A Brief History of Freemasonry – Early Freemasonry in the New Republic (Part 4)

This article was taken from the Leadership Development Course (1995 Revision) originally published by the Grand Lodge of NY Committee on Leadership Services, authored by Allan M. Bryant.

After the Revolution, the American Grand Lodges became sovereign and independent.  Eventually a Grand Lodge was created in every State and the District of Columbia.  The Grand Lodge of New York was formed in 1781 under the Atholl Charter.  Lesson #7 details the Structure of The Grand Lodge of the State of New York.

Among the early Governors of New York who also served as Grand Master of Masons in the State include:  Daniel D. Tompkins (later Vice President of the United States), DeWitt Clinton, and Morgan Lewis.

Attending the first inauguration of George Washington on April 30, 1789 was a Who’s Who of Freemasonry in New York State.  The altar Bible of St. John’s Lodge was used by Chancellor Robert L. Livingston to administer the oath of office.  The Bible has been used to swear in a number of Presidents, including George Bush on Jan. 20, 1989.

At the first inauguration the President-elect was escorted by selected military units commanded by General William Malcolm (a Freemason).  His aides were Morgan Lewis (later Grand Master of New York), Jacob Morton and Leonard Bleecker (all prominent Freemasons).

Jacob Morton was the Grand Secretary of Grand Lodge and Master of St. John’s Lodge #1 (the owner of the Washington  Bible).  He later became Grand Master of New York.  Surrounding Washington at the inauguration were: Richard Henry Lee, Henry Knox, Arthur St. Clair, Baron Von Steuben, House Speaker Frederick A.C. Mulenberg, and New York Governor George Clinton — all Freemasons.  George Clinton was later to become the Vice-President of the United States.  He was also the uncle of the future Governor and Grand Master DeWitt Clinton who was present at the inaugural.

On September 18, 1793 Washington laid the cornerstone for the Capitol in full Masonic ritual.  The trowel he used was later utilized by the Grand Master of Virginia to lay the cornerstone of the Washington Monument on July 4, 1848.  Both the trowel and the apron used by Washington are kept at the Washington Masonic National Monument in Alexandria, Virginia.

Between 1822-1827, a schism developed between upstate and New York City Freemasons.  Freemasons from “Upstate” felt that Grand Lodge should be held in Albany and not in New York City, since Albany was more centrally located.  In 1825, Stephen Van Rensselaer was elected Grand Master to heal the wounds.  The pact of June 7, 1827 resolved these differences. Van Rensselaer was a prominent public servant.  Early that year it was his vote in the U.S. House of Representatives which gave John Quincy Adams a sufficient majority to win election to the Presidency.

About leader

District Deputy Grand Master Saratoga-Warren District 1998-2000; Grand Lodge Leadership Services Committee; Leadership Development Course Coordinator; Vice Chairman Grand Master's Educational Task Force; Vice Chairman Grand Lodge Child ID Committee; District Deputy Grand High Priest 14th Capitular District; Grand Master of the 1st Veil 2010; Grand Master 2nd Veil 2011; Grand Master 3rd Veil 2012 Grand Royal Arch Captain 2013 Grand Principal Sojourner 2014 Grand Captain of the Host 2015 Warren County Historical Society Board of Trustees; Queensbury Masonic Historical Society Charter Member; State Chairman Lodges & Buildings Committee Deputy Grand Master's Advisory Committee
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