, on the one side, and in what way could they be applied in order to assuage, as far as possible, the existential anguish of contemporary man.
An objection could be advanced, that such study is pointless, because we would be guilty of hubris if we were to pretend that the discussions held within a Lodge or any other Masonic context could really affect the course of events in our society.
However, the pen is mightier than the sword. Men pass away, and their memory fades until only a distant reflection of their presence remains with us. But ideas stay forever, embodied in words capable of stirring our passions no less today than centuries ago.
And what are those ideas, transmitted by our Order, that we believe capable of improving the world? I can only graze the surface of our subject. I shall try, then, to summarize our Masonic teachings in two fundamental principles, like the two columns at the entrance to King Solomon’s Temple. These may not be the same ideas enunciated elsewhere by other Masonic authors, but I will ask you to bear with me for a moment.
In my opinion, the first fundamental principle that sustains our institution, more important that charity, mutual help, tolerance, and all other virtues that we cultivate, is simply personal responsibility. To Cain’s anguished question, resounding from century to century to our days, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” we give a ringing and unequivocal reply: ‘Yes, I am!”.
Let me explain a little further. We want to improve the world, but improving the world is a very complicated and difficult task, depending not only on us, but on many others, as well as on many circumstances that we are powerless to affect. On the other hand, our personal improvement, that depends only on our own resolve, it’s our decision and nobody else’s. Every human being is capable of polishing his imperfections, restraining his bad impulses, developing his positive inclinations, without requesting anybody’s permission, under any circumstances, in any place and time. If we want to, we can be better.
Masonry gives us support, shows the way, stimulates us and tends us the symbolic tools to make our task easier, but in the final account, it’s ourselves who must wield the tools, each at his own pace, following his own music and way through life. That is personal responsibility.
The second principle, no less important than the first, is the possibility of finding a common ground, of working together, involving collaboration and developing feelings of fraternal affection among persons with the most diverse backgrounds, with different social and ethnic origins, speaking diverse languages, belonging to different cultures, religions and political movements. Despite all these enormous differences, which Freemasonry recognizes and accepts, it still insists in demonstrating that there is a common level of humanity that binds us all, a joint yearning towards the far distant goal that makes us fellow travelers on the road to truth. Our ideal is capable of surmounting all inequalities.
Working together, we develop our sentiments of Fraternity and Charity, Tolerance and Assistance. This great principle, which we might call Fraternal Cohesion, the possibility of establishing and developing links of sincere friendship among all men, is perhaps our greatest contribution to society, so often riven by class, religion and politics, not to speak of prejudice and blind hatred.
Fraternal Cohesion finds expression both in the spiritual and the material realms. In the spiritual, by the instant effective communication that develops between Masons who have never met before, and may never meet again. No less important, it grows within us, and the assistance given to others miraculously creates within us a wealth of inner satisfaction and development. In the material, this principle finds expression in the many works of charity and social benefit undertaken by Masons institutionally and individually throughout the world, often under a veil of discretion.
The Mason is taught to give without causing offense to the less fortunate. This discretion has led to a situation where much of our charitable effort is ignored by the world at large, or attributed to other, non-Masonic sources. How many people know, for instance, that taken together, Masonic charities in the United States distribute over 3 million dollars every day, in a multitude of programs, from children’s hospitals to the study of mental disease? Not only hospitals, but libraries, universities, cultural institutions of every kind, benefit from our largesse.
The same could be said, guarding the proportions, of Masonry in many other countries. Looking back at the depressing picture of our present world, with which I started, we can see at once how Freemasonry can and does help, can and does make a difference.
Firstly, Masonry imposes upon us a discipline of thought, a philosophical posture that demands the rational examination of problems. Just as in Marcus Aurelius, the constant remembrance of the fragility of human existence pursues him without pause, and leads him to disdain the miseries of life, the Mason learns to face with serenity the tumultuous landscape of daily strife, the strident claims of the media, the hysterical demands of the merchants of ideologies. Silence is the best antidote against confusion.
Secondly, we face the future with optimism. This is an imponderable factor, but one that subtly infuses our way of looking at things and strengthens our will, sustaining a proactive rather than passive stance.
The external action of Freemasonry, of course, depends on local circumstances. Masons have fought for religious tolerance, universal education, the separation of church and state, the removal of social barriers of every kind.
Allow me now to say a few words about Freemasonry in Israel. As you will see, this has a direct bearing on the subject of our talk.
What characterizes Israeli Freemasonry, and has done so from its very early beginnings at the end of the last century, is its ethnic and cultural-diversity. Starting with the first Lodges, in Jaffa and Jerusalem, there have always been both Arabs and Jews working together, of all religious persuasions, speaking many languages, keeping alive the flame of fraternity even in the most trying circumstances.
Israel’s Masonry is composed of a majority of Jews, and a strong proportion of Christian and Muslim Arabs, much greater than their demographic weight in the total population. This pluralist tradition has withstood wars and terrorist attacks, strife and agony. Our Grand Lodge opens three Sacred Books on its altar: the Jewish Tanach, the Christian Bible, and the Koran. Three Grand Chaplains are equal in rank. The Grand Lodge Seal includes the cross, the crescent and the -Star of David within square and compasses.
