The Grand Lodge

A Mason learns in the First Degree that a Lodge has a charter or warrant empowering it to work. The authority to work, including the Charter or Warrant, emanates from the Grand Lodge over the jurisdiction where the Lodge is located. This chapter reviews the history of Grand Lodges, the membership and administrative structure of the Grand Lodge of Maine and the representation of Lodges in Grand Lodge. The services and leadership provided by Grand Lodge for Maine Masons and Lodges is reviewed.

The Grand Lodge Era

The history of Freemasonry may be divided into three periods: the ancient or legendary, the medieval or operative, and the modern or speculative. No one can speak with assurance about the ancient origin of our order, but it is clear that many of our symbols and ceremonies had their counterparts in the ancient mysteries of the East, Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Organized operative craftsmanship can be traced definitely to the eighth century B.C. when Noma Pompilius formed his artisans into various colleges, chief among which were the Colleges of Artificers. From these were descended the Comacine Masters of Lombardy who carried their art and influence through the operative guilds or lodges of the middle ages who built the great cathedrals of Europe.

When the need for operative masons lessened, speculative masons began to be accepted by the order and thus, after a transition of about 200 years, the present Grand Lodge system of regular and duly constituted Masonry was instituted in London on June 24, 1717. This was the first Grand Lodge under our system of speculative Masonry. Over the next century, additional Grand Lodges were organized in England, and they joined together in 1813 to form the present United Grand Lodge of England.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Masonry was born in 1733 through a commission from the Grand Master of England to Henry Price, who organized St. John’s Grand Lodge. In 1769, a rival body known as the Massachusetts Grand Lodge was instituted by Joseph Warren, by right of a commission from the Grand Master of Scotland. Both of these groups were in a provincial status, owing allegiance to England and Scotland respectively; but on March 8, 1777, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts assumed its independence, becoming the first Grand Lodge in this country to proclaim its sovereignty. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts traces its origin to the commission given to Henry Price; therefore, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is the third oldest Grand Lodge in the world, preceded only by England (1717) and Ireland (1725). The Grand Lodge of Scotland was not instituted until 1736. The Grand Lodge of Maine was formed when Maine became a state in 1820 by the 33 Lodges in Maine which had been chartered by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Governor William King, the first governor of Maine, simultaneously served as the first Grand Master of Masons in Maine.

Modern speculative Freemasonry, as we know it today, owes its structure to the Grand Lodge movement. The history of Masonic Grand Lodges world-wide is carefully documented and fully covered by Masonic historians. The recorded beginnings of almost every Grand Lodge in the world may be found in Gould’s History of Freemasonry or that written by Mackey and edited by Clegg, Haywood and others. Historical sketches are printed in numerous other books that are available to the new Brother.

Titles of Grand Lodges

Grand Lodge titles vary from one jurisdiction to another. Only the titles used by the Grand Lodges in the United States are discussed in this section, such as A.F. & A.M., which means Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons. As used today by American Grand Lodges, the term Ancient simply means that Freemasonry is old; however, the word has many connotations within Freemasonry other than that of age. A great schism in English Freemasonry occurred when the Fraternity divided into two factions, probably because of a rivalry. The Ancients were founded by certain Irish artisans in London because they were refused admission to Lodges subordinate to the Grand Lodge. The terms Ancients and Moderns were first used by McDermott, the first Grand Secretary of the Ancients. He applied the epithet Moderns to the older Grand Lodge as a term of derision.

Approximately one-half of the U.S. Grand Lodges have A.F.&A.M. in their names. Most of the remaining Grand Lodges use the letters F. & A.M., meaning Free and Accepted Masons. These Grand Lodges probably left the word Ancient out of their title to avoid any possible connection with the Ancient segment of English Freemasonry.

Two other designations are found in American Grand Lodges. In South Carolina, the title is the Grand Lodge A.F.M., signifying Ancient Free Masons. In the District of Columbia, the Grand Lodge is designated F.A.A.M., meaning Free And Accepted Masons.

