« September 2008 | Main | November 2008 »

October 2008

Voting the Party Ticket

84_009_1_democratic_ticket_1888_284_009_2_republican_ticket_1888_6Have you ever wondered why candidates are referred to as being on their party's "ticket"?

Jill Lepore's recent article in the New Yorker, Rock, Paper, Scissors: How We Used To Vote, is a mini crash-course on the history of voting at the polls in the United States that got me thinking about party tickets.

The history of the word "ticket," in the political party sense, is tied up in the history of how voting was done in the 19th century. Like many words and phrases, the "party ticket" has survived long past the practice itself, but it's a word that carries with it the reminder of how elections were conducted in the past. And while the practice may no longer survive, the physical tickets themselves do. In our Archives collection we have two such tickets, both of which are from the 1888 presidential election, and both of which can be seen here.

Up until the 1890s in the U.S., when a voter showed up at the polls on election day, he didn't receive a blank ballot with the names of the candidates printed on it. Instead, he showed up with his own ballot, which he had either written up beforehand, or wrote up when he got to the polls, or which he had gotten from a political party that had them handwritten, and later pre-printed or clipped from the newspaper. (A brief aside: a U.S. voter in the 19th century - indeed, up until 1920 - was always a "he." Interested in the history of suffrage - voting rights - in the USA? You might start here.)

Our interest today is in those pre-printed ballots, like the two seen here. It's because of these ballots which listed all of a political party's candidates for a particular election - and the ballots' resemblence to train tickets - that this meaning of the term "ticket" came into use. The ticket, like a ballot you see when you go into a voting booth today, would cover both local offices and national offices. In the two tickets seen here, which were printed for voters in Middlesex County in Massachusetts, you can see that both presidential candidates - Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison - as well as candidates for various local offices are listed. (Another brief aside: This election was one of four memorable elections - the others being in 1824, 1876, and 2000 - when the candidate who won the popular vote, lost in the electoral college vote, and therefore did not become president. In this case, Cleveland won the popular vote, but Harrison won the vote in the electoral college, and became president. Cleveland, you might remember, is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms; his defeat by Harrison in 1888 ushered in the four years that separate his two terms in office.)

The tickets seen above are especially interesting because they are from the last election in Massachusetts to use tickets printed by political parties. With the passage of An Act to Provide For Printing and Distributing Ballots at the Public Expense, and to Regulate Voting at State and City Elections in 1888, which took effect in November 1889, the Massachusetts state government became responsible for printing the so-called Australian ballot, the ballot familiar to us today, in which all candidates are listed for each office and we select - by checking a box, filling in a circle, moving a lever, punching a hole, or touching a screen - which candidate we are voting for.

(And if you're disappointed that we didn't talk about third party candidates here, check out our earlier post on the first major third party in U.S. presidential politics.)

Both tickets above are from our Archives collection:

Democratic Ticket for 1888 Election. USM 001.126
Republican Ticket for 1888 Election. USM 001.127


Academic Scholarship on Freemasonry & Fraternalism

In her excellent essay, The Past and Future of Masonic Scholarship, the historian Margaret C. Jacob writes "The professionalization of Masonic scholarship is now happening." Surprisingly, academic interest in Freemasonry and fraternalism is a relatively recent phenomenon, especially in the United States, but the growing interest within academia can be seen in a recent international conference devoted to the history of Freemasonry, a new academic journal, and a number of theses and dissertations written during the past few years.

The International Conference on the History of Freemasonry, a scholarly conference with participants delivering papers on diverse topics that are all related to the history of Freemasonry, was first held in Edinburgh, Scotland in May 2007. Because of its initial success, a second conference is being held in Edingburgh in May 2009. (And, yes, there's a third one scheduled already: the 2011 conference will be held outside of Scotland for the first time, at the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA.)

We also recently learned about a new scholarly periodical devoted to the study of Freemasonry and fraternalism that will publish its first issue in Spring 2009.  The Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism is another great example of the growing interest in the academic study of Freemasonry and fraternalism. The Journal's editor is Andreas Önnerfors, director of the University of Sheffield's Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism. The University of Sheffield (which is located in the UK) offers a Master's degree in the history of Freemasonry and fraternalism.

