A. F. & A. M or F. & A. M
No matter where one travels, throughout the United States, one of the most common questions heard is: "What are the differences between the Free and Accepted Masons and the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and why, since both spring from the same source?"
Unfortunately, there are no simple answers. The traveling Mason cannot help but observe marked differences in ritual, floorwork, etc. between different jurisdictions. They may be subtle or radical, but those differences exists.
To validate the above premise, one need but look to the western migration of Freemasonry across this country in the past two hundred years; count the number of dialects within the American (not English) language; and remember our founding brethren who traveled across this land with the rituals of Freemasonry locked in their memories as they had learned them from a brother, mouth to ear, wherever they had been initiated, passed and raised. The use of standard cyphers in the performance and teaching of the rituals is a relatively recent practice and not used in all jurisdictions to this day.
Dr. James Anderson's "Book of Constitutions" of 1722 and 1738 are our primary source of information of the early years (from 1717) of the Grand Lodge of England. Since minutes of meetings of the first several years were not kept, one must keep an open mind as to the accuracy of the written words extant.
He mentions that the first years of Freemasonry after 1717 were ones of prosperity and growth; emphasizing the admission of those of noble birth as well as men of the clergy, professionals and tradesmen, who sought relaxation and safety away from business and politics.
Fraternal harmony, however, was not as it was supposed. Human nature began to show its darker side.
From Anderson's Constitution of 1738:
"But Philip, Duke of Wharton, lately made a Brother, tho' not the Master of a Lodge, being ambitious of the Chair, got a Number of Others to rneet him at Stationer's Hall 24 June 1722 and having no Grand Officers, they put in the Chair the oldest Master Mason (who was not the present Master of a Lodge, also irregular) and without the usual decent Ceremonials, the said old Mason proclaimed aloud.
Philip Wharton, Duke of Wharton, Grand Master of Masons and Mr. Joshua Timson, Blacksmith and Mr. William Hawkins, Mason, Grand Wardens, but his Grace appointed no Deputy, nor was the Lodge opened and closed in Due Form.
Therefore the noble Brothers and all those that would not countenance Irregularities, disown'd Wharton's Authority till worthy Brother Montagu heal'd the breach of Harmony, by summoning - The GRAND LODGE to meet 17 January 1723 at the King's Arms foresaid, where the Duke of Wharton promising to be True and Faithful, Deputy Grand Master Beal proclaim'd aloud the Most Noble Prince and our Brother."
Historians/writers do not agree as to what really happened within or without the Grand Lodge of England during those early years leading up to the formation of the Grand Lodge of England according to the Old Institutions (Ancients) in 1753.
Some of the opinions, suppositions and rationalizations put forward appear to have been so far beyond reason that one's first reaction is that the authors couldn't possibly have been serious.
Henry Sadler, formerly Grand Tyler and Sub-Librarian of the Grand Lodge of England, in his "Masonic Facts and Fictions", 1887, Ch. 1, p.4., covers this subject so well it deserves being quoted in full:
"I allude to the circurqstances which led to the formation and establishing of the 'Ancient' Grand Lodge in 1753, undoubtedly the most remarkable Masonic event of the last century. To the diligent searcher after truth this subject presents many difficulties which former writers overcame with little trouble to themselves by the simple and expeditious process of copying their predecessors.
Many Masons are familiar with the name of William Preston; especially for his work on the Prestonian lectures of the three degrees. He had taken the original lectures in use since 1717, modified and elaborated upon them until they were adopted by the Grand Lodge of England in 1772, where they remained the authoritative system until the union of 1813.
William Preston was also a prolific Masonic writer from 1772 until about 1812. He was best known for his "Illustrations of Masonry" and "History of Remarkable Occurences in Masonry".
Through an unfortunate event while Master of Antiquity Lodge, No. 1, at London on St. John's Day, Dec. 1777, he was expelled from Masonry until 1787.
It is from the prolific pen of William Preston that most of the arguments in favor of the theory of the so-called "Schism" or "Secession" have been accepted.
The fallibility of Preston's papers rest upon the fact that he wrote of supposed events that occurred between 1722 and 1750 during the period from 1772 to 1812. Preston was not born until 1742 in Edinburgh, Scotland, nor become a Mason until 1762 in London. We have seen no records or references to his historical sources, yet his writings have been accepted by many historical writers as factual.
