Abraham Lincoln

A Supreme Council, and a Nation, Mourns the Death of a President

In commemoration of President Abraham Lincoln's life and the impact that his assassination in April 1865 had upon the nation and the fraternity, the staff of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library wish to present this highlight from the collection, Supreme Council member Benjamin Dean's hand-written preamble and resolutions regarding the death of President Lincoln. This document demonstrates how, as Freemasons, one of the fraternity’s governing bodies, the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, expressed not only their sorrow for the President's death, but how the Lincoln assassination was an affront to what Freemasonry embodied.  

A2019_097_003DS1Handwritten preamble and resolution of Benjamin Dean, 1865 May 17.

In the Supreme Council of Sovereign Inspectors General 33º for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States,

May 17, 1865.

Since the last annual meeting of this Supreme Council the nation has been deprived of its chief magistrate by the hand of an assassin.

It is peculiarly fit + proper that a body assembled from all the States of our Jurisdiction, and representing so largely our numerous + influencial [sic] brotherhood, a brotherhood whose ancient charges inculcate among its first duties – “to be peaceable citizens + cheerfully to conform to the laws of the country in which we reside – to avoid being concerned in plots and conspiracies against government + cheerfully to submit to the decisions of the Supreme Legislature; it is fit + proper that such an assemblage – true to its teachings – should give some expression to the family of our deceased + honored President, of our sympathy with their misfortunes, + pray for the restoration of peace to their troubled minds.

Therefore, resolved – that we deplore the untimely end of our late honored President Abraham Lincoln – cut off by horrid violence – in the midst of the high dignities imposed upon him by this people.

Resolved – that we sympathize with the nation + with his distressed family in their unparallelled [sic] affliction.

Resolved, that this expression of our sympathy be spread upon our records, + a copy thereof be sent by our Secretary General to the family of our deceased President.

Unanimously passed by the Supreme Council, Dean’s measure was only one of many tributes paid by Freemasons to the martyred President throughout the summer of 1865. And although the President was not a Freemason, in an interview in October 1860 with the American poet and Freemason Rob Morris, presidential candidate Lincoln intimated his “great respect” for the fraternity, and it was widely speculated and reported that Lincoln had only “postpone[d] his application for the honors of Masonry” until after his second term as President and the great burden of office had passed.


Handwritten preamble and resolution of Benjamin Dean, 1865 May 17. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, SC 300.002.


“A Conversation with Mr. Lincoln.” Voice of Masonry and Tidings from the Craft 3, no. 6 (June 1865): 248.


Digital Collections Highlight: 1860 Republic Party Ticket

A2008_058_1DSWith the presidential election coming up next month, we thought it might be fun to highlight an item in our collection from the presidential election of 1860. While we might still use phrases like the "party ticket" or "split-ticket voting," we are no longer talking about actual printed tickets. But tickets were once just that: paper slips listing all of a political party's candidates. These tickets, often handed out at polling stations or printed in and clipped from newspapers, effectively functioned as ballots. In an era before state-printed election ballots listed candidates from all political parties on a ballot, party leaders could insure straight ticket voting by supplying voters with these tickets, which voters then placed in ballot boxes for their vote. Massachusetts, one of the earlier adopters of state-printed ballots, did not implement the practice until almost twenty years after the 1860 election, with the passage of  "An Act to Preserve the Purity of Elections" [PDF] in 1879.

Pictured here - and available at our Digital Collections website - is the Massachusetts Republican Party's ticket for Worcester County for the 1860 presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 6, 1860. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) tops the ticket, along with Vice Presidential candidate Hannibal Hamlin (1809-1891). At the bottom of the ticket is Velorous Taft (1819-1890), of Upton, Massachusetts, running for on one of three County Commissioner seats for Worcester County.

Lincoln, of course, was elected President in 1860, but what about Velorous Taft? He was an incumbent, up for re-election in 1860 and, like Lincoln, he and was also victorious in 1860. Taft, in fact, served as one of the Worcester County Commissioners from 1858-1875.

If you like this document, be sure to check out the Library & Archives Digital Collections website where, in addition to a rich collection of Scottish Rite documents, Masonic certificates, and lots of other important documents related to the history of Freemasonry, we also have some other election-related material, like this advertising pamphlet featuring presidential candidates for the year 1884, a campaign letter from Richard Nixon from 1960, as well as a broadside promoting the Antimasonic Republican ticket for the 1835 Massachusetts state election.

