GMJAbbot

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JOHN ABBOT 1776-1854

JohnAbbot1923.jpg

  • MM 1805, WM 1809, 1810, 1816, St. Paul (Groton)
  • DDGM?
  • Junior Grand Warden 1813
  • Senior Grand Warden 1814
  • Deputy Grand Master 1821-1823
  • Grand Master, 1824-1826, 1834.

TERM

1824 1825 1826

1834

NOTES

BIOGRAPHY

TROWEL, 2011

From TROWEL, Spring 2011, Page 10:

The Defender of the Craft
by Rt. Wor. Walter H. Hunt

On May 30, 1832, Grand Master Joseph Jenkins led the officers of the Grand Lodge in procession through the streets of Boston in full regalia, defying the anti-Masonic attitudes prevalent among their fellow citizens, to the site of the beautiful temple that would be their new home. To walk thus required fortitude on the part of the participants that day, but it was merely one more segment of a difficult path that the fraternity had walked since the Morgan Affair touched off the firestorm of anti-Masonic fervor six years earlier.

Prayers for the occasion were offered by Rev. Paul Dean, a future Grand Master, and by future Deputy Grand Master E. M. P. Wells; and after the official ceremonies were complete, the Grand Lodge proceeded to Chauncy Street Church (Grand Lodge was denied the use of St. Paul’s Church due to the intervention of a “superior power” as reported at the next Quarterly Communication.), where they listened to a dedicatory address by the noted speaker and Universalist preacher, Reverend Bernard Whitman.

Whitman himself was a Freemason, and he was a signatory to the Declaration of 1831; he had preached several sermons in defense of Freemasonry. Rev. Bro. Whitman’s oratory was impressive and forceful. The Masonic fraternity refused to dissolve, its loyal members declined to abjure, and the Grand Lodge chose not to surrender any of its ancient rights and privileges in the face of opposition.

The temple had been a matter of interest for Grand Master Jenkins since his election. In March 1830 the Grand Lodge resolved to appoint a committee of five members to investigate “procuring a place for the meetings of this Grand Lodge,” which was at the time occupying rooms in the Old State House. The Building Committee was directed to obtain a loan of up to $15,000 for the project, and on October 14, 1830, the Grand Lodge assembled at Faneuil Hall for a procession to the building site near St. Paul’s Church. There, the officers laid the cornerstone for the magnificent new structure. Just as with the dedication ceremony two years later, the members of the Grand Lodge undertook their task in the face of anger and the threat of violence. By the time the building was complete, the political landscape would have deteriorated further, placing the fraternity in peril. Only a leader of great stature could pilot through it.

Not long after the laying of the cornerstone, Grand Lodge estimated that the value of the proposed building would exceed the amount of real estate permitted under the 1817 Act of Incorporation. Grand Lodge was permitted to hold only $20,000 in property and another $60,000 in charitable funds. Some of these funds had been diverted to the construction of the new temple. It was decided to petition the Legislature to alter the Act, so that by the time the building was complete, it would be legal. In the meanwhile, construction progressed and the costs — and debt — continued to climb; by late 1832, costs exceeded $40,000.

Sentiment against the fraternity was sufficiently strong that the request to alter the terms of the Act of Incorporation was denied, even though it involved no change in the total sum the Corporation was permitted to hold. According to contemporary accounts, the anti-Masonic party in the Legislature poured forth “torrents of filth and abuse” which they heaped upon the Masonic institution. They charged that the Grand Lodge had violated its corporate powers; they charged that it was a wicked and dangerous association; they prayed that its act of incorporation might be revoked.

The Grand Lodge could have retreated, abandoned construction for the time being and returned to the project when the time was more propitious. A less decisive leader, a weaker character might have chosen that safer course. Grand Master Joseph Jenkins did not. He appointed a committee for a dedication ceremony; in answer to the concern that a public procession might be “inexpedient,” the Grand Master directed that it take place as planned, and that a “distinguished brother” would deliver an address “in the presence of the brethren who may be assembled.” And furthermore, the building would bear “the usual Masonic emblems.” Whatever the opinion of the public, whatever the legal consequences, the Grand Lodge would take up residence in its new home.

