- 1 WILLIAM D. COOLIDGE 1808-1885
- 1.1 TERM
- 1.2 NOTES
- 1.3 BIOGRAPHY
- 1.4 MEMORIAL
- 1.5 SPEECHES
- 1.6 CHARTERS GRANTED
WILLIAM D. COOLIDGE 1808-1885
Grand Sword Bearer, 1849-1850, 1855
Junior Grand Steward, 1852-1854
Grand Marshal, 1856
Junior Grand Warden, 1860
Grand Master, 1861-62.
Biographical sketch, in History of Columbian Lodge by John T. Heard, p. 523
NEW ENGLAND CRAFTSMAN, JANUARY 1917
From New England Craftsman, Vol. XII, No. 4, January 1917, Page 120:
Born in Boston, February 5, 1808. Died September 12, 1885—73 years. Raised in Columbian Lodge March 3, 1842, and became a member May 19, 1842. Worshipful Master of Columbian Lodge in 1852 and 1853. Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts in 1860 and 1861. Wool merchant. Served in Common Council and Massachusetts Legislature. During his administration as Grand Master several army lodges were incorporated. The Grand Lodge conducted his funeral services. Rt. Wor. E. Bentley Young was a member of the Memorial Committee in Grand Lodge, and in that memorial said of him that "his record bears the highest testimony to the purity of his character and the unselfishness of his aims. His was a nature genuine and sincere, walking always in straightforward paths, and utterly free from ostentation or pretence."
From Proceedings, Page 1960-86:
. . . R. W. William Dawes Coolidge, who was born in Boston February 15, 1808. His father was William Coolidge, a dry-goods merchant. His mother was Matilda Curtis, daughter of Capt. Nathaniel Curtis, famous contractor for building of wharves, streets and other public utilities. William Dawes, merchant celebrity of Boston, was his great grandfather, and no doubt father of Revere's riding mate. R. W. Brother Coolidge was educated in the Boston schools in 1821 and was connected with the dry-goods business, finally going into business for himself and becoming recognized as an expert on wool and the wool market. He was in the collector's department of the Boston Custom House, member of the Common Council of Boston, secretary of the committee having in charge the introduction of the Cochituate water, was a member of the General Court, served in Boston Light Infantry, moved to Newton in 1856 and served as Deacon of Channing Church of Newton. It was worthy of note that his second marriage in 1879 was to the widow of Timothy Walker, a member of Dalhousie, and that the diploma of Mrs. Coolidge's first husband was signed by her second husband as Grand Master.
Grand Master Coolidge was raised in Columbian Lodge March 3, 1842, and became a member May 19, 1842, and was Master in 1852-1853. He was Exalted in St. Paul's R.A. Chapter and Knighted in Boston Commandery, K.T. He received the 32° in the Scottish Rite in 1863. He was an Honorary Member of Dalhousie Lodge, Newton R.A.C., Gethsemane Commandery, and Robert Lash Lodge of Chelsea. He served Grand Lodge as Grand Steward, Grand Sword Bearer, Grand Marshal and Junior Grand Warden and was Grand Master in 1861-1862. He took a deep interest in seven Army Lodges that he chartered. At the outbreak of the war he was a Director of a R. R., and while away on its business, received a complimentary banquet by the Grand Lodge of Louisiana at New Orleans. In Texas, soon after, he narrowly escaped being made a prisoner of war. Privately warned of his danger by Masonic friends and given a means of escape, he reached home safely.
FROM TROWEL, WINTER 1998
From TROWEL, Winter 1998, Page 11, "Grand Masters of the Civil War":
Born in Boston on February 15, 1808, Coolidge attended Boston Grammar School and ranked second in the first class to graduate from English High School in 1821. From 1828 to 1870 he was in the business of leather and wool sales, served as representative of Boston's 5th Ward, was involved in the West Church and the Channing Church of Newton as a deacon.
Coolidge became a director of the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railway Co. after the war had started. In 1861 on his way to Texas on business for the railroad, he was a guest of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana in New Orleans. In Texas he barely escaped being taken a prisoner of war, but was saved by a warning from Masonic friends and a feasible means of escape to the North.