For a couple of quick reads about the use of tickets as ballots during nineteenth-century elections, check out the following:

University of California, San Diego's Library blog, "That’s the Ticket: Voting in the 19th Century"

The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection blog, "That’s the Ticket! Getting Out the Vote in the 1860s"

Civil War Letter Highlights the Difficulties of Prisoner of War Exchanges

Research into this letter held in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library highlights the unpreparedness of both the Union and the Confederacy to fight a prolonged war and displays how divisive the institution of slavery was, even on the battlefield.

(front of letter)  A1978_010_1DS1

 Letter from General Henry Wager Halleck to General Robert E. Lee, December, 1863

Washington, December 7th, 1863

Genl. Robt. E. Lee
Commanding &c.


I am authorized to offer, through you, to exchange all United States prisoners of war now in Richmond and its vicinity for equivalents, according to the scale of the cartel. These equivalents to be sent by us to City Point, leaving for future arrangement all questions in regard to other prisoners of war held by either party.

If the offer is accepted, you will please inform me of the numbers and grades to be so exchanged, and the times of their delivery.

Very respectfully
Your Obdt. Sert.
H.W. Halleck
Genl. in chief

(reverse of letter)

A1978_010_1DS2 - CopyResponse by General Robert E. Lee,
December 15, 1863

Head Qus of the Army
Washington, December 7th 1863

H.W. Halleck
General in Chief

Offering to exchange all United States prisoners of war now in Richmond and its vicinity for equivalents according to the scale of the cartel, these equivalents to be sent to City Point, leaving for future arrangements all questions in regard to the other prisoners held by either party.

H.Q.: 15 Dec '63

Respt. referred for information of secy of war. Genl Halleck has been informed that the cartel entered into by the Govt. provided for the exchange of all prisoners of war and that I had no authority to depart from it, and therefore could not accept his offer.

R.E. Lee, Genl

Col. Ould for information
17 Dec 63 JSS [?]
Secy of War

Both the Union and the Confederacy had predicted a short war, and because of this miscalculation, no preparations were made by either side to house and to care for the large numbers of men who would become prisoners of war. Commanders on both sides were left to decide matters on their own, and in the first few years of the war, it was common for ad hoc prisoner exchanges to take place after each battle.

These impromptu prisoner of war exchanges were replaced on July 22, 1862, when both sides adopted the Dix-Hill cartel. This agreement or cartel, as it was called, would last until July 30, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued an order that suspended all prisoner exchanges until the Confederacy would treat black soldiers the same as white soldiers. The cessation of prisoner exchanges led to the creation of the notorious prisoner of war camps, Andersonville in the South and Rock Island in the North.


Letter from General Henry Wager Halleck to General Robert E. Lee and a Response by Lee, December 7-17, 1863. Gift of Tobin William. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, USM 001.039.


United States National Park Service. “African Americans at Andersonville.” Accessed: 7 July 2016. https://www.nps.gov/ande/learn/historyculture/african_americans.htm


A Fraternity Goes to War: The History of a Masonic Civil War Certificate

From April 1861 until the end of September 1863, the Grand Lodge of Illinois issued 1,757 Masonic war certificates to Illinois Master Masons, and eventually to the sons of Master Masons, as a type of traveling certificate, which would vouch for their good Masonic standing to their Confederate brothers whom they would meet on the battlefield.

This certificate, a gift to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library from Rushville Lodge, No. 9, A. F. & A. M., had been issued to Corporal Phineas Lovejoy of the 3rd Regiment, Illinois Cavalry on December 23, 1861. Research into his life reveals that Lovejoy had been elected Most Worshipful Master of Columbus Lodge, No. 227, and was the first cousin once removed of abolitionist editor Elijah P. Lovejoy and his brother U.S. Congressman Owen Lovejoy, a friend of Abraham Lincoln.


Masonic War Certificate for Phineas Lovejoy, December 23, 1861.

Census records for the years 1850 and 1860 document that Phineas worked as a farmer, and articles found in the Quincy Whig (provided by the Quincy Public Library) capture his very active political life, including Lovejoy’s election to town clerk for the township of Honey Creek (April 1859). The Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls documents that, like many Illinoisans, Lovejoy swiftly joined the army on August 5, 1861, less than four months after the first shots had been fired upon Fort Sumter, and that he and his regiment took part in the Battle of Pea Ridge.

