Making a Mason
Freemasonry is a Moral Order, instituted by virtuous men, with the praise-worthy design of recalling to our remembrance the most social pleasures founded on Liberality, Brotherly Love and Charity. It is a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. Truth is its center—the point whence its radii diverge—pointing out to its disciples a correct knowledge of the Great Architect of the Universe and the moral laws which He has ordained for their government.
—National Masonic Convention, Baltimore, Maryland, 1843
Freemasonry is the oldest still-functioning Fraternity in the western world. Its principle tenets are brotherly love, relief, and truth, and all Freemasons are governed by fortitude, prudence, temperance, and justice. Freemasons place their trust in Deity and endeavor to do unto their neighbors as their neighbors should do unto them. They are quiet and peaceful citizens, true to their country and just to their government. They do not engage in political disputes as an organization and are accepting of all religions that profess a belief in a Supreme Being. While it is possible to trace Freemasonry’s existence in some form since the sixteenth century, more solid documentation is available for the period after the early eighteenth century and the founding of The Grand Lodge of England.
In the United States, regular Freemasonry is organized by jurisdiction with each state hosting a Grand Lodge. There is no central authority for Freemasonry in the United States. Outside the United States, in England, for example, Freemasonry is organized under a national Grand Lodge which issues warrants or charters for the formation of Lodges within its jurisdiction. Freemasonry in the United States is considered to be a direct descendant of the Grand Lodge of England and still follows many of the practices of that institution.
That some form of organized masonry began with the masoun or rough mason of medieval Europe who progressed through “the ranks” of layers, pavers, and masons to become freemasons is well documented in the records of the operative guilds. Guilds were, essentially, trade unions that protected the rights of labored as they ensured the quality of the finished product. They also served to provide essential education for future generations and to protect the trade secrets of the craft. One of the most important of these secrets was methods of recognition. In this pre-literate age, those methods included manual signs, grips, and the exchange of specific passwords or shibboleths. The nature of the masonic trade—the erection of large stone structures— necessarily required a certain degree of movement among highly skilled workers. The signs, grips, and words were tests of a mason’s qualifications as well as his introduction to others of the same trade. Prior to being accepted into a lodge where he was unknown and being allowed to function as a full mason or freemason, and to ensure that he was “worthy and well qualified” (that he could create a sustainable arch, for example) it was necessary that he be “tested.” This was generally done by the use of the “secrets” as noted—signs, grips, and words—that were received “mouth to ear” upon the successful completion of a period of apprentice and an examination or presentation of a finished piece of work to an examining committee. The original testing and qualification was time-consuming and expensive.
In the operative trade or guild, it was often the custom for the master or foreman to remove the central post supporting the frame for the arch. If it collapsed, it collapsed on him. This rather drastic approach to quality control ensured that the master or foreman properly instructed apprentices and fellows of the craft, and that they properly supervised the labor of their workers. To qualify as a fellow of the craft it was essential that an apprentice mason prove that he possessed the skills and knowledge essential to successful building construction. This required a young man to enter the trade at age eleven or twelve as an apprentice and work under the direct supervision of a master for seven or more years. At the conclusion of the well-supervised and arduous seven years of labor, the apprentice presented a final piece of work to be evaluated by the master. The movie “The Red Violin” suggests the outcome of this form of evaluation of workmanship. If found worthy the apprentice was advanced to the rank of fellow of the craft where he generally remained for the rest of his working life.
This system of training, evaluation, and advancement is not that unusual today. For example, United Scenic Artists, a modern labor union which is an autonomous local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, utilizes a similar system. After being trained and engaged in the profession for some period (training may come through a university degree), the candidate applies for recognition. He or she is assigned a take-home project followed by a written examination, personal interview, and portfolio review of previous work. The candidate is then required to execute an on-site practical project for evaluation by a panel of judges. For those with significant prior experience—three years or more of satisfactory practice in the trade often under the supervision a guild member—a take-home project, portfolio review, interview, and examination of samples of previous work without the practical examination suffice to demonstrate proficiency.
