Monday, November 6, 2017
While I was here at the Detroit Masonic Temple on Saturday night for a presentation, I requested a tour on Monday when I had more time to see this amazing in the daytime. It is truly awe inspiring and seeing this building was on my Masonic bucket list. I wrote about this building back in 2012: Sights and Places: Detroit Masonic Temple, but no words can do it justice. I have to thank Worshipful Brother Rob Moore, Worshipful Master of the Michigan Lodge of Research and Information for taking me on such an informative tour of this historic building. Now I am on my way back home.
Here are just a few of the pictures that I took during this tour:
Here are just a few of the pictures that I took during this tour:
Saturday, November 4, 2017
This weekend I am in Detroit for work and before coming out I had contacted the Masons to see if any event would be happening that I could attend. I was informed that the Michigan Lodge of Research would be hosting a Richard H. Sands Lecture at the Detroit Masonic Temple Library and that the lecturer would be Bro. Shawn Eyer. Bro. Shawn is a Past Master of Academia Lodge No.847 in Oakland, CA, and currently serves as Director of Communications at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, VA, as well as the editor of its newsletter, "Light." He is also editor of "Ahiman: A Review of Masonic Culture and Tradition" and "Philalethes: The Journal of Masonic Research and Letters", the oldest independent Masonic publications in North America. I was looking forward to this presentation because I've known Bro. Shawn for a few years now and had not seen him a few years.
Bro. Shawn Eyer gave a presentation titled "Wisdom of the Founding Brethren: Light from the First Generation of Freemasons." Shawn is an exceptional Masonic scholar and lecturer, and I was not disappointed by his presentation. Shawn's presentation centered on looking at primary sources of early Masonry to look at some of the attitudes, ideas, and cultures of the early Masonic Brethren around the time of the founding Brothers. Citing the song "The Freemasons Health" (one of the earliest printed documents of Speculative Freemasonry), a Masonic essay by Robert Samber, Anderson's Constitution of 1723, the York Regulations of 1725, the writings of Francis Drake (1726), the writings of Edward Oakley (1728) writings by Martin Clare, the "Dissertation upon Masonry" (1734), the Book M (1736), and writings by "Brother Euclid" (1738). What I took away from this presentation is that we modern Masons, and humans in general, look back at our predecessors with some bias that they must have been simpler than us, but after looking through their writings, Masonic education isn't a new concept and has been with us since the earliest recorded history of Freemasonry. Many of the earliest essays on Masonry paint a picture of Lodges that fostered an environment for those seeking spiritual, intellectual, and social pursuits and exploration (rather than using research). The Brethren of the Michigan Lodge of Research were very hospitable and welcoming.It was a pleasure to attend this presentation and the fellowship that followed.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
With the Apron and Shrine Fez, the Scottish Rite cap stands out as a distinctive piece of Masonic regalia. The Scottish Rite caps are first bestowed upon Masons who have progressed to the 32° and there are a variety of caps, differing with their colors and insignia which can confuse new members or those who are not members of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite.
The purpose of the Scottish Rite cap is for Masons to show to Almighty God as well as to identiify a degree and any honors one may have achieved in the Scottish Rite. According to the Supreme Council, the cap is considered a part of the apparel and is not removed, evn for prayer and the presentation of the flag. The Scottish Rite cap is not to be worn in any public place not connected to a Scottish Rite meeting. Note that I am speaking primarily of the caps worn by Masons of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite. There are some key differences between the Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) and Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. The NMJ has a cap for officers that are yellow, but that is not a practice in the Southern Jurisdiction.
The black cap adorned with the Scottish Rite double-headed eagle is worn by those who have advanced to the 32° - Master of the Royal Secret. This cap is worn by a majority of the members of the Scottish Rite.
The blue cap emblazoned with golden number 50 surrounded by a wreath is worn by those Scottish Rite Masons who have been a member for atleast 50-years.
The red cap decorated with the red and gold cross of a Knight Commander is worn by those 32° Scottish Rite Masons who have been invested with the Knight Commander of the Court of Honor (KCCH). When one has been a 32° for atleast 4-years (roughly) can be nominated for their services to the Rite to be awarded the KCCH. It should be noted that this is not a degree, but an investiture to recognize faithful service and does not confer any more power or authority. The KCCH exists in the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction of the USA, but is not used universally among other Supreme Councils.
The white cap embroidered with the red and gold Patriarchal Cross designates that one has been coronated a 33° Inspector General Honorary. When a Scottish Rite Mason has been a 32° KCCH for four years, has attained the age of 35, and has continued to provide outstanding service to the Rite, he is eligible to received the 33° Inspector General Honorary. These Brothers are not active members of the Supreme Council, but compose the pool from which those active members are chosen from.
The white cap adorned with the gold Teutonic cross of the Grand Cross and surrounded by a band of dark blue velvet bordered in gold is worn by those distinguished Brothers who have been awarded the Grand Cross of the Court of Honor. This is the highest decoration which can be bestowed on an Inspector General Honorary for exceptional services. This rank and designation is not a degree, and members who hold it are designated 33° GCCH or 33° GC.
The white cap adorned with the red and gold Patriarchal Cross and surrounded by a band of red velvet bordered in gold is worn by Brothers who serve as a Deputy of the Supreme Council. In Orients (states, territories, or countries) that do not have an active member of the Supreme Council, the Sovereign Grand Commander can appoint a Deputy to serve as SGIG of that particular Orient, but that does not give him active membership or a vote on the Supreme Council.
