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Grand Marshal, 1906-1908
Senior Grand Warden, 1909
Grand Master, 1914-1916.


1914 1915 1916



Dean of Boston University Law School, 1935-43 and Sovereign Grand Commander, AASR, Northern Masonic Jurisidiction, 1933 -54. B. May 11, 1871 at Waltham, Mass. Graduate of Tufts and Boston U. Law School. He practiced law from 1895-1939, and gained an international reputation in the defense of the LeBlane-Glover murder case. In 1918 he became associate with the Boston U. Law School as a professor, and was dean emeritus from 1943. He was much in demand as a public speaker.

He was raised in Monitor Lodge, Waltham, Mass in 1892, served as Master in 1902 and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts from 1914-1916. He was a member of all York Rite Bodies and many other Masonic organizations. He received distinguished service medals from the grand lodges of Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Nova Scotia, Czechoslovakia and Norway, as well as the Gourgas Medal from the NMJ, AASR. An author of many Masonic articles, his best known book is The Beginnings of Freemasonry in America. Under the his leadership the membership of the northern jurisdiction rose from a low of 208,000 to 425,000 in 1954, at the the time of his retirement from office. It is through his efforts that the northern jurisdiction set up a foundation for research into schizophrenia, the chief mental crippler. Since 1924 this foundation has sponsored more than 50 separate projects at research centers across the U.S and Canada. Johnson was a member of the executive committee of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial Association. d. Dec. 18, 1957.

Denslow, William R. 10,000 Famous Freemasons. v 1-4. Fulton, MO: Missouri Lodge of Research, 1957. VOL. 2 p. 305



From Proceedings, Page 1928-476:

Most Worshipful Grand Master and Brethren:

Usually with hoary old age comes being the Dean of any group. Massachusetts presents the youngest Grand Master in the world, as the "Dean"' of all the Grand Masters of the world. (Applause).

We have just heard from one of our Past Grand Masters whom we love, respect, and venerate, and I am sure the out-pouring of every heart is the hope that his gentleness, his firmness, and his benign influence may remain with us for many, many years and he who opened the Home continue to he the Dean of the Past Grand Masters of Massachusetts. (Applause.)

One has no right to speak of the subjective accomplishments of an administration. He can speak only of the objective ones.

We met a severe loss in the death of a prominent Grand Lodge officer during the years 1914. 1915, and 1916, and there were many candidates who cropped up to fill the vacancy. There was one Brother of the Fraternity who did not appear as a candidate for the position. He was sent for and asked if he would accept it, provided he was elected. After some consideration he agreed, and as a result, one of the great accomplishments of the three years mentioned was the fact that Massachusetts has given to the Masonic world and to its own Grand Lodge one of the ablest, best equipped, and most efficient Grand Secretaries that any Grand Lodge has ever known; our Right Worshipful Brother Hamilton. (Applause.)

Past Grand Masters began to be recognized as such during those years, for the first time, in a sense. Never had the Grand Lodge before honored them with the presentation of Past Grand Masters' jewels, although, of course, a similar thing had for many years been done by the Lodges of the Commonwealth. When Most Worshipful Brother Benton retired, for the first time the Grand Lodge honored the Past Grand Master with a Past Grand Master's jewel. That turned attention, no doubt, to the regalia, and it was discovered that since the Temple burned down in 1864 the regalia of the Grand Lodge had not been in exact accordance with the provisions of the Grand Constitutions. The regalia for the first four officers, which was entirely out of order, was restored in accordance with the Constitutions and it has continued in such accordance ever since. Also the Henry Price medal came into vogue in those days. It had been struck originally merely as a memorial medal, in memory of the founder of duly constituted Free Masonry in the Western Hemisphere. Its use as such had been forgotten by the Fraternity. The medal was adopted as an honorary medal and was first presented in Athol in June of 1914. Its use has been very much restricted since, and it has become known to the world as one of the most prized jewels of the Fraternity.

Education also was given attention during those years. The most erudite Masonic scholar in the world, barring none, Right Worshipful Brother Roscoe Pound, Dean of the Law School of Harvard University, was induced to prepare and deliver two lectures, one on "Masonic Philosophy" and the other on "Masonic Jurisprudence," which have since been printed in book form and circulated throughout the Fraternity. They are and will remain the standard works on those subjects in the Masonic world. Brothers Hamilton, Bush, and the Grand Master also contributed to the development of that lecture course, and in connection with that, a great deal of attention was given to the history of the Fraternity, some two hundred pages o£ the Proceedings of 1916 were taken up with the results of an exhaustive research concerning the history of Free Masonry in the Western hemisphere prior to 1750, and so thorough was that research that but one correction has up to this time been authoritatively made, although there have been several more recent discoveries of great historical value.

