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CALEB BUTLER 1776-1854



1841 1842



From Proceedings, Page 1916-194:

M.W. Caleb Butler was born in Pelham, N.H., September 13, 1776, and died in Groton, Mass., October 7, 1854, age seventy-eight. He was brought up on a farm and his only preparation for college consisted in attending the academy of Daniel Hardy, in Pelham, less than a year. By studying privately and teaching some he fitted himself mentally and financially to enter Dartmouth from which he graduated in 1800, delivering the salutatory oration in Latin, which was the highest honor conferred by the faculty at that time. He remained in Hanover a year as tutor in an Indian school attached to the college. He was next employed by our Past Grand Master Isaiah Thomas, of Worcester, to correct the proof of a Greek grammar which Thomas was publishing. In 1802 he was appointed a Preceptor of Groton, now Lawrence, Academy, Massachusetts, serving until 1815 when he began the study of law. He became a successful counselor though he did little as an active practitioner in the Courts.

At the same time he became famous as a surveyor, and in 1826 was appointed by the Governor Chairman of the first Board of Highway Commissioners for Middlesex County, in which capacity he served until the creation of the Board of County Commissioners in 1828, becoming the first Chairman of that Board, and serving as such until 1841. He was Town Clerk of Groton 1815 to 1817 and 1823 to 1831; Trustee of Lawrence Academy from 1807 to 1836; elected to the legislature in 1829 but declined to serve; Postmaster for twenty years; Chairman of the Selectmen; and very active in civic life. He delighted in literature and delivered many public addresses. One of his few works which remain is a history of the town of Groton. He was Worshipful Master of Saint Paul's Lodge, Groton, in 1807 and several other years; also High Priest of Saint John's Royal Arch Chapter, of Groton. He delivered many Masonic orations from 1811 to 1816, and was present with the Fraternity when Lafayette laid the Corner-stone of Bunker Hill Monument with Masonic ceremonies, June 17, 1825, and also at its completion June 17, 1843. He served the Grand Lodge as Senior Grand Warden in 1818 and 1819; Deputy Grand Master from 1824 to 1826, and as Grand Master 1841 and 1842.


From Proceedings, Page V-550:

"The Committee to whom was referred the death of our late Past Grand Master, Caleb Butler, since the last Communication of the Grand Lodge, beg leave to Report:—

"That in the decease of our late M. W. Past Grand Master, Caleb Butler, who recently died full of years and in good old age, we are called to remember a worthy and excellent Brother, whose life and deportment were ever worthy of our highest confidence and the respect of his fellow-citizens.

"When an upright Mason is taken from our Fraternity to the Grand Lodge above, whether his path in life was elevated or humble; yet we delight as Brethren to cherish his memory: but particularly so, when he filled a distinguished station among us. And when we look back on our past history in this State, we are reminded that our departed Brother was a Mason of long and honorable standing; that he assisted in 1825 at the laying of the Comer Stone of the Bunker Hill monument, that he carried at that time a striking memorial of our illustrious Brother George Washington, the Father of his Country; viz:—a lock of his hair in a casket, now must carefully preserved, in this Grand Lodge; and that our deceased Brother ever remained firm and unflinching in that Dark Day, which for a season overshadowed our Fraternity.

"Therefore — Resolved, that we sincerely sympathize with his afflicted family in their sorrow and with the Brethren in the vicinity of his residence, and recommend that this record of his virtues be laid up in the Archives of this Grand Lodge, as a memorial of our affection and respect for his excellent, character and virtues.

Resolved, That the Grand Lodge room be put in mourning for the customary period.

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XIV, No. 2, November 1854, Page 62:

Groton, Oct. 30, 1854.

Br. Moore — At a regular meeting of St. Paul's Lodge, this day, held at Mason's Hall, the following resolutions were adopted :—

It has pleased the Ruler of all things, to remove our distinguished Brother, Caleb Butler, Esq., from the terrestrial Lodge here below, to join with kindred spirits (as we humbly trust) in the Celestial Lodge above. He died Oct. 7th, 5854, aged 78 years.