Coming from Israel, I bring the direct and irrefutable testimony that Masonic ideals do work, and that they have proven their worth through scores of years of uninterrupted conflict.
This, however, is no isolated instance. We could give numerous examples taken from the history of other countries, the United States included. The enlightened and beneficial contribution of Freemasonry is felt in many forms, through the activities performed by Masons themselves, not only by the Institution as a whole.
As Professor Carvajal once remarked, the University doesn’t operate patients or build bridges, and Masonry does not intervene directly in the life of the country, but both institutions operate their effect through their graduates and individual members.
The influence of Freemasonry is not limited to what its members do themselves. The love of freedom, the lesson of tolerance towards others, learned in the course of Masonic activities, are inevitable reflected in the professional life of its members, their dealings with others, their way of life as a whole. The influence of their example spreads like ever widening waves and elicits favorable reactions in others, contributing to improve human relations, reduce extremism, control the passions. Whether a judge or an architect, a politician or a merchant, the influence of Freemasonry contributes to reinforce man’s natural impulse to do good, seek the truth, help others and avoid excess. I shall quote a few sentences from an article published in 1970 by Bro. Pedro Fernandez Riffo, entitled Masonry and Axiology, that will serve to illustrate our thesis.
After reviewing the different theories of values proposed by philosophers, and their connection with Masonry, the author writes as follows:
Freemasonry teaches us that the philosophical knowledge achieved must not remain, can not remain simply theoretical knowledge. Masonry demands action in social life. It is altogether a system of tasks.”
Philosophy, as well, invites to action, because to act is to live, and philosophy is embedded in life itself… Let us remember Ortega y Gasset, for whom human life is a manner of doing philosophy.
A related idea was briefly noted by Marcus Aurelius in one of his thoughts:
It’s not a matter of discoursing about what a good man must be, but of being one.
This, too, is Masonic philosophy. We trust in the actuality and effectiveness of our ideals. We trust in the possibility of improving ourselves, and thereby improving the society in which we live, and we work diligently, here and now, for the realization of our objectives.
Human beings desire perfection, strive to become better, and if we create the conditions that will enable them to develop all their capacities, there is no limit to what can still be achieved. Freemasonry, humanistic and meliorist, will stimulate, accompany and participate forever in the prodigious saga of human progress.
The Iberian Center for Masonic Studies, in Madrid Spain, issues a call for papers to be presented at the First International Competition of Masonic Essay – CIEM
Centro Ibérico de Estudios Masónicos
The Iberian Center for Masonic Studies (CIEM) calls all Spanish, Portuguese, English and French speaking masons to participate in the First International Competition of Masonic Essay, which will take place in 2013.
The aim of this competition is to promote the investigation of the following themes:
The historical development of the Masonic Order;
The intrinsic values of Freemasonry;
The defense and preservation of our patrimony.
The competition is open to all Masons, without distinction.
The official languages of the competition are Spanish, Portuguese, English and French.
The essays presented must be unpublished and three printed copies are to be sent, double-spaced, typed in 12-point Times Font, in letter-sized sheets. Also, the electronic file must be enclosed in a compact disc.
The essays should not exceed 10.000 words.
The essays should begin on the second page. This page and all the following should not contain information susceptible of identifying the author.
The essays should appear undersigned with a pseudonym, enclosing, in another envelope, a card containing the name, address, telephone number and e-mail address of the author. The envelope will bear the chosen pseudonym. The originals presented will not be returned.
The bibliography should be enclosed as an annex with the essay.
The authors should include a certificate drawn up by the Secretary of their Lodge, attesting to their affiliation and membership to a Masonic Jurisdiction.
The essays should be sent to the following address: Centro Ibérico de Estudios Masónicos (CIEM), Apartado de correos 6.203, 28080 – Madrid (Spain) or via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for presenting essays is the 1st of December, 2013.
The prize will be communicated on the 22nd of December, 2013.
The jury, made up by Master Masons, will award a first and only prize consisting of a diploma proving their condition as the winner of the competition, as well as the amount of 250 Euros.
The jury may, in the case of it being justified by the quality and interest of other essays, concede an access it or declare the prize void if the essays do not meet the required quality standards.
The essays chosen will be published in the web site www.cienmas.org and transmitted, electronically as well as in print, to the Grand Lodges and the main Masonic institutions.
For further information, contact the Secretariat of the Competition at the following e-mail address: email@example.com or by post to the Centro Ibérico de Estudios Masónicos (Iberian Centre for Masonic Studies) CIEM, International Competition of Essay, Apartado de correos 6.203, 28080 – Madrid (España)
African American Freemasonry In The State Of New York 1812-2012
By Ezekiel M.Bey
A Review by: Wor. Bro. Frederic L. Milliken
Talented Prince Hall Masonic authors and writers are not as plentiful as grapes on the vine. So when one comes along we need to take notice and pay close attention to his works. Such a man is Ezekiel M. Bey whose latest book is “The Hour Glass, African American Freemasonry In The State Of New York 1812-2012.”The Hour Glass records the sands of time in the life of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, the great men therein who shaped the world to come and the part Bey has played and continues to play in the development of Prince Hall Freemasonry in New York and the nation.
