Proceedings of the Grand Lodge 1848

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Grand Master's Address - Continued

With a strong deference to the opinions of others, I must and do most unequivocally repudiate the doctrine that a lodge is doing right to deny advancement to an E. A., provided he shall not be impeached for any offence committed subsequent to his acceptance. I can find no principle of ancient Masonic law or justice to support such a position. On the contrary, it is well known that the character of a candidate is subjected to the most rigid scrutiny, and if he does not successfully pass, he is rejected and his deposit money is restored to him; so that he is not subject to any loss, either of character or money. But if he is accepted, and, upon payment of a further sum, is initiated, and afterwards refused advancement to the degree of M. M., he is, to all intents and purposes, no Mason at all—entitled to no privileges as such, and therefore totally defrauded of the money he has paid. If there is any rule of Masonic justice which will sustain such practice, I confess my ignorance.

Another doctrine of the day, which I am happy to believe prevails but to a limited extent, is that expulsion from a chapter or encampment is an expulsion from all the privileges of Masonry. I trust that our brethren, before adopting any such sentiment, will look well to their by-laws, which guarantee to every member of a lodge a fair and impartial trial by his lodge before he can be deprived of any one privilege which he became entitled to when he became a member of it. And while I cherish a most ardent attachment to what is called the higher degrees and orders of Masonry, far be it from me to suppose that Master Masons are so incompetent to the management of their lodges and members as to require it to be done for them by proxy.

But while I find some practices growing up in some parts of our country which I feel constrained to caution you against, I am happy to find many things which I can cheerfully recommend to you as worthy the most exact imitation. Especially would I recommend the requirement of a monthly assessment, upon the payment of which should depend the privilege of membership. I would also recommend that full and complete annual returns of members of lodges, with their names and rank, together with a list of resident Masons who are not members, with the reasons why they are not, be required of each lodge These returns being published with the minutes of our annual communications will afford information of importance to every lodge in the state. Such I find is now the practice in most of the state Grand Lodges; and from the perusal of these details, published and sent us with their annual proceedings, we may form some estimate of the immense sacrifice of blood and toil which our brethren of the south and west have cheerfully made to sustain their country's cause in the war with Mexico. One lodge alone, in Kentucky, of less than fifty members, reports the death of six of her members within the past year in the army of Mexico—three of them on the bloody field of Buena Vista. We also learn that our brethren who still survive are there in great numbers, filling every useful station,

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from the General of Division to the rank and file, who have so faithfully and fearlessly stood by their colors, proving themselves worthy brethren of our patriot Washington and his Generals (save one) who led our fathers to victory and liberty in days of yore, and forever putting to silence the slanders of political anti-Masonic demagogues, who have represented our principles as dangerous to liberty and good government.

I perceive that many of our Grand Lodges adopt the practice of publishing the names of candidates who have been rejected. With much respect for their opinions, and without assuming any right to dictate, I must take this occasion to say that I think such a practice decidedly wrong. I believe it to be a well settled rule among Masons, not to do any man harm if we cannot do him any good. And it would indeed be a work of supererogation to arrogate to ourselves so much perfection as to say that we always judge rightly, and never reject a worthy candidate. I believe that every son of Adam, who knocks at our lodge doors with the pre-requisites of our ritual—having the capacity and age of a man, and of a good moral character, acknowledging his dependence on the God who made and upholds all things, has a perfect right to admission. I believe that an objecting party should give his reasons for so doing—that no man should be so branded as forever to bar his admission to our Order, unless the specific cause be alleged, and well substantiated. This view may seem to some to conflict with the right of secret ballot; yet, inasmuch as it is — as all admit—decidedly unmasonic to reject any one from mere private pique, I see no good reason why a brother should not, within the sanctity of a lodge room, be perfectly willing to show to his brethren that he is not actuated by any such unworthy motive. But while I repudiate the practice of publishing rejections, I would earnestly recommend that this Grand Lodge adopt the custom of our sister Grand Lodges, who publish with their annual proceedings the returns of their subordinate lodges, including the names and rank of all their members, deaths, dimis-sions and expulsions.

I would also suggest the propriety of this Grand Lodge taking some measures to induce all our subordinate lodges to revive the practice of requiring from each member a small monthly or quarterly assessment. That much good and no evil would follow the adoption of that practice, I have not a doubt.

In connection with the question of requiring monthly or quarterly dues of our members, I would respectfully suggest, that, of those brethren who reside permanently within our limits, and who belong to no lodge, there be required a specified sum for each meeting they shall attend, and in default of payment they be debarred the privilege of meeting in any lodge, unless in the opinion of the majority of the lodge, the brother applying to visit be unable to pay the same, in which case he should have the right to visit without prejudice.

The question has arisen in some of our lodges, whether business should be

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transacted in any other way than in a Master Masons' Lodge. It seems to me, for reasons which, upon reflection, will be obvious to every Master Mason, that all business, other than the work and lectures appertaining to the two preceding degrees, should be done in a Masters' Lodge; and this practice I am happy to believe has generally attained in our state, and is perfectly in accordance with our by-laws, which admit none but Master Masons to membership in a subordinate lodge.