The purple cap emblazoned with a purple and gold Patriarchal Cross with crosslets and surrounded by a band of purple velvet, bordered in gold and decorated with a gold vine of laurel leaves and berries is worn by a Sovereign Grand Inspector General (SGIG) and is an active member of the Supreme Council. There is only one active member for an Orient and the SGIG is the highest ranking officer of the Scottish Rite in the Orient.
The violet cap decorated with the Salem Cross with crosslets and surrounded by a band of violet velvet with a gold vine of laurel leaves and berries is worn only by the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite. The Sovereign Grand Commander is the highest ranking officer of the Supreme Council invested with the power of supervision and administration within its jurisdiction.
1. Blue Hats in Scottish Rite. (2015). Retrieved from Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/freemasonry/comments/3di5nq/blue_hats_in_scottish_rite/
2. Regalia. (n.d.). Retrieved from Long Beach Scottish Rite: http://www.lbscottishrite.org/?p=regalia
3. The Scottish Rite Caps Explained. (n.d.). Retrieved from Valley of Tulsa: http://www.tulsasr.org/?page_id=124
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Here is the tentative schedule of events for the 2018 Masonic Week that will be held at the Hyatt Regency, Crystal CIty near the Regan National Airport.
Thursday, February 8, 2018
7:30am - Trinity Chapel No.2 of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon of the USA
10:00am - Grand Council of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon of the USA
Noon - Festive Board of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon of the USA
1:30pm - Potomac Court No.107 of the Masonic Order of Athelstan
3:00pm - Provincial Grand Court of the United States of America for the Masonic Order of Athelstan
4:45pm - Grand Council of the Universal Craftsmen Council of Engineers
8:15pm - Royal Ark Mariner degree of the Allied Masonic Degrees
Friday, February 9, 2018
7:00am - Breakfast sponsored by the Convent General KYCH
8:15am - Grand College of Rites of the USA
9:00am - Ladies Breakfast (no cost)
9:30am - Society of Blue Friars
10:45am - Nine Muses Council No.13 of the Allied Masonic Degrees
Noon - Lunch sponsored by the Grand Council of Knight Masons, USA
1:30pm - Grand Council of Knight Masons, USA
4:15pm - Grand College of America of the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest
6:30pm - The 11th Annual Dinner of the Masonic Society
6:30pm - The Great Priory of America of the Chevaliers Bienfasants de la Cite Sainte
9:00pm - Ye Antiente Order of Corks
Saturday, February 10, 2018
7:00am - Breakfast sponsored by the York Rite Sovereign College
8:15am - Scarlet Cord Degrees of the Allied Masonic Degrees
8:15am - First Grade (Ostiarius or Doorkeeper)
8:45am - Second Grade (Lector)
9:15am - Third Grade (Fellow)
9:45am - Fourth Grade (Councillor)
10:45am - Sovereign Order of Knights Preceptor
12:15pm - The Philalethes Society Luncheon
2:00pm - Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees of the USA
2:00pm - Ladies Afternoon Tea
5:30pm - Social Hour
6:30pm - All Masonic Banquet
8:45pm - Masonic Order of the Bath
Sunday, February 11, 2018
08:30am - Washington Monument Assemblage of the Operatives, USA Region (I° to VII°)
09:00am - Lodge of Menatzchim V° of the Operatives (V°, VI°, & VII° only)
10:30am - Lodge of Harodim VI° of the Operatives (VI° & VII° only)
Noon - Closing of Washington Monument Assemblage of the Operatives
12:30pm - Operatives Brunch (I° to VII°)
Sunday, October 8, 2017
This is the first in a series where I will be researching some of the words and phrases used within Freemasonry. As this is the first article in the series I'll start with the most important and basic organizational unit of Freemasonry, the Lodge. According to the Idaho Masonic monitor, "a Lodge is a place where Masons assemble and work; Hence that Assembly, or duly organized Society of Msaons, is called a Lodge, and every Brother ought to belong to one, and to be subject to its Bylaws and General Regulations."
According to the dictionary, the word "lodge" is defined as "a small, makeshift or crude shelter or habitation" or "the meeting place of a branch of certain fraternal organizations." The word "Lodge" is rooted in the 13th century Middle English word "logge" meaning "small building or hut" and can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic word "laubja" meaning "shelter."
While the roots of Freemasonry are lost to time and is the great enigma of the Craft, we know that much of our near history can be traced to the Operative Masonic guilds of England. In creating their work area, the medieval guilds would erect a lodge erected along side the structure under construction. How and when the operatives started using the word "lodge" is unknown, but we know that where those operative craftsmen assembled, it was referred to as a lodge. Lodges today refer to both a place where assembled Brothers may initiate, pass, and raise all those whom they find worthy and the collective term for the members who meet there. While today our Lodges are fixed locations, the early speculative Lodges were much more private and transitional meaning that they would be located in private homes or rented out rooms in a bar (not the club scene we think of today, but something akin to a hotel conference room).
From Albert Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, a "regular Warranted Lodge consists in reality of four Lodges" where he states that a Lodge is composed of a Lodge to conduct business meetings, "Initiated in a Lodge of Apprentices, is Passed in a Lodge of Fellowcraft, is Raised in a Lodge of Master Masons." Lodges have a name and after often followed by a number (ie Idaho Lodge No.1), but this isn't always the case; in some jurisdictions they don't use numbers such as under the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Lodges are often referred to as a Blue Lodges, (Ancient) Craft Lodges, St. Johns' Lodges, or Symbolic Lodges. The term "blue Lodge" refers to the traditional color of regalia in Lodges. Craft Lodge is used more often in Britain than Blue Lodge.