We dedicated also a monument to Past Provincial Grand Master Jeremy Gridley, finding that his grave had never been marked by any memorial. There was also presented to the Grand Lodge a short sketch of the history of all of its Past Grand Masters during the older years.

For sixteen years the Masonic Education and Charity Trust, which had the custody of the invested funds of the Grand Lodge, had never made a report to the Grand Lodge of the condition of those funds in accordance with the provisions of the Grand Constitutions. This is said not by way of criticism, but purely as a statement of fact. No funds had ever been more faithfully or assiduously administered by any fiduciary than those funds were, but perhaps that they might be built up, perhaps by sheer accident, no report of them for sixteen years had been made to the Grand Lodge, with the result thai unfortunately there was a growing feeling of distrust toward the Trustees, and indeed some feeling of hostility. During the year 1914, there was made known to the Fraternity the exact condition of that trust; the exact terms of every will from which the trust had received money; the exact amount of the income; the allocation of the income, what was permitted to be spent and how, and what could not be spent by reason of
the terms of the deeds of gift. With a knowledge of what
 had been done there disappeared immediately that disposi
tion to hostility to which reference has been made, and in
deed, no such hostility has since existed.

The charity funds of the Grand Lodge were materially increased during those years, though no credit for that should be given to the administration. It was, as is frequently the case, due to the fact that generously minded Brethren of the Fraternity had previously deceased, and the legacies given under their wills happened to become payable during that administration. But the funds were not sufficient to support the Home and do the other charitable work. Therefore many of you will remember the Rainy Day Fund, at that time originated, which supplied the deficit in the maintenance of our Home and our charities which had existed for years.

Strange to say, it was found thai the Grand Lodge had no system of accounting. The Masonic Home had adopted a system, but the Grand Lodge accounting had been a sort of a haphazard affair, like when you put in the back of your diary what you have received on one side and what you have paid out on the other. There was no allocation of our business and Masonic expenditures. A system of accounting was then adopted which gave us enlightenment concerning the funds of the Grand Lodge, and which sufficed, with some changes, until the great increase of funds within the last few years made it necessary in make material changes in that type of accounting.

We have Lodges, as you know, in China, Chile, and the (anal Zone. They were organized into District Grand Lodges, in accordance with the ancient English custom. District Grand Masters were appointed for those districts and the rules of organization and conduct of such District Grand Lodges were then laid down.

One of the most important things with which those of that day had to deal came to the attention of the Grand Lodge when there was a petition for a Dispensation for International Lodge in China. On the petition there were a large number of names of Chinese Freemasons, men who had taken their degrees in this country while here at college, and who had returned to China. Then there came to our attention the question of what procedure should be adopted in China. There were and are other Grand Lodges having Lodges in China. Again not by way of criticism hut merely as a statement of fact, it may be said that none of them welcome candidates of Chinese blood, and yet there are many able men in China, of Chinese blood, well worthy of being members of the Masonic Fraternity.

It was also desired that there should be welcomed into their Lodges men who were non-Christians; men who did not look upon the Holy Bible as their Volume of the Sacred Law. Therefore there came at once to the attention of the Grand Lodge the question of what its future policy should be in the missionary work which it was doing that great country, and whether or not it would admit to affiliation with us men of Chinese blood, who might not be adherents to the Christian religion.

Great study was given to that question, and in the spirit in which Massachusetts Masonry has always been a missionary Grand Lodge. It was finally decided after definite study and careful report, that Massachusetts would admit to affiliation men who were not of the Christian religion, and permit them to take their obligation upon the volume which was to them the Volume of the Sacred Law, provided they were worthy of affiliation with us and were believers in a single Cod. This accomplishment in 1916 started a definite new development of Freemasonry in China.

There is no nation on earth whose ideals are more in accord with those of Freemasonry than the Chinese nation. Their philosophy, indeed, runs parallel to ours; so much so that some of their organizations have been believed to be Freemasonry in another form. It is believed by many who have studied the question — and I think one of the Past Grand Masters who is to speak to you may perhaps have something to say upon this subject, because he had a part in it — that Freemasonry has a wonderful opportunity, which may be developed to full accomplishment only along the lines determined in those days.

Such were those things which appear objectively to be the principal accomplishments of the years 1914, 1915, and 1916.

There was a rich and eccentric man who died, and a clergyman was standing with his widow by bis casket, attempting to comfort her. He said. "You should not weep; what is before you is not your husband. That is a mere husk; an empty shell. The nut has gone to Heaven." (Laughter.)

