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Masonic History

The Ancient Landmarks


By Bro. SILAS H. Shepherd, Wisconsin

(The study of the Landmarks of Masonry, by Brother Shepherd, is a piece of real Masonic Research, and is valuable as showing the confusion that obtains among the several Grand Jurisdictions in this country in the matter of Landmarks. In this connection, the Brethren might re-read the article on the subject, suggested by an essay of the late Brother T.S. Parvin, in the February issue of The Builder. It is interesting to note how many of the Grand Lodges adopt the list of landmarks as formulated by Dr. Mackey, and as interesting to observe how many are content with the unwritten law of the Order. For ourselves, if required to state what we believe to be the real Landmarks of Masonry, it would be after this fashion:--The Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, the Moral Law, the Golden Rule, and the Hope of a Life Everlasting.--The Editor.)

THE "Ancient Landmarks" and "Landmarks of Masonry" are terms which appear throughout the literature of Masonry, and are the source of deep study by many Craftsmen who have devoted time, talent and genius to promote the best interests of our fraternity.

On the subject of "landmarks," as on the subjects of history and symbolism, there is a great diversity of opinion, both by Grand Lodges and by individuals, and the need of a comparison of ideas which are held by those who have made the subject a study was the cause which prompted us to compile this article.

"What is a landmark?" is a debatable question. It has been answered in part by definitions; it has also been answered by enumerating certain laws or customs which are considered landmarks by the authors of the compilations; it has also been considered a proper subject for legislation by some Grand Lodges and they have enacted laws as to what are to be considered landmarks in their jurisdiction.

After the organization of the Premier Grand Lodge in 1717, the "Charges of a Freemason" were extracted from the old manuscript copies and a set of thirty-nine "General Regulations" were adopted, the last of which reads in part as follows: "Every Annual Grand Lodge has an inherent power and authority to make new Regulations, or to alter these, for the real benefit of this ancient Fraternity: Provided, always, that the old Land-Marks be carefully preserved." This is the earliest mention of landmarks in connection with Freemasonry.

Neither at that time nor at any subsequent period can we find any enumeration of landmarks by the Grand Lodge of England, "Ancient," "Modern" or United.

On Oct. 19th, 1810, the Lodge of Promulgation resolved "that it appears to this Lodge, that the ceremony of Installation of Masters of Lodges, is one of the two Land Marks of the Craft and ought to be observed.

We are left entirely in the dark as to what they considered the other landmark. This is the only case where we have been able to find any attempt to say how many or what constituted a landmark until 1856 when the Grand Lodge of Minnesota adopted a list of twenty-six articles which had the force of landmarks, which was two years earlier than Bro. Albert Mackey enumerated his list which has been generally considered the first attempt to enumerate them.

We will give the definition of landmarks by several learned brethren.

"Of the nature of the Landmarks of Masonry, there has been some diversity of opinion among writers; but perhaps the safest method is to restrict them to those ancient, and therefore universal, customs of the Order, which either gradually grew into operation as rules of action. or if at once enacted by any competent authority, were enacted at a period so remote, that no account of their origin is to be found in the records of history." (Albert G. Mackey, Mas. Jur. page 15.)

"The very definition of Landmarks shows that an enumeration of them is scarcely possible. All we can know is that it is a law or a custom that has existed from time immemorial. If any universal usage exists, and has existed so long that its origin is unknown, it is a Landmark." (Josiah Drummond, Maine Masonic Text Book.)

"With respect to the Landmarks of Masonry, some restrict them to the O.B., signs, tokens and words. Others include the ceremony of initiation, passing and raising; and the form, dimensions and supports; the ground, situation and covering; the ornaments, furniture and jewels of a Lodge, or their characteristic symbols. Some think that the order has no landmarks beyond its peculiar secrets. (Geo. Oliver, Dict. Symb. Mas. )

"We assume those principles of action to be Landmarks which have existed from time immemorial, whether in the written or unwritten law; which are identified with the form and essence of the society; which, the great majority agree, cannot be changed, and which every Mason is bound to maintain intact, under the most solemn and inviolable sanctions." (Simons, Prin. of Mas. Juris.)

"Those fixed tenets by which the limits of Freemasonry may be known and preserved." (Dictionary of Freemasonry, Morris.)

"The Landmarks of Masonry are those ancient principles and practices which mark out and distinguish Freemasonry as such, and they are the source of Masonic Jurisprudence." (Lockwood's Mas. Law and Practice, Page 14.)

My idea of an Ancient Landmark is a rule or usage of the Premier Grand Lodge which can not be abrogated, without cutting off the offending Body from the Universal Craft." (W. J. Hughan.)

