Home Up


JOUAM - Junior Order United American Mechanics

This organization used a symbol that appears similar to the Masonic square and compasses.  It consists of the typical Masonic square and compasses, with an arm holding a hammer in the center.

I have also been told that the ritual of the JOUAM was very similar to Masonic ritual.

The following information is from - a webpage from the University of Delaware Library, Special Collections Department.

The United American Mechanics was founded in Philadelphia in 1845 under the name Union of Workers. It
began as a nativist workingmen's organization to fight against labor pressure from increasing immigration
populations, specifically the Irish, Germans, and Roman Catholics. In 1853 a junior branch of the organization
was founded. The Junior Order American Mechanics (J.O.U.A.M.) became an independent society in 1885. Its
members were white males, between the ages of 16 and 50, of good moral character, believers in the
existence of a Supreme Being, in favor of separation of church and state, and supporters of free education
through the Public School System. 

At the height of its popularity, the Junior Order had 200,000 members, dwarfing the high of 40,000 members for
its former parent organization. The word "Junior" in the organization's name had no reference to the age of its
members after 1885 and similarly, the word "Mechanic" had no relevance to the members' occupations. The
Junior Order defined its objectives as promoting the interests of Americans by shielding them from the
economically depressing effects of foreign competition, establishing a Sick and Funeral Fund and working to
maintain the Public School System. 

The J.O.U.A.M. had initiation and obligation procedures which, like other fraternal groups, were religiously
oriented. Membership eligibility requirements changed over the years to include Jews, blacks, Roman
Catholics, and women. The Junior Order's mission evolved into one of developing a legal reserve for life
insurance benefits. This was due in part to the declining membership in the early twentieth century. Membership
was divided into two categories: social members and those enrolled in the insurance program. By 1965
insurance memberships had dropped to 35,172 with 15,000, social members, and by 1979 the group boasted
only 8,500 social members and about half as many insurance members. 


Ferguson, Charles W. Fifty Million Brothers: A Panorama of American Lodges and Clubs. New York: Farrar &
Rinehart, Inc, 1937. 173-175. 

Preuss, Arthur. A Dictionary of Secret and Other Societies. St. Louis, Mo.: B. Herder Book Co, 1924. 

Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980. 171-172. 

Whalen, William J. Handbook of Secret Organizations. Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1966. 

Copyright 1998-2015 by Paul M. Bessel - all rights reserved

If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions about this website, please feel free to send an email message to me:  paulb'at' 

To see an index of other webpages with similar information, please feel free to click on the following:

Please note that I no longer am updating the webpages about Freemasonry. I still maintain my memberships but otherwise I am not active.