All these accomplishments of past years are gone. Those who have participated in them are no longer in the center of the stage of activities of the Grand Lodge. Results remain and still have potency. The thing after all, to do, is to use the past as a background of (he scene, but the actors upon the stage of today are those to whom we look for the carrying on of greater purposes and greater development than the days of the past have known. So the Past Grand Masters of this Grand Lodge unitedly pledge to the Grand Master of today their unselfish, altruistic, devoted service. He may count on them in every way in which they may be of service. They will be as much of a stay and support to him as he cares to have them he. They wish him well. They say, '"Do not look to the past, except so far as you find information and inspiration in it. Look to today." Indeed, as the ancient Arab said, we now say, "Let us look to this day for its life, the very life of life. Within its brief span lie all the verities and realities of our existence; the bliss of growth, the glory of action, the splendor of beauty. For yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision. But each today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope." In that spirit, let us join with the Grand Master of now, and look well to today. Such, to him, is our salutation.


On February 24, 1942, Past Grand Master Johnson delivered this speech to the Conference of Grand Masters in Washington, D.C. He was at that time Massachusetts' senior Past Grand Master and had been a Mason for a half-century. The speech was delivered only a few months after Pearl Harbor, and America's entry into the Second World War.


Brethren of the Conference of Grand Masters:

I ask for a word of prelude as a matter of personal privilege.

I have never given to any address so much serious thought as to this one. I have never before consulted about an address so many sound-headed brethren in my whole career in Freemasonry - 50 years a member, 49 an officer, 45 a member of Grand Lodge and serving it in some official capacity for 45.

The first draft of this address was prepared in early January. Shortly thereafter, it was submitted to a member of those whose opinions I greatly value. The printed draft, a month later, was submitted to others. Copies of that will be distributed to you, although I am making a few minor changes in reading it. I have requested advice and criticism from sixty-nine brethren in all, a substantial portion of whom have attended former Conferences or are here today. They live in widely separated parts of this country so that their viewpoints are different. Some of them have been good enough to indicate their disagreement with my views on certain specific matters and their reasons. Three, and only three, have expressed the hope that I would not include those matters which are the most vital. No one of the three, however, has said in his answer to me that in his opinion my facts or conclusions are wrong.

I should be much happier if I could take the advice of this small minority; but I have the firm conviction that since my facts are indisputable and my argument seems, at least to myself, unanswerable, it is my duty to speak of these things notwithstanding the certainty that what I say will hurt the feelings of some who have done and are doing wonderful things in and for Freemasonry. I know that I face abuse and perhaps loss of friendships if I do that duty. It will be a severe penalty, and I can gain nothing personally by frankness. In all ages, those who have spoke unpleasant truths have had for their reward revilement and persecution. One of the lessons taught me by the Master of masters, however, is that in my humble way I must be willing to suffer personally for the good of a cause that is greater than any individual. So it is that with both intensive seriousness and a heartache that I speak.

The subject assigned me is: Do Naziism, Fascism and Communism present a danger that American Freemasonry should meet? If so, how?

The answer to the first part of the question has already been given and is so indisputable as not to need discussion. The philosophy of totalitarianism is a menace to democracy and religion as well as to Freemasonry. American Freemasonry must not disregard this danger. How to meet it is a matter for serious consideration. In my judgment, the only ways now to meet it are to support our government 100% in this war and to strengthen Freemasonry itself.

Freemasonry cannot be strengthened by changing its fundamental principles. Just as in the material world. man cannot change the laws which God decreed when He created the world but can only adapt human ways to conform to them, so in the activities of human life, such as religion, philosophy and even economics, there are fundamental principles equally God-given, equally unchangeable, the violation of which results equally in disaster. If my philosophy is sound, God created not only the laws of physics, chemistry and biology but also the laws of the mind and of the spirit, of morality and of ethics. Puny men cannot stand in the way of a speeding mechanized Juggernaut and stop its momentum; if he tries it, he will be crushed. No more can puy man defy honor, virtue, love of God, love of fellowmen, or other of the laws of God by which human conduct must be regulated, without disaster, slow or swift but sure.

Freemasonry has but one dogma, monotheism; and it does ot attempt a definition of the Supreme Being. It cannot do so because that which is finite cannot measure, define or even comprehend that which is infinite, although it may dimly envision some of its attributes. Based on the whorship of God, we teach the love of our fellowmen, both being unchangeable essentials of civilization. The two Great Commandments always have been and ever will be as immutable as that two and two are four or that the human body must ultimately die. They are basic principles of this fraternity of ours. Inasmuch as the further tenets which we teach in the development of our moral philosophy logically flow from these principles, we have nothing in the teachings of Freemasonry which calls for a change.