As the central myth surrounding Freemasonry surrounds King Solomon's Temple, the Lodge is said to be patterned after aspects of King Solomon’s Temple. There are many variations throughout the world, depending on differences in customs, rituals, and rules, but in general, lodge rooms are arranged in a very similar fashion. Lodges can be decorated very elaborately or very simply; you find very ornate Lodges in large cities and back East while in rural areas they are often of simple designs. A building may have multiple Lodge rooms and it was an older custom to refer to such buildings as Temples (referring back to King Solomon's Temple), but due to confusion and misunderstandings of the role of religion in Freemasonry, this has been abandoned and the word "temple" has been removed from their buildings.
The modern Masonic lodge is a rectangular room, with seating around the perimeter with the center of the room where the rituals and ceremonies take place. Lodges as a representation of King Solomon's Temple which itself was an exact model for the Tabernacle erected by Moses, which was situated due East and West to commemorate the East wind which assisted in the exodus of the Jews out of the land of Egypt. Now this isn't always physically possible to orient a Lodge room due east, but regardless, when you walk into the lodge room and face the Worshipful Master's chair, you’re symbolically facing the East. All Lodges hold an altar in it where a sacred book is placed (in the US it is usually the Bible, but it could also be the Koran or Torah). In the US, the altar is found in the center of the room while in other parts of the world it is often found directly in front of the Worshipful Master's chair. Surrounding or placed next to the altar are three lights (the number three being extremely important in Freemasonry). The three principal officers are stationed around the room as such: the Worshipful Master is in the East on a dias of three steps, the Senior Warden is in the West on a platform of two steps, the Junior Warden is in the South on a single step. The rest of the officers are placed around the Lodge as defined by their ritual and Constitution (see the diagram below).
Most Lodge meet at least once a month for a business meeting, but can also have special meetings for conducting initiations on their respective candidates. Some Lodges only meet quarterly or annually, but those are special Lodges like Lodges of Instruction, Research Lodges, or Historic Lodges.
No other part of Freemasonry is accessible until one has received the three degrees of the Blue Lodge. Admission to a Lodge is by petition and only through a Blue Lodge can one attain the title of Freemason.
1. Lodge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Dictionary.com: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/lodge
2. Lodge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wiktionary: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lodge
3. Lodge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Masonic Dictionary: http://www.masonicdictionary.com/lodge.html
4. Lodge (n). (n.d.). Retrieved from Online Etymological Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=lodge
5. What is a Freemason Lodge? (n.d.). Retrieved from Dummies: http://www.dummies.com/religion/spirituality/what-is-a-freemason-lodge/
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Well, today concluded the 150th Annual Communciation of the Wost Worshipful Grand Lodge Ancient Free & Accepted Masons of Idaho. Congratulations to Most Worshipful Brother James Hensley on his year as Grand Master and congratulations to Most Worshipful Brother William K. Curtis Jr. on being installed as Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons of Idaho for the ensuing year.
Thursday night, the Idaho Lodge of Research No.1965 met where I was re-elected as Secretary. Friday was a long day of committee reports, but ended with the Grand Banquet where there was plenty of good food, good fellowship, and the dispensing of awards to several deserving Brothers. Congratulations to those Brothers who were awarded Mason of the Year and District Masons of the Year.
This morning dealt with the passage of resolutions proposed by the voting members and delegates of the Grand Lodge. The ones that interested me were three: 1) The Brethren approved the ability for Lodges to hold election of officers on any degree when previously it could only be done on the Master Mason degree; 2) The Brethren approved the request to allow a Forest of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon to be established in Idaho; and 3) the Brethren rejected the proposal that would have put a term limit of three consecutive years to the stations of Worshipful Master, Senior Warden and Junior Warden.
Today, Brethren from all over the State of Idaho as well as several visiting Brothers congregated in Idaho City for the Annual Communication for Idaho City Historic Lodge No.1863. Prior to the meeting we had a picnic which was catered by a local BBQ company owned by Carlas Brown, Most Worshipful Past Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Oregon, Idaho, and Montana Inc. I had the honor of serving as Worshipful Master for this year for the Historic Lodge. After the usual business of a stated meeting, I gave a short talk on what our 19th century Brethren would have gone through in traveling to Idaho City to establish the Grand Lodge of Idaho:
Brothers, I want to take a moment to reflect how remarkable it was for our predecessors to come together to form the Grand Lodge of Idaho.
It took most of us 54-minutes to go from Boise to Idaho City, but the founders of our didn't have the modern conveniences we have today. No paved roads, no cars, and railroads didn't really develop in Idaho until between 1880 and 1890, and even then it serviced along the corridor similar to what I-84 occupies. Back in 1867, one had three choices for travel: the first is the least likely and that is to walk; the next was to ride a horse; and, lastly, the most common would have been to take a stagecoach.
Stage lines began to replace saddle trains in 1864 as soon as roads suitable for wagons were built. Stagecoaches were pulled by teams of horses or oxen. In comparison to riding in our modern automobiles with environmental controls, riding a stagecoach was not always fun. Passengers were often jammed together with few rest stops. Aside the slow and steady pace, passengers faced the harsh environmental conditions of Idaho summer and winter, bandits and robbers, and of course the lovely rattlesnake.