  • Resolved, That in the death of our venerable Brother, the Masonic family have lost one of their brightest ornaments; our Lodge a true and faithful Brother, a profound mathematician, an intelligent and useful member of society, a learned historian, a counsellor at law, an able instructor of youth in the future walks of life; and, as having held several times the office of W. Master of St. Paul's Lodge — High Priest of St. John's R. A. Chapter, in Groton, Mass.; and the highest office in the gift of the Brethren to bestow — Grand Master of the M. W. Grand Lodge of the State of Massachusetts, in a time when it required the nerve and firmness of a knight in the days of chivalry to guide the Masonic helm.
  • Resolved, unanimously, That his Masonic, Christian, moral and social virtues, will be enrolled on the tablet of memory to latest time.
  • Resolved, That we as Brethren of St. Paul's Lodge, sincerely sympathize with his widow in her affliction, and invoke upon her, his children, and relatives, heaven's blessing.
  • Resolved, That our furniture and jewels be clothed in mourning for three months.
  • Resolved, That the Secretary send an attested copy of these resolutions to the family of our deceased Brother; enter them upon the records, and also send a copy to the Freemasons' Magazine, at Boston, for publication.

Dexter Blanchard, Secretary.

J. H. SHEPPARD (Committee)




"– Non haec solemnia nobis
"Vana superstitio –
"Imposuit." – Virg.


The wisdom and beneficence of our Creator are displayed in all his works; but in nothing do they more evidently appear, or demand our gratitude in a higher degree, than in his having endowed the human breast with the social principle. Every passion, and every propensity, implanted in our nature, if properly regulated and directed, is admirably adapted to our situation; but to the social principle we are indebted for most of the comforts and enjoyments of life. Though man might in solitude support a bare existence, yet he could not in that state feel those agreeable sensations, exercise those faculties, and practise those moral and sublime virtues, which in a state of society constitute his highest happiness, and display the dignity of his nature. The improvement and present state of perfection, if not the origin, of all the mechanical, liberal and fine arts, are the effects of this principle; and benevolence, brotherly love and charity, with all the pleasurable sympathies of the soul, have no existence but in the bosoms of those who are within the pale of some social compact. To this propensity in our nature we may also ascribe, not only the necessary confederacies for common defence, forming and supporting civil government, punishing crimes, suppressing vice, and encouraging morality and religion, but also those innumerable voluntary associations formed in all civilized countries, some for improving the mechanical and useful arts, some for making investigations in the more speculative and abstruse sciences, some for encouraging the fine arts and multiplying the sources for the refined pleasures of taste, and some for cherishing the moral and social virtues, affording relief to distress, and expanding the soul with general philanthropy.

We need not adduce examples from beyond the limits of our own observation and acquaintance, to prove either the number, variety, or useful tendency, of these associations. Neither the philosopher, the naturalist, the physician, the moralist, the theologian, nor the philanthropist, desirous of pursuing his favourite study with congenial souls, needs travel beyond the circle of his frequent avocations, to unite with a society where he may commune and participate with those of like passions and pursuits, extend his researches, or exercise his beneficence.

No institution of this kind is more famous for its antiquity, more extensively established, more correct in its principles, or benevolent in its intentions, than the Society of Free and Accepted Masons. But as there are certain mysteries pertaining to this order, which are neither written on parchment nor inscribed on marble, but which have been from age to age carefully communicated by the instructive tongue to the attentive ear, and safely lodged in the repository of faithful breasts, the rest of the world has been slow to put confidence in such information as has been published respecting the nature and design of the institution, and still slower to believe and acknowledge its utility. As the respectable audience before whom I have the honour on this occasion to speak, have assembled, I trust, not merely to gratify the eye of an idle curiosity, but to gain knowledge by listening to instruction, I have endeavoured to accommodate the entertainment for this festival to the understanding and information of the spectators, as well as of the assembled fraternity; and I shall accordingly exhibit the result of my attempt to explain the origin, nature, design and useful tendency of this ancient and honourable institution. And as I pledge myself that it is a candid and faithful exposition, so far as my own information and the restrictions of the order permit, I anticipate a corresponding candour and ingenuousness in the patient attention and final judgment of the auditory.

