ABS - American Behavioral Scientist, June/July 1997 Freemasonry's Educational Role

University of the Americas-Puebla, Mexico, and the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

University of the Americas-Puebla, Mexico, and the University of Pennsylvania

Freemasonry in its myriad varieties has been a strong force in Mexico since the time of the wars for independence from Spain of the 1820s. Given its highly secretive and cabalistic nature, scholarship and research on its effects on Mexican society have been severely limited One overlooked possibility is that in a society where educational opportunities were restricted by economics and by social caste, local lodges afforded same young Mexicans with political aspirations the chance to sharpen their rhetorical and organizational abilities. The close connection between a number of Mexican presidents and the Masonic movement may illustrate that.

The educational role of Freemasonry, formal and informal, has been virtually ignored by scholars. The idea of Freemasonry itself as a noteworthy educational system, a Montessori school of the political cabalists, is undiscussed. A more common focus has been on Masonry's indirect influence on the rituals of legitimization in government, and its relation to established educational institutions-lodges, for example, to which schoolmasters or professors belonged.

The question of Masonry's possible educational influence in Mexico comes to the fore with the renewed interest in the regime of Porfirio Diaz, the longtime president-dictator of the country. His rehabilitation has much to do with the interest in his career shown by President Carlos Salinas, who as one of the architects of the North American Free Trade Agreement, saw himself as following in the free market activities of his predecessor.(1)

Porfirio Diaz became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Federal District of Mexico City in 1883(2) and of the Gran Dieta Simbolica de los Estados Mexicanos in 1890.(3) The nineteenth-century Masonic authority Robert Gould gives the following account of the appointment of Diaz:

It would appear from La Gran Logia, a bulletin published by some members of the Ruiz Grand Lodge, and denominated their official organ, that on the same day, at the same hour, and in the same hall, when and where the Diaz Grand Lodge was organized and installed, the other body was organized also. There was this difference, however, that whereas the Diaz party transacted their affairs within the body of the Lodge, the supporters of Ruiz were reduced to the necessity of attending to theirs in the ante-room - the latter brethren having withdrawn from the original convention whilst it was being organized, but not leaving the building, in the vestibule of which they afterwards conducted their own proceedings.(4)

Folklore in Mexico and the United States associates Masonry with preferment to high office. But American presidents belong to a vast number of groups - Franklin Roosevelt, for example, was a Granger, Elk, Eagle, and Pythian, as well as Mason. Mexican presidents do not have such a choice, and they have often in the past limited their associational life to Masonry. Moreover, Masonry has been perceived in Mexico as being especially important in the United States and so providing access to the elite in the United States.

As a case in point, Diaz benefited relatively early in his career from his membership in the Masonic Craft and its claim on Americans. He was on a ship going to Veracruz in 1870 when he confided his identity to Alexander K. Coney, a member of Loge la Parfaite Union No. 17 of San Francisco and the vessel's pursar.(5) Diaz told Coney that there was a $50,000 price on his head, but Coney kept the secret when the ship was searched by Mexican soldiers.

Loge la Parafite Union was established in 1851 and had a large number of members from Mexico, Latin America, and elsewhere overseas. Its ritual differed from other California lodges, and frequently it received visitors from exotic places, including Tahiti. Its official history confirms the story about Diaz and Coney:

There is one among them we hope will soon occupy the Oriental Chair of that Lodge - the protector and saver of the life of a Brother Master Mason, who was a fugitive and the price of fifty thousand dollars offered for his head. That once fugitive, persecuted and hunted even to the very verge of death, is now at the head of all true Masonry in his country, which has been made free indeed through his instrumentality - our Most Worshipful and Illustrious Bro. Porfirio Diaz, 33º, Grand Master of Masons and the President of the Mexican Republic today - and the Brother who shielded him in his darkest hour is lllus. Bro. Alexander K. Coney, 32º, Senior Warden of Loge La Parfaite Union, No. 17, and Consul-General of Mexico at San Franciso... Haut le Calice! A la hauterur du front. Vive le Loge La Parfaite Union! A moi, pur la batterie! Acclamation!(7)

