The Ancient Landmarks

In the early Anglo Saxon, German, or Scandinavian languages the noun land meant the same as in modern English, although as a verb it meant come to land, a meaning reflected in our custom of saying a man lands from a ship, etc. Mark is found in almost all European languages, and derives from the Latin margo, edge, boundary, whence our margin, mark, and cognate terms. A landmark is some mark, line or object to indicate a boundary. The landmarks of Masonry are those principles by which the Craft is bounded, that is, marked off from all other societies and associations and with-out which it would lose its identity.

– Source: 100 Words in Masonry

The Ancient Landmarks

Next only after the Book of Constitutions of the original Grand Lodge which was published in 1723, the Ahimin Rezon which was published by the Antient Grand Lodge in 1756, and Thomas Smith Webb’s Illustrations, the article on Ancient Landmarks which Albert G. Mackey published in the 1877 edition of this Encyclopedia (see page 559 of this edition) has had more influence on American Freemasonry than any other single writing. The list of Landmarks in it has been officially endorsed by about one-half of the Grand Lodges; about one-half of these have officially adopt^ ed it as a part of the Written Law.

Nevertheless the list has been drastically criticized ever since it was published, by Grand Lodges as much as by individual writers, and some fifteen or twenty Grand Lodges have adopted lists of their own widely different from Mackey’s. This criticism has been directed at two points: first, it has been denied that the Landmarks have been exactly twentyfive in number, and other writers have prepared lists ranging from one or two up to fifty or sixty; second, it has been contended that the Landmarks as given by Mackey are not from time immemorial. Bro. Theodore Sutton Parvin, with whom Mackey discussed his article before it was printed, made both these criticisms at the time, and proposed that the whole list be reduced to five or six. (This incidentally proves that before publication Mackey himself encountered the criticism his article would later meet).

Freemasonry is not a fluviatile, protean thing which can change itself as time goes on, and as the whim or desire of its members might elect, but has a fixed, inalterable identity of its own. That identity has in it a number of constituent elements, each of which is necessary to it, so that if any one of them is destroyed Freemasonry as a whole is destroyed with it. It would be possible to effect a number of changes in Craft usage which would leave Freemasonry itself in complete integrity, and such changes have been made often enough, as when the Two Degree system was changed to Three Degrees, or when the title of the Master was changed from Right Worshipful to Worshipful; but other changes are such that if only one of them were put into effect Freemasonry would be destroyed. This is the substance of the Doctrine of Landmarks.

Any constituent of the identity of Freemasonry, and without which that identity would cease, is a Landmark. To destroy such a constituent is an Innovation, and it is for this reason that if a Grand Lodge is guilty of an Innovation other Grand Lodges immediately withdraw recognition from it. It is plain, for example, that the requirement that a member must be an adult man is a Landmark, because the admittance of women and children would entail a complete destruction of age-old Masonry.

It is impossible to draw up a hard-and-fast list of Landmarks that will include nothing except Landmarks and exclude no Landmarks because the world in which Freemasonry works is a changing world, and what might violate a Landmark in one age would not in another. The great value of the Doctrine is in its recognition of the fact that Freemasonry has a fixed, inalterable identity of its own which cannot be changed by its own members according to taste or fashion or prejudice; and because it is a standard or criterion by which any proposed change can be tested. Would this proposed change alter Freemasonry? Make of it something else? if so it is an Innovation; if not, the proposed change can be considered on its own merits.

Chetwode Crawley gave it as his opinion that there are three Landmarks: Fatherhood of God; Brotherhood of Man; the Life to Come.

William J. Hughan gave a legalistic definition: “A landmark must be a regulation or custom, which cannot be abrogated without placing offenders outside the pale of the Craft; and all Landmarks should practically ante-date the Grand Lodge era. ” He mentions belief in God, secrecy, and male membership as being among such rules. (It is difficult to guess what Hughan here means by “practically. “)

Mackenzie defined Landmarks as ” the leading principles from which there can be no deviation.” His definition had British Freemasonry in mind where there are only three Grand Lodges for a very large population; it would have even more usefulness in the United States where there are forty-nine Grand Jurisdictions; so many independent sovereign Bodies need Landmarks as a common body of practices and principles in order to serve as a platform for united action, and as a means for maintaining comity; this fact is an answer to the question raised by Sir Alfred Robbins as to why the question of Landmarks is so much more discussed and debated in America than it is in England. The Rev. George Oliver adopted so loose a definition that it ran away with him, proliferating into hundreds of Landmarks which he divided into twelve classes-too long a list is as unworkable as one which is too short.

The phrase “landmarks of our Order” is firs’ found in George Payne’s Regulations of 1721, which were incorporated in the Book of Constitutions published in 1723. In Lodge Minutes of the period that Book itself was sometimes referred to as “our Landmarks” in other Minutes the Book and the Ritual were occasionally referred to as “our two Landmarks.”

In his Masonic Encydopedia Woodford set dowr a list of eighteen. J. W. Horsley was of the opinion that Landmarks are of different degrees of “indispensability “; he named five as indispensable:

1 ) Belief in a Personal God.
2) Belief in a Future Life.
3) The volume of the Sacred Law.
4) Secrecy.
5) The Mode of Recognition.

In a second and less indispensable class he names:

1 ) Division into Three Degrees
2) Legend of the Third Degree. (It is an odd fact that makers of lists of Landmarks almost invariably forget the High Grades; according to Horsley the Scottish Rite, etc., would be a violation of his Landmark “Division into Three Degrees.”)

A. J. A. Poignant was a skeptic who did not believe that any list is possible: “What is meant by the Landmarks of the Order? . . . Has anybody within living memory received a conclusive or satisfactory answer to this question?” He confuses the reality of Landmarks with attempts to make lists of them. Has any mathematician ” within living memory ” ever made an exhaustive list of the propositions and theorems belonging to Euclid’s geometry? or even the axioms? yet engineers make practical use of geometry every day.