Freemasonry cannot meet the danger presented in our subject by attacks upon others. Every school of business administration teaches and every competent business executive knows that in the whole history of the world. no business ever succeeded which spent its energy in abusing its competitors. Instead, it must gain and hold customers by demonstrating to them that it has something so worth while that they want it. Likewise, if Freemasonry devotes its labor and strength to hurling anathemas against competitive philosophies - whether of government, religion, or other human activities - it will land, with other waste products, upon the public dump. It will survive and gain stature only if it can sell its philosophy to men.

The effect of propaganda of abuse is evanescent. Temporarily it engenders hatred toward the enemy but not loyalty or patriotism toward one's own cause. Its effect wanes and disappears as time - only a moment in the aeons of God's plan - unrolls its lengthening scroll. Freemasonry, to succeed, must be constructive, not destructive.

There are three fields, and only three, where I can see the possibility of beneficial change in Freemasonry:

  • First: In its ritual;
  • Second: In its mechanical structure and organzation;
  • Third: In the practical applications of its principles in the field of human endeavor.

First: Should it make any change in its ritual? (I am speaking solely of the ritual of symbolic Freemasonry.)

More than two centuries have found no weaknesses in the essentials of the ritual. Wisely, we are conservative about tampering with it in spite of the great divergences in our different jurisdictions. In this field, I have but one suggestion: Our Mother Grand Lodge, that of England, and three Grand Lodges in this country explain in the ritual itself that Freemasonry's continued use of the imprecations in its obligations is purely figurative and that the only penalties which Freemasonry imposes are expulsion, suspension and reprimand. It is our duty to make it clear to the candidate that no obligations which he takes in our fraternity violate any duty he owes to God, his country, his neighbor or himself. It would remove a ground of legitimate criticism if all rituals would clarify this situation which shocks many. If we mean what we say, we require an oath which violates all of these obligations. Hw can we insist upon our sincerity in the use of the language of our ritual when in its most solemn moments we include things which Freemasonry does not mean, which its officers and members do not mean, which the candidates do not mea, and which everybody concerned recognizes as merely a traditional repetition of anciet common law provisions now, fortunately, obsolete?

Why continue to furnish our enemies with material with which to fashion ordnance to be used against us? It was used with great effectiveness a little more than a century ago.

Second: Freemasonry's mechanical structure and organization.

Here there are obvious weaknesses.

The two principal defects are disunity and the selection of titular leaders by ladder promotion, even then giving the leaders no real opportunity to function.

In the United States, there are forty-nine Grand Lodges, each supreme. There is no man or body of men entitled to speak for the Grand Lodges of the United States and, therefore, for the membership of these Grand Lodges. Aesop's fable is as true today as it has ever been of the dying father who showed his quarreling children a bundle of fagots, each one of which alone could easily be broken but when bound together the strength of all his sons could not break the bundle. Little respect is given to an institution so disunited as Freemasonry in America. In August, 1918, the official representative of the Secretary of War said to Most Worshipful Townsend Scudder, then representing the Grand Lodge of New York: "It is your lack of co-ordination as a Fraternity which has hampered the Government in its effort to deal with you." This lack of co-ordination was never more evident than at the present moment. After the last war, Freemasonry set up an Association to be an arm or agency to be used by the forty-nine Grand Lodges of the United States that they might function together, might unite their influence and their efforts whenever there was occasion for unity of action. This organization, the Masonic Service Association, neither is nor does it seek to be dominant in Masonic affairs. Its only members are Grand Lodges.

If there are Grand Lodges which disapprove either the procedure or personnel of the Association, why not get within it and there constructively seek corrective changes instead of staying outside and wounding it with destructive criticism? The Association is only what its Grand Lodge members make it or allow it to be; they have absolute control.

Is this not the only hope of unity? Most Worshipful Joseph Earl Perry's suggestion of a senate two years ago fell upon ears which would not hear. The only other possibility, a General Grand Lodge, is a spectre of such horrific mien that even to glance at it is generally regarded to be as fatal as to look at Medusa's head.

What recognition Freemasonry would get in America if the forty-nine Grand Lodges - having within their jurisdictions 3,000,000 of citizens who are Freemasons - spoke through the Masonic Service Association with a common voice! In these days of stress and trial, when many Masons and their sons are longing for some human contract of brotherhood with their fellows, but instead, are dumped into great cantonments amid total strangers, what a wonderful thing it would be if a united Freemasonry would provide not doughnuts or cigarettes, or even checkerboards and magazines, but the hands and voice of friendship and service, the manifestation of brotherhood! Only a few weeks ago, a mother living close to the Atlantic Ocean told me about one of her sons in an army camp near the Pacific Ocean who, though anxious to serve his country, was oppressed and depressed by lonesomeness and homesickness because not another man among the thousands in that camp reached out the hand of brotherhood; and yet that boy's father was so prominent in Masonic activities during his life that all of you either knew him personally or knew of him.