In Grand Lodge Coolidge served as Grand Steward, Grand Sword Bearer, Grand Marshal for Grand Masters Lewis and Heard, Junior Grand Warden in 1859 and Grand Master in 1861-1862. During his first year in office he issued dispensations for six Army Lodges, constituted five regular Lodges, laid cornerstones for three churches and dedicated six Masonic Halls. In 1862, during Coolidge's second year in office, P. G. M. Winslow Lewis made generous donations to the Grand Lodge Library.
In spite of high praise from P. G. M. Heard at the end of his first year as Grand Master and his election for a second year, Coolidge received only 49 votes in his third election, while Wor. William Parkman received 192 votes. Nothing in the Grand Proceedings provides an explanation. P. G. M. Thomas Roy in Stalwart Builders, p. 175, suggests that Coolidge may have been seen as too lenient in granting degrees for military men, violating Grand Constitutions. This election was unique, also, because it was the only time the new Grand Master had not been a permanent member of Grand Lodge.
In his annual address for 1862 the retiring G.M. Coolidge announced his achievements for the year: two Lodges constituted, one given dispensation, four Army Lodges given dispensation (10 in two years) and the laying of the cornerstone of the new City Hall. Coolidge then installed his successor, as he did for each of Parkman's remaining installations, and for whom he served on many committees.
FROM PROCEEDINGS, 1885
From the Grand Master's Address, Page 1885-118:
WILLIAM D. COOLIDGE, Past Grand Master of this Grand Lodge, who died at his residence in Newton Centre, on Saturday, September 10, 1885, was born in Boston, February 15, 1808. He was Grand Master of Masons during the years 1861 and 1862, holding in previous years the positions of Grand Steward, Grand Sword-Bearer, Grand Marshal, District Deputy Grand Master in 1857, '58, and '59 (District 1), and Junior Grand Warden in 1860 ; thus exhibiting a remarkable record of continued appreciation and official advancement, culminating in his election, installation, and record as Grand Master. He was an exceedingly genial, warm-hearted, loving Brother, greeting every one in a manner at once assuring and cordial. He seemed almost to live upon Masonry and love of mankind.
His last service to this Grand Lodge was the preparation and presentation of resolutions upon the death of R.W. Peter C. Jones, an intimate associate and immediate predecessor as Master of Columbian Lodge. His funeral was attended by Officers of the Grand Lodge, in Special Communication. The burial-service was rendered by the Grand Master and Wor. Rev. Fielder Israel, assisted by other Grand Officers and by Columbian Lodge, of Boston.
FROM LIBERAL FREEMASON, 1885
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. IX, No. 7, October 1885, Page 222:
W. D. Coolidge was born in Boston, February 15th, 1808, and was made a Mason in Columbian Lodge, Boston, January 6th, 1842. He worked in the several offices, except Treasurer and Secretary, and was Master in 1852 and '53. In the Grand Lodge he was an interested and efficient officer, filled various stations therein, was Grand Master in 1860 and '61, and for a quarter of a century was a conspicuous figure in its deliberations.
He had received the degrees in the York Rite, and was a Charter member of Gethsemane Commandery in Newton, where he resided during the latter part of his life, and where he died, September 12th, 1885. He was formerly in the wool trade in Boston, was at one time a member of the Com mon Council, and at another, a member of the State Legislature. He entered the Masonic Institution at about the time of its revival after the Anti-Masonic period, and continued to be actively interested in it.
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1860
From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XX, No. 4, February 1861, Page 103:
While our hearts are filled with the genial influences and sweet sympathies of the Annual Christian Festival of Christmas, our own festival of St. John the Evangelist comes in to enlarge and to gladden our hearts anew.
The study and the duties of the day are over—the insignia of office have been placed on the neck of those who for the coming year are to fulfill its duties, and the announcement has just been made that all is now ready for another year of effort and duty. Allow me, Brethren, a few of the last moments of a day so filled with activity, to express the emotions of my heart on being placed by yon in a position of so much honor as that to which you have called me.