The crisis had not passed, however, and by the end of 1833 the menace to Grand Lodge was tangible. The Grand Lodge seemed adrift during the year, embarrassed by the acceptance and then the refusal of President Jackson to attend a special meeting planned for June. It was in violation of its corporate charter; the anti-Masonic power in the Legislature was stronger than ever. Without doubt, when it assembled in January, it would seek to destroy the Massachusetts Masonic fraternity. The House of Representatives even prepared and presented a petition — what might be termed an ultimatum — to demand the dissolution of the fraternity in Massachusetts.

When Grand Lodge turned to Past Grand Master Abbot to lead them again at this time of great need, he helped prepare a unique and effective solution: sell the temple that violated the charter and then free the Grand Lodge from further involvement of the Legislature in Masonic affairs by surrendering the Charter.

The memorial that accompanied that surrender (which can be found on the Grand Lodge website, MassFreemasonry.org > Member’s Center > Trowel Online) stands as a brilliant and forceful argument of the rights of the fraternity, and makes John Abbot one of the greatest defenders of the Craft, a great Mason to whom we owe much 180 years later. “By divesting itself of its corporate powers, the Grand Lodge has relinquished none of its Masonic attributes or prerogatives,” he wrote. “These it claims to hold and exercise independently alike of popular will and legal enactment not of toleration; but of right.”

A year before the anti-Masonic controversy erupted, on June 17, 1825, Grand Master John Abbot presided at the laying of the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument. Representatives of Grand Lodges from around New England, heads of York Rite bodies, and the Marquis de Lafayette participated in the ceremony. This event has been remembered and commemorated for years afterward by King Solomon’s Lodge of Charlestown, even after its removal to Somerville in 1899. It was a highlight of Abbot’s three years as Grand Master.

John Abbot was born in Westford in 1777, and was educated at the academy in the town and then at Harvard College, where he “took a high collegiate rank” at graduation in 1798. An instructor and lawyer, he was involved in town government, and he was a state senator; he took a leading role in the revision of the state constitution following the establishment of the State of Maine. His Masonic career began with his petition to Saint Paul Lodge of Groton (now Ayer), and he ascended rapidly to the master’s chair. In 1813 and 1814 he was a grand warden, and he was a district deputy grand master from 1821-1823. In 1823, the Grand Lodge elected him to its highest office.

Grand Master Abbot chartered seventeen lodges during his three-year term. Most no longer exist (though several with the same names were chartered after the anti-Masonic period). Mount Hope and Plymouth Lodges, as well as Orphan's Hope (as a part of Weymouth United Masonic Lodge), Bethel (as part of Eden Lodge), and Grecian (as part of Lawrence United) are what remains of his legacy.

At the end of 1834, the elderly Elijah Crane declined to serve further as Grand Master, and the Grand Lodge turned to the erudite Abbot to lead once more. He was less than sixty years of age, and was still active in his town, his church, and in Grand Lodge; there could hardly have been a better choice for Grand Master. The fraternity was still in peril, with declining attendance and with many lodges dark or simply disappeared. His efforts met and exceeded the challenge that the crisis presented. It was in many ways the high-water mark of the anti-Masonic movement: and thus, it was truly the beginning of the end.

Like Joseph Jenkins, John Abbot lived to see the end of the political movement seeking to bring down Freemasonry in Massachusetts, and to see his successors rebuild the fraternity to even greater strength.

MEMORIAL

From Proceedings, Page V-510:

Resolved. That we have received, with profound grief, intelligence of the sudden death of the R. W. and Hon. John Abbot, Past Grand Master of this Grand Lodge. He died at his residence in Westford, on Sunday the 30th, of April last, after an illness of about two hours, in the 78th year of his age. Thus, another link connecting the past with the present generation has been broken. Thus another star, ever diffusing a mild and cheering radiance, has sunk below the horizon to rise again no more.

Resolved. That we will cherish the memory of our departed Brother for the many virtues which adorned his life and character; as a friend he was true and trusty — as a counsellor safe and wise, and as a christian, may we not apply to him the language of the poet:

"Calmly he looked on either life, and here
Saw nothing to regret, or there to fear."

As a Freemason, the services which he rendered to the Fraternity were many and various. As Grand Master, as a Trustee of the Grand Charity Fund from its establishment to the close of his life, and as an officer in many other Masonic institutions, he devoted his time and his talents for the benefit of the poor, the unfortunate, the widow and the orphan. He discharged the duties of the numerous offices in which he was placed, with great ability, courtsey {sic} and fidelity. When the cloud of antimasonry arose and seemed to portend a storm, and it was deemed desirable to place at the helm a pilot of tried skill, integrity, firmness, and discretion, all eyes were turned to our departed friend, and although he had previously occupied the Chair for the regular term of three years, he was, again elected Grand Master, as it were by acclamation.