Phineas Lovejoy did not survive the war, and records consulted for this blog post do not reveal the cause of his death. What we only know for certain is that Lovejoy was mustered out on August 9, 1862, and died on that same day on the Steamer “White Cloud,” somewhere offshore near Memphis, Tennessee. Having said that, after consulting the National Park Service’s website Battle Unit Details, we do know that Lovejoy’s cavalry unit was stationed at Helena, Arkansas, from July 14, 1862, until December 1863. Historian Rhonda M. Kohl explains in her article “This Godforsaken Town”: Death and Disease at Helena, Arkansas, 1862-63, the Union camp at Helena was a sickly place. It “created an unhealthy environment for residents and soldiers,” and “as soon as the Union troops occupied Helena, sickness [dysentery, typhoid, and malaria] overtook the men.” From Kohl’s account of the conditions at Helena, it seems likely that Phineas Lovejoy may have been seriously ill when he was mustered out in August and died while being transported north for medical treatment.   


Masonic War Certificate for Phineas Lovejoy, December 23, 1861. Gift of Rushville Lodge, No. 9, A. F. & A. M. (Rushville, Illinois). Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 007.


Ancestry.com. U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2012.

Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009.

Bateman, Newton, and Paul Selby, eds. (1899). William Owen Lovejoy. In Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Knox County. (pp. 735-736). New York: Munsell. https://books.google.com/books?id=Oj5JAQAAMAAJ  16 October 2015.

Grand Lodge of Illinois (1861). Returns of Lodges: Columbus Lodge, No. 227. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, (pp. 227). Springfield, Illinois: Steam Press of Bailhache and Baker.

Grand Lodge of Illinois (1863). War Certificates. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, (pp. 15). Springfield, Illinois: Steam Press of Bailhache and Baker.

Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2009

Kohl, Ronda M. “‘This Godforsaken Town:’ Death and Disease at Helena, Arkansas, 1862-63.” Civil War History 50, no. 2 (June 2004): 109-144.

State of Illinois. “Lovejoy, Phineas.” Illinois Civil War Muster and Descriptive Rolls Database. Accessed: 16 October 2015. http://www.ilsos.gov/isaveterans/civilMusterSearch.do?key=154306

United States National Park Service. “3rd Regiment, Illinois Cavalry.” Battle Unit Details. Accessed: 16 October 2015. http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-battle-units-detail.htm?battleUnitCode=UIL0003RC

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth Day

Ambrotype of Unidentified Man in Masonic Apron and Independent Order of Odd Fellows Collar, 1855-1865, unidentified maker, United States, Museum purchase, 85.41. Photograph by David Bohl.

June 19th will be the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth day, also known as Emancipation Day, in the United States.  Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 declaring that slaves in all states still at war with the federal government were free and would remain so.The proclamation was not fully realized until June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger (1821-1876) announced freedom for all slaves in the Southwest including Texas, the last rebel state to allow slavery following the end of the Civil War. The day is believed to have been named “Juneteenth” by those freed in Texas in 1865. The 13th amendment outlawing slavery everywhere in the United States was subsequently ratified in December 1865.

Since that time, nationwide grassroots celebrations have commemorated this significant moment in American history. In June 2014, the U.S. Senate passed legislation formally recognizing June 19th as “Juneteenth Independence Day” and supporting the nationwide celebration of the holiday.  In light of this anniversary the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is taking a moment to highlight some of the items in our collection related to African American Freemasonry (commonly referred to as Prince Hall Freemasonry) and fraternalism.

The Prince Hall Monument
The Prince Hall Monument in Cambridge, MA was unveiled on May 15, 2010.  Image courtesy of The Prince Hall Monument Project.

African American Freemasonry emerged in 1775 when Prince Hall (1738-1807), an active Methodist and leading citizen in Boston’s African American community, attempted to join Boston’s Masonic Lodges but was denied membership. In response, he and fourteen other African Americans who had been rejected by the established Boston lodges turned to a Masonic Lodge attached to a British regiment stationed in the city. Initiated in 1775, Hall and his Masonic brothers met as members of the British lodge until the Revolutionary War ended. In 1784 Prince Hall and the other members of the British lodge, petitioned the Grand Lodge of England to form a new lodge on American soil. The governing body granted his request, creating African Lodge No. 459.