There is no greater lonesomeness in life than to be insulated in a great crowd - alone, indeed, although touching elbows with thousands happy in their contacts. In the state where his camp is located, the Grand Lodge has undertaken service to brethren there in our armed forces, excluding the Masonic Service Association. An appeal to the Grand Lodge brought the response that their representative "was refused admittance into the reservation as that is now a closed area and heavily guarded." Had the Masonic Service Association been allowed to function in that state, its representative would have been admitted to enter and establish the contact because the Masonic Service Association has official army recognition.

There are Grand Lodges who are not sharing in this common service, and grand officers who are publicly proclaiming their opposition to the attempt by a majority of the Grand Lodges of the United States to render such Masonic service to our brethren and those allied to them by family ties. No greater shame can come to Freemasonry in these days, when the very existence of our country and its institutions, including Freemasonry, is at stake than results from such disunity. I can understand why some people are unwilling for financial reasons to share in the expenditure although each jurisdiction could do something if it were only a token gift; I can understand why there may be honest differences of opinion about methods; but it is beyond understanding how any voice of destruction can emanate from those prominent in our Craft, seeking to prevent Freemasonry's demonstrating its brotherhood to those wearing the uniform of our country or of our allies. To my mind, this exhibition of disunity is aiding in the sabotage of the strength, power and influence of Freemasonry in the world Unity is of vastly more importance today in this public demonstration of Freemasonry's brotherly benevolence than the preservation of minority dissent. Our countrymen today have put loyalty ahead of politics. Why may not Freemasonry also unite in displaying a common purpose?

The other great structural weakness to which I venture to allude is that in many jurisdictions one who can get appointed or elected to a minor position in Grand Lodge will, if he lives long enough and keeps free from scandal, be Grand Master some day. Why not admit to ourselves, what all of us know, that this results in an undue proportion of incompetent leadership? Its only justification is that more brethren are given honors. Is this, however, more important than maintaining the strength, power and influence of Freemasonry, to which it does not contribute?

Again, in a large proportion of our Grand Lodges the annual Communication adjourns as soon as a new Grand Master is installed, and at the next meeting of that Grand Lodge his successor is elected and installed. Such a procedure utterly prevents any leader, no matter how competent, from initiating and making effective long-term policies of administration, however efficient or wise they may be. It is only in times of great emotional stress that large groups of men can quickly be persuaded to favor substantial changes in policy. Otherwise, iteration and reiteration, experiment and and experience must contribute to enlighten and satisfy them of the wisdom of a change. The inventory of what has been accomplished is remarkable in view of the fact that most Grand Masters in this country have no opportunity to propound and discuss policies with all the members and officers of their respective Grand Lodges until the day they go out of office. Wiser practices prevail in certain jurisdictions. Some of our Grand Lodges have semi-annual or quarterly Communications; some retain their Grand Masters for more than one term; some choose their leaders because of the qualifications for valuable service, because they are Masonic statesmen, not because they have been put into the "line".

Third: The practical application of the principles of Freemasonry to the field of human endeavor.

Here there are many concrete instances which might be discussed. I have time for only two, and they both demonstrate the lack of unity of which I have already spoken.

Freemasonry has put into practice the benevolent teachings of its ritual in several advantageous and successful ways. Homes for aged Freemasons and their dependents are to be found in many jurisdictions. In others, there are hospitals for the sick. In some, there are homes for children. Thirty-five grand jurisdictions support such eleemosynary institutions; the fourteen others give only non-institutional relief. A great organization, composed entirely of Masons, maintains an outstanding benevolence in its children's hospitals. Our fraternity itself functions for the development of character in mature men. There is one gap to which proper attention has not been given and that is the field of youth, too old for children's homes, too young to be members of our Craft, but nevertheless in a formative period when proper influences are more needed than at any other time. If Freemasonry somehow can show its benevolence through its membership in reaching this great mass of the youth of America, it will be doing a mighty thing for them and for our country, as well as inspiring these youths with ideals which might lead them to become Masons when they reach maturity. Here Freemasonry neglects one of the most fertile fields for the building of character and preserving the American habit of life as well as furnishing prospective candidates for our degrees. When, however, there was a concerted effort by means of the Order of DeMolay to bring these youths under proper influences, it met and still meets with antagonism, although no one has proposed any better way of spreading the ideals of Freemasonry among the youth of our land during the period when such influences are more necessary and effective than at any other time in their lives. Those of us who are Freemasons and who are not furthering the work of the Order of DeMolay are, it seems to me, guilty of neglect of a great opportunity if we do not either join therein or energetically develop some better way to reach and touch the hearts and minds of youth.