Masonry is often said to have been coeval with the human race, to have originated with the arts, and to have flourished in the antediluvian world and the ages immediately succeeding the flood. This is probably correct only in a particular and limited sense. The word, Mason, in its restricted and appropriate signification, denotes a person employed in erecting a stone building; but in a more extended sense, it has been used as synonymous with architect, and perhaps more extensively, with mechanic. The terms, free and accepted, are of comparatively modern application. Tubal-Cain, Noah, and the craftsmen at the building of Babel, being artificers in metals, wood, brick and mortar, may therefore justly be denominated Masons; yet they can with no more propriety be said to have been Free-Masons, in the sense we now understand the term, than can those who at the present day practise all the moral virtues and precepts of the order without ever having been initiated into a Lodge. But at whatever period we date the origin of Masonry, the order, regularity and harmony, introduced and observed among the workmen at the building of King Solomon's temple, laid the foundation for the government of Lodges in after generations, and may be considered as their model at the present day. At the erection of that stupendous fabric, on which so many workmen were for so long a time employed, and in completing which so much treasure was expended, all those regulations were adopted, and those circumstances occurred, which gave rise to most of our ceremonies, or which are the subject of their allusion. From that epoch till the introduction of Christianity into most of the states of Europe and the revival of literature, the history of Masonry, as it probably suffered few innovations, and received not many essential improvements, is uninteresting. During that long period our ancient brethren, it is said, besides practising and inculcating good fellowship, morality, deeds of benevolence and charity, were practical or operative Masons, industriously studying the rules, or displaying their skill in the various branches of architecture. And according to the custom in those times, they took measures to secure to the Craft the benefits and advantages resulting from their skill, discoveries, or inventions, in their art, by keeping them as sacred mysteries, communicating them to those only who were regularly initiated and instructed in them, and who, with freedom, fervency and zeal, served regular apprenticeships, passed the several probatory steps, and finally became proficients in their art, or Master Masons.

But since the sun of science, which arose in the east, and spread to the west its enlivening rays, has dispelled the gloom which had overspread the world for so many centuries, and mankind are in a manner emancipated from the shackles of ignorance and superstition, Masonry has received an important change. Skill and knowledge in operative Masonry are no longer considered a necessary qualification for members of the fraternity, for the institution has become wholly moral and speculative. Pertinent forms and ceremonies of initiation arc retained, and necessary precautions taken to keep inviolably, and transmit with purity, the signs, tokens, and other mysteries, for distinguishing true brethren, and for preserving immoveable the ancient land-marks of the order. To every ceremony is annexed a moral reason, to every working-tool, a moral use, and to every symbol and emblem, a moral allusion. And in countries where the Bible is considered to be the word of God, the masonic lectures, which should be familiar to every brother, are so interspersed with applicable texts of scripture, and so accommodated to the Christian tenets and profession, that they comprise a beautiful system of morality. So that there is scarcely a moral duty we owe to our Creator, our neighbour, or ourselves, which is not prescribed in Free-Masonry, and at the same time so exemplified, explained, or alluded to, by some pertinent ceremony, hieroglyphic, or symbolic representation, directed to the senses, that they cannot fail to make a deep and lasting impression on the mind.

In taking this hasty view of the origin, progress and improvement of Masonry, corresponding with the development of the human faculties, and the advancement of man from barbarism to civilization, we cannot but remark a somewhat similar change in religious worship. In the early ages of the world, innumerable rites and ceremonies, offerings and sacrifices, were performed with scrupulous exactness by the priests both of pagans and Jews. The symbolic representations with which the Jewish religion abounded, separate from their mystical and typical allusion to the gospel dispensation, would have been a pompous but unmeaning institution. So the masonic ceremonies and emblems, without their moral application, are tricing and insignificant. And the labour of the priests in performing their official duties in ancient times may not unaptly be compared to operative Masonry, while the didactic duties of modern instructers bear a resemblance to speculative Masonry.

Free-Masonry, then, as it exists at the present day, has been justly defined in our book of Constitutions, "An institution for the promotion of the most extensive philanthropy, the most diffusive and disinterested benevolence and universal virtue." Such it is in principle, and such, if properly practised, will be its tendency and effects. It is calculated to meliorate the present condition of man, as well by alleviating the sorrows, lessening the miseries, and correcting the malevolent passions, as by informing the understanding, enlarging the sphere of innocent and rational amusements, and by kindling and enlivening the social and generous emotions of the heart. The first lesson for an entered apprentice is, to learn to subdue his irascible passions, and improve himself in masonic virtue. " To curb ambition, depress envy, moderate anger, and encourage good dispositions," are some of the moral uses of the mallet. The cultivation and improvement of the social and benevolent affections, and the strict observance of all the mora! virtues, according to their several degrees of importance aud tendency to promote human felicity, are essentially necessary to form the perfect masonic character. Brotherly love, relief, and truth, are the tenets of our profession, to which we are solemnly reminded to adhere on all occasions. Temperance, fortitude, prudence, and justice, are the four cardinal virtues of Free-Masonry, to the observance of which every brother is bound by such impressive ceremonies and strong allusions, that he can never suffer the least departure therefrom without subjecting himself to the penalty of a tortured conscience, and the detestation of all good Masons.

