Freemasonry, Colonialism, and Indigenous Elites

On the evening of January 8, 1787 several dozen members of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Bengal celebrated St. John’s Day, one of Masonry’s most important festivals, at the Harmonic Tavern, “the handsomest house in Calcutta.”[1] As with their counterparts in England and America on such occasions, members drank toasts, indulged in good natured horseplay and swapped stories. Among the celebrants was the newly appointed Governor General of India, Lord Charles Cornwallis. Although famous for his decisive defeat by George Washington at Yorktown in 1781, Cornwallis’s most enduring legacy would emerge from the reforms he would promulgate during his period as a colonial administrator in India. Among the several Masons that sent their regrets at not being able to attend the St. John’s Day festivities in Calcutta that evening was the “Governor of Chinsurah, Brother Titsingh.”[2] This was Isaac Titsingh, the Dutch East India Company director who had previously been stationed at Deshima in Japan and Batavia (Jakarta) and would subsequently become Dutch ambassador to the Imperial Court in Beijing.[3] Despite his peripatetic career, Titsingh has been acknowledged as one of the earliest Western Japanologists, known for his collection of artifacts and careful documentation of Japanese culture. The juxtaposition of Cornwallis and Titsingh, who occasionally appeared together at the same lodges in Calcutta during the 1780s illuminates the way that the Freemasonry facilitated the intermingling of foreign officials in colonial outposts and international trading centers throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This paper will suggest that in addition to strengthening the bonds of empire as a number of scholars have argued, Masonic lodges facilitated intercultural connections throughout Asia and Pacific and that these relationships would give rise to wholly unexpected consequences.[4]

Masonic lodges were a ubiquitous presence that accompanied the worldwide expansion of trade and political empires from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Although scholars have tied the expansion of the order almost exclusively to a British political and cultural nexus, it is apparent from my study of Freemasonry in Hawai’i and the Pacific in that lodges were meeting places for a fascinating mix of men from different cultures, occupations and social levels.[5] Lodge rooms created zones of social interaction that transcended many of the tensions that divided British, European as well as American visitors. In 1856, for example, on the departure of “an American member, W.L. Wilmer,” the secretary of a British lodge in Bengal noted the Worshipful Masters’s “sorrowful observations on the prospect of losing so valuable and loved a Brother.”[6] A decade later, the records of the same lodge indicated that “quite a few proposals for joining at this time from the brethren residing at the U.S. Club in Calcutta.”[7] And after officials of the Swedish East India Company convened the first Masonic lodges in China in 1759, the earliest British lodge, “Amity” (No. 407), warranted by the Grand Lodge of England may well have met in the buildings housing the Swedish company.[8] In Hawai’i, the most important mid-Pacific port throughout the nineteenth century, charter members of the French Lodge Le Progros de l’Oc¹anie included Americans, part-Hawaiians, British and Germans as well French merchants and mariners.[9]

Freemasonry is a decentralized system, with its basic organizational unit being the “blue lodge,” so named because of the association of the color blue with beneficence and universal brotherhood.[10] Blue Lodges constitute the foundation of the order, where the first three degrees are conferred and the ties of brotherhood are solidified through ritual and fellowship. In order to gain access to the advanced degrees of the Scottish or York Rites one must first undergo the step-by-step process of learning the symbolism behind the ritual and the moral qualities associated with masons’ tools such as the level, square, and compass. During initiations, members absorb the legendary history of the order through dramatizations of the stories behind each degree. Secret passwords and grips are whispered “mouth to ear” in Masonic parlance, illustrating the importance of oral tradition to the fraternity. Grand Lodges, which in the American system have statewide jurisdiction, authorize (or “warrant”) individual Blue Lodges. In England and much of Europe, by contrast, the Grand Lodges are national in scope. While many features of the degree initiation rituals and organizational rules are similar throughout the expansive network of Masonic jurisdictions worldwide, there are also marked differences.