Our Mother Grand Lodge, that of England, regarded it not only as advisable but necessary to make a Declaration of the Principles of Freemasonry that they might not be misunderstood by the profane. The same thought motivated some Grand Lodges and leaders of the Craft in this country. Consequently, in one of these Conferences of Grand Masters an attempt was made to draft a statement of the fundamental principles of our Craft in such a way that they could be suggested for consideration to the Grand Lodges of this country in a form that might unanimously be declared to the world. Such a declaration of principles was so carefully thought out that when, after discussion, it was finally drafted by a committee of this Conference no voice of further suggestion, amendment or opposition was heard from. The Conference had no sooner adjourned, however, than a secret drive against its adoption by Grand Lodges was initiated. One attack was made by the circulation of mimeographed documents urging opposition from which I quote a paragraph:

"You can readily see that the duty devolves upon us to maintain the warmest and friendliest relations with all Masonic Grand Bodies. Therefore, it may be the part of wisdom to be very discreet in active opposition to the proposal . . . hence everyone must act for himself individually, and none should mention the names of any other members . . . and, therefore, those communications are strictly personal and confidential."

Hew does that method of submarine torpedo attack against proposed Grand Lodge legislation strike you? I refrain intentionally from indicating its source. But it is common knowledge, at least among he best informed, that the hostility of certain officers in Masonic bodies, not now responsible officers of Grand Lodges but nevertheless in a position to control honors which Grand Lodges do not grant, has had a powerful adverse effect. Do you regard it as Masonic for other bodies of our fraternity or their officers to make a secret attack upon any proposed Grand Lodge legislation, the impropriety of which attack is so clearly recognized by its makers that it is accompanied by a request to conceal its source? The next emanation from that same source will probably be directed against these conferences. Individual Grand Lodges can be manipulated better if dealt with singly and without cooperative action or discussion. This is Hitler's successful strategy. If unity among other nations had begun when he first violated the Versailles Treaty, this terrible war would, beyond the shadow of a doubt, have been prevented. Disunity is the vitamin of defeat. In my judgment, no other Masonic body, directly or through its officers, has any business to intermeddle with the affairs of Grand Lodges except so far and so far only as its officers act individually as members or officers of their respective Grand Lodge jurisdictions. The acme of impropriety is covertly to use the power to grant or withhold extra-mural honor and rank as bait or threat to influence action in Grand Lodge. Speaking for myself (and this address does not purport to state the opinion of anybody else), I regard it as unMasonic for any body, not a Grand Lodge, to flout, deny or set at naught what has been a Landmark or at least a Regulation recognized by Symbolic Freemasonry for more than two centuries since Anderson's Constitutions were promulgated in 1723.

A Past Grand Master of Ohio, after relating certain facts, made some pertinent remarks in 1919, from which I quote:

"Thus again is the pernicious doctrine that one or a small number of men who happen to hold Masonic office may assume the name of Freemasonry and bring upon us the contempt of the Craft throughout the world by a wrongful claim of rank and power."

The principal reason urged against the adoption of the proposed Declaration of Principles was that it declared the "conviction that it is not only contrary to the fundamental principles of Freemasonry, but dangerous to its unity, strength, usefulness and welfare, for Masonic Bodies to take action or attempt to exercise pressure or influence for or against any legislation, or in any way attempt to procure the election or appointment of governmental officials, or to influence them, whether or not members of the Fraternity, in the performance of their official duties. The true Freemason will act in civil life according to his individual judgment and the dictates of his conscience."

This is merely an elaboration of what was laid down as fundamental in Anderson's Constitutions shortly after the organization of the Mother Grand Lodge of the world. These Constitutions of 1723 declared that we "are resolved against all politics, as what never yet conduced to the welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will."

In my opinion, unless Freemasonry adheres to this Regulation its destruction is certain, and there is no greater existing danger to Freemasonry than to lead or even allow the public to believe that it has departed from its primary purpose of building character in men and has become a protagonist in politics, however good may be its motives.

It is not mingling in politics for Freemasonry to oppose intolerance and bigotry, whether in the field of knowledge, in the field of religion, or in affairs of state. It would be imbecile for Freemasonry not to recognize that "unfortunately there are in this world, and perhaps there always will be, rights that cannot be vindicated, wrongs that cannot be righted, abuses that cannot be extirpated, and tyrannies that cannot be overthrown without the use of the sword." However, it is not for Freemasonry, as an institution, to use that sword. It is for its membership, who are Freemasons but who act in civil life in their individual capacity as honorable and loyal citizens, to do their duty as God, their Country and their fellows shall call them to do.