Though Free-Masonry unites with Christianity in prescribing these virtues, it interferes with no man's religion, nor infringes any of his rights or privileges of conscience. All are accepted, if they put their trust in God, or believe in a "Supreme Architect of the Universe;" but with the professed atheist we have no communion. Our jewels are too precious to be committed to those who would trample upon them, and without remorse violate the ties which unite us together and bind us to fidelity. In Christian countries, however, the Holy Bible is an indispensable article of furniture in every Lodge. To that sacred volume, that "Light which shineth in darkness," the eyes of a newly enlightened brother are directed, as the rule and guide of his faith; both because it contains that morality which Free-Masonry teaches, and because we consider it as the "inestimable gift of God to man."

Free-Masonry likewise by precept and example, in Lodges and on all publick occasions, inculcates, in common with Christianity, reverence and adoration of the Supreme Being; and more particularly we are enjoined to implore his blessing, when about "to engage in any great and important undertaking." Free-Masons too, like Christians, extend their views beyond the narrow confines and fleeting joys of this transitory state. Faith points to us the cloudy canopy or starry heavens, to which Hope encourages us to aspire, and where immortal Charity extends her reign unbounded. Both agree in assigning to Charity the chief and highest place in the catalogue of virtues, without which all other endowments and professions are "as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." Thus do Free-Masonry and Christianity unite in a variety of means to meliorate our condition and promote our happiness in this life, and, so far as a life of practical morality is efficacious, to prepare us for complete fruition in a future state. To discuss the question, how far a practice of the moral virtues is preparatory to a future state of felicity, would be a departure from our subject, and an intrusion on the duties of those whose proper studies are ethics and theology. But let it not be understood that we place Free-Masonry and Christianity on an equality, or that the former supersedes the necessity of the latter. It is by Christianity alone we learn the fallen state of man, the method of salvation through a Redeemer, and the necessity of faith and repentance to obtain salvation. With these essentials, and the various dogmas, tenets and doctrines, the modes, forms and ceremonies of worship, according to the diversity of sects into which Christians are divided, Free-Masonry does not interfere, but accepts all, and is accepted of all.

Considering the structure of the human mind, how delighted we are with imitations and resemblances, and how much more easily impressions are made, and rendered more indelible by sensible objects and representations, than by abstract reasonings and speculations, we shall not be accused of impiety, if wc assert, that Free-Masons have adopted a happier method, than most sects of Christians, of inculcating moral truths. And shall we be accused of favouring popery and idolatry, if we suggest that most of the protestant modes of worship are too much divested of outward forms and ceremonies? Would not more rites and formalities serve to render their public services more devotional, impressive and solemn?

If I have now made a true exposition of the principles, design and tendency of Free-Masonry, our holy religion has nothing to fear, but much to expect in assistance from its influence, as they act in concert in so many points, and in nothing are at variance. Neither has civil authority any danger to apprehend, but a like aid and assistance to hope from it. As Free-Masons, we are solemnly charged to discountenance rebellion and disloyalty, to be peaceable subjects under the government, and just to the country where it may be our lot to reside. The government of a single Lodge is purely republican; and the confederation of a number of Lodges under a Grand Lodge forms a. federal republic. Hence the members of the Fraternity naturally become habituated and partial to that excellent form. Free-Masons, therefore, of this country, from habit and inclination, from patriotic and masonic principles, should be the zealous supporters of our system of government.

Doubts and diversities of opinion respecting particular measures of administration ever have been and ever will be entertained by the wisest of men and best of patriots. It is no wonder, then, there should be dissensions and disagreements in opinion among us on political topics. But no prejudice or party spirit are ever suffered to interrupt the harmony of our assemblies; nor should they ever be suffered to rankle in the breast and destroy private enjoyment. The political dissensions, created and fostered among honest and well-meaning ciiizens by ambitious demagogues aspiring to office and power, are as contrary to the genius and spirit of Free-Masonry, as they are disgraceful to their authors, and debasing and ruinous to the unhappy state where they prevail. Our rights and privileges as citizens and as patriots are not, however, in the least limited or abridged.. If the work of legislation at any time is not faithfully performed, if we see the wall of our political safety, which has been built by approved master-workmen, daubed by others with untempered mortar, it is our duty, as well as that of all other citizens, to endeavour, by all honourable and lawful means, to have skilful overseers appointed to inspect the work – "workmen who need not be ashamed;" who will pay true and faithful craftsmen, whose work is approved, their wages in due time, but detect and punish impostors.

That I have now given a true and candid explanation of the nature, design and tendency of our order, our book of Constitutions and other masonic publications bear ample testimony. But as there is no institution in this imperfeet world, however correct in principle and pure in its intention, even the Church of our Redeemer not excepted, into which unworthy .members do not find admittance, it is not to be accounted strange, if some who are free, "use their liberty as a cloak of maliciousness," and dishonour their profession. Let the practices of such be set to their individual account, and not to an institution of which they are members.

