Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction
Grand Lodges in the United States have adhered to State lines as the limits of their activities, but this has not been so strictly the custom elsewhere. Some particulars of the situations arising from the contact of different practices may be seen in the following statement of the action taken by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania against the Grand Orient of France.
At the Annual Grand Communication of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania, held at Philadelphia, December 27, 1924, Right Worshipful Past Grand Master Brother Abraham M. Beitler, Chairman of Committee on Clandestine Lodges in Pennsylvania, presented the following report, when, on motion, the resolutions attached thereto were unanimously adopted.
The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana at its fifty-seventh Annual Communication held February, 1869, delivered an address, in the course of which he said:
"It has become my painful duty to bring to your notice the action of the Grand Orient of France, with whom we have for many years been upon the most friendly and brotherly terms of esteem and regard. The Grand Orient of France has aided and assisted this Grand Lodge in times of trouble and anxiety, by her firm adherence to constitutional law and Masonic justice. In the month of December I received from the office of the Grand Orient through the post office an official bulletin containing a decree which certainly surprised me. It has, with a strange perversion, and unaccountable want of consistency, recognized a clandestine body in this city, calling itself the Supreme Council of the Sovereign and Independent State of Louisiana.
"It will become your painful duty to take notice of this action of the Grand Orient of France, and make such decree as in your wisdom may be found expedient and necessary, to sustain the dignity of this Grand Lodge and maintain its authority over Craft Masonry in this Jurisdiction. There can be no divided authority. Upon one principle we are all agreed, and while we have life we will sustain it. The Grand Lodge of Louisiana will never submit to a divided jurisdiction, and in this position she will be sustained by every Grand Lodge in North America, for all are interested alike in sustaining each other. This principle once abandoned, the power of Masonry for good is gone. Discord and confusion will reign supreme, and the sun of Masonry will set in a sea of darkness."
The Committee on Foreign Correspondence submitted a report on the Grand Orient's action, with full translations of the decrees and debates relating to its recognition of the "Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in and for the Sovereign State of Louisiana" and entering into fraternal relations with that clandestine Body. The report concluded with these words:
"This spirit, which seeks to impair the honor and subvert the dignity of this Grand Lodge, will, we doubt not, be properly appreciated by our sister Grand Lodges, and in submitting the following resolutions, your committee feel confident that the Grand Lodge will receive from her American sisters the same sympathy and support which they so generously extended to the Grand Lodge of New York, when her jurisdiction was invaded by the Grand Lodge of Hamburg." The resolutions offered with the above report were:
RESOLVED, I That all Masonic correspondence and fraternal relations between the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and the Grand Orient of France cease and be discontinued and no Mason oaring allegiance to that Grand Body be recognized as such in this jurisdiction
RESOLVED, II That a duly authenticated copy of the above report and resolution be transmitted to the Grand Orient of France and to all regularly constituted American and European Gralld Lodges. The report and the resolutions were adopted.
In his address at the Annual Grand Communication of the same Grand Lodge, December 27, 1869, the retiring Right Worshipful Grand Master Brother Richard Vaux, said:
"Within the past year, the action of the Grand Orient of France in recognizing a spurious Grand Lodge within the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, has been considered by most of the Grand Lodges of the United States. In each case our sister Grand Lodges have denounced this action as un-masonic. New York and Massachusetts have exhaustively discussed the question and acted accordingly. I am most happy to find that the principle the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania has ever proclaimed, that a Grand Lodge must be supreme and sovereign within its jurisdiction, is thus acknowledged. But in the case before us, another principle which this Grand Lodge has maintained is also accepted as Masonic law. We have asserted that one Grand Lodge will not permit any interference, by any other Grand Lodge, with her sovereignty as a Grand Body; that her power within her jurisdiction tolerates no rival; and when an effort is made to that end, it is the solemn duty of all Grand Lodges to protest, and take such other action as the ease demands. The facts are so clear, in this unjustifiable interference in Louisiana, that I deem it proper to state, that all correspondence between the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and the Grand Orient of France should cease, till the latter recalls its presumptuous interceding with the affairs of our sister Grand Lodge of Louisiana, and yields assent to that paramount principle of American Free masonry, which lies at the foundation of the supreme sovereignty of Grand Lodges of Freemasons in the United States."
The Grand Master of Louisiana at the fifty-eighth Annual Communication, held February 14, l870, said:
"The Grand Orient of France still maintains the anomalous position which it so unwisely assumed now more than a year ago, and still holds in its embrace a spurious and clandestine body, without any legal title whatever to be called Masonic. From our Brethren in every quarter of the globe come messages of approval of the course taken by our Grand Lodge and in no instance, where the matter of difference has been clearly understood, has Louisiana been condemned for the firm stand she has taken. Even the Supreme Council of England, of the Scottish Rite, has adopted resolutions censuring the Grand Orient of France for having accorded recognition to a spurious body of men, who indeed claim to be Masons, but who have never been elsewhere recognized as such, and who have no legal or proper right to the title, upon so specious and so false a plea as that given by Grand Master Mellinet, and for its improper infringement of the jurisdiction rights of our Grand Lodge." At that Annual Communication the Committee on Foreign Correspondence in its report said: "The action of our Grand Lodge, suspending fraternal relations with the Grand Orient of France on account of its recognition of the spurious Supreme Council of Louisiana, which has established Symbolic Lodges in our jurisdiction, has been fully sustained at home and abroad. The principle, that the Grand Lodge of each state has exclusive jurisdiction over the symbolic degrees within its territorial limits, is so well established in the United States, that we confidently relied on our sister Grand Lodges extending to us the same generous sympathy and support which New York received when its jurisdictional rights were invaded by the Grand Lodge of Hamburg.
