Mrs. M. E. DeGeer Defends Freemasonry 1869

In a Debate with Charles Blanchard, then student and son of the
President Jonathan Blanchard of Wheaton College
later president of Wheaton succeeding his father


Publisher Preface/Introduction

Degeer’s Debate with Blanchard

Degeer’s 15 Minute Rejoinder


for more and the book—
Character Counts:  Freemasonry U.S.A.’s National Treasure and

Source of Our Founding Fathers’ Original Intent

By Michael Glenn Maness

Introduction.  The following comes from: 

Alphonse Cerza, Anti-Masonry:  Light on the Past and Present Opponents of Freemasonry (Fulton, MO:  Ovid Bell Press, 1962;  410p.), appendix J, 335-356. In the following, the page numbers reference the page above the number.  Some of the jewels are placed in maroon.

DeGeer speaks for herself here, mightily, and indicates an understanding of Freemasonry superior to Blanchard, but also exhibits a finesse the likes of which has no match in any anti-Mason literature.  Here is not only a good of Freemasonry defense by a woman non-Mason, but also a beautiful piece of fine literature.  How much more fun must it have been to hear in 1869.

This might also be the best defense for Freemasonry by a non-Mason in the literature.

This also includes an introduction by the 1869 publisher, J.  C.  W.  Bailey, which sets the tone nicely.  We could also include the grand predecessor of most, Jonathan Blanchard (1811-1892), the first president of Wheaton College.  He is in the academic category because he was president of two schools coming from the presidency of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, to the newly and Wesleyan established Wheaton College in 1854.  He is the only Christian college president to publish a significant anti-Mason book.  Though it can be rightly said that Blanchard is not a true academic, as his only significant publications were on anti-Masonry and anti-slavery—truly ironic, as he missed the force for liberty and equality so pregnant in all of Freemasonry.  His anti-Mason Freemasonry Illustrated (1879;  640p.) was substantial, reprinted several times, and became the footprint for most—though few reference him today.[1] In 1884, Jonathan Blanchard became a candidate for president of the United States for the American Party, but withdrew at the last minute and nominated Samuel C.  Pomeroy.  Blanchard was a firebrand, and his son Charles became the second president of Wheaton, though neither of them had a doctorate, and not surprisingly Charles was an anti-Mason too. 

When Blanchard’s son Charles Blanchard (1848-1925), debated Mrs.  M.  E.  DeGeer in 1869, it is clear that Mrs.  DeGeer had a better handle on Freemasonry than young Blanchard.  Charles Blanchard would graduate from Wheaton in the class of 1870, publish his own book, Modern Secret Societies (1903;  310p.), and became the 2nd president of Wheaton in 1882.[2]




In the Congregational Church of that Place, on the 10th of December,
1869, in a debate between her and Mr. Blanchard, Jr., he having
challenged her to do so, which she accepted, and which
vindication of Masonry was enthusiastically
endorsed by the audience and Society
present on that occasion.





The following pages contain one of the most spirited and conclu­sive defences of Freemasonry that has yet been presented, and is undoubtedly every way worthy of endorsement by the Fraternity, and certainly deserves a place in every Mason’s library.

The authoress, MRs.  M.  E.  DEGEER, is one of the most talented women it has been our pleasure to listen to as a Temperance Lecturer, and we know that her ability to speak is very rarely, if ever, excelled by any lady, as she possesses an unbounded flow of language, is chaste and elegant in diction, and her enunciation is very distinct and excellent.

By a biographical sketch we learn she is a Christian lady, a widow, thirty-six years of age, with four children to provide for and educate.  Of rather too delicate a constitution to earn a living by the usual avocations of women, and being gifted with a rare poetic genius and oratory, blended with a clear, rich voice, amply fitting her for the rostrum, she has given her time and talents for the last six years to lecturing on different moral and literary subjects, but chiefly on Temperance, of which she is one of the ablest advocates;  also on adoptive Masonry, of the Eastern Star degrees, in which she is very bright, and as a member of that order is well qualified to confer those degrees any where.

Bro.  S.  T.  Montgomery, of Kokomo, Indiana, editor of the “Western Independent,” and the present G.  W.  C.  T.  of the I.  O.  G.  T., in a short sketch of her life, written by him in 1868, says:  “When but a school girl she distinguished herself for her poetic talents, benevo­lent disposition and natural independence.  At the age of eighteen she published a book of poetry, which stood the criticism of the age and met with a ready sale.  As a lecturer Mrs.  DeGeer has few, if any, superiors, and her social disposition, frankness of manner, and easy address, combined with womanly dignity, endear her to all who know her.  She is at present employed by the Grand Body of this State, is doing a noble work, and will report, we believe, in October next, a greater number of Lodges organized than the other three lecturers in the field.  She is a prize to any society who may be fortunate enough to win her services.”

The first of the present year [1869] she engaged with the Grand Division of the State, and in May last entered into arrangements with the Secretary of the Associated Western Literary Societies, as one of their lecturers for the present season.  But alas for the ‘widow!’ On the 16th of September last, when trying to escape with one of the ladies out of the ladies’ car, which was locked, when the engine ran off the track at Beloit, she was thrown over the back of one of the seats, receiving such injury in the spine and pleura of the right lung as prevents her from steady labor this winter.

“So,” said she, when she brought me this noble “Defence of Masonry,” “being very weak in the right lung, through the injury I received in the pleura, I felt at first reluctant to accept the invitation Mr. Hatch and Mr. P.  Goodrich, of the Lisle Literary Society, extended to me, knowing, too, that Masonry is full of peace, instead of strife, and that Mr. Blanchard might as well blow with his breath against the north wind as speak against an association that


recommends itself to God and man for its virtues and charities.

“‘But,’ they argued, ‘we have heard Mr. Blanchard’s objections to Masonry.  We have heard all the alleged evils of Masonry.  Now we should like to hear you with him.’