How absurd then is the suggestion, that our badges and jewels are childish gewgaws, and our ceremonies unmeaning and foolish parade ! Still more absurd are the assertions of some writers, who for a time endeavoured to alarm the friends of good order, government and religion, that our assemblies are "the hot-beds of vice, immorality and pernicious doctrines"— "secret machines for undermining and destroying civil and religious order and government." And will it this day be said, because "we eat our bread with cheerfulness, and drink our wine with a merry heart," that our present assembling on the festival of an ancient Saint and patron of Masonry is a solemn mockery of serious things? Be it known that we assemble, not for revelling and riot, but to strengthen the bands of our union, cement our mutual friendship, and improve our benevolent emotions. In celebrating the natal day of St. John, we imitate some sects of Christians, who thus commemorate the birth of the Saviour of mankind—a practice by no means to be spoken evil of; for if man has a reason for joy and rejoicing in this world of pain and sin, it is that a Saviour is born, and a Redeemer given.

Is it inquired, why the fair sex, to whom we are indebted for our sweetest sympathies and highest felicity, are excluded from an institution fraught with such advantages for virtuous improvement and social enjoyments ? The nature of operative Masonry, a moment considered, suggests an answer for ancient times. The level and square, the trowel and plumb, the chisel and mallet, the spade and the crow, are implements but ill-suited to the tender hand of woman. And their moral applications in speculative Masonry, though pertinent and impressive to those acquainted with their practical uses, would appear insipid and futile to those accustomed only to the cushion and needle, the shuttle and loom, the spindle and distaff. With the same propriety, then, it might be asked, why our wives, sisters and daughters are not admitted to our legislative councils, our universities, our societies for promoting commerce, agriculture and the mechanic arts.

In testimony that 1 have not misrepresented the true masonic character, let us contemplate that of St. John the Baptist, as delineated by the holy Evangelists. He was commissioned from Heaven to be the precursor of the Saviour, "to make the crooked ways straight, and the rough ways smooth before him." Whence we may conclude, he himself walked unerringly in the paths of justice. He confessed that he was not that Light "which shineth in darkness, and lighteneth every man," but, "was sent to bear witness of that Light." Whence his humility may be inferred. "He had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins:" which may denote, that it is the internal, and not the external qualifications of men, which should recommend them for acceptance. "His meat was locusts and wild honey," simple and sparing; or as it is expressed by another Evangelist, "He came neither eating nor drinking"— which figurative expression demonstrates his rigid adherence to temperance. To avaricious publicans, who inquired of him what they should do, he answered, "Exact no more than that which is appointed you." To oppressive, false and mutinous Roman soldiers he said, "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages." To the people, who made the same inquiry, his answer was, "Let him who hath two coats impart to him that hath none; and let him that hath meat do likewise." Could there have been more applicable answers? or more positive injunctions of the masonic virtues? The untimely death of this "more than a prophet," which he brought upon himself by faithfully admonishing and reproving an incestuous Herod, demands our tribute of sorrow; while his fortitude and integrity merit our warmest approbation.

Were it necessary to adduce examples in further confirmation- of the true delineation of the Masonic character, names are not wanting of those, within our own knowledge, who have excelled in the arts and sciences, in the learned professions, in the virtues of benevolence, justice, generosity, patriotism and' philanthropy, to form a respectable catalogue. Let one example suffice, the mention of whose name conveys to the mind an idea of all that is great, all that is good, all that is just, patriotic and wise. Your thoughts anticipate the sound, and your ears seem already to have received the agreeable impression of Washington. Illustrious and revered brother! though time shall, moulder the monumental column and sculptured arch; though no trace of thy valorous achievements shall remain on the inscribed marble; and though there should be no more remembrance of thee among the degenerate posterity of Americans; yet thy masonic virtues shall live, engraven on the hearts of successive generations of Free-Masons, till the vast fabric of creation shall sink into chaos.

Brethren of the Masonic Family,

I have at this time, as far as our regulations permit, and others have a right to know, given an exposition of the principles, design and tendency of Free-Masonry, as I understand it, and as I hope to be enabled to practise it, in as plain and candid a manner as, possible, unadorned with strains of eloquence, and unexaggerated by bold figures and flowers of rhetoric. If through want of information and knowledge I have omitted what ought to have been exhibited, or through inadvertency have disclosed what ought to have been concealed, I have a sure pledge that you will "cover my faults and imperfections as with a mantle of charity and brotherly love." To what I have advanced in truth and righteousness, I entreat you to bear convincing testimony, by constantly practising agreeably thereto.