From an "English Paper" attributed to William Preston, one of many:
"A few brethren at York, having on some trivial occasion seceded from their ancient Lodge, they applied to London for a warrant of constitution and, without inquiry into the merits of the case, their application was honored. Instead of being recommended to the Mother Lodge to be restored to favor, these brethren were encouraged in their revolt and permitted, under the banner of the Grand Lodge of London, to open a new Lodge in the city of York itself'.
This "paper" also states:
"The Earl of Crawford seems to have made another encroachment on the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge at York by constituting two Lodges within the district and, by granting, without their consent, three deputations".
From the "List of Regular Lodges, according to their seniority and constitution" for the year 1734, issued under the Grand Mastership of John Lindsay, Earl of Crawford, and numbered from 1 to 128, the latter being dated 5 November 1734, the nearest and only Lodge warranted near York was at Scarborough and numbered 59, approximately 35 miles North East of York in about 1728. None are shown to have been in or near the city of York itself.
From 1772 to 1812, William Preston wrote several editions of "Illustrations of Masonry" which contained another stereotyped version of the "Schism" that is still repeated:
"That in the time of Lord Carnarvon (1738) some discontented brethren, taking advantage of the breach within the Grand Lodges of England, assumed without authority the character of York Masons; that the measures adopted to check them seemed to authorize an omission of and variation in the ancient ceremonies; that the seceders immediately announce their independency, and assumed the appellation of 'Ancient' Masons, also they propagated an opinion that the ancient tenets and practices of Masonry were preserved by them; and that regular Lodges, being composed of 'Modern' Masons had adopted' new' plans and were not to be considered as acting under the 'old establishment'."
Robert Freke Gould, in his "History of Freemasonry", tells of the ten year period when Lord Byron was Grand Master (1742 - 1752). During that period, no less than forty - five Lodges (approximately a third of those meeting within the bounds of London and Westminster) were struck from the Lists for failure to attend the Quarterly Communications and "not paying in their Charity".
At the formation of the Grand Lodge of England, in 1717, it considered its authority to be only over the City of London and Westminster. It was true that, upon request, Lodges were warranted elsewhere as shown in the Lists of Regular Lodges. Some were in areas where a Provincial Grand Master had been appointed and others where the warrant was obtained through requests as indicated above. Most of the Lodges were quite small (less than twenty members) and Grand Lodge authority centralized in London and Westminster a question arises; how many Lodges were in existence at that time who were without any Grand Lodge allegiance at all?
Reflection on the many reasons, excuses, opinions, etc., voiced by Masonic students, writers and historians for the cause or causes of the so-called "Schism" within the Grand Lodge of England; certain omissions, intended or not, are quite evident. Each of them agrees that a "Schism", for want of a better word, existed. But what was it? On this point, no one agrees.
None have specifically identified why "certain brethren became discontented:, what they were or who they were, except Henry Sadler naming "Irish Freemasons who had not seceded (as had been supposed) from the Regular Grand Lodge". Were these to create anew Grand Lodge in England? That seems to be the impression intended, but its plausibility appears suspect.
Up to this point, the only Irish Mason positively identified as active in the formation of the new Grand Lodge was Laurence Dermott, who was initiated in Lodge, No. 26, at Dublin, Ireland in 1740 and who was its Master in 1746. He came to England about 1747 or 1748 and was employed as a painter. In 1752, he joined Ancient Lodge, No. 9, leaving shortly thereafter to join Lodge No. 10. Available documentation does not reveal if either of these Lodges were among those erased during Lord Byron's tenure as Grand Master.
Little is known of Dermott's participation in the actual formation of the new Grand Lodge. He was elected Grand Secretary of the Grand Committee of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons at its founding at the Griffin Tavern in Hoborn, London on 5 February 1752; continuing in that office when the Grand Committee became the "Grand Lodge of England, According to the Old Institutions", at its Grand Communication on 5 December 1753.
Historians such as Gould, Findley, Mackey and Mitchell agree that Laurence Dermott's audacious description of the new Grand Lodge as the "Ancients" was attractive to those Masons whose Lodges had been erased by Lord Byron and the members of those Lodges that had been formed without Warrants and had existed without owing allegiance to ANY Grand Lodge.