Nor is a form of apprenticeship and evaluation restricted just to unions. Parachute riggers in the United States military work under the direct supervision of senior Noncommissioned Officers. During training, riggers are required to jump with a parachute they packed and continue to do so on a regular basis upon successful completion of the school and assignment as a rigger with an airborne unit. In a similar fashion, aircraft mechanics often participate in a check ride before certifying the craft airworthy. And in very public demonstration of an engineer’s faith in her and her husband’s work, Emily Warren Roebling, wife of Washington Roebling and his successor as field engineer on the Brooklyn Bridge, hitched a team of horses to a wagon and with a rooster as a passenger became the first person to traverse the full length of that famous bridge.
The men who erected the great cathedrals of Europe and other impressive structures were skilled craftsmen much valued for their knowledge and dedication to their craft. They were masons. But some were freer than others. The use of the term “free” in freemason has often been interpreted to mean free of obligation to church or secular authority and thus free to “roam at will”, to be true “traveling men.” While this did become the case in the mid-seventeenth century and continued into the nineteenth century , all masons of the eleventh through fifteenth centuries were as subject to government (crown) and church authority as any other freeman. The original use of the term free associated with “mason” resulting in freemason was used to identify those skilled artisans who could work in free stone creating the beautiful carvings and other ornaments found in medieval architecture, especially gothic. The term freemason thus differentiated those highly skilled, highly paid craftsmen who most often worked at a piece rate from rough masons such as layers, pavers and hewers who received a daily wage (see Chapter III for a more complete outline). Freemasons also tended to be independent masters or contractors with their own apprentices who demanded and received a high level of respect while enjoying a significant amount of authority and the right to independently negotiate for their services.
All masons, however, found it necessary to band together because of the very nature of their craft. A cursory survey of any great cathedral reflects the conditions necessary for their erection and supports the contention that, unlike other craftsmen such as metal smiths, saddlers, or goldsmiths, masons could not easily acquire positions, perform work, or complete a finished work in his chosen materials alone. A large-scale, coordinated, well-funded effort was necessary to quarry, cut, finish, deliver, and erect the thousands of stones used in any given project. Early masons were very similar to modern construction workers: a wage-earner paid according to a time or piece rate. And he did not work in isolation any more than do members of a twenty-first century construction crew; but rather as part of a larger force directed by a master, overseer, clerk, or foreman and often under the watchful eye of a master of the work or architect appointed by crown or ecclesiastical authorities. Within this system fathers taught their sons and uncles their nephews without formal indentures, but this produced insufficient numbers of skilled workmen. A system of formal apprenticeship was thus necessary and became common among all craft guilds in order to train and certify the work of skilled craftsmen.
Life-spans during those centuries coupled with difficulties in traveling great distances and the length of time required to complete massive construction projects such as a cathedral or castle meant that most medieval masons ended their careers in the very lodges built in the quarries or at the construction sites where they first began work at age eleven or twelve. In addition, medieval building records—and there are a number extant—indicate that the clear majority of masons never exceeded the journeyman status or fellow of the craft. They were neither masters nor contractors which further restricted their “traveling.” The existing records further indicate that those designated as master masons were most often supervisors or contractors who performed as much as administrators as they did as operative workmen. During this ancient period, men who were not operative masons—real masons—were an integral part of the craft structure and served as haulers, clerks, stewards, and, even, contractors.
The antiquity of the masons' organizations in England has generated much speculation and mythology. It is obvious from the remnants of Roman structures still dotting the English countryside that there was some form of masonic trade prior to the sixth century. There is no evidence, though, among the existing Roman archives of an organized masons’ guild in England at that time. Roman building projects, Hadrian’s Wall, for example, were under the auspices of the Roman military not civilian contractors. In the historical record, the first reference to anything masonic is found in Bede's The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation and Lives of Saints and Bishops. Bede writes that in the year 675 Bishop Benedict crossed into Gaul and carried back with him some masons to build a church in the Roman style and that he also brought from Gaul makers of glass which was at that time an unknown skill in Britain. “This was done, and they came, and not only finished the work required, but taught the English nation their handicraft.” Yet earlier in the same text, for the year 619, Bede writes that a great fire consumed the city of London and that “The church of the Four Crowned Martyrs was in the place where the fire raged.” The four crowned Martyrs were the patron saints of Roman masons which suggested to some scholars that while mason/soldiers may have remained in Britain after the Roman withdrawal, none were left by the year 675.