Neither does Freemasonry's continued reiteration that it does not mingle in politics mean that Freemasonry abandons its advocacy of principle. Freemasonry openly stands for freedom and against tyranny, for the worship of God and against atheism, for the right of each human individual to seek the truth and against intellectual slavery. Sincere men who are not bigots and not bent upon the control and domination of other men's minds and bodies will not differ upon such principles. They may differ as to the policies which should be used in carrying those principles into effect. It is partisanship for or against policies about which sincere men may honestly differ that Freemasonry abjures.

It is true that there is no mathematical, mechanical line which can invariably be drawn between principles and policies. As in almost all human affairs, it is impossible at times to make distinctions with unerring accuracy. Even those who are called upon solemnly to determine matters of life and death beyond a reasonable doubt, sometimes make mistakes. Here and there, officers and bodies of Freemasons may unintentionally err. They must use their common sense and sound judgment, and in any doubtful case should, when acting as Freemasons, avoid those things which cause cleavage between honorable, tolerant men. As citizens, they should go into the world advocating with all their energy such policies as they believe will transmute principle into policy and policy into practice. As a citizen, each Freemason should choose those policies which satisfy the dictates of his individual conscience and judgment.

The attempt to weaken and destroy this ancient Masonic prohibition against the Fraternity's entering into politics is a cause of present disunity and a seed of destruction.

In the practical application of the principles of Freemasonry in the field of human endeavor, it is it not possible for the minority of our membership to allow that the majority who are equally sincere may be right and join with them when the majority have united in action? Is the dissent so fundamental that the minority cannot for the duration of the war lay it aside, close our ranks and move forward to give the demonstration of a total impact of Freemasonry in America?

"Those opposed eyes
Which like meteors of a troubled heaven,
All of one nature, of one substance bred,
Did lately meet in th' intestine shock,
Shall now in mutual, well-beseeming ranks
March all one way."

Thus only can our beloved institution function in unity toward successful attainment of its mission. Thus only can it stick to that mission, which is to build character in men and inspire them, joining in the worship of a common God, to teach mankind that its only hope for the preservation and advance of civilization is to rebuild our crushed and bleeding world upon that which still remains untried as the basis of a state, - the power of love.


Freemasonry is a charitable, benevolent, educational, and religious society. Its principles are proclaimed as widely as men will hear. Its only secrets are in its methods of recognition and of symbolic instruction.

It is charitable in that it is not organized for profit and none of its income inures to the benefit of any individual, but all is devoted to the promotion of the welfare and happiness of mankind.

It is benevolent in that it teaches and exemplifies altruism as a duty.

It is educational in that it teaches by prescribed ceremonials a system of morality and brotherhood based upon the Sacred Law.

It is religious in that it teaches monotheism; the Volume of the Sacred Law is open upon its altars whenever a Lodge is in session; reverence for God is ever present in its ceremonial, and to its Brethren are constantly addressed lessons of morality; but it is not sectarian or theological.

It is a social organization only so far as it furnished additional inducement that men may forgather in numbers, thereby providing more material for its primary work of education, of worship, and of charity.

Through the improvement and strengthening of the character of the individual man, Freemasonry seeks to improve the community. Thus it impresses upon its members the principles of personal righteousness and personal responsibility, enlightens them as to those things which make for human welfare, and inspires them with that feeling of charity, or good will toward all mankind which will move them to translate principle and conviction into action.

To that end, it preaches and stands for the worship of God, truth and justice; fraternity and philanthropy; and enlightenment and orderly liberty, civil, religious, and intellectual. It charges each of its members to be true and loyal to the government of the country to which he owes allegiance and to be obedient to the law of any state in which he may be.

It believes that the attainment of these objectives is best accomplished by laying a broad basis of principle upon which men of every race, country, sect and opinion may unite rather than by setting up a restricted platform upon which only those of certain races, creeds, and opinions can assemble.

Believing these things, this Grand Lodge affirms its continued adherence to that ancient and approved rule of Freemasonry which forbids the discussion in Masonic meetings of creeds, politics, or other topics likely to excite personal animosities.

It further affirms its conviction that it is not only contrary to the fundamental principles of Freemasonry, but dangerous to its unity, strength, usefulness, and welfare, for Masonic bodies to take action of to attempt to exercise pressure or influence for or against any legislation, or in any way to attempt to procure the election or appointment of governmental officials, or to influence them, whether or not members of the Fraternity, in the performance of their official duties. The true Freemason will act in civil life according to his individual judgment and the dictates of his conscience.


From Proceedings, Page 1958-36:

Born in Waltham, Massachusetts, May 11, 1871
Died at his home in Boston, Massachusetts, December 18, 1957

He had been in failing health following a heart attack which hospitalized him in London, England, in late March as he and his wife were beginning a vacation in Europe.