Dermott was the author/compiler of the "Ahiman Rezon" which first published in 1756, became the "Charges, General Regulations, etc." of the new Grand Lodge. There are many explanations for the term "Ahiman Rezon" but, Dennott translated the word, "Ahiman" from the Hebrew as "a prepared brother" or "brother of the right hand" and "Rezon" as "a secretary" so that the title would be "Brother Secretary".
In order to avoid the appearance of using, borrowing from or giving credence to Dr. James Anderson's "Book of Constitutions" of 1738, then at the height of its popularity, Dermott took the major portion of his work, copied direct, from the "Book of Constitutions" for the use of the Lodges of Ireland.
The author/compiler of the Irish "Book of Constitutions", Edward Spratt had been appointed Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ireland on June 24, 1743 and brought out his "Book of Constitutions" in 1751. He styled himself as "only a faithful Editor and Transcriber of the Work of Dr. Anderson", and copied the "Charges, General Regulations", and "the manner of constituting a Lodge" from Anderson's Constitutions of 1738.
Nine editions of the "Ahiman Rezon" were published in England through 1813 and was the "Book of Constitutions" for the institution of many of the Ancient and Accepted Lodges and Grand Lodges in the United States. Among them were Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia and New York (the latest according to Mackey, The General Ahiman Rezon and Freemason's Guide, by Daniel Sickles, published in New York in 1866).
During the years prior to 1751, when the nucleus of the "Ancients" was being formed, the older Grand Lodge was continually in a state of flux. In the transition from Operative to Speculative Masonry, portions specific to the Operative was going through subtle changes.
In 1730, a pamphlet, "Masonry Dissected" by Samuel Prichard was published that included a quantity of information on the Masonic Rites with startling accuracy. It went, rapidly, through several editions and was translated into French, German and Dutch. Many of the later "exposures" were patterned after this pamphlet.
In order to combat this so-called "expose", the Grand Lodge of England made several minor changes in the wording of the forms of rituals and modes of recognition, such as reversing the order of words, phrases and signs. It was upon these and other changes, real and imaginary, that Dermott jumped in his accusations against the original Grand Lodge, and upon which his epithet of their being "Modems" was based.
At the December meeting of the Grand Lodge (Ancients) in 1797, a motion was made and seconded:
"That a committee be appointed by this R. W. Grand Lodge to meet with that appointed by the Grand Lodge of Modem Masons, and with them effect a Union".
This was the first recorded attempt to effect a reconciliation and it ended in failure.
A few years later, a similar movement occured within the ranks of the Elder Grand Lodge and it was also defeated; however, it was evident that an ultimate reconciliation was on its way.
The formation of the Lodge of Promulgation in 1809 by the Grand Lodge (Modems) and its studies and findings to found a common framework of Landmarks and "ancient usages" led to that reconciliation in 1813.
What were the differences between the "Ancients" and the "Modems"?
To quote Dr. Frederick Dalcho, compiler of the "Ahiman Rezon" of South Carolina, A. F. M., edition of 1822:
"The real difference, in point of importance, was no greater than it would be to dispute whether the glove should be placed first upon the right or the left".
In the closing pages of Henry Sadler's "Masonic Facts and Fictions", he states:
"One of the greatest charms and strongest props of genuine Masonry is its universality and unsectarian principles, and it is perfectly clear to my mind that the decadence of the regular Grand Lodge was the result of endeavors on the part of some of its shortsighted leaders to restrict to a particular class what was originally intended for the benefit of the community at large, and that these mistaken efforts were the cause of ancient land-marks being neglected, the alterations made in the ceremonies, and the door shut in the face of poor Pat from over the 'say'. No doubt the elevating process went on to the perfect satisfaction of those who designed it, and in all probability that particular section of the Order would in the course of a few years have been elevated and improved 'off the face of the earth', had not the appearance of a young and vigorous rival whose doors were open to all 'good men and true', brought them to a sense of their danger, prompting them to lower their standard, and exert themselves in order to avoid total extinction."
The philosophical antagonism between the two Grand Lodges was transported to the Colonies of America as well; even more so than England where it was not uncommon for individual Masons to be members of Lodges of both factions, Minutes show instances of the rituals of both Grand Lodges being used in the same meeting of Lodges of either persuasion.
