THERE are but few Masonic historians in America. For the one thing, original
material is scarce and opportunities for study along productive lines are few. The ordinary chronicles of Lodges and Grand Lodges are, of course, not to be counted as serious historical work. It is necessary and valuable labor, but it throws no great amount of light on things and times obscure. Then, again, a peculiar type of man is required for historical work worthy of the name. He must have the resources both of scholarship and of native ability. He must have an absorbing love for research, an almost infinite patience, and an analytical faculty denied to most. And then, as Masonry goes in America, he must have abundant private means or the steadfast backing of a rich Grand Lodge or other body.
Were we asked to give first place among those who in
jurisdictions of the United States have devoted themselves
to Masonic historical work, the choice would fall at once, and
most likely by common consent, upon Brother Julius F.
Sachse, Grand Lodge Librarian of Pennsylvania.
Sachse has all the essential qualities enumerated above. He
possesses likewise the training which comes of years of
such work, and an enthusiasm proof against all
disappointments and discouragements. For the rest, he has
a rich field in which to glean - that of the Grand Lodge of
Pennsylvania. Whatever can be gathered there is of interest
to every American Mason, as added light is cast thereby
upon Craft beginnings in what is now the United States.
On April 29, 1911, the Masonic Veterans of Pennsylvania, having
as their guests Masonic Veteran associations from all over
the country, met at Philadelphia for a three days' session.
Before these assembled and singularly informed Masons
Bro. Sachse delivered an address, which we are here permitted
to give in full. It will be found replete with information.
- EDITOR, The AMERICAN FREEMASON.
Note: The illustrations which accompany this text are not directly related to the subject matter, but show the various meeting places of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in its early development.
It is meet and right that you should meet here in Philadelphia
- the City of Brotherly Love - the mother City of Freemasonry
in the western world. We may well say, Masonically
speaking, that this is holy ground. Here within the bounds of
the old city proper, the first altar was erected in the new
hemisphere, upon which rested our Great Lights, within the
well-tiled portals of the Masonic Lodge. The Brethren were few in number at that early day.
It was at the beginning of the eighteenth century, when the
several brethren who had been made abroad, and now living
in the Province, came together in this city and erected a
lodge of Free and Accepted Masons according to the
"immemorial usage" and began to work according to the old
Manuscript Constitutions. |
Indian King Tavern
Royal Standard Tavern
That the example of these
Masonic pioneers was followed in other parts of the Province
is shown by Franklin's notice in his "Pennsylvania Gazette"
No. 108, December 3 to December 8, 1730, wherein he
states that lately several Masonic Lodges have been erected
within the Province. The written records of these early
Lodges, alluded to by Franklin, have all been lost with the
exception of the Ledger of St. John's or First Lodge in
Philadelphia - and a draft of their By-Laws. We have also the Manuscript Constitution of St. John's Lodge, written by Bro.
Thomas Carmick, dated 1727, which, according to well
founded tradition, was the legal Masonic authority under
which our first Lodge and Grand Lodge were formed; the
latter in the year 1731, it being the third oldest Grand Lodge
of Free and Accepted Masons in the world - England in 1717
and Ireland in 1729 being our only seniors.
The earliest work in America was undoubtedly the same
work and ritual which remains within this jurisdiction to the
About the time our first Grand Lodge was formed in
Philadelphia, certain conditions arose in England which in
the wisdom of the brethren composing the Grand Lodge of
England, brought about changes in the time honored ritual;
changes in which the Grand Lodge of Ireland refused to
concur; thus came about the term "Moderns" as applied to
the Grand Lodge of England, while those Brethren who
refused to acquiesce in the changes were termed "Ancients."
The Freemasons' Lodge
When these changes in the ritual became known in
Pennsylvania, they were accepted by the local Grand Lodge,
thus conforming to Grand Lodge, and they became and were
known as "Moderns."
It was during the middle of the eighteenth century a number
of Brethren in England, longing for the old ritual, and such as
owed fealty to the Grand Lodge of Ireland formed Lodges in
London and elsewhere, the outcome of which was the
"Grand Lodge F. & A. M., according to the old Constitutions"
which in turn issued a warrant for a Grand Lodge in
Pennsylvania, dated July 15th, 1761. It is under this Grand
warrant, as it were, that you are now assembled; a copy of
this document lies here before you.