Ezekiel Bey is a writer, a Historian and a poet all rolled into one. He combines that unusual dual talent of being a great researcher and historian and a great writer at the same time. Bey is no esoteric closet intellectual, however. He is a Past Master and has served on the Grand Lodge Committee on Works & Lecture, the Committee on Masonic Education where he spent some time as Secretary and the office of Grand Historian from 2006-20011. He is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and has spent 10 years on its Commission on Bogus Masonry much of that time as its Deputy Director. At the same time he has served as editor in chief of his Grand Lodge’s publication, The Sentinel until 2008.
One of Bey’s pride and joys is the nationwide E-Group Blue Lite which he founded. A Prince Hall discussion and educational undertaking it has blossomed into one of the most active gatherings of Masons on the Internet. Recently he has added the Prince Hall Research & Information site Blue- Lite.com.
Ezekiel M. Bey
Ezekiel Bey has paid his dues. Now all that blood, sweat and tears – that hard work and dedication and honing of skills – has culminated in a fascinating work of Masonic history, The Hour Glass.
The Hour Glass begins where every other Prince Hall Masonic book doesn’t, with the Haitian Revolution, the revolt of African American slaves from 1791-1804. The connection here is by way of Freemason Jean Pierre Boyer who was to become the second President of Haiti. Sometime during this conflict when the US and France were fighting the Franco-American War he, and all the others on his French vessel, was captured by the American war ship Trumball and brought back to Connecticut as a prisoner of war. Discovering him to be a Mason they gave him a modem of freedom and then sent him to Pennsylvania where he was ultimately set free. Boyer who attended some Lodges while he was in Pennsylvania seems to have had a profound effect on all he came in contact with as New York’s first African American Lodge, African Lodge #459 New York chartered by African Lodge #459 Boston in 1812 soon changed its name to Boyer Lodge #1. After assuming the Presidency of Haiti Boyer welcomed a migration of freed Black Americans to his country.
Bey then takes us through the Underground Railroad and the part that early New York African American Freemasons played in that historical time after which there is a detailed account of the false information that the first African American Grand Lodge in New York was Boyer Grand Lodge supposedly formed in 1845. Upon due research Bey confirms that the first African American Grand Lodge in New York was The United Grand Lodge of the State of New York formed in 1848 which later changed its name to The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the State of New York.
Next comes the painful experience of the National Grand Lodge or Compact as it was called. It was extremely stressful for New York as the United Grand Lodge of the State of New York never joined the Compact and its failure to do so resulted in the Compact attempting to expel the United Grand Lodge. Within Prince Hall Freemasonry the whole National Grand Lodge episode is a sore that will not heal. Remnants of the National Compact remain today but they are clandestine as many would say they always have been. While Mainstream Masonry also flirted with a National Grand Lodge at the same time it never pulled the trigger. Bey has contended that the whole National venture was illegal and he takes the reader through the steps of how this all came about. The documentation he provides on the history of New York African American Freemasonry at this time and New York’s involvement with the Compact is outstanding. Any historian who would like to have a better understanding of this issue should refer to The Hour Glass.
What follows is a wealth of information on clandestine African American Freemasonry in New York. Bey takes us through the Committee on Clandestine Masonry and The Legal Committee reports at Grand Lodge Sessions 1954-1969. We learn who the players are, the measures taken by the MWPHGLNY to combat bogus Freemasonry and even about a court case filed against two bogus New York Masonic Grand Lodges.
From the 1962 report of the Legal Committee to the Grand Lodge:
Litigation was commenced against two of these spurious organizations in New York State about three years ago. In November of 1961, there was a trial involving your Grand Lodge and one of these spurious organizations. In January of this year, injunctive relief was secured against this organization known as the Supreme Council of the United States of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the 33rd and Last Degree A.A. Scottish Rite. This was the first case of its kind in the State of New York, in which injunctive relief was granted to a Masonic organization, giving it the right to put the spurious organization out of business. Moreover, the decision specifically stated that Prince Hall Masonry was legitimate and that it had a prior or better right to practice Masonry as against the organization which was enjoined. Your Legal Committee reports that this organization is now out of business.
Bey has continued in the footsteps of Harry A Williamson and Joseph Walkes in association with the Phylaxis Society in educating the Craft and those seeking membership about the evils of Bogus Freemasonry. This remains a continuing battle against ignorance. The Hour Glass exposes each and every one of these clandestine organizations, names names, dates and places, for all to see.
No story would be complete without heroes. Bey, in addition to his mentor Joseph Walkes, chronicles the lives and contributions to Prince Hall Freemasonry of RW Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, Harry A Williamson and S. David Bailey.
Schomburg, a native of Puerto Rico, was a promoter of Spanish speaking Lodges within Prince Hall New York. He was a researcher, historian, writer and accumulator of many Masonic books and manuscripts. In 1911 with John A. Bruce he formed the Negro Society for Research. Schomburg was elected Grand Secretary in 1918 and served in that position through 1926.
Bey tells us:
Schomburg saved every bit of information that he could get his hands on and built an archive in which he donated to public libraries. He is the reason that today Freemasonry and the black struggle in America have a huge section in the New York City Public Library in Harlem. This spirit of saving information for our future influenced his good friend and Brother, R.W. Harry A. Williamson, Grand Historian of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York. It was Arthur Schomburg who encouraged Williamson to place his collection of over 800 books, manuscripts, photographs, periodicals, pamphlets, and scrapbooks in the N.Y.C. Public Library’s Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints.
