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Grand Mastership, The

Ever since its beginning as a Fraternity Freemasonry has made changes in its rules, customs, rites; it has even made alterations, and as it had to make them in order to hold its place in a changed world; but throughout these changes certain principles and tenets (the Landmarks is a name for them) in its teachings and its form of organization have persisted unchanged; this also had to be, or Freemasonry would have been altered into something else and ceased, except in name (and probably not even in name), to be itself. They are inherent in it. Among these Landmarks is the fact that Freemasons (properly so called) have always worked and assembled in bodies, and these bodies have been governed and administered by a head (a Master, Worshipful Master, Superintendent, etc.), assisted by a set of officers. This headship or governorship belongs to the substance of the Fraternity, is needed if it is to retain its identity; and is therefore, as just said, a Landmark. That Landmark does not require that the head shall everywhere and always have the same title, or wear the same regalia, or have in detail the same set of duties, but requires only that it belongs to any body of regular Freemasons that the body shall be thus ruled and governed.

Since this is true of every Lodge it is for the same reason true of every Grand Lodge, which also is a body of Masons who assemble and work as a unit. The first official act taken by a group of London Lodges to form the Mother Grand Lodge (1717) was to select and to install a Grand Master. There had never been a Grand Lodge before, and therefore not any Grand Master; nevertheless the powers and pre negatives vested in the Grand Master were not new, d less were an innovation, because they belonged to the age-old need for a Masonic Body to have a head to age and govern it. The very operations of that ancient Landmark itself brought the new office and the new title into Craft organization.

Grand Lodge laws were adopted to name and define the office of Grand Master, but those laws only recognized and declared what already, in principle, was there. The rulership and governorship already were in force, and ever had been; the laws declared them, and made new rules for Masons to follow them, for the powers and authority were not created by the laws, but were inherent.

The assembly of Masons, either as a local body or in a more general meeting, also was as old as the Craft, and inhered in its organization; when this age-old principle (also a Landmark) led to the formation of a Grand Lodge, the shape of it and the name of it were new, but in principle it only perpetuated what always had been. Its powers and authorities therefore also are inherent and indefeasible, and the laws which define it do not create it but only declare what it is.

There are thus two sovereignties, each one time immemorial each one a Landmark, which work together and which at some points interlock but which are independent of each other in original authority. The Grand Master is for that reason not merely an agent or officer of Grand Lodge, not merely its president, and answerable to it only for such of his duties as belong to its sphere; in his own sphere he has sovereignty of his own, and acts independently.

Instead of "Office of Grand Masters a more correct description would be "The Grand Mastership." The jurisdiction within which one who stands in the Grand Mastership carries on his work coincides at many points with the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge, does not coincide at others. The jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge is primarily and generally over the Lodges working under its Charters; the jurisdiction of the Grand Master is primarily and generally over individual Masons. He is therefore not the Grand Master of his State or Country, or of his Grand Jurisdictions, or of his Grand Lodge, but is Grand Master of Masons in his Grand Jurisdiction. He can exercise his authority within the Lodges only as they are in his Grand Jurisdiction, but he is a Grand Master wherever he goes or in whatever Body he visits, is recognized, received, entitled, and honored as such; and, subject to the rules of comity, he can exercise his authority over any Master Mason holding membership in any Lodge in his Grand Jurisdiction even if that Master Mason is in another State as a visitor or as a resident.

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