In the sixth decade of the eighteenth century, you will note
there were two Grand Lodges in Pennsylvania, the
"Moderns," 1731, and the "Ancients" of 1761; the former
composed chiefly of the aristocratic element of the Province;
the latter of the bone and sinew of the infant community; and
as the political troubles, owing to the Stamp Act and other
encroachments of the home government increased, the
"Moderns" gradually lost ground, while the Lodges and
prestige of the "Ancients" rapidly increased.
The City Tavern
When, finally, the Revolution broke out, it sounded the death
knell of the "Moderns" organization in Pennsylvania, whose
members were chiefly Tories, while the Grand and
Subordinate Lodges of the "Ancients" were almost solidly
To illustrate this point. we have but to look at the list of
warrants issued during those troublesome times, which it is
well stated "tried men's souls."
- No. 19. A Regimental Warrant was issued for the Pennsylvania
Artillery in the service of the U. S.
- No. 20. A Regimental warrant for the North Carolina Line.
- No. 28. One for the Pennsylvania Line.
- No. 29. One for the Military Line, Pennsylvania.
- No. 36. One for the New Jersey Brigade.
- No. 37. One for the Maryland Line.
Building In Videll's Alley
Lately a number of documents relating to these old Military
Lodges have been found among the archives of the Grand
Secretary and are now in the custody of the Librarian for
collation and indexing, and the writer is happy to say that we
will now have some insight into the vicissitudes of these
Lodges, and in several cases a complete list of those
patriotic Brethren who fought and, in some cases, gave up
their lives to achieve the liberty of this country which we are
now all enabled to enjoy.
The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania "Ancients," being the
oldest in America, was from the beginning looked upon by
the Brethren in adjoining Provinces and abroad as the
Masonic fountain-head, as it were, in the Western World.
Petitions for warrants under its Jurisdiction were presented
almost as soon as its organization was completed. Thus
from 1765 to 1770 seven of these warrants were granted,
viz: Three for Maryland, two for Delaware, one for Virginia
and one for New Jersey.
Subsequently, up to the year 1832, the Grand Lodge of
Pennsylvania warranted no less than fifty-one foreign
Lodges, and one Provincial Grand Lodge, viz:
- Delaware 5; Nos. 18-33-44-63-96
- Georgia 1; No. 42
- Illinois 1; No. 107
- Louisiana 8; Nos. 90-93-109-112-117-118-122-129
- Maryland 6; Nos. 16-17-29-34-35-37
- Missouri 1; Nos. 111
- New Jersey 2; Nos. 32-33
- N. W. Territory 1; No. 78
- Ohio 1; No. 105
- South Carolina 4; Nos. 27-38-40-47
- Virginia 2; Nos. 39-41
- Buenos Aires 1; No. 205
- Cuba 2 Nos. 175-181
- Cape Francois 1 No. 146
- Havana 5; Nos. 103-157-161-166-167
- Mexico 1; No. 191
- San Domingo 8; Nos. 47-87-88-89-95-97-98-99 Provincial
- Trinidad 1; No. 77
- Uruguay 1; No. 217
The Lodge in Uruguay, No. 217 on the roster, was warranted
during the anti-Masonic excitement, February 6, 1832. So
great was the feeling against the Fraternity that eleven years
intervened before our Grand Lodge was petitioned to
warrant a new Lodge. This was Honesdale Lodge No. 218 in
Wayne County, September 4th, 1843, and which is still a
bright luminary in the Masonic horizon. It will be seen that
during the existence of our Grand Lodge, from the time of its
formation until the anti-Masonic period, no less than 152
local Lodges were warranted, of which 50 are still on the
active roll, the others having been vacated, surrendered their
warrants, or succumbed during the eventful years of
emotional bigotry in 1827-1832.
Free Quaker Meeting House
The State House
The Masonic Fraternity of Pennsylvania, working according
to the old Constitution, "Ancients," passed through several
periods of serious trial - for instance, the Revolutionary War,
1775-1783; the financial period of Continental money, 1782-
1789; the loss of Freemason's Hall in Lodge Alley, 1786; the
burning of the Chestnut Street Hall, 1819; the anti-Masonic
period before mentioned; the panics of 1837 and 1842,
which necessitated the temporary sale of the Chestnut
Street property. All, however, were eventually successfully
overcome, until now our Grand Lodge is housed in this
magnificent Temple, which is rightfully called the "Masonic Wonder of the World," owned by the Brethren without a
single penny of debt or encumbrance.
Now let me say a word in regard to our library and museum.
