Union League of America
Form of a council
Officers and their stations
The officers of a Council of the U. L. are: A President, Vice President, Assistant Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Marshal, Herald, Sentinel and Chaplain.
The P. occupies the principal station in the room; V.P. and A.V.P. at opposite end and in front of the P.; T., at the left hand of the P.; Sec. at the fight hand of the P.; M., near the V.P.; H., within the inner door; S., within the outer door, and Chaplain at the center of the room, on the right.
Emblems and Implements
Altar, Holy Bible, Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Flag of the Union, Censer of Incense, Sword, Gavel and Ballot Box.
Opening a Council
The P. assumes the chair, and gives one rap with the gavel.
P.: I am now about to open this C. If there are any persons present not members of the U.L., they will please retire to the ante-room. The officers will take their respective stations.
The door is closed.
Mr. M., you will examine, satisfy yourself that all present are duly qualified, and report.
The M. makes a careful examination and reports: I proclaim this C. open for the transaction of such business as maybe lawfully brought before it.
Members respond: So be it.
The M. will then proceed to place the Flag, etc., upon the Altar, the books being open, and the Sword laid across them. These must so remain while the C. is in session and will be left in the care and custody of such officer as the P. shall direct, during the adjournment. Each C. should purchase these articles for its use.
P.: The M. will proceed to the ante-room and ascertain if there are any candidates awaiting admission into our Lodge, and instruct the S. to admit no persons, except members, until those in waiting have passed into the C.room, or departed thence.
The M. will make the examination, return to the C. and in a distinct voice announce the names of those in waiting; and then hand to the P. a list of their names in writing.
P.: The Sec. will read the list of names.
The Sec. reads them.
P.: Mr. Sec., have the names of these gentlemen been duly presented in open C., and balloted for and elected?
The Sec. will answer according to the record. If a Sec. pro tem is acting, who has not the records of the meeting at which the candidates were elected, members present may state the facts as to the action had of each of the app1icants, and the C. will judge whether they have been duly proposed and elected. Those that have not should be politely required by the M. to retire for that evening.
P.: The A.V.P. with the M. as a witness, will retire to the ante-room and make known to the candidates the object of this L., and propound to them the necessary interrogatories as provided in the R.
The A.V.P. and M. retire to the ante-room, where the A.V.P. makes known the following:
Object of the League
A.V.P.: Gentlemen, I am directed to state to you the object of this organization, which is: to preserve Liberty and the Union of these United States; to maintain the Constitution thereof, and that of this State, and the supremacy of the laws of the United States, to sustain the existing Administration in putting down the enemies of the Government, and thwarting the designs of traitors and disloyalists, and to protect, strengthen and defend all loya1 men, without regard to sect, condition or party.
After reading which, the A.V.P. shall proceed as follows:
Gentlemen (or Sir): Having read to you the object of our organization, before proceeding further I must exact of you a pledge of secresy:
Do you declare upon your honor as a man that you win keep secret whatever may here transpire in your presence?
It now becomes my duty to propound the following questions, and it is required that you true answers make:
1. Are you sincerely opposed to secession and disunion?
2. Do you fully subscribe to the principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence?
3. Do you declare upon your honor as a man and a patriot, that Liberty and the Union should be maintained and defended, even unto the sacrifice of life?
4. Do you acknowledge that your first and highest allegiance, under God, is due to the Government of the United States of America?
5. Are you willing to take such an oath of allegiance to the United States of America.
6. Are you willing to pledge yourself to resist, to the utmost extent of your power, all attempts to subvert or overthrow the Government of the United States?
7. Are you desirous of your own free will and accord, prompted by a sense of patriotic duty, and not by idle or prying curiosity, selfish or mercenary motives, to become a member of our League?
8. Do you pledge your honor that you will obey all rules and orders of the U. L., which shall not conflict with your 1awful rights and privileges as a loyal citizen, and keep inviolate all secrets and ceremonies of the League when communicated to you as such?
8hould the candidates answer the foregoing questions in the affirmative, the A.V.P. shall report to the P. and C. as follows:
A.V.P.: Mr. P., I have made the proper examination, and find all the candidates worthy, and willing to proceed.
The A.V.P. shall then address the P. as follows:
M.: Mr. P., I bear testimony to the truth of the A.V.P.'s report. I heard the proper questions propounded by him, and answered in the affirmative by each candidate.