Although Coney did indeed owe his later position as Consul-General to his dramatic encounter with Diaz, and though the episode may have made a considerable impression on Diaz, there are much larger issues to discuss than the dictatorts personal affection for Masonry. Thought should be given to what contribution in general Freemasonry made to the long Pax Porfiriana. Evidence suggests it was a unifying force during the major part of his regime - although as his friend indicated, Diaz was not so convinced of Masonic loyalty between lodge brothers that he was above having Masonic lodges watched for dissidents: "As new opposition parties developed in the 1900s, they wore promptly infiltrated, as were some Masonic lodges."(8) The Masons were effectively conscripted by Diaz for many years,(9) but it would seem that toward the end of his reign, they too were drawn into the political maelstrom and ceased to support him or contribute to his administration's political stability.(10)

Leaving aside the dispute over Masonry's much-debated status as a religión(11) (see the article by Antonio Lara Reyes in this issue of ABS) - to avoid controversy, let us describe the movement as a symbolic-ritualistic-philosophical movement if that suits the Masons - it still remains that its alleged influence on political life would seem to share certain characteristics with those of a religious school. But Catholic or Protestant? Seymour Martin Lipset writes that

Religious tradition has been a major differentiating factor in transformations to democracy. Historically, there have been negative relationships between democracy and Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Islam, and Confucianism; conversely Protestantism and democracy have been positively interlinked.... Scholars from Tocqueville's time to the mid-1970s have observed that, among European countries and the overseas offspring, Protestant countries have been more likely to give rise to democratic regimes than Catholic ones.(12)

Although ritual and symbolism differ in each educational tradition and differ between Protestantism and Catholicism (just as they differ between the numerous rival Masonic factions), claims about the possible Masonic influence on political development center not on ritual but on the influence on polity.

Lavish indeed are the claims of Mexican Masons about how Freemasonry gave Mexico its political freedoms. But Masonry is not democratic in polity, either in the United States or in Mexico. There is nothing democratic about a Grand Master installed on the Throne of Solomon, an archimage legitimatized by ritual.

So the strength of the case often made by Masons for Masonry as being a democratic force in Mexico is not immediately apparent. If Masonic assertions about lodges being such a positive force in Mexico are to be believed, there needs to be much more evidence that either the rituals somehow produced a democratic mentality or that there is a set of civic lessons that Masonry teaches. The political organization of Masonry cannot be unreservedly endorsed as an educational exemplar for the governing of Mexico - far from it.

When Diaz's regime collapsed in 1911 and the Revolution began, the accusations of conspiracy that had often been hurled at the Masons recurred. In 1914 when anticlericalism was on the increase, the Catholic leadership asserted that this was the result of a plan that had the support of the Masons.(13)


The reasons that Mexicans became Masons are a good place to begin any investigation of what the influence of Masonry has been. Given the prominence accorded Masonry in Mexican political tradition and particularly its prominence in the life of Diaz, the question as to why Mexican political leaders joined the lodge is a reasonable one. Of course, Diaz may simply have felt that with so many members of the American business and political establishment involved in lodges, membership gave him an advantage in negotiations. He could establish his bona fides by mentioning that he too was a brother. Each American Grand Lodge appoints a Mexican representative and vice versa, so the avenues of communication between the two countries have long existed.

The high Masonic offices that he held could have been a liability as well if he had allowed the numerous Masonic schisms of the day to go untended. Mexican Freemasons had a number of disputes with American Masonic leaders during the time that Diaz held Masonic office. It would have been almost impossible for him to have held the Masonic offices that he did without being involved in discussions with American Masons, and his attitudes toward common problems should be a subject of research.(14)

