Sunday, September 19, 2010

‘Civil War Lodge of Research in NYC’

The fall meeting of Civil War Lodge of Research No. 1865 will take place Saturday, October 2 at 10 a.m. in the Renaissance Room of Masonic Hall in Manhattan.

Manhattan? Isn’t that an unusual location for a meeting of a research lodge focused on the role of Freemasonry during the Civil War? Not really. New York City figures fairly largely in the annals of the war, including what became known as the New York Draft Riots.

Four months after the enactment of the Enrollment Act of Conscription, which established a military draft system that preyed upon the poor by allowing those with money to send replacements into the army in their stead, and only days after the bloodbath at Gettysburg, thousands of New Yorkers fearful of being fed into the military meatgrinder terrorized the city’s East Side. The extent of that show of mobocracy perhaps was not seen again in the United States until the rioting in South Central Los Angeles in 1992. Union troops had to be deployed to New York to restore order. If I remember correctly, the film Gangs of New York concludes with a riot combatted by artillery raining upon the city. That is a depiction of the Draft Riots.

(I have no idea if this is what attracts the lodge to New York City, but it’s worth mentioning.)

After the meeting, some of the brethren will visit Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Riverside Drive at 89th Street) and Grant’s Tomb (Riverside at 122nd). They also might want to check out Cooper Union, where Abraham Lincoln’s oratory propelled him to national prominence. And from there of course one must visit McSorley’s, which merits a full day’s attention in itself.

Masonic Hall is the home of the Grand Lodge of New York, located at 71 West 23rd St. in Manhattan. The Renaissance Room is on the sixth floor.

Civil War Lodge of Research is based in Virginia, a state that is home to, I think, six research lodges!

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