The Four Crowned Martyrs or Sancti Quatuor Coronati refers to nine men identified by the Catholic Church as martyrs. They are divided into two groups: Severus (or Secundius), Severian(us), Carpophorus (or Carpoforus), and Victorinus (or Victorius, Vittorinus): and Claudius, Castorius, Symphorian (Simpronian), Nicostratus, and Simplicius. The Golden Legend recounts that they were not actually known at the time of their death but “were learned thorough the Lord’s revelation after many years had passed.” The four in group one, all of whom were soldiers or military clerks, were executed at the order of the Emperor Diocletian for refusing to sacrifice to Aesculapius, the Roman god of medicine. According to the legend, they were buried in the cemetery of Santi Marcellinoe Pietro e Laterano by Pope Miltiades and St. Sebastian. Of greater interest to ancient operative masons (and to Freemasons) is group two.
Tradition teaches that these five were sculptors or freemasons who refused to make a statue of Emperor Diocletian and to offer sacrifice to other Roman Gods. The Emperor ordered them sealed in lead coffins and tossed into the sea from a cliff in Pannonia. The Catholic Encyclopedia reports that “they were condemned to death as Christians . . . towards the end of 305.” They were venerated as saints early in English Christian history when Augustine of Canterbury coming to the island from a monastery near the basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati in Rome arriving in Kent in 597 and their relics came to England in 601. This reference in The Catholic Encyclopedia may be construed to support Bede’s reference to a church dedicated to the masonic martyrs prior to the reintroduction of masons into Britain in 675. The connection with sculpture or stone work linked the martyrs to the guild in England, Germany, and Italy. A sculpture created by Nanni di Banco located in Orsanmichele near Florence depicts the martyrs and was commissioned by the guild of stone and woodworkers of which he was a member.
Outside Bede, there is no reference to masons or to any guild in the other great chronicles to include The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, The Croyland Chronicle, or The Doomsday Book. The existing evidence suggests stone buildings were rarely built prior to the twelfth century and that organized masonry arose in England only after the Norman Conquest when kings, nobles, and churchmen from William I onward, erected buildings such as Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and other royal edifices. The account books for the reign of Henry III (1216-1307) as well as those of Edward I (1272-1307) and Edward III (1327- 1377) indicate a strong royal passion for building and the development of an organization of masons to perform the labor.
Given the nature of the masonic lodges necessary for the erection of these magnificent edifices, it was inevitable that customs would be established to govern the relationship between the employer and the employee. Similarly, these organizations facilitated the administrative functions necessary to house, feed, pay, and supervise the workmen as well as to make available to them a ready supply of useable materials and suitable working tools.
The Regis Manuscript, a long poem in Old English, dated to about 1390, and the Cooke Manuscript, a prose or ledger-type document also in Old English dated to about 1410, list the articles and points developed within the medieval craft to regulate its practices. Both documents in their entirety as well as The Graham Manuscript and Schaw Statutes are in Chapter IV. The articles in these documents are directed chiefly to the masters—the person or craftsman in charge—noting that they should be loyal to their lord—the person paying the bills; not waste his goods by giving more pay to any man than he deserved; taking and training apprentices only as needed (and keeping them in training for at least seven years); dismissing insufficiently skilled workers; and not supplanting another because “no man can so well finish a piece of work as he that began it.”
The points are directed to the laborers or fellows. They were to love God and regard their fellows as brethren; to keep their secrets; to “tell it to no man wheresoever you go, the counsel of the hall, and even of bower, keep it well to great honor, lest it would turn thyself to shame, and bring the craft into great shame;” to take his pay meekly and to avoid quarreling; to keep the seventh commandment “thou shalt not steal;” and, if a warden, to be a true and fair mediator between his master and his fellows. The mason also pledged himself to keep the mysteries of the craft which included such arcane knowledge as how to create a true square within a square; how to build an arch that would support substantial weight; how to create a design using nothing more than a string and several stakes or points; and how to orient a building correctly. In the modern world, many masonic mysteries are now taught in high school plane and solid geometry, algebra, and drafting.