By the year 1925, Schomburg had acquired over 5,000 books, pamphlets, manuscripts, etchings and many other items. When the Division of Negro Literature opened in the New York City Public Library on 135th Street in Harlem, Schomburg sold his collection for $10,000 to the Carnegie Corporation to be placed in the new library. Schomburg later became curator for the library in 1932 in the Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints. In memory of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, the New York City Public Library in Harlem was renamed in 1973, “The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture”.
Another giant of Prince Hall New York that Bey writes about was Harry A Williamson. Grand Historian from 1911 through 1924 Williamson held many Grand Lodge offices including Senior Grand Warden and Deputy Grand Master and chaired many Grand Lodge Committees. He was a prolific writer and was an early crusader against Bogus Freemasonry in the state of New York.
The third legend from Prince Hall New York was S. David Bailey an accomplished jazz percussionist. Bey tells us that he had:
collaborations with most of the Ellington Alumni, such as Mercer Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Ben Webster, “Shorty” Baker, and Al Sears. David Bailey also played with Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Bob Brookmeyer, Miles Davis, Chris Conner, Billie Holiday, Marian McPartland, Lucky Thompson, Lena Horn, Harry Bellefonte and the Gerry Mulligan Band(s) for 13 years until 1968 when he left to join the newly formed “Jazztet” featuring Art Farmer, Benny Golson,
But Bailey had another love – flying. Again we learn from Bey:
From 1968 to 1973, David worked with famed criminal attorney F. Lee Bailey as Vice President of Marshfield Aviation in Marshfield Airport, Massachusetts, 20 miles south of Boston. As Chief Pilot and flight instructor, and the attorney’s personal pilot, David flew the business Learjet in and out of Logan International Airport in Boston. Dave was also a Designated Pilot Examiner for the FAA in Boston as he was in New York. David enjoyed a good professional relationship and warm friendship with F. Lee Bailey.
But in a strange twist of career paths Bailey returned to his first love when he became Executive Director of Jazzmobile.
In Prince Hall Freemasonry Bailey became a District Deputy and his efforts in Masonic Instruction and Masonic Education became renowned. He headed up the first Grand Lodge Committee on Education and now 86 years old he can look back upon an illustrious Masonic career of 60 years.
It is difficult to know where you are going unless you know where you have been. The Hour Glass will prove to be a most valuable work for Prince Hall New York Masons to remember where they have been and to honor and treasure the memories of those who have gone before them.
It is vitally imperative that within the Craft records and archives are kept to show a clear path of what Freemasonry has stood for and what it has withstood throughout its history. Ezekiel Bey has been meticulous and detailed in his research for this book. The Hour Glass is both interesting and informative.
Not shy in expressing himself, Bey writes with a passion that jumps out at you from the pages of his book. His love for the Craft comes through loud and clear.
Moreover, Bey blazes a trail that other Prince Hall Grand Lodges should take. A chronicling of the history of any Grand Lodge casts in stone what defines that Masonic community and it is by such a work as this that a Grand Lodge can tackle the future with a mission statement in hand.
This is a monumental work that will be on every library shelf and in many a Mason’s bookcase. It should be in yours also.
This grand overview is presented by Dr. John S. Wade, PM and W.M. of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, which meets under the United Grand Lodge of England. It covers the past, present, and future of the the Lodge of the Four Crowned Ones, and its links to Masonic scholarship and academia today.
Quatuor Coronati was founded in 1884 by nine Brethren to take an evidence-based approach to the study of Masonic history and research which was to replace the imaginative scholarship of earlier authors about the history of Freemasonry. This style of research would come to be called the ‘authentic school’ of Masonic research.
What is “Masonic Intercourse” many Masons ask? The definition can mean many things and different authors have given their opinion as to the actual purpose of having it in our rituals.
In The Meaning of Masonic Obligation, PGM R.V. Harris of Nova Scotia defines Masonic Intercourse as, “…to refrain from Masonic Intercourse with outsiders, and with irregular Freemasons and to discountenance all irregularities and immoralities.” Well, this is still not clear enough to define or determine its meaning. The web-site, “The Beacon Light of Freemasonry”, gives another definition which states, “Masonic communication, or as it is alternately called, Masonic Intercourse, involves any type of communication involving sharing the secrets of masonry. Primarily, that is sitting in a tyled lodge session, which is any type of Masonic meeting where the general public is NOT allowed, or where the qualification for attendance is being a Mason.”