I cannot find language adequately to utter my appreciation of the distinguished honor of this election ; its value and extent are derived from the known character of those who come up hither, entrusted with the dearest and best interests of our fraternity, and I desire to express my most profound gratitude for this distinguished mark of your partiality. I feel its responsibilities, Brethren, and I enter upon its duties distrustful of my own abilities, but with a firm reliance on the guidance of that wisdom which cannot err, and the continuance of that love and protection which are so marked in the past. I enter upon it, feeling that I shall meet with your kind and charitable judgment on my acts, and a reliance that I shall ever meet your cordial co-operation in everything calculated to promote the interest and welfare of our beloved institution. In this hopeful spirit I enter upon these duties, cheered with the presence of the wise and the good who have preceded me; strengthened by their example and guided by their counsels, and pledging whatever of ability I possess to do all in my power to promote the honor, the usefulness and the happiness of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
To him, my immediate predecessor, who uttered so feelingly and beautifully the welcome to the coming guest, so I, my dear Brother, would utter a God speed to the parting one,— parting only that you may be relieved from the cares of official station— drawn the warmer and more closely towards you by having been thought to be worthy to follow you,— one who has learned the great lesson of Masonic culture, and who has exhibited it in all your life; the possession of a warm, genial and affectionate heart; and now, my Brother, that, after thirty years' experience, you lay down the honors which would most gladly have.been continued to you, I know I express the feeling of every heart present, now that the labors are over, that you may long enjoy that peace "which nothing earthly gives or can destroy, the soul's calm sunshine and the heartfelt joy. 'Tis virtue's prize."
I cannot in this connexion omit to mention how much I shall feel indebted to the example of devotion and sound judgment manifested by your honored and beloved predecessor, whose statistical information and historical research have laid before us information so valuable and so timely. I do not expect to equal it — I can only strive to imitate it.
And let us all, as we look back upon the history and fidelity of those who preceded us, as we are permitted to look upon the faces of the living and study the characters of those eminent among us who have past away—let us all learn a lesson of fidelity to do in our day and generation whatever in us lies to prove the value of our principles, and transmit to our successors this invaluable institution, the better for our having been permitted- to enjoy its opportunities and privileges.
I congratulate you also on the possession of these commodious and elegant apartments, in this valuable and increasing estate, growing more and more valuable every day,— filled up with a degree of elegance and appropriateness not surpassed anywhere. The financial skill, the sound judgment, and the elegant and refined taste everywhere here displayed, call for our warm acknowledgments. It is now completed, and we are called to its enjoyments, —o thers have labored, and we now enter into their labors. It is for us to preserve and improve what their skill and diligence have produced. The corporation as such is now fully organized, and all seems prepared, to our hand, to enter in and enjoy; and, in order that we may the more fully enjoy, let us, by the strictest economy and care, as soon as may be, from our income, extinguish all liabilities to which the Grand Lodge may be subject, so that we may have the entire ownership in a few years, and giving us more and more enlarged means to meet the continued calls for charity, which it is our glory and happiness so amply to bestow on the deserving of our own number, and that we may all feel that, should we suddenly be called away, the widow and orphan's heart will be made to beat for joy, by the prudent foresight and wise provision we make of the means for their relief.
"He that hath soothed a widow's woe,
Or wiped an orphan's tear, doth know
There's something here of heaven."
Brethren— I congratulate you upon the favorable condition and the pleasing circumstances under which we now enter on another year of Masonic duty. The statements made by the retiring Grand Master show a degree of numerical prosperity never before equalled; it shows a degree of interest in the public mind never before so strongly evinced. Brethren, let me say to you briefly, it carries with it an admonition to be watchful at every portal. Yon can have your choice, and none but the best from the community should be permitted to enter, and it is our own fault if any others do; therefore, let me enjoin it upon you, Brethren, to strive rather to improve than increase; it is not in numbers, but in sterling worth, in warm and sympathizing hearts and ready bands that our strength and prosperity consist.