P.: The M. will conduct the candidates to our C.
The M. retires and conducts the candidates to the door, and makes the usual alarm.
H.: Who comes here under the private signal of our L.?
M.: Candidates who, having been duly elected and examined, desire admission to our loyal band.
H.: Mr. P., the M. announces candidates who, having been duly elected and examined, desire admission to our loyal band.
P.: The loya1 and worthy are always we1eome. Admit them.
The door is opened and the candidates, preceded by the M., enter, in double file, arm in arm, and passing around the Altar, are presented in front of the V.P.'s chair. As they enter the door the P. gives three raps of his gavel, which will call up the C.
While the candidates are coming in and taking their places around the Altar, P. may direct the C. to sing a verse or more of some patriotic and appropriate Ode, as "The Flag of Our Union," "Rally Round the Flag, Boys," "Hail Columbia," "Star spangled Banner," etc., which may be printed on cards for the use of the C.
By signal from the P., the members take their seats during the delivery of the address. Perfect silence is enjoined upon them. Noise or whispering distracts the attention of the candidates.
M.: Mr. V.P., I have the pleasure or presenting these candidates for membership in our U. L.
V.P.: Gentlemen (or Sir): We rejoice that you have thus voluntarily come forward to unite yourselves with us. The cause we advocate is that of our country. Banded together for the purpose of perpetuating the liberties for which our fathers fought, we have sworn to protect them. In times of peril to our government and the Union, it becomes the sacred duty of all true patriots to unite in the preservation of Constitutional Freedom, and in thwarting the designs of traitors to attempt to destroy the tree of Liberty planted by our patriot fathers and watered by their blood. Neither domestic traitors nor foreign foes must be permitted to destroy this nation.
Strange and sad is the necessity which requires American citizens to organize in this manner to support the Constitution and the Union; but the Government under which we live is assailed by parricides and threatened with destruction. The consummation of their wicked aims would put out the beacon light of hope for the oppressed of other lands, and make our country the grave of Liberty on earth. By means of this loyal League we can render the Government essential service in the great work of saving the Union from perishing, and mankind from a dark and dismal future.
We ask none to join us who have not the noble sentiment of patriotism deeply implanted in their hearts, for such only are capable of rising above the level of the mere partisan, and claiming and defending the boon of freedom for its intrinsic value. It is to sustain this Government we are united, and for this purpose you are now required to take a solemn obligation, which I assure you does not in any way conflict with those duties you owe to yourself, your family, your country, or your God. With this assurance on our part are you willing to take such an obligation?
Ans., to be in the affirmative.
V.P.: The candidates will please turn and approach the altar.
Here the P. calls up the C. by four raps in couplets, and says:
P.: The Chaplain will blessing of Almighty God now invoke the upon our undertaking.
Eternal God! Supreme Architect and Ruler of the Universe! We humbly beseech Thee to protect the loyal people of the United States, and especially the members of this patriotic organization. Wilt Thou be pleased to direct and prosper all our consultations to the advancement of Thy glory, the honor and welfare of Thy people; and may all things be ordered and settled by the co-ordinate branches of our Government, upon the best and surest foundations, so that peace and happiness, truth and justice, may be established among us for all generations.
Save us, we pray Thee, from foreign foes and domestic traitors, and make us all faithful and true to the noble cause of Constitutional Liberty which Thou hast graciously committed to our care.
Be pleased to guide and direct us, as Thou didst our fathers in the Revolution; with the strength of Thine Almighty arm Thou didst uphold and sustain them through all their fiery trials, and at last didst crown them with victory.
May we be united in love for our common country, imbued with sentiments of Liberty, attached to the principles of the Constitution, filled with reverence for Thy Holy Law, and may Thy Good Spirit guide, strengthen and comfort us, now and forever. Amen.
Here, after darkening the room, the M. lights the Fire of Liberty, to burn during the administration of the Obligation; the members will be notified to join hands in a circle around the candidates and the Altar―the P. stepping within the circle.
When there are more candidates than can reach the Flag or Bible, they should be divided and obligated by sections.
