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Reports of Freemasonry in seventeenth century America are undocumented, although the Rev. E. Peterson's unsubstantiated claim is often cited.
HISTORY INDEX
EARLY FREEMASONRY
History of Rhode Island
MASONIC FRATERNITY.
"In the spring of 1658, Mordecai Campannall, Moses Packeckoe, Levi, and others, in all fifteen families, arrived at Newport from Holland. They brought with them the three first degrees of masonry, and worked them in the house of Campannall, and continued to do so, they and their successors, to the year 1742." -Taken from Documents now in possession of N. H. Gould, Esq.
We have noticed this institution from the fact of its having been said to be "the oldest body in the United States." It is in a flourishing condition, numbering about one hundred and fifty members.1
History of Rhode Island
The first item of evidence as to the early existence of Masonic degrees we shall examine is contained in Bro. J. L. Gould's a "Guide to the Chapter."* "The earliest account of the introduction of Masonry into the United States is the history of a lodge organized in Rhode Island, A.D. 1658, or fifty-nine years before the revival in England, and seventy-five years before the establishment of the first lodge in Massachusetts." The authority cited is the Rev. E. Peterson, in his "History of Rhode Island and Newport" : †
In the spring of 1658 'Mordecai Campannell, Moses Pockeckoe, Levi, and others, in all fifteen families, arrived at Newport from Holland. They brought with them the three first degrees of Masonry, and worked them in the house of Campannell; and continued to do so, they and their successors, to the year 1742.
Fortunately, our reference to this startling statement caught the attention of Judge Gardner, of Boston, U.S.A., who thoroughly sifted the matter in one of his masterly addresses to the Grand Lodge as Grand Master.‡ The extract is said to have been " taken from documents now in the possession of N. H. Gould, Esq.," to whom Bro. Gardner applied, and was informed that the record was "dual in its nature."
The ye (day and month obliterated.) 1656 (or 8, not certain which,
&c.) Wee mett att y House off Mordecai Campunnall, and after Synogog
wee gave Abm Moses the degrees of Maconrie.
The owner says he has these old papers "nicely enveloped and packed away in his house securely, but not where he can at present put his hand upon them." Bro. Thomas Doyle, then Grand Master of Rhode Island, rejects the statement entirely, giving it as his opinion "that the first lawful lodge of Masons ever convened in this jurisdiction was the one which met in Newport in 1749," and which still flourishes. He made "many enquiries about these documents of brethren in Newport, members of the Grand Lodge, and others, but does not find that any one has ever seen them." Bro. Gardner emphatically states that "it bears upon its face the utter refutation of the assertion made by the Rev. Edward Peterson, and of the claim made by Bro. J. L. Gould, of Connecticut." Added to which it should be remembered, that in the seventeenth century the Craft was most unlikely to have been thus patronised by Israelites, seeing it was Christian in character.2
* New York, 1868.
† 1853, p. 101.
‡ "Proceedings Grand Lodge Massachusetts," 1871, pp. 357-361.

1.Rev. Edward Peterson, History of Rhode Island. New York : J. S. Taylor, 1853, LCN : 01002980. p. 101.
2.William James Hughan, Origin of the English Rite of Freemasonry, London : 1884. page 12, 13, spelling preserved. [page 33 of 1909 edition]

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