Go on, Brothers, in the cultivation of every noble and manly quality,— let the pure principles of our Order rule and regulate your lives; let justice, temperance, mercy, truth and charity, be the prevailing sentiments of your hearts, and let those hearts be warmed and kindled, so that —
"Friend, parent, neighbor, first it will embrace—
Your country next, and next all human race.
Wide and more wide the o'erflowings of the mind, take
Every creature in of every kind.
£anh smiles around with boundless bounty blest,
And Heaven beholds its Image in our breast."
While the spirit of estrangement and alienation is all around us, let us draw more closely than ever the bonds of fraternal union, and learn more deeply than ever, "How good and how pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in unity," and "may Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousnees within thy palaces"; for my Brethren and companions' sake, I will say, " Peace be within thee."
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1861
From Original Proceedings, Page 1861-27:
Never, Brethren, in the history of this Grand Lodge have we been permitted to assemble when first of all we should acknowledge with more heartfelt and sincere gratitude the protecting love, the ever-watchful and guiding care of a divine Providence than this on which this evening we are convened. When, as I addressed you from this spot just a year ago, as I entered on those duties with a heart full of hopeful gladness, how little did we think of what the coming year was to develop, yet through it all our work of usefulness and charity has been blessed; and reverently and devoutly do I desire to acknowledge our dependence, and implore the continuance of divine aid to guide our deliberations in the future, in the words that
"As He was with the fathers, so may he be with us."
Let me express to you, Brethren, how profoundly I appreciate the distinguished honor you have conferred upon me, and the sincere gratitude I feel at this renewed expression of your confidence and brotherly regards.
I judge by my own heart, Brothers, that I touch the key note in yours, when, at this early period of my annual address, I speak to you of our country. I know the intense excitement in which every one of you has shared this past year. I know it by your correspondence with me and by my frequent visits among you; and therefore while I admit most fully that sectarianism and political disputation has no place in the Lodge-room, love of country, honor, valor, fidelity, truth and justice have a place, and that on those themes you will bear with me; and while we are in the midst of this excitement and strife, and this outbreak of folly, madness and crime is being forced upon us by a portion of our people, let me, Brethren, if I can by any word of mind cheer your hearts to duty, and strengthen your trust in an Almighty Guide and Protector, let me utter a few thoughts at this time, and see if the principles of our institution do not guide us aright in this trial of our faith.
Our country had become enervated by prosperity and her officers corrupt and unfaithful; degeneracy was apparent; honesty, patriotism and subordination were dying out in our land; and as the lightnings of Heaven clear and purify, so this nation requires purification as by fire. Through this wholesome discipline we are passing; but if we will open our ears and our minds to the voice, almost audible, speaking to our hearts, and learn the lessons taught of purity, self-sacrifice, honesty, patriotism and subordination; if respect for established usage, respect for age and authority so lamentably deficient in our day; if these are the lessons learned by such hard trials, our country will rise again, put on her beautiful garments, and be our pride and glory, and the hope of the world.
Let us show as Masons, by our example, this spirit of loyalty, subordination and fraternity, and the time will soon come when our prayers will be answered and this great madness be rebuked, our nation redeemed, and the end be glorious, and its great consummation be, a purified, patriotic, united, invincible and happy people – when our
"Hopes shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise."
Brethren, I might dwell on this theme, but I must hasten to the business portions of my address, and I am detaining you from the music of that voice we all so much love to hear.
Notwithstanding the preoccupancy of our minds, and the intense anxiety which has pervaded all your hearts, the work of the lodges has gone on to an unexpected extent, and there is but little falling off during the past Masonic year in the number of initiates. Number of lodges in our jurisdiction is 121.