The Grand Lodge of England, founded in London in 1717, was the first formal grouping of individual lodges. Within two decades, Masons in Scotland and Ireland formed their own Grand Lodges. And by the mid-1730s Provincial Grand Masters in North America were in the process of rapidly expanding the network of lodges from New England to South Carolina. Grand Lodges (and in colonial outposts, Provincial Grand Lodges) played an important role in providing broad guidelines and as well as a system of occasionally stringent regulations on everything from rituals to requirements for membership for their constituent lodges.[11] Grand Lodges in England, Europe and America warranted Blue Lodges in distant regions in several ways. One of the most common was for Masonic brethren who emigrated to a colonial port city to send a petition asking for permission to constitute a lodge or sometimes even a “provincial Grand Lodge” to supervise activities in a wider area. In response to a petition from a number of brethren in Calcutta in 1728, the Grand Lodge of England appointed a Provincial Grand Master to govern Masonic activity in India. Lodge No. 72, the first to be warranted on the sub-continent, met that year at Fort William. Officials of the British East India Company were prominent among the members and they even adopted the company’s coat of arm as their own—a golden lion supporting a regal crown.[12] By mid-century England’s Masonic authorities had authorized the formation of Provincial Grand Lodges in Madras as well as Bombay. But the British were hardly alone in extending the bounds of Masonic brotherhood. The Grand Lodges of Scotland, Holland and France appointed Provincial Grand Masters in China, Ceylon, Bombay, Java and Sumatra from the 1730s onward, creating a complex web of Masonic jurisdictions.

Near Calcutta, for example, the Dutch “Lodge of Solomon” at Chinsurah worked with the Provincial Grand Lodge of India, exchanging visits, and regularly participating in rituals and celebrations together. Yet despite sometimes contested boundaries, and all-too-frequent contentious quarrels over the fine points of rules between lodges of different countries and systems, most Masons warmly welcomed visiting brethren, whatever their lodge of origin. The prospect of a sociable reception, a shared bond of fictive brotherhood as well as news about business, politics and world affairs in age before telegraphs often made the local Masonic lodge the first stop for a visitor, whether it be in Batavia, Calcutta, Honolulu, Madras, or Sydney.[13]

Another way that the brotherhood spread to colonial outposts and trading centers was through the activities of military lodges. Senior officers of army regiments or naval ships were granted “traveling warrants,” which allowed lodge to meet wherever the unit or ship might go. First developed by the Grand Lodges of Ireland, Scotland and England in the mid-eighteenth century, military lodges spread rapidly throughout the British empire, so by 1813, over three hundred traveling warrants had been granted. Even though membership in such lodges was largely restricted to members of the unit, the transient nature of many of these units allowed many communities a glimpse of the public dimension of Freemasonry, in its parades and occasional cornerstone-layings. Minden Lodge, No. 63, for example, first moved with its unit, the 20th Regiment of the Foot, from England to Germany after its founding in 1748, then traveled on to America in the 1770s before embarking on stops in Jamaica, Europe, Egypt, Malta, and finally, India.[14] Although the British were first to adopt the practice of granting traveling warrants, European nations quickly followed. By 1800, more than two hundred German, French, Swedish, and Russian military lodges flourished.[15]

Throughout Asia and the Pacific, Masonic lodges thrived wherever Western merchants, naval ships and military regiments were based. The political and economic circumstances of Batavia, China, Hong Kong, Calcutta, Madras, New South Wales, and New Zealand may have differed considerably, but the basic features of Freemasonry remained -indeed the jewels of the lodge (the square, level and plumb representing morality, equality and rectitude) are defined as “immovable.” Worn by three lodge officers standing to the East, West and South, the jewels of the lodge along with the “three great lights” of Masonry (Bible, Square and Compasses signifying truth, morality and spirituality) offered a comforting sense of familiarity for men far from their native surroundings.[16] The experience of ritual also attracted men to the lodges. The combination of “floorwork” (a series of intricate steps aligned with the cardinal directions and combined with angular movments of the feet and body) and the spectral atmosphere of the darkened lodge room produced what an experienced Mason has termed “a mesmerizing effect” upon the consciousness of both initiates and observers.[17] A nineteenth century Masonic lecturer echoed this point: “The beauties of the Mystic Science properly . . . create an aesthetic enchantment.”[18] The sheer complexity of the rituals contributed to their effectiveness. Participants moved in precise patterns about the lodge room while using their fingers, hands, and arms in prescribed fashion.