Stagecoaches could travel between 10 and 15-miles a day. Using modern roads, from Idaho city, Centerville is 11-miles, Placerville is 13-miles, Pioneerville is 17-miles, Boise is 40-miles, and Silver City is 109-miles away. The shortest travel time is a full day of travel and the farthest took between 7.5-days and 11-days. These measurements is with the assumption of good weather and road conditions which seems unlikely with the mountainous terrain. We have to remember that they came together during the month of December and the average snowfall for Idaho City can exceed 6-ft. Now take into account snow, ice, mud, and avalanches into those travel times and you can only imagine the fervency and zeal that drove these Brothers. Reflect on that Brothers.
I then turned the gavel over to the newly installed Most Worshipful Grand Master who closed the Lodge. Afterward I returned to Boise and had beer with my friend and Companion, David Grindle, the Most Puissant General Grand Master of the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International. Now it's time for bed and some rest.
Friday, September 22, 2017
By John Keats
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Continuing from Part 2, this article will discuss those Freemasons who served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America during the 20th century. There are nineteen Freemasons who served in this time and they are: William H. Moody, Willis Van Devanter, Joseph R. Lamar, Mahlon Pitney, John H. Clarke, William Howard Taft, Hugo LaFayette Black, Stanley F. Reed, William O. Douglas, James F. Byrnes, Robert H. Jackson, Wiley B. Rutledge, Harold H. Burton, Frederick M. Vinson, Thomas C. Clark, Sherman Minton, Earl Warren, Potter Stewart, and Thurgood Marshall.
William H. Moody served this country as District Attorney, US Congressman, Attorney General, and Secretary of Navy before serving as Justice of the US Supreme Court. Born on December 23, 1853, in Newbury, MA, he would go on to attend Harvard where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1878. Moody was named District Attorney for Eastern Massachusetts in 1890 where he rose to prominence when he prosecuted the alleged ax-murderer, Lizzie Borden. He was elected to the US Congress in 1897. In 1902, he was appointed Secretary of the Navy by Theodore Roosevelt and, in 1904, he was appointed Attorney General, again, by Roosevelt. In 1906, Roosevelt nominated Moody to the Supreme Court to which he was confirmed on December 17, 1906. He resigned from the US Supreme Court on November 20, 1910, due to crippling rheumatism. He died on July 2, 1917, in Haverhill, MA. Moody was a member of Saggahew Lodge in Haverhill, MA, as well as a member in Pentucket Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Haverhill Commandery of Knights Templar, and the Scottish Rite (NMJ).
Willis Van Devanter served on the US Supreme Court for 27-years. He was born on April 17, 1859, in Marion, IN. He graduated from the Cincinnati Law School in 1881. He would practice law there until 1884 when he moved to Cheyenne, WY. It was there that he would be appointed to the Wyoming Territorial Legislature in 1885 and then in 1889 he was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison as Chief Justice of the Wyoming Territory Supreme Court (impressive for only being 30-years old). In 1897, he was appointed as Assistant US Attorney General in the State of Washington and then in 1903 he was made a Circuit Court Judge of the 8th Circuit. On December 16, 1910, he was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. He died on February 8, 1941.He was a member of Acacia Lodge No.11 and the Scottish Rite in Cheyenne, WY.
Born to a prominent Georgian family, Joseph R. Lamar served for 6-years on the Supreme Court. He was born on October 14, 1857, in Ruckerville, GA. After graduating from Bethany College and Washington and Lee University, he was a lawyer, member of the Georgia lower house from 1886 to 1889, member of the Commission to Recodify the Laws of Georgia, and Justice of the Georgian Supreme Court from 1903 to 1905. Lamar was little known outside of Georgia so it came as a surprise when President Taft nominated him to the Supreme Court of the United States. His career was unremarkable.  He died January 1, 1916. While his home Lodge is not known, he later became affiliated with Webb Lodge No.166 where he served as Junior Warden and Senior Warden. He was exalted to the Royal Arch degree in Augusta Chapter No.2 and knighted in Georgia Commandery No. 1 of Knights Templar in 1886.
Mahlon Pitney had originally desired for governorship, but his various judicial appointments ended his political ambitions. He was born on February 5, 1858, in Morristown, NJ. He attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) where he was a classmate of Woodrow Wilson. In 1894, Pitney was elected to the US House of Representatives and served for two terms before being elected to the New Jersey Senate. After being defeated in the gubernatorial race, the newly elected Governor Foster Voorhees appointed Pitney to the New Jersey Supreme Court. He served on this court for 20-years and eventually he would serve as Chancellor (equivalent to Chief Justice) of that court. He was nominated by President Taft to the US Supreme Court and confirmed on March 13, 1912. He served until December 31, 1922, when he suffered a stroke. He was one of only two Supreme Court Justices nominated by President Taft who also later served during Taft's tenure as Chief Justice. He died on December 9, 1924, in Washington DC. He is said to have been a member of Cincinnati Lodge No.3 in Morristown, NJ, but there is skepticism as he is only listed as a Mason in the Masonic Service Association 1940s study.