The number of initiates in 1858 was 1323; in 1859 there were 1188; in 1860 1107. It cannot be reasonably expected that the present year will bear any proportion to the few preceding ones; but, Brethren, this I do not regret; it will be well for us to stop and breathe a while, and to let those who have borne this burden and the heat of the day rest from their labor, and give them and all an opportunity to look back over the work that has been done, and gather strength for the present, and hope for the future; it will enable the Brethren to become more and better acquainted with each other, and the circumstances of the present year will afford many opportunities for the practical workings of our institution, which a continued course of prosperity does not afford. We are to show that our institution is no idle pageant, but that our symbols have inculcated duties in our hearts, and we must show that we are ready and willing to exemplify those duties and our lives; and though there may be fewer applicants for admission, keep the standard high and lofty, and remember that the honor of the institution is in your keeping, and see to it that none but those possessing high moral, social and intellectual qualities are admitted to share our honors and our happiness.
A list of dispensations, lodge hall constitutions, corner stone layings follows.
We are largely represented in the army of the United States. We have the names of more than three hundred Brethren, a large portion of whom are officers. We have granted them six lodges, and have done all that we could to spread over them the aegis of our protection. We watch them with parental solicitude, and I am grieved to say that among those held as hostages at Richmond is our worthy and well beloved Brother Capt. Bowman, Past Master of the Lodge at Clinton. Every effort that we can lawfully make for his exchange or relief will be made, and so of all others of our band. You will unite your prayers, Brethren, for their safety and their honor; cheer them with your best words and counsel; and should they fall, honor their memories and embalm their good deeds and heroism in the history and archives of your Lodges.
I take this occasion to mention how largely I am indebted to the District Deputy Grand Masters for their zeal and devotion. I have been most effectively aided by you, my beloved Brethren, and I most cheerfully acknowledge the great obligations we are under to you for your prompt and generous devotion of time and talent to your duties. Nor can I omit to mention in this connexion how much my own duties have been relieved by the enlightened and sound knowledge of Masonic Jurisprudence of the Recording Grand Secretary. His pocket edition of the Trestle-Board and Digest of Masonic Law has been of great service to me, and should be in the hands of every Brother desirous of protecting himself in Masonic culture.
Our beloved Brother, the D. D. G. M. of the Second Masonic District, has again placed us under obligations by his generosity; but as he is so continually doing these kind acts, to recount them would be more than my space will permit.
Let me recommend to you, Brethren, as far as in your power, to add to the impressiveness of our ritual the cultivation of music in your Lodge-rooms. The Grand Lodge have set an example, and we have had our spirits exalted and gladdened to-night by the stirring notes of the organ and the voices of our people in glad and holy unison for the return of peace in our land. Music is the language of love, gentleness, kindness, devotion, and how much it adds to the sunshine of our lives! The introduction of music will increase your enjoyment, elevate your taste, and add great impressiveness to your services.
I again commend to you that Lodges of Instruction be multiplied among you. Five or six contiguous Lodge might, with great profit and pleasure, unite and delegations of five or ten men from each would make a most happy reunion of Brethren, meeting at each place one or thrice in a season, adding much to the pleasure of social intercourse, and by the employment of a lecturer, to a uniformity of work in our jurisdiction.
Let me say to you, Brethren, that the violation of the Constitution in the appearance at our Communication of so many Brethren without their jewels has become an evil and an interruption, to which I know you will most readily apply the remedy; and I take occasion here to state that no officer of a Lode can transfer his jewel to another or appoint another to represent him in Grand Lodge.
And now, Brethren, I close as I began, exhorting you to be loyal to your Government and faithful to your vows. We are not a political but a philanthropic and conservative institution, and throughout our land, whatever our political differences, we are a unit still, and come what will we will do all we can to keep it so.
"Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate,
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait."
And wherever distress exists, there we can alleviate, if we cannot avert. Let us look up with a confiding spirit, and believe that if we merit it we shall be guided right, and whether passing through the sunshine of prosperity or under the cloud of sorrow, still it is a Father's hand that is leading us; and "Though the labor of the olive should fail, and there be no fruit on the vine - though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stall, yet will we joy in the Lord and trust in the God of our salvation."