“‘Well,’ I replied, ‘they have in their cynosure belied and mis­represented our Temperance organizations, and Odd-Fellows as well as Masons.  I will meet him and debate with him on the merits of Freemasonry, Odd-Fellowship, Good Templarism and the Sons of Temperance, as I am an adopted Mason myself, a Rebecca, a Good Templar and a Daughter of Temperance.’

“They saw Mr. Blanchard, who appointed Friday evening, the 10th of December, for the combat, arranging that he should open the debate (against Masonry alone), speaking one hour, and I reply to him the same time;  then he should have fifteen minutes to blow my defence to pieces, and I fifteen more to reply to him.

“Masonry was always very dear to me, because of its blessed teach­ings and the protective shield it had ever been to me and thousands more, and it seemed dearer then than ever, so I accepted the offer.

“The 10th turned out a disagreeable day, and the night very rainy and stormy;  but Mr. Blanchard, Jr., came from Wheaton, seven miles, to meet me, and I came on the Burlington and Quincy Rail-road nearly one hundred miles to meet him.

“He objected to Masonry because it was a secret society, for they tyled the door and closed the blinds.  Because it was an oath-bound society (repeating Finney’s penalties).  Because it was an exclusive society, keeping out the women (as the churches do out of their pulpit, and the Americans do out of their politics).  Because it was a political society (which it is not).  Because it was a murderous society (killing Morgan!) and a Christless society.

“I disputed his misrepresentation, and in that Congregational Church, whose walls previously, and more than once, resounded with assaults against Masonry, I was loudly cheered, and afterwards heard them every where say that ‘Mr. Blanchard is not so smart when he has an opponent.  We heard only his story;  now we have heard both, and Masonry must be pretty good, after all!’ “

Upon reading her manuscript I was convinced that it was too good to be lost, and therefore readily agreed to print and publish it, believing that every true and intelligent Mason would gladly invest twenty-five cents for so admirable a defence of an institution of which he is a member, and which will arm him with arguments in


its favor against opponents, which otherwise might not have oc­curred to him in debate.  I hope, therefore, that as the profits, if any, will go toward aiding a deserving lady, it will meet with a ready sale amongst the Brethren.


164 Clark Street (up stairs), Chicago, Ill.



AWAY on the summit of the Rocky Mountains the falling rain-drop may be blown either east or west by the slightest breeze.  At the opportune moment a breath of air sends it a few inches toward the setting sun, and it falls just over the crest on that side, blends with kindred drops, rushing on to the valley of the Columbia, is merged in the waters of that majestic river, and hastens on to find a home in the bosom of the peaceful Pacific;  or, if it be wafted ever so little this way, its course of destiny is changed, and ultimately, through the Gulf, it becomes part of the stormy Atlantic.

Our thoughts, like falling drops, may, ere they crystalize into action or character, be changed in their course, and so lead to dif­ferent conclusions or a different destiny.

If we can by honest discussion change a way-worn thought to a manly purpose, encourage the halting mind to correct views, remove prejudice, enkindle chaste desires and strengthen a noble purpose, our effort in this discussion shall not be in vain.  Feeble our effort may be, as the breeze that kisses the mountain summit;  yet it may be the morning breath that shall help on its mission of mercy, virtue and usefulness some waiting pilgrim.

Freemasonry is the theme of this evening’s discussion;  but before we answer the objections of our opponent we will state what Freemasonry is:  a theme that blends the past with the present;  that lays before us its historic and traditionary charts, that we may trace the landmarks of the Craft in ancient times, and note the pilgrimage of the brotherhood through the ages—a theme that perchance will awaken prejudice and opposition in many minds—a theme that leads us to study facts and symbols, and opens to us broad pages of divine precept and truth to learn and practice.

What is Freemasonry?  It were easy to answer this, if only forms and words were to be stated;  but while Masonry has its forms, it has also its inner life.  It has a body, but it has also a soul.  An enemy like my predecessor may dissect that body, but he cannot define the true Masonic life and spirit—even the friends of Masonry, much


less its enemies, cannot do this.  A child may admire a blushing rose, and delight itself with the fragrance thereof, but a skillful chemist can alone analyze its essence.

Mr. Blanchard, of the Anties, tells us that Masonry is a secret association, banded together for self-aggrandizement.  The diction­ary says Masonry is an association for social enjoyment and mutual aid.  “How meagre is this!” if this were all, Masonry had long since sunk to the dead level of a relief association.  If it aimed no higher than conviviality, then long since it had found a grave, but not a monument!

But Freemasonry is a school where knowledge is sought and light is found, for geometry, astronomy and history are among its branches.

A knowledge of the ancient Hebrew better enables the Craft to appreciate and transmit the pronunciation and meaning of the sacred names and attributes of the deity, and thus Masonry has aided revelation in preserving and disseminating the true God.  In ancient times they had their idols, and every heathen country and tribe today has its own god;  but the Freemason’s god is, and always has been, the Maker of Heaven and Earth—the Supreme Architect of the Universe.

Masonry is the founder of all art, science and learning.  In all countries and in all ages where science and art flourished, there Ma­sonry flourished too, for they go hand in hand.  Architecture, that beautiful science, that reached such perfection under the Grecian and Roman powers—which gives to chastened thought beauty and poetry to tangible forms, owes its origin to Masonry, reflects grace and honor on the Craft, and furnishes them with beautiful and expressive symbols.

But Masonry is more than this:  it is a great, glorious, loving brotherhood, where clime, nationality and earthly fortune are subordinate to the recognition of the great primary law of God, that man is my brother—not because he wears the monarch’s crown or bears the victor’s sword, is the favored child of wealth, or because genius claims and stamps him as her own, but because he is a man—a man with the rich endowments of reason, will, memory, con-science, affection, hope, sympathy and immortality!

It is a brotherhood where Faith, Hope and Charity are cardinal virtues and indissoluble bonds—Faith in God, Hope in a blessed immortality, and Charity to all mankind.