Justinian defined an unwritten law as ” what usage has approved”; E. L. Hawkins, recalling this, wrote: “Now the Old Landmarks of the Craft are its unwritten laws, either sanctioned by unwritten custom, or, if enacted, enacted at a period so remote that no trace of their enactment can be found. ”

He held that we have these in the Old Charges. (It is worth noting that in England Lodge feasts would satisfy Hawkins’ definition, whereas in American Freemasonry Lodge feasts have not been a custom for a century and a half.)

As quoted above George Oliver wrote in one book that there are twelve classes of Landmarks; but w hen writing elsewhere (in 1863) he became skeptical: ” we have no actual criterion by which we may determine what is a Landmark, and what is not”-though what he meant by “actual criterion” he leaves his reader to guess. Theodore Sutton Parvin also changed his mind; at one time he said there are three Landmarks; at another he wrote that there are no Landmarks (a most extraordinary statement!) because “no two men agree as to what they are.” (His attention should have been called to the fact that some twenty-five American Grand Lodges agree.) Judge Josiah Drummond wrote: “If ‘Landmarks’ are anything else than laws of the Craft, either originally expressly adopted or growing out of immemorial usage, the term is a misnomer . . . A Landmark is something set, and ‘ancient Landmark’ is one which has remained a long time. On the other hand ‘fundamental principles’ are like truth, from everlasting to everlasting. ”

In 1871 Findel fixed on nine Landmarks.
The Grand Lodge of New Jersey fixed on 10 in 1903.
John W. Simon chose 15.
Rob Morris made a list of 17.
The Grand Lodge of New York once selected 31.
The Grand Lodge of Kentucky adopted 54.
J. F. Newton approved Findel’s list:

1) Universality.
2) Masonic organized fellowship.
3) The Qualifications.
4) Secrecy.


In 1856 the Grand Lodge of Minnesota adopted a list of 26 “articles which had the force of Landmarks”. (For a good bibliography on Landmarks see The Builder: Vol. I; page 183.)

Hextall argued that the “Ancient Landmarks” in the Book of Constitutions referred to Operative building secrets in general, and to geometry in particular. Canon Horsley wrote: “For myself I think that the test must have been, and should be now, what are the tenets or matters the breach or repudiation of which would entail, at any rate merit, expulsion from the order.” (Horsley forgot that a Lodge or Grand Lodge can be expelled from the Order, and oftentimes for Innovation, which is a violation of Landmarks; the result is that his “test” is circular.)

When Bro. C. F. Catlin circularized American Grand Lodges in 1907 he found that 21 Grand Lodges had never adopted legislation on the subject of Landmarks-they took them to be unwritten laws; nine Grand Lodges had officially adopted the ” Ancient Charges. ” Among those which had adopted legislation the number of Landmarks chosen ranged in number from 10 to 75, and embodied more than 100 “separate and distinct subjects.”

In the Iowa Grand Lodge Proceedings (1888; p. 157) Albert Pike undertook to demolish Mackey’s list of 25 Landmarks one by one; “Perhaps no more can be said with certainty in regard to them than that they were those essential principles on which the old simple Freemasonry was built, and without which it could not have been Freemasonry; the organization of the Craft into Lodges, the requisites for admission into the fellowship, and the methods of government established at the beginning . . . There is no common agreement in regard to what are and what are not Landmarks.” Lionel Vibert undertook to employ Mill’s principle of logical exclusion to the problem; in his Freemasonry Before the Existence of Grand Lodges he attempted “to classify all the peculiar features of the Craft which serve to distinguish it from all other religions, societies, gilds, brotherhoods or what you will. ”


In a book on the words used as titles by the nobility, aristocracy, chivalric orders, etc., of Great Britain, R. T. Hampton , traces the word “landmark” back to a point in Anglo Saxon where that language lies closest to its origins in Sanskrit. In those early times a people, clan, or tribe in the upper half of the European lands dwelt in an opening in the ever-stretching forests, on a plain in a valley, or even in a dell; such an area they called a ‘ land.” Around this land were sharply defined boundaries, in the earliest times guards or sentries marched up and down the boundary line as much to prevent trespassing as to be on guard against attack.

Because of this march [maroo] the boundary came to be called ” the land marao,” or ” landmark “- oftentimes the whole strip or region inside a border was called ” the march “; Englishmen still call the border between themselves and Wales ” the Welsh marches,” and in the north the phrase ” the marches of Scotland ” antedated “borders of Scotland.” In the course of time the marching guards or sentinels were replaced by banners, which hung on standards permanently fixed in the ground; a banner represented a people’s or tribe’s identity -if a man was said to belong to “Olaf’s Banner” it meant that he belonged to the tribe or people of which Olaf was King.

When it became necessary to describe the location of a boundary in order to make treaties and agreements with neighboring peoples, the line was said to run through a succession of permanent features, a large rock, the crest of a hill, up the bed of a stream, past a certain tree, etc., these were ” land markers.” The boundary, the marching sentinels, and the permanent features which located the boundary, these three meanings coalesced and they have belonged to the meaning of the word ever since.

– Source: Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

The Ancient Landmarks

By Bro. SILAS H. Shepherd, Wisconsin

(The study of the Landmarks of Masonry, by Brother Shepherd, is a piece of real Masonic Research, and is valuable as showing the confusion that obtains among the several Grand Jurisdictions in this country in the matter of Landmarks. In this connection, the Brethren might re-read the article on the subject, suggested by an essay of the late Brother T.S. Parvin, in the February issue of The Builder. It is interesting to note how many of the Grand Lodges adopt the list of landmarks as formulated by Dr. Mackey, and as interesting to observe how many are content with the unwritten law of the Order. For ourselves, if required to state what we believe to be the real Landmarks of Masonry, it would be after this fashion:–The Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, the Moral Law, the Golden Rule, and the Hope of a Life Everlasting.–The Editor.)

THE “Ancient Landmarks” and “Landmarks of Masonry” are terms which appear throughout the literature of Masonry, and are the source of deep study by many Craftsmen who have devoted time, talent and genius to promote the best interests of our fraternity.

On the subject of “landmarks,” as on the subjects of history and symbolism, there is a great diversity of opinion, both by Grand Lodges and by individuals, and the need of a comparison of ideas which are held by those who have made the subject a study was the cause which prompted us to compile this article.

