BENJAMIN DEAN 1824-1897
Junior Grand Warden, 1864.
From Proceedings, Page 1897-94:
"R.W. Benjamin Dean, Past Junior Grand Warden of this Grand Lodge, died at his home in South Boston on the morning of the ninth of April last, after an illness of several mouths, at the age of seventy-three years. P. G. Master of the Gd. Encampment: of Knights Templar of the United States, Active Member of the Supreme Council of 33° Northern Jurisdiction of the U.S. Although he had been an invalid for four or five years, he retained until the end that expression of strong personality and that same ruddy appearance of countenance which were characteristic when in the prime of vigorous health.
"Benjamin Dean was born in Clitheroe, Lancashire County, England, on the fourteenth day of August, 1824. His family came to this country when he was about five years old and settled in Providence, R.I. Shortly afterward they moved to Lowell, Mass. He was there educated in the public schools, and was graduated from the Lowell High School in 1840. He entered Dartmouth College in 1841, but remained only during the freshman year, when he returned to Lowell and commenced the study of law in the office of: Judge Thomas Hopkinson. He was admitted to the bar in 1845 and began the practice of law in Lowell, where he remained until 1852, when he moved to Boston. In 1848 he married Miss Mary A. French, of Lowell, daughter of the late Hon. Josiah B. French, of that city. Six children were born of this union, four of whom still survive. Mrs. Dean died on the 18th of September, 1894.
"Mr. Dean's success in his profession as a lawyer soon brought him into prominence in public life. In 1862, 1863, and again in 1869, he was a member of the State Senate of Massachusetts. He was a member of the Common Council of Boston in 1865, '66, '72, and '73, and in this capacity rendered, valuable service as chairman of the Committee on Ordinances. He also served in the forty-fifth Congress of the United States as Representative of the Third Congressional District of Massachusetts. In all these various positions, whether as member of the Committee on Probate and Insolvency, as chairman of the Joint Committee on Prisons, as a member of the Committee on the Eligibility of Members of Congress, as a member of the Board of Park Commissioners of Boston, or wherever placed, by his marked ability and his fidelity in service, he attained a high and enviable reputation.
"He was raised to the degree of Master Mason in St. John's Lodge, of Boston, on April 21, 1854, and on the same date was admitted to membership in that Lodge. On the 27th of December, 1855, a Dispensation for Winslow Lewis Lodge was granted by the Grand Lodge, and in this Dispensation Bro. Benjamin Dean was named as Junior Warden. He served as Master of this Lodge during the years 1858 and '59. On the 14th of December, 1859, he was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the First Masonic District of Massachusetts for the year 1860, and by appointment of the two succeeding Grand Masters he filled the office of District Deputy for the years 1861, '62 and '63. In 1864 he served as Junior Grand Warden, thereby becoming a Permanent Member of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Brother Dean was an enthusiastic Mason. He heartily enjoyed the social advantages, and believed in their beneficial influence, but he enjoyed iu far greater degree the study of its history, and the elevating power of its fascinating symbolism. Hence it may not be considered inappropriate in this connection to mention in outline the date. of his affiliation with other branches of the Order.
"He received the degrees of Capitular Masonry in St. Paul's Royal Arch Chapter, of Boston, in the. year 1854, and continued a member of that Chapter until 1863, when he became a charter member of St. Matthew's Royal Arch Chapter, of South Boston, and was its first Excellent High Priest. In November, 1854, he received the orders of Templar Masonry in De Molay Encampment, of Boston, and retained his membership with that Body until October, 1865, when he became a charter member of St. Omer Commandery, of South Boston, and was its first Eminent Commander. In November, 1854, he received the degrees of Cryptic Masonry in Boston Council of Royal and Select Masters. In 1869 and 1870 he was elected Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and in 1880 was elected to the highest position in Templar Masonry, that of Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of the United States, which office he held during the customary period of three years. He received the degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite from the fourth to the thirty-second inclusive on the fourteenth day of May, 1857, and the thirty third and last degree on the twenty-second day of May, 1862. He was soon after elected an Active Member of the Supreme Council, and was Deputy for the State of Massachusetts from 1880 to 1893, inclusive.
