High Lights of the Mexican Revolution - J. L. McLeish

Masonry: Its Philosophy and Influence in Wartime

Years ago one of our greatest Masonic writers declared: "Masonry, is the great Peace Society of the World. Wherever it exists, it struggles to prevent international difficulties and disputes, and to bind Republics, Kingdoms and Empires together in one great band of peace and amity."

The general laity little appreciate the boundless influence for good exerted in troublous wartimes by the Order whose keynote is silence and unostentation, whose basic foundation is cemented by the principles of brotherly love, relief and truth, of liberty, fraternity and equality. The Masonic Order is a vast army of men bound together by the mystic tie of brotherhood universal.

In the United States it numbers over two million members, and has fifty-one sovereign Grand Lodges. Of these, the smallest jurisdiction is the District of Columbia comprising sixty square miles and embracing thirty lodges with more than ten thousand members.

The Grand Lodge of England controls 2578 lodges with a total membership of 234,333. Eight Grand Lodges of Canada dominate 94,359. In Germany are eight Masonic sovereign jurisdictions, in South America six, in Australia six, in India five, in the West Indies three, in Mexico, Liberia, Egypt, Central America, Hungary and Servia, one each. In France and Italy Freemasonry is exceptionally powerful, as also in Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and Portugal.

To the lot of the Freemasons of the United States it has fallen to send first aid to their distressed brethren abroad. Right nobly they have responded to the call. Through the United States Masonic War Relief Association, with headquarters at Cincinnati, Ohio, a most substantial sum has been raised and liberal disbursements made respectively to the Grand Priory, Knights Templar of England and Wales, the Grand Lodge of Masons of Ireland, Masonic Relief Fund of Scotland, Grand Lodge of Masons in Germany, Supreme Council of Scottish Rite in Luxembourg, Grand Lodge of Masons in Switzerland, Grand Lodge and Supreme Council in Belgium, and the London Branch of the Masonic War Relief Association of the United States.

It is hoped and planned to expend in like manner $100,000, by the end of the current year. At this moment measures are under way to make ample provision for veteran distressed Master Masons, their widows and orphans, whose need will be especially pressing in the aftermath of war.

At no time in the world's history has the Universal Brotherhood failed to answer the crying need of humanity; never has it shirked the call of country when the cause was just, nor failed to raise its mighty voice in protest at a time when to draw the sword against a weaker enemy, could only mean the staining of a nation's flag with lasting dishonor.

American Masonic History is especially interesting. How many people today know that the Boston Tea Party had its inchoation in a Masonic lodge room, that the participants in the history making raid upon British ships in Boston harbor were all Masons? Of all the minute men answering the summons of Paul Revere, many were brothers of his Masonic lodge. General Warren who fought and fell at Bunker Hill, was a Worshipful Master. Our Declaration of Independence was the handiwork of two great Masons, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine. Of the fifty-six signing it, two-thirds, it is said, were Masons, among them Charles Thomson, Rev. John Witherspoon, Captain William Whipple and the entire Virginia delegation. Peyton Randolph, the President and most of the First Continental Congress, were Freemasons.

Every army of civilization has its Masonic lodges. Among members of the American military lodges were Washington, Light Horse Harry Lee, Gens. Warren, Israel Putnum, Mad Anthony Wayne, Baron de Kalb, Lafayette, Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, Stephen Austin, David Crockett, Worth, Quitman, McClellan, Hancock, Banks, Rawlins, McClernand, Logan, Pickett, Robert Anderson, Garfield, McKinley, Albert Pike, Nelson A. Miles, and John Corson Smith.

Has it ever occurred to you to reflect exactly what in Masonry has attracted and sustained the unflagging, lifelong interest, devotion and enthusiasm of Americans like Washington, John Paul Jones, Franklin, Monroe, Andrew Johnson, Garfield, McKinley, Roosevelt, Thomas Marshall, Bryan, and a legion more of our most representative men of affairs?

The whole Philosophy of Masonry is uplifting and inspiring. Nowhere else can be found a more bitter arraignment of the horrors and futility of war, than in the Masonic teachings. The question has been asked frequently of late: "What is the attitude of Freemasonry towards the World Powers at present engaged in a titanic struggle to prove the right of might?"

I think it may best be answered by the beautiful paragraphs scattered through that voluminous masterpiece by Albert Pike, "Morals and Dogmas of the Scottish Rite." They apply as forcibly today as when first offered to his Masonic brethren a generation ago. Read with me:

"Wars like thunderstorms are necessary to purify the stagnant atmosphere. War is not a demon without remorse or reward. It restores the brotherhood in letters of fire."