“What is a landmark?” is a debatable question. It has been answered in part by definitions; it has also been answered by enumerating certain laws or customs which are considered landmarks by the authors of the compilations; it has also been considered a proper subject for legislation by some Grand Lodges and they have enacted laws as to what are to be considered landmarks in their jurisdiction.

After the organization of the Premier Grand Lodge in 1717, the “Charges of a Freemason” were extracted from the old manuscript copies and a set of thirty-nine “General Regulations” were adopted, the last of which reads in part as follows: “Every Annual Grand Lodge has an inherent power and authority to make new Regulations, or to alter these, for the real benefit of this ancient Fraternity: Provided, always, that the old Land-Marks be carefully preserved.” This is the earliest mention of landmarks in connection with Freemasonry.

Neither at that time nor at any subsequent period can we find any enumeration of landmarks by the Grand Lodge of England, “Ancient,” “Modern” or United.

On Oct. 19th, 1810, the Lodge of Promulgation resolved “that it appears to this Lodge, that the ceremony of Installation of Masters of Lodges, is one of the two Land Marks of the Craft and ought to be observed.

We are left entirely in the dark as to what they considered the other landmark. This is the only case where we have been able to find any attempt to say how many or what constituted a landmark until 1856 when the Grand Lodge of Minnesota adopted a list of twenty-six articles which had the force of landmarks, which was two years earlier than Bro. Albert Mackey enumerated his list which has been generally considered the first attempt to enumerate them.

We will give the definition of landmarks by several learned brethren.

“Of the nature of the Landmarks of Masonry, there has been some diversity of opinion among writers; but perhaps the safest method is to restrict them to those ancient, and therefore universal, customs of the Order, which either gradually grew into operation as rules of action. or if at once enacted by any competent authority, were enacted at a period so remote, that no account of their origin is to be found in the records of history.” (Albert G. Mackey, Mas. Jur. page 15.)

“The very definition of Landmarks shows that an enumeration of them is scarcely possible. All we can know is that it is a law or a custom that has existed from time immemorial. If any universal usage exists, and has existed so long that its origin is unknown, it is a Landmark.” (Josiah Drummond, Maine Masonic Text Book.)

“With respect to the Landmarks of Masonry, some restrict them to the O.B., signs, tokens and words. Others include the ceremony of initiation, passing and raising; and the form, dimensions and supports; the ground, situation and covering; the ornaments, furniture and jewels of a Lodge, or their characteristic symbols. Some think that the order has no landmarks beyond its peculiar secrets. (Geo. Oliver, Dict. Symb. Mas. )

“We assume those principles of action to be Landmarks which have existed from time immemorial, whether in the written or unwritten law; which are identified with the form and essence of the society; which, the great majority agree, cannot be changed, and which every Mason is bound to maintain intact, under the most solemn and inviolable sanctions.” (Simons, Prin. of Mas. Juris.)

“Those fixed tenets by which the limits of Freemasonry may be known and preserved.” (Dictionary of Freemasonry, Morris.)

“The Landmarks of Masonry are those ancient principles and practices which mark out and distinguish Freemasonry as such, and they are the source of Masonic Jurisprudence.” (Lockwood’s Mas. Law and Practice, Page 14.)

My idea of an Ancient Landmark is a rule or usage of the Premier Grand Lodge which can not be abrogated, without cutting off the offending Body from the Universal Craft.” (W. J. Hughan.)

“A belief in God, oui Father; in the immortality of the soul; in the brotherhood of man; and in the necessary practice of all the moral and social virtue, were the essentials, our duty to God, our country, our neighbor and ourselves, was everywhere and universally inculcated. These we take to be the Landmarks of the Order.” (John Q. A. Fellows, Proc. G. L. of La., 1889.)

“A ‘Landmark’ that cannot be established by the writings of the fathers, or other recognized authorities, to have been the rule or belief among Freemasons in 1723 and before, or that is not now generally accepted as such, can hardly be held as Landmark. (H. B. Grant, Const. G. L. of Ky., 1910.)

“A Landmark, to be a Landmark, must command the universal respect and observance of all Masons.” (T. S. Parvin, Iowa Proc. 1889, Page 106, cor. report.)

“The fundamental principles of the Ancient Operative Masonry were few and simple, and they were not called landmarks. Each lodge was independent of every other, and there was no superior authority over all. Each was composed of Apprentices and FellowCrafts. Each had its Master and Wardens, and these were elected by vote of all the members. The ancient charges show by what principles the relations of those of the fellowship to each other were regulated; and these may not improperly be said to have been the ‘landmarks’ of the Craft.” (Albert Pike, Iowa Proc. 1888, Page 156, cor. report.)

“The Old Landmarks were, in fact, the secrets which existed amongst the Operative Masons in the days when they alone supplied the membership of the Craft.” (W. B. Hextall, Ars. Q. C. XXV, Page 91.) “The Ancient Landmarks of Freemasonry, like all other landmarks material or symbolical, can only preserve their stability, when they reach down to sure foundations. When the philosophic student unearths the underlying rock on which our Ancient Landmarks rest, he finds our sure foundations in the triple dogma Georgia– of the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Life to come. All laws, customs and methods that obtain amongst us and do not ultimately find footholds on this basis, are thereby earmarked as conventions and conveniences, no way partaking of the nature of Ancient Landmarks.” (Chetwode Crawley, Ars. Q. C. XXIII. )

The Masonic Congress at Chicago in 1893 defined the landmarks thus:

“The Ancient Landmarks are those fundamental principles which characterize Masonry as defined by the Charges of a Freemason, and without which the institution cannot be identified as Masonry, combined with the essentials of the unwritten language by which brethren distinguished each other as Masons.”

Having given a few of the definitions of landmarks by individual brethren and the collective opinion of the Masonic Congress at Chicago, 1893, which was very representative of Masonic scholarship in America, we will give what each Grand Lodge in the United States does or does not do in respect to landmarks.


Alabama recognizes as the landmarks the Old Charges of 1722 by Anderson.