It is also apparent from examining lodge histories, correspondence and financial accounts, that Freemasonry was a critically important source of practical assistance for its members in an age before Social Security, welfare programs and international aid organizations.[19] But the Masonic custom of warmly receiving travelers also harked back to older traditions of hospitality, in which strangers were welcomed for a meal or a nights lodging. Whether it be offering introductions, friendly conversation or refreshments after a lodge meeting, or more substantive material aid to the destitute, Freemasonry captivated men by, in effect, transporting them to an earlier, more neighborly age. Even as older customs of hospitality eroded in many parts of the world after the eighteenth century, Masonic Lodges maintained this convivial heritage and expanded on it, becoming in the process a loosely organized philanthropic network.[20] The vast distances that separated colonial outposts and Asian-Pacific trading centers from the metropole made this support all the more important for residents as well as Masons visiting or passing through a locality.

Lodge members passed around an alms box at every meeting, and most lodges formed charity committees to investigate the circumstances of members or traveling brethren requesting help or reported to be in distress. Small sums of cash were regularly dispensed to be used for food, rent, medical expenses, and other essentials. There were lenient standards for allotting funds for these purposes, especially when the applicant was a member. Yet the outlays could also be substantial, ranging into the hundreds of dollars to pay for trans-oceanic steamship passage, living expenses or funerals. Lodges also provided long-term aid for chronically ill members with such maladies as tuberculosis and Hansens’ disease (leprosy). Lodge No. 109 in Calcutta voted 2000 rupees for the widow of a deceased brother who was a captain in t the British army.[21] Often times Masons were called upon to extend compassion rather than financial assistance. In 1899, George Moulton, the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Illinois wrote to lodge officers in Hawai’i about the wife of Captain Henry Purinton, an infantry officer en route to the Philippines. She was confined to a hospital after falling ill from typhoid fever and Moulton asked that the local lodges help a friend of his in the islands to “extend material aid and expressions of sympathy”to the stricken woman.[22]

Among the tangible practical benefits of belonging to the brotherhood was the prospect of preferential treatment in the search for employment or business contacts. This distinctive feature of membership illustrated how Masons adapted to ever-changing circumstances while maintaining continuity with their heritage as a operative craft organization. Indeed, the original 1723 Book of Constitutions setting forth the first regulations for the Grand Lodge of England specifically enjoined members to relieve brethren in need, and to “employ him . . . or else recommend him to be employed.”[23] Frank Raven, a civil engineer who moved from Honolulu to Shanghai in early 1904 regularly visited several Masonic lodges “and found a very congenial crowd.”[24] He may very well also have found useful job contacts, since he was soon appointed superintendent of streets in Shanghai. But fraternal generosity also attracted many non-Masons posing as brothers to lodges in search of assistance, and the far-flung outposts of Asia and the Pacific were particularly enticing targets. Since the publication in 1730 of Samuel Prichard’s expos¹, Masonry Dissected, printed versions of passwords, signs and rituals circulated widely, giving wide access to some Masonic secrets. Although Fraternal monitoring agencies emerged in the late nineteenth century to try to stem the tide of fraud using circulars and telegraphy, sharp-eyed brethren of earlier decades also sought to apprehend such miscreants. Brother Bagshaw of Calcutta brought the case of such an imposter named Allicott to the attention of Lodge 109 in 1840, noting that he would communicate the case to the Grand Lodge of England.[25]

Masonic lodges in Asia and the Pacific region reflected the power relationships of different sectors of the foreign community as well as a range of social values—from clergymen to merchants and military officers as well as craftsmen and clerks. But the lodges also offered a unique environment for indigenous leaders. Newly invested with Western titles, traditional leaders found a place where notions of aristocratic rank were of great importance, connecting them to the decades-long royal participation in British and European Freemasonry. Lodges thus functioned as temporary refuges from an onrushing tide that would eventually desanctify the natural environment and the social order. Probably the first Indian to become a Mason was Umdat-ul-Umara, eldest son of the Nabob of Arcot in Madras. By the 1860s, Indian princes such as Shadad Khan and the Maharajahs Duleep of Calcutta and Kundeer Sing of Lahore were regularly being initiated as Masons.[26] Although some of the memberships bestowed upon royalty were honorary, a growing number of Indians expressed an active interest in joining lodges and actively participating in the Craft.