That there was considerable acrimonious back-and-forth between American and Mexican Masonic bodies is indicated by the activities of Albert Pike, the guiding genius of Scottish Rite Masonry in the United States during the nineteenth century and Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction from 1859 until his death in 1891. Pike achieved some fame for his part in the Mexican-American War and particularly in the battle of Buena Vista of 1847. However, his subsequent relationships with Mexico included acting as Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Lowor California (Mexico) near the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, and holding honorary membership of the Grand Lodge of the Federal District of Mexico, the Grand Lodge of Hidalgo, the Grand Lodge of Jalisco, the Grand Lodge of Lower California, the Grand Lodge of Oaxaca, the Grand Lodge of Veracruz, Columnas de Hidalgo Lodge, Carlos K. Ruiz Lodge of Leon, and the Supreme Council of Mexico.(15) That indicates a considerable amount of Masonic activity in Mexico during the period. The significance of all this activity awaits further investigation, but although the suspicion is that some of it at least reflects anticlericalism, that does not necessarily challenge the original thrust of our research, which asserted that Masonry helped to legitimatize political power. (In the case of the British Empire, Anglican clerics often were active Freemasons.)

On the contrary, the evidence suggests that possibly one purpose to which Mexicans put Masonry was to buttress the legitimacy of the ruling elite. In Mexico as in America, the fraternity's secretive and mysterious history has provided an ideal soil for developing the patois of a jingoistic mythology.(16) The images of the fathers and founders of the Mexican Republic gained in stature by virtue of Masonic associations, just as did the reputations of leaders in the United States.(17)

If Masonry was seen by Diaz as a way to legitimatize his presidential leadership, it would not be surprising. About Mexican political life, Charles Weeks has written, "Because myth simplifies, governments use myths to explain complex situations and communicate with citizens, and groups outside government employ mythmaking to praise or to criticize an incumbent regime.... Mexican governments have exploited the wealth of people and events their nation's history provides to try to secure a commitment to the nation and its governors.... they have succeeded."(18)

A general search for rituals and traditions that would validate political leadership characterized the period - and not only in Mexico and the United States. Diaz had many contemporaries in other countries who with varying success created and employed ritual and tradition in shoring up the legitimacy of their rule. Often those myths were incorporated into the school curriculum. The search for legitimizing ritual was not a phenomenon confined to countries that had recently become republics. The leaders of ancien regimes were borrowing a trick or two from nationalist liberals.(19)

Participation of Mexican political leaders in Freemasonry should be placed in the context of a renewed worldwide interest in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the empowerment of political leadership through the use of symbolism. Manipulation of the rituals of rule (20) was then and still is vital in maintaining political ascendancy: "Notions of tradition, authenticity, and the like can help maintain unequal power relations between dominant and dominated communities when they become the basis of public policy."(21) The Mexican President could not call upon the Church to confer authenticity. No cathedral coronation was possible, there was no prospect of anointing by an archbishop, and no chorus of ecclesiastics could be summoned to provide a backdrop for his inauguration.(22)

This surely has something to do with why Diaz became a Mason. Masonry could uniquely enhance his stature - as it has the stature of a number of Mexican Presidents before and since.(23) What better way to maintain the mystery of the presidency than for the president to belong to a shadowy mysterious fraternity? Such membership appeals to the notion beloved by many that there is a "they" who control matters and that "they" manipulate affairs.


Although the use of ritual to legitimatize power is certainly an ingredient when Masonry is identified with a ruling group, in the Mexican context there are other reasons that must be researched and considered. Along with the appealing mystique that Masonry conferred on its officers,(24) the fact that Diaz was a Catholic "of sorts" and a Freemason "of sorts" raises the possibility that he found Freemasonry to be a counterweight to Catholicism and thus a way to maintain his credentials with both sides in the bitter confrontations between church and state, which wore then, as perhaps now, so much a part of Mexican events. Freemasonry could be used as a counterfoil; Carmelita, Diaz's wife, was the in-house Catholic to balance the equation.(25) Freemasonry would provide a reassurance to the anticlericals that ultimately Diaz was a liberal, although to many he was the ultimate political pragmatist and opportunist.(26) In the muckraking expose Barbarous Mexico (1910), John Kenneth Turner wrote, "Diaz is the head of the Masons in Mexico, yet he nominates every new bishop and archbishop the country gets. Church marriages are not recognized as legal, yet Diaz has favored the church so far as to refuse to enact a divorce law, so that today there is no such thing as divorce or re-marriage during the life of both parties in Mexico. Constantly is Diaz trying to fool the people as to his own motives."(27)