Freemasonry is a temple, whose foundations are co-extensive with


the race, whose walls have been rearing from age to age, whose grand proportions, final completion and beautiful ornaments are symbolized by God’s ancient temple, built and dedicated by King Solomon.

Every subordinate or Grand Lodge is a temple modeled after the universe, and suggestive of building up that inner spiritual temple—the good man’s heart;  and this again prefigures that higher temple above, where God presides.

“Masonry a temple!” you say;  for my opponent tells you it teaches nothing good.  Yes.  Enter the lodge room.  See that open book of the law.  See the gate opening toward the east, to welcome the morning light.  If not a temple, why the voice of prayer and the song of praise?  Why the symbols and recognized presence of Jehovah?  Why the All-seeing eye, the ladder of ascension, the spotless Lamb for sacrifice, the bow of beauty and of promise, the pillars of strength, the ark of the covenant, with its mystic signs and sacred depository?  And then the Lectures of Masonry teach us “that the universe is the temple of the deity whom we serve.  Wisdom;  strength and beauty are about His throne, as the pillars of His work, for His wisdom is infinite, His strength is omnipotent, and beauty shines forth through all creation in symmetry and order.  He hath stretched forth the heavens as a canopy, and the earth He planted as a footstool;  the canopy of His temple He covered with stars as a diadem;  the sun and moon are messengers of His will, and all His law is concord.”

Behold Masonry then a school—a brotherhood—a temple—an institution—with signs, symbols, ornaments, furniture and jewels, each pointing a moral, illustrating a truth, or enforcing a duty in such a way as to rouse the natural feeling to the deity, induce solem­nity of character, devotion of purpose, and veneration of holiness.

It is not the badge, the sign or the word that makes a Mason.  The true Mason is one in his heart, and no expulsion, torture or martyrdom can wring from his heart the secrets of his Craft.

It is amusing to the fraternity to witness the confidence and fancied knowledge of those like my opponent, whose only guides are the imperfect and untrue pretended expositions of Masonry.

The book-Mason speaks fluently of things he knows not of, and the unskilled for a time may say, “It is the voice of an angel;  he speaketh marvelously!” but when a Master in Israel hears the sound thereof, he knows straightway that, as in the days of Baalem, “it is only the dumb ass speaking with a man’s voice!”


The next question is—What is the origin of Masonry, as to circumstance and date?

Those who have given careful attention to the subject date the beginning of Masonry from the fall of man.  We all know that different systems of religious mysteries have always existed.  Every one of these contain rites and ceremonies, emblems and symbols, bearing a powerful resemblance to those at present used among Freemasons.  There must have been some great primitive system, or it would be impossible for the same events to be performed by the same cere­monies and symbols, and the same secret system of communication would not exist in lands so widely separated during periods of the world when intercourse between the inhabitants was impossible.

In Egypt, the nearest country to the place of separation after the flood, and the first inhabited under a regular government, where the arts and sciences made great progress, are found traces of Free-masonry, where operative and speculative Masonry were combined.

Masonry was undoubtedly composed first of operative Masonry.  Masons and architects, who found their talent in request, sought, by keeping secret their discoveries, to gain for themselves that honor which their talents deserved.  They concealed their speculative knowledge by language of hieroglyphics and symbols, and allowed none to participate in their mysteries without taking upon them-selves solemn and impressive vows of fidelity to one another and their course of secrets.  They were also instructed as to the creation of the world, the duty of religion and the nature of the soul.  This system opened up widely, until in every land Freemasonry was established.  Candidates for initiation into this brotherhood, where arts, learning and religion were equally taught, were required to be of a certain age and of good repute;  were bound by solemn obliga­tions to keep secret that which was committed to them;  were taught to subdue their passions, act upon the square of virtue, keep a tongue of good report, and practice charity.  Can any of you, gentle-men, see any thing wrong in this?

Masonry flourished among the Hebrews.  The beautiful and instructive circumstance connected with Jacob’s fight into Mesopotamia, the open vision of the ladder reaching from earth to heaven, is particularly commemorated by Masons;  they are taught to consider it a symbol of Divine Providence, which superintends all the works of creation, and dispenses grace, mercy and justice with unerring accuracy among men.  The foot of the ladder upon earth de‑


notes the stability of Providence;  the top reaches to the heavens, showing that the designs of Omnipotence are without limit.  The angels moving up and down are ministers of Providence:  those going up make communication and receive commands;  those coming down are charged with commissions to cheer the hearts of all good men.  Do you call this good or bad teaching?

The theological Masonic virtues—Faith, Hope and Charity—occupy prominent stations upon the ladder, to intimate that they keep the keys of the gate of heaven.  Faith, with one foot upon the Holy Bible, stands at the base;  without her assistance the first round cannot be made.  Hope stands at the centre, and without her assist­ance that point cannot be passed.  Charity presides at the summit, and although a Mason may have struck hands with Faith and Hope, yet if he have not the more benignant and efficacious virtue of Char­ity, he can never enter the everlasting lodge above!

How beautiful, instructive and religious is all this!  Yet Mr. Blanchard has told you that the only sensible thing Masonry ever taught was the simple truth, which every body knows, that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west;  and then he gave you a false exposition of its teachings, telling you that the letter G, worn by Masons, alluded to eternity;  but, instead of eternity, it is always to remind the Mason of Giving Glory to God.

[Here Mr. Blanchard sprang to his feet, caught up one of the expositions of Masonry, and explained, “That is what this book says about it!  I’ll show it to you!” when the speaker replied, amid cheers, “I dare say, Mr. Blanchard, your book says so;  but your book, like all other expositions, teaches falsely.”]

But we pass on till Solomon ascended the throne of Israel.  This period by some has been called the “high noon” of Masonry.  Solomon sent messengers to Hiram of Tyre, requesting his assistance in the work of erecting a temple to the Lord his God.  Hiram, joyfully giving thanks, answered Solomon kindly, and promised to do all that he requested;  and in compliance with the request of Solomon, that he would send him “a man cunning to work in gold and in silver, and in brass and iron, and in purple and in crimson and in blue, and that care and skill to grave with the cunning men in Israel and Jerusalem,” sent his friend and brother, Hiram Abiff, that model of a man, whom all Masons love, an architect superior in the power of his genius and the beauty of his designs.  Solomon gladly received him, and he was elected Deputy Grand Master.

