The Lincoln Freemason Connection
April 14, 2015 marked the 150th anniversary of the assignation of Springfield’s favorite son Abraham Lincoln. With many events planned to commemorate this history changing event Tyrian Lodge takes a moment to reflect back on the lodge’s connection to our 16th president. Abraham Lincoln was not a freemason, but his admiration of the Fraternity is documented in statements he made at the time and he was well acquainted with many brothers of the craft in Springfield. One of Lincolns' clos-est friends was Bowling Green a Freemason, Master of his local Masonic lodge, and a member of the original Grand Lodge of Illinois. When Green died in February of 1842, Springfield Lodge No. 4 invited Lincoln to give remarks during the Masonic services for Bro. Green. Lincoln’s political idol in politics.
Senator Henry served as Grand Master of Kentucky. During the height of the AntiMasonic party in the United States (the early 1830s) and during the time that Clay was running for President of the United States, Clay refused to denounce the Masonic fraternity, even though it would have helped him politically.
Mr. Lincoln petitioned Tyrian Lodge No.333 in 1860, but later with-drew his petition when he decided to run for President of the United States. Mr. Lincoln was called upon by the Grand Lodge of Illinois during recess of an annual meeting to discuss his decision to withdraw his petition. During that meeting, Lincoln told the committee "Gentleman, I have always entertained a profound respect for the Masonic fraternity and have long cherished a desire to become a member." He continued, “But I am a candidate for political office and by some such action might be misconstrued. For this reason, I must for the present time refrain."
He was afraid his petition would be seen as an attempt to pander for the votes of Freemasons; something he was unwilling to do. It was his intention to resubmit his petition and receive the degrees of Freemasonry after his Presidency was over; a promise he never had a chance to fulfill. On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater by John Wilkes Booth. Upon the death of the president, Springfield's Tyrian Lodge No. 333 adopted, on April 17, 1865, a resolution to say "that the decision of President Lincoln to postpone his application for the honors of Freemasonry, lest his motives be misconstrued, is the highest degree honorable to his memory." The complete resolution reads as follows.
Resolutions Adopted by Tyrian Lodge No. 333, A.F. & A.M. Springfield, Illinois, April 17, A.D. 1865, A.L. 5865.
The first thought of a Mason should be, as his duty is, to trust in God. This thought leads the true Mason to desire His aid and guidance. From this comes Faith; and then follows Hope, inciting to action, Trust and Hope inspire confidence in government and respect for law. The true Mason never despairs; whatever may be his fortune, his faith remains. The tragically and barbarous assassination of President Lincoln, our National head and representative, is well calculated to try our faith, to shake our hope, and prostrate our spirit. Governments are ordained of God, and are the ministers of His will. The administrators of government may change, but the government remains. All good Masons are peaceable subjects to the powers that be, and never suffer themselves to be concerned in plots and conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the nation, to behave undutiful to the lawful authorities, or countenance a brother in his rebellion, though he may be pitied as an unhappy man. Masonry has flourished in these United States, with but rare exceptions at short intervals, as it has never flourished since the days of Solomon and Hiram. Masonry has flourished under the protection of our Government, and Masons have supported, upheld, and maintained the Government. Washington founded the nation; Jefferson drew its declaration of principles, and Jackson brought its second war of independence to a successful termination. The blood of Masons and patriots shed upon the battlefields of this Republic has cemented our Government with bonds and cords which no human arm can sever. One whom we all loved, in the glory of his manhood, and in tile zenith of his fame, has been cruelly and murderously slain. But shall we despair? Shall we cease to hope? Shall we basely cower and shrink and sulk because the assassin is at work; because the murderer seeks our life; because traitors seek to overthrow our Government? Never, no, never before God. Let our faith be firmer and our hope brighter, for, as we trust in God, so we hope by His favor to make a just and imperishable Government. The members of Tyrian Lodge No. 333 A.F. & A.M., in regular communication convened, with Members of Springfield Lodge No. 4, Central Lodge No. 71, and other worthy visiting brethren, deem this a suitable occasion to express their opinions as Masons and citizens in this momentous crisis therefore.
Resolved, that as the immediate friends and neighbors of our late beloved and now revered President Lincoln, we deeply and sorrowfully deplore his death.
Resolved, That the scrupulous honor and honesty of President Lincoln in all his private relations, his faithfulness and kindness as a husband and father, his fairness and ability as a lawyer, his wisdom and public spirit as citizen, and his patient, humane and honest career as a magistrate and statesman, furnish examples worthy of all praise and imitation.
Resolved, that we sincerely console with the bereaved widow and fatherless children, in their terrible and irreparable loss.
Resolved, That the decision of President Lincoln to postpone his application for the honors of Masonry, lest his motives be misconstrued, is in the highest degree, honorable to his memory.
Resolved, That the murderer of President Lincoln, and the assassin of Secretary Seward, should be hunted with unceasing vigilance and vigor until found, and be brought to trial, judgment and punishment.
Resolved, That Masons should in all cases be subject to the law, abide by the law, be ready to assist in enforcing it, and should never connive at, tolerate or encourage disrespect for law, or any disobedience or infraction of it; for Masons hold themselves subject to rules; and the law of God, and of the land, should in all cases be the paramount rule of action.
Resolved, That we have an unshaken faith in the principles of free government, and while we tolerate the utmost freedom of opinion, and choice, we hold it to be our duty, and we hereby solemnly pledge our- selves to stand by the Government in all its lawful measures to preserve its vigor and maintain its integrity.
Resolved, that a copy of this preamble and these resolutions be forwarded to every lodge in this State, with a request that the same be concurred in, and that the action of each lodge be communicated to the Grand Secretary.
Resolved, that the editor of the Masonic Trowel, and of the several papers published in this State, be requested to publish this preamble and these resolutions.
Committee O. H. Miner, W.M. H. G. Reynolds Jesse K. Dubois J. R. Tyson T. R. King Pierson Roll John C. Reynolds, Secretary