"A belief in God, oui Father; in the immortality of the soul; in the brotherhood of man; and in the necessary practice of all the moral and social virtue, were the essentials, our duty to God, our country, our neighbor and ourselves, was everywhere and universally inculcated. These we take to be the Landmarks of the Order." (John Q. A. Fellows, Proc. G. L. of La., 1889.)

"A 'Landmark' that cannot be established by the writings of the fathers, or other recognized authorities, to have been the rule or belief among Freemasons in 1723 and before, or that is not now generally accepted as such, can hardly be held as Landmark. (H. B. Grant, Const. G. L. of Ky., 1910.)

"A Landmark, to be a Landmark, must command the universal respect and observance of all Masons." (T. S. Parvin, Iowa Proc. 1889, Page 106, cor. report.)

"The fundamental principles of the Ancient Operative Masonry were few and simple, and they were not called landmarks. Each lodge was independent of every other, and there was no superior authority over all. Each was composed of Apprentices and FellowCrafts. Each had its Master and Wardens, and these were elected by vote of all the members. The ancient charges show by what principles the relations of those of the fellowship to each other were regulated; and these may not improperly be said to have been the 'landmarks' of the Craft." (Albert Pike, Iowa Proc. 1888, Page 156, cor. report.)

"The Old Landmarks were, in fact, the secrets which existed amongst the Operative Masons in the days when they alone supplied the membership of the Craft." (W. B. Hextall, Ars. Q. C. XXV, Page 91.) "The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, like all other landmarks material or symbolical, can only preserve their stability, when they reach down to sure foundations. When the philosophic student unearths the underlying rock on which our Ancient Landmarks rest, he finds our sure foundations in the triple dogma Georgia-- of the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Life to come. All laws, customs and methods that obtain amongst us and do not ultimately find footholds on this basis, are thereby earmarked as conventions and conveniences, no way partaking of the nature of Ancient Landmarks." (Chetwode Crawley, Ars. Q. C. XXIII. )

The Masonic Congress at Chicago in 1893 defined the landmarks thus:

"The Ancient Landmarks are those fundamental principles which characterize Masonry as defined by the Charges of a Freemason, and without which the institution cannot be identified as Masonry, combined with the essentials of the unwritten language by which brethren distinguished each other as Masons."

Having given a few of the definitions of landmarks by individual brethren and the collective opinion of the Masonic Congress at Chicago, 1893, which was very representative of Masonic scholarship in America, we will give what each Grand Lodge in the United States does or does not do in respect to landmarks.

Alabama-

Alabama recognizes as the landmarks the Old Charges of 1722 by Anderson.

Arizona-

Arizona is the only Grand Lodge on which we have no authentic information. We have searched the proceedings in vain to find what they hold to be the landmarks and have not been favored with a reply to our letter of inquiry.

Arkansas-

Arkansas has no enumeration of the landmarks.

California-

California has no legislation on the subject of landmarks, but as a general proposition accepts Mackey's twenty-five.

Colorado.

Colorado has never adopted a particular list of landmarks, having been governed by the old constitutions and those published in Mackey's Encyclopedia.

Connecticut-

Connecticut has adopted as its code the treatise known as "Lockwood's Masonic Law and Practice" and by inference holds to the specification of Landmarks contained therein.

Delaware-

No mention is made of Landmarks in the Constitution of 1909 and no list of landmarks appears in their code.

District of Columbia-

The District of Columbia accepts as the landmarks the twenty-five laid down by Mackey.

In the Masonic Code of 1905 is a valuable address on the "Outline of Masonic Law," by Geo. H. Walker, P. G. M.

Florida--

Florida has never taken any action on the subject of landmarks.

Georgia--

Georgia has no list of landmarks. Art. IV of the Constitution of 1909 reads: "The Grand Lodge shall have power as follows: To propose, enact and establish new regulations for the government of the Craft within its jurisdiction, and the same to alter, amend, explain or repeal, not contravening the ancient landmarks of the Order."

Edict 177 reads: "The Unwritten Law, the Immemorial Usages, the Landmarks and the like, of Masonry, are not repealed by the adoption of any Constitution and By-Laws, nor is it in the power of any man or body of men to change, alter or repeal these or any of them."

Idaho-

Idaho has no legislation defining or enumerating what landmarks are.

Illinois-

Illinois has no legislation defining landmarks. Illinois follows Robbins and Drummond on this subject.

Indiana-

No mention is made in the Indiana Constitution of Landmarks; and no list of landmarks appears in their code.

Iowa-

Iowa has no list of landmarks. The following is Sec. 5, Gen. Law: "The unwritten laws of this jurisdiction consist of the time honored customs and usages of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of general recognition, as they are found in the traditional and historic records of Freemasonry and adapted to the conditions and time in which we live, together with such rules for application as will perpetuate its integrity and usefulness, and not repugnant to its written laws."