The history of Masonry in the Colonies, especially in Massachusetts, depicts many examples of hostility, even personal violence, between members of the two factions. To visit or attempt to visit a Lodge of the other philosophy could be and was grounds for expulsion from the Fraternity.
Yet, at the funeral of Jeremy Gridley, Provincial Grand Master of North America, on September 10, 1767, at Boston, by mutual agreement, animosity was forgotten amid feelings of love, respect and sorrow by both factions. 'Me members of St. Andrew's Grand Lodge (Ancients) and St, John's Grand Lodge (Modems) walked together in Peace and Harmony.
Gould, in his "A Concise History of Freemasonry", p. 419, reveals another aspect of the far-reaching differences between the "Ancients" and "Modems" that is not generally written of:
"It is a curious circumstance, and deserves to be recorded, that in most of the Provinces, the members of the "Ancient" Lodges evinced a greater disposition to espouse the cause of the Colonies (Whigs), while the "Modems" were more generally inclined to side with the Crown (Tories)".
History does not tell us why, at the Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, the wording of the title became "The United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England"; although one source did mention that a feeling existed whereby the "Ancients" had scored a "coup" at that accomplishment. Throughout Masonic history, the word "Ancient" had been applied to the Society or Fraternity as an entity, not to the individual Mason or Lodge of Masons within that Society or Fraternity.
A short look at the history of our own Grand Lodge of Washington, F. & A. M. should put to rest the well known, friendly disagreements concerning the differences or lack thereof.
The Preamble and Declaration to the Constitution on pages 49 and 50 of the Washington Masonic Code of 1913 contains the genealogy of our Grand Lodge:
On January 14,1771, the Duke of Beafort, Henry Somerset, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England (Modems) commissioned Joseph Montfort of Halifax, in the Province of North Carolina, as Provincial Grand Master of Masons of the Province. The Grand Lodge of North Carolina, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, was constituted on December 28, 1787. At that time, the Province of North Carolina included, what is now, the State of Tennessee.
'Me Grand Lodge of Tennessee, Free and Accepted Masons, was constituted on the 27th of December 1813. On 3 October 1815, a dispensation was issued to open a Lodge in the town of St. Louis in Missouri Territory, in the name of Missouri Lodge, No. 12, and a charter was issued 8 October 1816.
The Grand Lodge of Missouri, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons was erected on 23 and 24 April 1822. On October 19, 1846, a petition was granted to Bros. Joseph Hull, Wm. P. Dougherty, Tendall C. Cason and others of Oregon City, Territory of Oregon for a new Lodge in Oregon City, which was chartered as Multnomah Lodge, No. 84.
The Grand Lodge of Oregon Territory, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons was formed on September 15, 1851.
The Grand Lodge of Oregon Territory, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, granted a dispensation to Thorton F. McElroy and others at Olympia, Puget Sound, Oregon Territory to open a Lodge under the name of Olympia Lodge, No. 5, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, on November 25 , 1852. The charter was issued on June 13, 1853 and bears the date of June 15.
On December 6 - 9, 1858, delegates from Olympia Lodge, No. 5; Steilacoom Lodge, No. 8; Grand Mound Lodge, No. 21; and Washington Lodge, No. 22 met in Convention to form a Grand Lodge in Washington Territory.
At this meeting, Brother Thomas Milburne Reed presented a Preamble and Resolution which was unanimously adopted. That resolution was:
"RESOLVED, That the Delegates and Representatives of the several duly constituted Lodges now in successful operation in this Territory, and who are now present in this Convention, proceed to the formation and organization of a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Territory of Washington".
A Committee was formed to prepare a Constitution, Thomas M. Reed (5, J. M. Bachelder (8), James Biles (21), 0. B. McFadden (22), and Thornton F. McElroy (5) and the Convention adjourned until 7 P.M. on 8 December.
At that time, the Convention was called to order and the draft, based in part on the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New York, was submitted. After some slight amendments, it was unanimously adopted as the "Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Territory of Washington."
In the United States in 1985, there were among the Grand Lodges:
24 - Acients Free and Accepted;
23 - Free and Accepted;
1 - Free Ancient and Accepted (District of Columbia);
1 - Ancient Free Masons (South Carolina);
1 - Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons (Rhode Island).
In Canada, there are 6 - A. F. & A. M.
1 - F. & A. M (New Brunswick).
Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, India and South Africa are all A. F. & A. M.