There are two words in these titles that may be further explained. They are Free and Accepted. The ancient operative craftsmen were men of great skill and their craft was considered indispensable to the welfare of both church and state. For this reason, they were not placed under the same restrictions applied by the government or the church to other workers. They were “free” to pursue their labors, “free” to travel and “free” to live their lives in a manner which befitted their importance as craftsmen. In the England of the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, this was almost a unique distinction, for most workers were under bond to the owners of the land on which they worked, but this did not apply to Freemasons. It is said that their freedom dates back to the assembly of York in 946 A.D.

The word accepted also has special meaning and its connection with Freemasonry goes back to the days of the operative craftsmen. During the latter years of the Middle Ages, few men were educated outside the church monasteries. Therefore, many men sought to become Freemasons, not with the idea of practicing the art, but to receive the “learning” and other advantages that such an association brought them. These were “accepted” Masons rather than operative workmen.

The practice of admitting non-operative members into the Craft probably originated when some of the guild companies admitted the patrons for whom they were constructing buildings at the time. The practice grew with the passage of time. With succeeding generations, operative members decreased and “accepted” members increased. Somewhere in the 18th century, the “accepted” Masons were predominant and the transition from operative to speculative Masonry came about as a natural course of events.

Grand Lodge Organization and Administration

The Grand Lodge is the sovereign Masonic authority to which every Lodge and every member owes allegiance; each Grand Lodge is autonomous in its own jurisdiction. This section describes the Grand Lodge of Maine, whose organization and member services may vary slightly from those of Grand Lodges in other Masonic jurisdictions.

The Grand Lodge is composed of its permanent members and officers, as well as representatives of all subordinate Lodges. The permanent members include the Past Grand Masters, Past Grand Wardens and Past Grand Secretaries and Past Grand Treasurers. The elected officers are the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Secretary, Grand Treasurer, and Grand Wardens. All other officers are appointed. Except for the Deputy Grand Master, the two Grand Wardens, Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretary, all officers are appointed by the Grand Master. The permanent members insure a long-term perspective on Grand Lodge operations. The other Grand Lodge voting members may actively participate in Grand Lodge deliberations during the period when they serve as a Grand Lodge officer or an elected Lodge representative.

The Grand Master presides over the Grand Lodge when it is in session, and he is assisted by the other Grand Lodge officers. The Grand Master in all his acts is subject to the Constitution and Standing Regulations of the Grand Lodge of Maine. When the Grand Lodge is not in session, its powers are vested in the Grand Master, and these powers are legislative, executive and judicial. All of his acts are subject to review by the assembled Grand Lodge each year. There is no appeal of his decisions. Grand Masters are very careful to make sure their actions are in accord with the will of the Craft.

According to our constitution, the Masters and Wardens of the constituent Lodges, or their proxies, represent the subordinate Lodges in Grand Lodge. Each Lodge has three votes, even if only one officer or only the proxy is present.

Maine is divided into twenty-four Masonic Districts, each containing from five to twelve Lodges. A District Deputy Grand Master is appointed as the personal representative of the Grand Master to the District and is responsible to him for maintaining efficient communication with the Lodges in his District as well as the proper conduct of those Lodges. In addition, he works closely with the District Education Representatives and the Assistant Grand Lecturers and the representatives of the various Grand Lodge committees. The District Ritual Instructors in each District work under the supervision of the Assistant Grand Lecturer responsible for that District.

The members of a Lodge are the absolute authority over its own membership. New candidates and new affiliate members are all approved by unanimous ballot. In the final analysis, the strength of Masonry lies in the individual member. He has many privileges, but all Masonic ritual and Masonic teaching emphasize his duties. The Mason who conscientiously performs his duties will enjoy his rights as a natural consequence.

The Josiah Hayden Drummond Medal

Most Worshipful Grand Master, George F. Giddings, in his address at the One Hundred and Twentieth Annual Convocation of the Grand Lodge in 1939 recommended that a medal to be designated as the “Josiah Hayden Drummond Medal” be prepared and presented to members of the Craft who had rendered distinguished service.

This recommendation was accepted and a committee was appointed to select a design and to recommend regulations under which the Medal should be presented. The committee reported as follows:

“That, subject to the limitations hereinafter stated, the Josiah Hayden Drummond Distinguished Service Medal shall be awarded by the Grand Master in his discretion to Freemasons whose outstanding proficiency in the knowledge of Freemasonry and distinguished service in the successful application of that knowledge for the advancement of the welfare of the Craft shall have rendered them worth of such recognition and honor;

“Provided, however, that not more than one such medal shall be awarded to Masons outside of the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge during any Masonic Year hereafter, and

“Provided, further, that after the next Annual Communication of this Grand Lodge, not more than one medal shall be awarded to Masons within the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge during any Masonic year.”