The working system of speculative and operative Masonry com-


bined, insuring regularity and order, was then established by Solomon, King of Israel, Hyram, King of Tyre, and Hyram Abiff.  Lodges formed of the degrees of E.A., F.C., & M.M. were then established, each class had its own signs and words entrusted to them, and with such order, skill and brotherly love the temple arose in majestic silence.  And when completed, suppliant nations waited at its gates, and prophet bards awoke the full lyre and found the tide of song among its glittering courts.  Nothing ever equalled the splendor of its consecration.  Israel sent forth her thousands of the assembled people and beheld, in awful adoration, the vast sacrifice of Solomon accepted.

The flame descended upon the altar and consumed the offering.  The shadow and the glory of the Eternal proclaimed his presence between the cherubims, and the voice of his thunders told to the faithful that their work was accomplished, their labor approved.

                            Bright was the hour,

When Israel’s princes in their pride and power

Knelt in the Temple’s court;  the living flame,

The accepted sacrifice to all proclaim—

Brightly the splendors of the Godhood shone

In awful glory from his burning throne. 

Then bowed was every head, no human sight

Could brave the splendors of that flood of light

That veiled his presence;  and the awful form

Whose path the whirlwind is, whose breath the storm.”

After the dedication of the temple we do not read of Masonry making much progress till five hundred years after, when the Jewish Grand Master, Zerubbabel, rebuilt the temple under Cyrus, King of Persia.  But Masonry flourished during the time of our Lord, and, during the persecution of his followers, threw its protecting arm over the Christians.  It is claimed that united with this time-honored fraternity were the holy men St.  John the Baptist and St.  John the Evangelist, and to this day all Lodges are dedicated to these great lights.

Such is a very brief history of Freemasonry in ancient times;  and today, to every man and woman whose reason is untrammeled by ignorant prejudice, it stands forth as the great leveler, of equality, justice, charity and brotherly love.

It has survived the wreck of mighty empires, and resisted the destroying hand of time.  Contrast the history of the nations of this world, and what is the result?  The Jews, God’s favored people,


where are they now?  A race of wanderers, scattered over the face of the globe.  The stupendous and magnificent temple, once their glory and the wonder of the world, where is it now?  Not one stone is left upon another.

Babylon, in her day the queen of nations, has fallen, never to rise again.  Egypt, with her kings and philosophers,—classic Greece and imperial Rome, we now find but occupying their page in the history of the world, while Masonry shines brighter and brighter in the noon-day of Christianity.

It has survived and flourished under oppositions the severest, and persecutions, the deadliest in ancient times, and is flourishing to-day more rapidly under the phosphorous teachings of Bernard’s Light of Masonry, Finney’s Exposition, and the combative opposition of Mr. Blanchard, the said-to-be Pope of Wheaton College, than it possibly could without them.

When revealed religion shows itself superior to the hand of violence;  mightier than the rack, the dungeon or the flame, we are accustomed to say that is because there is something in religion more valuable than human life, and in its hopes and comforts more consoling than martyrdom is terrific.

Such are our feelings when reading of the noble Christian mother, led from prison in sight of the stake, when she was asked to recant or deny, or blaspheme, that she might live;  her only reply was, as with wasted finger she pointed upward, “There are crowns in heaven to be distributed to day, and I am going up for mine,” she walked like a conqueror to the stake.  The circling flames were to her the chariot of ascension, bearing her soul to glory and to God.

Masonry has had its martyrs and their patient endurance not only attests their heroism, but the sublime truths for which they died.  Masonry, its martyr! you say.  Yes.

On the 13th of October, 1307, all the Knights Templars in France were seized the same hour, and were examined before the Grand Inquisition of Paris.  Fortune and freedom fell at a blow, and life hung upon the confession of crimes of which they were entirely innocent, and of which they had no knowledge.  Many died upon the rack, refusing to confess falsely.  Many were imprisoned for life.  The Grand Master himself was tortured;  his conduct and the conduct of the other Knights being most exemplary.  It was no avail that they appealed to the blood they had shed for the religion of Christ, and the purity of their lives.  All protested the innocence of their Order, and declaring that confession of infidelity to Christ would


cause them more torture than rack or flames, they died like true martyrs.  The finishing stroke of this persecution, which lasted five years, took place in March, 1313, when the Grand Master and Knight E———g, of Dolphine, were placed upon a scaffold, surrounded by a pile of wood, and threatened with death if they did not confess the secret of their Order or make public renunciation of the Knights Templar, which was the Christian’s faith.  This they refused to do, and perished martyrs.  More than five hundred Knights Templar were thus cruelly butchered.

Thus it is the sword of persecution has drunk the blood of many a Mason, but the Order lives to-day, and like a fruitful tree, is spreading its branches and dropping its seed on all the green earth.

Yet we hear grand objections to Masonry, and they are honest who make them, because they have not investigated the objection of bigotry, and they think the objection good and honest.

1st.  We hear Masonry is an oath-bound Society.

What is an oath?  It is an appeal to Almighty God, in attestation of the truth of what we say, the sincerity of our hearts, and to give solemnity and strength to what we promise.  If this be wrong, the wrong must arise from one of two causes:  First, the criminality of an oath;  or, secondly, the criminal nature of the obligation, state­ment or motive involved.

Will you say an oath is sinful in itself?  God himself has given us the example:  “For when he made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, for men, verily, swear by the greater, and an oath of confirmation is to them the end of strife;  and God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge and laid hold of the hope set before us.” So divine example and long usage have sanctioned the custom from earliest times.

When a foreigner would become a citizen, do not you administer the oath of allegiance?