Resolved. That while he sustained the office of Grand Master an event occurred which will be forever memorable in the annals of the Craft; we allude to the ceremony of laying, in Masonic form, the corner-stone of Bunker Hill Monument on the 17th. June 1825.

That grand and beautiful ceremony was performed by him, assisted by officers of the Grand Lodge, in the presence of six thousand Masons and tens of thousands of other citizens. We were honored on that occasion by the presence of a Masonic Brother ardently attached to the Order, known and distinguished throughout the civilized world, and beloved and revered by the whole people of America; we refer to the veteran General, La Fayette. He visited the Grand Lodge on the morning of that day; and on Bunker Hill, robed in Masonic regalia, he accompanied the Grand Master to the place where the stone was to be laid, and stood by the side of him during the ceremony. That day was full of interest to other classes of the community as well as Masons, The reappearance of La Fayette after an absence of more than forty years - the presence of a large number of revolutionary soldiers, his companions in arms—the oration by Webster— the Masonic and military display — the gigantic procession, — all these presented a cluster of attractions and made the occasion one of unsurpassed brillancy [sic] and grandeur.

Resolved. That our departed Brother by his virtues and talents had secured the confidence and respect of those classes of society whose good opinion is of any value. He was often elected by his fellow-citizens to places of public trust and responsibility, and had been called by them to a seat in the higher branch of the Legislature of this Commonwealth.

Resolved. That as a token of our high respect for the memory of the deceased, the altar and jewels of the Grand Lodge be dressed in mourning for the term of three months.

Resolved. That a copy of these resolutions be transmitted to the son of the deceased, he being the only surviving member of the family."

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XIII, No. 8, June 1854, p. 234:

It becomes our painful duty to record the death of another of the aged Past Grand Masters of the G. Lodge of this Commonwealth. The Hon. John Abbot died at his residence, in Westford, on Saturday the 29th April last, aged 77 years. The deceased held the office of Senior Grand Warden in 1813, and in 1823, was elected Grand Master, which office he held for the Constitutional period of three years. During this term he officiated at the laying of the Corner Stone of the Bunker-Hill Monument, in the presence of Gen. Lafayette, a numerous assemblage of the distinguished men of the country, and about six thousand Masons. The oration, by Mr. Webster, and the imposing ceremonies of that occasion, are still fresh in the memories of all who had the good fortune to hear the first and witness the latter. It was a day and an occasion to be remembered.

Soon after this event, the antimasonic persecution began, and raged with mad violence for ten years. During the whole of this period Brother Abbot stood as a faithful sentinel on the outer walls of the citadel. He was always present where duty called. In 1834, when the storm had reached the height of its fury, he was again elected Grand Master, and assumed the direction of the affairs of the Craft, then in a depressed and embarrassing condition; but which, through an indomitable firmness that nothing could shake, and an energy which nothing could tire, he restored to a degree of order, and placed on a footing, the good effects of which were soon manifest in the revival and renewed prosperity of the Lodges throughout the jurisdiction. He resigned the office at the expiration of the year for which he was elected, but continued his regular attendance on the Grand Lodge, and to watch over its interests, and aid in its government by his counsels, and his services, when required. The Masonic Fra ternity of Massachusetts owe him a large debt of gratitude. He was an able, true and faithful Brother,—a wise counsellor, and a safe leader. He was one of the trustees of the Grand Charity Fund at the time of his decease,—a place which, we believe, he had held since 18r6, when the fund was established by act of incorporation.

The deceased was in 1816, Secretary of the Gen. Grand Chapter of the United States, and G. High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Massachusetts. As a man he was universally beloved by all who had the happiness to know him intimately. He was a member of the Middlesex Bar, and had been in the Senate of the State.


SPEECHES

BEFORE ST. PAUL LODGE, OCTOBER 1810

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXIX, No. 8, June 1870, Page 233:

Pepperell, April 12, 1870.
Br. C. W. Moore, — I send you a copy of an Address, delivered before the Members of St. Paul's Lodge, October 29,1810, by R. W. John Abbot.

