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American Rite

The argument for the use of this term is given by Doctor Mackey thus:

"it has been proposed, and I think with propriety, to give this name to the series of degrees conferred in the United States. The York Rite, which is the name by which they are usually designated, is certainly a misnomer, for the York Rite properly consists of only the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, including in the last degree the Holy Royal Arch. This was the Freemasonry that existed in England at the time of the revival of the Grand Lodge in 1717. The abstraction of the Royal Arch from the Master's Degree, and its location as a separate degree, produced that modification of the York Rite which now exists in England, and which should properly be called the Modern York Rite, to distinguish it from the Ancient York Rite, which consisted of only three degrees. But in the United States still greater additions have been made to the Rite, through the labors of Webb and other lecturers, and the influence insensibly exerted on the Order by the introduction of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite into the United States. The American modification of the York Rite, or the American Rite, consists of nine degrees, namely:

1. Entered Apprentice. 2. Fellow Craft. 3. Master Mason. Given in Symbolic Lodges, and under the control of Grand Lodges. 4. Mark Master. 5. Past Master. 6. Most Excellent Master. 7. Holy Royal Arch.Given in Chapters, and under the control of Grand Chapters. 8. Royal Master. 9. Select Master.

Given in Councils, and under the control of Grand Councils.

"A tenth degree, called Super-Excellent Master, is conferred in some Councils as an honorary rather than as a regular degree ; but even as such it has been repudiated by many Grand Councils. To these, perhaps, should be added three more degrees, namely, Knight of the Red Cross, Knight of Malta, and Knight Templar, or Order of the Temple, which are given in Commanderies, and are under the control of Grand Commanderies, or, as they are sometimes called, Grand Encampments. But the degrees of the Commandery, which are also known as the Degrees of Chivalry, can hardly be called a part of the American Rite. The possession of the Eighth and Ninth Degrees is not considered a necessary qualification for receiving them. The true American Rite consists only of the nine degrees above enumerated.

"There is, or may be, a Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter, Grand Council, Grand Commandery in each State, whose jurisdiction is distinct and sovereign within its own territory. There has been no General Grand Lodge, or Grand Lodge of the United States, though several efforts have been made to form one (see General Grand Lodge). There is a General Grand Chapter, but all Grand Chapters have not been subject to it, and a Grand Encampment to which Grand commanderies of the States are subject."

In 1776 six Master Masons, four Fellow Crafts, and one Entered Apprentice, all but one officers in the Connecticut Line of the Continental army, in camp at Roxbury, Massachusetts, petitioned Richard Gridley, Deputy Grand Master of St. ,John's Grand Lodge, for a Warrant to form them into a regular Lodge. On the 1sth of February a warrant was issued to Joel Clark, appointing and constituting him First Master of American Union Lodge, "erected at Roxbury, or wherever your body shall remove on the Continent of America, provided it is where no Grand Master is appointed."

The Lodge was duly constituted and almost immediately moved to New York, and met on April 23, 1776, by permission of Dr. Peter Middleton, Grand Master of Freemasons in the Province of New York.

It was agreed at this meeting to petition him to confirm the Massachusetts warrant as, under its terms, they were without authority to meet in New York.

Doctor Middleton would not confirm the warrant of American Union Lodge, but in April, 1776, caused a new warrant to be issued to the same Brethren, under the name of Military Union Lodge, No. 1, without recalling the former Warrant. They thus presented an anomaly of a Lodge holding Warrants from and yielding obedience to two Grand Bodies in different jurisdictions.

The spirit of the Brethren, though, is shown in their adherence to the name American Union in their Minutes, and the only direct acknowledgment of the new name is in a Minute providing that the Lodge furniture purchased by American Union "be considered only as lent to the Military Union Lodge."

This Lodge followed the Connecticut Line of the continental Army throughout the War of Independence. It was Gen. Samuel Holden Parsons of American Union who returned to the British Army Lodge Unity, No. 18, their Warrant, which had come into possession of the American army at the taking of Stony Point in 1779. American Union participated in a Convention at Morristown, N. J., January 31, 1780, when it was proposed to nominate General Washington as "Grand Master over the thirteen United States of America, " and it was on the suggestion of Rev. Israel Evans of American Union that the ''Temple of Virtue, " for the use of the army and the Army Lodges, was erected at New Windsor, Newburgh, New York, during the winter of 1782-3.