Some of the more scholarly books on Freemasonry that have been published during the past ten years started life as Ph.D dissertations. Jessica Harland-Jacobs's 2007 book Builders of Empire: Freemasonry and British Imperialism, 1717-1927 [17.942 .H37 2007] and William D. Moore's 2006 book Masonic Temples: Freemasonry, Ritual Architecture, and Masculine Archetypes [52 .M825 2006] are just two recent examples of this.

Our library and archives collections are often used by scholars pursuing research in Freemasonry and fraternalism. One such example is Harriet Wain McBride's use of our collection of regalia supply catalogs for her 2000 doctoral dissertation Fraternal Regalia in America, 1865 to 1918: Dressing the Lodges; Clothing the Brotherhood [21 .M33 2000].

A recent search of the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database reveals that research into Freemasonry and fraternalism within North American universities is quite strong. While we hope to see some of these dissertations eventually end up as books published by a university press, we'll be selectively purchasing some of these dissertations and theses in the coming months to strengthen our collection of current, academic scholarship in the field of Freemasonry and fraternalism.   

A selection of dissertations and theses on Freemasonry and fraternalism from North American universities since 2001 (listed chronologically)

"Spreading the light": European Freemasonry and Russia in the Eighteenth Century
by Bayer, Natalie, Ph.D., Rice University, 2007, 450 pages [available as a free download here, as part of Rice University's Digital Scholarship Archive]

Battling a Trojan Horse: The Ordre de Jacques Cartier and the Knights of Columbus, 1917--1965
by Trepanier, James, M.A., University of Ottawa (Canada), 2007, 186 pages

The Perspectives and Experiences Created by Mandated Change on the Volunteers Within a Fraternal Benefit Organization: A Phenomenological Case Study
by Bereson, Arnold L., Ph.D., Capella University, 2006, 192 pages

Prince Hall Freemasonry: The Other Invisible Institution of the Black Community
by Dunbar, Paul Lawrence, Sr., M.A., University of North Texas, 2006, 88 pages

Freemasons of Color: Prince Hall, Revolutionary Black Boston, and the Origins of Black Freemasonry, 1770--1807
by Sesay, Chernoh Momodu, Jr., Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2006, 251 pages

An Antimasonic Moment: Antimasonry in Antebellum America, 1826--1832
by Beaupre, Myles, M.A., University of New Brunswick (Canada), 2005, 100 pages

"A system of morality veiled in allegory": The Private Rituals and Public Performances of Freemasons in Winnipeg, 1864--1900
by Covernton, Gillian, M.A., University of Manitoba (Canada), 2005, 107 pages

We Are All Brothers: Secret Fraternal Organizations and the Transformation of the White Male Political Culture in Antebellum Virginia
by Pflugrad-Jackisch, Ami, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2005, 204 pages

The Architecture of Joseph Michael Gandy (1771--1843) and Sir John Soane (1753--1837): An Exploration into the Masonic and Occult Imagination of the Late Enlightenment
by Galvin, Terrance Gerard, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2003, 436 pages

Square and Compass: Freemasonry's Tools for Constructing a Global Civil Society
by Rasoletti, Judith, Ph.D., Florida International University, 2003, 251 pages

Measuring the Charismatic Leadership Attributes of the Grand Exalted Ruler of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, a Non-profit Fraternal Organization of Color
by Coplin, Peggy J., D.P.A., Nova Southeastern University, 2002, 140 pages

Constructing the "Brother": Freemasonry, Empire, and Nationalism in India, 1840--1925
by Fozdar, Vahid Jalil, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2001, 533 pages

The Incommunicable Secret or the Encountered Experience: Mystery, Ritual, Freemasonry in 18th-Century French Literature
by Palfi, Agnes Gyorgyi, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2001, 341 pages

"The Freemasonry of the Race": The Cultural Politics of Ritual, Race, and Place in Postemancipation Virginia
by Walker, Corey David Bazemore, Ph.D., The College of William and Mary, 2001, 356 pages


Amir Habibullah Khan: Afghan Reformer and Freemason

In a previous post, we talked about the spread of Freemasonry throughout the world, and the means by which it got there, in most cases by colonialism.  Today, we're taking a look at how one man in Afghanistan decided to become a Freemason in India in the early 20th century.

