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Grand Master 1842-1844


From History of Freemasonry in Rhode Island, 1895, Page 304:

This brother's name is a "household word" among Rhode Island Craftsmen. He was one of the working members in St. John's Lodge, Providence, and in the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, for a long term of years. In the dark and trying days of Anti-Masonry his courage never failed and his zeal for the Fraternity was unabated. He was the custodian and preserver of the charter of St. John's Lodge, Providence, thus drawing to himself, specially, the grateful feeling of many brethren.

That Moses Richardson was a Craftsman of more than ordinary Masonic information and zeal is attested by the testimony he gave before the Committee appointed by the General Assembly of Rhode Island in 1832, to investigate charges against Freemasonry and Masons. In that testimony Bro. Richardson declared that he had been a Mason for more than thirty years, having taken the first three degrees in Bristol Lodge, Mass., about the beginning of the century, the Capitular degrees in Providence Royal Arch Chapter in 1802, the Orders conferred in St. John's Encampment, Providence, in 1807, "and ten or fifteen degrees, called the ineffable degrees, from time to time since that period." In his further evidence he enumerated important official positions which he had held, having been secretary, treasurer, and presiding officer of many of the bodies with which he was connected. Out of his intimate acquaintance with Masonic principles and procedure, and his active membership in the various departments of the Masonic Institution extending over a period of more than a quarter of a century, he gave clear and straight-forward testimony which carried conviction to many minds. Some of his answers to questions asked by the accusers of Freemasonry were certainly to the point; for example :

  • Question. "Have you ever known or heard that the penalties attached to the Masonic obligations in the highest degrees were inflicted on delinquent Masons?"
  • Answer. "It is an impertinent question. I never knew of any other penalties being inflicted than that contained in the fifteenth article of the By-Laws of St. John's Lodge; and I do not believe there is any one who knows of any other; and that is expulsion."
  • Question. "Would not Masons who were concerned in the abduction and murder of Wm. Morgan of New York, and who have not been expelled from the Masonic institution be received into full communion by the Masonic Lodges of this State?"
  • Answer. "I think it a very extraordinary question. If we knew them to be murderers of Wm. Morgan, or any one else, instead of receiving them into communion we would seize them and carry them to the proper place for a trial — I would, and I presume all good Masons would."

It was every way natural and fitting that so intelligent and devoted a Craftsman as Moses Richardson should be called to the highest place of dignity and honor.

Thus in 1842, when he was well advanced in years, and when the revival of Masonic prosperity was apparent, he was elected Grand Master of Masons in Rhode Island. He held the office by repeated election for three years and gave a faithful and able discharge to all the duties thus devolved upon him.

He died at his home in Providence, August 11, 1859. The Grand Lodge was convened four days later to pay deserved honors to his worth. Grand Master Jervis J. Smith presided and conducted the burial service at the grave. Funeral services were held at the First Congregational Church, Providence, and an address was delivered by the Grand Chaplain, Rev. Augustus Woodbury, in which a glowing tribute was paid to the social virtues and Christian probity of the departed brother.

This sketch may well end with a citation from the record of Grand Lodge:

"The whole funeral scene was exceedingly impressive, not only from the solemn ceremonies of our Order, but from the fact that those honors paid to the dead were not the empty show which often follows the bier of a public man, but an honest tribute of love and respect to this venerable brother who had stood for more than sixty years, a faithful watchman upon the watch-tower of our Masonic citadel, one of the firmest of the firm in the darkest hour of our severest trial."

Rhode Island People