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1862
Brethren of the M. W. Grand Lodge —
Again, Brethren, in the kind providence of God, we are permitted to assemble in peace, while many are surrounded by the stormy scenes of war and the tumult of the people. We have been carried through the past year, which to all has been a year of trial and discipline, with a hopeful trust in the guiding wisdom of a Heavenly Parent; and though "men can as yet see no bright light in the cloud," that same trust teaches us to believe "that it hath a silver lining," and that this discipline will be instrumental of good to those who will listen to its teachings; who will humbly and deeply acknowledge their dependence, and still seek lovingly and trustingly for that light and guidance from above, which can only come from the fountain of all love and wisdom. In view of all the mercies by which we are surrounded, let gratitude be the prevailing sentiment of our hearts.
Notwithstanding the trying times through which we have past, the Lodges in this jurisdiction have been quite as much occupied with Masonic work as could reasonably have been expected or desired, the number of initiates being about nine hundred. Though not quite so large as usual, it is no indication that growth, true Masonic growth and culture, are not quite as vigorous as in any former year. I believe it to be more so, and that more leisure has afforded opportunities to learn belter and more fully the true meaning of our institution; the Brethren have become more and better acquainted with each oilier, and the scenes through which we have passed, though they have lessened our work, have developed ill us a more true Masonic character, and have been instrumental in connecting us nearer and closer lo each other than in any former period. If this shall be the fruit of this great trial, the teaching will not surely have been lost upon us.
"The hours of pain have yielded good
Which prosperous days refused,
As herbs, though scentless when entire,
Spread fragrance when they're bruised."
A season of relaxation from labor, too, has afforded opportunity for the study of the work and lectures ; and at no former period, in my recollection, have the Brethren of this Grand Lodge ever evinced such deep interest as the past year has shown. It is a matter of congratulation, that during the past year you have established so firmly what the work and lectures shall be; and we are truly fortunate in having such devoted hearts, and such intelligent minds in our Grand Lecturers, who have delighted us to day by the evidences of their deep study and practice, so that in future they may be looked up to as oracles, and their decisions final and binding. But it is not enough, Brethren, thai you are perfect in the ritual, and thai no word is warning lo clothe our beautiful ceremonies ill language equally beautiful. Your own character, also, must give weight lo your instructions; your example and true Masonic spirit will ever speak louder, and more forcibly, than your words or ceremonies, and show by your example, both in and out of the Lodge, that the true spirit of our Institution fills your hearts. Let no vaunting ambition swerve you from this course, but let your only aim be that of usefulness to your Brethren — and let it be bounded by that. Whenever it exceeds this healthy limit, radicalism and party spirit, and the practice of electioneering creeps in, and we bring into this ancient conservative Institution the worst elements of a popular political campaign, which will be sure to work the ruin of that peace and harmony which is the ground-work of our happiness, and the end we all wish to reach. In your individual and associated relations may your acts ever conduce to the advancement of Masonry as an institution, and more especially to the advancement and dignity of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and its subordinates. Let careful, discreet and calm deliberation characterize your proceedings, and all generous and charitable conclusions fill your breasts — that charity that thinketh no evil, that hopeth all things.
Principles are eternal — individuals are nothing. Harmony, brotherly love, and all charitable and Masonic graces, every thing. No where on the face of the earth should we be able to look, with more certainty and greater confidence for the realization of these hopes than in the bosom of the parent Institution of Massachusetts. If I know my own heart, and God is looking upon it, and in his sight I say, it beats with the one single wish and prayer, that those manly and Masonic virtues which have ever been the characteristics of this Grand Lodge, maybe held in perpetuity by every Brother who is privileged to hold a seat here, temporary though it be. Let this spirit ever prevail in the parent Institution and its genial influence will descend and bless our Lodges, and keep our harmony and cheerfulness unimpaired, and we may look hopefully for their growth among those whom we serve and love.
I desire, Brethren, to call your attention to one of the Amendments of the Constitution, passed Dec. 12, 1860, viz: Art. 3, Sect 5, which reads
Applications for initiation shall be made to the Lodge in the town or city where the petitioner resides, if there be a Lodge therein; but if there be none, then he shall apply to the Lodge most convenient to his residence.