Habibullah Khan (1872-1919) succeeded his father to the throne of Afghanistan in 19 01.  In his coronation speech he announced his interest in pursuing policies of national unity, resistance from foreign aggression, and reform.  His goal was to achieve an absolute Afghan central government.

In 1904, Habibullah Khan founded the Habibya school for boys.  Students were taught math, geography, calisthenics, as well as English and Urdu.  He also established a military college where officers could get training. Between 1901 and 1904, Habibullah Khan bought equipment for local industry.  He also continued to improve communication and trade.  He built new roads and demonstrated that travel was important.

After an official state visit to India in 1907, Habibullah Khan expanded his reforms.  What happened during this visit to India?   

In 1907, at the request of the British government, the Amir of Afghanistan was invited to visit the Indian frontier.  Lt. Col. A. Henry McMahon, Chief Commissioner of Baluchistan, accompanied the Amir and was in charge of the entire visit.

Mcmahon_habibullah_khan After a few days in India, the Amir expressed interest in becoming a Freemason. McMahon was surprised because he did not understand the Amir's motives and didn't think that the Amir wanted to bring Freemasonry to Afghanistan. 

McMahon finally realized that the Amir was very earnest about his request to be initiated into Freemasonry. Habibullah told McMahon that he had met good men who were Masons and that he knew Freemasonry to be a good thing.

In the name of diplomacy, McMahon received permission for the Amir's initiation from Lord Kitchener, District Grand Master of the Punjab and Grand Master, the Duke of Connaught.  In the facsimile letter shown here (from a book published in 1936), Lord Kitchener votes to accept the Amir into the lodge. 

His Majesty Habibullah Khan, Amir of Afghanistan, was initiated into Freemasonry in Calcutta, India.  This occurred at Lodge Concordia, No. 3102 which had a small exclusive membership, restricted to British civil and military officers of high standing.  The first, second, and third degrees were all conferred upon the Amir. The ceremony was conducted in English, with Henry McMahon interpreting the entire Masonic ceremony into Persian for the Amir.  He took his Masonic oaths on a Koran that is now at the Library of the Grand Lodge of England.

Because knowledge of his Masonic affiliation could be used against him by his enemies in Afghanistan, the Amir's membership had to be kept a secret from his staff, soldiers, entire entourage, and the public. Although secrecy about his Masonic membership was kept in India, when the Amir returned to Afghanistan rumors about the Amir being a Freemason started to surface.  The leading mullahs seized on this opportunity to make trouble for the Amir.  Finally, the Amir announced publicly that he was a Freemason, that he was proud of being a Freemason, and that he had become one to benefit Afghanistan.

Habibullah Khan was impressed by Western (British) techonology he had seen in India, and when he returned to Afghanistan he made further attempts to Westernize the country. For better or worse, he saw Westernization as a step toward modernization for his country.  It seems that, to Habibullah, becoming a Freemason may have been a personal manifestation toward Westernization as well.

Today's illustration comes from the following book in our collection:

McMahon, Henry A.  An Account of the Entry of H. M. Habibullah Khan Amir of Afghanistan into Freemasonry.  London: Favil Press, Ltd., 1936. 
Call number:  16.8.H116 M167 1936


The Bruton Vault Story

On a recent trip to Virginia, I stopped in a used book store and inquired about Masonic or fraternal items.  The bookseller produced a couple things then said he was sure he had something about digging up the treasure in the Bruton Parish Churchyard, and that he thought Freemasons were involved. When I professed ignorance about the event he went on to tell a fantastic story about a secret vault in Williamsburg, VA that allegedly contains the original Shakespeare plays, additional writings by Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and other valuables.  To fully appreciate the story it’s helpful to 1. believe Sir Francis Bacon actually wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare (1564-1616); 2. believe that Bacon was the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603), the Virgin Queen (and for whom Virginia was named), and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (1532-1588); 3. believe that Bacon traveled to America; and 4. that Bacon is the true founder of America, the founder of Freemasonry and essentially wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.  Whew!