When Prince Hall died in 1807, African American masons chose to give their fraternity his name to distinguish it from predominantly white “mainstream” lodges that generally excluded blacks throughout the 1800s and early 1900s. Today, there are reported to be over 4500 Prince Hall Lodges worldwide. After the civil war, Prince Hall Freemasonry and other fraternal groups, like the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows and Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World spread throughout the North and South, helping to establish community institutions and benefits for freed families. Prince Hall and other African American Masonic leaders like Moses Dickson (1824-1901) and Lewis Hayden (1811-1889) were  influential activists in the abolitionist and civil rights movements of their era. Their leadership and influence emphasizes how Freemasonry and fraternalism impacted civil rights efforts and afforded African Americans the opportunity to organize toward an equal and free black citizenship in American society.  

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is continuing to look for items related to African American Freemasonry and fraternalism and welcomes inquiries about potential donations. To see items related to African American Freemasonry and fraternalism currently in our collection please visit our museum Flickr page.


99_044_7DP1DBThis apron originally belonged to an unidentified member of Wilmington, North Carolina’s James W. Telfair Lodge No. 510 who was initiated in March 1915. The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina was chartered in 1870. The lodge was named for James W. Telfair Jr. (1837-1914), a slave who later became a reverend at St. Stephen’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, North Carolina. Telfair served as Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina.  



Caption: Prince Hall Master Mason Apron, United States, 1915, unidentified maker, United States, Museum purchase, 99.044.7. Photograph by David Bohl.


  RARE 90_H414 1866In December of 1865, Lewis Hayden, Grand Master of the Massachusetts Prince Hall Grand Lodge, delivered a stirring address to members of that Grand Lodge, calling into question the continued discrimination of African Americans in some Masonic lodges and American society.

Caption: Caste among Masons; address before Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Massachusetts, at the festival of St. John the Evangelist, December 27, 1865 By Lewis Hayden, Grand Master.(Boston, Massachusetts: Edward S. Coombs & Company, [1866])

Call number: RARE 90.H414 1866.







80_9_1DI1 The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows was created in Europe and is a fraternal group that includes mutual benefits. Peter Ogden created the American counterpart of GUOOF in 1843 after obtaining a charter from the fraternal society of England. Membership exploded after the Civil War when African Americans were able to organize lodges in the south. The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows reported a membership of 108,000 in the late 1990s.

 Caption: Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Chart, 1881, Currier & Ives, New York, 80.9.1. Photograph by David Bohl.






  95_049_2DI2The Improved Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks of the World is an African American fraternal order founded in 1897. The IBPOEW offered leadership training, professional networking opportunities, social fellowship, and community service.

Caption: Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World Apron, 1900-1920, USA, Unidentified maker, Museum purchase. Photograph by David Bohl.


Jeffrey Croteau. "Prince Hall: Masonry and the Man." The Northern Light Feb. 2011: 10-13.

Peter P. Hinks and Stephen Kantrowitz, eds. All Men Free and Brethren: Essays on the History of African American Freemasonry (New York: Cornell University Press, 2013).

Nina Mjagkij, ed. Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, 2001).

Aimee E. Newell, The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library (Lexington, MA: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 2015), 222-224.

Previous Blog Posts:

Jeffrey Croteau. "Moses Dickson and the Order of Twelve." Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Blog. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. May 26, 2008

Aimee Newell. "A New Discovery about an old photo." Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Blog. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.May 1, 2012.

Aimee Newell. "From Boston to Washington D.C.: Prince Hall Freemasonry." Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Blog. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. February 4, 2010.

Found on a Civil War Battlefield

80_60DI1The recent release of the movie Lincoln reminds us that we are still marking the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. As previous posts have noted, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is fortunate to have a number of items associated with that conflict in its collection (to see more, visit our website, select our online collection and search for “Civil War”).

I recently came across this intriguing, Civil War-related photograph in the collection. The round case (about 1 3/4 inches in diameter) contains photographs of Union Generals Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-1881) and George B. McClellan (1826-1885). Burnside was born in Indiana and attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After serving in the Mexican War (1846-1848), he settled in Rhode Island. Burnside returned to military service during the Civil War, but is remembered for a lackluster record, including a disastrous performance at the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862, when the Union Army suffered 13,000 casualties. After the war, Burnside entered political life, serving as Governor of Rhode Island three times and as a U.S. Senator twice. In 1871, he became the first president of the National Rifle Association. He died in Rhode Island in 1881.

