Today, we are giving you a profound understanding into the history of North American Freemasonry. A couple of weeks ago, an article was published which detailed the History of Russian Freemasonry.
In this guide, we will discuss the following points:
- What is Freemasonry?
- When (& how) did Freemasonry come in North America
- Who were the “founding fathers” of Freemasons in America?
- The effect of Freemasonry on the course of American history?
In this article I will be sharing with you a few links on how to become a Freemason yourself, so if you’re thinking about joining in, be sure to read the entire post.
One little disclaimer! We will be discussing hundreds of years old information and some errors may pop up, since not much can be confirmed and not much information from those times has made it through to the present day.
A brief introduction to Freemasonry
Most of the definitions of Freemasonry found on the internet tend to be confusing, but the basic answer is that Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that originated as a guild composing of stonemasons and cathedral workers during the Middle Ages.
You can go through our guide on the origins of Freemasonry.
Since that time, Freemasonry has evolved into a substantial organization that became a sort of chivalric brotherhood with basic laws that included basic morality, charity, and obeying societal law.
The practices of Freemasonry differ from country to country, but since Freemasonry originated in the United Kingdom, it is most popular in English-speaking countries.
Per se, Freemasonry puts light on the customary values in these countries, but differences of these beliefs can be witnessed in Freemason organizations around the globe.
Freemasons are generally arranged in Masonic Lodges which are a common place for holding meetings. The membership in Lodges is characteristically divided into three separate branches:
- Entered Apprentice,
- Fellow of the craft – and
- Master Mason.
There also exist various groups in each lodge that are recreational or social by nature.
Let’s say for example, the Shriners in America (i.e, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine) are basically known for their charity based works.
Along with that, there are other subdivisions, as well, and these vary across a wide range of special professional groups and other social and recreational activities.
The beginning of Freemasonry in America
Early 1750s marked the birth of the first Freemasonry Lodge in America. George Washington was one of the most significant Freemasons of all time. Washington eventually became the head of a well-known lodge in Alexandria, Virginia in 1753, and he had abundance of privileged companies during the initial days of Freemasonry in the United States.
During the late 18th century, a lot of American leaders were Freemasons, and they played important roles in the Revolutionary War as well as the beginning process of establishing the initial components of what eventually became today’s US government.
The Freemasons in Early American History
Freemasonry has a memorable history in the US, especially when it comes to many of those who would eventually become leaders in America.
The most prominent Freemason was George Washington, obviously, but there are other well-known luminaries on our list.
Benjamin Franklin, who led the Pennsylvania chapter was also a Freemason and Paul Revere performed a parallel set of functions with the Freemason chapter in Massachusetts.
John Hancock was also a member of that chapter, as was the Chief Justice John Marshall, who played a prominent role in the shaping of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
Major General Henry Knox was also a member of Freemason. However, Knox is believed to have joined the organization, after he fought in the American Revolution.
Estimates differ on the original facts, but roughly between 9 and 20 of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were believed to be Freemasons. Similarly, approximately a third of the men who signed the US Constitution were also Freemasons.
Some of those men who created the of the Bill of Rights, were believed to be Freemasons, so their thoughts influenced a lot of American history.
The effect of Freemasonry on the course of American history
Although history can speak for itself that Freemasons as an organization has no distinct effects on the American history in any particular way, there is without any doubt that the influence of the men who participated in Freemasonry was tremendous.
Famous people like Washington, Franklin, Adams, Hancock were subjective by what the Freemasons refer to as a “civil religion,” a rather informal doctrine that brought forward the combination of political freedom, human rights, free enterprise and a minimal role of the state in the affairs of individuals.
That supposed “doctrine” stays a part of the underpinnings of Freemasonry in today’s world, however modern Freemasons incline to be very personal regarding this aspect of the order.
It cannot be denied that the private beliefs of individual Freemasons differ as widely as those of individuals who are a part of any other organization, but that aforesaid elements of civil religion are still a major element of Freemasonry today.
And many Freemasons refer back to that facet of their legacy with immense pride. It is a moment of pride for Freemasons that their organization had many of the Founding Fathers, and these men later on became heroes in American history.
Are you interested in becoming a Freemason?
We get this question a lot so we decided to create a guide putting light on the exact procedure to follow in order to become a Freemason. To help you understand, we have a free mini-guide that shows you the method of application.
Thank you all for being here.
We hope you had fun reading this article, which covered the immense history of Freemasonry in North America and we hope to see you back here soon.