"In the autumn of 1884 Brother Dean met with an accident which made a prolonged confinement to his bed necessary, and although for a little while his physical condition seemed improved he never fully recovered, and for the remainder of his life he was a constant sufferer, gradually growing weaker all the time, until finally the end came on the date mentioned above. The funeral services occurred at his home on the 12th of April, after which the body was conveyed to Lowell for burial in the family lot in the Lowell cemetery. Simple but impressive services were performed at the grave, and a few of his Brethren and old-time associates joined with the family in paying the last sad tribute to the memory of an estimable man, an ardent Mason, and an honored, trustworthy friend.
"Thus at unexpected moments one by one our companions pass from sight; the tender ties of friendship are torn asunder, and buoyancy of heart is displaced by depression and gloom. Some drop away in the flush of manhood, and some under the burden of. years. But whenever or wherever the lines are broken the ranks are speedily closed and the great procession with apparent unconcern moves incessantly on. The remembrance of an upright, useful life, however, will long abide to comfort, to cheer and to bless. May the strong and praiseworthy qualities of mind and heart which governed our Brother in his long and active career be cherished fondly by surviving friends as an incentive toward the attainment of that integrity of character of which the Great Master in the end may say, 'Of such I am not ashamed.'
AT THE LODGE OF ST. ANDREW, OCTOBER 1861
From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXI, No. 2, November 1861, Page 41:
OUR COUNTRY AND OUR DUTY. An Address delivered before St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston, by R. W. Benjamin Dean, D. D. G. M. for the First Masonic District, on the occasion of bis annual visit, Oct. 10th, 1861.
It is unnecessary for me at this time to speak of the work of St. Andrew's Lodge. Without any examination I should be sure of its accuracy and skillful delineation while in your hands. You and I were taught by the same teacher, and your work accords with my own opinions of what correct work should be.
Yon will, therefore, excuse me if I leave those matters without further remark, and say a word or two upon a subject of peculiar interest at the present crisis — a subject I should hardly dare to venture upon if it had not already been somewhat discussed in Masonic circles, namely — The relations of Masonry to the present distracted state of our Country.
Our Country is now being devoured by internecine strife — a condition foretold by some, disbelieved by others, and feared by many. Thirty years have scarcely elapsed since Webster closed his most brilliant speech with these words:—
"God grant, that when my eyes shall be turned to behold, for the last time, the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance, rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured — bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory, as what it all this worth? Nor those other words of delusion and folly, Liberty first and Union afterwards — but everywhere spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment — dear to every true American heart — Liberty and Union, now and forever, out and inseparable."
The prayer was answered. He did not live to see his Country's dishonor. But a few years, however, had closed over his grave ere the catastrophe came.
And now, when it has come — when every patriot is straining every faculty to discover some balm to heal the gaping wound, some power to arrest the fratricidal strife, it is not surprising that many enthusiastic Brethren should look to the Masonic Institution for a remedy.
They see our ancient institution prospering in every part of the country — a Lodge within reach of every inhabitant — and those Lodges composed of the more active and enterprising portions of the people. They think they have found the institution having the power to cure the national disease, and they feel the im pulse to use it.
Nor is this all. It is but a short time, a very short time, since a body of Masons — the Knight Templars of Richmond, Virginia — visited Boston. They returned from the Capital of Massachusetts to the Capital of Virginia, to warm the hearts of the Old Dominion towards the Old Bay State, by accounts of their romantic pilgrimage, and the sincere and brotherly reception they were everywhere greeted with.
Their visit is returned! — and everywhere on the soil of Virginia, flowers fill our pathway, — Corn and Wine and Oil are without money and without price! — our cup runneth over!
Cannot this institution, they exclaim — this glorious, wide-spread Masonic Brotherhood — seize this monster rebellion in its powerful grasp and strangle it? Can it not by organized action in all its branches sap its strength, by extracting from the hearts of the combatants every unkind and warlike feeling?
With sorrow for our Country, but without sorrow for the Institution, the answer must be, No! With sorrow for the Country, because any substantial and permanent cure of her bleeding wounds should be hailed with tears of joy. Without sorrow for the Institution of Freemasonry, because such a use of it — such a power even — would be subversive of the institution itself.
Of course I do not mean that Masonry should not exert its conservative influences upon society, wherever it may flourish — softening asperities, mitigating and destroying fanaticism — inculcating charity towards all mankind, — but I mean that it should not, as an organized institution, throw itself into the breach — place itself between the contending parties, and attempt by any means, or in any manner, to control or influence the political affairs of the Nation.