However, still another motivation, and one that would not have occurred to us but for the participation of De Los Reyes in Masonic-sponsored oratorical contests as a youth in Tampico, is that Freemasonry provided a school for politics. An additional reason that can be suggested for a Mexican politician becoming a Mason may have been less obvious at the time but in retrospect seems plausible: Masonry was a finishing school in oratory and leadership. There were no MBA or Dale Carnegie courses in nineteenth-century Mexico.

A young man with fairly limited resources could acquire a polish and oratorical expertise in the lodge. Thus there may have been a symbiotic relation ship between the lodges and success in Mexican politics, based on the finesse and expertise that holding lodge office gave an aspiring politician - a topic that awaits prosopographical investigation.

In respect to this question of Masonry as a sort of school, it is appropriate to record the genuine enthusiasm of presidents such as Lazaro Cardenas (1934-1940). He in particular should be kept in mind as far as the educational functions of Masonic lodges are concerned. Cardenas took advantage of his early career in the Mexican Army to found lodges in each place where he was in command and to establish lodges that traveled with Mexican Army units. As President, "He attempted to bring the concepts of Freemasonry to the people of rural areas, but most of the lodges thus established were forced to close through the influence of the clergy. Cardenas believed that such lodges would aid in removing ignorance and superstition and lead the poorer peoples into paths of light and wisdom."(28) The establishment of these irregular lodges, clearly intended as educational institutions, is one of the untold stories of the Cardenas regime.

A further benefit of membership would be the opportunity Masonry afforded to reward political cronies by honors. This would depend on one's estimation of the vanity of Mexican politicians, of their greed for recognition, and of their desire for the baubles of distinction as opposed to sheer economic profit. An appetite for the glorious medals and fancy titles that Masonry awarded would have motivated some.(29) A head of state such as Diaz is an impresario in charge of the distribution of such distinctions, the font of honors. Judging by the photographs of him, which show a chest plastered with medals, he was not adverse to collecting such babery himself.(30)

Nor, in seeking reasons why a man such as Diaz would seek admission to the Masons, can the simple enjoyment of belonging to an inner circle and participating in its emotionally moving rites be discarded. After all, people enjoy the fellowship of a cafe, and they take pleasure in the theater. The era was one without television or films. Freemasonry offers social and dramatic attractions.(31)

Much further examination remains to be done into Mexican and Latin American Freemasonry in comparison with Masonry in the United States. The fact that anticlericals remain a strong force in regional politics and that the Catholic church continues to feel threatened by the inroads of secularism and Protestantism complicates discussion of Hispanic Freemasonry. That the leaders of so many Latin American countries, countries that are all nominally Roman Catholic, should be high-ranking Masons makes the question of motivation of prime importance.

Diaz presided over a distinct and even ebullient period in Masonic development in Mexico.(32) Despite continuing internal differences, the Masons of Porfirism could invoke the spirit of Juarez and claim to be anointed guardians of democracy,(33) a status that successive presidents would strongly emphasize. This was in the face of continued Church disapproval, which saw the Masons (perhaps at times unfairly) as the embodiment of secularizing modernity, a contemporary goety and was exemplified in Pope Leo XIII's bitter letter Annum ingressin sumus (19 March 1902). Nevertheless, "it was not just the fanatic hatred of individual Freemasons and the animosity of the whole organization toward the Catholic Church. Reconciliation of the modern world with tradition was no longer in anyone's power."(34)

The ultimate significance of all of this to Mexico's politics remains a challenge to researchers. A starting point is surely the Masonic part in the education and career of Diaz. His influence on Mexico is as ambivalently regarded as his part in Masonry. His lodge membership on the face of it surely does not support the proposition that Masonry was the patron and protector of Mexican democracy. Rather, it suggests that Masonry was an antidemocratic force.