"When men are seated in their pleasant places, sunken in ease and indolence, with Pretense and Incapacity and Littleness usurping all the high places of State, war is a baptism of blood and fire, by which alone they can be renovated. It is the hurricane that brings the elemental equilibrium, the concord of Power and Wisdom. So long as these continue obstinately divorced, it will continue to chasten."

"In the mutual appeal of Nations to God, there is the acknowledgement of His might. It lights the beacons of Faith and Freedom, and heats the furnace through which the earnest and loyal pass to immortal glory. There is in war the doom of defeat, the quenchless sense of duty, the stirring sense of honor, the measureless sacrifice of devotedness, and the incense of success. Even in the flame and smoke of battle, the Mason discovers his brother, and fulfills the sacred obligations of Fraternity. . . . The nation that grasps at the commerce of the world, cannot but become selfish, calculating, dead to the noblest impulses and sympathies which ought to actuate States."

"It will submit to insults that wound its honor, rather than endanger its commercial interests by war; while to subserve those interests it will wage unjust war on false or frivolous pretexts, its free people cheerfully allying themselves with despots to crush a commercial rival that has dared exile its kings, and elect its own ruler."

"A war for a great principle ennobles a nation."

"A war for commercial supremacy, upon some shallow pretext is despicable, and more than aught else demonstrates to what immeasurable depths of baseness, men and nations can descend."

"Who can sum up the horrors and woes accumulated in a single War?"

"Masonry is not dazzled with all its pomp, and circumstance, all its glitter and glory."

"War comes with its bloody hands into our very dwellings. It takes from ten thousand homes those who lived there in peace and comfort, held by the tender ties of family and kindred. It drags them away to die untended, of fever, of exposure, in infectious climes, or to be hacked, torn and mangled in the fierce fight; to fall on the gory field, to rise no more, or to be borne away in awful agony to noisome and horrid hospitals."

"The groans of the battlefield are echoed in sighs of bereavement from thousands of desolated hearths."

"There is a skeleton in every house, a vacant chair at every table."

"Returning, the soldier brings worse sorrow to his home, the infection which he has caught of camp vices."

"The country is demoralized. The national mind is brought down from the noble interchange of kind offices with another people, to wrath and revenge and base pride, and the habit of measuring brute strength against brute strength in battle,"

"Treasures are expended that would suffice to build ten thousand churches, hospitals and universities or rib and tie together a continent with rails of iron. If that treasure were sunk in the sea, it would be calamity enough: but it is put to worse use, for it is expended in cutting into the veins and arteries of human life, until the earth is deluged with a sea of blood."

"Each age reenacts the crimes as well as the follies of its predecessors, and, still war licenses outrage and turns fruitful lands into deserts, and God is thanked in the Churches for bloody butcheries, and the remorseless devastators, even when swollen by plunder, are crowned with laurels and receive ovations."

"There has not been a moment since men divided into Tribes, when all the world was at peace. Always men have been engaged in murdering each other somewhere. Always the armies have lived by the toil of the husbandman, and war has exhausted the resources, wasted the energies, and ended the prosperity of Nations."

"Now it loads unborn posterity with crushing debt, mortgages all estates and brings upon states the shame and infamy of dishonest repudiation."

"At times the baleful fires of war light up half a continent at once. At times, the storm revolving, howls over small areas only. At times, its lights are seen like the old beacon fires on the hills, belting the whole globe."

"No sea but hears the roar of cannon, no river but runs red with blood: no plain but shakes, trampled by the hoofs of charging squadrons: no field but is fertilized by the blood of the dead: and everywhere man slays, the vulture gorges, and the wolf howls in the ear of the dying soldier."

"No city is not tortured by shot and shell, and no people fail to enact the horrid blasphemy of thanking a God of love, for victories and carnage."

"Te Deums are still sung for the Eve of St. Bartholomew, and the Sicilian Vespers."

"Man's ingenuity is racked, and all his inventive powers are tasked, to fabricate the infernal enginery of destruction, by which human bodies may be the more expeditiously and effectually crushed, shattered, torn and mangled."

"MASONRY ALONE preaches Toleration, the right of man to abide by his own faith, the right of all States to govern themselves. It rebukes alike the monarch who seeks to extend his dominions by conquest, the Church that claims the right to repress heresy by fire and steel, and the confederation of States that insist on maintaining a union by force and restoring brotherhood by slaughter and subjugation."