Brethren, — As the time has arrived when I propose to decline a re-election to the office of Master, you will indulge me a moment, in referring you to the institution of our Lodge. The time passed in adverting to any useful establishment with which we are connected, is generally well employed. A comparison of what we have been with what we are, leads to the correction of errors into which we may have imperceptibly fallen. It tends in every charitable institution to strengthen the ties which unite its members. It is unnecessary to analyze the principles of our associations : you have frequently seen them delineated by the pencil of a master. The picture presented to your view has been a finished production of the best affections of human nature. The exercise of these affections was designed by the Great Creator to afford the highest pleasure ; and without them, our journey through life would be a night of discord and misery. What I now intend is only to give you a sketch of the formation, progress, and present state of St. Paul's Lodge. From such a view we may derive new inducements, not only to promote the good of the great masonic family, but to render this member of it particularly deserving the approbation of the jurisdiction from which we received our Charter.

The first regular meeting of St. Paul's Lodge was on the thirteenth day of February, A.L. 5797. There were present, at this meeting, twenty brethren, who had associated as members, and four visitors, — less than one-third the present number of members. Though the laborers in this part of the Masonic Vineyard were comparatively few, yet they soon performed much labor, for, on the twenty-seventh of February, the time the first Work was done, seven brethren were Crafted, nine Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Masons, and two admitted members.

The goodness of their Work is evidenced in the persons of some now respectable Masons. The inconvenience of attending other Lodges, from their distance, was, perhaps, the immediate cause of the formation of St. Paul's Lodge. That it has flourished and become a tree of fair fruit, I think we may venture to appeal as well to our own Records as to those persons of the Masonic Fraternity with whom we are particularly connected. From the establishment of this Lodge, during thirteen years, 166 persons have been initiated as Entered Apprentices, 68 of whom were initiated by the R.W. James Brazer, 33 by W. Oliver Prescott, 15 by R. W. Timothy Bigelow, 5 by W. Wallace Little, 21 by W. James Prescott, 10 by W. John Walton, 5 by W. Caleb Butler, and 9 by myself. 166 have passed the Degree of Fellow Craft: 71 by James Brazer, 36 by Oliver Prescott, 12 by Timothy Bigelow, 25 by James Prescott, 2 by John Walton, 9 by Caleb Butler, and 10 by myself. 154 have been raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason: 65 by James Brazer, 23 by Oliver Prescott, 13 by Timothy Bigelow, 21 by James Prescott, 14 by John Walton, 7 by Caleb Butler, 11 by myself. 77 persons have been admitted as members: while James Brazer was Master, 23; Oliver Prescott, 16; Timothy Bigelow, 7; Wallace Little, 5; James Prescott, 12; John Walton, 6; Caleb Butler, 5; and myself, 4. The number of members, as they this day stand on the Lodge books, is 73; from which, taking twelve names of persons who have not lately attended, and who probably do not consider themselves members, we have 51. The number of brethren whom you have appointed to preside in St. Paul's Lodge, is nine.

They are the persons whom I have named, together with the Worshipful John Loring, who appears to have resigned soon after his election. On this Annual Meeting, as well devoted to the cultivation of the social feelings as to the performance of the duties of Masonry and business of the Lodge, we witness with pleasure the presence of four Past Masters. One of our Past Masters, the Most Worshipful Timothy Bigelow, has repeatedly been chosen to preside in the Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth. Can we not with pride ask, has any Lodge more or better jewels than St. Paul's? Where we have, in our assemblies, the presence and patronage of characters who are honored and esteemed by the world, we may pronounce the state of Masonry to be flourishing. Charity is one of the great pillars of the Masonic Edifice. To be extensively useful as well as respectable, every charitable institution should have funds. Without them, the practicable exercise of this virtue cannot, or will not, be extensive. The nominal amount of the funds of St! Paul's Lodge is perhaps as large as that of other country Lodges which have been as recently established. Some part, however, of the funds of our Lodge, is not safely secured. A part, perhaps, can never be collected. The evidence of a part of them consists in mere loose receipts not bearing interest. Is it not consistent with the strict principles of Masonry, that brothers, who neglect to renew the debts, or properly secure the sums they owe to the Lodge, should, after being admonished by repeated request from the Treasurer, be reminded of their duty in some other manner? Is there any reason that one Brother should pay the Lodge his money as soon as it is due, and another, who has received credit, considers himself absolved from all obligation of ever paying? Committees have been appointed on this subject. It still requires the particular attention of the Lodge. A careful concurrence of the greater part of the members — I do not say unanimous — will alone promote the interest of the Lodge, by procuring a safe investment of its moneys. From our Records, there appears to have been made, before the present year, but six Reports of Committees, on the State of the Funds, since the establishment of the Lodge. In the year 5797, the amount of them was reported to be $305.05 ; in 5803, $286.21; in 5804, $251.48; in 5806, $646.07; in 5808, $651.60; in 5809, $672.84; and, by "the Report of the present year, their amount appears to be $747.61 : so that, since the year 5806, the funds have gradually increased. If this sum could at any time be realized, and the Treasurer regularly receive the annual interest, the Lodge would soon have a disposable fund to command, so as to pour the oil of health into wounds that can never be cured by the hand of private charity.