Kansas-

Kansas does not consider the landmarks a subject for legislation. With their code they publish the "Bassett notes" containing list of landmarks by Mackey, Morris, Simons and Lockwood for the information of the brethren.

Kentucky-

The declaration at the beginning of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky 1908, reads: "The Grand Lodge of Kentucky acknowledges belief in God to be the great fundamental principle and Landmark of Masonry upon which our fraternity is erected."

The Ancient Charges of 1723 are printed on pages 200-205, and on pages 209 to 240 are the "Ancient Landmarks with supporting evidence," by H. B. Grant, 54 in number. (G. W. Speth reviewed them in Ars. Q. C. VII.)

Louisiana-

Louisiana Constitution of 1902, Sec. 4, second paragraph, considering the powers of the Grand Lodge reads: "It may make all laws and regulations necessary for the government of the lodges and brethren under its jurisdiction, and for the propagation and advancement of the true principles and work of Ancient Freemasonry, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, the old Charges of Free and Accepted Masons of 1723 hereunto annexed, or the ancient usages and landmarks of the Order."

Edict 44 reads: "That the only written landmarks are those in the ancient Charges of the Craft, forming part of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge; and the unwritten, those contained in the ceremonies of initiation, and the ties which bind us together as Masons: Nor is it proper by legislation to make any new obligations with penalties attached, nor for a lodge to attempt, by resolution, to define the landmarks of the Craft."

Maine-

Maine has no legislation as to what landmarks are. They follow Josiah Drummond's ideas.

Maryland-

Maryland has no list of landmarks. Art. II Constitution of 1906 defines the duty of the Grand Lodge; among other duties is one "to preserve and maintain the Ancient Landmarks." Article XXIX reads: "In all cases not particularly provided for in this Constitution, the Grand Lodge shall adhere to, and be governed by the Ancient Rules and Regulations of Masonry."

Massachusetts-

Massachusetts has never adopted any list of landmarks. They "feel safer in cultivating a spirit of reverence for the ancient customs and practices of the Order" than in attempting to define the Landmarks.

Michigan-

Michigan has no list of landmarks. The following is taken from the preface of the Michigan Blue Book of 1911: "The first place in the volume-- the place of honor--has been assigned to the "Ancient Charges and Regulations" not because they are, in form, binding on us, but because they are universally recognized as the beginning and basis of all the "written law" of the Craft; and also because they embody many of those "Ancient Landmarks" which give "metes and bounds" to the Rules and Regulations of Symbolic Masonry."

Minnesota-

Minnesota has adopted Mackey's twenty-five landmarks.

Mississippi-

The Old Charges and Regulations of 1723 are printed as a part of the Constitution of 1903. Frederic Speed enumerates eight landmarks which are sub-divided into many sections and were found among the papers of the late P. G. M. Giles M. Hillyer.

Missouri-

Missouri has no list of landmarks. Bro. John D. Vincil, conceded to be one of the best posted men on jurisprudence, disclaimed knowing what the landmarks were.

Montana-

Montana has the customary exception to its powers, viz: "Provided, always, that the ancient landmarks of the order will be held inviolate." Montana has no list of landmarks.

Nebraska-

Nebraska has never decided on any particular list of landmarks.

Nevada-

Nevada has a list of 39 landmarks which were adopted in 1872.

New Hampshire-

New Hampshire never officially defined what the landmarks are.

New Jersey-

New Jersey has a list of 10 landmarks which were adopted in 1903. New Jersey Proceedings of 1903 contains an interesting report on these 10 landmarks by the Committee on Jurisprudence.

New Mexico-

New Mexico has adopted Mackey's 25 landmarks.

New York-

"The Ancient Landmarks are those principles of Masonic belief, government, and polity which are the only part of Masonic Law or rule that may never be altered or disturbed, and such of them as are lawful to be written are usually, but not wholly, engrafted in a written Constitution." (Const. G. L. of N. Y. 1913.) On page 63 and 64 of the same book are the landmarks as defined by P. G. M. Joseph D. Evans, 10 in number.

North Carolina-

North Carolina has no list of landmarks, nor legislation defining them.

North Dakota-

North Dakota has no legislation defining or enumerating landmarks. They include in their Constitution the Ancient Charges and Regulations.

Ohio-

The Ohio Code states that "the Old Charges contain the fundamental laws" which is practically giving them sanction as landmarks. The Old Charges are a part of the Code.

Oklahoma-

At the Feb. 1915 Communication of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, they acknowledged and practically adopted the 25 landmarks of Mackey.

Oregon-

Oregon has adopted Mackey's 25 landmarks.

