Leaders of Freemasons in Virginia and Massachusetts discuss the sectional crisis and the future of the Union.
Proceedings of a Grand Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, Begun and Held in the Mason's Hall, in the City of Richmond, on Monday, the 9th Day of December, A. L. 5861, A. D. 1861 (Richmond, Va.: Chas. H. Wynne, Printer, 1861), 29–31. Collections of the Library of Virginia.
National fraternal organizations, such as the Freemasons, were important in uniting the different parts of the country in the nineteenth century. This exchange between the grand masters of the Freemasons in Virginia and Massachusetts illustrates that the leaders of Freemasonry were unsuccessful in using the influence of their national organization to save the Union.
Winslow Lewis, of Boston, Massachusetts, wrote, "Is it too late to avert the calamity? Is there naught remains of conservatism to be tried? Have we not an institution which binds us together, not only as fellow-citizens, but as brothers; and as brothers, can we lacerate those pledges the foundation of our Faith and Practice?"
John Robin McDaniel, of Lynchburg, replied, "The Union is beyond doubt dissolved, and the only hope that remains is, that a peaceful separation may be effected, and the conservative element of both sections may so exert themselves, as to secure the most friendly relations; so that whilst we may not be able to live as one family, we may nevertheless continue forever good neighbors."