A pacifist and progressive Democrat, John H. Clarke was born on September 18, 1857, in Lisbon, OH. After graduating from Western Reserve University, he was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1878. He was appointed by President Wilson as District Judge for Northern Ohio from 1914 to 1916. President Woodrow Wilson nominated him the US Supreme Court where he served for 6-years. He resigned in 1922 to dedicate his remaining years to cultivating public opinion favorable for world peace. In doing so, he was President of the League of Nation’s Non-Partisan Association of the US from 1922 to 1930 as well as being Trustee of the World Peace Foundation. He died on March 22, 1945, in San Diego, CA. He is listed as member of Western Star Lodge No.21 in Youngstown, OH.
The only man to have both served as US President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Howard Taft was born on September 15, 1857, in Cincinnati, OH. He graduated from Yale in 1878 and Cincinnati Law School in 1880 then went onto practice law in Cincinnati. He served as Assistant County Solicitor from 1881 to 1887, Judge of the Superior Court of Cincinnati from 1887 to 1890, US Solicitor General from 1890 to 1892, US Circuit Court Judge for the Sixth Circuit from 1892 to 1900, President of the US Philippine Commission from 1900 to 1901, the first Civil Governor (Governor General) of the Philippines from 1901 to 1904, Secretary of War from 1904 to 1908, President of the United States of America from 1909 to 1913, and taught law at Yale from 1913 to 1921. He was nominated by President Warren G. Harding and confirmed on July 11, 1921, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the US. He died on March 8, 1930, in Washington DC. He was made a “Mason at sight” by Charles S. Hoskinson, the Grand Master of Ohio. He affiliated with Kilwinning Lodge No.356. He was also an honorary member of Illinois Masonic Veterans Association, America Lodge No.3369 (London), American Union Lodge No.1 (Ohio), King Solomon Lodge No.2029 (London), Liberty Lodge (Massachusetts), and Naval Lodge No.4 (DC).
extremely bright mind, nurtured by his mother, who started watching and evaluating law cases at the age of 6. In 1903, he graduated Ashland College and enrolled into Birmingham Medical College, at the age of 17. He soon discovered medicine was not his calling and enrolled in the law school at the University at Alabama, skipping pre-law college training. In 1906, he graduated from law school with honors and was admitted to the bar. After his office in Ashland burned down, he moved to Birmingham to start over where he made a name for himself as an impeccable lawyer. He was appointed to serve as a police court judge from 1911 to 1912, but then resigned to practice private law. He was elected as Prosecuting Attorney in 1914, but left that job to volunteer for the Army during WWI where he served as a Captain in the Field Artillery branch. After the end of the war, he went back to practicing law until December 5, 1927, when he was sworn in as US Senator from Alabama. He served as a Senator until 1937 when he was sworn in as an Associate Justice for the Supreme Court. He served until his death on September 25, 1971, eight days after he had a stroke. Black was a member of Ashland Lodge No.356 and Birmingham Temple Lodge No.636 as well as the Scottish Rite, Knights Templar, and Shriners.
Stanley F. Reed was an attorney that is remembered for his time as Solicitor General under Franklin D. Roosevelt and as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Reed was born in rural Kentucky on December 31, 1884, to a prominent family whose lineage could be traced back to the earliest colonial period in America. He had two Bachelors of Arts from Kentucky Wesleyan College and Yale. He studied law at University of Virginia and Columbia University, but never received his Juris Doctor (or any type of law degree) from either. However, after time in France, he returned to Kentucky and in 1910 he was admitted to the bar. Then in 1912 he was elected to the Kentucky General Assembly and served until the onset of the First World War where he was commissioned as a Lieutenant. After the war, he became well-known as a corporate attorney. Although a Democrat, President Hoover appointed him as general counsel for the Federal Farm Bureau in 1929. In December of 1932, he was appointed general counsel of Reconstruction Finance Corporation. In 1935, Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him as Solicitor General in hopes that he could convince the Supreme Court that the New Deal was constitutional, but when Reed approached the lectern for first argument, he collapsed. He would go on to win several major cases on behalf of the government. After Justice Sutherland announced his retirement, Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Reed as his replacement. He was sworn in as an Associate Justice on January 31, 1938, and served in that position until 1957 when he chose to retire though he stayed active in a number of ways. He died on April 2, 1980, at the Hilaire Nursing Home in Huntington, NY. As a Mason, he was a member of Maysville Lodge No.52 and was said to be present in DC when General George C. Marshall was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason.
William O. Douglas holds the record as the longest continuous service on the Supreme Court of the United States. Born on October 16, 1898, in Maine, MN, the second of three children. At the age of 13, he was stricken with polio and nearly died. After his father's death in 1904, the family moved to Yakima, WA. He thrived in school, was undefeated on the Yakima High School's debating team, and graduated as valedictorian of his high school in 1916. To prove he wasn't frail from the polio, he began to run and hike where he developed a love for the outdoors. He worked his way through Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, and received good grades, but no one ever saw him study. He was involved with the debating team, President of the student congress, and President of the Gamma Zeta Chapter of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He studied law at Columbia University where he graduated in 1925 as second in his class. He started working for Cravath, Henderson & de Gersdorff (now Cravath, Swaine & Moore), a prestigious Wall Street law firm. He only worked at that law firm a few months, but then went to teach law at Columbia Law and then in 1928 transferred to Yale to teach. He then moved to DC to help push Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. In 1937, he became the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court on April 4, 1939. He was known for his support for civil liberties and placing limits on government interference. After 36-years of service on the bench, Douglas resigned due to problems stemming from a stroke he had suffered the year before. He died on December 31, 1974, at Walter Reed Hospital. Douglas was a member of Mt. Adams Lodge No.227 in Yakima, WA.