Whether the truth is that Mexico modified Masonry and created a genuinely local and Mexican movement, in contrast with Masonry in the United States, or rather that Masonry modified Mexico and influenced Mexican politics requires further investigation. Mariano Cuevas has been almost alone among Mexican historians in the outwardness and boldness with which he has attacked Masonry as "a foreign alliance, an action obviously against the national interest."(35) In sum, the contribution of Masonry to the civic religion of Mexico and to the education of the country's political giants remains relatively unassessed. (Proponents and opponents of Masonry will not agree, of course.)

What is evident is that study of political behavior in Mexico perhaps demands to an even greater degree than the study of the subject in the United States a point of view that considers the contributions of religion, symbolism, and ritual(36) - and Masonry as an educational force that helped in shaping the country's political culture - is an almost completely unstudied field.(37) The fact remains that although Freemasonry may have been Anglo-Saxon in origins, it found a ready home in Mexico. It survived the overthrow of Diaz, despite his identification with it, and continues as a force in Mexican life.

If the view can be sustained that education influences whether a country develops as a democratic society, then an obvious problem for scholars is whether, in some ways, Masonry was an alternative educational force, a school that leavened Mexican political behavior. Perhaps Masonry did educate Mexico's leadership in statecraft and thus contribute to Mexico's democratic tradition as Mexican Masons claim. Perhaps not. What is undeniable is that, whatever the movement's vices and virtues, there is a "something" to the hidden creative underworld of Masonry that seems to meet a deep need in the Mexican personality. The comparison of Freemasonry in the United States and Mexico will reveal much not only about the movement itself but about the two countries. Shakespeare's question in Henry IV remains apposite: And what art thou, thou idol ceremony? What, indeed, in Mexico?(38)


1. Salinas was so taken with comparisons that he commissioned a 105-part television documentary about his predecessor. Cartoons have appeared in the Mexican press showing Salinas looking into the mirror and seeing the reflection of Diaz.

2. Robert Freke Gould, The History of Freemasonry: Its Antiquities, Symbols, Constitutions, Customs, Etc., Vol. 6, (T.C.& E.C. Jack. Edinburgh, n.d.), 373. Gould's history first appeared in 1903.

3. Henry Wilson Coil, Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia, ed. William Moseley Brown et al. (Richmond, VA: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Company, 1961), 413.

4. Gould, The History of Freemasonry, 373. See ibid., fn. I.

5. There is a whole genre of such stories, some of which are true and some of which are of highly questionable origin: soldiers giving the Masonic sign in the face of being scalped by Red Indians, sailors raising a blue flag with the square-and-compasses and thus summoning aid from passing ships, prisoners about to be executed using the hailing sign to stop the firing squad. See, e.g., Brian J. Bennett, "The First Australian Aboriginal Mason," Newsletter (Ireland: Lodge of Research CC, 1992), n.p.

6. William R. Denslow, 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. I (Richmond, VA: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., 1957), 313.

7. Michael C. Meyer and William L. Sherman, The Course of Mexican History, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 140.

8. Alan Knight, The Mexican Revolution: Porfirians, Liberals and Peasants, Vol. I (1986. Reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), 32.

9. A good example of such "social conscription" is Mariano Escobedo (1827-1902), who led the forces against Diaz in 1876 but eventually held government appointments under him and was a member of the Supreme Council while Diaz was Grand Master Denslow, 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. 2, p. 27.

10. The Masonic lodges in Mexico City at the end of the Diaz regime supported Bernardo Reyes, and in July 1909, they refused to attend the official observance of the death of Juarez and instead staged their own, which was essentially a Reyista and anti administration rally. Knight, The Mexican Revolution, Vol. 1, p. 51. A number of the Freemasons had, in effect, deserted Diaz and wore considered part of Reyes' constituency. Ibid., 252.