By an oath, men, high in office, assume their honors and responsibility.  An oath introduces and sanctions testimony in all our courts of justice.  It is essential to the execution of legal documents, and seals and solemnizes the last will and testimony of the dying.

What is the nature of a baptismal covenant but a solemn oath, and he who breaks it commits perjury before God.  When our friends stood before the marriage altar and with clasped hands


swore love, honor and fidelity to each other, they uttered an oath as solemn as death, and as lasting as life.  Who then dare say it is wrong or criminal in Freemasons to appeal to Almighty God, in attestation of the sincerity of the heart, and the truth of their affirmation, that by Divine assistance they will keep unbroken the vows they take.

2d.  The crime then is in the nature of the obligation, and the intent of the candidate, if anywhere.  But it is expressly stated that no Masonic obligation interferes with his duty to God, his family, his country or himself.

A Mason’s oath binds each member to a virtuous life;  to care for the widow and fatherless;  to befriend the distressed and defend an.  unfortunate worthy Brother.  Is there anything wrong in this?  Would to God that every man on this green earth would intelligently and sincerely take such an oath and keep it inviolate for-ever.  How rapidly the traces of wrong, corruption and sorrow would disappear if a new Eden opened on our years.

But another objection is that Masonry is exclusive, limiting its benefits and its privileges.  If it be a good, all should have it.

If this be a correct principle, it will apply to other associations as well as to Masonry.  The Church is a good, a divine institution.  Then leave her doors and altars unguarded, and invite all, irrespec­tive of character or condition to enter.  How long could the Church exist or religion escape execration or contempt.  The family is God’s institution.  Then why exclude any from the sacred domestic fold.

Our Saviour selected his disciples and his confidential friends.  The Church is guarded;  the family is exclusive;  society could not be maintained without principles of purity, neither could Masonry stand without its requirements.

But a third objection is, Masonry interferes with justice.  Mr. Blanchard told us so to-night.  How does it?  Masonry, in each degree, recognizes and enforces the laws of God, as revealed in science and the Bible;  teaches non-interference with political views, and re-quires obedience to civil rulers.  Justice is a cardinal virtue in Masonry.

So far from an obligation requiring concealment or the rescue of a criminal, exposure and expulsion are Masonic duties.  Instances are not found wanting where this feature has been carried out to the righteous punishment of the guilty.

Today the foreign monarch, as well as the republican congressman, the democratic peasant, and the member of Parliament, the


conservative and extremist meet on the same floor, ascend by the same symbolic steps, traverse the same rough road, pass under the same arch, sit at the same banquet, seek instruction at the same altar, and from the same Holy Book, and by this means Masonry becomes the mightiest barrier against the overthrow of justice and government.

Having no political ends to serve, and nothing but dishonor and failure to gain by unfaithfulness, and ever fostering the good and true in every man and in every government, Masonry is today the preserver of freedom and the guardian of law and order over the civilized world.

But the fourth objection of Mr. Blanchard is, that Masonry is a secret society.  Is secrecy a crime?  Then the Bible is full of heresy.  “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” Have you never read “of the white stone and the new name, that no man knoweth save him that receiveth.” Nature is full of secrets.  Business could not be successfully carried on without secrets.  Every govern­ment has its secret service.  The family has its secrets that the curious may not know.  To cover and guard what is concealed by the do­mestic veil is an honorable duty.

Imprudent disclosure has often produced alienation, feuds and separation.  The client must whisper in the ear of his advocate what no one else should hear or know.  The child relates to the parent what delicacy and duty withholds from all others.  When husband or wife publish abroad the sacred or sad things that should not pass beyond their own hearts, public opinion condemns them and they sink in their own estimation.

The minister of religion, from the disconsolate, the penitent, the perplexed, or the dying, receives many statements that council and guidance may be offered.  To publish these things, which, by their very sacredness, are secret, would be a crime against the confidence of society.  The physician must know what honor, delicacy and the well-being of society forbid his disclosing.  God’s own Temple had its inner court, and beyond that the veil that shrouded the symbol of Divinity.

Is it a crime, then, that Masonry should conform to the general economy of nature, society, and religion, by refusing to lift this veil to gratify the curious and the slandering.  When Masonry shall fore-go the safeguard of secrecy, and shall make all her knowledge the common and unappreciated property of those who neither seek or obey it, we will wash our hands and say, “Farewell” forever to Ma-


sonry.  Meanwhile we beg for the Masons the privilege of keeping their own family secrets.

But the greatest objection is the Masons killed Morgan.  This we neither affirm or deny, but can say, we have no Masonic or legal information that such was a fact.  We will admit it if you please;  that Morgan was abducted, and that the men who did it were Ma-sons, did Masonry therefore do it?  Let us see.  First, the Masonic fraternity did not approve of his death, and secondly, they cannot, therefore, be held responsible for it.

We are aware the whole Masonic fraternity were charged with his death, the institution was charged as dangerous;  churches, families and friends, were divided, and the whole social system was for a time uprooted and dismembered.  Every man of eminence in the United States, known to be a Mason, was called upon to renounce his connection with the society, or was branded as a traitor to the laws of his country.  The Grand Lodge was charged with the crime of aiding the guilty to escape from justice by the aid of its funds, and no means were neglected to bring the order to disgrace, right or wrong.

The timid and the ignorant attributed the crime of the guilty to a necessary consequence of Masonic obligation, though no Mason’s duty interferes with the duty of man to his country.  The abductors of Morgan were as much without excuse as though they had not been Masons, and this crime was never palliated or defended by the fraternity in general, nor by the Grand Lodge in particular, nor was ever there a dollar of the funds appropriated to aid or shield the guilty.  How do you know?  you ask.  We know because the answer of Governor Clinton, written at the time in answer to a letter from the anti-Masonic Committee, was, “I am persuaded that the body of Freemasons, so far from having any participation in this affair, or giving any countenance to it, upbraided it as the most unjustifiable act, repugnant to the principles and abhorrent to the doctrine of the fraternity.  I know that Freemasonry, properly understood, and faithfully attended to, is friendly to religion, morality, liberty of good government, and I shall never shrink, under any state of excitement, or extent of misrepresentation, from bearing testimony in favor of an institution which can boast of a Washington, a Franklin, and a Lafayette, as distinguished members, and which inculcates no principles and authorizes no acts that are not in perfect accordance with good morals, civil liberty, and entire obedience to the government and the laws.”