Brethren, — should my past conduct have so far received your approbation as that you might again be willing to place me in the chair, I must still decline the honor. I am compelled to do this because my private avocations, with other obligations, require, for the present, a respite from the active duties qf the Lodge. As Master, the principles of our Institution, which I have endeavored to represent not as composing the basis of a mere technical pursuit, but as forming a beautiful system, calculated to direct our conduct in life, by imprinting moral truth on the mind by means of appropriate emblems. To decline an election from any other cause than necessity, would illy requite the brethren for that respect and attention which it will ever be my pride and pleasure to acknowledge they have paid. At a future time, should the Lodge require my personal service, I shall cheerfully give it in any station the brethren may direct. Brethren, — the elections of St. Paul's Lodge have generally been made with harmouy and unanimity : hence it has held a high rank under this masonic jurisdiction. The same agreement in future will probably produce the same effect. Let us, then, make the only qualification for office : a virtuous, respectable character combined with masonic information. By continuing united, honoring the worthy, and cultivating, in the world as well as here, those social affections which are distinguishing features in the system of Masonry, we shall not only greatly promote the interest of St. Paul's, but advance that of the whole Fraternity. Our Lodge will thus continue a bright star in the constellation of Masonry, till the Great Architect of all shall close this and every human institution by opening in heaven a Lodge of happiness for the reception of faithful workmen.

A true copy.
Attest,
David Child, Secretary.

N.B Out of the 18 W. Masters who have preceded me, I am the only one left on the stage. I have occupied the chair six years, at two different times. I remember all of them. They were nature's noblemen! The "still small voice " says to me, " You must soon bite the dust."

Yours, in Masonic bonds,
Luther S. Bancroft.

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION OF GRAND LODGE, DECEMBER 1826

Rt. Worshipful and Worshipful Brethren,

The propriety of an address to the M. W. Grand Lodge by the presiding officer, on ceasing to be a candidate for the honors of the chair, has been sanctioned by immemorial usage. The communications at such times have been as various, as the genius and taste of the distinguished individuals, by whom they have been delivered. In one, the institution of freemasonry is delineated, and its origin traced back, till the twilight of history is supplied by the analogy of conjecture. In another, the tendency, which freemasonry has to alleviate many of the evils, incident to human life, and its beneficial effects on society, will be strongly and beautifully portrayed. One enters the secret recesses of Roman and Grecian mythology in search of the origin of the symbolical language of freemasonry, and charms and delights by the paintings of a warm and vivid imagination. Others again, not less usefully to the craft, give a plain and unvarnished statement of the proceedings of the Grand Lodge, for the period, during which they may have presided.

As my constitutional term of office is soon to end, if I were to attempt the discussion of any of the subjects, I have referred to, the last excepted, I should probably fail to furnish any new matter, or present it in any new or pleasing form. I shall consequently very concisely allude to the most important measures, adopted by the Grand Lodge, from the time of the act of incorporation, with a history of its proceedings, during the period, 1 have presided over its deliberations. This, if it afford little entertainment, will not be useless ; as it may enable a successor in the office of Grand Master, from a knowledge of what has been done, better to advance the interest of the Grand Lodge in future, and at the same time to obviate the effect of any error, which may already have occurred in the management of its affairs.