This Section has received such a latitude of construction as to lead to much difficulty between Lodges as to jurisdiction, and I recommend the subject as entitled to your serious consideration, that it may be more fully defined what is meant by the term "most convenient."
Since the new organization as a Corporation, in my opinion the present edition of the Constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts needs an entire revision, and a new edition provided under the care of wise and discreet Brethren, which shall be worthy of this Grand Lodge, many of the most important amendments being now on fly leaves, and many of the Lodges even without these; our new relations as a Grand Lodge and as a Corporation, seem to me imperatively to require a new edition of the Constitutions, and our means) are adequate to any thing we may desire of this kind.
In relation to the financial condition of the Grand Lodge, the retiring Grand Master is made most happy that he is able to leave his position with the knowledge that the entire floating debt of the Grand Lodge is paid; that during his administration the mortgage on the Winthrop House has been lessened, and that all claims on the charities of the Institution, coming within our rules, have been met, liberally and effectively, the weary have been rested and refreshed; the widow and the orphan cheered, and the coming Grand Master will have it in his power during the next year to accomplish what I know has been the desire of his heart, an increase in the charities of the Grand Lodge, perfectly consistent with meeting promptly every just requirement.
Since our last Annual Communication I have, on the 30th Dec, 1861, constituted and consecrated Aberdour Lodge, Boston; March 18, constituted and consecrated Orient Lodge, at South Dedham, and dedicated their new Hall, and on March 13 granted a Dispensation for Day-Spring Lodge, at Monson.
I have granted five Dispensations the past year, to worthy and experienced Brethren, to form Lodges in the Army. These Lodges are now in operation as follows:—
- Bay State Army Lodge, No. 1, in 3d Regt.
- Massachusetts Army Lodge, No. 2, in 16th Regt.
- United Brethren Army Lodge, No. 3, in 17th Regt.
- Fraternal Army Lodge, No. 4, in 25th Regt.
- Bunker Hill Army Lodge, No. 5, in 2d Regt.
- McClellan Army Lodge, No. 6, in 43d Regt.
- Berkshire Camp Army Lodge, No. 7, in 49th Regt.
- Putnam Army Lodge, No. 8, in 39th Regt.
- Olive Branch Army Lodge, No. 9, in 42d Regt.
- Warren Army Lodge, No. 10, in 32d Regt.
December 22, laid the Corner-Stone of the New City Hall, Boston.
Next to the approval of our own conscience and the approbation of our Maker, is the gratification of knowing that we have the love and confidence of those whom we serve and love ourselves. Our District Deputy Grand Masters, by their fidelity and zeal have entitled themselves to all these — and now, beloved Brethren, after a close union with you of five years, let me say, that some of the most valuable friendships of my life have been formed with you; and though I retire from official connexion with you I shall ever hold you in kindest remembrance.
The year that has past has been characterized by the introduction of the two most important and most excitable subjects which can occupy the minds of the Brethren, viz:— the establishment of the Ritual, now fixed, I trust, permanently, and the subject of Dispensations. Add to these the important matters growing out of this most unusual state of civil war, and you will agree with me, I think, that quite as much of excitement as is wholesome for us, has been crowded into our thoughts for the year now closed. All this has necessarily added to the cares and anxieties of the Chair, but I have been surrounded by wise and able counsellors, and iu my decisions I have nothing to alter or regret.
If there is any one part of a building requiring the greatest care, it is the foundation. Whatever else we neglect, let this be secured. It has been my aim to preserve the ancient landmarks of the Order, and that which the wisdom of the founders of our Institution vested in the Grand Master as his prerogatives, I have not dared to delegate to others. And I have the satisfaction of knowing that my decisions in this respect have met the approval of those whose approbation I value highest.
