The covenant of Masonry is brotherly love and truth. A covenant is a solemn agreement by which the parties thereof are mutually bound by the terms of the undertaking. Mutuality is the very essence of the compact. The idea of selfish advantage incident to the agreement many be to each covenanter different in kind and in quantity, but it is based upon the principle that he who gives is to receive and he receives is in turn to give. In keeping this Masonic covenant, the giving and receiving is not between strangers, who give that they may receive but between men who find joy in giving, and who received with added joy, knowing that joy of him who gives.
What under this covenant is given and received? Brotherly Love that cement of life which binds men in their joys and in their sorrows in successes and failures; that Godly attribute of man which distinguishes him from all other living creatures; that quality in man which enthrones him in the most coveted of all places, in the hearts of his fellow men. – Savannah Tribune, 1918
This Covenant has led us to have Mutual Recognition in the State of Georgia. While both Grand Lodge still maintain their Sovereignty, they have agreed to share the territory in which both Grand Lodges reside. The process to establish mutual recognition hasn’t been an easy one but in the end brotherly love has prevailed and that cement has bonded us into a stronger sacred band.
History of the Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM
A band of English colonists under the leadership of General James Edward Oglethorpe, British soldier, statesman and humanitarian, arrived on the west bank of the Savannah River on February 12, 1733. This was the birth of the English Province of Georgia, the last of the Thirteen Colonies. Georgia was the southwestern frontier of British America for many years.
In the same year, December 13, 1733, the Grand Lodge of England at its Quarterly Communication in London adopted a resolution to “collect the Charity of this Society towards enabling the Trustees (of Georgia) to send distressed Brethren to Georgia where they may be comfortably provided for…that it be strenuously (sic) recommended by the Masters and Wardens of regular Lodges to make a generous collection amongst all their Members for that purpose…”
Some three months later, February 21, 1734, a Lodge of Freemasons was organized at Savannah under the “old Customs” (without warrant). Noble Jones, intimate friend of James Oglethorpe, was initiated on that date, the first Freemason made in Georgia. On December 2, 1735, the Lodge was warranted by the Grand Lodge of England and entered on the engraved list as “The Lodge at Savannah in Ye Province of Georgia”. It was assigned number 139 on the register of English Lodges. By 1770 its number had been reduced to No. 63 and by 1792 it was No. 46, although no longer an English Lodge.
The Lodge at Savannah changed its name in or prior to 1770 to Solomon’s Lodge. In 1774 and 1775, respectively, the Grand Lodge of England warranted two more Lodges in Savannah, Unity No. 465 and Grenadiers No. 481. Both Lodges died an early death.
Except for that brief period, Solomon’s Lodge was the only Lodge in Georgia from 1734 until 1785. Solomon’s Lodge was the second duly constituted Lodge in America, next only to a Lodge in Boston warranted in 1733. Solomon’s Lodge is the Mother Lodge of Georgia.
Serving as Provincial Grand Masters in Georgia were: Grey Elliott, 1760 until he was succeeded in 1771 by Noble Jones. Brother Jones served until his death in 1775. Sometime during the War for Independence, Samuel Elbert, American soldier and later Governor of Georgia, was “elected” Provincial Grand Master. On December 15, 1786, Brother Elbert resigned as Provincial Grand Master so that the independent Grand Lodge of Georgia might be formed.
A group of dissident Freemasons in Savannah, disapproving the workings of Solomon’s Lodge, petitioned the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1784 for a charter to organize a Lodge. Their petition was granted by Pennsylvania on March 31, 1785, the Lodge being listed on Pennsylvania’s register as no. 42, to be known as Hiram Lodge, Savannah, Georgia.
In the true spirit of Freemasonry the differences between the two Lodges were soon reconciled. In the following year it is known that two additional Lodges existed in the state, one at Augusta and one at Washington. It is believed these four Lodges, on December 16, 1786, met together and created the most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Georgia. William Stephens, Past Master of Solomon’s Lodge, now No. 1, and the first U.S. Court Judge in Georgia, was elected and installed Grand Master.
The next eight Lodges in Georgia were: Columbia No. 3, Augusta; St. Louis No. 4, Washington; Washington No. 5, Washington; St. John’s No. 6, Sunbury; Little River No. 7, Little River; St. Patrick’s No. 8, Waynesboro; St. George’s No. 9, Kiokas; Union No. 10, Savannah.
With the exception of Solomon’s No. 1, all of the above Lodges are extinct. Social Lodge, originally No. 18, Augusta, Georgia, now also No. 1, was chartered in December, 1799. Georgia has 402 Lodges and 32,773 members.
Freemasonry has existed continuously in Georgia since 1734. The Grand Lodge of Georgia, F. & A. M., has existed since 1786.
The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the of Georgia was incorporated with perpetual duration on February 6, 1796, by an Act of the General Assembly of Georgia passed for that purpose, and has been delivered down to the present day.
History of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia F&AM
At the close of the Civil War in 1865, Masonic Lodges began to appear in the Southern States. Rev. James M. Simms, a Baptist minister and a free man from Savannah, Georgia, had moved to Boston, Massachusetts where he was made a Mason. As soon as the Civil War ended, Rev. James Merilous Simms, clothed with Masonic authority as a District Deputy Grand Master, returned to Savannah to live and establish Eureka Lodge, No. 11, F. & A. M. on February 4, 1866. In December 1866, Hilton Lodge No 13, F. & A. M. was established with both Lodges receiving warrants from the Prince Hall Lodge of Massachusetts. On December 3, 1866, Banneker Lodge No. 38, F. & A. M., was established at Augusta, Ga., by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Rev. J. M. Simms called these three Masonic Lodges to meet in Savannah, where on June 24, 1870, he organized the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Georgia, Free and Accepted Masons. Rev. James M. Simms was elected to serve as its first Grand Master.
On June 23, 1874 a rival Grand Lodge was established in the city of Savannah called the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Georgia, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. The lodges that formed it were Excelsior Lodge #16 (chartered by the Most Worshipful United Grand Lodge of New York), Mount Moriah Lodge #56 (chartered by the Most Worshipful Hiram Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania) and St. Augustine’s Lodge #16 (chartered by the Most Worshipful Hiram Grand Lodge of Delaware). Dr. Joseph Robert Love was elected as its first Grand Master.
These two Grand Lodges merged on June 26th, 1888 in Savannah after many years of turmoil to form the Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge of Georgia Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. They elected William Edward Terry of Columbus, GA as its Grand Master.
The Grand Lodge went on to charter more than 500 lodges with more than 20,000 members. The Great Depression caused a number of the lodges to merge and the numbers were greatly reduced, but today the jurisdiction is in a very healthy condition and growing again in a fine spirit of Peace and Harmony. The Grand Lodge was incorporated July 11, 1890, as the “Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons for the State of Georgia”. The corporate charter was amended July 19, 1950, changing the name tot Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, Jurisdiction of Georgia.