Arizona is the only Grand Lodge on which we have no authentic information. We have searched the proceedings in vain to find what they hold to be the landmarks and have not been favored with a reply to our letter of inquiry.


Arkansas has no enumeration of the landmarks.


California has no legislation on the subject of landmarks, but as a general proposition accepts Mackey’s twenty-five.


Colorado has never adopted a particular list of landmarks, having been governed by the old constitutions and those published in Mackey’s Encyclopedia.


Connecticut has adopted as its code the treatise known as “Lockwood’s Masonic Law and Practice” and by inference holds to the specification of Landmarks contained therein.


No mention is made of Landmarks in the Constitution of 1909 and no list of landmarks appears in their code.

District of Columbia-

The District of Columbia accepts as the landmarks the twenty-five laid down by Mackey.

In the Masonic Code of 1905 is a valuable address on the “Outline of Masonic Law,” by Geo. H. Walker, P. G. M.


Florida has never taken any action on the subject of landmarks.


Georgia has no list of landmarks. Art. IV of the Constitution of 1909 reads: “The Grand Lodge shall have power as follows: To propose, enact and establish new regulations for the government of the Craft within its jurisdiction, and the same to alter, amend, explain or repeal, not contravening the ancient landmarks of the Order.”

Edict 177 reads: “The Unwritten Law, the Immemorial Usages, the Landmarks and the like, of Masonry, are not repealed by the adoption of any Constitution and By-Laws, nor is it in the power of any man or body of men to change, alter or repeal these or any of them.”


Idaho has no legislation defining or enumerating what landmarks are.


Illinois has no legislation defining landmarks. Illinois follows Robbins and Drummond on this subject.


No mention is made in the Indiana Constitution of Landmarks; and no list of landmarks appears in their code.


Iowa has no list of landmarks. The following is Sec. 5, Gen. Law: “The unwritten laws of this jurisdiction consist of the time honored customs and usages of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of general recognition, as they are found in the traditional and historic records of Freemasonry and adapted to the conditions and time in which we live, together with such rules for application as will perpetuate its integrity and usefulness, and not repugnant to its written laws.”


Kansas does not consider the landmarks a subject for legislation. With their code they publish the “Bassett notes” containing list of landmarks by Mackey, Morris, Simons and Lockwood for the information of the brethren.


The declaration at the beginning of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky 1908, reads: “The Grand Lodge of Kentucky acknowledges belief in God to be the great fundamental principle and Landmark of Masonry upon which our fraternity is erected.”

The Ancient Charges of 1723 are printed on pages 200-205, and on pages 209 to 240 are the “Ancient Landmarks with supporting evidence,” by H. B. Grant, 54 in number. (G. W. Speth reviewed them in Ars. Q. C. VII.)


Louisiana Constitution of 1902, Sec. 4, second paragraph, considering the powers of the Grand Lodge reads: “It may make all laws and regulations necessary for the government of the lodges and brethren under its jurisdiction, and for the propagation and advancement of the true principles and work of Ancient Freemasonry, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, the old Charges of Free and Accepted Masons of 1723 hereunto annexed, or the ancient usages and landmarks of the Order.”

Edict 44 reads: “That the only written landmarks are those in the ancient Charges of the Craft, forming part of the Constitution of the Grand Lodge; and the unwritten, those contained in the ceremonies of initiation, and the ties which bind us together as Masons: Nor is it proper by legislation to make any new obligations with penalties attached, nor for a lodge to attempt, by resolution, to define the landmarks of the Craft.”


Maine has no legislation as to what landmarks are. They follow Josiah Drummond’s ideas.


Maryland has no list of landmarks. Art. II Constitution of 1906 defines the duty of the Grand Lodge; among other duties is one “to preserve and maintain the Ancient Landmarks.” Article XXIX reads: “In all cases not particularly provided for in this Constitution, the Grand Lodge shall adhere to, and be governed by the Ancient Rules and Regulations of Masonry.”


Massachusetts has never adopted any list of landmarks. They “feel safer in cultivating a spirit of reverence for the ancient customs and practices of the Order” than in attempting to define the Landmarks.


Michigan has no list of landmarks. The following is taken from the preface of the Michigan Blue Book of 1911: “The first place in the volume– the place of honor–has been assigned to the “Ancient Charges and Regulations” not because they are, in form, binding on us, but because they are universally recognized as the beginning and basis of all the “written law” of the Craft; and also because they embody many of those “Ancient Landmarks” which give “metes and bounds” to the Rules and Regulations of Symbolic Masonry.”


Minnesota has adopted Mackey’s twenty-five landmarks.


The Old Charges and Regulations of 1723 are printed as a part of the Constitution of 1903. Frederic Speed enumerates eight landmarks which are sub-divided into many sections and were found among the papers of the late P. G. M. Giles M. Hillyer.


Missouri has no list of landmarks. Bro. John D. Vincil, conceded to be one of the best posted men on jurisprudence, disclaimed knowing what the landmarks were.


Montana has the customary exception to its powers, viz: “Provided, always, that the ancient landmarks of the order will be held inviolate.” Montana has no list of landmarks.


Nebraska has never decided on any particular list of landmarks.


Nevada has a list of 39 landmarks which were adopted in 1872.

New Hampshire-

New Hampshire never officially defined what the landmarks are.

New Jersey-

New Jersey has a list of 10 landmarks which were adopted in 1903. New Jersey Proceedings of 1903 contains an interesting report on these 10 landmarks by the Committee on Jurisprudence.

New Mexico-

New Mexico has adopted Mackey’s 25 landmarks.

New York-

“The Ancient Landmarks are those principles of Masonic belief, government, and polity which are the only part of Masonic Law or rule that may never be altered or disturbed, and such of them as are lawful to be written are usually, but not wholly, engrafted in a written Constitution.” (Const. G. L. of N. Y. 1913.) On page 63 and 64 of the same book are the landmarks as defined by P. G. M. Joseph D. Evans, 10 in number.

North Carolina-

North Carolina has no list of landmarks, nor legislation defining them.