The Lodge followed the army to the Northwest Territory after the War of Independence, and participated in the formation of the Grand Lodge of Ohio.

Shortly afterward the Lodge withdrew from the Grand Lodge of Ohio and did not appear on the roll thereafter, but pursued an independent existence for some years.

When the Brethren first established the Lodge at Marietta there was some question among them as to whether there was any Masonic power then in America having jurisdiction over that particular territory. Brother Jonathan Heart, the Worshipful Master, decided that there was a doubt as to more ample authority being obtainable elsewhere and he opened a Lodge in due form on June 28, 1790. However, Brother Heart was chairman of a Committee to bring the matter of regularity and recognition to the attention of Grand Lodges. Replies were received from the Grand Lodges of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and their history interest and fraternal spirit prompts their appearance here.

May 21, 1792, a letter was received from Brother Pierre Le Barbier Duplessis, Grand Secretary, as follows:

"It was with equal surprise and pleasure the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania received the intelligence of the formation of a Lodge in the midst of the immense wilderness of the West, where but lately wild beasts and savage men were the only inhabitants, and where ignorance and ferocity contributed to deepen the gloom which has covered that part of the earth from the creation. This ray of light which has thus broke in upon the gloom and darkness of ages, they consider as a happy presage that the time is fast approaching when the knowledge of Masonry will completely encircle the globe, and the most distant regions of the Western Hemisphere rival those of the Eastern in Masonic splendor. As the account which you have given of the origin of your Warrant is perfectly satisfactory, and as the succession to the chair has been uninterrupted, your authority for renewing your work appears to be incontestable, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania do therefore fully and cheerfully recognize the American Union Lodge, No. 1, as a just and regular lodge, whose members ought to be received as lawful Brethren in all the Lodges of the two hemispheres.'' December 6, 1791, Brother Moses M. Hays, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, wrote that his Grand Lodge:

"Applauds and commends your views and pursuits, and have desired me to signify how much they are pleased with your laudable undertaking. Your warrant is, beyond doubt, a perfect and good one, and must have its force and operation where you are until a Grand Lodge is founded and established in your territory, when it will become your duty to surrender it and obtain in its place a Warrant from the Grand Lodge that may have the government of Masonry in your State. I confirm your Warrant as good and perfect, as you are where no Grand Lodge is established. I wish you health and happiness, with the enjoyment of every earthly felicity."

As early as June 6, 1792, under the auspices of this Lodge there was organized a Royal Arch Chapter which advanced Brethren through the various grades from the third to the seventh step in Freemasonry.

We are told that "It was resolved that the Lodge was competent, both as to numbers and abilities, to hold Lodges of a higher Degree than that of a Master.

and no fees having been stipulated for any higher degrees in Masonry, nor any rules preseribed, fees were agreed on and new rules were added. The Lodge fixed the fees : for Passing the Chair, $2 ; benefit of the Mark, $2; Most Excellent, $2 ; Royal Arch, $4. Whenever an Exaltation took place notice to be sent to every Arch Mason resident within sixteen miles of Marietta, at expense of candidate."

The fees for the above Degrees may be compared with those earlier established by a Committee of which Brother Heart was chairman, and which provided that the "E. A, should be four pounds lawful money, F. C. twelve shillings, and for M. M. eighteen shillings. Candidates to stand proposed one month.'' Brother Jonathan Heart, then Major, was killed in Saint Clair's defeat, November 4, 1791, and this tragic event undoubtedly had serious consequences for the Lodge.

Moreover, the Lodge Hall, Charter and other documents were destroyed by fire on March 22, 1801.

But a reorganization took place in January, 1804, under a Dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts which was to remain in full force and effect until a Grand Lodge should be founded in Ohio.

The present American Union Lodge at Marietta, Ohio, No, l on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, was organized by members of the old Lodge.

The first Minute-Book, from the original constitution to April 23, 1783, is in the library of the Grand Lodge of New York. During the war many prominent patriots were members, and several times Washington was recorded as a visitor.

