What on earth is AF&AM, F&AM, PHA …

Well, In a nutshell:

Think The Grand Lodge of England, during the second half of the 1700s, experienced a big rift between some members, and the Grand Lodge was split. One group left, and those that stayed with the original Grand Lodge made certain identifying changes in the degree work.

Since this represented a change in the work, it prompted the new Grand Lodge to call themselves the Antients (ancients), since they felt that they preserved the old ways. The older Grand Lodge was termed the Moderns.

This is what gave rise to Free & Accepted Masons (F & AM) and the Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons (AF & AM). As the colonies were established, so were constituent Lodges of both denominations.

The Grand Lodges in England eventually mended the rift, and became the United Grand Lodge of England during the first quarter of the 1800s. The labels of F & AM, and AF & AM really didn't matter anymore then.

So, in essence …

The Moderns (Antients) stemmed from a Grand Lodge which was centered in London. Back in those days, ANYTHING from London was suspect in the eyes of those lying in the outer areas...which was just about anywhere. The attitude was something on the order of "how DARE London tell US what to do or how to do it." So, you had a great many Grand Lodges popping up. But, as with many things, people are of different minds, so many of the GL's simply waned and disappeared. London was able to continue largely because of size and influence over a larger area. A couple of more significant GL's were the GL at York as well as the Antients themselves.

The term "schism" is probably a bad one because it implies that the antients split away from the moderns at one time. The lodges which formed the antients simply disagreed -- sometimes pretty vehemently -- with the policies of the "modern" GLoE.

Some say that "The Antients were of Scottish and Irish "Old Lodge" beginnings, and the Moderns from English."

Not so. This reflects a flawed understanding of the situation. The Antients were ENGLISH in origin. The fact is that on the borders of Scotland, which is were many of the Antient lodges were located, there were a number of Scottish and Irish brothers who visited these lodges. The Scots and Irish made no secret of the fact that they believed the antients were more correct than the moderns (again, part of this "if it's from London, it MUST be wrong" attitude that you found at the time). Thus, they SUPPORTED the antient GL over the modern GL. That does not mean that the antients were started by the Scots or Irish.

Concessions were made on both sides. It depends on which concession you discuss as to whether the antients or moderns took the day. In fact, when it came to merging the lodges and reassigning numbers, the rule was that they would ALTERNATE assignments after the first few. There was a specific agreement as to who would be #1, and so on. In fact, there might have been two #1's or something like that. In Scotland, we have Mother Kilwinning #0, which has to do with the fact that it is the oldest lodge in Scotland, but when they formed the GL it did not come in until later and when they determined the seniority on the basis of date formed, they could not figure out how to move what was lodge #1 to #2 and so on down the list...so they simply invented the #0 designation.

The "modern" ritual form actually is NOT the result of the antients taking control. Indeed, the modern rituals OMIT the traditional penalties of the degrees which are included within some of the US lodges today. There are all sorts of rituals in use, even within the AF&AM lodges, which are more "modern" than would have been approved by the antients. There are more classical (antient) rituals in use by F&AM lodges as well. Remember, the antients claimed to retain a more PURE version of the original ritual.

Do you mean to say that though we in the US still have the three- and four-letter designations, they are not as consequential as they once were due to the reconciliation of the United Grand Lodge of England?

Absolutely true. There is a wonderful dissertation on the origins of AF&AM versus F&AM in the Freemason's Guide and Compendium, but sadly that book is out of print and the only source of it now is from the Lintel trust on CDROM.

Compliments of Brother Rashied K. Sharrieff Al Bey, PM, MPS, New York

PHA stands for Prince Hall Affiliated. Prince Hall Masonry was begun in the late 1700s in the Americas, primarily due to racial exclusion and the consequent inability of African American men to obtain admission to Masonic Lodges. It is designated as Free & Accepted Masonry, and is now recognized in over half of the States of the Union, as well as many international jurisdictions of Masonry.

Many jurisdictions of Masonry in the US which were formerly closed to membership of African Americans have now opened their doors to these men. In addition to this, the full recognition of Prince Hall Masonry by all of the other stateside jurisdictions continues to be a project upon which many Masons, both European-American and African American continue to work. It should be noted that many Masons do not believe that recognition of PHA Masonry would be beneficial to the rest of the Masonic world, and resist such a change, thus, it may never be achieved. Yet, it continues to be the ideal of Masonry that it is a Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of G-d, and so dialogue is viewed as a desirable and transitional goal by most.

Is the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania the oldest Grand Lodge in the United States?

Not only is the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania the oldest Grand Lodge in the United States, but it is also the third oldest Grand Lodge in the world, having been formed as a Provincial Grand Lodge in 1731, Philadelphia. The Grand Lodge of England was the first Grand Lodge formed in 1717; followed by the Grand Lodge of Ireland, 1725; the Provincial Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 1733; and the Grand Lodge of Scotland, 1736. (Source: Masonic Questions & Answers, compiled by the Office of Masonic Education, Grand Lodge of PA, 1999)

Which Presidents of the United States were Freemasons?

To date there have been 14 Presidents who have been Master Masons:
George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, and Gerald R. Ford.
In addition, Lyndon B. Johnson received the Entered Apprentice Degree, but did not advance. (Source: Masonic Questions & Answers, compiled by the Office of Masonic Education, Grand Lodge of PA, 1999)

Which U.S. Presidents were Grand Masters?

Two Presidents of the United States served as Grand Masters to their Masonic Jurisdictions. They were Andrew Jackson of Tennessee and Harry S Truman of Missouri. (Source: Masonic Questions & Answers, compiled by the Office of Masonic Education, Grand Lodge of PA, 1999)

Where has the gavel used by Bro. George Washington in laying the cornerstone of the U.S.. Capitol been used in Pennsylvania?

The gavel used by Bro. George Washington was first used in Pennsylvania during the cornerstone laying of the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia in 1868 and then at the State Capitol in Harrisburg in 1898. In 1986, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania again used the gavel at the Masonic Temple, Philadelphia, during the redepositing of the capstone in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Grand Lodge’s independence from England. Two more times the gavel traveled to Pennsylvania, when in 1992 the cornerstone of the renovated Washington Grist Mill in Perryopolis was laid and in 1997 at the dedication of the restored National Memorial Arch at Valley Forge National Historic Park. (Source: Masonic Questions & Answers, compiled by the Office of Masonic Education, Grand Lodge of PA, 1999)

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