The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8
I. O. O. F. Office Grand Corresponding and Recording Secretary, Baltimore, R, W. G. L. of U. S., Md., March 4, 1878
March 4, 1878.
To John B. Harmon,
Special Commissioner of the R. W. Grand Lodge of the U. S., I. O. O. F., to the Jurisdiction of Australasia:
My Dear Sir and Brother,—In addition to the special instructions received from the M. W. Grand Sire, which are very appropriate, specific, and fully to the point, I reply to the several subjects mentioned in your letter of 18th ult., as follows:
1. The Grand Sire in his letter of instructions explained the importance of visiting the brethren in New Zealand, and I consider it absolutely essential to the success of the mission that you should visit Dunedin.
2. A copy of the "propositions" submitted to the last session by a special committee on Encampment work is herewith transmitted. This matter, you will, of course, carefully preserve, guard, and return to this office.
3. Concerning the letters from Australia printed with the report of the the Grand Secretary in Journal of 1877, I do not know which you refer to as important to have in full, or I would gladly send you complete copies.
4. Regarding my remarks found on pages 7232 and 7236, Journal of 1877, considered, as you suggest, in connection with the views expressed in your letter of Feb. 11th to the Grand Sire, I reply to your question: "Do we agree or not?" that our opinions are in harmony.
5. The provisions of the Charter fully explain, and agree with your views as to what is to constitute the Grand Lodge of Australasia. They are identical with the grant in the original Warrant to the. Grand Lodge of Australia, Journal of 1868, p. 4295; also with the Charter of the Grand Lodge of the German Empire, Journal of 1872, p. 5476. If deemed necessary the limits of the jurisdiction may be defined by adding after the words "known as Australasia "the proper boundary. I append some extracts from "Johnson's Cyclopedia" and "Colton's Atlas," in relation to the country. It appears there are nine provinces in New Zealand, and six colonies in Australia. The Order also exists in Tasmania, where, it is probable, a Grand Lodge will be organized.
6. Touching the manner of organizing the Grand Lodge of Australasia, the initiatory proceedings might be by proxies, as was the case when the G. L. of U. S. was formed in 1824 (Journal, p. 63), by proxies from the Grand Lodges of Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, who with a Representative from Maryland (four men) constituted the Grand Lodge of the United States. On page 70, Journal of G. L. of U. S., will be found a copy of the first Constitution, Article I. of which provides for "a Representative or Proxy." It appears to me, if inconvenient for a Representative of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand to proceed with you to Melbourne, the officers might commission one of the Past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Australia to represent the G. L. of New Zealand in the organization, or hand you a blank proxy with their consent to the arrangement proposed, and leave it to your discretion to select a proper person to represent them.
7. I do not think it necessary for the Grand Lodges of Australia and New Zealand to consult their Subordinates and agree with you that "they will page 37 not object, and if they do, the supreme power of the Grand Lodge of the United States through its Deputy Grand Sire must control."
8. As to the title of the chief officer, undoubtedly "Grand Sire" is proper, and it was contemplated to have the following inserted in the Charter, but afterward deemed inexpedient to place it there, viz.: "The officers and members of the said Grand Lodge of Australasia shall be such as are prescribed in Article II. of the Constitution of the G. L. of U. S. for the officers and members of that body."
9. The Charter provides for the Grand and Subordinate Encampments being under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Australasia, I do not think that a new Charter would be required for the Grand Encampment of Victoria, as no change of name or jurisdiction will be necessary. The Encampment in New Zealand, will, of course, pass under the immediate jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Australasia, as also the Subordinate Lodges in Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, &c., though the Grand Lodge of Australasia, if it adopts a Constitution, etc., similar in its provisions to that of the G. L. of U. S., can place Subordinates under Grand Bodies of contiguous jurisdiction. (See By-Laws, Art. XIII.) The qualifications for membership in the Grand Lodge of Australasia should be identical with those required for membership in the Grand Lodge of the United States. (See Journal, J876, pages 6879-81.)