The operations of this Lodge, American Union Lodge, Connecticut Line, during the War of the American Revolution, form a most important link in the chain of Masonic history, inasmuch as it embraced, in its membership and among its initiates, gentlemen attached to the Army, coming from various States of the Union, who, "When the storm of war was done," were separated by the return of peace, and permitted to repair to their respective homes; not, as we are bound to believe, to forget or misapply the numerous impressive lessons taught in the Lodge, but to cultivate and extend the philanthropie principles of "Friendship, Morality, and Brotherly Love," by fraternal intercourse and correspondence, resulting finally in the further establishment of Lodges in almost every part of the country.

A prominent object in publishing these Lodge proceedings in detail, is to show the character of the American Masonic Institution in its infancy, by showing who were its members, who visited its assemblies, and who performed its mystic ceremonies and observed its mystic rites. For this purpose we copy from the original Minute-Book of the American Union Lodge, giving the names of all who were received in it, whether by initiation, admission, or visitation, as it moved with the Army, as a pillar of "Light," in parts of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.

During the suspension of the meetings of the Grand Lodge at Boston, in 1776, the following Dispensation was issued by the Grand Master: JOHN ROWE, Grand Master, To Joel Clark, Esq.-Greeting.

By virtue of authority invested in me, I hereby, reposing special trust and confidence in your knowledge and skill of the Ancient Craft, do appoint and constitute you, the said Joel Clark, Esquire, Master of the AMERICAN UNION LODGE, now erected in Roxbury, or wherever your Body shall remove on the Continent of America, provided it is where no Grand Master is appointed. You are to promote in your Lodge the utmost Harmony and Brotherly Love, and to keep up to the Constitutions, for the reputation of the Craft. In your makings you are to be very cautious of the Moral Character of such persons, and also of visitors, and such as desire to become Members of your Lodge (such as were not made in it).

You are to transmit to the Grand Lodge a fair account of the choice of your officers, as well as present as future.

Any matters coming before your Lodge that cannot be adjusted, you are to appeal to and lay the same before the Grand Lodge for a decision. You are, as often as the Grand Lodge meets, to attend with your two Wardens; of the time and place the Grand Lodge shall meet, you will have previous notice.

In order to support the Grand Lodge, your Lodge is to pay into the hands of the Grand Secretary, each Quarierly Night, the sum of 12 shillings lawful money; all of which you will pay due regard to.

This Commission to remain in full force and virtue until recalled by me or my successor in office. Given under my hand, and the hands of the Grand Wardens, (the seal of the Grand Lodge first after fixed,) this the 15th day of February, Anno Mundi 5776, of Salvation 1776. (L. S.) Richard Gridley, D. G. M. William Burbeck, S. G, W. J. G. W. Per order of the G. Master. Recorded, Wm. Hoskins, G. Secretary.

BY-LAWS OF AMERICAN UNION LODGE 1. That the members of this Lodge shall consist of forty-five and no more, unless it shall hereafter appear necessary for the benefit of Masonry, in which ease it shall be determined by a majority of the members present-the Master having a casting vote in this and all other matters that concern the true interest of this Lodge, except in cases hereafter mentioned.

2. That this Lodge shall be held from time to time at such place as by adjournment it shall be ordered, of which the members are desired to take particular notice and attend punctually.

3. In order to preserve the credit of the Craft and the harmony of Masonry in general, no candidate shall be made in this Lodge unless his character is well avouched by one or more of the Brothers present. Every Brother proposing a candidate shall stand up and address the Master, and at the same time shall deposit four dollars in advance towards his making, into the hands of the Secretary, and if he is accepted shall be in part of his making; if he is not accepted it shall be returned, and if he is accepted and does not attend it shall be forfeited for the use of the Lodge, casualties excepted.

4. No candidate shall be made on the Lodge night he is proposed, unless it shall appear that he is under such circumstances that he cannot with convenience attend the next Lodge night, in which case it shall be submitted to the Lodge. But this rule may be dispensed at discretion of the Lodge. 5. Every candidate proposed shall stand on the Minutes until the next Entered Apprentice Lodge night after he is proposed, and then shall be balloted for; if one negative only shall appear then he shall have the benefit of a second ballot, and if one negative shall still appear he shall have the benefit of a third ballot, and if a negative still appear, the candidate shall then be dismissed and his money refunded : provided, this by-law does not annul the provision made in the immediate foregoing article.

