The Lodge 2
The early history of Lodge No. 2 is the history of Freemasonry in Pennsylvania and in fact all of America. To retrace the history of Lodge No. 2 one must go back to June 24, 1757, to be exact. On that day, in that year, Provincial Grand Master William Allen issued a warrant of constitution for Lodge No. 4, of the Moderns, and appointed Brother George Books, Worshipful Master, William Allen, Senior Warden and John Gilchrist, Junior Warden. Lodge No. 4 was more or less an all-star Lodge comprised of masons from this first three lodges already meeting in Philadelphia.
The reason for forming this Lodge has never been verified but it is easy to surmise because just one year later n June of 1758 a warrant was secured from the Grand Lodge of Ancients in England and we were known as Lodge No. 1 in Pennsylvania and Lodge number 69 in England. Ancient Freemasonry, as it was so labeled, was comprised of a membership who felt the landmarks, customs and traditions of Freemasonry were being hijacked with innovation. Thus Freemasonry became divided along the lines of so-called Moderns and Ancients. Until 1813 so-called ancient lodges and so-called modern lodges refused to acknowledge each other as well their respective Grand Lodges.
Not too long after the formation of Lodge No1 – Ancients, it was agreed that it would be in the best interest of Freemasonry in Pennsylvania to also form an Ancient Provincial Grand Lodge. Thus our Ancient Provincial Grand Lodge adopted the No. 1 and we happily became Lodge No. 2 ,the name we bear to this day. For nearly 10 years all members comprising the Grand Lodge consisted solely of members of Lodge 2. As a Provincial Grand Lodge of the Ancients, no time was wasted in warranting and constituting many lodges in Pennsylvania, across colonial America and around the world. For this reason it can be said that for the first time in American Freemasonry, a child gave birth to her mother and brothers.
Modern lodges in the city ceased to exist by the end of the Revolutionary War owing mostly to their Tory membership. Philadelphia would forever be an Ancient Freemason’s City and Lodge No. 2 would remain her shining star. During the Revolutionary War so many members of Lodge No. 2 became officers and enlisted men that we were honored by many British officers in being called “a nest of rebels.” During the British occupation of Philadelphia around the winter of 1776 the majority of our active Lodge 2 brethren spent the winter in Valley Forge with our Illustrious Brother Gen. George Washington.
A walk around the Old City will bring you near significant and historic Lodge No. 2 and Continental American history. The official calligrapher and printer of the Continental Congress, when it met in Philadelphia, then our nation's capital, were members of our Lodge. The Declaration of Independence was written,printed and read on the steps of Independence Hall by our members. The official flag of our Nation was sewn by the wife of one of our members and when Brother Ambassador Benjamin Franklin needed to be shuttled back and forth across the ocean to France, a Captain from Lodge 2 was asked to deliver him safely as he was known to be a loyal patriot and highly skilled at avoiding the British Navy.
The Marine Corps was formed at our meeting place known then as The Tun Tavern. Many of The First Troop, the nation's first Calvary formed here in Philadelphia were members of Lodge 2. Gen. George Washington's artillery was commanded by Colonel Melchoir, a member of this Lodge. Brother, Commodore John Barry, considered by some to be the father of the United States Navy, sat among us. Lodge No. 2 can boast captains of colonial industry, leaders in glass, furniture, metals and shipping magnets to her credit. Much of what the University of Pennsylvania Hospital is today can be linked to our earliest fore brethren.