Most Masonic lodges (and Grand Lodges), however, would not allow non-aristocratic Indians to join until late in the nineteenth century, because of “personal and social distinctions” as delicately stated by a Masonic historian.[27] Despite their egalitarian stance backed up by a formidable arsenal of symbols, Masons worldwide had almost always excluded non-whites from membership. (American lodges only began softening their stance in the 1960s). But the quickly shifting balance of power in India during the eighteenth century gave princes such as Umdat-ul-Umara added leverage as the English, French and Mughals vied for their support. Offering memberships and tendering invitations to Masonic lodges was a way of bringing regional leaders into locales where they could socialize with East India company officials and other Westerners. In a similar fashion Dutch officials welcomed Javanese princes into lodges in Batavia by the end of the eighteenth century.[28]

As the number of lodges in India multiplied, Freemasonry’s practical benefits drew the interest of increasing numbers of Anglicized Indians and those wishing to improve their prospects in the colonial civil service system. Although a secret society, local Masons made their presence known through impressive ceremonies ranging from cornerstone-layings to parades and marches as well as funerals. In an pre-television era, these spectacles (as well as the more intimate drama of initiations on lodge nights) were a source of public interest and entertainment. In February 1824, Masons in Bengal laid the foundation for the new “Hindoo College,” underlining their traditional support for educational endeavors. According to a participating brother,

the scene had a truly sublime character. In the square area stood the Brethren of the mystic Institution in their badges and jewels of the ceremony . . . . As far as the eye could reach, it met tiers above tiers of human faces; the housetops in every direction being crowded to cramming by the Natives, anxious to have a view of the imposing scene.[29]
A communication from the Grand Lodge of England to lodges in India in May 1840 offered a mixed message on the subject of Indian membership. On the one hand it suggested that it “had unanimously been resolved to suspend the admission of Mahomedans and Hindoos into the Order of Masonry pending an investigation and report, and on the other, it requested the opinion of the members of each lodge.[30] Afterwards, a motion put to a vote by the Lodge of Industry and Perseverence that Muslims were admissible on the principle that they believed in a single god (the “Great Architect of the Universe”) was voted down by a majority. A subsequent motion that would have allowed Hindus to be initiated was also vetoed.[31] Parsees (descendants of Zoroasterians) were particularly enthusiastic petitioners, despite the continual rejections by local lodges and British Grand Lodges.[32] In 1843 the Grand Lodge of Scotland formed the “Star of Western India, No. 343, especially fo Parsees and Muslims.[33]

One of the primary concerns of Masonic leaders, whether they be in California, Scotland, London or Calcutta was maintaining active participation in their lodges. A lack of interest plagued large and small lodges alike, and attendance often declined even as the membership grew.[34] The problem plagued lodges in nonsettlement colonies and trading posts, where a great percentage of the members resided in the area temporarily. The history of lodges in Batavia, China, India and Oceania (Hawai’i, Tahiti, and Fiji) attest to a continuing pattern of growth, decline and revitalization. Interestingly, during the early 1870s, as several Indian lodges faced one of their periodic downturns, they began to admit Indians for the first time, subsequently electing them to positions as officers.[35] One Indian initiate, H. Rustomjee, became the Grand Secretary of the Provincial Lodge of Bengal (the chief administrative officer) in 1880 and remained in office for twenty-four years.[36] So while princes and the occasional rajah joined the order at the end of the nineteenth century, non-aristocratic Indians were also increasingly finding a welcome reception to their petitions for membership.[37] One British Mason even compared the Masonic lodge to “a kind of missionary association for the blessed purpose of administering an antidote to ‘caste’ by fraternizing India”[38]