6. Every Brother made in his Lodge shall pay ten dollars for his making, of which the deposit money shall be considered as part.

7. A Lodge of emergency may be called for making, passing or raising a brother, they paying the expense of the evening.

8. Every brother made in this Lodge and shall sign the By-Laws, shall commence member thereof, and shall be considered as such until he signifies his intentions to the contrary to the Master and Wardens of the Lodge.

9. Every member shall pay into the hands of the Secretary one shilling, equal to one-sixth of a dollar, for every night's attendance, to be paid quarterly.

10. Every brother visiting this Lodge shall pay one shilling each night he visits, except the first night, when he shall be excused.

11. Any visiting brother who shall desire to become a member of this Lodge, being properly recommended, shall have the benefit of a ballot (the same as a candidate), and if accepted shall pay nine shillings.

12. No person who may have clandestinely obtained any part or parts of the secrets of Masonry shall be suffered to visit this Lodge until he has made due submission and gone through the necessary forms, in which case he shall pay for making, at the discretion of the Lodge, not exceeding the usual fees.

13. No person made a Mason in a traveling Lodge, being an inhabitant of any metropolis or city where there is a regular Lodge established, shall be admitted as a member or visitor in this Lodge until he has complied with tho restrictions in the immediate foregoing article.

14, Whenever the Master shall strike upon the table the members shall repair to their places and keep a profound silence. No Brother is to interrupt the business or harmony of the Lodge, under penalty of receiving a severe reprimand from the Master for the first offence, and if he shall remain contumaciously obstinate shall be expelled the Lodge.

15. When a brother has anything to propose he shall stand up and address the Master, and no brother shall interrupt another while speaking, under penalty of a rebuke from the Master.

16. The By-Laws shall be read every Lodge night by the Secretary, to which every member is to give due attention.

17. That every member of the Lodge shall endeavor to keep in mind what passes in Lodge, that when the Master shall examine them on the mysteries of the craft he may not be under necessity of answering for them.

18. That the officers of this Lodge shall be chosen on the first. Lodge night preceding the Festival of Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist, and oftener in case of vacancies by death or any other casualties, at the discretion of the Lodge.

19. The Secretary. shall keep true and fair accounts of all the transactions of the Lodge, and shall pay all moneys collected into the hands of the Treasurer.

20. The Treasurer shall keep fair and true accounts of all moneys received and paid, and shall exhibit. the same when called upon by. the Master and Wardens for that purpose ; and when a new Treasurer is chosen the late Treasurer shall pay such balance as shall appear to remain in his hands to the new Treasurer.

21. No brother shall leave the Lodge Room until he obtains permition from the Master for that purpose.

22. The outside Tyler shall be allowed one shilling and six pence for each night's attendance, also three shillings more for each new made, passed or raised brother, which shall be paid them exclusive of the premiums paid to the Lodge; the inside Tyler shall be excused from paying quarterages.

23. Any brother who shall disclose the secret transactions of this Lodge or who shall be privy to the same done by any other brother, and does not inform the Lodge at the nem meeting thereof, shall be expelled the Lodge, never to be readmitted.

24. Any brother who shall remain in the Lodge Room after the Lodge is closed, and shall be guilty of or accessory to any conduct by which the craft shall be subjected to aspersions or the censure of the world, of which the Lodge shall be judge, shall for the first offence be severely reprimanded by the Master the first time he appears at Lodge; for the second offence he shall be expelled the Lodge.

25. Any brother who shall refuse to pay obedience to the foregoing regulations, or shall dispute the payment of any fine laid thereby, or adjudged to be inflicted by a majority of the Lodge, shall be expelled the Lodge.

26. That every brother (being a member of this Lodge) who shall be passed a Fellow Craft, shall pay twelve shillings, and fifteen for being raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason; and that. any brother (not a member) shall, for being passed, pay twenty-four shillings, and thirty-six for being raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason.

27. No visiting brother shall be allowed to speak in matters of debate, unless he be desired by the Master to give his opinion.

