Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 28 November 1734

To the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts8

MS not found; reprinted from Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Abstract of the Proceedings … 1871, pp. 356–7.

Philadelphia, Nov. 28, 17349

Right Worshipful Grand Master and Most Worthy and Dear Brethren,

We acknowledge your favor of the 23d of October past, and rejoice that the Grand Master (whom God bless) hath so happily recovered from his late indisposition: and we now, glass in hand, drink to the establishment of his health, and the prosperity of your whole Lodge.

We have seen in the Boston prints an article of news from London,1 importing that at a Grand Lodge held there in August last, Mr. Price’s2 deputation and power was extended over all America, which advice we hope is true, and we heartily congratulate him thereupon, and though this has not been as yet regularly signified to us by you, yet, giving credit thereto, we think it our duty to lay before your Lodge what we apprehend needful to be done for us, in order to promote and strengthen the interest of Masonry in this Province (which seems to want the sanction of some authority derived from home, to give the proceedings and determinations of our Lodge their due weight) to wit, a Deputation or Charter granted by the Right Worshipful Mr. Price, by virtue of his commission from Britain, confirming the Brethren of Pennsylvania in the privileges they at present enjoy of holding annually their Grand Lodge, choosing their Grand Master, Wardens and other officers, who may manage all affairs relating to the Brethren here with full power and authority, according to the customs and usages of Masons, the said Grand Master of Pennsylvania only yielding his chair, when the Grand Master of all America shall be in place. This, if it seem good and reasonable to you to grant, will not only be extremely agreeable to us, but will also, we are confident, conduce much to the welfare, establishment, and reputation of Masonry in these parts. We therefore submit it for your consideration, and, as we hope our request will be complied with, we desire that it may be done as soon as possible, and also accompanied with a copy of the R. W. Grand Master’s first Deputation, and of the instrument by which it appears to be enlarged as above-mentioned, witnessed by your Wardens, and signed by the Secretary; for which favors this Lodge doubt not of being able to behave as not to be thought ungrateful.3

We are, Right Worshipful Grand Master and Most Worthy Brethren, Your Affectionate Brethren and obliged humble Servants,

Signed at the request of the Lodge,

B. Franklin, G.M.

Addressed: To Mr. Henry Price At the Brazen Head Boston, N.E.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8This and the following letter were apparently written on “one sheet of common letter paper … folded as a letter,” the first on page one, the second on page three, and the address on page four. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Proc., 1871 (Boston, 1872), pp. 358–9.

9BF was elected Junior Grand Warden of the Pennsylvania Grand Lodge, June 24, 1732; Grand Master, June 24, 1734.

1Not found.

2Henry Price (1697–1780), tailor, storekeeper, man of business, came from England to Boston, 1723; about 1730 he returned to England where, April 13, 1733, he was deputed “Provincial Grand Master of New England and Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging”; organized Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, July 30, 1733. His authority was extended, 1734, to cover all British North America. Melvin M. Johnson, The Beginnings of Freemasonry in America (N.Y., 1924), pp. 28–31, 74–103; J. Hugo Tatsch, Freemasonry in the Thirteen Colonies (N.Y., 1929), pp. 20, 22. See David McGregor, “Franklin’s Masonic Letters to Price,” The Master Mason, N.J. edit., II (1926), 955–62, for the Pennsylvania interpretation of Price’s appointment.

3The result of this appeal seems to have been that Price appointed BF Provincial Grand Master for Pennsylvania, Feb. 21, 1735. American Weekly Mercury, March 27, 1735, printed in facsimile in Johnson, The Beginnings of Freemasonry in America, p. 130.

In 1742 one Mr. * * * printed, ostensibly at The Hague, Apologie Pour l’Ordre des Francs-Macons. Avec deux Chansons composées par Le Frère Américain. Anderson Galleries Catalogue 1633 (Feb. 28—March 1, 1922), item 265, asserted that “the American brother” was BF, but no evidence supporting this attribution has been found.

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