11. If Freemasonry is described as simply a system of symbols or a tutoring program in mythology, that interpretation may dodge the religious question, but only for a time. Really, if something looks like an elephant and acts like an elephant, there may be a chance that it is an elephant. For example, are the adherents of Masonry cultists? In fact, can any system of myth and allegory such as Freemasonry be rational? See Terence M. S. Evens, "Rationality, Hierarchy and Practice: Contradiction as Choice," Social Anthropology 1, part I (February 1993), 101 - 18.

12. Seymour Martin Lipset, "The Social Requisites of Democracy Revisited" (1993 Presidential Address to American Sociological Association), American Sociological Review 59, no. l (February 1994), 5. "Catholic countries, however, have contributed significantly to the third wave of democratization during the 1970s and 1980s, reflecting 'the major changes in the doctrine, appeal, and social and political commitments of the Catholic Church that occurred . . . in the 1960s and 1970s.'" Ibid., quoting Samuel Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1991), 281, 77-85.

13. See Knight, The Mexican Revolution, Vol. 1, pp. 20-—.

14. It is hard to think that as a Masonic leader, however honorific his duties, Diaz would have been uninformed about some of the traumatic breaks and reconciliations between Mexican and American Masonic bodies that characterized inter-American Masonic relationships in the nineteenth century. For example, in 1868 the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, headquartered in Washington, D.C., withdrew recognition of the Supreme Council of Mexico. James D. Carter, History of The Supreme Council, 33º (Mother Council of the World) Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 1861-1891 (Washington, DC: The Supreme Council,33¡,1967),28. "United States Grand Lodges were concerned about the regularity of Lodges established in Mexico under the Supreme Council of Mexico which became dormant in 1871. On August 23, 1871, Pike issued a circular letter in which the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction vouched for the regularity of the Mexican Supreme Council and the Lodges that it had established and also assumed responsibility for the Mexican Lodges so created until the Supreme Council of Mexico could be reactivated. A second circular letter was mailed out on March 6, 1872, in which Pike announced the recognition of the reactivated Mexican Supreme Council." Ibid., 66. Apparently a period of normalcy ensued, because in 1882 one Grand Representative of the Supreme Council of Mexico was replaced by another without comment. (bid., 256. At another session in 1882 "A report commending the Supreme Council of Mexico was adopted and it was ordered that a cow of the report be sent to that Supreme Council." Ibid., 258. In 1883 Pike visited "Chibuajhua" and Santa Rosalia in Mexico. He spoke to the lodge at ChihuaLua and had the lodge send a present of books inscribed by him. Ibid., 273. In 1897 the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Suprome Council of Mexico was recogruzed by sending an of ficial representabve. James D. Carter, History of the Supreme Council, 33¡ (Mother Council of the World) Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 1891-1921 (Washington, DC: The Supreme Council, 33º, 1971), 94. More disputes ensued but in 1901, it was minuted that "The points of difference between The Supreme Council and that of Mexico had been removed and friendly relations should be continued." Ibid., 155, see 157. In 1909 Washington decided "that profanes 'included in the jurisdiction of The Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction . . . after a residence of three years (instead of 12 months), in the Republic of Mexico,' and after having received the Symbolic Degrees in a Mexican Lodge, would be permitted to receive the degrees of the Rite from the Supreme Council of Mexico, and the same restrictions were proposed for profanes from Mexico in the Southern Jurisdiction. On the basis of the agreements reached and the acceptance by the Supreme Council of Mexico of the change above set forth, Richardson was authorized to conclude a 'treaty or agreement' for the settlement of the problems that had arisen." Ibid., 288. After more difficulties, in 1917, a committee was appointed to see about "resuming fraternal relations with the Supreme Council of Mexico." Ibid., 465, see 472.

15.Fred W. Alisopp, Albert Pike: A Biography(1928. Reprint, Kila, MT: Kessinger, n.d.),252-—.