This medal is known as the Josiah Hayden Drumming Medal, to honor the memory of one whose name is known and honored in all civilized lands where Freemasonry has an existence, known by his ceaseless and untiring devotion to its interests, known by his great research into its ancient history, known by his open and fearless style of expression in the combating or in the support of any principle under consideration, thereby attracting the attention of Masonic correspondents all over the world, and by his decided stand, and at the same time fair and manly treatment of all questions, at once commanding the respect and admiration even by those opposed to him in judgment and conclusion.

For more than thirty-five years Brother Drummond pursued this course as Chairman of the Committee on Correspondence for this Grand Lodge, subject to all the criticism to which the fierce glare of discussion with other correspondents exposed his work.

As he was the senior of them all in service, so it was also freely conceded that he stood at the head of the line in ability. Through his efforts much of the prosperity of this jurisdiction is due. In a more marked manner, if possible, we are indebted to his greatness and the recognition of his marvelous knowledge of Masonic Jurisprudence and for the high regard and consideration given to the edicts of the Grand Lodge of Maine by other jurisdictions.

In 2000, the Grand Lodge voted to permit two medals to be awarded to Masons within this jurisdiction during any Masonic year.

The Simon Greenleaf Medal

The Grand Master is authorized to present the Simon Greenleaf Medal for unusual contribution to Freemasons who have contributed their time, thought and services to Masonry beyond the usual life of duty, which contributions have rendered them worthy to receive this medal. Not more than two such medals are awarded during any Masonic year.

Simon Greenleaf was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, December 5, 1783, and was educated in that town. He came to New Gloucester, Maine, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in Portland in 1805. He practiced law in Standish, Gray, and Portland. He was the first reporter of decisions of the Supreme Court in this state, and the nine volumes published by him attest his ability, accuracy, and fidelity. He published a “Treatise on Evidence” which remains a standard work upon that important subject. In 1833 he was appointed law professor at Harvard University and removed to Cambridge. He died in 1855.

Brother Greenleaf was made a Mason in Cumberland Lodge in New Gloucester on March 12, 1804. He was elected Master in 1808 and served three years, when he moved to Portland. He afterward affiliated with Portland Lodge No. 1. He was the second Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Maine.

Several of America’s great Masonic leaders have referred to him as “The leading spirit in the formation of the Grand Lodge of Maine”. He served as Most Worshipful Grand Master in 1822 and 1823. In 1820 Brother Greenleaf wrote a book entitled “A Brief Inquiry into the Origin and Principles of Freemasonry” which was an outstanding contribution to Masonry.

The following is a quotation from an address by Simon Greenleaf while serving as Grand Master and was made while urging the Grand Lodge of Maine to devote its funds to the establishment of scholarships in academics and colleges for the sons of deceased Masons, rather than using such funds for building new Masonic Temples:

“A single individual thus saved from neglect and perhaps even from ruin, separated as a rough stone, from the mass of ignorance, and fitted to support and adorn the fabric of social life, would reflect more true glory on our institution than monuments of brass or marble.

“It is by works like these that we approach to what I conceive to be the true spirit of Masonry – for its is not to be forgotten or denied that our institution professes to defuse light and knowledge – that its connection with the arts and sciences is brought into the foreground and to the threshold of its mysteries – that it is indeed ‘a holy institution’ – that it inculcates a profound reverence and devotion to the Supreme Being, and requires every Mason to square his life and faith by the precepts and instructions of his Holy Word.

“Indeed, Masonry is only valuable as she is the hand-maiden of religion. This life may be regarded as a school in which the character is formed for eternity, fit is the period in which a mansion is erected for endless duration, Masonry furnishes its votaries with a large portion of the scaffolding and the working tools – but these also at last will become useless, and be laid aside. It is, then, our great endeavor and prayer that we may become the temples of this living God and be consecrated, by his spirit, to her service forever.”