The P. continues as follows:
Now place your left hand on the national Flag and raise your right toward heaven, repeating after me the following Obligation:
I, …, repeat your name after mine, do solemnly swear (or affirm) in the presence of God and these witnesses, that I have never voluntarily borne arms against the United States, since I have been a citizen thereof; that I will support, protect and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States, and the flag thereof; against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will a1so defend this State against any invasion, instruction, or rebellion, to the extent of my ability. This I freely pledge without mental reservation or evasion. Furthermore, that I will do all in my power to elect true and reliable Union men and supporters of the Government, and none others, to all offices of profit or trust, from the lowest to the highest―in Ward, Town, County, State and General Government. And should I ever be cal1ed to fill any office, I will faithfully carry out the objects and principles of this L. And further, that I will protect, aid and defend all worthy members of the U. L. And further, I will never make knowl1 in any way or manner, to any person or persons not members of the U. L., any of the signs, passwords, proceedings, debates or plans of this or any other C. under this organization, except when engaging in admitting new members into this L. (Place your right hand upon the Holy Bible, etc.) And with my hand upon the Holy Bible, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States of America, under the seal of my sacred honor, I acknowledge myself firmly bound and pledged to the faithful performance of this my solemn obligation. So help me God.
Response by the members: To this we pledge ourselves.
P.: Gentlemen, around you is a band of freemen who are pledged to defend our glorious Union. They have made a high resolve, and will keep it or die. This circle is never to be broken by Treachery.
Response by the members: Never!
P.: Members of the C., will you enlarge your circle to admit new members?
Response by the members: We will.
P.: Prepare t hen for accessions to your ranks.
The circle will here be opened, the new members admitted, and with clasped and uplifted hans, all repeat the following:
To defend and perpetuate Freedom and the Union, I pledge my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor. So help me God.
Here follows a patriotic ode at the discretion of the C.
All but the new members will take their seats, while the P. proceeds to deliver the following charge to the candidates:
The Oath which you have now taken of your own free will and accord, cannot rest lightly on your conscience, neither can it be violated without leaving the stain of perjury upon your soul. You have declared that, under God, your first and highest allegiance is to the Government of the United States. You have taken such an oath of allegiance, upon the Holy Bible, Constitution, and Declaration of Independence lying within the folds of the flag of the Union. These contain the enduring records of our rights and privileges.
The Flag is the ensign of our American nationality―the visible emblem of the sovereignty of the Union. Its stars represent the sister States, its stripes the thirteen original States, its colors, Courage, Purity and Truth.
The Bible contains man's moral code, and the principles of his religious faith; points out his dependence on the Author of his being, his duty to his fellow creatures, the reward of virtue and the punishment of vice.
The Declaration of Independence declares as self-evident truths, that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It denies the despot's dogma of the "divine right of kings" to rule over mankind. It asserts that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed; and solemnly affirms the right of the American people to govern themselves as a free and independent nation.
The Constitution is an instrument reducing to practice the precepts of the Declaration. It is Liberty regulated by Law. It defines and circumscribes the powers and duties of the National Government.
It was "ordained by the Fathers, in order to farm a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to themselves and their posterity."
The Sword is a weapon of protection and defense. By it and the aid of Divine Providence, the Independence of the American people was obtained. With it we may defend the rights and liberties belonging to a free and loyal people, jealous of their country's glories, greatness, and grandeur.
Lastly, the Light you behold burning upon the Altar is emblematical of the sacred fires of Liberty that burn forever in the breasts of all true patriots.
We inculcate the spirit and arts of peace, as essential to national happiness and prosperity; but when foreign fops or treacherous hands attempt to rob us of our National inheritance, let a million gleaming swords leap from their rests and turn every way to guard the Temple of our Liberties.
The following extract from Washington's Farewell Address may be incorporated in the "charge," at the discretion of the P.
"The unity of government which constitutes you one people is justly dear to you, for it is the main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, of your peace abroad, of your safety, your prosperity. even that liberty you so justly prize.
It is of infinite moment that you should properly esteem the immense value of your National Union to your collective and individual happiness. You should cherish a cordial, habitual and immovable attachment to it, accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as the "Palladium of your political safety und prosperity," watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety, discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can, in any event, be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now bind together the various parts."
Here the P. instructs the new members in the signs, etc. When these have been imparted, the P. may give a short history of the origin, present condition and future prospects of the organization. He should impress upon the member the impropriety of using the signs. etc., too often or carelessly, as it detracts from their value and increases their chances of exposure.
Form of a council