16. Patriotism and authority require the use of tradition, and this involves investing objects such as flags and Masonic baubles with meaning. "A practical present is, in part, composed of objects - artefacts and utterances - which are recognized to have survived from a near or a more distant past and are ready to be recalled from where they lie in the present, to be noticed, enjoyed or employed for what they may be made to mean or for whatever they may be worth in respect of current practical engagements. Such artefacts may include an ancient highway marked upon a map and inviting exploration, a 'medieval' castle, an old windmill, a ruin, monuments, relics, pictures and 'antiques' recognized by their design, which (to the instructed) may indicate a maker's name, or by a mark which assigns a date." Michael Oakeshott, "Present, Future and Past," in his On History and Other Essays (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983), 36. The process starts in childhood: The teddy bear is a case in point.

17. "The Constitution of 1857 merely stated that the Catholic religion was the religion of Mexico, but omitted the provision that it was the only religion allowed by law. The church denounced the new constitution. They did not fail to point out that Juarez and Lerdo, like George Washington in the United States and King Victor Emmanuel and Garibaldi in Italy, were Freemasons." Jasper Ridley, Maximilian and Juarez (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1992), 28.

18. Weeks, 9.

19. Selim Deringil, "The Invention of Tradition as Public Image in the Late Ottoman Empire, 1808 to 1908," Comparative Studies in Society and History 35, no. 1: 6-7, 28-9.

20. See Paul Rich, "The Rule of Ritual in the Arabian Gulf, 1858-1947" (Ph.D. diss., The University of Western Australia, 1989; Ann Arbor, Ml: University Microfilms, 1990), 7.

21. Charles L. Briggs, "Metadiscursive Practices and Scholarly Authority in Folkloristics," Journal of American Folklore 106, no. 422 (Fall 1993), 421. "Policymakers can shape not only the content of vernacular creativity, but its form and politics of culture as well, by imposing definitions of authenticity and tradition, envisioned as intrinsic properties of fixed, bounded objects rather than as dynamic zones of cultural contestation." Ibid.

22. "Why have all Churches and Religions combined together unawares to communicate that which they possess through the machinery of ritual? Why does a prescribed form of worship interlink the faithful of each as in a common bond of spiritual life? One answer is because of the psychic force which is resident in collective acts. It is the union of spirit which appears to draw down sufficing grace. But the act of collective worship connotes much more than the form itself conveys. It is also a memorial of Doctrine, and the first implied meaning and message, which lies behind the Ritual Observance belongs to the matter of Faith. It is very often at this point that Ritual begins to account for itself as a Mode of Symbolism. The procedure embodies the Doctrine. But Ritual is also and perhaps more than all a connotation of Sacrifice. Wheresoever Sacrifice has prevailed in the religious world it has been characterised by a definite environment of ceremonial acts which passed as sacred. The faithful of the particular Observance were therefore bound together by the one spirit formulated in common worship, by the Doctrine on which it was based and by the virtue which hypothesis attached to the given act of Sacrifice. The speaking language of ritual belongs hereto and arises also herefrom. It follows further that ritual has many languages, even if there is a common root of all.... Those who pursue the subject in any of its leading directions will learn in fine that there is meaning in all ritual and reason at its value behind every procedure." Arthur Edward Waite, The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry (1934. Reprint, Kila, MT: Kessinger, 1991), 629.

23. Alan Riding, Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (1984. Reprint, Vintage/Random House, 1989), 94.

24. "The nation is endowed with functionaries who act as a hod of priesthood. Thus the schoolmaster becomes a transmitter of historical lore; the Royal Family have a high papal-type role; the military too are ritual practioners; even sporting outfits play some role in transmitting national values and glory." Ninian Smart, "Lands of Hope and Glory," Times Higher Education Supplement, 2 February 1990, 15.

25. Roger Aubert et al., The Church in the Industrial Age (London: Burns & Oates, 1981), 133.

26. Weeks, 30.

27. John Kenneth Turner, Barbarous Mexico (1910. Reprint, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1969), 274.

28. Denslow, 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Vol. 4, p. 378. Cardenas was initiated in Gnosis No. 6 under the Grand Lodge of Occidental Mexicana in 1925 at the same time as General Eduardo Rincon Gallardo, who became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Valle of Mexico and president of the Interamerican Masonic Confederation. Ibid., 392-3.

