The Free and Accepted Masons of Franklin Lodge No. 20 are in possession of several unique American artifacts, specifically historic American flags.
These flags are currently undergoing preservation to ensure their stability. They are historic symbols of American freedom and bravery, each one having 30 stars. These stars represent the 30 American states that made up our country in 1848.
The 30-star flag was introduced on the Fourth of July of 1848 to acknowledge the admission of the Wisconsin territory into the Union and its statehood status (granting the state a degree of self-governance). It would only last until 1851 when it was replaced by the 31-star flag. This was due to the introduction of both the California Republic and the unorganized Californian territories.
By law, when a state was added to the union, a new flag would be introduced on July 4. This was to demonstrate American solidarity over individual statehood allegiance--an example of the federal government attempting to create a single American identity.
Three Presidents Served Under the Flag
When the 30-star flag decorated the halls of federal buildings, the President of the United States of America was James K. Polk, a Master Mason. Polk’s Vice President was George M. Dallas, who served as Grand Master in the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, in 1835.
The second president to serve under the flag was Zachary Taylor, an American war hero who expressed interests in Freemasonry. It is important to note that many of his close friends were Freemasons. We will never know if he would have joined a lodge. Sadly, he passed away almost immediately after taking office.
The final president to serve under the flag was Millard Fillmore. As a man who grew up in severe poverty, which deeply influenced his political philosophy, his opinion of closed fraternities, societies, and clubs was negative. A closed society to him was a place where the wealthy, prestigious, and influential would gather. All the while, the poor would suffer. This view led him to view Freemasons as snobby, indifferent towards suffering, power hungry, and tyrannical.
He joined the anti-masonic party and led it into the Whig Party. This was meant to curtail President Andrew Jackson’s political powerbase, but also dissolved the first third party in US history. Andrew Jackson was both a Freemason and a mentor to Polk. President Fillmore saw Jackson’s political decisions as tyrannical and held that opinion of many politicians who were Freemasons.
At the end of his political career, President Fillmore was invited to a grand lodge, an invitation that he accepted. He would go on to attend two Masonic cornerstone laying ceremonies. It is believed that his opinion towards Freemasonry changed at this point.
It seems fitting to have the flags preserved by Free and Accepted Masons. Please note that flags such as the ones undergoing preservation at the lodge are a rarity. These flags were only produced for several years and are over 150 years old. They existed during pivotal moments in US history, such as the period of American history known as “Manifest Destiny”. It is the lodge’s hope that once the flags are preserved, they will be maintained. Bro. Ray Geer is acting as curator for the flags and overseeing the preservation efforts.
Bro. Joshua Bedoya
222 Taunton Ave.,
East Providence, RI 02914
P: (401) 435-4650
2nd Entrance, 116 Long St
Warwick, RI 02886
P: (401) 51-0284