The truth is that we must clearly and truly understand the difference in what we call “Masonry” vs. what some want to create out of it. There are two forms of Masonic Intercourse. There is the verbal (exoteric) which we are aware of, but many are not aware of non-verbal (esoteric) communication. The verbal is common understanding, as we would clearly understand that if you communicate with a clandestine (Bogus) Mason about the modes of recognition like passwords, grips and signs, you are in strict violation of your obligation. You can communicate verbally limited aspect of esoteric messages via words, but not many are Masonically educated enough to reach that level. Now, what we fail to realize that there is such a thing as non-verbal communication (esoteric). This is where some lose sight of the meaning of communication. Non-Verbal communication is a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, behavior, dress or gathering. It is to be in sync with one another for a common goal. It is like a tuxedo ball. Everyone is in sync until someone enters with jeans and sneakers. As the jeans and sneaker guest walks in, a communication automatically is transmitted via a non-verbal transmission. He is automatically out of place due to his appearance. Non-Verbal communication does not always reveal a negative existence and is hidden in its esoteric engagement. When we do not realize we are communicating or engaged in communication, we are blind of the effects it can cause. Masonic Intercourse is an exchange of verbal and non-verbal communication between parties whether you are communicating with legal Masons or not. Being invited to, accepting and attending in your Masonic regalia at a function such as an official Divine Service or St. John’s Day from a so-called Masonic group that is clandestine and irregular is Masonic Intercourse.
In Prince Hall Masonry, we have functions that we consider Masonic in nature that are called, “Divine Services, Prince Hall Day, and St. John’s Day” to name a few. In these events, we are clothed in formal Masonic regalia. We do so in reverence to our founder “Brother Prince Hall” and to reflect the struggles this organization has gone through and how we have evolved throughout two centuries. Most importantly, when our leadership is clothed in Masonic attire, we are representing the craft. When your Grand Master or his representative at anytime wears his jewel and apron, he is representing “Grand Lodge”. It is an official act. This is a form of “communication or communicating”. Communicating in the above fashion is clearly Masonic in nature as we are dressed in the order of business for the purpose of an official Masonic gathering. It is Masonic intercourse. In the above events, we must clearly recognize a few things.
Although no modes of recognition are displayed, through the very act of presenting ourselves in full regalia, we are communicating to each other the respect of accepting each other as equal (i.e. a Peer).
Although non-Masons are allowed, it is a form of education to advocate unity, love and admiration to one another within the fraternity. However, if a clandestine Mason (Bogus) is dressed the same, our act of acceptance is considered “irregular”, and that is only if we accept them as peers.
We are a distinct organization different from college fraternities, social organizations, political parties and most important, the average citizen.
Because of the struggles, of our path finder within this organization, we agreed to follow our progenitor’s path.
Lastly because of our rich history and knowing who we are and where we came from, that we will not devalue our institution by sympathizing and recognizing what our ritual and constitutions recognize as clandestine and irregular. That is, so-called Masons that belong to groups that cannot prove that they came from a competent Grand Body that empowered them to work.
Let us investigate what is “Clandestine”? Macoy’s Encyclopedia describes clandestine Lodges as “Lodges which have been formed by avaricious Freemasons, who take money from those people who have no idea of the difference between warranted Regularly Constituted Grand Lodge and one that is not regularly constituted.” History demonstrates that many of the bodies that call themselves Masonic in African American communities, were organizations established by suspended or expelled Masons. Why are we today placing our guards down against groups that have not come via the same regular or similar way as those who are known to be regular?
Their threat to legitimate Prince Hall Freemasonry is threefold:
They deprive our lodges of potential good recruits, and deprive those men of the opportunity to become genuine Masons;
Many of them bring Masonry into disrepute in the eyes of the general public by conducting degree mills for profit; and
Their very existence, and often their conduct, cause confusion among those mainstream Masons who assume that all Blacks calling themselves Masons are of Prince Hall Affiliation, and also among some Prince Hall Affiliated Masons who are tempted to place racial solidarity ahead of legitimacy of origin and global Masonic acceptance.
This is not to say that Prince Hall Grand Lodges do not have their problems, however, here in New York, we have a record within our proceedings and recorded transactions via committees that show the complications we have had in our state, due to Bogus and Clandestine Masonry.
Let us get back to “Masonic Intercourse” as this is our main focus and in truth really define the crux of the matter. In true Universal Freemasonry the pigment of a man’s skin has never been a signature of regularity, nor gives him the same rights as a member of a legally established Masonic Fraternity. However, in the history of Freemasonry in the United States, the concept of race has reared its ugly head and, has been a barrier to the acceptance of men of color, in particular “Prince Hall Masons”. Nothing is more sensitive than a subject that touches on racial lines especially when speaking of our own community. We must not confuse our various relationships and associations with individuals, social clubs, political organizations, college fraternities, or churches, to name a few, with Universal Freemasonry. Often times we believe that anything that looks like us are us. This is not always true. In my opinion, we do a severe disservice to ourselves and our organization by communicating with Bogus Masons in the act of accepting them as our peers by being fully regaled in Masonic gatherings that we hold dear to our organization. There is nothing wrong in educating them of history and our organization, as many of them are good timber and practice Masonry in their hearts, but we must understand that there is a difference between “Masonry and Freemasonry”. Freemasonry is the institution and it has specific rules found in our Constitution and Masonry is the original nature of the Universe.
We do not realize that the moment you enter a gathering in your esoteric garb known as gloves, apron, and jewels with a clandestine Mason, you have just committed Masonic Intercourse whether you initiated it or not.