James F. Byrnes was a politician from South Carolina who served for a very short time on the bench before serving in several roles and is one of the few American who served in all three branches of government. Born in Charleston, SC, on May 2, 1882, Byrnes went into the law career field immediately after he left school in the 7th grade where he worked in law offices, as a court stenographer, and a law clerk for a judge. He was admitted to the bar in 1903 and in 1908 he was appointed as solicitor for the second circuit of South Carolina. In 1910, he was elected as a US Congressman for South Carolina. He is remembered a brilliant legislator and became a close ally of President Wilson. Byrnes lost his race for one of the Senate seats of his state, but he was not out of politics long as he won the Senate elections in 1930. While a Senator he was known as a spokesman for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Byrnes won re-election, but didn't complete his entire term as Senator because in June of 1941, Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. He served in this position after only 15-months to take an appointment by Franklin D. Roosevelt as Director of the Office of Economic Stabilization; the second shortest tenure of any Associate Justice. He served in that position for only 7-months before being appointed as Director of the Office of War Mobilization. He served there just shy of 2-years before President Truman appointed him as United States Secretary of State and was confirmed by the Senate unanimously without a hearing. As Truman had no Vice President during his first term, Byrnes as Secretary of State was first line to the Presidency. As Secretary of State, he attended the Potsdam Conference (a critical turning point in US-Soviet relations) and the Paris Peace Conference. It is said that relations soured between him and Truman so he resigned. He returned to political life in 1951 when he was elected as Governor of South Carolina replacing Strom Thurmond. He died on April 9, 1972, in Columbia, SC. He was Raised as a Master Mason in Aiken Lodge No.156 on January 12, 1911, but affiliated with Spartan Lodge No.70 on July 5, 1926. He was exalted to the degree of Royal Arch Mason in Kadoshlayah Chapter No.41 on November 21, 1911, but later affiliated with Chicora Chapter No.23 in 1934. He was initiated into Aiken Council No.23, of Royal & Select Masters (Cryptic Masons), on November 26, 1920 and affiliated with Blakce Council No.19 on October 22, 1945. He was knighted in Columbia Commandery No.2 on October 20, 1916 and later affiliated with Aiken Commandery No.14 in 1923 and then to Spartanburg Commandery No.3 in 1934. Some will notice that he joined the Cryptic Masons after he had joined the Commandery, but please be aware that it was not required then for one to join the Cryptic Masons to join the Knights Templar.
Robert H. Jackson is another notable American jurist who was a Mason. He born on February 13, 1892, in Spring Creek, PA. He was educated at Albany Law School, but went on to receive other honorary degrees from many other universities. He was admitted to the bar in 1913. He was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt as Assistant US Attorney General for the Antitrust Division in 1936. He was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt as US Solicitor General in 1938. He was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt as US Attorney General in 1940. He was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court in 1941. In 1945, President Truman appointed Jackson to represent the US in the negotiations with the Soviets, the Brits, and the French on agreement for international trials of European Axis war criminals. He was also named as the American prosecutor at Nuremburg war crimes trials in Germany where he conducted the prosecution of Goering, Ribbentrop, and many others. He served until his death on October 9, 1954, in Washington DC. He is listed as a member of Mt. Moriah Lodge No.145 in Jamestown, NY where he was initiated on September 17, 1929, passed on October 1, 1929, and Raised on October 22, 1929. He was also a member of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite (joined in November of 1930) in Jamestown and Ismailia Shrine Temple in Buffalo.
The eighth and last of Franklin D. Roosevelt's Supreme Court appointees, Wiley B. Rutledge was also an educator and college dean. Rutledge was born on July 20, 1894, in Cloverport, KY, to a Southern Baptist minister. He received a formal education at Maryville College and then the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He went on to be a high school teacher in Indiana before moving to Colorado where he received a law degree from the University of Colorado. He practiced law for a few years in Boulder before going back to the University of Colorado to teach law. In 1926, he moved to St. Louis where he taught law at Washington University and became Dean in 1930. In 1935, he moved to Iowa where he became Dean of the University of Iowa College of Law. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Rutledge the US Court of Appeals for Washington DC. After the resignation of Justice Byrnes, Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Rutledge to the Supreme Court where he served until his death on September 10, 1949, at the age of 55. Rutledge was initiated as an Entered Apprentice Mason on September 9, 1921, passed to the degree of Fellow Craft on September 23, 1921, and Raised to the Sublime degree of Master Mason on October 19, 1921, in Boulder Lodge No.45 in Colorado.
Harold H. Burton was an American politician and jurist noted for being the only Republican appointed to the US Supreme Court from 1933 to 1953. Burton was born on June 22, 1888, in Jamaica Plain (Boston suburbs), MA. He attended Bowdoin College before finishing his law degree at Harvard in 1912 thereafter he moved to Cleveland to practice law. He served as an Infantry officer during WWI where he saw action in France and Belgium, and received the Belgian Croix de guerre (war cross). He returned to Cleveland and resumed his law practice, but also taught at the Western Reserve University Law School. In 1929, he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives. He was elected in 1936 as Mayor of Cleveland and served for 4-years. He served as US Senator from Ohio from 1941 to 1945 before he was nominated by President Truman as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He resigned on October 13, 1958, after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He died on October 28, 1964, in Washington DC, but is interred in Highland Park Cemetery in Cleveland, OH. He is listed as a member of Pythagoras Lodge No.682 in Cleveland, a 33° in the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite in Ohio, and member of Al Koran Shrine Temple in Cleveland.