That these, as well as as other matters which will be brought to your notice by our Committee on Foreign Correspondence, and the interest of the craft generally, will receive that careful attention at your hands which their importance demands, I doubt not; and though days may be required to complete our session, let us not faint, for in due time we shall reap, for our " work is with the Lord and our recompense with our God." May His blessing rest upon us, and His Spirit guide us into all truth, that our labors may be instrumental in building up that temple of purity on earth, through which all good Masons shall find abundant entrance into the " Sanctum Sanctorum," where the Supreme Architect of the Universe Himself forever presides.

ALEX. H. PUTNEY, Grand Master.

A petition was then presented from the officers and members of " Star in the East Lodge," U. D., at Old Town, praying for a charter. And on motion.

Voted, That said petition be referred to the Committee on Warrants and Charters.

A petition was then received from the members of Freeport Lodge, at Freeport, setting forth that, on the 19th day of July, 1847, they were suddenly deprived, by a destructive fire, of all the property of said lodge, together with their Charter, Records, Furniture, &c., and praying, in consideration thereof, for a renewal of their charter, free of expense, and for a remission of their dues to the Grand Lodge up to this time.

Whereupon, on motion,

Voted, unanimously, That the prayer of the petitioners be granted. The Grand Lodge was then called off until 2 o'clock p. m.

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May 3, 2 o'clock p. m.

The Grand Lodge was called to labor.

Reports were received from the following District Deputy Grand Masters:

  • First District—R. W. Daniel Winslow,
  • Third District—R. W. Lory Bacon,
  • Fourth District—R. W. John W. Lindley,
  • Sixth District—R. W. Jeremiah Fowler,
  • Eighth District—R. W. Thomas P. Tufts.

Read and accepted; and so much of the report from the eighth district as relates to St. John's Lodge at South Berwick, was referred to Bros. Herrick, Thompson and Somerby.

A petition was then presented from the officers and members of Mount Hope Lodge, U. D., at Hope, praying for a charter.

And on motion,

Voted, That said petition be referred to the Committee on Warrants and Charters.

Cumberland Lodge having asked for a remission of their dues, and the condition of said lodge having been fully stated in the D. D. G. Master's report, it was,

On motion,

Voted, That the dues of said lodge to the Grand Lodge be remitted up to this time.

Bro. Seth Webb, proxy of Unity Lodge, at Freedom, presented a statement of the condition of said lodge, and asked for a remission of their dues.

Whereupon, on motion,

Voted, That the dues of said lodge to the Grand Lodge be remitted to this time.

The Committee of Finance made a report on the accounts of the D. D. G. Masters, which was read and accepted, and placed on file.

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The Committee of Finance also reported as follows :

Portland, May 3, 1848.

To the R. W. Grand Lodge of Maine :

 

The Committee of Finance have examined the accounts of the Grand Treasurer, and find that there was a balance in his hands at the close of the last annual communication of   $294.99
Since which time he has received from all sources, 252.75
Total, $547.74
That he has paid out for various purposes, 215.32
Leaving a balance in his hands of $332.42

The committee also find that the Grand Treasurer's accounts are properly vouched and correctly cast, and that all the disbursements have been made for legal Masonic purposes.

Per Order, 
F. BRADFORD.

The Grand Treasurer then submitted his annual report in detail, exhibiting the same state of the finances of the Grand Lodge as is reported above by the Committee of Finance, and showing also that the vested funds of the Grand Lodge consist of

5 shares in the Freeman's Bank, at Augusta, valued at $ 500
10 do. shares in the Casco do. Portland, valued at 1,000
20 do. shares in the Canal do. do. valued at 1,500
Total, $3,000

Read and accepted.

A petition was received from the members of King Hiram Lodge, at Dixfield, setting forth that they have unfortunately lost their charter, and asking for its renewal. Read and referred to the Committee on Warrants and Charters.

On motion,

Voted, That we now proceed to the election of the Grand Officers for the ensuing year.

And for this purpose the Grand Lodge resolved itself into a committee of the whole, M. W. Bro. Thompson in the chair. A sub-committee, consisting of R. W. Bros. Bradford, Stevens and Kendall were appointed to receive, sort and count the votes. The votes were then received and counted, and the following Grand Officers elected:

 

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FOR GRAND MASTER.  
 Whole number of votes, 35
 Necessary to a choice, 23
 M. W. Alexander H. Putney had 30
 And was declared elected.  
FOR SENIOR GRAND WARDEN.  
 Whole number of votes, 28
 Necessary to a choice, 18
 R. W. John C. Humphreys had 28
 And was declared elected.  
FOR JUNIOR GRAND WARDEN.  
 Whole number of votes, 32
 Necessary to a choice, 20
 R. W. Joseph C. Stevens had 24
 And was declared elected.  
FOR GRAND TREASURER.  
 Whole number of votes, 24
 Necessary to a choice, 13
 R. W. Henry H. Boody had 23
 And was declared elected.  
FOR GRAND SECRETARY.  
 Whole number of votes, 32
 Necessary to a choice, 17
 R. W. Charles B. Smith had 23
 And was declared elected.  
FOR COMMITTEE OF FINANCE.  
 Whole number of ballots, 9

R. W. Bros. Freeman Bradford, Jonathan Smith and Abner B. Thompson had each nine votes, and were declared elected.

The committee then rose and reported to the Grand Lodge the result of the elections, which report was accepted.