Some of these so-called Grand Lodges are considered “Spurious” in nature, because spurious can be considered bodies of illegitimate birth, outwardly similar or corresponding to something without having its genuine qualities. It is a so-called Masonic entity that falsifies or erroneously attributes its origin to some non-existing Masonic source. It is deceitful in nature. Remember, if a thing is false, it cannot be a fact in its representation. The only fact is that a spurious Lodge is a false Masonic body. The word “spurious” was used in England as far back as 1824 when they considered lodge No. 557 spurious. This spurious Lodge met at an inn called, “The White Bear” and thereafter “The Royal Hotel”. Many who are spurious or even part of a spurious body do not know the origin of his Grand Lodge/Lodge, and are hoodwinked with false pretense that he has joined a respectful organization thinking that its main objective and cause is for the upliftment of humanity, never noticing fraud or deceit. Many good Men have been sucked into these organizations by way of ignorance. They, along with clandestine and irregular bodies, have often used the false history of Masonry and in particular the history of Prince Hall Freemasonry. They have used the mud throwing of calling us paupers of charters, beggars of recognition, and even calling Prince Hall Masons racist of their own kind, not knowing that although an organization with a make-up of predominately men of color, we have hundreds of white Brothers in our ranks.
On June 6, 1956, M.:W.: G.M. L Ernest DuBois in his address under Clandestine Masonry went on record as per the minutes of the 111th Annual Grand Communication:
“As like the two (2) previous subjects, this too has received a considerable amount of attention, not only in this jurisdiction, but throughout the Country by White and Negro Masons alike.
Our White Brethren have seen and read enough about Prince Hall masonry to the extent that they are fairly well convinced of our legitimacy and while they do not accept us as a group, they do, to a great extent, accept us as individual Masons, and as a whole do not consider us a threat to the Masonic Institution, just so long as we do not conduct ourselves and our activities in such a manner that it will bring reproach upon the Masonic Fraternity. This is an indication, in my opinion, based upon conversations with a few of our outstanding White Brethren that like integration, recognition by this group is on the way, but do not get the impression from these remarks that, like prosperity many years ago, it is just around the corner. This is far from the case, but there is a great interest in this subject on the part of our White Brethren and I hope and pray that if and when such recognition is accorded all Prince Hall Masons, we will be ready to accept it and will be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with Brother Masons throughout the World. Much depends upon the manner in which we conduct our affairs and the interest we take in, not only our Lodges, but our share of the community responsibilities.
“Several months ago your Grand Master addressed a communication to Grand Master Amos T. Hall of Oklahoma, and the President of the Grand Master’s Conference, in which was suggested that a committee composed of representatives of the Grand Master’s Conference, together with representatives of the Concordant Bodies, and the Shrine, convene for the purpose of discussing the subject of clandestine Masonry and suggest ways and means by which this great evil might be over-come. Several Jurisdictions have taken these groups into court and decisions in favor of the Prince Hall Jurisdictions have been handed down, but at a great expense financially. It was in my mind that if a concerted effort could be made, sponsored by the Grand Lodges and National organizations, a much more effective job might be done and in a much shorter space of time. In due time Grand Master Hall answered my communication and informed me that he appreciated the suggestions and would discuss it further at the Grand Master’s Conference.”
“While attending the conference the week of May 20th, Brother Hall informed me that about the same time he received my communication, he was the recipient of a like communication from the Sovereign Grand Commander, II. George W. Crawford, inviting him to come to the City of Philadelphia prior to the Supreme Council Session to discuss this matter with him and his officers.”
“It gives me pleasure to report to this M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge that definite steps have been taken in this direction. The Officers of the Supreme Council, together with the Imperial Council of the Shrine, have pledged their support to the Grand Master’s Conference to assist in combating clandestine Masonry. President Hall has been empowered by the Conference members to select a committee to work with the aforementioned groups for the purpose of study; the securing of data relative to clandestine masonry and in due time make recommendations as to how best to handle the situation. This, I believe, is a step in the right direction- at least a more concrete step than ever taken before and another indication that the entire Prince Hall Family is going to pull together toward one end. And I am just conceited enough to feel that New York State has had a small part in a great undertaking.”
I believe that our Brothers of the past had a better understanding of what was happening around them and focused on the good of the organization. Today, we have leadership who accepts Bogus Masons as their peers and recognize them as Masons only because the majority look like Prince Hall Masons in complexion, wear Masonic paraphernalia, meet in buildings labeled “Masonic Temple” or hold Masonic titles. Is this a good and wise reason we should accept and embrace these organizations as “Masonic”?
In my article, “Education For A People Unaware”, I stated:
“Regularity is a big question for most. Many have no clue what it really means. In the search for truth, we must investigate all the parameters that make up the substance of that which is to be considered for evaluation. Certain standards must be used for guidelines in which to measure against the intended interest of one’s choice, whether it’s an object or viewpoint. Freemasonry has been established centuries ago by Ancient Landmarks, Ancient Charges, Constitutions, and many unwritten laws. Taking basic attributes that make up regularity such as establishing Lodges from a “competent jurisdiction empowering it to work”, or abiding by the ancient charges in which most follow Anderson’s Constitution, you will see that many Lodges or Grand Lodges which erected them-selves illegally did not follow these basic rules. Lodges in order to be regular must have been established by a regular Grand Lodge. It must be truly independent and self-governing with undisputed authority over Craft Masonry. Freemasons under its jurisdiction must be Men having no Masonic Intercourse with Lodges, which admit Women or Clandestine Masons. You must believe in a Supreme Being, and take the obligation over a Volume of Sacred Laws. The three great lights must be displayed with the Square and Compasses, and finally to follow the tenets of Freemasonry to name a few.”