By the middle of the fifteenth century, the London Company or guild had established its ordinances which were revised in 1481, 1521, and subsequent years, remaining in force until the early nineteenth century when the government had so fully taken over the duties and responsibilities of the guild that they were, effectively, put out of business. This same pattern of shift from guild control to government control may be noted throughout England and Scotland as well as in Europe and was not restricted to masons (see Chapter III).
OPERATIVE TO SPECULATIVE
By the end of the sixteenth century, political and religious events, began to erode the influence of the guilds and the very reason for their existence, but they did not disappear. Instead, they reinvented themselves—some suggest that they returned to their roots—and became [again?] social organizations that brought together like-minded men in pursuit of fellowship, enlightenment, and social standing. While it is most difficult to locate the exact beginnings of speculative masonry—modern Freemasonry—this much can be documented. Elias Ashmole wrote in his diary in October 1646 that “I was made a free-mason at Warrington in Lancashire.” The earliest record of the initiation of a non-operative mason is found in the minutes of the Lodge of Edinburgh at Mary's Chapel dated July 1634 when Lord Alexander and his brother, Anthony, were admitted. This Lodge is still in existence today. The oldest existing records of any Masonic Lodge date to January 1599 and are from Lodge Aitchison’s Haven in East Lothian, Scotland. That Lodge closed in 1852. Minutes dating to July 1599 from the Lodge of Mary’s Chapel, noted above, still exist, as well. There are no equally ancient records from English Lodges. But from the early medieval period, there had been throughout England and Scotland associations of stonemasons, and by the late 1500s there were at least thirteen of what appear to be speculative Lodges in Scotland from Edinburgh to Perth. It will not be until the early eighteenth century, however, that any type of institutional structure appears. This move toward national unity through the grand lodge system originated in England between 1717 and 1723. It was copied in Ireland (1725) and Scotland (1736).
In 1686, Dr. Robert Plot would write that it was the custom to admit men into the Society of Freemasons throughout the nation, “especially in Staffordshire.” He also informs us that this Lodge consisted of at least five members of The Ancients of the Order and that a Fellow of the Society was called an “accepted mason.” Other early freemasons included Rundle Holme, made a Freemason in Chester in 1666 along with twenty-six other “Brethren”, and the Lodge roll of the Old Lodge at York for the years 1712-1730 still exists.
HOW TO MAKE A MASON
Elias Ashmole was born in 1617. He studied and worked at Oxford University, probably in the library. He was admitted to the Middle Temple (the bar) in London in 1657, but having married a rich widow, he does not seem to have practiced law at any length. On 16 October 1646, he wrote in his diary: “4:30 p.m., I was made a free-mason at Warrington in Lancashire with Col. Henry Mainwaring of Karincham in Cheshire.” He then gives the names of those in attendance.
Prior to the second decade of the 18th century, there is not a single reference to three separate degrees in Freemasonry in any minutes of any lodge in existence. “Making a brother” or “Making a Free Mason,” as Ashmole notes, were the only designations provided. All candidates were simply “entered.” The ritual for making a Mason consisted, based upon available records, of what we would think of today as parts of the first and second degrees accompanied with a charge and some type of lecture.
A man asked a Masonic friend to join the lodge. His qualifications were debated in open lodge at length and his name put to a vote. If he was approved, he was sent a summons, usually written, to appear with his proposer at a specified place on a given date. There was no waiting for investigation. It was assumed that if a Brother of a lodge recommended a man for membership he knew the candidate well and personally, and was positive that his record would survive the test of open debate in the lodge. Brethren at that time would never have considered proposing someone whom they did not know and know well.
At the initiation, the candidate first took an obligation on the Volume of Sacred Law to preserve the mysteries not the secrets of the craft. The words and signs were communicated to him by his proposer who then asked him to demonstrate his proficiency for all present. A charge was given informing the new Mason of his duty to God, his master, and his fellow men. A history of the craft was generally read. This history could be found in one of several ancient documents such as the Regius Manuscript or poem, the Cooke Manuscript, or Grande Lodge Manuscript No. 1. It may even have been taken from an early form of the Graham Manuscript. Each of these ancient charges varied markedly in its account of the craft’s history with the Legend of Hiram absent. Instead, we find the Legend of Noah as used by Antediluvian or Noachida Masons (see Albert Mackey’s The History of Freemasonry). While Noah is mentioned in passing in the Regius poem (abt. 1390), a longer version of the story is found in the Cooke Manuscript of 1410 and the Graham manuscript of the early 1700s.