R. W. Bro. Humphreys submitted to the Grand Lodge the question " whether a man deprived of his right hand, can properly be initiated into Masonry ? "

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Referred to Bros. Thompson, Williams and Winslow, who subsequently reported, in the language of a Committee of the Grand Lodge appointed last year to consider a similar question:

" That when the deformity of the candidate is not, in the opinion of the lodge, such as to prevent him from being instructed in the arts or mysteries of Freemasonry, or does not amount to an inability honestly to acquire the means of subsistence, the admission will not be an infringement upon the ancient landmarks, but will be perfectly consistent with the spirit of our institution."

The report was read and accepted.

The Committee on Foreign Correspondence then made the following report, which was read and accepted, and ordered to be published with the proceedings of this Grand Lodge.

report of committee on foreign correspondence.

The Committee on Foreign Correspondence of this Grand Lodge, in presenting their Annual Report, have great pleasure in acknowledging the favors of a benignant Providence, which the correspondence of the year dis closes in the prosperity of our beloved institution.

This is a day of joyous greeting for our fathers and brethren who laid the foundations of this Grand Lodge, who nursed its early growth, who stood by their ancient landmarks in the day of trial, and bore meekly the tempest of passion and the tide of scorn which swept over our prostrate altars, and swept from those altars such as could not bear reproach for the exhibition of Faith, Hope and Charity in connection with our cherished symbols.

Some of these fathers and brethren still linger on the shores of time, and are here with us to rejoice in the new era of progress which we now behold. What but the favor of Him in whom every Mason pledges his trust and to whose sacred name every lodge is dedicated, could have removed the pressure of popular prejudice, and given to our order the stability, strength and beauty now everywhere apparent ?

It is not yet a quarter of a century since a storm of persecution burst suddenly upon the Masonic institution, unequalled in the history of our country. The press, the pulpit and the force of public opinion, organized and aroused by every appliance of political party, ecclesiastical and civil tribunals arrayed against the rights of conscience, all conspired to crush the institution, and coerce its members into an abandonment of principles and usages and rights rendered dear by intrinsic excellence, by a hearty and intelligent reception, and by venerable associations linking the present with the past in delightful fellowship.

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So resolute and relentless was the warfare—so quietly did the fast friends of our principles bear the onset—even relinquishing for years the privileges of their fraternal meetings, that the proud boast swept over the world that in the free republic of America, Free Masonry was dead and its funeral obsequies performed, as if it were buried past the possibility of resurrection. What a comment on such boastful predictions does the world now behold in the condition of Masonry in this country!

The correspondence of this Grand Lodge the past year brings us the published proceedings of twenty-two Grand Lodges. These proceedings are embodied in some thirty closely printed reports of from thirty-five to one hundred and thirty-five pages each. The Grand Lodges thus represented either in annual, semi-annual or biennial reports are as follows: New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Alabama, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, Florida, District of Columbia and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Montreal and William Henry in Canada. From the Grand Lodges of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Delaware, Virginia and Texas, there have been no communications for the past year.

The committee feel assured of the fraternal response of this Grand Lodge to all the communications from corresponding bodies and the friendly notices of this lodge appearing in many of them, and hereby assure those lodges of our joy in their prosperity, and our desire to maintain a friendly correspondence with all the Grand Lodges throughout this continent. The Grand Lodge of Maine will certainly receive with high satisfaction the acceptable communication from the Grand Lodge of Montreal and William Henry of Canada. This Grand Lodge was constituted by authority of the Grand Lodge of England, in May, 1846, and we have a report of its proceedings up to St. John the Evangelist's day, Dec 27, 1847. Returns are given of seven subordinate lodges in a healthful state of progress, yielding revenue to the Grand Lodge for the year, of 63£, 19s., 2d. In the prosperity of the Order in Canada, and of its Grand Lodge, we shall feel a lively interest, and cherish the hope that her youthful energies will be developed into full maturity and fair proportions, corresponding with the extent and resources of her country and the genius and energy of her people. Our brethren in Canada may rest assured that we shall be happy to continue the correspondence so happily begun, and that it is our purpose to send our annual and fraternal greetings through by steam, as soon as we can clear the track and harness the Iron Horse.

The proper limits of this report forbid a detailed examination of all the subjects of interest embraced in the several communications from corresponding bodies. There are, however, some things which claim particular attention.

 

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