Notes from "The Northern Light": March-April 2010

Daniel D. Tompkins

Governor, Vice President, Grand Commander

Last year, the New York City Chapter of U.S. Daughters of 1812, resolved to rededicate the burial place of Daniel D. Tompkins. Tompkins, a governor of New York and vice president of the United States, and a crucial financier of the American war effort against Britain in 1812. Tompkins also was Grand Master of New York and the first Sovereign Grand Commander of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, a post he held until his death in 1825.

When the Brethren of New York learned of the U.S. Daughters’ project, they asked to be included in this celebration of Tompkins’ life, and the two parties worked together.

The U.S. Daughters replaced a damaged bronze grave marker that its chapter had installed in the 1930s, and the Masons of New York dedicated a bronze plaque that repeats the nearly faded inscription on the marble slab over Tompkins’ grave. In his remarks on behalf of Scottish Rite Masonry, Grand Commander McNaughton praised his historic predecessor, who gave so much to his country that he suffered both physical and financial ruin by the time he died at age 51.

Prince Hall Monument

Cambridge, MA, was the site of a Masonic recognition in September by a group formed to educate the public about an early Mason and civil rights leader. Tribute was paid to Bro. Prince Hall through the dedication of a memorial to this man who began life as an indentured servant, was given his freedom a few months before the Boston Massacre, and went on to become an ardent abolitionist. Hall also established African Lodge No. 1 in 1776, the first Masonic lodge for blacks in America.

The Friends of Prince Hall Memorial Fund Committee held the dedication ceremony on Cambridge Common, not far from the spot where General and Bro. George Washington took command of the Continental Army. According to The Boston Globe the artist who created the memorial, Ted Clausen, did not know of Hall when he began work on the project. The more he learned, the more he asked himself, “Why don’t I know more about him?”

The monument features excerpts from speeches Prince Hall delivered to the Massachusetts legislature.

Canton Bound

We received word from the Masonic Service Association that Ralph C. Wilson Jr., a 33° Mason from Detroit, has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Bro. Wilson was born in Columbus, Ohio, and grew up in Detroit. A member of Kilwinning Lodge No. 297, in Detroit, he has been a Mason for 60 years. In 1948, he received the 33° in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.

Bro. Wilson is a founding member of the American Football League and owner of the Buffalo Bills. He also served as league president. The league later became part of the NFL. A hearty congratulations goes to Bro. Ralph Wilson.

National Heritage Museum Hosts Symposium

The National Heritage Museum is hosting a symposium called “New Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism” at its location on the grounds of Supreme Council headquarters in Lexington, Mass.

It intends, according to museum staffers, to seek to highlight the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through to the present. As the 20th century began, more than 250 fraternal groups existed in America, boasting more than six million members.

The registration fee is $50 and the deadline is March 24. Contact Claudia Roche at [email protected], for more information.