THE LEGEND OF NOAH
Lamech, the great, great, great, grandson (sixth generation) of Adam had two wives and four children: sons Jabal, founder of geometry and builder of the first stone house; Jubal, a musician and founder of music; Tubal, the first blacksmith and worker in brass; and a daughter, Naamah, the founder of weaving. Knowing that God would destroy the world, these four erected a pillar of marble and a pillar of brick on which they inscribed on each side the mysteries of their crafts and sciences. After the flood, Noah’s great grandson, Nimrod, finds the marble pillars and the knowledge thereon contained is imparted to mankind.
The Graham Manuscript, dated to 1726, adds more to the legend. After Noah’s death, Shem, Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, go to their father’s grave in search of a valuable secret. They find nothing but a “dead body all most consumed.” Shem, taking the body by a finger and the finger coming off, says “here is yet marrow in this bone.” Ham, taking the body by the hand, which also comes off, says “but a dry bone.” Japheth then says “it stinketh.” They then proceed to raise the body by the elbow supporting it foot-to-foot, knee-to-knee, breast-to-breast, cheek-to-cheek, and hand-to-back, and cry out “Help O Father.” “And so,” states the manuscript, “they agreed for to give it a name that is known to freemasonry to this day.”
These Masonic versions of the Legend of Noah probably originated in the Noah mystery play produced by the various craft guilds in England from the thirteenth through the sixteenth centuries which were suppressed during the Reformation (mid 1500s to early 1600s) and virtually eradicated during the Commonwealth under Cromwell (1649-1660). There are eight extant but different versions of the Noah mystery play each of which may have contributed some part to the Masonic ritual of the early eighteenth century.
The process of making a mason was simple. The lodge was opened and the Master asked if anyone was in waiting to be “made a Mason.” The wardens and proposer (there were no deacons) retired to prepare the candidate—divested of minerals and metals, and so forth—and he was asked some basic questions similar to the modern Senior Deacon’s anteroom lecture. The wardens returned to the lodge while the candidate and his proposer waited in complete silence in the totally dark anteroom for at least thirty minutes.
A set of figures were drawn on the floor with charcoal or chalk within an oblong square. Symbols were added and a tracing board put in place. When all was in order, the proposer brought the candidate into the lodge “upon the point of a sword or spear” and in later generations, led by a deacon with a sword. Prayer may or may not have been offered based on the tradition of that lodge. Moderns tended to omit the prayer upon admission while Ancients (Antients) included it. The candidate was presented to the lodge through the circumambulation. He was then led to the altar and given the obligation which, since it was only one degree, included most of the penalties in the full modern ritual. The candidate then kissed the Volume of Sacred Law and said “fune merum genio” which is Latin for “pour out the good wine for our pleasure.” The brothers drank a toast given by the Master to the “heart that conceals and to the tongue that never reveals.” After which each drew his glass, now empty, across his throat.
With the trestle board (not to be confused with the tracing board) already in place, the pattern on the floor and the emblems on the tracing board were explained. The new brother was then instructed to “wash away” the figures on the floor, retire to the preparation room, recover his valuables, and return to the lodge.
Upon his return, he was presented with a white leather apron and its meaning explained. The craft then assembled in a circle, hands joined crossways to form a chain, and the ceremony was ended. After the ceremony of “making a Mason” was concluded, the members sat around the trestle board feasting, toasting, and reciting the Apprentice lecture which was given in the form of a catechism with the Master asking the questions. Each brother could propose a toast as he desired upon answering a question. If a brother did not know the answer to the Master’s question, he would stand, clap his hands, place his right hand on his left breast, give a very low bow, take a drink, and pass the question to the next brother in line. The lodge was finally closed with the Senior Warden simply saying, “Our Master’s will and pleasure is that this lodge stands closed till” after which he would give the date and time of the next meeting. This concluded the initiation or “making a Mason,” but for the new member, the journey had barely begun. There followed many, many extensive communications which included comprehensive and considered lessons in and discussions of morality, architecture, mathematics, natural science, art, literature, philosophy, and the myriad other topics covered in the seven liberal arts and sciences. Yes, there was congeniality, brotherly love, and conviviality (and a few glasses were undoubtedly emptied), but above all and paramount to the Craft was education, philosophical discussion, and moral and ethical development.