If you will refer to the preface of our first Ahiman Rezon,
original edition of 1783, you will find the following advice to
the brethren at large:
"The officers of Lodges, and those members who wish to be more completely learned in the grand science and sublime mysteries of Ancient Masonry, will think it their duty, as opportunities offer, to furnish themselves or their Lodges, with at least one copy of all approved and duly authorized books on Masonry, which may be published by the learned Lodges, or illustrious Brethren, in different languages and countries of the world, from time to time."
Pennsylvania Freemasons Hall
This advice our present Committee on Library have sought
to carry out to its fullest extent, and we are now in a position
to claim that we have the largest and most diversified
collection of Masonic literature in America. Over eleven
thousand volumes, both pro and con; over thirty thousand
volumes of proceedings and of Masonic periodicals; we have
on file every one published in America, besides many
published abroad, all of which are available to the members
of the Craft.
As to our museum and its collection of Masonic exhibits, this
will have to speak for itself. I will say it has no equal in the
Masonic world. The prime mover in planning and the
establishing of the Museum was Bro. Samuel W. Latta, a
member of the Committee, in which he was heartily
seconded by the Chairman, Bro. Wanamaker, and the fellow
members of the Committee on Library. The Committee's
plans were approved by R.W. Grand Master Kendrick in
1907. In 1908, this room was set aside for museum
purposes by the Committee on Temple under direction of
R.W. Grand Master Orlady. |
|At the beginning of July the
cases were completed, and early in October (Founders
Week) the exhibits were installed. You will see many relics
here of the past, not alone from our own country, but from
almost every quarter of the globe. Nor is the present period,
our own time, wanting. You will find that this Masonic
exhibition is not merely a Pennsylvania one, but that it is a
Universal one; taking in every state in our Union, the British
possessions in America; Asia, Africa and Australia, as well
as Great Britain and the Continent from Sweden and Norway
in the north to Italy in the south, from France in the west to
Turkey in the cast. The collection is not limited to nation or
kind so long as the subject bears on Freemasonry.
You will note that this monument is but in its swaddling
clothes, it is as yet but three years old, and the Committee in
charge is still active and ever alert to add to and increase
this great collection for the edification and instruction of the
Special attention is called to the unique copy of the Masonic
portrait of Washington, painted in pastel by William Williams
in Philadelphia in 1794, for his Lodge at Alexandria, Virginia,
originally warranted by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in
1793, being No. 39 on our own roster, and now No. 22 under
the Grand Lodge of Virginia. The painting before you is the
only replica ever permitted to be made of this portrait, and is
doubly interesting as the work was done by a great grand-
daughter of Thomas Jefferson.
Before you also is the
Masonic apron embroidered by Madam Lafayette for
Washington, and brought over to him by General Lafayette
[Editor's Note: In 1911, when Bro. Sachse delivered this address, it was believed that Apron was created by Madam Lafayette, but this is not likely to be the case-- read the details at this linked page.]
It was also worn by Brother Washington when he
laid the corner stone of the present Capitol in September,
1793. Many of the relics you see here date from provincial,
colonial and revolutionary days. The most precious and
important of all, however, are the manuscripts and
documents in our own archives, which are now gotten in
condition to make them available.
"New" Masonic Hall
1855 - 1873
These documents for almost a century were supposed to
have been destroyed in the burning of the Chestnut street
hall in 1819, Such, however, was fortunately not the case, as
a large part of these old records were saved and taken to the
house of Grand Secretary George A. Baker, at the N. E.
corner of Fourth and Cherry Streets. These papers and
documents were listed and placed in six wooden boxes
securely locked, and were successively stored in the rebuilt
Chestnut Street Hall, Washington (Third Street) Hall, the
New Masonic Hall of 1855, and lastly in one of the vaults of
the new Temple at Broad and Filbert Streets in 1873. Here
they remained for years unknown and forgotten, until after
the death of the R. W. Grand Secretary, Michael Nesbit, in
1896, when it occurred to Bro. John A. Perry, Deputy Grand
Secretary, to investigate the contents of these old boxes,
and upon seeing what they contained, at once recognized
their great value, and brought his important discovery to the
notice of the Grand Officers, who now have placed them at
the disposal of the Committee on Library, under whose
direction the Curator is arranging, collating and indexing
these precious historical documents.
In conclusion, I will express the hope that after examining
this great universal Masonic collection, you will bear it in
mind, when you return to your homes, and see that your own
jurisdictions are worthily and properly represented in this