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Saturday, September 5, 2009

District Deputy Grand Master – Revisited

See also: District Deputy Grand Master – Origin of the Position

It is interesting to examine the reasons leading to the creation of the positions of District Deputy Grand Masters, the growing pains associated with the adjusted system of governance associated with the positions, and the eventual tweaking of the District Deputy system that overcame its initial deficiencies.

Prior to 1871, the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina had at various times used a single position – that of Grand Lecturer – to assist the Grand Master and Grand Lodge in ensuring that subordinate lodges were uniform in their workings. Due to vast distances involved and the slow nature of travel in those long ago times, it is obvious to see how this was an inefficient system at best.

The initial District system approved by the Grand Lodge of South Carolina in 1871 did little to alleviate the same problems associated with the Grand Lecturer system. Only ten Districts were created and many of the District Deputy Grand Masters reportedly suffered from some of the same problems which a Grand Lecturer had – distances and difficulty of travel. In the years immediately following the creation of the system, some District Deputy Grand Masters reported that they could not even find some of the lodges in their District. Some reported that they – being that most were men with professions – did not have the time to devote to such a large undertaking as that of visiting all of their District lodges and managing the requests for decisions coming from such.

By 1887, rumblings were being heard that called for the abolishment of the District system. Some of the District Deputy Grand Masters, themselves, were proponents of the abolishing the system. In 1891, a constitutional amendment was proposed that – if passed – would have ended the office of District Deputy Grand Master and revived the position of Grand Lecturer. In 1892, the Grand Lodge postponed consideration of this proposal indefinitely.

The situation involving the District system was finally tweaked into a workable part of the government of the Grand Lodge when, in 1896, the Grand Lodge voted to increase the number of Districts. This set in motion the future practice of redrawing District lines and increasing the number of District Deputy Grand Masters as the Grand Jurisdiction grew in its number of chartered lodges – with roughly ten lodges in each District.

Source: Cornwell, Ross & Willis, Samuel M. A History of Freemasonry in South Carolina; The Years 1860 - 1919. The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina, 1979.

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