The Master Mason Degree in the symbolic lodges appears to have been an innovation of the Grand Lodge system sometime after 1725. Most Freemasons remained Fellow Crafts all of their days. Bro. George Bell, for example, was a Fellow Craft when he served as Deputy Grand Master in 1751. It is not until 1777 that the first and second degrees are noted as having been given on different evenings and, if the third degree was worked with any regularity between 1725 and 1760, few brothers knew about it and even fewer participated. It is possible that the third or Master Mason degree was worked in a separate or Master’s Lodge and by invitation only with the first record of a separate Master Mason degree dated 1756.
Considering all available information and research, the precise origin of the three-degree system remains a true Masonic Mystery. Was there any formally authorized work prior to 1717 or did individual Lodges establish and promulgate their particular work? Who authorized and wrote the degrees after 1717? Did the Grand Lodge of England derive its ritual from operative lodges then in existence in London or elsewhere? Were the original rituals derived from or, even, part of the mystery play tradition of the operative crafts which had been suppressed? How much did the French have to do with English lodge practices, and the English with the French? Who wrote the story of Hiram and why? Does the Hiramic Legend relate to the Jacobean Rebellion or to the restoration of the English Monarchy after the Commonwealth? Is the Hiram Legend a retelling of the Noah mystery or does it symbolize something else—politically, morally, philosophically, or historically?
The ancient and honorable Fraternity of Freemasons never ceases to challenge us, but that is the way of our time-honored institution.
THE LEGEND OF NOAH ACCORDING TO GRAHAM 1725
· (Spelling taken from the original)
· Shem ham and jepheth ffor to go their father
· noahs grave for to try if they could find anything about him ffor to lead them
· to the valuable secret which this famieous preacher had for I hop all will
· allow that all things needful for the new world was in the ark with noah
· Now these 3 men had already agreed that if they did not find the very thing
· If self that the first thing what they found was to be to them as a secret they not
· doubting but did most ffirmly believe than God was able and would also prove
· willing through their faith prayer and obedience for to cause what they did
· find for to prove as vertuable to them as if they had received the secret at
· ffirst from God himself at its head spring so came to the Grave finding
· nothing save the dead body all most consumed away takeing a
· greip at a ffinger
· it came away so from Joynt to Joynt so to the wrest so to the Elbow so they
· Reared up the dead body and supported it setting ffoot to ffoot knee to knee
· Breast to breast Cheeck to cheeck and hand to back and cryed out
· help o ffather as if they had said o ffather of heaven helpo us no Earthly ffather
· cannot so Laid down the dead body again and now knowing what
· to do — so one said is et marrow in this bone and the second said but a
· dry bone and the third said it stinketh so they agreed for to give it a name
· as is known to free masonry to this day so went to their undertakings
· the virtue did not proceed from what they ffound or how it was called but
· ffrom ffaith and prayer o thu it continued the will pass for the deed.
MODERN FREEMASONRY: WHAT IT HAS ACCOMPLISHED
Modem Freemasonry dates itself from the formation of the Grand Lodge of England in or about the year 1717. According to at least one source, four London lodges of Freemasons, gathered to form the Grand Lodge, but the minutes of the Grand Lodge do not commence until the year 1723 and no minutes from individual lodges in London seem to have survived. In 1723 the first edition of the Constitutions appeared and the Duke of Montagu was elected Grand Master. Tradition holds that the great architect Christopher Wren was the starting point for the organization. Wren, officially “Master of the Work” under Charles II (1630-1685) after the great fire of 1666, and other notable architects and masons are reported to have been part of the fraternity. But when Wren died in 1723, only two contemporary sources referred to him as a Freemason. Inigo Jones (1573-1652) and a contemporary of Wren is also reported to have been a Freemason but there no existing records supporting this claim. References to Jones’s association with the fraternity date from 1725 and 1848.