Masonry is no more responsible for the acts of unworthy members than any other association or institution.

The Royal Arch Chapter of New York issued the following resolution: 

“Resolved, by this Grand Chapter, that we, its members, individ­ually and as a body, do disclaim all knowledge or approbation of the said proceedings in relation to the abduction of William Mor­gan, and that we disapprove of the same as a violation of the maj­esty of the laws and an infringement of the rights of personal lib­erty, secured to every citizen of our free and happy Republic.”

Such was the resolution of the Royal Arch Grand Chapter at that time;  and I say boldly that Masonry did not, nor does it now, approve of the abduction of Morgan, and whoever killed him did it on their own responsibility, and at the bar of the Almighty they shall answer to the charge of murder.

Do you persist in your objection, gentlemen and ladies, in accord­ance with what Mr. Blanchard says, that Masonry is a murderous institution.  Let us resolve it into its logical propositions.

Masons killed Morgan, therefore, Masons are murderers.  We are Masons, (for I am an adopted one, and my obligation makes me a Mason, and I am proud of my connection with so noble a frater­nity).  I repeat it, we are Masons;  therefore we are murderers.  For that is what your objection means, if it means anything.

Let us see if this logic will stand the test.

Masons have been killed by anti-Masons, therefore, anti-Masons are murderers.

You are anti-Masons;  therefore, you are murderers.

Do you relish or acknowledge your own logic?

History supplies us with well authenticated facts like the follow­ing, found in Landmarks, page 28.  Not many years ago a Freemason, by the name of Almadores, was burnt in Seville along with a young woman who had been convicted by the holy office for having carried on, so they alleged, an intercourse with an evil spirit, and of knowing the future.  Both these hapless victims of ignorance and fanaticism showed in every feature the most perfect health, so that the hands of the executioner who threw them into the fire trembled.  It was in a square devoted to those horrible assassinations that at the end of the paltic sermon the sign was given, and the wretched creatures were thrown on the burning pile.

Anti-Masons did it;  therefore, anti-Masons are murderers.  You are anti-Masons, therefore you are murderers.


You are slanderers, you slander Masons and Masonry;  they never slander, but, according to Christ’s injunction, turn the other cheek.  When you revile them, they revile not again, but do you a kindness if possible, for it is Masonic to forgive.

You are persecutors.  You have closed your hearts and doors against Masons.  Masons never did that against you, for every Ma-son has a point within his compass for a neighbor as well as a worthy Brother.

But my opponent says good men have left Masonry, such as Benard, Finney, and others.  They have denounced it and betrayed it.  Josh Billings says, “It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to be a fool and not know it.” Shall we revile religion today because Peter, in his hour of weakness, denied it, or shall we betray because Judas did?  Oh no! Finney and Benard may, but good, noble men won’t.

We endorse, advocate, and love Masonry, not because it is a Christless institution, as Mr. Blanchard says, for so far from being a Christless institution, no man can advance into the higher degrees without believing in the Saviour of mankind, whose cross they are willing to bear, and whose religion they are sworn to defend:  but because it teaches and is founded on the Fatherhood of God, that we are all his offspring, and the objects of his fatherly affection, for his protecting care is over all;  and because it teaches the brother-hood of man—that God has made of one blood all the nations that dwell on the face of the earth;  therefore man, in the frozen north, the burning tropics, the sands of Arabia, and the forests of Africa, whether scaling the snow-clad mountains or living in the vales between;  seated on the monarch’s throne, or digging by the roadside;  protected in the abodes of sunny peace, or dying on the bloody field of strife, is my brother;  and as I would have God deal in mercy and love, I must love and protect him;  and every organization that has for its object the advancement of human happiness and intel­lect, tends to lessen the ills and misery that human flesh is heir to;  that draws closer the ties of human sympathy and strengthens the bonds of brotherhood between man and man, is not only worthy of approbation, but of sympathy and support.

What is Mr. Blanchard, and what are the anti-Masons doing to extend the principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, Friend-ship, Love and Truth and Temperance, while they are trying to stop the progress of those who carry out these heaven born prin-


ciples?  Nothing.  What are they doing for Temperance?  What are you doing?  Nothing, I repeat, nothing.  You are looking up to heaven, like the Pharisee of old, thanking God that you are not Sons of Temperance, or Good Templars, because the slandering cynosure brands the Temperance Societies as the most dangerous of all the secret societies, because they take in and influence so many Christians, (thank God for it,) while destruction and death is sweeping over our land, and the devil is chuckling in secret over the strife he has put in your hearts.

What did Mr. Blanchard do to save young men from drunken­ness when he turned out some of the best young men in his college because they were Good Templars?  I’ll tell you, gentlemen and ladies, what he and the anti-Masons in reality are doing.  They are adding thousands each year to the numbers of our ranks, for as reli­gion always prospered most under the persecution of bigotry and injustice, so Masonry has spread itself like a bay tree over our land, till the hewers of wood and the carriers of water in the days of the building of King Solomon’s Temple have become the owners and possessors of the land today.

And our Temperance orders have found an abiding place in every city, village and hamlet of our land, till the incense of prayer and praise from our altars every night offered up from contrite, bleeding hearts, seeking for better and happier lives;  from weak, trembling souls, praying for greater grace and holier purpose to be true to their vows, ascend to heaven, causing the angels to rejoice while precious souls are being born to God.