North Dakota-

North Dakota has no legislation defining or enumerating landmarks. They include in their Constitution the Ancient Charges and Regulations.


The Ohio Code states that “the Old Charges contain the fundamental laws” which is practically giving them sanction as landmarks. The Old Charges are a part of the Code.


At the Feb. 1915 Communication of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma, they acknowledged and practically adopted the 25 landmarks of Mackey.


Oregon has adopted Mackey’s 25 landmarks.


The Ahiman Rezon contains the following on landmarks: “The Grand Lodge is the supreme Masonic authority except that it cannot change, alter or destroy the Ancient Landmarks.” “The Past Grand Masters shall be regarded as the conservators of the ancient usages, customs and Landmarks.” No landmarks are enumerated.

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations-

Rhode Island has no list of landmarks. The following is from the preamble to the Constitution of 1897: “Every Grand Lodge has inherent power and authority to make local ordinances and new regulations, for its own benefit and the good of Masonry in general–provided, always, that the ancient landmarks be carefully preserved.”

South Carolina–

South Carolina has adopted Mackey’s list of 25 landmarks.

South Dakota-

South Dakota Constitution of 1912 states that the Landmarks as defined by Dr. Mackey have binding force on South Dakota Masons.


Tennessee has a list of 15 landmarks which are almost identical with those enumerated by Simons


Chapter 2, Article 1, Sec. 4, of the Texas Code reads: “The Book of Constitutions of Masonry originally prepared by Dr. Anderson, approved A.D. 1723, contains the system of ancient laws and customs of the Craft, and is recognized as binding on points where this Constitution is silent; the old charges therein shall be appended entire hereto.” This is the only light we can obtain on what the Grand Lodge of Texas thinks the landmarks are.


Utah holds the “Old Charges of a Freemason” to be the landmarks. Christopher Diehl, a well known correspondence writer for years, had a list of landmarks which he submitted to the Grand Lodge of Utah; but they were never adopted.


Vermont adheres to the list of 25 landmarks of Mackey.


Washington Constitution of 1913, Sec. 13, says: The action of Freemasons in the Grand Lodge and in their Lodges, and in their individual capacity is regulated and controlled 1. By Ancient Landmarks, and other unwritten laws of Masonry. 2. By Written- Constitutions, and general or special legislation. 3. By Usages, Customs and judicial action.”

“Sec. 14 Landmarks.- The Ancient Landmarks include those principles of Masonic government and polity which should never be altered or disturbed.”

No landmarks are enumerated.

West Virginia-

West Virginia has a list of 7 landmarks, a report on landmarks for the information of the brethren is given first place in the West Virginia Masonic Text Book. It contains lists by Mackey, Simons, Morris and Pike.


Wyoming Grand Lodge considers the landmarks too deep a subject to comment on and does not attempt an enumeration of them.


Wisconsin has no legislation defining or enumerating the landmarks, but gives Mackey’s 25 in code for their information of the brethren.

To recapitulate we find District of Columbia Minnesota New Mexico Oklahoma Oregon South Dakota South Carolina Vermont Virginia adopt Mackey’s list of 25. Alabama Louisiana Mississippi Ohio Texas Utah hold the old charges to contain the landmarks. Those having list of landmarks of their own and the number are Connecticut ……………Lockwood’s 19 Kentucky …………………Grant’s 54 New Jersey ………………………10 Nevada ………………………….39 Tennessee ……………………….15 West Virginia …………………….7

The others all hold that the landmarks are the most important and fundamental law of Masonry, but do not consider a list made by any man or body of men sufficiently accurate to apply to them.

In concluding this compilation we can hardly refrain from expressing a thought or so which has forced itself upon us.

The live questions of Masonic Jurisprudence are most all affected by the views entertained in regard to landmarks; take for example the question of physical qualification. To those who hold the view of Mackey, Lockwood, Simons and others that it is a landmark it appears quite different from the view taken by those who hold that the only landmarks are the fundamental principles of Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Man.

We can hardly grasp the logic of why the physical qualification should be deemed a landmark and leave to the local custom column the rule that an entered apprentice serve seven years before being passed. They were both the necessary rules of an operative Craft and the need of a longer apprenticeship would appear to be greater than the strict conformity.

Again the prerogatives of a Grand Master largely stand or fall on interpretation of the landmarks, as do also our recognition of other Grand Bodies.

We might make many comparisons and comments but believe that the landmarks, like the history and symbolism of Masonry, must be left mostly to individual interpretation.For those who wish to read on landmarks and have not already done so we would refer them to:

Mackey’s “Masonic Jurisprudence.” Simon’s “Principles of Masonic Jurisprudence.” Lockwood’s “Masonic Law and Practice.” Maine asonic Text Book. Macoy-Oliver Encyclopedia. Kansas Code 1913. Bassett notes. Kentucky Book of Const. 1910. Grant notes. Iowa Proceedings 1888-1889. Ars. Q. C. Vol. VII, XXIV, XXV. Mississippi Const. 1903. New Jersey Proc. 1903. Code of Dist. of Col. 1905, p. 191.

The correspondence reports of Bro. Joseph Robbins of Ill., and Bro. Upton of Wash., are rich in comments.

-Source: The Builder August / September 1915

The Ancient Landmarks

– Albert Mackey’s List

In ancient times, it was the custom to mark the boundaries of lands by means of stone pillars, the removal of which, by malicious persons, would be the occasion of much confusion, men having no other guide than these pillars by which to distinguish the limits of their property. To remove them, therefore, was considered a heinous crime. “Thou shalt not,” says the Jewish law, “remove thy neighbor’s Landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance.” Hence those peculiar marks of distinction by which we are separated from the profane world, and by which we are enabled to designate our inheritance as the Sons of Light, are called the Landmarks of the Order.

The Universal Language and the Universal Laws of Freemasonry are Landmarks, but not so are the local ceremonies, laws, and usages, which vary in different countries. To attempt to alter or remove these sacred Landmarks, by which we examine and prove a brother’s claims to share in our privileges, is one of the most heinous offenses that a Freemason can commit.

