Masonry & the Republic of Texas
To separate the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas from the Republic of Texas is not easily accomplished. Since a large number of the participants were Masons, it is akin to watching plays on two stages with the same actors scurrying back and forth. Independence from Mexico had been won at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, and during the next months the infant republic struggled to establish itself.
As 1837 dawned, the Treasury was almost devoid of funds, plans for the defense of the republic had hardly begun, and the economy was shaky. Yet, it was a society full of hope, a society still predominantly masculine. As historian Archie McDonald put it, "Masonry in such a society could perform many functions, including that of fraternity for lonely men, and it could act as a force for morality for men without other, more ordinary, restraint."
Anson Jones had returned to Houston and re-opened Holland Lodge No. 1. Milan Lodge No. 2 at Nacogdoches and McFarland Lodge No. 3 at San Augustine had formed. In November, 1837, Holland Lodge passed a resolution inviting the lodges at Nacogdoches and San Augustine to meet with Holland Lodge in Houston on the 27th of December for the purpose of forming a Grand Lodge.
The assembly actually was held on December 20 in the Senate Chamber of the capitol building with Sam Houston presiding. Anson Jones moved that the several lodges "consider it a matter of right, and for the general benefit of the Order" to organize themselves "into a Grand Lodge within the Republic, and that they now proceed to organize the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas, and the Masonic Jurisdiction there unto belonging." The motion passed unanimously. Adolphus Sterne of Milan Lodge then moved that all Master Masons present be made members of the Grand Lodge, and, in a second motion, that they proceed to elect Grand Officers. Anson Jones was elected Grand Master. The rules and by-laws of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana were adopted "for present government so far as it is applicable to our situation," and a committee was appointed to draft a Constitution.
At the first communication of the Grand Lodge held in April 1838, the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee was adopted "with such changes in its regulations and phraseology as will adapt it to the local conditions and wants of this Grand Lodge." No reason for switching from the Louisiana Constitution to that of Tennessee was given. Meanwhile, the committee appointed to draft a Constitution continued its work, and on 19 May 1838, the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas adopted its own Constitution.
From three small but all-important lodges sprang what was to become a mighty Grand Lodge, the Masonic heritage of which had followed a clear path. Out of the Ancient Grand Lodge of England came the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania which in turn chartered four of the five lodges that formed the Grand Lodge of Louisiana; and out of that body came the charters for the original three lodges in Texas. Like its forebears, the Constitution of the Texas Grand Lodge stated that its members were Ancient York Rite Masons practicing Masonry as it was agreed to at York, England, in 926 A.D. The words "York Rite Masons" were dropped from the Constitution in 1858, and since that time we have been Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. In 1846, the "Act to Incorporate the Society of Free Masons, composed of Lodges and Chapters" was adopted. Finally, in 1849, came the "Act to Incorporate the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, in and for the State of Texas, under and by the name and style of the Grand Lodge of Texas," and so it has been ever since.© Grand Lodge of Texas A.F.& A.M.