Most rituals of the day have some clause or state that you will not be at the in****, pas**** or rai**** of a clandestine Mason, so why are we going to joint events in our Masonic dress with individual that you are prohibited from witnessing their in****, pas**** and rai****? How can I be obligated to not be present at their initiation and advancement, but recognize them by being in function with our esoteric clothing representing Masonry? I do not know one man that can dress up as a Police Officer and think he can arrest crooks just because he has a police uniform, gun and badge and impersonates a cop. You can save hundreds of lives by impersonating a Doctor and practicing medicine without a license does not make you a physician. Making a certificate or degree on your computer does not mean you have a Masters like the many so-called charters that bogus Masons produce. Some even get a charter from the state and confuse the public and regular Masons as if a state charter is equal to a Masonic one.
In Massachusetts in 1903, a decision was made about John G. Jones, an attorney in Illinois and member of the MWPHGL of Illinois after his expulsion that:
The MWPHGL of The State of Massachusetts, does not and will not affiliate with or in any way recognize Masonically, any person affiliating with, recognizing or in any way having Masonic Intercourse with John G. Jones, recently expelled from Masonry by the MWPHGL of Illinois, or with those with whom he is in affiliation.” This was signed by GM William H. Jackson, and attested by Benjamin C. Hazel, Grand Secretary”.
In New York, In accordance with the foregoing communication, Most Worshipful Edward V.C. Eato at the time Grand Master of the MWPHGL of New York issued an edict warning the Lodges and their members not to have any Masonic Intercourse with Jones or his representatives under pain of punishment for contumacy.
Here is one example of a Prince Hall Mason being expelled from Masonry and today, the Grand Lodges that he created and their splinter groups have disguised themselves as legitimate bodies. Why are some of our leadership engage in fellowshipping instead of educating these groups of their origin?
On June 9, 1961 (116th Annual Grand Communication) Report by the Committee on Clandestine Masonry.
“As secretary of the Committee on Clandestine Masonry, I wish to make the following report: A Bogus Mason is a Bogus Mason. Perhaps a ‘faker’ is more appropriate term. For generations particularly during the second half of the nineteenth century deceptions, hoaxes, and ruses have been prostituted upon Men of Color in the fair name of legitimate Freemasonry. These would be Masons, or better styled, Masonic pirates, have worked there will of misbrands as they see fit, not recognizing the fact nor caring to that an entire race of people were being victimized, retarded and delimited, and very much so.”
“Some perpetrators may indulge in this fraudulent practice for the pure enchantment and needed treat it affords, others, for the monetary gains, power and self-esteem, it would rightly offer. Whatever the reason, it effects perversion and confusion. Masonry among Men of Color is made impure and the defiled stream reeks with a regurgitating stench of impurities and foreign bodies.”
“To be sure, deception and hoaxes have prevailed in the character of men from earliest times. It would seem to be innate within the personality of some. “Skim milk masquerades as cream,” and someone or some group is the unwitting recipient. The Old Testament tells the story of Jacob’s calculated deception, and also his dupe, to which he in turn was subjected (Genesis: chapter 27-29). From Homer, various Greek plays, medieval romances, and the deceived appear. Ellery Queen’s famous mysteries not to be excluded.”
“It should be perfectly clear in the mind as a consequence why some Negroes have entered and prospered in the business of bogus Masonry and why some individuals are ready made dupes of same: the cultural gap, lack of education and appreciative understanding, and the complexities surrounding a myriad of problems, also, imposed restraints moreover, encourage such malpractices. Such is the position of the American Negro and his continued role in Freemasonry, in a new decade, dedicated to Human Rights and the Betterment of Humankind.”
“At our 113th Grand Communication (1958), recognizing an indisputable “urgent need,” Grand Lodge did empower a special committee, the expressed purpose of which was to reduce and totally eliminate clandestine bodies and their fragments.”
“The first concern or object of this Committee was to identify the field. This having been done, it became necessary to determine believable procedure targeted to eliminate bogus bodies operating within our Grand Jurisdiction. Realizing that a Masonic millennium among “Men of Color” would not occur overnight, we took the immediate as well as the long view of our mandate. All objective evaluation of the prevailing situation leads us to believe that we had a long, tedious, and perhaps costly fight on our hands. This and all else, in order to rid Negro Masonry of this blight, and prevent future defiling of the pure stream.”
“A comprehensive and imaginative program was subsequently developed and formulated. In this fight, the Committee was firmly convinced that, every permissible tool in any permissible way should be used to advance our interest.”
“In the process of shoring up our court case, and future cases notwithstanding, a large amount of basic research became readily apparent. At first, we may have been under some form of self-delusion, as relative to our so-called secure position. However, we were abruptly confronted with bald reality as we attempted to olympicly wade through seven “examinations before trial.” What primary evidence we lacked, what points we were completely uneducated upon, were enough to give us pause. Nonetheless, at this time, we can report that our position has been advanced.”
“In conclusion, I wish to affirm the fact that, The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York must commit the full strength of its great capacity, in order to realize its object. The full energy and vitality of the Craft is imperative. It is hoped that at the 117th Grand Communication, we can report that everything is in progress.”
