Among other activities, our June Stated Communication is when our Bernard Hogan Essay Contest winners present their essays. This year’s winner, Brevin Martin, was in attendance with his family to present his essay to the Lodge.
Freemasonry in the American Revolution
by Brevin Martin
Freemasons have been in the United States since its inception; some even say that Freemasons helped bring about the founding of the United States through the American Revolution. Masonic Temples were used for meetings. Members from both sides of the Revolution were welcome and actively participated in Masonic meetings without politics being involved. Others are convinced that the American Revolution itself started in Masonic meetings with discussion of unfair British policies and how to combat them. Not all of the major “players” in the Revolution were Freemasons, but many of them were. Ten signers of the Articles of Confederation, nine signers of the Declaration of Independence, thirteen signers of the Constitution, and four Presidents of the Continental Congress were — or later became — Freemasons. The brotherhood of the Masons and the trust established be being a Freemason helped people who didn’t otherwise know each other to become loyal confidants. Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere, Joseph Warren, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are well-known names from the American Revolution…they were also Freemasons!
John Hancock was a wealthy businessman who decided to get involved with politics by securing political office in Boston and then the colonial legislature in Massachusetts. Paul Revere — a silversmith and not of the elite social class of John Hancock — was a Senior Grand Deacon in the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and was a good friend of Joseph Warren, Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. They became friends due, in large part, to their membership in the St. Andrews Lodge (Boston, Massachusetts). Samuel Adams was a graduate of Harvard and came from a very politically-active family in Boston. A lead of the Sons of Liberty — and kind of a troublemaker — Adams frequently challenged British policies. All four of these men were Freemasons and belonged to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. At the time Joseph Warren sent Paul Revere to warn John Hancock and Sam Adams that the British regulars were marching to Concord, Hancock and Adams had warrants issued for their arrest. Without being in the brotherhood of Freemasons, the American Revolution may have had a completely different outcome. All of these men were active members of the Freemasons until their deaths.
There were many notable Freemasons involved with the American Revolution, but George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are among the most well-known. George Washington would be the “celebrity” by today’s standard, but Benjamin Franklin did more for the Masonic organization.
George Washington’s influence on American history is inestimable. He was the Commander of the Continental Army, served as President of the Constitutional Convention, and later became the first President of the United States. He was a devout mason; he was first initiated in 1752 in the lodge of Fredericksburg, Virginia. He remained an active member until his death in 1799. He rose to the level of Master of the Alexandria Lodge No. 22 (which was subsequently renamed the “Alexandria-Washington” Lodge No. 22). Washington surrounded himself with Freemasons; he used a Masonic Bible from the St. John’s Masonic Lodge No. 1 (New York City), and his oath was given by Robert Livingston, a prominent Mason and the Chancellor of New York. Livingston later served as one of five members of the committee tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence. George Washington even incorporated Masonic practices as he and other members of the Maryland and Virginia Masonic Lodges laid the cornerstone of the US Capitol building.
Benjamin Franklin joined the Masonic Lodge of St. John in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1732 and remained an active member until his death. He eventually became Grand Master of his lodge as well as Grand Master of the Nine Sisters Lodge in Paris, France. He joined the Parisian lodge while serving as a diplomat in France. Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin traveled to other European countries to attend different Masonic Lodges and meetings. He was well-known for serving on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence and his work in the Continental Congress, but he was just as dedicated to his Masonic Lodge. He created its bylaws and he also published the Constitution of the Free-Masons.
In conclusion, Freemasons helped create the United States of America, helped form the foundation of our laws and beliefs, and much of the Founders’ creative thinking can be traced to the fundamentals of Freemasonry. The fact that these men belonged to the same fraternal organization gave them the opportunity to interact with other Masons and crate and important connection, vital to the formation of our nation. Found fathers and historical figures, Freemasons truly shaped the very concept of the United States of America.
Right Worshipful Brother Gary Rose, Grand Senior Warden of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky was our guest speaker for the evening. He spoke briefly on a series of interesting topics to get everyone thinking then opened the floor for questions and discussion.