Pennsylvania-

The Ahiman Rezon contains the following on landmarks: "The Grand Lodge is the supreme Masonic authority except that it cannot change, alter or destroy the Ancient Landmarks." "The Past Grand Masters shall be regarded as the conservators of the ancient usages, customs and Landmarks." No landmarks are enumerated.

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations-

Rhode Island has no list of landmarks. The following is from the preamble to the Constitution of 1897: "Every Grand Lodge has inherent power and authority to make local ordinances and new regulations, for its own benefit and the good of Masonry in general--provided, always, that the ancient landmarks be carefully preserved."

South Carolina--

South Carolina has adopted Mackey's list of 25 landmarks.

South Dakota-

South Dakota Constitution of 1912 states that the Landmarks as defined by Dr. Mackey have binding force on South Dakota Masons.

Tennessee-

Tennessee has a list of 15 landmarks which are almost identical with those enumerated by Simons

Texas-

Chapter 2, Article 1, Sec. 4, of the Texas Code reads: "The Book of Constitutions of Masonry originally prepared by Dr. Anderson, approved A.D. 1723, contains the system of ancient laws and customs of the Craft, and is recognized as binding on points where this Constitution is silent; the old charges therein shall be appended entire hereto." This is the only light we can obtain on what the Grand Lodge of Texas thinks the landmarks are.

Utah-

Utah holds the "Old Charges of a Freemason" to be the landmarks. Christopher Diehl, a well known correspondence writer for years, had a list of landmarks which he submitted to the Grand Lodge of Utah; but they were never adopted.

Vermont-

Vermont adheres to the list of 25 landmarks of Mackey.

Washington-

Washington Constitution of 1913, Sec. 13, says: The action of Freemasons in the Grand Lodge and in their Lodges, and in their individual capacity is regulated and controlled 1. By Ancient Landmarks, and other unwritten laws of Masonry. 2. By Written- Constitutions, and general or special legislation. 3. By Usages, Customs and judicial action."

"Sec. 14 Landmarks.- The Ancient Landmarks include those principles of Masonic government and polity which should never be altered or disturbed."

No landmarks are enumerated.

West Virginia-

West Virginia has a list of 7 landmarks, a report on landmarks for the information of the brethren is given first place in the West Virginia Masonic Text Book. It contains lists by Mackey, Simons, Morris and Pike.

Wyoming--

Wyoming Grand Lodge considers the landmarks too deep a subject to comment on and does not attempt an enumeration of them.

Wisconsin-

Wisconsin has no legislation defining or enumerating the landmarks, but gives Mackey's 25 in code for their information of the brethren.

To recapitulate we find District of Columbia Minnesota New Mexico Oklahoma Oregon South Dakota South Carolina Vermont Virginia adopt Mackey's list of 25. Alabama Louisiana Mississippi Ohio Texas Utah hold the old charges to contain the landmarks. Those having list of landmarks of their own and the number are Connecticut ...............Lockwood's 19 Kentucky .....................Grant's 54 New Jersey ...........................10 Nevada ...............................39 Tennessee ............................15 West Virginia .........................7

The others all hold that the landmarks are the most important and fundamental law of Masonry, but do not consider a list made by any man or body of men sufficiently accurate to apply to them.

In concluding this compilation we can hardly refrain from expressing a thought or so which has forced itself upon us.

The live questions of Masonic Jurisprudence are most all affected by the views entertained in regard to landmarks; take for example the question of physical qualification. To those who hold the view of Mackey, Lockwood, Simons and others that it is a landmark it appears quite different from the view taken by those who hold that the only landmarks are the fundamental principles of Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Man.

We can hardly grasp the logic of why the physical qualification should be deemed a landmark and leave to the local custom column the rule that an entered apprentice serve seven years before being passed. They were both the necessary rules of an operative Craft and the need of a longer apprenticeship would appear to be greater than the strict conformity.

Again the prerogatives of a Grand Master largely stand or fall on interpretation of the landmarks, as do also our recognition of other Grand Bodies.

We might make many comparisons and comments but believe that the landmarks, like the history and symbolism of Masonry, must be left mostly to individual interpretation.

For those who wish to read on landmarks and have not already done so we would refer them to:

Mackey's "Masonic Jurisprudence." Simon's "Principles of Masonic Jurisprudence." Lockwood's "Masonic Law and Practice." Maine Masonic Text Book. Macoy-Oliver Encyclopedia. Kansas Code 1913. Bassett notes. Kentucky Book of Const. 1910. Grant notes. Iowa Proceedings 1888-1889. Ars. Q. C. Vol. VII, XXIV, XXV. Mississippi Const. 1903. New Jersey Proc. 1903. Code of Dist. of Col. 1905, p. 191.

The correspondence reports of Bro. Joseph Robbins of Ill., and Bro. Upton of Wash., are rich in comments.

-Source: The Builder August / September 1915

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