Like James Byrnes, Frederick M. Vinson is one of the few politicians who have served in all three branches of the government. Vinson was born on January 22, 1890, in Louisa, KY. He studied law at Centre College Law in Danville, KY, where he achieved the highest grades in the history of the school. In 1911, he returned to Louisa to practice law after graduating from Centre College and was elected as the City Attorney. Vinson joined the military in 1917, but while still at officer's training the war ended and he returned to Louisa. He was then elected to the Commonwealth Attorney for the 32nd Judicial District of Kentucky. He served in the US House of Representatives from 1924 to 1937. Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Vinson to the US Court of Appeals for DC where he served from 1937 to 1943. Then on May 28, 1943, he was appointed as Director of the Office of Economic Stabilization. On July 23, 1945, President Truman appointed him as Secretary of the Treasury. Following the death of Chief Justice Harlan Stone, President Truman appointed Vinson as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The major issues considered by the Court during Vinson’s tenure were the rights of communists, labor unions, and the validity of racial segregation. He served as Chief Justice until his death from a heart attack on September 8, 1953. He is listed as a member of Apperson Lodge No.195 and Louisa Chapter No.95 of Royal Arch Masons, both in Louisa, KY.
The first recipient of the Distinguished Jurist Award from Mississippi State University and the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, Thomas C. Clark was a Texas lawyer who served in the Justice Department, as Attorney General, and as a Supreme Court Justice. He was born on September 23, 1899 in Dallas, TX, to a family of lawyers. After high school, he served in World War I as a National Guardsman. After returning from the war, he attended and graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1922. While in school, Clark became a member of Delta Tau Delta, ascending to the position of International President. After school, Clark worked in his family's law firm, for nearly 15-years. From 1927 to 1932, he worked as Assistant District Attorney for the City of Dallas. In 1937, Clark joined the Justice Department where he worked in the war risk litigation section and antitrust division. Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Clark as US Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division in 1943. In 1945, Truman appointed Clark as US Attorney General where he dealt with many matters that resulted from the World War II. After the death of Justice Frank Murphy, Truman nominated Clark to the Supreme Court. Clark served as an Associate Justice until June 12, 1967, when he resigned due to a conflict of interest that arose when his son, Ramsay, was named US Attorney General. Clark spent the rest of his time as a visiting Judge on various Federal Appellate Courts, Director of the Federal Judicial Center, and Chair on the Board of Directors for the American Judicature Society. He died on June 13, 1977, in NYC, but was entombed in Dallas. He was a member of Washington Lodge No.1117 in Dallas and the Valley of Dallas of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite.
Sherman Minton was an Indiana politician, a veteran of WWI, and an Associate Justice. He was born on October 20, 1890, in Georgetown, IN. He attended University of Indiana School of Law where he graduated in 1915 and Yale in 1916 where he received a Master of Law degree; while at Yale he met former President Taft. He served as an Infantry Captain during World War I. He failed several election attempts before he was appointed as a Commissioner of the Indiana Public Service Commission in 1931. In 1935, he was elected as a US Senator from Indiana where he served one term and Senate Majority Whip. Once he was out of the Senate in 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Minton to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. After the resignation of Justice Rutledge in 1949, Truman appointed Minton to the US Supreme Court where he served for 7-years. Due to health reasons, Minton resigned on October 15, 1956. He died of pernicious anemia on April 9, 1965, in Indiana. He is remembered as a liberal Senator, but conservative jurist. He is listed as a member of DePauw Lodge No.338, New Albany, IN.
Earl Warren is remembered as presiding over the Supreme Court during many important cases such as Brown v Board of Education in 1954, Gideon v Wainwright in 1963, Reynolds v Sims in 1964, and Miranda v Arizona in 1966. He was born on March 19,1891, in LA. He received a law degree from UC Berkeley and after graduation he went to go work for the Law Department of the Associated Oil Company then the law firm Robinson and Robinson. During World War I, he oversaw some of the draftees in Oakland before being promoted to First Lieutenant (1LT) and sent to Texas to train officers on the bayonet. He didn't serve there long as the war ended and he was discharged whereon he returned to California. He served as Clerk for the Judiciary Committee of the California Assembly then became Deputy District Attorney. In 1925, he became the District Attorney where he served for 13-years. In 1938, Warren ran for and won the election for Attorney General for California. In 1942, he ran for Governor of California and won. After the death of Chief Justice Vinson in 1953, President Eisenhower nominated Warren as the 14th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. While many viewed him as a moderate Republican, he proved to be more liberal while on the bench. His leadership was crucial during a turbulent time for the Supreme Court and the country. He retired on June 23, 1969, and died on July 9, 1974, in Washington DC. He is listed as a member of Sequoia Lodge No.349 in Oakland, CA, and rose to be Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of California from 1935 to 1936. He is also a member of Oakland Chapter No. 36 of Royal Arch Masons, Oakland Commandery No.11 of Knights Templar, Past Potentate of Aahmes Shrine Temple in Oakland, a member of St. Phillip Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine, and Oakland Scottish Rite where he served as Wise Master of Rose Croix in 1938, Venerable Master of Lodge of Perfection in 1945, and was coronated an honorary 33° on Dec. 23, 1941.