As soon as I had a chance, I ‘googled’ Bacon and Bruton and found some 114,000 ways to learn more about the story.  Several of the results seemed well researched and a 3 part series from The Piker Press was helpful as an introduction.  But I was anxious to return to our library and the extensive resources on Freemasonry in our collections. I wondered what if anything I'd find about the Bruton Vault in some basic Masonic reference sources....

Bauer_4Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia doesn't include an entry for Bruton but under Sir Francis Bacon does mention that some maintain his writings, particularly The New Atlantis,  "is relied on to assert his connection with Freemasonry."  Nothing more definitive in 10,000 Famous Freemasons where it's noted that Bacon was 'thought by some to be a Rosecrucian" and that The New Atlantis "was an early influence on the development of the craft."

Searching through several indexes did provide some mention of the Bruton Vault, Bacon and the Vault, and/or Bacon and Shakespeare in various journal articles; a few titles in our catalog did as well.  One new book I thought might include some information is Conspiracy Theories & Secret Societies for Dummies, but no luck.  Another new book, Master of the Mysteries: The Life of Manly Palmer Hall didn't disappoint.  Manly Hall (1901-1990) figures into the Bruton story in at least two significant ways:  several maintain that Hall's Secret Teachings of All Ages (which includes a chapter on the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy along with Bacon's portrait neatly superimposed over Shakespeare) provides a basis for the hidden symbols and mystery that buttress the story and, perhaps more importantly, Hall's second wife was Maria Bauer, (1904-2005).

While the new biography about Manly Hall is a full look at the life of this interesting, complex man, it does provide some interesting background details about the Bruton story as well.  Maria Bauer first heard Hall speak while living in New York but convinced her first husband to move to California to be closer to Hall and his Philosophical Research Society.  Interested in the occult and convinced she was clairvoyant, one day while volunteering at Hall's library, Bauer struck up a conversation with someone waiting to see Hall.  The visitor said he was a Shakespeare scholar who had deciphered codes hidden in the plays that told of a treasure hidden by Bacon under a church in Virginia.  Bauer had once received a woven cloth with images from Williamsburg, including the Bruton Parish Church, so she felt an immediate affinity and decided instead of just talking about it, they should go there and start digging!  Somehow, in 1938, Bauer convinced Rockefeller Foundation and Bruton Parish Church officials to begin excavating the churchyard.  The image above shows the cover of Bauer's first book about the experience with a portrait of Francis Bacon (not unlike the image in Hall's work mentioned above).  She published several other works about it, went on to marry Manly Hall in 1950, and continued her quest to uncover the vault until she died.

The initial dig in 1938 was followed by several other (both sanctioned and non-sanctioned) attempts.  While in 1938 they did uncover the foundation for the original 1676 Bruton Church, to date no vault and no treasure has been located.

So, is there anything to the Bruton Vault story?  I have no idea.  I'd be curious to hear from anyone who does know of any other compelling details, particularly involving a Masonic connection.  For those who find the whole story outlandish, perhaps a little more context is in order.  The Shakespeare authorship question has existed for hundreds of years and during the late 19th-early 20th century, Francis Bacon was a popular choice as the 'real' author.  Similarly, many significant archaeological discoveries were made around that time (e.g. King Tut's tomb in 1922) so it's not too hard to imagine church officials might be persuaded to allow the dig.  However, a 1993 article by Frederick Kozub in Skeptical Inquirer, a journal devoted to revealing the science behind pseudoscientific claims, ("Follow-up on the Bruton Parish Church's vault excavation", v. 17, no. 3, Spring 1993) essentially ends the discussion by stating the 9-person archaeological team allowed to dig in 1991 found no evidence of a vault anywhere under the churchyard.

What I did find is that the historical renovations one can see above ground in Colonial Williamsburg, and the artifacts recently uncovered beneath nearby Jamestown and now beautifully displayed in the new museum there are well worth time, interest and attention!

Sources mentioned above:

Bacon, Francis.  The New Atlantis.  1627.  Online edition available here.