To you, for whom it has not been in vain said, "Let there be light," and whose eyes have beheld the beauties of Masonry, arguments to prove its excellency are unnecessary. Permit me, however, to remind you, that in order to partake of its advantages and enjoyments, we must live accprding to its rules and requirements. The indolent and imperfect workman, whose work will not bear the test of the Overseer's square, receives no wages. To be a good and perfect Mason, attentive application is necessary. To be able to tell the names of the artificer's tools, or to name their uses, without learning how to wield them, does not constitute a master-workman; neither will passing through our ceremonies, and learning a few superficial parts, entitle to the character of a perfect Mason. To rest satisfied with such acquirements only, is taking the shadow for the substance, the semblance for the reality.

Though we have no pretensions to virtues unknown to the rest of the world, we claim higher privileges, and better advantages for virtuous and moral improvement. Unless, then, we excel others, or exceed what might be reasonably expected of us, separate from these privileges, what will be thought of our pretensions and assertions? We boast of the light. "Let our lights then shine before others." Let us imitate the messenger from Heaven whose festival we now celebrate, not only in wearing the badge of Masons — the leathern girdle — but in temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice. Let us endeavour to straighten and smooth the difficult and rugged paths of our fellow-travellers in this wilderness of trial and affliction; and let it be our peculiar care, that in all our work, neither the square of morality, the level of equality nor the plumb of rectitude, may discover an irregularity or imperfection. So that when it shall be inspected by the Grand Overseer, we may not be detected as impostors but be entitled to receive the wages of true and faithful craftsmen. And when it shall be the will and pleasure of our Supreme Grand Master, that we should be called from our labour here below, may we be admitted to partake of refreshments provided for us above, "large as our desires, and lasting as our immortal souls."


Leominster, June 24, A. L. 5816.


The Subscribers, a joint Committee of Aurora and Trinity Lodges, united in the Celebration oftlie Festival of St. John the Baptist, and raised for the purpose, beg leave to present you their sincere and hearty thanks for your able and ingenious Discourse this day delivered on the occasion — and their earnest request of a copy of the same for the press.

Permit us, likewise, R. W. Brother, to express our own individual approbation of the same, and to say, that, in our opinion, your compliance will prove highly gratifying, not only to both Lodges, but to all who heard it.

We are, R.W. Brother, with esteem and respect, Your friends and humble servants,



R.W. Caleb Butler, Esq.
D. D. G. Master, &c.

Groton, July 10, A. L. 5816.


I RECEIVE with lively emotions the thanks of Aurora and Trinity Lodges, much enhanced in value by being communicated by so honourable a Delegation, and accompanied with your individual approbation of the performance alluded to. In complying with the request of the Lodges, I conform, with reluctance, to usual custom. But the sources of the request, and the channel through which it is conveyed, being duly considered, I cannot refuse to comply. 1 have this consolatory reflection—the existence of the publication will be ephemeral.

Accept, R. W. Brethren, the high esteem and sincere respect of your friend and brother,


  • R. W. Abr. Haskell, M. D.
  • R. W. & Hon. Abijah Bigelow, Esq.
  • R. W. & Hon. Thomas H. Blood, Esq.



On August 24, 1975, a Special Communication of the Grand Lodge was held to dedicate a monument to Past Grand Master Butler. Grand Master Stanley F. Maxwell and the Headmaster of Lawrence Academy, Groton, gave addresses.


"How pleasing to come here to Groton today to participate in an unusual but very meaningful ceremony.

"In these days of celebrating the Bicentennial qf the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we think often of only those men who were so prominent in the affairs of 1775-1776, I think of Revere, Warren, Hancock, Adams and a great many others. We have had many other 'giants' since those days and even today we have some outstanding men, but we need more - more who would have the caliber and standing of these earlier patriots and heroes.

"In almost every other part of the world today, political animosities, contentions ard wars interrupt the progress of humanity and the cause of benevolence. Today, we pause in this happy region of liberty and peace to pay our respects and homage to a man who, in the early to mid 1800's, was a 'giant' in his own right by teaching, consulting, and directing many of the destinies of this particular region.

"Most Worshipful Caleb Butler, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts in 1841 and 1842, was born on a farm in Pelham, New Hampshire, in 1776. While having a very limited education; by private study and some teaching, he fitted himself rnentally and financially to enter Dartmouth College, graduating in 1800 when he was given the Latin salutatory, the highest honor to be conferred.