10. I inclose memorandum of supplies forwarded Feb. 1, 1878, to New Zealand. Bro. W. B. Lyon, Grand Secretary, can inform you if the box has been forwarded from San Francisco, as we consigned it to him. You will note that all the revised books were sent. Three copies of the Grand Encampment Institution Books were sent to the Grand Encampment of Victoria. The secret work and diagrams have not been sent to "Subordinate Grand Lodges," and New Zealand must be considered such a body whether attached to the G. L. of Australasia or the G. L. of the United States. Australia and the German Empire were considered "sovereign and independent" jurisdictions; therefore, as specially directed by the G. L. of U. S., the work was placed in their possession.
11. The provisions of the Charter of the Grand Lodge of the German Empire will be found on page 5476, Journal of 1872, and you will find that the Charter herewith, contains the clause you refer to. I send, as you request, Constitution of Grand and Subordinate Bodies.
12. I do not find anything to dissent from in the views expressed by you, and heartily agree with you that "no half-way measures will do," but that Odd Fellowship in Australasia should be placed on solid ground.
I have some further suggestions for your consideration which may be worthy your notice.
There are, as you know, two Grand Lodges in Australasia, viz.: the Grand Lodge of Australia, at Melbourne, Colony of Victoria, and the Grand Lodge of New Zealand, at Dunedin, N. Z.; the former under Charter from the Grand Lodge of the United States, the latter under Warrant from the Grand Lodge of Victoria (now the Grand Lodge of Australia), and recognized by it and also by the G. L. of U. S. as independent of and co-equal with the G. L. of Australia, at Melbourne.
The several reports of the G. C. and R. Secretary since the definite acquisition of this important jurisdiction and for several years previous, you will recollect, dwelt with interest and pride upon its value as a vast and productive field, if properly cultivated, especially of the advantage of the situation to us in view of our common origin and consequent homogeneity as a people. A slight drawback to us has unexpectedly arisen out of an error in the form of government for the Order which has crept in inadvertently, as much from our inability fully to carry out our original plan on account of the sparse occupancy of the Order and the prematureness of the plan to the improved condition of the country and its several Colonial governments or political divisions. Up to this time but two Subordinate Grand Lodges have been page 38 formed, whereas the number of Colonies or political divisions of the continent, as we understand, admit of Grand Lodges.
Thus it will be seen, that by keeping our original plan in view and sedulously cultivating the co-operation of our brethren of that jurisdiction, we shall ultimately surmount present obstacles. We shall be able to begin aright by erecting a Grand Lodge of Australasia, which shall embrace the continent, and of which the several defined political divisions will form the several representative subordinate parts. The Grand Lodges of Victoria and New Zealand forming the nucleus of that Supreme Grand Body, admitting the other divisions so soon as ready for forming Grand Lodges, adhering in all respects to our system as proved by experience to be appropriate and reliable.
You will find the brethren at Dunedin somewhat unfriendly to this plan, inasmuch as it will require a reconstruction of their Grand Lodge, which in this contingency would have to recognize the Grand Lodge of Australasia by taking a Grand Warrant from it, and by sending to it a Representative once a year, according to its Constitution. At first this Supreme Body would be weak, but its growth, power, and influence would be alone a question of time. As the other Provinces or political divisions of the country united with it, its strength and power would be settled and fixed. In a few years, the Grand Lodge of Australasia, I. O. O. F., would become a power in the great world of philanthropy, an honor to the human race, and especially the glory of American Odd Fellowship. This is your message and mission to your brother Odd Fellows of Australasia. I pray that the winds of Heaven may be propitious and that the Almighty will have you in his keeping amid the perils which you will have to brave, and return you safely to your home, your family, and friends, having fulfilled your task to the satisfaction of the cause, the consolidation of Odd Fellowship throughout the world, and for the increased love and fellowship of the human race.
May God bless you, protect you and yours, and restore your precious life to us in due time, as a messenger of peace to your fellow-men.
Jas. L. Ridgely, C. S.