Bauer, Maria.  Foundations Unearthed.  Glendale, CA: The Verulam Foundation, 1940.  Call number:  10 .B344 1940

Coil, Henry Wilson.  Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia.  Rev. ed.  Richmond, VA: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., 1996, c1961. Call number:  00 .C679 1996

Denslow, William R.  10,000 Famous Freemasons.  Trenton, MO:  Missouri Lodge of Research, 1958.  Call number:  16 .D413 1957

Hall, Manly Palmer.  An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic, and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy: Being an interpretation of the Secret Teachings Concealed within the Rituals, Allegories, and Mysteries of all Ages.  Los Angeles:  Philosophical Research Society, 1975.    Call number:  11 .H173 1975  A reprint of the 1928 edition. 

Hodapp, Christopher.  Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies.  Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley, 2008.  Call number:  HV 6432 .H63 2008

Sahagun, Louis.  Master of the Mysteries: The Life of Manly Palmer Hall.  Port Townsend, WA:  Process Media, 2008.  Call number:  16.3 .H178 S3 2008


A Union Soldier's Masonic Book

Freemasons_monitor_1859_hartwell_la In the front of an 1859 edition of Thomas Smith Webb's The Freemason's Monitor are some interesting ownership marks that reveal evidence of a Union soldier who owned this book during the American Civil War.

The book once belonged to Hartwell L. Lattime of Newburyport, Massachusetts. As you can see in the photo here, he has written "Roanoke Island, Dec 13, 1862" on the inside cover and drawn the Masonic square and compasses with a G set in it, below that. On the opposite page he has written his name and hometown.

A little research reveals that Hartwell Lattime enlisted as a Private on August 24, 1862 at the age of 22. He belonged to Company A of the Massachusetts 8th Infantry Regiment. According to a history of this unit, Companies A and C of the 8th Regiment detached from the regiment and were stationed at Roanoke Island, N. C., December 4, 1862 to July 12, 1863.

The Battle of Roanoke Island was fought on February 7-8, 1862, ten months before Lattime arrived. The Union Army, after winning the battle of Roanoke Island, quickly occupied the island. Hartwell served with the Massachusetts 8th Infantry Regiment until August 7, 1863, when he and the rest of the regiment mustered out after having been ordered home on July 26, 1863.

By looking at all of the evidence above, we can conclude that it appears that just a week after his arrival at Roanoke Island, Lattime wrote the date, his location, his name, and his hometown in the book. But when did Lattime become a Mason?

According to the records at the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, Lattime was raised and became a member of St. John's Lodge in Newburyport on November 6, 1862. At a time when there was usually a one-month delay between receiving each of the three degrees, Lattime received all three degrees in one day. By looking at the history of the regiment that Lattime belonged to, we can see that he became a Mason while still in Massachusetts, stationed at Camp Lander in Wenham, Massachusetts, just a few months after enlisting, and just a couple of weeks before the 8th Regiment boarded the steamship Mississippi in Boston on November 25, 1862 to head down to Morehead, NC. While we don't know for sure, it's possible that Lattime became a Freemason on a visit home while his company was stationed at Camp Lander where the 8th Regiment was stationed from September until late November.

Naturally, there is much more that could be explored about Lattime's time while on Roanoke Island if further research were conducted. Seeking out possible regimental histories or diaries of other soldiers stationed on Roanoke Island at the same time as Lattime would go a long way in pulling the thread that started with just a few notations that a Union soldier wrote in the front of a book one day in 1862.

As it turns out, the history of Roanoke Island after the battle in February becomes quite compelling. Lattime's time on Roanoke Island overlaps with the beginning of an interesting community that was established on the island:

"During the first few months of the Union occupation of Roanoke Island, over 250 former slaves settled in a camp close to Union headquarters. By the end of the year, the number had grown to 1,000. Most of the former slaves had escaped to the island from the North Carolina mainland; many were strangers to each other. Nevertheless, they set about to establish a thriving community, including their own school and several churches."

The quote above is from Patricia C. Click's website about the Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, where you can go to find more information about this interesting period in the history of Roanoke Island and the Civil War.

If you're looking or more information about Civil War regiments and soldiers, a good place to start online is the National Park Service's Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System.

Today's illustration is the inside front cover of:

Webb, Thomas Smith. The Freemason's Monitor : or, Illustrations of Masonry. Boston: Abner W. Pollard ; Brown, Taggard & Chase ; Geo. C. Rand & Avery [printer], 1859.
Call number: 14 .W368 1859
Gift of the Lattime Family of Newburyport, Massachusetts and West Port, New York