The Masonic and Knightly courtesies to which I have alluded, undoubtedly somewhat delayed the action of Virginia, but other and more direct influences on the tide of events, thwarted their kindly tendencies. They were powerless to prevent the storm. And we have the singular fact, that the Governor who welcomed his Brother Masons and Sir Knights to the shores of Virginia, is a leader in the Rebel Army — and the more singular fact, that the Commander of the Encampment that entertained us in Virginia, wrote that most intemperate and un-masonic reply to the temperate Circular of the Grand Commander of the General Grand Encampment of the United States, upon the duties of Templars in the present crisis.
It is also worthy of remark, as an illustration of the changes wrought by time, and of the march of events, and of the political weakness of such considerations in times like these, that the indenture by which the Masons in Massachusetts took their property from the control of the Legislature and popular fury in anti-masonic times, provided that in the event of the decay of Masonry in Massachusetts, the Masonic Temple should be conveyed to the Grand Lodge of South Carolina, to be improved and disposed of for Masonic purposes. Contemplate the fact a moment: no two States are politically farther apart than Massachusetts and South Carolina; yet the Masons of Massachusetts conveyed all their property, so that if they were overwhelmed by the fanaticism of their own people, it should go exclusively to the Grand Lodge of South Carolina. Thank God the institution still lives, and that Temple, instead of going to the Grand Lodge of South Carolina, has gone to the general Government for a Temple of Justice! No! Masonry could not stop the strife if it would. Its entire organization forbids any intermeddling with matters of a political nature. The charges to which every Master of a Lodge assents, exacts a "patient submission to the decisions of the Supreme Legislature." If that Legislature says fight, we must fight.
Its benevolence is universal; its arms are extended alike to all; no shade of political opinion excludes a candidate; it exists South and North, East and West; many Brethren of extreme political opinions in each section are among its members, and they are taught that those opinions are not subject to its control, and that they contracted their obligations to Masonry on the condition that they should not interfere with the conscientious discharge of any political tie or duty. If you say to a Southern Brother, you are engaged in a plot and conspiracy against Government, he will reply, that he conscientiously believes that they have the constitutional right to secede, or that they are engaged in justifiable revolution, opening the discussion of subjects that have long distracted our unhappy country.
The introduction of such topics, instead of uniting the country, would divide the institution. It is not an issue for a Masonic Lodge; it must be decided by the bayonet — it must be washed out in blood. As Masons, we must obey the commands of the Supreme Legislature of our country; she has commanded, and we must fight at her bidding; it is not for Masonry to embarrass or meddle with her measures.
If politics are excluded from our councils in ordinary times, they are still more dangerous in times of great excitement.
If Masonry could be used for one political purpose, it might be for another; if for a good one, it might be for a bad one. The bulwark of entire prohibition broken, and it would become a secret political organization, deserving the reprobation and condemnation of every manly and straightforward mind.
On the 30th day of November, 1773, St. Andrew's Lodge adjourned on account of the few Brethren present. A note to the record states that the "consigners of tea took up the Brethren's time."
What was done was done out of the Lodge; no issue was there settled—no plan of arrangements was there agreed upon. So let it ever be. Whatever you do outside of Masonry, let it be done outside the Lodge room. Do not endanger the institution by mixing it up with your own political and ambitious projects.
Masonry upholds the country of its adoption by its direct teachings, and still more by its great conservatism. It teaches its votaries to be peaceable citizens, and cheerfully to conform to the laws of the country in which they reside; to pay a proper respect to the civil magistrate; to work diligently, live creditably, and act honorably by all men. It is a peaceful, social, Christian organization, scattering blessings wherever it goes. If in spite of its teachings rebellion takes place, it wait* upon the army; by its social qualities, Christian teachings and benign influences, and lofty rites, it mitigates the monotony of the camp, and humanizes the profession of war. It even follows in the wake of battle, and watches the issue like an angel of mercy.
The battle over, it is a shield to the fallen Brother — it protects him from farther harm — it stays the then uplifted sword — it assuages the rigors of imprisonment-it nurses the sick, and ministers to the wounded.
Peace restored, and as the grand centre of life and light, it will spread its genial and healing rays over our wide-spread land, carrying Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth to every mansion and to every cabin. It will conciliate true fiisndahip among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance, and will hasten the time when "the heart and tongue shall again join in promoting each other's welfare and rejoicing in each other's prosperity."