He attended the public schools of Waltham and graduated from high school in 1888 and then from Tufts College in 1892 with the degrees of A.B. and Ph.B. After a year of travel, he entered Boston University Law School, from which he graduated in 1895, receiving the degree of LL.B., magna cum laude. He was subsequently honored with the degree of LL.D. from the University of Vermont in 1936; the degree of L.H.D. was conferred upon him by Marietta College (Ohio) in 1941; the degree of D.C.L. was granted him by Illinois Wesleyan University in 1949; the LL.D. by Tufts College in 1949, and the degree of L.H.D. by Boston University in 1954. In addition, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1938 and an Honorary Member of the American Psychiatric Association in 1940.

He was admitted to the practice of law in the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 1895 and the United States Supreme Court in 1903. He continued his active association with the legal profession until 1939 when he retired from the firm of Johnson and North. During his long career, Dr. Johnson was prominent in the field of corporation law and also served as an officer or director in a number of financial, industrial and charitable associations.

Most Worshipful Brother Johnson took a great interest in legal education, first, as a lecturer at Boston University Law School in 1918 and 1919, and then as Professor, 1920-1935; Dean, 1935-1942, and Dean Emeritus, 1942.

He married Miss Ina Delphene Freeman at Needham, Massachusetts, October 8, 1895. Mrs. Johnson died December 9, 1947. On August 14, 1954, he married Mrs. Eleanor Yeager Payzant at Woodstock, Vermont, who survives him, together with a son, Melvin Maynard Johnson, Jr.

Most Worshipful Brother Johnson's long, distinguished and notable Masonic record follows:

  • Symbolic:
    • Member of Monitor Lodge, Waltham, 1892
    • Worshipful Master, 1902-1903
    • Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, District Deputy Grand Master, 1904-1905 (Fifth Masonic District); Member Board of Trial Commissioners, 1899-1905 and 1912; Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1913-1915; Member Masonic Education and Charity Trust; Representative of Scotland and Panama and, for many years, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations. He received the Henry Price Medal from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and was an Honorary Member of many Lodges and Grand Lodges. He was decorated by the Grand Lodge o{ Norway as Knight Commander with the Red Cross and Honorary Member of the 11th and last degree of the Norwegian Order of Freemasonry.
  • Capitular:
    • Exalted in Waltham Chapter, R.A.M., April 20, 1893.
  • Cryptic:
    • Greeted in Adoniram Council, R.&S.M., December 10, 1908.
  • Chivalric:
    • Knighted in Gethsemane Commandery, K.T., November 28, 1893. Demitted and affiliated with Sir Galahad Commandery, K.T., in 1922; demitted and affiliated with St. Bernard Commandery in 1933.
  • Scottish Rite:
    • Received the degrees from the Fourth to the Thirty-second in the four Boston bodies in 1904-1905. Thrice Potent Master of Boston-Lafayette Lodge of Perfection in 1917-1918.
  • Supreme Council:
    • Created an Honorary Member of the Supreme Council, September 15, 1914, at Chicago, Illinois, and was crowned an Active Member on September 23, 1920, at Chicago. Elected Sovereign Grand Commander on September 28, 1933, at Bostoo. He was chairman of the delegation of this Supreme Council to the International Conference of Supreme Councils, Brussels, Belgium, in 1935, and made numerous other foreign trips, visiting Masonic Bodies throughout the world. Served as Representative near this Supreme Council for England, Ireland and Argentina, and was an Honorary Member of many Scottish Rite Valleys and other Supreme Councils.

He was a member of Aleppo Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S., Boston; Bay State Conclave No. 29, Red Cross of Constantine; Royal Order of Scotland; and the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis. He was a prime mover in the establishment of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association at Alexandria, Virginia, serving as Vice President in 1916-1920 and as a Director for many years. He was also a member of the International Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay, and was active as Deputy for Massachusetts during the formative period, 1922-24; and then as an Active Member of that Supreme Council, 1924-1951.

He was a noted Masonic author, publishing many articles, pamphlets and two widely-known books, Freemasonry in America Prior to 1750 (1916) and The Beginnings of Freemasonry in America (1924). He was a Fellow of the American Lodge of Research of New York and o{ The Philalethes Society. One of the projects closest to his heart was the initiation of research into the cause of Dementia Praecox (now better known as schizophrenia).

Private funeral services were held at the Church of the Advent, Boston, on Saturday morning, December 21st. A tribute to Dr. Johnson was also paid at the December meeting of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts. Burial was at Mount Peake Cemetery, 'Waltham, Massachusetts.

Fraternally submitted,
Joseph Earl Perry
Thomas S. Roy
Claude L. Allen



Grand Masters