"Most Worshipful Brother Butler taught for a year and then went to work for Most Worshipful Brother Isaiah Thomas of Worcester to correct the proof of a Greek Grammar. In 1802, he was appointed a preceptor of Groton (now Lawrence) Academy in this town, in which position he served for eliven years. He lived here in Groton as a much honored citizen for over 50 years until his death in 1854.

"Most Worshipful Brother Butler also studied civil engineering with special emphasis on surveying, and he became so proficient in this area that the then Governor appointed him Chairman of the Board of Highway Commissioners of Middlesex County. In 1828, he became Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners and served until 1841. After studying law, he was admitted to the bar in 1814. In Groton, Most Worshipful Brother Butler was instrumental in establishing the public library, and at one time or another held the offices of Town Clerk, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen and Postmaster. In 1829, he was elected to the General Court but declined to serve.

In Masonry, Most Worshipful Brother Butler had an enviable career. He became a Master Mason in St. Paul Lodge in 1803. He also became a member of St. John Royal Arch Chapter. He served his Lodge as Secretary in 1805-1806 and Worshipful Master in 1807-1808, 1810-1811 and again in 1833-35. He was District Deputy Grand Master of the then 5th District in 1814-1817; Senior Grand Warden in 1818-1819; Deputy Grand Master in 1824-1826 and Grand Master in 1841-1842. He was present at Bunker Hiil in 1825 when Lafayette laid the cornerstone of that monument and again on its completion in 1843.

"Three traits in the life of this man stand out. His constant and unfailing interest in the civic affairs of his town; his great versatility and energy, both mental and physical, and his hardy and courageous attitude. This then is the story of the man who is buried here and whose memory we today honor. That we have a Lodge, Caleb Butler, of Ayer, to bear his name should be an inspiration to all of us to take our full share of civic and social duties in these troublous and uncertain times. We pay our respects to the officers and members of Caleb Butler Lodge for having the foresight to renew the stone on the grave of our esteemed Brother Caleb Butler.

"For many years, in the laying of a cornerstone of a public edifice or a Masonic Temple, it has been tradition to pour upon that stone corn, wine, and oil, and so today, as the Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, I do, on behalf of the whole Fraternity repeat that ceremony.

(The Deputy Grand Master poured corn, wine and oil on the monument.)

"May the corn of nourishment abound in our land and may the blessing of the Supreme Grand Architect rest upon the people of these United States. May the wine of refreshment and concord bless the officers and members of Caleb Butler Lodge and may they be watched over and preserved by the Great Architect of the Universe.

"May the Supreme Ruler of the World bless our land with Union, Harmony and Love, and preserve the people in Peace and vouchsafe to them the enjoyment of every good and perfect gift. May Corn, Wine and Oil, and all the necessaries of life abound among men throughout the world; and may the blessing of Almighty God be upon this undertaking and may this stone be preserved to the latest ages, a monument to the liberality, the patriotism and the loyalty of the man who is memorialized here today. Amen."


Address by Benjamin Davis Williams, III, Headmaster, Lawrence Academy, Groton.'

"One snappy November afternoon, Caleb Butler, a 25 year old Dartmouth graduate and already a highly cultivated scholar, made his way into Groton up the road from Squannacook headed from Worcester to his home in Pelham, New Hampshire. Along the way he met William Lawrence, then a lad of 18 working on his father's farm. During the course of their chat, Caleb inquired of William the way to the home o{ William Merchant Richardson, a fellow Pelhamite and then preceptor of the Groton Academy, with whom he wished to spend the night before proceeding on to Pelham.

"Within two months o{ this casual encounter, occasioned (as he always maintained) 'by the hand of providence', Caleb Butler became the 6th Preceptor of Groton Academy. It is recorded in the Trustees' book that on January 19th, 1802, the Trustees voted to give Caleb Butler $160 and 1/2 tuition for keeping the school for the next six months. Mr. Butler, being present, agreed to take the school in 'this pecuniary compensation.'

"Thus began Caleb Butler's association with the Groton Academy which lasted until his death in 1854. He 'kept' the school from 1802 to 1810 and, again from 1812 to 1815, a total of 11 years, longer than all of his predecessors put together and longer than any other headmaster until the time of Mr. Fred Gray. During those 11 years he taught no fewer than 615 students among whom included Abbott Lawrence, a future ambassador to England; Amos Kendall, a future United States postmaster General; the Reverend James Walker, a future president of Harvard; the Honorable Joel Parker, a future Judge of the New Hampshire Supreme Court; Mr. William Lawrence Chaplin, a very prominent aboiitionist; and a host of others whose careers would be of local, state and national significance. In 1807, he was elected to the Board of Trustees, the only incumbant preceptor ever so elected, and remained an active member until 1836. His influence in shaping the fledgling academy was enormous. During the Spring ol 1802, he supervised the founding within the school of a 'social Fraternity', a kind of debating society at whose weekly meetings the student members read original papers on a variety of subjects and received criticisrns o{ their thoughts.