And I repeat, tonight, before God, that I believe Masonry and Odd Fellowship, with Temperance, to be the handmaids of virtue, charity, and religion, for their teaching calls into action the best and holiest feelings of our nature.  “Poets have bound their brows with wreaths of immortality;  orators have reared eternal monuments to their names;  conquerors have had their trophies,” but the course of the poet and the orator has too often been marked by sin, and the pathway of the conqueror always marked by the blood of the slain, watered with the tears of the widow, orphan, and the bereaved, “while the trophies which lie at the foot of our altars are the results of the principles of love and good will to all.”

And the grand achievements of lives spent in the cause of benevo­lence and pursuit of knowledge, so blessed of God, is surely great, glorious and good before man as well as God.


Degeer’s 15 Minute Rejoinder — Top



GENTLEMEN AND LADIES—Mr. Blanchard’s last objections to Masonry are as easily answered as his first, in this evening’s discussion.  To refute my defence he says, firstly, They keep the women, with the dogs, outside of the door.  Well, intelligent women won’t con­demn the Masons more uncharitably than we condemn the churches for keeping us out of their pulpits, and the politicians for keeping us out of the ballot-box, both of which places Mr. Blanchard agrees to keep us out of.  Masonry was first confined to operative Masonry, and as there were no operative lady Masons, women were then excluded, and Masons were pledged to confine their secrets to the craft alone, and also to never change their ancient rules;  but to-day every generous hearted Mason would gladly associate the female searchers of Light and Knowledge with them in the lodge room, if they could get the whole Brotherhood to consent, and they do unite us with them in deeds of charity and love;  they bestow on us all the benefits of Masonry, and exempt us from its labor and expense.  The widow and orphan of a Master Mason takes the place of the husband and father in the affections of the lodge.  You may search every poor house in the world, and you won’t find the widow or orphan of a Mason there, no more than a Mason, but I am sorry to say you’ll find the church poor, as well as the world’s poor, there, and not-withstanding my opponents solemn assurance, that no woman ever got an insight into a Mason’s lodge, or ever would, here is one who got a view of the Promised Land from the Sacred Mount, and while the last drop of blood should pass from my heart before anything that Masons hold sacred and dear shall ever be revealed to the unworthy, yet I am glad that I can now solemnly protest, before God and this people, against the false charges brought against Masonry to-night, one of which was that a Master Mason is sworn to defend an unworthy brother, murder and treason not excepted, for I do know that Master Masons are only pledged to defend worthy broth­ers, and there is not one word of murder and treason in the whole obligation, but everything that binds a man to a good and pure life.  One woman was made a Mason, too, and you will find her name and portrait with Washingtons, and other celebrated Masons, on most American Masonic charts, and you will find her picture framed in almost every lodge in Europe, which proves how Ma-sons value woman’s faithfulness;  and I myself am a living witness


of the brotherly love and protecting care that Masonry is to woman.  I owe a great deal of my success in life to the Mystic Brotherhood, under God, which a book I am now writing, called Ruth Mason’s Gleanings from Life,” will show.  Masonry has been to me a strong undercurrent that carried me safely over the rougher billows of life;  it has been to me a wall of protection upon every side, my brethren and sisters of the Eastern Star proving strong pillars upon which I could lean in time of sickness and sorrow.

Secondly, he denies that it is a great, glorious, loving brotherhood, because he can find no printed annual report of their deeds of charity.  No, and never will.

The teachings of Masonry, according to the teaching of our blessed Redeemer, teach us not to do our alms before men to be seen of them, but before God, that He whose all-seeing eye sees in secret may accept and approve our works.

In a flourishing town a short distance from Chicago, where I was lecturing on Temperance last summer, an anti-Mason, like my op­ponent, but a noble, generous-hearted temperance worker, related a case where an accident of fire stripped three poor families living in one building of all their earthly goods.  “You have a large, in­fluential lodge of Freemasons here,” said he, “but as a lodge they did nothing for these poor, distressed people, because they did not happen to be Masons!” “How do you know?” I asked.  “Because we would have heard it—oh yes, we would have heard it!” “Well, did your church, as an institution, do any thing?” “No, for we have no church treasury, but we all gave liberally.” “Did you call on the Freemasons?” “Yes.” “And did they not give liberally too?” “Oh yes;  as citizens they did, but as a lodge they did not.” “Well now, friend, you know the pledge between Rahab and the spies was, ‘My life for yours if you utter not this our business.’ I will pledge my life for yours that the lodge, or body of Masons in the lodge, in addition to what they gave individually, gave out of the lodge funds liberally (for Masons do not give small gifts), if they had money in their treasury, as you say.” “No, no, they did not;  we would have heard it if they had.  They would have published it in the papers or told it.” “There you are mistaken;  they would do neither.  But I will investigate and report!” I said, laughing at the idea of Ma-sons publishing or telling their deeds of charity to the world.

I did inquire, and was confidentially informed by the Master of the lodge that the lodge had voted seventy-five dollars of its funds to the distressed families, giving twenty-five dollars to each, in such


a way that the relieved could only know that God had put it into the hearts of some of his children to do a kind, generous deed.  This is but one of the thousands of like deeds done every year by Masons all over the world, to the poor outside of the lodge as well as their own poor within.

But the third cool objection is:  Masons were rebels.  They did not turn out as a body to meet the Union soldiers on their return from the war! Finney and Benard do not give the lecture in the Entered Apprentice degree, or Mr. Blanchard would have been better informed with regard to Masonic loyalty.  If you, Anties, had read a Masonic journal, especially the “Voice of Masonry,” an advocate of “Truth and Justice,” which Mr. Blanchard’s sheet is not, and of which he speaks so contemptuously, you would have read an account of the earnest meetings held by the fraternity, all over the North, during the first year of the late war, and you who love peace better than strife would have loved the Masons, like the good Quakers, for their heavenly sentiments.  At one of their largest conventions, when some of the red-hot Republicans (who today would place even the loyal Democrats where the Copperheads would keep the negroes) would have allowed their political animosities to break over Masonic rule and declared that no Northern Mason should acknowledge a Southern Mason, while all dwelt with touching pathos upon the loyalty enjoined upon all Masons to be true to the government by which they were protected, and while on the bloody field of battle a ball might pass from a brother’s hand that would take the life of another brother, while on the same field of carnage the cold steel of the bayonet might unintentionally pierce the warm heart of a brother, yet brethren should be brethren the world over when they knowingly met as such, their language and resolutions on that occasion, as given by a poetic brother, was: 

“The badge of the Craft is unsullied as yet

     From war’s dust of blood let us fold it; 

The pages of history are sacred with light,

     We sware thus in honor to hold it.