29. "Social psychologists and quantifiers have yet to assess convincingly the persuasive effectiveness of trinkets." Robert G. Gunderson, review of Roger A. Fischer's "Tippecanoe and Trinkets Too: The Material Culture of American Presidential Campaigns, 1828-1984," American Historical Review 94, no. 4 (October 1989), 1193.

30. cf illustration, Rt. Wor Bro. His Highness Sir Raza All Khan Bahadur, Nawab of Rampur, President Masonic Fraternity of New Delhi, Paul Rich, Elixir of Empire: The English Public Schools, Ritualism, Freemasonry, and Imperialism, 2d ed. (London: Regency Press, 1993), 95.

31. For that matter, most successful secret societies effect at least a superficial jolly camaraderie along with the theatricality and drama that impresses initiates. The Mafia initiation contained elements that feature in the rituals of many more respectable secret organizations such as the Masons. Judge Falcone mentioned sponsorship, oaths, and the use of icons: "Having explained the commandments, and confirmed the candidate's desire to join the organization, the representative invites the candidate to choose a godfather from among the men of honour who are present. Then the swearing-in ceremony takes place: each man is asked which hand he shoots with, the index finger of that hand is pricked and a drop of blood taken and spread onto a sacred image: often a Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, whose feast is celebrated on the 25th of March and who is considered the patron saint of Cosa Nostra. The image is then set alight and the candidate passes it from hand to hand, trying not to let it go out, and solemnly swears never to betray the code of Cosa Nostra, and if he does so to burn like the image.... A curious detail is that some families prick the finger with the thorn from an orange tree; other families use a pin, always the same one (the Riesi family representative had a gold pin used exclusively for this purpose); others just use any pin which comes to hand." Giovanni Falcone with Marcelle Padovani, Men of Honour: The Truth About the Mafia (1992. Reprint, London: Warner Books, 1993), 87.

32. Gould, The History of Freemasonry, 372-3,

33. "Americans developed a set of symbols and holidays, as well as monuments to heroes and glorious accomplishments.... In Mexico the Diaz government, seeking to enthrone itself, memorialized what it regarded as important people and important days in Mexico history. It began to subsidize the writing of history.... Mexican intellectuals joined the government in promoting the hero symbols and use of festivals to give unity and loyalty to the regime." Weeks, 44-5.

34. Aubert et al., The Church in the Industrial Age, 24.

35. Mariano Cueva, Historia de la nacion mexicana, 773-92, 944-46, cited in Weeks, 12, 165. However, consider this opinion: "[Jacobinism] . . . quickly spread from Mexico to the extreme south, found support in the masonic clubs antagonistic to the Church, and demanded general equality, including that of races." Oswald Spengler, Decisive Years, 176, quoted in Samuel Ramos, Profile of Man and Culture in Mexico, trans. Peter G. Earle (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1962), 122.

36. "Mexico's obsession with symbols was quickly understood by Ronald Reagan. (Mexicans still recall that President Truman laid a wreath at the Monument to the Child Heroes in 1948 on the centenary of their death resisting the American occupation of Mexico City, while President Kennedy was no less effective in winning over Mexicans by kneeling before the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe during his visit in 1962.)" Riding, Distant Neighbors, 466.

37. "But when the whole spectrum of such organizations is kept in view and when the activities of individual societies are studied closely, the importance of their non-political and mythical components is also very striking. The ritual and symbolic elements are very important; the wide and long-enduring diffusion of a masonic element in these seems . . . to go far beyond the point at which any merely utilitarian purpose could be served by borrowing. The historian of modern politics is not always well-equipped to deal with such matters. A medievalist, an anthropologist, or a historian of art might sometimes be better able to assess the importance of some of the apparently trivial and subsidiary evidence which comes to light in this connection." Roberts, 12.

38. The authors would appreciate correspondence and comments about Freemasonry and political culture, and advice about archives and documents. They can be reached at The University of the Americas, Cholula 72820, Puebla, Mexico.

Published in: American Behavioral Scientist (ABS), Volume 40 / Number 7, June/July 1997, Sage Periodicals Press, 1997

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