28. Whereas, many matters may come before this Lodge not particularly provided for in the foregoing By-Laws, the same shall be submitted to the determination of the Lodge by a majority of votes; the Lodge shall reserve to themselves to alter, amend, diminish or augment the aforesaid By-Laws, as shall appear necessary, by the majority of the members in Lodge assembled.

And whereas, from the present depreciation of our money, it will be impossible to maintain the dignity of the Lodge by the premiums arising from the By-Laws, it is ordered by a unanimous vote of this Lodge that the fees for a new made brother be thirty dollars; passing a brother (being a member), six dollars ; and raising, seven dollars and one-half ; and all other perquisites, so far as relates to the gentlemen of the army, be raised three fold to what is prescribed in the By-Laws; and in all other cases, that the fees and perquisites be at the discretion of the majority of the members in Lodge assembled, except the fees of the outside Tyler, which for making, passing and raising shall be six fold, to be paid agreeably to the 22d Article of the By-Laws. Signed by Jonathan Heart, Reuben Pride, Elihu Marshall, Timothy Hosmer, William Redfield, John Hobart, Oliver Lawrence, Jabez Parsons, Hezekiah Holdridge, Josiah Lacey., William Richards, Jonathan Brown, Eben Gray, Willis Clift, Prentice Hosmer, David F. Sill, Simeon Belding, Thomas Grosvenor, Henry Champion, Robert Warner, JohnRWatrous, Richard Sill, STATE OF CONNECTICUT, viz, Reading, February 7th, 1779.

On the application of a number of gentlemen brethren of the Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons to the members of American Union Lodge held by authority, under the Right Worship John Rowe, Esq., Grand Master of all Masons in North America, where no special Grand Master is appointed, requesting that the said American Union Lodge may be convened for the purpose of re-establishing the Ancient Craft in the same. Agreeable to which a summons was issued desiring the members of the American Union Lodge to meet at Widow Sanford`s near Reading Old Meeting House on Monday the 15th of inst. February at 4 o'clock and an invitation sent to the others, the brethren of the Past M. JONATHAN HEART Secretary American Union Lodge.

Feb. 10th, Anno Mundi 5779, Salutis 1779.

Reading, viz. Mrs. Sanford's, Feb. isth, 1779. Agreeable to summons, the members of the Ancient American Union Lodge assembled. Brother Jonathan Heart in the chair. Present- Joseph Hoit, Sen Warden ; William Judd, member; Charles Peck, Tyler. Visitors-Brs. Elihu Marshall, John Brown, Isaac Sherman, William Redfield, Coleman.

Lodge opened, when Brs. Elihu Marshall, John Brown, Isaae Sherman, and William Redfield, were separately proposed to become members of this Lodge, balloted for and accepted.

Then proceeded to elect a Master to fill the chair in room of the Worshipful Joel Clark, Esq., deceased, when the Hon. Samuel Holden Parsons was unanimously elected. Then proceeded to elect a Secretary when William Judd was elected.

As the Worshipful Master elect was absent and not likely to return soon or attend the brethren unanimously agreed to dispense with the regulation of the master`s being present at the election of the other officers, and therefore proceeded to the choice of a Senior Warden, when Bro. Heart was elected , who having taken the chair proceeded to the choice of the other officers, and duly elected Bro. Marshall, Junior Warden Bro. Sherman, Treasurer, and Charles Peck, Tyler. The newly elected officers (the Worshipful excepted, who was absent), having with the usual ceremonies taken their seats, proceeded to the consideration of the By- Laws, and unanimously agreed that the same continue in full force, With this proviso:

That the fees for admission of the candidates be thirty dollars, passing six dollars, and raising, seven and one-half dollars, and all other perquisites, &c., so far as relates to the gentlemen of the army, be raised three fold, and in all other cases the fees and perquisites be at the discretion of the majority of the brethren members in Lodge assembled; that the Tyler's fees for new admitted brethren, passing and raising be three dollars, exclusive of all other fees. Lieut. Col. Thomas Grosvenor and Capt. Henry Champion, of the Third Connecticut Battalion, and Simeon Belding, Division Quarter Master, were proposed to be made Entered Apprentices by Bro. Heart. Lodge closed until 17th February, 5 o'clock, P.M.

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