Great God! from thy throne see our people at strife!

     The gavel must heal the disorder.

Restore us to peace! 0 God, spare innocent life!

     Be thou our Saviour and Warder!

Then lift up to God—up to God the left hand;

     With mine join—with mine join the other;

Though war blow the blast and though death strew the land,

     We swear we’ll be true to each brother!”


And Andersonville and Libby Prison afterward bore witness, with Sebastopol and other past cruel wars, of Masonic brotherly love and loyalty blended most benignly together.

Did the Congregationalists, as a body, turn out to meet the soldiers?  Did the Methodists, the Baptists, or any other church organization or society, more than the Masons?  Oh, no;  but did we not all unite en masse to welcome home our poor, brave soldiers, and weep for those who came not?  Were not the Masons with us?  Did they not give of their means as liberally as any other loyal men?  Did they not volunteer as cheerfully as others, and was it not a Royal Arch Mason, General Grant, that led the Union Army to victory?[3]

But Mr. Blanchard is opposed to Masonry because it confers titles such as Grand Master, etc., that we do not read of in the Bible! We do not read of Reverend D.  D.  in the Bible;  but because the venerable Reverend is attached to his father’s name he has no conscientious scruples about that, while we believe as conscientiously that Grand Master becomes Brother Reynolds, of this State, as well as Reverend does Mr. Blanchard.

Mr. Blanchard, my opponent, is rather a smart boy! [Laughter and cheers.] Not so smart, though, as he might be had his educa­tion not been so darkly tinctured with bigotry;  but all his opposition to Masonry, like his father’s, just amounts to John Smithism, and nothing more.  A man of the name of John Smith lived in Canada some years ago.  He was what they call over there “big I and little you,” but what you Americans call “a swelled head.”  Very large in the organ of Combativeness, always ready to raise a row on the most trifling occasion;  very large in the organ of Destructiveness, ever ready to put a row into execution, and very low in the organs of Conscientiousness and Benevolence, unwilling to give others the same privileges he would like to enjoy.  He had considerable Approbation, however;  and he thought if he could only get into the church as a member he would have more influence and be regarded more favorably.  So he first joined the Methodists, because they were the most influential, but he was not long with them till he raised a fuss, and they turned him out.  Then he joined another church, made a disturbance there, and they turned him out.  They had a Baptist church in the town but he was afraid to join them for fear they would drown him, so he made up his mind to join the Presbyterians.  Well, he was just six weeks a member of the Presbyterian


church when he raised a row there, and they assembled to kirk him, according to the rules of the old Church of Scotland, and to discuss what it was best to do in John Smith’s case.  An old Scotch elder looked up anxiously in the minister’s face, and made the following suggestion:  “Let’s pray for John Smith.” “Very well,” said the minister.  “I’ll gie the first prayer, if it please your reverence, suggested the Elder.  “Do so,” the minister graciously assented.  They knelt and the Elder offered the following prayer:  “Oh, Lord! take John Smith to hell!” “Stop! stop!!” exclaimed the minister;  “what kind of a prayer is that?” “The right kind of a ain,” answered the Elder, “for if he gets into heaven He’ll raise a row there;  if he gets into hell he’ll break it up in six weeks.” And it must be just so with Mr. Blanchard, jun.  He must love strife better than peace.  I know it must be so with his father, for you Congregationalists know that for a number of years back he has been trying to raise a row with Dr. Patton, the present editor of the Advance, but having failed to run him off the track, he has become more general in his fighting propensities, and now wages a warfare upon the best, if not the largest portion of all Christendom, but his guns, bombshells, and cannon contain no destructive shot or ball, and only makes a big noise for little things, causing thousands to take shelter inside the temples of knowledge, while they laugh at the foolishness of the squabblers outside.


Introduction                 Top

Publisher Preface/Introduction

Degeer’s Debate with Blanchard

Degeer’s 15 Minute Rejoinder


for more and the book—

Character Counts:  Freemasonry U.S.A.’s National Treasure and

Source of Our Founding Fathers’ Original Intent


By Michael Glenn Maness






[1] Jonathan Blanchard (1811-1892;  1st president Wheaton College,, Freemasonry Illustrated:  A Complete Exposition of the First Seven Masonic Degrees, by Jacob O.  Doesburg ...  A Historical Sketch of the Institution and a Critical Analysis of the Character of Each Degree, by President J.  Blanchard of Wheaton College ...  The Accuracy of This Exposition Attested by J.  O.  Doesburg ...  and Others.  Chicago, Ill., E.  A.  Cook & co., 1879.  Freemasonry Illustrated.  Jacob O.  Doesburg.  Chicago, IL:  E.  A.  Cook, 1879.  640p.  Revised Freemasonry illustrated.  18th ed.  1916.  640p.  — Standard Freemasonry illustrated;  full ritual and secret “work” of the three Blue Lodge Degrees.  Chicago:  E.  A.  Cook, 1947.  354p.  — Scotch Rite Masonry Illustrated.  The Complete Ritual of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.  Chicago, IL:  E.  A.  Cook, 1944.  2vols.

[2] Charles Albert Blanchard (1848-1925), Modern Secret Societies (Chicago:  National Christian Association, 1903.  310p.).  Washington:  Was Washington a Freemason?  (Chicago, IL:  National Christian Association, 191?.  48p.).

[3] Editor’s Note:  Mrs.  DeGeer is in error here.  General U.  S.  Grant was not a Freemason.