Masonic lodges were less numerous in China than India, but by the 1880s several dozen were active in “treaty ports” such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Guangzhou as well as the inland cities of Nanjing, Beijing, Harbin and Chengdu. Chinese Masons were a rarity, a situation which Masonic historians have generally blamed on Qing Dynasty restrictions. Chinese emigrants did join Masonic lodges in the United States as well as Hawaii, and in 1889 a lodge in Guangzhou initiated a lieutenant in the Imperial Chinese Navy. Thereafter, influential Chinese businessmen in Hong Kong regularly entered the Masonic ranks, including Sir Kai Ho Kai, an physician and barrister who strongly supported the revolutionary efforts of his student, Sun Yat-sen, throughout the 1890s.[39] There is an intriguing congruence between Chinese and Western secret societies in this period. Sun Yat-sen formed secret brotherhoods in his years in Hawaii (the Revive China Soceity) and afterward (Tongmeng Hui) to advance the revolutionary cause in the midst of an unparalleled growth of Masonry worldwide. At the same time a number of Western brethren became fascinated by Chinese secret societies and their parallels to the Masonic brotherhood, with one three-volume study, The Hung Society or The Society of Heaven and Earth being a classic of the genre.[40] Another detailed study, Freemasonry in China, offered no information on Masonic lodges, instead correlating Confucian and Taoist philosophy and symbols to those of the Western fraternity. [41]

Freemasonry’s hierarchical structure facilitated connections with leaders in Asia and the Pacific. Grand Lodge officials in Britain and Europe empowered regional fraternal authorities to charter individual lodges, establish a regulatory framework and even provide support ranging from financial assistance to sending experts on ritual for lectures and demonstrations. But these national and regional Masonic groups also functioned as key links to local leadership. Grand Lodges authorized membership, honors and official recognition to local princes and dignitaries, allowing them the opportunity to develop relationships with distant government officials and businessmen within a fraternal context. It afforded new forms of legitimation for rulers through public ceremonies and the possibility of creating a support network-both local and international- comprised of the brethren.

Hawai’i’s nineteenth century leaders are an excellent illustration of these intertwining themes, with three Hawaiian kings joining the order beginning in 1852 and a fourth petitioning for membership before his death. I have used the term “Civic Masonry” elsewhere to describe the public and private manifestations of the secret society that aimed to strengthen the Hawaiian monarchy.[42] First established under Kamehameha IV (ruled 1855 – 1863), the form persisted through the succeeding regimes of Kamehameha V (ruled 1863 – 1872), Kal_kaua (ruled 1874-1891), and, to some extent, his successor Queen Lili’uokalani (ruled 1891- 1893). Several basic features characterized Civic Masonry, including regular displays of Masonic symbols and rituals in public ceremonies, parades, and festivities involving both Masons and Hawaiian royalty; the appointment of dozens of Masons to government positions at all levels, including the Privy Council, the inner circle of decision makers in the government and the elevation of royal Hawaiian Masons to the highest offices and degrees of Masonry.

When Hawai’i’s King Kamehameha IV, (also Master of Lodge Le Progros), wanted an Anglican mission assigned to the islands to counter meddlesome American Congregationalists in 1861, he used a number of avenues including Masonic contacts in Hawai’i and London to successfully lobby Queen Victoria and the Archbishop of Canterbury. (The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions strenuously lobbied against such a mission through their contacts in London.)[43] More than a decade later, King Kal_kaua traveled to the United States mainland for several months to rally support for a treaty that would allow duty-free imports of Hawaiian agricultural products. In Washington, he dined with President Ulysses Grant and addressed a joint session of Congress, the first monarch ever to do so. During the course of the journey, the Hawaiian monarch regularly visited Masonic lodges, where he took part in rituals as a visiting brother. As with other royal Masons, the king brought prestige and elevated the status not only of his own lodge in Honolulu but to those he visited, where was lavished with honors.[44]