In every war has been in evidence the potency of Freemasonry as an ameliorating influence in the horrors all abounding. Masonry was especially dominant during the American Civil War and self-sacrifices between brethren of the blue and brethren of the gray in behalf of each other were of almost daily occurrence. It was a Grand Lodge in South Carolina which first voiced the policy its brethren should pursue towards brother Masons of the North, as early as 1862, when the strife was young. A Grand Lodge of Maine approved the encyclical almost word for word, and the beneficent Masonic principles were put into actual practice by Grand Lodges of the North and South almost simultaneously. Among the other things Masons were ordered:

"Be faithful towards all and singular the brethren whether these be met in lodges dedicate, or only known to you by divers means in darkness or light, in health or sickness, in wealth or want, in peril or safety, in prison, escape or freedom, in charity or evil-mindedness, armed or unarmed, friend or seeming foe, and as to these, most certainly as towards brethren, when Masonically met on, by or with all due and regular intercommunication and intelligence. . . . Let us not hear among us that there is war that strife and dissension prevail, as Masons it concerns us not."

How different this fraternal stand of the Grand Lodge of a state at war, in 1862, and that this year manifested by the Grand Lodge of Germany which has issued an open announcement to the world from its headquarters in Berlin, suspending all fraternal relations with the Masons of France, Italy, and England during the continuance of this war.

Despite all this, the international Masonic press is repeatedly filled with circumstantial and convincing proof-positive that German Freemasons have not at all forgotten their Masonic obligations, and many heroic deeds are narrated as performed by soldier Masons of the several belligerents to help a worthy brother in the ranks of the enemy.

At no time in history has Freemasonry played a treasonable part against the country which gave it shelter. In the eighteenth century the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England, the Duke of Wharton, a partisan of the Stuart Pretenders, endeavored to enlist the Masonic machinery of England against the established Government. In spite of his magnetic personality, and unusual popularity, the Grand Master could not prevail upon his Masonic brethren to have a hand in his nefarious plot. In disgrace, he surrendered his high office and fled to unhappy exile on the continent.

As a reward for their unswerving loyalty in times of cunning conspiracy, and revolution, the Freemasons of England today are the only Secret Society in Great Britain permitted by special grant and act of Parliament.

It may be that the human race is not yet ready for the practical application of the Gentle Philosophy of Freemasonry.

One man in the present century tried to govern his administrative functions as President of a Republic on Masonic Ideals. He fell a martyr to the passions of blind bigotry and darkness. I refer to Francisco Madero, Jr., for a brief period President of Mexico. This college-bred man of fine old Mexican ancestry is an ever present obstacle to the recognition by our country of any chieftain in any way identified with the politico-religious sect responsible for his assassination. Convincing proof may be found in "An Open Letter to American Masons" in the New Age Magazine for August, 1915, by a high Mexican Masonic Brother. This same journal of the Scottish Rite, in its issue of March, 1913, had a touching tribute to Madero by Brother George Fleming Moore, 33. In it he says:

"The murder of Francisco Madero, late President of the Republic of Mexico, seems to me the foulest and blackest crime of the age. Not very long ago, I received a letter from him which clearly proved his sincere desire to guide his life and actions, public and private, by those principles of equity and justice which make for the happiness and prosperity of the individual and the race.

"He believed in the doctrine of sacrifice: that sacrifices for the sake of the truth, or for his fellowmen would bring its reward either in this or in some other life.

"He was an active member of the Supreme Council A. & A. Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of Mexico, and was a MASON. On one occasion while addressing his lodge, he said: 'Brethren, this ritual of ours is very beautiful, and we teach high ideals, but what are we, you and I, doing to carry out these ideals and teachings into expression in our own lives, and in the affairs of our country?'

"He was called weak and inefficient because he would not shoot men merely because they crossed his pathway to power.

"He was laughed at as an Idealist because he hoped to lead his country to a place of honor and power without ruining it by military despotism.

"He has fallen a victim to his ideals of truth and justice and the evil wiles of false friends, for no man ever reproached him with vices until after he became a prisoner and in the power of the men he had trusted.

"If his death shall teach men that nations must not let such crimes go unrebuked, and shall render them impossible in the future, whether through intervention or by other modes, then Francisco Madero's murder will bear good fruit, and we verily believe, he would have sacrificed his life to secure that great result."

Can we not hope that before the present Carnival of Blood is carried to more sickening extremes, the Sovereign Masters of the World's Grand Lodges will rally the Sons of Light and Peace to making a practical protest against the insensate madmen glutted with power and relying upon the obsolete doctrine of Divine Right, to send their subservient subjects to death? Stranger things have happened.

In any event, when the last shot has been fired in the present world war, when the representatives of the exhausted powers assemble to determine the readjustment of territories, the payment of indemnities, and the signing of Treaties, . . . the Power behind the Pen which drafts documents of so vital an interest to posterity, will unquestionably be that Masonry which has fought the good fight through the ages, that Masonry which will insist that War must end forever, so that there may be cemented more firmly hereafter, Republics, Kingdoms and Empires, . . . if these two latter still exist, . . . in one great band of Peace and Amity.