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Lewis, John L.

M.-. W. . Bro. John L. Lewis was born at Dresden, Yates County, New York, July 17, 1813--a year notable in American history for marking the climax of the British-American War of 1812, and in Masonic history for the Union of the Modern and Ancient Grand Lodges of England of which the beneficent effects were felt here scarcely less than in Britain. He died at Penn Yan, seventyfive years afterwards, June 12, 1888; and at the head of his grave stands a monolith of Barre granite, thirty-three feet high, erected conjointly by the Grand Lodge, Grand Chapter, and Grand Commandery of New York, and the Supreme Council, A.&.A.S.R., Northern Jurisdiction. Translated into the prose of history the meaning of this shaft is that Bro. Lewis was one of the most eminent Masonic statesmen in the history of Masonry in America--or in any other land. Were the Fraternity in the United States to perpetuate its own great names in literature, drama, and art instead of letting them lie unknown in official archives, Lev; is would be as familiar to American Masons as Preston or as Dermott is to British.

He was made a Mason in Milo Lodge, No. 108, at Penn Yan, May 1, 1846. In 1850 he was appointed Grand Junior Deacon; while in that office he was made a member of the Union Committee and took the lead in bringing about a union of the regular Grand Lodge of New York with the schismatic St. John's Grand Lodge. Partly as a result of Anti-Masonry, partly as a result of Cerneauism, and partly as a result of a jealousy between "down-state" and "upstate," View York between 1823 and 1858 had at one time or another no fewer than six rival Grand Lodges. The five schisms which occurred during the twenty-five years were so intertwined with Scottish Rite schisms, and through them with other Bodies, that the disentangling of differences and the unification of the Craft in the five Rites was so slow and so laborious that Masonic leaders were compelled for years to give almost the whole of their attention to the problem. Among those leaders Lewis WAS the statesman par ezcellezlce, De Witt Clinton the politician par excellence.

By 1863 two of the rival Supreme Councils, one headed by Cerneau followers and the other by the Raymond followers, united. In 1867 Lewis became Grand Commander of this Body. In that position he possessed by inheritance the authorities possessed by the former leaders of various Bodies, Cerneau, Clinton, Atwood, Raymond, Hays, and Robinson. These he surrendered to the Supreme Council, Northern Jurisdiction, with its seat at Boston, on May 17, 1867, and was received into that Body by Sovereign Grand Commander Josiah H. Drummond. He thus effected a Scottish Rite Union for the Northern States in a manner strikingly similar to the method of uniting the modern and Antient Grand Lodge of England by the two brothers, the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Kent. (The documents covering this union are given in The Anctent Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry by William Homan; 1905.)

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