In the decision of the question what are and what are not the Landmarks of Freemasonry, there has been much diversity of opinion among writers. Doctor Oliver says (Dictionary of Symbolic Masonry) that “some restrict them to the 0. B. signs, tokens, and words. Others include the ceremonies of initiation, passing, and raising; and the form, dimensions, and support; the ground, situation, and covering; the ornaments, furniture, and jewels of a Lodge, or their characteristic symbols. Some think that the Order has no Landmarks beyond its peculiar secrets.” But all of these are loose and unsatisfactory definitions, excluding things that are essential, and admitting others that are unessential.

Perhaps the safest method is to restrict them to those ancient, and therefore universal, customs of the Order, which either gradually grew into operation as rules of action, or, if at once enacted by any competent authority, were enacted at a period so remote, that no account of their origin is to be found in the records of history. Both the enactors and the time of the enactment have passed away from the record, and the Landrmarks are therefore “of higher antiquity than memory or history can reach.” The first requisite, therefore, of a custom or rule of action to constitute it a Landmark, is, that it must have existed from “time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.” Its antiquity is its essential element.

Were it possible for all the Masonic authorities at the present day to unite in a Universal Congress, and with the most perfect unanimity to adopt any new regulation, although such regulation would, so long as it remained un-repealed, be obligatory on the whole Craft, yet it would not be a Landmark. It would have the character of universality, it is true, but it would be wanting in that of antiquity. Another peculiarity of these Landmarks of Freemasonry is that they are un-repealable. As the Congress to w hich we have just alluded would not have the power to enact a Landmark, so neither would it have the prerogative of abolishing one. The Landmarks of the Order, like the laws of the Medes and the Persians, can suffer no change. What they were centuries ago, they still remains and must so continue in force until Freemasonry itself shall cease to exist.

Until the year 1858, no attempt had been made by any Masonic writer to distinctly enumerate the Landmarks of Freemasonry, and` to give to them a comprehensible form. In October of that year, the author of this work published in the American 4uarterl1y Renew of Freemasonry (volume ii, page 230) an article on “The Foundations of Masonic Law,” which contained a distinct enumeration of the Landmarks which was the first time that such a list had been presented to the Fraternity. This enumeration was subsequently incorporated by the author in his Text Book of Masonic Jurisprudence. It has since been very generally adopted by the Fraternity and republished by many writers on Masonic law; sometimes without any acknowledgment. According to this recapitulation, the result of much labor and research, the Landmarks are twenty-five, and are as follows:


The modes of RECOGNITION are, of all the Landmarks, the most legitimate and unquestioned. They admit of no variation; and if ever they have suffered alteration or addition, the evil of such a violation of the ancient law has always made itself subsequently manifest. An admission of this is to be found in the proceedings of the Masonic Congress at Paris, where a proposition was presented to render these modes of recognition once more universal – a proposition which never would have been necessary, if the integrity of this important Landmark had been rigorously preserved.


THE DIVISION OF SYMBOLIC MASONRY INTO THREE DEGREES is a Landmark that has been better preserved than almost any other, although even here the mischievous spirit of innovation hag left its traces, and by the disruption of its concluding portion from the Third Degree, a want of uniformity has been created in respect to the final teaching of the Master’s order, and the Royal Arch of England, Scotland, Ireland, and America, and the “high degrees” of France and Germany, are all made to differ in the mode in which they lead the neophyte to the great consummation of all symbolic masonry.

In 1813, the Grand Lodge of England vindicated the ancient Landmark, by solemnly enacting that ancient craft Masonry consisted of the three degrees: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, including the Holy Royal Arch; but the disruption has never been healed, and the Landmark, although acknowledged in its integrity by all, still continues to be violated.


The Legend of the THIRD DEGREE is an important Landmark, the integrity of which has been well preserved. There is no rite of Masonry, practiced in any country or language, in which the essential elements of this legend are not taught. The lectures may vary, and indeed are constantly changing, but the legend has ever remained substantially the same; and it is necessary that it should be so, for the legend of the Temple Builder constitutes the very essence and identity of Masonry; any rite which should exclude it, or materially alter it, would at once, by that exclusion or alteration, cease to be a Masonic rite.


THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FRATERNITY BY A PRESIDING OFFICER called a Grand Master, who is elected from the body of the craft, is a Fourth Landmark of the Order. Many persons ignorantly suppose that the election of the Grand Master is held in consequence of a law or regulation of the Grand Lodge. Such, however, is not the case. The office is indebted for its existence to a Landmark of the Order. Grand Masters are to be found in the records of the institution long before Grand Lodges were established; and if the present system of legislative government by Grand Lodges were to be abolished, a Grand Master would be necessary. In fact, although there has been a period within the records of history, and indeed of very recent date, when a Grand Lodge was unknown, there never has been a time when the craft did not have their Grand Master.


The prerogative of the Grand Master to preside over every assembly of the craft, wheresoever and whensoever held, is a fifth Landmark. It is in consequence of this law, derived from ancient usage, and not from any special enactment, that the Grand Master assumes the chair, or as it is called in England, “the throne,” at every communication of the Grand Lodge; and that he is also entitled to preside at the communication of every Subordinate Lodge, where he may happen to be present.


The prerogative of the Grand Master to grant Dispensations for conferring degrees at irregular times, is another and a very important Landmark. The statutory law of Masonry requires a month, or other determinate period, to elapse between the presentation of a petition and the election of a candidate. But the Grand Master has the power to set aside or dispense with this probation, and allow a candidate to be initiated at once. This prerogative he possessed in common with all Masters, before the enactment of the law requiring a probation, and as no statute can impair his prerogative, he still retains the power, although the Masters of Lodges no longer possess it.


The prerogative of the Grand Master to give dispensations for opening and holding Lodges is another Landmark. He may grant, in virtue of this, to a sufficient number of Masons, the privilege of meeting together and conferring degrees. The Lodges thus established are called “Lodges under Dispensation.” They are strictly creatures of the Grand Master, created by his authority, existing only during his will and pleasure, and liable at any moment to be dissolved at his command. They may he continued for a day, a month, or six months; but whatever be the period of their existence, they are indebted for that existence solely to the grace of the Grand Master.