"For two years, 1808-1809, he hired a preceptress and with her ran a 'female school' as a kind of adjunct to the academy in which were taught embroidery and other feminine arts. Later in 1823, he was to be very influential in helping Miss Susan Prescott (one of his former students) to found a female boarding seminary which used the academy building for its school and which was to number among its graduates, the famed Margaret Fuller.

"He was instrumental in coaxing from the Trustees the first money spent for a library ($20 for an atlas and $6 for a map of the United States) and for scientific apparatus, ($110 for a telescope). Long after he was Preceptor he continued to use the telescope and often in the evening would set it up on Main Street and invite students to join him in scanning the heavens, (Amc Lawrence always encouraged Mr. Butler to use all of the books and apparatus which he gave to the academy in the 1840's.) Caleb Butler was the first to bring order into the record keeping of the school. We find that in 1809, the Board of Trustees voted at his request to purchase a book to record all the scholars admitted to the school and made it a duty of the preceptor to keep this book current. Caleb spent many hours poring over the confusion of previous records and eventually had them well in order.

"No history of American education would be complete without reference to the services which Caleb Butler and other like minded contemporaries performed. In the late 1700's teaching in academies was largely regarded as only a stepping stone to other professions (law or the ministry) and was engaged in by young men just out of college as a means to acquire money to settle debts or to accumulate some capital for further study. Caleb was one of a number of young men in the early 1800's who helped to transform this regrettable situation into one in which the profession of secondary school teaching became a respected and permanent career. He, the others like him and those of their students who carried on after them, soon raised the quality of scholarship at the secondary level to the point where universities such as Harvard were able to drop such subjects as arithmetic, English grammar and geography from their Freshman curriculum and to make those studies requirements for admissions. (One wonders how Caleb would react to the fact that many colleges today feel it incumbent, because o{ the poor preparation of incoming students, to reestablish those subjects in their freshman curriculum.)

"He best expressed his own educational philosophy in the following words:

"Extremes are not always the best means to accomplish ends. It is far from certain that the multiplicity of school books, modern experiments and contrivances to make study easy, are not a hindrance rather than a help to the full development and strengthening of the mental powers and faculties. The mind, as well as the body, requires exercise, energetic, protracted, even laborious exercise, in order to raise its powers to full perfection. If a 'royal road' to Geometry and all science has been discovered, it should not be exclusively travelled, especially by those whose destinies lead them over the rough mountains of unexplored territory. The minds of a Washington, a Franklin, a Bowditch, and a Webster, were not trained up to the high elevation they attained in schools, where all studies were made easy. A retentive memory is an essential faculty to the acquirement of knowledge; but it should be considered, that the exercises of a school are not solely for the purpose of storing up knowledge for future use; but to develop, cultivate, and strengthen the mental powers, and prepare them for action under all contingencies and occurrences of a life of business. If, in the education of youths, the memory only be nourished and strengthened, the store of knowledge laid up will fail in its application, for lack of judgement, discretion, discrimination; A practice too common, introduced in modern improvements, is, opening the whole cyclopedia at once to the students, not in separate parts, to be studied in succession, but for a progression in one and all at the same time. Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Ancient and Modern Languages, Chemistry, Botany, Geornetry, Algebra, Music, and Astronomy, must be crowded all together into a master's or a miss's brain, in a shorter time than is requisite to instrqct, profitably and successfully, in any one branch."

"Caleb Butler was given a standing ovation by the multitude assembled at the Jubliee celebration at which he spoke those words in 1854. The Rev. Andrew Bigelow, one o{ his former students, offered the following toast.

"Preceptor Butler! We feel that your presence here is the crowning blessing and honor o{ our banquet; where so many of your academic family afiectionately cluster around you! We offer you the flowing tribute of grateful and loving hearts. Our children have learned from us, and theirs will learn from them, to appreciate your character and venerate your name; a name which will be held in honorable regard while the annals of the town and of this institution shall exist. Serene and happy be the evening of your well spent life; very late be the summons which shall withdraw you from the scenes o{ earth."

"Unfortunately, Reverend Bigelow's prayer went unanswered for Caleb Butler died the following October at the age of 78. But is it indicative of the man, the scholar, the teacher that he died as the result of a disease contracted alter a fall from a ruit tree which he was pruning in his back yard, and during a period in which he was reading the works of Virgil and Horace in the original."



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