Serving for 22-years, Potter Stewart often played the role of the swing vote on a divided court. He was born on January 23, 1915, Jackson, MI, to a wealthy and politically powerful family, but was raised in Ohio. He attended Yale University and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1937. He then went on to Cambridge to study law, but then returned to Yale Law and graduated cum laude in 1941. After law school, Stewart entered the US Navy Reserves and served on an oil tanker during WWII. After the war, Stewart returned to Ohio and joined a local law firm. He entered into the political arena in 1949 when he was elected to the Cincinnati City Council. In 1954, President Eisenhower appointed Stewart to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1959, President Eisenhower named Stewart as a recess appointment to the US Supreme Court to replace Justice Burton. In 1981, Justice Stewart stepped down to spend more time with his grandchildren while still in good health. He died on December 7, 1985, from a stroke. He was a member of Lafayette Lodge No.81 in Cincinnati, OH, where he received the three degrees on April 17, 1951, May 22, 1951, and Oct. 2, 1951, respectively. He was also a member of Oola Khan Grotto of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm in Cincinnati.
Thurgood Marshall is best known for arguing before the Supreme Court in Brown v Board of Education and later became the first African-American Justice on the Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall was born on July 2, 1908, in Baltimore, MD. He gained a love for the justice system as a young boy when his father would take him to watch legal procedures and arguments then question him on the points they made. Due to segregation, Marshall was forced to go to all-black grade schools. He was known for being mischievous and as punishment he was required to read the US Constitution. Marshall attended Lincoln University in Oxford, PA, which was considered the "black counterpart to Princeton". He joined the debate team which helped him realize his passion for becoming a lawyer. He graduated from Lincoln University in 1930 before going to Howard University to study law; he was denied his first choice to University of Maryland Law School due to being black. He graduated from Howard University in 1933 as Valedictorian of his class. He returned to Baltimore where he opened a private practice and turned away none (even those who couldn't pay). In 1935, Marshall was appointed as Assistant Special Counsel for New York for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1938, he became Special Counsel for the NAACP. He had always been a champion for civil liberties and fought against desegregation, and he got the fight of his life when he argued the case on Brown v Board of Education which resulted in the invalidation of the "separate but equal" doctrine. On October 5, 1961, President Kennedy appointed Marshall as a Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in NYC. President Johnson appointed him as US Solicitor General on August 23, 1965. President Johnson then appointed Marshall as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States on August 30, 1967, and served on the bench until October 1, 1991, when he resigned. He died on January 24, 1993, in Bethesda, MD. He is listed in "10,000 Famous Freemasons" as having been a 33° Scottish Rite Mason as well as a Director and Counselor of the Conference of Prince Hall Grand Masters.
The next installment will take some time as I am still researching what Justices have been or are Masons currently.
1. Bessel, P. M. (1998, May 21). United States Supreme Court Justices who were Freemasons. Retrieved from Paul M. Bessel's Homepage: http://bessel.org/sctfmy.htm
2. Chalmers, G. M. (2012). Masonic Leaders in the United States and their Influence on this Century, 1900-1999. Northern California Lodge of Research.
3. Denslow, W. R. (1957). 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. 1. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/10,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_1_A_to_D.htm
4. Denslow, W. R. (1957). 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. 2. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/10,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_2_E_to_J.htm
5. Denslow, W. R. (1957). 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. 3. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/10,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_3_K_to_P.htm
6. Denslow, W. R. (1957). 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. 4. Retrieved from Phoenix Masonry: http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/10,000_famous_freemasons/Volume_4_Q_to_Z.htm
7. Famous Freemasons. (n.d.). Retrieved from Lakeshore Lodge No.30 (OH): http://www.mastermason.com/lakeshorelodge307/famous_freemasons.htm
8. King, E. (n.d.). Famous Freemasons: A through L. Retrieved from Masonic Info: http://www.masonicinfo.com/famous1.htm
9. King, E. (n.d.). Famous Freemasons: M through Z. Retrieved from Masonic Info: http://www.masonicinfo.com/famous2.htm
10. Members of the Supreme Court of the United States. (2017, April 23). Retrieved from Supreme Court of the United States: https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/members_text.aspx
11. Biographies of the Secretaries of State: James Francis Byrnes (1879–1972). (n.d.). Retrieved from Office of the Historian: https://history.state.gov/departmenthistory/people/byrnes-james-francis
12. Earl Warren. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/earl_warren
13. Fred M. Vinson. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/fred_m_vinson
14. Harold Burton. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/harold_burton
15. Hugo L. Black. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/hugo_l_black
16. James F. Byrnes. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/james_f_byrnes
17. John H. Clarke. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/john_h_clarke
18. Joseph R. Lamar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/joseph_r_lamar
19. Justice William Orville Douglas. (n.d.). Retrieved from Kansas City Scottish Rite: http://www.srkc.org/history/famous/supremes/douglas_william/
20. Mahlon Pitney. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/mahlon_pitney
21. Potter Stewart. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/potter_stewart
22. Robert H. Jackson. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/robert_h_jackson
23. Sherman Minton. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/sherman_minton
24. Stanley Reed. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/stanley_reed
25. Thurgood Marshall. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/thurgood_marshall
26. Tom C. Clark. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/tom_c_clark
27. Wiley B. Rutledge. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/wiley_b_rutledge
28. William H. Moody. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/william_h_moody
29. William Howard Taft. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/william_howard_taft
30. William O. Douglas. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/william_o_douglas
31. Willis Van Devanter. (n.d.). Retrieved from Oyez: https://www.oyez.org/justices/willis_van_devanter