The prerogative of the Grand Master to make masons at sight, is a Landmark which is closely connected with the preceding one. There has been much misapprehension in relation to this Landmark, which misapprehension has sometimes led to a denial of its existence in jurisdictions where the Grand Master was perhaps at the very time substantially exercising the prerogative, without the slightest remark or opposition. It is not to be supposed that the Grand Master can retire with a profane into a private room, and there, without assistance, confer the degrees of Freemasonry upon him. No such prerogative exists, and yet many believe that this is the so much talked of right of “making Masons at sight”. The real mode and the only mode of exercising the prerogative is this: The Grand Master summons to his assistance not less than six other masons, convenes a Lodge, and without any previous probation, but on sight of the candidate, confers the degrees upon him. after which he dissolves the Lodge. and dismisses the brethren. Lodges thus convened for special purposes are called occasional lodges,” This is the only way in which any Grand Master within the records of the institution has ever been known to “make a Mason at sight”. The prerogative is dependent upon that of granting dispensations to open and hold Lodges. If the Grand Master has the power of granting to any other Mason the privilege of presiding over Lodges working by his dispensation, he may assume this privilege of presiding to himself; and as no one can deny his right to revoke his dispensation granted to a number of brethren at a distance, and to dissolve the Lodge at his pleasure, it will scarcely be contended that he may not revoke his dispensation for a Lodge over which he himself has been presiding, within a day, and dissolve the Lodge as soon as the business for which he had assembled it is accomplished. The making of Masons at sight is only the conferring of the degrees by the Grand Master, at once, in an occasional Lodge, constituted by his dispensing power for the purpose, and over which he presides in person.


The necessity of masons to congregate in lodges is another Landmark. It is not to be understood by this that any ancient Landmark has directed that permanent organization of subordinate Lodges which constitutes one of the features of the Masonic system as it now prevails, but the landmarks of the Order always prescribed that Masons should from time to time congregate together, for the purpose of either operative or speculative labor, and that these congregations should be called Lodges. Formerly these were extemporary meetings called together for special purposes, and then dissolved, the brethren departing to meet again at other times and other places, according to the necessity of circumstances. But warrants of constitution, by-laws, permanent officers and annual arrears, are modern innovations wholly outside of the Landmarks, and dependent entirely on the special enactments of a comparatively recent period.


The government of the craft, when so congregated in a Lodge by a Master and two Wardens, is also a Landmark. To show the influence of this ancient law, it may be observed by the way, that a congregation of Masons meeting together under any other government, as that for instance of a president and vice-president, or a chairman and subchairman, would not be recognized as a Lodge, The presence of a Master and two Wardens is as essential to the valid organization of a Lodge as a warrant of constitution is at the present day. The names, of course, vary in different languages, the Master, for instance, being called “Venerable” in French Masonry, and the Wardens “Surveillants,” but the officers, their number, prerogatives and duties, are everywhere identical.


The necessity that every lodge, when congregated, should be duly tiled, is an important Landmark of the institution, which is never neglected. The necessity of this law arises from the esoteric character of Masonry. As a secret institution, its portals must of course be guarded from the intrusion of the profane, and such a law must therefore always have been in force from the very beginning of the Order. It is therefore properly classed among the most ancient Landmarks. The office of Tiler is wholly independent of any special enactment of Grand or Subordinate Lodges, although these may and do prescribe for him additional duties, which vary in different jurisdictions. But the duty of guarding the door, and keeping off cowans and eavesdroppers, is an ancient one, which constitutes a Landmark for the government.


The right of every mason to be represented in all general meetings of the craft and to instruct his representatives, is a twelfth Landmark. Formerly, these general meetings, which were usually held once a year, were called “General Assemblies,” and all the fraternity, even to the youngest Entered Apprentice, were permitted to be present. Now they are called “Grand Lodges,” and only the Masters and Wardens of the Subordinate Lodges are summoned. But this is simply as the representatives of their members. Originally, each Mason represented himself; now he is represented by his officers. was a concession granted by the fraternity about 1717, and of course does not affect the integrity of the Landmark, for the principle of representation is still preserved. The concession was only made for purposes of convenience.


The Right of every mason to appeal from the decision of his brethren in Lodge convened, to the Grand Lodge or General Assembly of Masons, is a Landmark highly essential to the preservation of justice, and the prevention of oppression. A few modern Grand Lodges, in adopting a regulation that the decision of Subordinate Lodges, in cases of expulsion, cannot be wholly set aside upon an appeal, have violated this unquestioned Landmark, as well as the principles of just government.


THE RIGHT OF EVERY MASON TO VISIT and sit in every regular Lodge is an unquestionable Landmark of the Order.” This is called “the right of visitation.” This right of visitation has always been recognized as an inherent right, which inures to every Mason as he travels through the world. And this is because Lodges are justly considered as only divisions for convenience of the universal Masonic family. It is right may, of course be impaired or forfeited on special occasions by various circumstances; but when admission is refused to a Mason in good standing, who knocks at the door of a Lodge as a visitor, it is to be expected that some good and sufficient reason shall be furnished for this violation, of what is in general a Masonic right, founded on the Landmarks of the Order.


It is a Landmark of the Order, that no visitor, unknown to the brethren present, or to some one of them as a Mason, can enter a Lodge without first passing an examination according to ancient usage. Of course, if the visitor is known to any brother present to be a Mason in good standing, and if that brother will vouch for his qualifications, the examination may be dispensed with, as the Landmark refers only to the cases of strangers, who are not to be recognized unless after strict trial, due examination, or lawful information.


No Lodge can interfere in the business of another Lodge, nor give degrees to brethren who are members of other Lodges, This is undoubtedly an ancient Landmark, founded on the great principles of courtesy and fraternal kindness, which are at the very foundation of our institution. It has been repeatedly recognized by subsequent statutory enactments of all Grand Lodges.


It is a Landmark that every freemason is Amenable to the Laws and Regulations of the masonic jurisdiction in which he resides, and this although he may not be a member of any Lodge. Non-affiliation, which is, in fact in itself a Masonic offense, does not exempt a Mason from Masonic Jurisdiction.