From 5817, the year, in which the act, incorporating the Grand Lodge, passed, a new and better direction may be considered as having been given to the concerns of freemasonry in this Commonwealth. Not from the act of incorporation alone; not because preceding Grand Masters have not as much distinguished themselves for ability, and performed their duty as faithfully, as those, who have succeeded since that time ; but because an amended code of by-laws being required in consequence of that act, the G rand Master, then presiding, was induced to examine fully all the transactions of the Grand Lodge, view them in every possible relation, and adopt a system for the management of its various interests, which should be just to all, while it should require a faithful discharge of duty in all. This system has since been steadily and uniformly followed. As Grand Master, I have endeavored to give it full and complete effect; with what success, is submitted to the candid judgment of my brethren.

After the adoption of the code of by-laws, under the act of incorporation, the first most important measure of the Grand Lodge was to establish a Board of Charity, in order to the equal distribution of its relief to the distressed. This was done in 5819, while Grand Master Oliver presided ; and may be considered a great improvement in the manner of dispensing charity by the masonic fraternity. Before this time every application for relief, made to the Grand Lodge, or to the subordinate Lodges in the city, was of course submitted to committees, accidentally chosen, and frequently, if not commonly, composed of different individuals. The consequence was, no general knowledge could be obtained of the necessities of the meritorious masonic poor. The most obtrusive might repeatedly petition for aid, and as often be answered; while the timid, from want of information, might be left to pine in silent obscurity. The organization of this board has afforded such general knowledge from a comparison of the various circumstances of the different applicants, as to produce an equal distribution of masonic bounty according to merit and necessity.

The next important occurrence in the history of the acts of the Grand Lodge was the formation of a Grand Lodge in the state of Maine. The first proceeding, which terminated in the establishment of a Grand Lodge in Maine, was instituted in the latter part of the year 5819; and the report of the committee, providing for the separation of that part of the masonic jurisdiction, was accepted in 5820, during the administration of Grand Master Fay. The terms of separation, embracing an amount of the funds of this Grand Lodge, in proportion to the former contributions of the craft in that State, having been agreed on, and ratified in harmony and friendship, our brethren of Maine, who had been " bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh," bid the parental hall adieu, to assume and form an independent masonic government for themselves. Though the parting was to us a subject of regret, it arose from the intimacy of our friendship, and not from any doubt of their success. Masonry, in that State, is in successful progress. Time is brightening and strengthening the masonic link, which they have added to the chain of State Grand Lodges.

After the separation of Maine from Massachusetts, it became necessary to form the Lodges of the latter into new districts. It was perceived, that the prosperity of the Grand Lodge might be greatly retarded or advanced by the formation of the districts ; as a proper arrangement of the Lodges would not only tend much to lessen the duties of the District Deputy Grand Masters, but greatly to facilitate masonic intercourse, two objects, which it was highly important to attain. This duty, devolving on Grand Master Dixwell in 5821, experience has proved to have been very judiciously performed, and to have fully answered the purposes, intended. In the same year, this hall, having been finished, and prepared for the meetings of the Grand Lodge, and other masonic bodies, was by him solemnly dedicated to masonry, virtue, and universal benevolence. Would I could say, that it is hereafter to be devoted to no other, than these noble and exalted objects.

While many nations have erected monumental structures to commemorate the civil virtues, or warlike exploits of their subjects, little or nothing had been done in this country to mark the great events of the Revolution, except committing them to the page of history. To distinguish an event, which perhaps more, than any other, was the cause of the prosperous issue of the Revolution, and again to assemble, in presence of their grateful countrymen, the surviving veteran actors in the scene, a number of distinguished and patriotic individuals in this Commonwealth formed an association, and were incorporated to erect a monument on the ground, where was fought the battle of Bunker Hill. Such were the unanimity and ardor, manifested by the public to accomplish this glorious object, and such the preparatory measures instituted, that in 5825, by the request of the Directors of the association, the Grand Master with the Grand Lodge laid, in ample and ancient masonic form, the foundation stone of a monument, designed to be as durable, as the glory of the event, it shall commemorate, is imperishable. I need not attempt to describe, to you, the day, nor the various recollections, to which it gave rise ; the calm mildness of the atmosphere, the peaceful serenity of the sky, and the warm expression of joy and friendship among those, who, just fifty years before, under a burning sun, contended on the mount, where death opened his court, established his throne, and with his icy hands grasped his many victims. In the breasts of the assembled survivors of the contest, the remembrance of the day must have excited opposite and conflicting feelings and passions; joy for their own safety; sorrow for deceased comrades; pride as successful warriors ; humble acknowledgment that they still lived. Nor did the scene create less lively emotions in us, who, as masons, aided in bringing the first offering toward the discharge of the debt of national gratitude. While freemasonry continues, the incidents and recollections of the day, in which the foundation stone of the Bunker Hill Monument was laid, will constitute a brilliant page in the history of the Grand Lodge.