"Nor have we been disappointed; New York led the van in declaring non-intercourse with the foreign invader. Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have followed its example; Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Ohio have protested in a firm, Eet courteous manner, against the act of the Grand Orient; Vermont and a number of other states have also spoken in terms not to be misunderstood, but we have not yet received official notice of their action. So far as the proceedings received in season for this report give the action of the Grand Lodges or the views of their committees on the subject, we have submitted them without note or comment the able manner in which the question has been discussed from every point of view, precluding any remarks of our own.
"Here, however, we may be permitted to remark that the question is one which appeals to every Grand Lodge, for if the act of the Grand Orient had been permitted to pass unrebuked, the sovereignty of each Grand Lodge would have been endangered, as what is our case today may be theirs tomorrow and in defending our rights they are maintaining their own. yet not the less gratefully do we acknowledge the fraternal spirit which has been displayed in sustaining the action of our Grand Lodge, and, while we regret the occasion ever arose, it is a matter of congratulation that it has shown to the Masonic powers of the world that the Grand Lodges of the United States will submit to no foreign interference with their rights. It has demonstrated that any attempt in that direction will only unite them more closely together in the bonds of Masonic fellowship, and that, while "separate as the billows, they are one as the sea." The following further comments were made by Brother Beitler:
"Your Committee on Clandestine Lodges in Pennsylvania have within the past month learned that a clandestine body in our State calling itself Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Universal Free Masonry' and claiming the right to confer the first three degrees in Freemasonry has been taken under the wind of the Grand Orient of France. The two bodies have entered into formal contract, some of the provisions of which were interesting.
"It provides that the body in our State shall pay annually to the Grand Orient of France the sum of $10, for each active lodge; that it shall buy all diplomas it may require of the Grand Orient at the price of 15 francs each, the diplomas to be on parchment, printed in both English and French. "The body working under the Grand Orient is to have the right to institute new Lodges in the United States wherever it may deem convenient. It shall receive for them warrants issued from the Grand Orient of France, but it is not to be permitted to create Lodges in territories of the United States outside of Pennsylvania with which the Grand Orient of France is in fraternal relations. These territories are stated as being Alabama, Iowa, Minnesota, Rhode Island and New Jersey.
"lt is further provided that should there be at any time in the future a cessation of the relations of the Grand Orient of France with one or more of these states, then the body in Pennsylvania shall have 'plenitude of action.'
"The body in Pennsylvania is given the right to practice the Scottish Rite including the Symbolic Degrees.
"In the official records of the Grand Orient of France for December, 1923, the Grand Secretary submits a report which was adopted. In it he said:
"'The Regional Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was abandoned by the Grand Orient of Spain. They now ask the Grand Orient of France to take it under its wings. You will recall that we entered into relations with the Grand Master of this Grand Lodge through the intermediation of our Brother Beni, Past Master of L'Atlantide.... The correspondence with the Pennsylvania Brethren was through a Brother Gould, Lawyer.'
"We feel that Pennsylvania should with the utmost emphasis denounce this action of the Grand Orient of France. We cannot acknowledge the right of any other Grand Body outside of our Grand Jurisdiction (whether regarded by us as legitimate or not--whether in fraternal relations with us or not) to invade the territory of our Grand Lodge.
"The association which the Grand Secretary of the Grand Orient of France styles the 'Regional Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania' and which we have called the 'Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Universal Freemasonry,' is not lawfully in possession of the rights which the Grand Orient attempted to give.
"We deem it our duty to call the matter to the attention of the Grand Lodge. We ask the adoption of the following:
RESOLVED, III That the Grand Secretary forward to each of the Grand Lodges in the United States a copy of this report, calling their attention to the fact that the body which the Grand Orient of France has "taken under its wings is authorized by the Grand Orient of France to create Lodges in every State, excepting Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, Rhode Island and New Jersey, and that its power is to extend to those States if and when the fraternal relations nos existing between the several Grand Lodges of those States and the Grand Orient of France cease.
RESOLVED FURTHER That this Grand Lodge, which has always firmly held and still holds the views expressed by our Right Worshipful Grand Plaster Brother Richard Vaux (set out in the foregoing report) respectfully and confidently asks its sister jurisdictions to adopt those views as fundamental in Freemasonry and requests those Grand Lodges which are in fraternal relations with the Grand Orient of France to give their adherence to those views and sever further relations with the said Grand Orient. The above resolutions presented by Brother Beitler, Chairman of the Committee on Clandestine Lodges in Pennsylvania, were unanimously adopted by the Grand Lodge of that State (see Territorial Jurisdiction).
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