Kal_kaua was keenly interested in reviving Hawaiian culture, much of which had been condemned as evil incarnate by American missionaries for more than a half-century. In 1886, after twenty-seven years as a Master Mason (as well a member of the elite Scottish Rite and York Rite Masonic organizations), the king established Hale Naua, a secret society dedicated to revitalizing Hawaiian culture. Based upon an ancient council of chiefs of the same name, the modern Hale Naua researched genealogies, but also aggressively worked to develop Hawaiian arts ranging from hula and oli, (sacred dance and chant) to the production of handicrafts, musical instruments and many other fields of traditional cultural knowledge.[45] It also had a political aim-to maintain Hawaiian sovereignty. Kal_kaua used the Masonic organizational format-a hierarchy of officers, degrees, and initiations to structure the Hale Naua, infusing these forms with Hawaiian cultural meanings at every turn. Intended to bridge the widening political and racial gap dividing Hawaiians and whites in the kingdom, Hale Naua instead became a target for intense criticism for its revival of “heathenism” and an imminent return to “the gross darkness and ignorance of a brutal and degraded past” that the society was said to represent.[46]

In conferring a hierarchy of degrees through a labyrinth of rituals, Hale Naua used Western fraternal forms to infuse indigenous knowledge and practice with the same aura of morality and ethical instruction that permeated Masonic forms. Hawai’i’s king not only appropriated Masonic organizational patterns; he reversed more than half a century of missionary teachings that placed Hawaiian cultural values and practices in moral opposition to those of “civilization” and Christianity.

The Hawaiian king was not alone in actively appropriating the symbols and rituals of the Masonic order-indigenous leaders in the Philippines were even bolder in linking the philosophical radicalism at the core of the Masonic brotherhood to their own nationalistic efforts. [47] If hierarchy and elitism were central to Masonic organizations on a local, regional and international level, another, seemingly contrary attribute -revolution-has also been commonly associated with the fraternity.[48] In the Philippines, the long dormant brotherhood emerged in 1856 with the Lodge Primara Luiz Filipina , formed by two Spanish naval lieutenants. Little more than a decade later, a new administration in Spain angered the friar-dominated Catholic establishment in the Philippines by sending hundreds of new appointees, many of whom were Masons, to replace officials of the deposed regime.[49] The new Governor General, Carlos Maria de la Torre encouraged a host of reforms and helped to spur free discussion of political problems. Although his policies were reversed in the early 1870s, La Torre’s reforms preceded several waves of liberalization that were spearheaded by Masons. In the 1885, the new Prime Minister of Spain, who was also the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Gran Oriente de Esp na appointed a 33rd degree Mason, Emilio Terrero y Perinat. Perinat subsequently appointed two other 33rd degree Masons as principal assistants, forming a powerful ruling triad that has been characterized as the “Triangulo de 33.” [50] While Freemasonry was becoming increasingly important source of support for reform in the Philippines, Masonic lodges in Spain were welcoming young Filipino students such as Jose Rizal into their ranks during the same decade. Rizal, a charismatic and skilled orator and writer, would also join his countryman in establishing Solidaridad, an exclusively Filipino Masonic lodge in Spain.

Rizal also worked to establish Masonic lodges for Filipinos in the Philippines along with Marcelo del Pilar, a nationalist leader who had escaped to Spain after the downfall of the Triangulo de 33 in 1888. Coming from different regions of the vast archipelago, Rizal and del Pilar believed that Masonry would act as a model of cooperative action and unity. Filipino Masons also believed that the order was a potent force in the battle against the domineering Spanish as expressed by Rizal:

Masons should not rest so long as the world nurtures a tyrant, so long as the night gathers in its echoes the moans of the oppressed, so long as there are slaves, so long as there are oppressors. And this work is perhaps the greatest that Masonry has imposed upon itself and the only one worthy of its universal name.[51]
After the successful formation the first Filipino lodges in the early1890s, Rizal intended to develop a reformist political society, Liga Filipina, based on the Masonic structure (All Masonic lodges are explicitly prohibited from indulging in political activity.) When Rizal arrived back in Manila in 1892, his plans were suddenly thwarted by his arrest and deportation, leading to a radicalization of his supporters. Instead of the efforts to liberalize the Spanish administration, six Filipino Masons established Katipunan, an organization dedicated to ousting the colonial occupiers. Like the aborted Liga Filipina, Katipunan would transform Masonic rituals, symbols and organizational structures into a Filipino cultural and political context, while still maintaining the structure of hierarchical degrees, initiation ordeals, and ceremonial garb. Immediately following Rizal’s execution by the Spanish in 1896, Katipunan gained a wave of new adherents as Masonic lodges in the Philippines came under relentless attack by the Spanish establishment. The leadership of the revolutionary movement largely emerged from this milieu of secret societies, as affirmed by Emilio Aguinaldo:

The successful revolution of 1896 was Masonically inspired, Masonically led, and Masonically executed, and I venture to say that the first Philippine Republic, of which I was its humble president, was an achievement we owe, largely, to Masonry and the Masons.[52]
Rizal and Aguinaldo along with Hawaii’s Kamehameha IV and Kalakaua exemplify the idea of “indigenous cosmopolitanism,” individuals whose identities are globalized while also actively encouraging regional articulation.[53] These important leaders embodied multiple and complex identities-neither wholly local nor acculturated and colonized. As Masons and world travelers, each of these men belonged to a global organization that in many ways helped to define as well as contribute to the West’s imperial hegemony. At the same time, as committed political and cultural partisans, they were able to creatively adapt the fraternal format, both organizational and symbolic, for their own purposes. Freemasonry’s structure had been appropriated earlier in the eighteenth and nineteenth century by secret political societies such as the Illuminati and the Carbonari among others. Their legend still endures as does that of the Hale Naua and Katipunan because of the bonds of brotherhood these groups instilled. The social and ritual functions of the lodges were the most powerful unifying forces, crosscutting class and cultural differences and allowing a new vision of human society based on equality, gendered identity, friendship and shared values.


1 Andrew D’Cruz, “The Early History of Freemasonry in Bengal” in Walter Kelly Firminger, The Early History of Freemasonry in Bengal and the Punjab (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Co., 1906), 52.

2 Ibid.

3 For more on Titsingh see, Isaac Titsingh, Illustrations of Japan … Memoirs and Anecdotes of the Reigning Dynasty of the Djogouns, or Sovereigns of Japan, Trans. Frederic Shoberl. ( London: R. Ackermann, 1822) and Frank Lequin, ed., The Private Correspondence of Isaac Titsingh , (Amsterdam: J.C. Gieben ,1990).

4 For discussions of Freemasonry and British cultural and political hegemony, see Margaret C. Jacob, The Radical Enlightenment: Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans (London, 1981); Margaret C. Jacob, Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989); Jessica Harland-Jacobs, “Hands Across the Sea: The Masonic Network, British Imperialism, and the North Atlantic World” The Geographical Review 89 (April 1999).

5 Ronald Hyam, Britain’s Imperial Century, 1898-1914: A Study of Empire and Expansion, 2nd ed. (Lanham, MD: Barnes and Noble Books, 1993), 300. For Freemasonry in Hawai’i see Frank Karpiel, “Mystic Ties of Brotherhood: Freemasonry, Royalty, and Ritual in Hawaii,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawai’i-Manoa, 1998), 44.

6 Walter K. Firminger, The Second Lodge of Bengal in the Olden Times, 1761-1812 (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Co., 1906), 221.

7 Ibid., 260.

8 Henry Wilson Coil, Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia (New York, Macoy Publishing, 1961), 76.

9 Frank Karpiel, “Mystic Ties of Brotherhood: Freemasonry, Royalty, and Ritual in Hawaii,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hawai’i-Manoa, 1998), 44.

10 Alvin J. Schmidt, Fraternal Organizations (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1980), 122.

11 See Jacobs, The Radical Enlightenment; Living the Enlightenment; Henry Wilson Coil Freemasonry Through Six Centuries, Vol. II. (Richmond: Macoy Publishing, 1968).

12 Coil, Masonic Encyclopedia, 74.

13 See Robert F. Gould, Gould’s History of Freemasonry (London: Caxton Publishing Co., 1931).

14 J. Clarke, History of Minden Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, No. 63, (Kingston, Bermuda: Argus, 1849) in Jessica Harland-Jacobs, “Hands Across the Sea,” 237.

15 Coil, Masonic Encyclopedia, 417.

16 Schmidt, Fraternal Organizations, 126.

17 Norman Mackenzie, ed. Secret Societies (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967), 306-321; Grand Lodge of Hawai’i Grand Historian Herbert Gardiner, interview by author, August 1997.

