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Masonic Service Association of North America

Emessay Notes April 2003

Grand Lodge of New York to Honor Richard Holbrooke

The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York and the America-Bosnia Cultural Foundation are proud to announce a special cultural event honoring the Hon. Richard C. Holbrooke for his outstanding achievements in bringing peace to the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina and for his service to the United States of America.

The America-Bosnia Cultural Foundation, a recognized 501 (c) (3) organization, is committed to fostering strong cultural and educational ties between the United States and Bosnia-Herzegovina. We recognize a growing need for improving understanding among our peoples and the values for which we stand. The United States serves as a beacon of successful multiculturalism in the world, an extraordinary example that Bosnia is trying to follow to truly fulfill the pledge of the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God. This is a joint philanthropic program for the benefit of the Foundation and the Masonic Home.

If you are interested in attending this program on June 14, 2003 please contact the Grand Lodge of New York, Phone 212-337-6600, E-mail [email protected]

 (Source: Grand Lodge of New York)

George Washington Masonic National Memorial

The GWMNM has just released a new 10-panel color brochure with a short history of the Memorial and a description of many of the rooms in the building. The brochure is intended as a self guided tour, but is also very helpful in giving good information to anyone interested in this beautiful memorial dedicated to our 1st President, Bro. George Washington. If you would like a copy you may request one from the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, 101 Callahan Dr., Alexandria, VA 22301-2751. Their website is www.gwmemorial.org

Making Donations Count

For the second time in three years, Shriners Hospitals for Children has received the highest rating as the most effective health charity in the United States. That rating, published in the December 2002 issue of Smart Money came on the heels of a previous top ranking in 2000, when the publication conducted its annual survey on top charities in the nation. There was no survey on charitable giving in 2001 because of events surrounding 9/11.

History of "General Grand Lodge"

At the turn of the 19th Century, the idea of a General Grand Lodge of the United States was popular among many members of the Grand Lodges. On May 21, 1811, the idea was proffered at a meeting of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. This was three months after its institution. This idea first arose in 1770 when the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania formally elected George Washington as Grand Master of a General Grand Lodge, and invited the Grand Lodges of Massachusetts and Virginia to join in the movement. The latter two remained silent, so the idea did not materialize. Then on October 8, 1811, the following ad appeared in the newspaper, National Intelligencer:

"Masonic Notice. Those members of Congress who belong to The Masonic Fraternity, and those visitors of the city who are or have been members of any State Grand Lodge, are respectfully invited to attend a meeting to be held in the Senate Chamber, this evening at 7 o'clock, to take into consideration matters of general interest to the Masonic institution."

A notable assembly of members of Congress and other prominent Masons appeared for the meeting which resulted in a resolution recommending a General Grand Lodge. A committee was appointed to open correspondence with all Grand Lodges and to take steps to carry out the resolution. The need for a General Grand Lodge was to (1) attain an "elevated stand for Masonry in this country" and (2) preserve uniformity of work between the states. 

The Grand Lodges of Pennsylvania and Kentucky opposed the idea and others were lukewarm. The Grand Lodge of DC appointed delegates to meet, as requested, and invited others to join them. No meeting was held due to lack of interest, and the matter was dropped for many years. 

Then on May 8, 1843, a National Masonic Convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland, where 15 Grand Lodges were represented. There a modified version of a General Grand Lodge was proposed, leaving all Grand Lodges autonomous, and a date was suggested for another meeting to be held in Winchester, Virginia, on May 11, 1846. On that date there was a lack of a quorum, so the meeting adjourned without action. 

Next, the Grand Lodge of Maryland called for a convention in Baltimore, in September 1847, where it would submit a constitution for consideration. General agreement was reached and the constitution was approved subject to ratification by at least 16 Grand Lodges. A majority of Grand Lodges approved of the idea of a General Grand Lodge, but the Constitution was not approved due to a need for "modification." 

In 1849, several propositions were introduced in the Grand Lodge of DC looking toward the formation of a General Grand Lodge, and similar movements took place in Maryland and Rhode Island. 

In 1853, the Grand Lodge of DC sent delegates to a convention proposed by the Grand Lodge of Maine and held in Lexington, Kentucky, at which time the formation of a General Grand Lodge was considered "inexpedient", but where it was recommended that there be an establishment of a National Confederation for specific purposes, for instance, the resolution of disputes between Grand Lodges on a two-thirds vote of the Confederation. At a subsequent convention in 1855, Articles of Confederation were drawn up, leaving independence to each Grand Lodge, but failed to receive sufficient affirmative votes. 

Finally in 1859, a convention was held in Chicago which explored the feasibility of forming a North American Congress, but it failed for lack of support. This was the last concerted effort to form a General Grand Lodge.

(Source: Charles Iversen, PGM, Article in the 2002 Fall Scottish Rite Bulletin, D.C.)

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