Freemasonry has for a number of years not only commanded the respect, but been gradually gaining on the affections of the uninitiated. This appears from the increasing number of initiates beyond the increasing population of the State, and from the consequent establishment of new Lodges. In two years, commencing with 5818, after the adoption of the code of bylaws, and while Maine was under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge, Grand Master Oliver, under its sanction, issued nine charters for Lodges. In 5820 Grand Master Fay granted two. In the three succeeding years, Maine having been separated, Grand Master Dixwell granted nine. In the three years, during which I have presided, there have been issued eighteen charters for new Lodges. All these are now working successfully and have been solemnly consecrated, and their officers duly installed, except two, Mount Ararat and Phoenix. A part of the term of time only, in which a Lodge is required to be constituted, has as yet elapsed, since their charters were granted. Before the expiration of it, they will doubtless desire to he publicly recognized, as belonging to the great masonic family. During the last three years also, commissions having been issued, the foundation stones of five structures have been laid in masonic form; of a monument at Concord; of a court house at Dedham; of a Baptist church at Framingham; of one at Lowell; and of a Methodist chapel at Newburyport. These facts conclusively prove the favorable opinion, entertained of Freemasonry. They do not however so certainly establish its prosperity, though it may not perhaps have been ever more prosperous. A knowledge, that no Lodge opens its door to a candidate for the honors of masonry, whose habits are not fully formed, and whose character is not firmly fixed, and then only, when his habits and character are thoroughly examined, and completely known before admission, would be a surer standard, by which to ascertain the prosperous condition of freemasonry. The beauty of the masonic temple will be more improved, and its durability better ensured, by the quality, than by the quantity of the materials, employed in the erection. Indeed none should ever be used, but such, as are supposed to possess properties, which will always be likely to bear the severest application of the square, level, and plumb, without the discovery of defect.

Since the adoption of the by-laws under the act of incorporation, it has been an important object in the administration of the concerns of the Grand Lodge by my predecessors, that subordinate Lodges should all be punctual in the discharge of their annual dues to the parent institution. This example I viewed worthy of imitation; and in two instances issued such special directions, as I thought would best produce the effect. In the year, preceding my first election, a brother, having been recommended, was appointed to the office of District Deputy Grand Master for the eighth masonic district, who, as it afterwards appeared, was compelled to devote his whole attention to his own private affairs to the total neglect of the Lodges, entrusted to his care. From the distance of this district, being the county of Berkshire, and a consequent inability in me timely to obtain information of a brother, suitably qualified for the office, no appointment to it was made, during my first year. I however commissioned a worthy brother in an adjoining district, with instructions to visit all the Lodges in the eighth, to commend those, who had or would perform their duty in this respect, and require from all, who should neglect it, a surrender of their charters. Two inducements prompted to this course of proceeding. One was, a permission by the Grand Master to any Lodge to neglect its duty, implied by his taking no measure to enforce the performance of it, is an act of positive injustice to all Lodges, who faithfully discharge their duty ; another was, that as the constitution declares the forfeiture of a charter alter two years' delinquency in the payment of dues, I could no otherwise fulfill my own solemn obligations, than by exacting obedience to this requisition. On the visit of the brother, thus commissioned, all the Lodges in this district evinced a praiseworthy disposition promptly to perform their duty. Their dues were satisfactorily adjusted and paid, one only excepted. The charter of this Lodge from a decrease of its members, and a consequent inability, and not from want of disposition to fulfill its obligations, was surrendered ; with the hope however, that better fortune, and brighter prospects would hereafter restore it. Similar instructions were given in the succeeding year, as to a Lodge in another district, and produced an equally prompt discharge of its dues.

Such has been the effect of a decision, just to all, but. exercised in the spirit of mildness and brotherly love. It enabled the Grand Treasurer, at the. last installation of Grand Officers, to report a punctuality of payment of dues by all the Lodges, not before to be found on the records of the Grand Lodge. Two Lodges were then delinquent, and each only for a single year. It has caused the surrender of but one charter; and this, and the charter of "Seven Stars" Lodge at Edgartown, which from unforeseen causes was never organized, and never performed any work, are all, which have been returned during the last three years.