Certain qualifications of candidates for initiation are derived from a Landmark of the Order. These qualifications are that he shall be a man, shall be unmultilated, free born, and of mature age. That is to say, a woman, a cripple, or a slave, or one born in slavery, is disqualified for initiation into the rites of Masonry. Statutes, it is true, have from time to time been enacted, enforcing or explaining these principles; but the qualifications really arise from the very nature of the Masonic institution, and from its symbolic teachings, and have always existed as landmarks.


A belief in the existence of God as the GRAND ARCHITECT of the universe, is one of the most important Landmarks of the Order. It has been always deemed essential that a denial of the existence of a Supreme and Superintending Power, is an absolute disqualification for initiation. The annals of the Order never yet have furnished or could furnish an instance in which an avowed atheist was ever made a Mason. The very Initiatory ceremonies of the first degree forbid and prevent the possibility of so monstrous an occurrence.


Subsidiary to this belief in God, as a Landmark of the Order, is the belief in a resurrection to a future life. This Landmark is not so positively impressed on the candidate by exact words as the preceding; but die doctrine is taught by very plain implication, and runs through the whole symbolism of the Order. To believe in Masonry, and not to believe in a resurrection, would be an absurd anomaly, which could only be excused by the reflection, that he who thus confounded his belief and his skepticism, was so ignorant of the meaning of both theories as to have no rational foundation for his knowledge of either.


It is a Landmark, that a “Book of the Law” shall constitute an indispensable part of the furniture of every Lodge. I say advisedly, a Book of the Law, because it is not absolutely required that everywhere the Old and New Testaments shall be used. The “Book of the Law” is that volume which, by the religion of the country, is believed to contain the revealed will of the Grand Architect of the universe. Hence, in all Lodges in Christian countries, the Book of the Law is composed of the Old and New Testaments; in a country where Judaism was the prevailing faith, the Old Testament alone would be sufficient; and in Mohammedan countries, and among Mohammedan Masons the Koran might be substituted. Masonry does not attempt to interfere with the peculiar religious faith of its disciples, except so far as relates to the belief in the existence of God, and what necessarily results from that belief.” The Book of the Law is to the speculative Mason his spiritual Trestle- board; without this he cannot labor; whatever he believes to be the revealed will of the Grand Architect constitutes for him this spiritual Trestleboard, and must ever be before him in his hours of speculative labor, to be the rule and guide of his conduct The Landmark, therefore, requires that a Book of the Law, a religious code of some kind, purporting to be an exemplar of the revealed will of God, shall form in essential part of the furniture of every Lodge.


THE EQUALITY OF ALL MASONS is another Landmark of the Order. This equality has no reference to any subversion of those gradations of rank which have been instituted by the usages of society. The monarch, the nobleman or the gentleman is entitled to all the influence, and receives all the respect which rightly belong to his exalted position. But the doctrine of Masonic equality implies that, as children of one great Father, we meet in the Lodge upon the level-that on that level we are all traveling to one predestined goal, that in the Lodge genuine merit shall receive more respect than boundless wealth, and that virtue and knowledge alone should be the basis of all Masonic honors, and be rewarded with preferment When the labors of the Lodge are over, and the brethren have retired from their peaceful retreat, to mingle once more with the world, each will then again resume that social position, and exercise the privileges of that rank, to which the customs of society entitle him.


The secrecy of the institution is another and a most important Landmark. There is some difficulty in precisely defining what is meant by a “secret society,” If the term refers, as perhaps in strictly logical language it should, to those associations whose designs are concealed from the public eye, and whose members are unknowing which produce their results in darkness, and whose operations are carefully hidden from the public gaze – a definition which will be appropriate to many political clubs and revolutionary combinations in despotic countries, where reform, if it is at all to be effected, must be effected by stealth – then clearly Freemasonry is not a secret society. Its design is not only publicly proclaimed. but is vaunted by its disciples as something to be venerated; its disciples are known, for its membership is considered an honor to be coveted; it works for a result of which it boasts, the civilization, and reformation of his manners. But if by a Secret society is meant, and this is the most popular understanding of the term, a society in which there is a certain amount of knowledge, whether it be of methods of recognition, or of legendary and traditional learning, which is imported to those only who have passed through an established form of initiation, the form itself being also concealed or esoteric, then in this sense is Freemasonry undoubtedly a secret society. Now this form of secrecy is a form inherent in it, existing with It from its very foundation, and secured to it by its ancient Landmarks. If divested of its secret character, it would lose its identity, and would cease to be Freemasonry. whatever objections may, therefore, be made to the institution, on account of its secrecy, and however much some unskillful brethren have been willing in times of trial, for the sake of expediency, to divest it of its secret character, it will be ever impossible to do so, even were die Landmark not standing before us as an insurmountable obstacle; because such change of its character would be social suicide, and the death of the Order would follow its legalized exposure. Freemasonry, as a secret association, has lived unchanged for centuries an open society it would not last for as many years.


The foundation of a Speculative Science upon an Operative Art, and the symbolic use and explanation of the terms of that art, for purposes of religious or moral teaching, constitute another Landmark of the Order. The Temple of Solomon was the cradle of the institution,” and, therefore, the reference to the operative Masonry, which constructed that magnificent edifice, to the materials and implements which were employed in its construction, and to the artists who were engaged in the building, are all component and essential parts of the body of Freemasonry, which could not be subtracted from it without an entire destruction of the whole identity of the Order. Hence, all the comparatively modern rites of Masonry, however they may differ in other respects, religiously preserve this temple history and these operative elements, as the substratum of all their modifications of the Masonic system.


The last and crowning Landmark of all is, that these Landmarks can never be changed. Nothing can be subtracted from them-nothing can be added to them-not the slightest modification can be made in them. As they were received from our predecessors, we are bound by the most solemn obligations of duty to transmit them to our successors. Not one jot or one title of these unwritten laws can be repealed; for in respect to them, we are not only willing but compelled to adopt the language of the sturdy old barons of England – “Nolumus legen mutari.”