When English, Scottish, and Irish Freemasons migrated to the American colonies, they brought with them their Masonic fraternity and, obsessed with the new ideal of freedom and enlightenment, the Fraternity, which was open to men of every social rank, of every faith, and every political persuasion, was the perfect organization for the emerging nation. The colonists valued friendship second only to protecting one's reputation. Your good name was everything. Government existed for the purpose of enlisting private individuals to carry out public ends. Important offices were to be held by only the most trustworthy—those who had already proven themselves of worth. These good men were expected to provide political and public leadership. They developed such leadership skills in their Masonic Lodge. The Lodges also provided sound education in the arts and sciences in those days before state universities and public schools.
“It would be difficult,” writes Gordon Wood in The Radicalization of the American Revolution, “to exaggerate the importance of Masonry for the American Revolution. It not only created national icons that are still with us; it brought people together in new ways and helped fulfill the republican dream of reorganizing social relationships. . .Masonry was looking for the lowest common denominator of unity and harmony in a society increasingly diverse and fragmented. It became 'The Center of the Union'. . . it embodied the enlightened cosmopolitan dream.”
Freemasonry introduced us to and encouraged the development of individualism. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the fraternity actively pressed for and taught its members the idea that each man and woman was entitled to respect as an individual. The Masonic Lodge served as the first model of democracy. Lodge members made their own by-laws and elected their own leaders. The very idea of election was unheard of except in the Lodge. When Freemasonry came to North America, much of this great nation's future was determined by Freemasons such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, Paul Revere, and Joseph Warren. In later years, men such as Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Howard Taft, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford were Freemasons, and Masonic Lodges were among the first to break down the barriers of social class. Members of the British royal family sat with their own servants and presidents of the United States sat with carpenters, plumbers, and brick layers. Masonic principles and ritual teach that all men are equal and have inalienable rights to include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The influence of Freemasonry on art, architecture, and science is virtually limitless. Christopher Wren, already noted as responsible for the rebuilding of London after the great fire of 1666 was reportedly a Freemason. The works of Mozart, Haydn, Susa, and Gilbert and Sullivan—all Freemasons—reflect Masonic themes. The authors of War and Peace, The Man Who Would Be King, and Kim were Freemasons. Some of the first hospitals and programs for deceased or disabled workers were created by the Fraternity. It is estimated that Freemasons contribute three million dollars daily to such charities as the Shrine Hospital System and other worthy causes. Freemasonry partners with public education by providing scholarships, treating children with dyslexia, and aiding our local schools monetarily and through the donation of time.
Freemasonry offers not only the traditional path of self-discovery and self-development, it offers training in leadership, organization, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, and values.
Freemasonry is more than a fraternity; it is a way of life and a commitment to the future.
R.A. Leeson. Traveling Brothers: The Six Centuries Road from Craft Fellowship to Trade Unionism. (London: George Allen & Unwin., Ltd., 1979), pp. 23-40.
Douglas Knoop & G. P. Jones. A Short History of Freemasonry to 1730. (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1940), p.10.
Paul S. Boer, Sr. (ed.). The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation and Lives of Saints and Bishops. (London: Veritatis Splendor Publications, 2014), pp. 503-504.
Boer, pp. 146-147.
http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=3430, retrieved, July 6, 2015.
William Jacobus. The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 1993), pp. 291-292.
“Four Crown Martyrs”, The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909) p. 163.
Michael R. Poll (ed.) Ancient Manuscripts of the Freemasons: The Transformation from Operative to Speculative Freemasonry, (New Orleans: Cornerstone Books, 20130, p. 88.
Poll, p. 36.
Elias Ashmole. Memoirs of the Life of that Learned Antiquary, Elias Ashmole, Esq; Drawn up By Himself by way of Diary. With an Appendix of Original Letters. Publish’d by Charles Burman,Esq. (Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Ecco Publishing, 2010 reprint), p. 36.
Robert Plott. The Natural History of Staffordshire by Robert Plot. (Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Ecco Publishing,  2010 reprint), p. 316.
Ashmole, p. 36.
Gordon Wood. The Radicalism of the American Revolution. (New York; Vintage Books, 1993), p. 223.