The disposable funds of the Grand Lodge are in a state of prosperous, though gradual improvement. There is in the hands of the Grand Treasurer the sum of $2082,41. Various circumstances at different times have prevented a larger accumulation. Notwithstanding the expense of fitting this hall, on the destruction of a former one by fire and the necessary purchase of much new furniture for the use of the Grand Lodge at the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the Bunker Hill Monument, these funds have gradually increased. This effect has principally arisen from punctuality in discharge of masonic dues, and from retrenchment of refreshments, except at the annual communication; a measure, judiciously adopted by my immediate predecessor, and which, if persevered in, will annually liberate a considerable sum, to be retained in the treasury, or applied to more useful objects.

But the subject, which affords most occasion of joy and congratulation in the members of the Grand Lodge, is the Grand Charity Fund. By the efforts of a few brothers in 5811, this fund was commenced by an appropriation of $1000 from the ordinary resources of the Grand Lodge. Such was the able and faithful management of it by our respected and lamented brother, Sigourney, successfully followed by the present Grand Treasurer, that in 5823, a period of twelve years, it amounted to the sum of $11239,31. The three succeeding years have added to it $4424,89; so that now its total amount is $15664.20. This increase has not been the cause of the denial of a single application for charity. In some years, after satisfying every request for aid, a surplus from the sum, annually appropriated from the income by the Trustees for charitable; purposes, has remained, which has been carried to the principal of the fund. Let it not then be said, or even intimated, that while all contribute to this fund, its charities do not extend beyond this city or its vicinity. The most obscure and timid individual of the craft, in the remotest part of the jurisdiction, has only to apply by the Master or Wardens of his Lodge, or to submit a knowledge of his case directly to the Board of Charity, and he will soon receive the desired relief. If the same successful and faithful management, of the fund, which has heretofore existed, be continued, it requires little exertion of the power of imagination to perceive the arrival of the time, when in every respect it may be likened to the vision of the waters; at first a small stream issuing from under the threshold of the east gate of the temple, soon becoming a mighty and impassable river, having on its banks many trees, bearing leaves and fruit for the healing of the nations. Let every brother then watch over this fund with feelings of the liveliest affection, and consider it a sacred deposit, never to be devoted to any other cause, than that, to which it has been solemnly consecrated, to the relief of distress.

One topic only, not connected with the history of the acts of the Grand Lodge, presents itself to my mind. The lease of the hall, in which we are assembled, expires in four years. It is uncertain, whether it will be renewed. This circumstance should excite us to the speedy adoption of measures, which shall ascertain the practicability of erecting a building, in which may hereafter be permanently holden the communications of the Grand Lodge of a State, distinguished for the wealth, enterprise, and perseverance of its inhabitants. It is believed, that a disposition in the fraternity to effect this object already exists. Nothing is needed on the part of the Grand Lodge, but to give a suitable direction to this disposition. May the observation then not much longer be made, that we have less enterprise, or less taste, than the masons of another and a younger State, who have once, and again, adorned their principal city with a splendid Masonic edifice.

I have thus, my brethren, given a concise account of the most prominent acts, adopted, and general system, pursued, from the time of the act of incorporation, till my induction into office, with a more particular statement of the measures of the Grand Lodge from that, till the present time. That they have tended to the general prosperity of freemasonry in this Commonwealth, I cannot but hope, will be conceded. On assuming to discharge the duties of Grand Master, I engaged to direct my utmost exertions to promote the highest interest of the fraternity, by a faithful attention, to whatever might concern the Grand Lodge. I will not conceal the sentiment, that I enjoy the satisfaction, arising from a consciousness of having endeavored steadily to attain that object. With whatever success my efforts may have been attended, I readily admit, it is chiefly to be attributed to the aid and support, 1 have received from the members as well, as acting officers of the Grand Lodge. For this aid and support, so generously, though perhaps undeservedly afforded, I offer to all, particularly the Grand Secretary, whose official duty has been much increased from my local situation, my most grateful acknowledgment.

Permit me only to add the expression of my hope, that the friendship and harmony, which have distinguished all our deliberations and proceedings, may still continue, and make the Grand Lodge the place of their permanent abode.


CHARTERS GRANTED

1824-1826:

1834:

None.

See the Attendance Summary page for information on charters surrendered in June 1834.

RULINGS



Grand Masters