Founding the Provincial Grand Lodge
Its first two Provincial Grand Masters were Albert Pike and Josiah Drummond. At the Annual Meeting of the Grand Lodge, John Whyte-Melville, Deputy Grand Master of the Royal Order of Scotland moved and “… it was unanimously agreed that it was desirable the Royal Order of Scotland should be established in the United States of America … A charter was issued on the 4th of October 1877 … The first meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge was held on the 4th of May 1878.”1
Over the years, it has been difficult to understand why the Grand Lodge granted a charter for the whole of the United States. The question was asked of Josiah Drummond some twenty years after the fact. He stated “… only by having one Provincial Grand Lodge for the United States could the Order remain in any way selective …”2
Albert Pike explained what he believed to be the role of the Provincial Grand Lodge stating in pertinent part:
The Provincial Grand Lodge has been established with a limited membership, to make impossible the cheapening of our degrees, and that the admission to it might be, as in England and Scotland a high honour. We do not propose to create Chapters, for we neither desire to levy taxes, nor to govern subordinates, nor to add to the legislation or jurisprudence of Masonry.
We have desired to create an association of worthy Masons and gentlemen, of all of the States and Territories, to assemble annually, not for dry discussions or for display, but for social intercourse and festive enjoyment, to the end that each may become richer at every meeting, by the acquisition of new friendships, and the strengthened ties of old ones; wiser, by learning to set a higher estimate on human nature; truer and nobler by self-correction, and the communion of wise and proud men.3
And now you understand the founding of the Provincial Grand Lodge and what makes it worthy of Freemasons’ attention.
Sir James E. Winzenreid
Provincial Grand Master
2 IBID p. 37.
3 Royal Order of Scotland, Report and Historical Survey (Edinburgh: Published by the Grand Secretary, 1960).