For this state of war there is no precedent, nor is there precedent for such a sudden influx into the Institution from the Army, of those, who, from the circumstances of the case, must be made "at sight," the prerogative alone of the Grand Master, as I am taught by a strict examination of the ancient landmarks, and the best council of the wise and prudent, whom we all revere. I have met this pressure readily and earnestly, for it has been made by those whoso patriotic impulses have led them forth to battle for their country; to stand for you and me, and bare their breasts to the bullet aimed at the nation's heart, and I could not find it in my own to refuse any aid, comfort or protection which I might be instrumental in throwing around them. I have been strengthened in this by the careful and earnest assurances from you, W. Masters of forty-one of our Lodges who have applied to me, that in granting to you Dispensations for this purpose, for the hasty admission of one hundred and thirteen candidates, dispensing with all the requirements of the Constitution, receiving an application, balloting on the same, and conferring the degrees, all within five consecutive hours! I have been strengthened, I say, by your assurances of care, and the confidence I have felt in the prudence and sagacity of the Brethren. In the midst of these scenes of war and bloodshed I see not how we could have done less, and in the retrospect I have not a single instance to regret. Of the one hundred and thirteen, nearly all are officers; this indeed is the fact among the six hundred of our Brethren who are doing battle for us in the Army of the United Stales. May God's shield be over them; may He nerve their arms and strengthen their hearts for the performance of duty; never wavering even in the presence of a rebel Brother, till he has surrendered, or is prostrate at their feet.
War is not the rule, it is the exception, and when these days of discipline and trial are over; when we shall have met them in a spirit of humble submission, and learned the lessons of humility they seem designed to teach ; when this whole land shall feel as one man, that it is not solely his own right arm that hath gotten him all this, but when all hearts bow in humility and patience, then may we hope to be delivered,
"Down the dark future, through long generations,
The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease,
And like a bell with solemn, sweet vibrations,
I hear once more the voice of Christ say — Peace."
Alas ! how many have fallen ! No, not fallen, but gone up in chariots of fire, to join the martyrs of all ages, above.
At their own, or at family request, I have been called on to bury with Masonic honors the distinguished dead; to twine for them the laurel with the cypress, and to speak words of consolation to the mourner. I have been called to cheer on the gallant heart, bursting almost with youthful enthusiasm, to join in the conflict for distinction and bravery. I have brought from the battle-field the remains of one of our number; the sweet remembrance of whose virtues will last till time shall be no more. I have, with Masonic honors, laid him away in that quiet garden of graves, at Newton, so near the scene of his usefulness and true Masonic influence.
The old year has past. All these various scenes crowded into so small a space as a passing year, have not been without their influence on my mind and heart, and with you I can truly say,
"All gracious God, what e'er our lot
In future times may be,
We 'II welcome still the heaviest grief
That brings us near to thee."
The duties of watching the interests of two of the Districts, together with the close attention which under our present organization must be given to the financial affairs of the Corporation, all together have been quite enough to reconcile me to the retirement I shall now enjoy; and quite enough, to my own mind that having fulfilled them all, with the purest motives and intentions, I feel that it has fallen to my lot in the two exciting years of my administration to have fulfilled as much of duty as usually falls to the lot of him who passes through an entire constitutional period. At any rate, the devotion of the past five years as District Deputy and as Grand Master, has evinced, I trust, a singleness of purpose on my part, It has fully satisfied all my ambition for any distinction which I have ever sought; an ambition limited by the boundary of duty and usefulness. The new year is full of mystery. I now close my official connection with you, my Brethren, with my sincere thanks for every act of kindness, with the same warm wishes, and with the same word upon my lips with which I entered it — may we all, from the youngest Entered Apprentice that stands in the north east corner of the Lodge, to him who presides in the East, may one and all finally meet in that upper temple, and in that city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is — God.
- 06/12/1861 John Warren, Hopkinton
- 06/12/1861 Dalhousie, Newtonville
- 09/11/1861 Pacific, Amherst
- 09/11/1861 John Hancock, Methuen
- 09/11/1861 Aberdour, Boston
- 03/12/1862 Orient, South Dedham (Norwood)
- 06/11/1862 Pythagorean, Marion
This Grand Master also granted dispensations for Army Lodges that worked during the Civil War.