18 Address to the Grand Lodge of California, B. D. Hyam, Deputy Grand Master, Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of California, (1852), 149.

19 See Karpiel, “Mystic Ties of Brotherhood,” 95-143; and Anthony D. Fels, “The Square and the Compass: San Francisco’s Freemasons and American Religion, 1870-1900” (Ph.D. diss., Stanford University, 1987).

20A scholarly study that examines the subject is Mildred J. Headings, French Freemasonry Under the Third Republic (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1949), which contains a good description of Masonic charitable work in France from 1870 to 1940, pp. 170-203; For the American scene, a good analysis is contained in Fels, “The Square and the Compass,” 589—668.

21 Firminger, The Second Lodge of Bengal, 183.

22 George M. Moulton, to Worshipful Master and Brethren of Hawaiian Lodge, 14 November 1899, Hawaiian Lodge Archives, Honolulu.

23 Coil, Masonic Encyclopedia, 143.

24 Frank Raven, Shanghai to K. L. G. Wallace, Honolulu, 30 September 1904, Hawaiian Lodges Archives, Honolulu.

25 Firminger, Second Lodge of Bengal, 182.

26 See Gould, History of Freemasonry; Coil, Masonic Encyclopedia, 74-75.

27 Ibid., 77.

28 See Paul van der Veur, Freemasonry in Indonesia from Radermacher to Soekanto, 1762-1961, (Athens, Ohio: Center for International Studies, Ohio University, 1976); Christopher Haffner, The Craft in the East, (Hong Kong: Libra Press, Ltd., 1977)

29 Firminger, The Early History of Freemasonry, 167-171.

30 Firminger, The Second Lodge of Bengal, 183.

31 Ibid.

32 Coil, Masonic Encyclopedia, 78.

33 Ibid. In 1886, a Parsee was elected to one of the most distinguished offices in Freemasonry, Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of England.

34 Lynn Dumenil, Freemasonry and American Culture, 1880-1930 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 26-27.

35 Firminger, Early History of Freemasonry, 265.

36 Ibid., 287.

37 Ibid., 447-449.

38 Ibid., 218.

39 See G.H. Choa, The Life and Times of Sir Kai Ho Kai (Hong Kong : Chinese University Press, 1981).

40 J. S. M. Ward and W.G. Stirling, The Hung Society or the Society of Heaven and Earth (London: The Baskerville Press, 1925).

41 Herbert A. Giles, Freemasonry in China, (Shanghai, 1890)

42 Frank Karpiel, “Mystic Ties of Brotherhood: Freemasonry, Ritual and Hawaiian Royalty in the Nineteenth Century”, Pacific Historical Review 69,3 (August 2000), 357-397.

43 Ralph Kuykendall, The Hawaiian Kingdom, 1854-1874, (Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1953), 88-91.

44 New York Times 30, 31 December 1874; “King Kalakaua” The New England Freemason 2 (January 1875): 43-44.

45 David Malo, Hawaiian Antiquities (Moolelo Hawaii), translated by Dr. Nathaniel B. Emerson. (Honolulu: Bishop Museum, 1951), 191-192.

46 Pacific Commercial Advertiser (Honolulu), 15 November 1886.

47 For details, see Frank Karpiel, “Mystic Ties of Brotherhood” (Ph.D. dissertation), 216-255.

48 For an thorough analysis of the radical political implications of Freemasonry, see Margaret Jacobs, The Radical Englightenment and Living the Enlightenment. For a detailed study of Masonry and the American Revolution, see Steven C. Bullock, Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

49 For details on the hostility of the Spanish friar-dominated establishment to Freemasonry, see Reynold S. Fajardo, The Brethren: Masons in the Struggle for Philippine Independence (Manila, E.L. Locsin, 1998).

50 Reynold S. Fajardo, “Masonry and the Philippine Revolution,” The Philippines Cabletow, 73,2 [on-line] available from readings_files/revo.html

51 Ibid.

52 Ibid.

53 James Clifford, “Valuing the Pacific

An Interview with James Clifford,” interview by Robert Borofsky in Robert Borofsky, ed. Rememberance of Pacific Pasts (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2000), 92-99.