George B. McClellan, born in Philadelphia, also attended West Point in the 1840s and fought in the Mexican War. In 1857, he left the military and took a position as Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad. When the Civil War began, McClellan returned to military service, becoming popular with his men, but employing a command style that put him at odds with President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). In November 1861, McClellan became General-in-Chief of the Union army. McClellan often hesitated and delayed his attacks, fearing that he faced an enemy with more troops than he had. By November 1862, after McClellan’s failure to make significant progress, he was relieved of command. In 1864, he ran against Lincoln for president and lost. After the war, McClellan returned to work in the engineering field and also served as Governor of New Jersey. He died in New Jersey in 1885.

When these photos were donated to the Museum in 1980, the donor provided a family story that the case “was found on the battlefield at Gettysburg in the latter part of August or early September 1863 by my grandfather, George E. Blose.” George Elmer Blose, born in 1836 in Hamilton, Pennsylvania, was 27 years old in 1863. By the time of the 1860 federal census, Blose had moved east to Perry Township, Pennsylvania, where he lived in his father’s house and worked as a laborer. Records of George’s military service during the Civil War are unclear – a couple of George Blose’s are listed from Pennsylvania, but it is inconclusive which record belongs to George E. Blose, if any. By the time of the 1900 U.S. Census, Blose was listed as the head of his household and worked as a farmer in Perry.

At the time that the Civil War began, photography was still a relatively new development. Family members scrambled to have portraits of their loved ones taken before the men marched off to battle. Portraits of generals, like these of Burnside and McClellan, were popular sellers in the North. Whether George Blose found this pair of portraits on the battlefield as his family recalled, or if he purchased them as a souvenir of the nation-rending conflict he lived through is not known.  Nor is the maker of these portraits identified.  While Mathew Brady is perhaps the most well-known photographer associated with Civil War pictures, he actually took few himself. Instead, he financed a group of field photographers, sending them out to take the images, while he acquired and published the negatives. To see more photographs from the Museum’s collection, visit our website and search the online collection.

Generals Ambrose E. Burnside and George B. McClellan, ca. 1862, unidentified maker, United States. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, gift of Olney V. Wadding, 80.60.


William Marvel, “Ambrose E. Burnside (1824-1881),” retrieved November 28, 2012, from Encyclopedia Virginia: http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Burnside_Ambrose_E_1824-1881.

“Ambrose E. Burnside,” retrieved November 28, 2012, http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/ambrose-burnside.html.

“George B. McClellan,” retrieved November 28, 2012, http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/george-mcclellan.html.

“Photography and the Civil War, 1861-1865, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History,” retrieved November 28, 2012, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/phcw/hd_phcw.htm.


Lincolniana and other new and recommended books: March 2009

While some may think things have gotten too carried away for the Lincoln Bicentennial, there really are some new books, programs and exhibits worth knowing about.  We've added several titles on Abraham Lincoln to our collection and we've listed them along with all our other new Masonic and fraternal and general American history titles on our website's New Acquisitions page.  Please take a look.

If you're out and about in the Boston area (after having visited the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, of course!) and you're looking for Lincoln and Civil War related exhibits, you might check out the following:  The Medford Historical Society is home to one of the world's greatest collections of Civil War photographs and many are on display this month as part of their Of the People: Faces of the Civil War exhibit.  Some of their photographs, from the General Samuel Crocker Lawrence collection* also may be seen at the Brookline Public Library along with an exhibit, Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America.

Lots of other interesting exhibits and events are scheduled throughout the area and information on them is available at the Massachusetts Lincoln Bicentennial website.  National events and a state-by-state guide may be found at the Lincoln Bicentennial website.


*Landscapes of the Civil War, an exhibit of photographs from this same collection appeared at the National Heritage Museum in 1999 and an accompanying book (Landscapes of the Civil War: Newly Discovered Photographs from the Medford Historical Society. Edited by Constance Sullivan.  N.Y.: Knopf, 1995.  Call number E 468.7 .L25 1995)  is available in our collection along with other materials by and about the collector and Freemason, Samuel Crocker Lawrence.  More on Lawrence also is available in the library that bears his name at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

Abraham Lincoln signature from the Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division.