During the war with France one hundred French Catholics were arrested in Boston in 1746 “to prevent any danger the town may be in” but the sheriff much to the disgust of their captors refused to hold them. In 1756 the exiled Acadians of whom nearly 2000 had landed in Massachusetts were denied the services of a priest because, as Governor Hutchinson declared, “the people would upon no terms have consented to the public exercise of religious worship by Roman Catholic priests.”The Boston “Town Records” (1772, pp. 95-96) while admitting that toleration in religion was what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced” excluded “Roman Catholicks” because their belief was “subversive of society”.
“With the possible (and doubtful) exception of Samuel Adams,” Rakove writes, “none of these who took leading roles in the struggle actively set out to foment rebellion or found a republic. They became revolutionaries despite themselves.“In his newest book, he argues that the American Revolution may never have happened without the miscalculations of the British governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson. Those miscalculations sparked the Boston Tea Party, which in turn galvanized a disparate collection of colonial leaders.
Americans today think of the War for Independence as a revolution, but in important respects it was also a civil war. American Loyalists, or “Tories” as their opponents called them, opposed the Revolution, and many took up arms against the rebels. Estimates of the number of Loyalists range as high as 500,000, or 20 percent of the white population of the colonies.What motivated the Loyalists? Most educated Americans, whether Loyalist or Revolutionary, accepted John Locke’s theory of natural rights and limited government. Thus, the Loyalists, like the rebels, criticized such British actions as the Stamp Act and the Coercive Acts. Loyalists wanted to pursue peaceful forms of protest because they believed that violence would give rise to mob rule or tyranny. They also believed that independence would mean the loss of economic benefits derived from membership in the British mercantile system.Loyalists came from all walks of life. The majority were small farmers, artisans and shopkeepers. Not surprisingly, most British officials remained loyal to the Crown. Wealthy merchants tended to remain loyal, as did Anglican ministers, especially in Puritan New England. Loyalists also included some blacks (to whom the British promised freedom), Indians, indentured servants and some German immigrants, who supported the Crown mainly because George III was of German origin.The number of Loyalists in each colony varied. Recent estimates suggest that half the population of New York was Loyalist; it had an aristocratic culture and was occupied throughout the Revolution by the British. In the Carolinas, back-country farmers were Loyalist, whereas the Tidewater planters tended to support the Revolution.… About 100,000 Loyalists left the country, including William Franklin, the son of Benjamin, and John Singleton Copley, the greatest American painter of the period. Most settled in Canada. Some eventually returned, although several state governments excluded the Loyalists from holding public office. In the decades after the Revolution, Americans preferred to forget about the Loyalists. Apart from Copley, the Loyalists became nonpersons in American history.
With the Revolution, however, came the dawn of a better era, the upsetting of religious as well as political barriers, and the beginning of the slow but sure growth of the Church which has resulted in the wonderful change of the present. A favorite New England diversion was an annual procession, on 5 November, of the Pope and the Devil in celebration of the famous “Gunpowder Plot”.In Boston it was usually attended by riot and violence. In 1775 [George] Washington, while at Boston, issued an order in which he could not “help expressing his surprise that there should be officers and soldiers in this army so void of Common sense” as to thus insult the religious feelings of the Canadians with whom friendship and an alliance was then being sought.
On the 24th of June, 1772, the festival of St. John the Baptist, was celebrated by the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, by a public procession, formed at Concert Hall, the brethren marching in full regalia to Christ Church in Salem street, where “a very suitable and pertinent discourse was preached by the Rev. Samuel Fayerweather, of Narragansett”; after which they returned to Masons’ Hall, and “dined together in the Garden, under a long Tent erected for that purpose; and the remainder of the day was dedicated to mirth and social festivity.”Public Masonic Processions were at this time of rare occurrence. One of the earliest of which we have any record, took place on St. John’s Day, Dec. 27, 1749, and was the occasion of unusual curiosity and interest in the community.… that the principal leaders of the Revolution in Boston, were members of the Masonic Fraternity, and many of them of the Lodge which held its communications there, – a circumstance which would very naturally influence them in the selection of the place for their private consultations. It is not however, to be inferred from this, that they either met as Masons or used Masonry as a cover to their purposes; for others than Masons were associated with them.
The Saint’s Johns appear to Freemasons in several places in our catechisms. Their proximity and use in our rituals have been questioned for many years as to their use and placement. Looked at together, saint John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist serve to represent the balance in Masonry between zeal for the fraternity and learned equilibrium. The Saints John, stand in perfect parallel harmony representing that balance.From a historical approach, The Saint John’s festival is said to be a widely celebrated Masonic holiday. Traditionally June 24th (or the summer Solstice) is taken to be John the Baptist’s day, which is celebrated in many cultures around the world. According to McCoy’s Masonic Dictionary, the Festival of St. John in summer is a duty of every Mason to participate in, and should serve to be a renewal and strengthening of fraternal ties and a celebration of Masonry from “olden-times”. It functions as a connection between the past and the future.The festival, to non-Masons, has been called the “Setting of the Watch”, where ceremonial bonfires were lit after sunset. Tradition says that men, women, and children would jump through the fires for luck. Across Europe, this holiday is celebrated in many ways. With oak wreath crowns, wild flowers and birch branches. Families would feast and celebrate in union. The meanings of these ancient traditions are lost today on our society, but the link was made at some point to John the Baptist. The On-line Catholic Encyclopedia points to the birth of John the Baptist as 6 months before Christ, placing him on the summer solstice. It is thought that these festivals have been linked in character and content with the birth of John the Baptist.From the Masonic perspective we are given the balanced dualism of John the Baptist on one side and John the Evangelist on the other. Represented together this way represent the balance of passionate zeal with and learned knowledge of faith forming a space to reflect on to and channel our passion as well as our education/knowledge. Individually strong, together they stand as a harnessed focus of zeal and knowledge. This counterpoint is not just necessary to Freemasonry but can be applied to all areas of life. Taken as an abstract compilation of symbols, together they represent a well-balanced path towards enlightenment.
(UPDATE JAN. 08, 2014: these two Freemason holidays, one at the Summer Solstice and one at the Winter Solstice, are eerily reminiscent of the “Weeping over Tammuz” and the “Rejoicing over Tammuz” described in one of my other blogs here on BIN: Baby Tammuz in the Manger. Note the links to ancient Babylonian rituals — and more importantly — its link to the adulterated version of an ancient topological metaphor. You will see a hint of its use as the basis to justify never-ending National Debt in that blog.)
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