Harold A. Wilson, Secretary
Committee on Clandestine Masonry
There will be more information when I complete my book, Bogus Masonic Outfits, The Danger to Prince Hall Masonry.
Tobias Churton is a prolific Masonic author and one I’ve come to hold in high esteem. For many, he may not be a regular household name as his work (and residence) come from abroad in the U.K. and in an dense American marketplace of books, his work is less well known here. Nevertheless, its importance is megalithic which is very much evident in his re-released book Freemasonry – The Reality.
Churton is not just a Freemason writing on the fraternity, he also happens to be a scholar and professor at Exeter university, Lecturer in Freemasonry and Rosicrucian’s at the Center for the Study of Western Esotericism. Churton’s published works span the breadth of western mystery traditions encompassing the early Gnostics, Rosicrucian’s, and Freemasons, which pull together many of the offshoots and ideas that went into the composition of the groups today. Churton’s work however is less about dazzling aggrandizement of a mysterious past, focusing instead on the known and with a meticulous hand, reconstructing the holes of the fraternities formation.
In Freemasonry – The Reality, Churton leaves no stone unturned and with his meticulous hand reconstructs the modern day mystery tradition from its most extreme foundational stones buried in the footnotes of history, following each loose thread back into the whole garment of the present day craft. But in this work he also refuses to hold back any punches in his analysis that our present manifestation of the craft is every bit a result of our manufactured past, from the clever arrangement of James Anderson and the constitutions of 1720 and the marrying of the “Speculative” with the “Operative” tracing back the foundation of Masonries earliest of ideas to the early Renaissance work of author Pico Mirandola and the Oration on the Dignity of Man.
One aspect that stood out to me in crisp detail was the way in which Churton pulls together in several seemingly unrelated bits of history and finds their common connection that brings them into a coherent theme. From early meeting notes, names on a register, royal archives on the guilds, and diary mentions, each of these bread crumbs become the framework by which he assembles the whole work. By digging deep into symbols that at one time held great significance, and in his work he re-illuminates them so as to demystify and put them back into a proper perspective. Case in point, the pentagram, reminding the reader of the earlier Masonic appellation (under Robert Moray) to represent AGAPA (or the Greek word agapein), or love, a geometric perfection.
In the end, the work is extensive and covers thoroughly the origins of Freemasonry and delves specifically (as the name implies) into the reality of the its formation and pre-history. It is not an easy read, or to be taken casually. Rather Churton’s work is something to be savored and consumed slowly and with great thought, because every page is a sequential feast of Masonic history waiting to be consumed.
One of the mistakes made in Masonry by our grandfathers and great grandfathers was to never answer the critics of the Craft. Turn the other cheek and keep your mouth shut was the motto of many who came before us.
But this was a serious mistake because it only led the majority of the public watching and listening on the sidelines to think that perhaps there was some truth to the outlandish claims made by the loudmouth detractors of Masonry. After all if the claims against Masonry were false why would Masons allow them to be repeated over and over again without refutation? Unfortunately this line of reasoning has lead to the acceptance of many false doctrines.
Perhaps our forebears were reacting and influenced by the stories told about the Morgan Affair. If you are not familiar with the full story of this tumultuous time in Masonic history I would recommend “From Batavia To Baltimore” by Stephen Dafoein Volume 15 of the Heredom publication of The Scottish Rite Research Society. To our merit the Mason of today will be much less tight lipped. He will not allow the profane to get away with lies and slander.
The Pursuit of Truth can be a sticky and nasty affair. While you have what you think is a portion of the truth others will tell you that you are wrong and that they have not only the correct path but also the correct version of the facts that led them there. Which is all well and good for nobody possesses the whole truth, nobody is perfect and nobody is without fault. When the police interview eyewitnesses to a crime scene they often times get slightly different versions from each person. That’s because we don’t always see things and interpret things in the same manner with the same result. But some of the true believers believe that they can bully their way into winning the debate. The scream and yell and employ many an Ad Hominem argument. That causes the timid to keep it to themselves and the heartier to be very wary of stepping on the bully’s toes.
The very fact that we are Masons should put us into a constant search mode. We are by nature a society that is constantly in the pursuit of Truth. We refuse to lead lives as cowards, fools, non-thinkers or libertines. And that’s as it should be. For what is a Mason, what has he got, if not a vision and a mission then he has naught. As we as Masons empower our vision into a mission we often times come in conflict with those inside and outside the Craft. And when that happens it is important to remember also that how we handle ourselves is also another measure of a man as a Mason. For Masonry teaches us to be kind, well-mannered, soft spoken, tolerant and a gentleman in all things.
Lest anyone interpret my silence at my recent scolding and dressing down as acceptance of the Truth the way the other fellow sees it, rest assured I have only been trying to practice the virtues of being a Mason. And I take great solace in the words of Manly P. Hall.
“The situation, should remind Freemasons that they have something to live for…….We have the power to build worlds, the wisdom to govern them, and the divine right to inherit the earth and preserve it in good condition in order to pass it on to our descendants as a place of happiness, usefulness and security for thousands of years to come. We are not asking for treason or disobedience, only…….that in every way possible, when they have the choice, stand for truth, and, if necessary, take a little punishment for it.”