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ABOUT FREEMASONRY IN GENERAL
           

Freemasonry is the premier fraternal organization in the world, with lodges in almost every country in the free world. It is open to men of adult age of any color, any religion, nationality or social standing. The only requirement of its members is a belief in a Supreme Being. The goal of Freemasonry is to enhance and strengthen the character of the individual man by providing opportunities for fellowship, charity, education, and leadership based on the three ancient Masonic tenets, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

 
 

Freemasonry has a long and praiseworthy tradition, dating back centuries. The first lodge in North America was the Provincial Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, organized by Henry Price, who met at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston. North American Freemasons have been helping to build better communities ever since. Many of America’s early Patriots were Masons. General Joseph Warren, who gave his life at Bunker Hill and Paul Revere were both Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Others are listed below in the "famous Freemasons section".

 
 
MAJOR HENRY PRICE
FIRST GRAND MASTER IN NEW ENGLAND
Quick History of Freemasonry

Although the actual origins of Freemasonry are clouded in the mists of antiquity, it is widely agreed that Masonry dates back to the late fourteenth century and flourished during the middle ages when guilds of Masons traveled throughout Europe building the great gothic cathedrals. Apprentices were taken in and taught the craft by Master Masons who passed on the secrets of the trade. As building declined, the guilds began to accept members who were not actually stone Masons. From these roots evolved Masonry, as we know it today.

 
CLICK ON LINK ABOVE TO ENLARGE
 
CLICK ON LINK ABOVE TO ENLARGE
 
Ritual and symbols

The Freemasons rely heavily on the architectural symbolism of the medieval operative Masons who actually worked in stone. One of their principal symbols is the square and Compasses, tools of the trade, so arranged as to form a quadrilateral. The square is sometimes said to represent matter, and the compasses spirit or mind. Alternatively, the square might be said to represent the world of the concrete, or the measure of objective reality, while the compasses represent abstraction, or subjective judgment, and so forth (Freemasonry being non-dogmatic, there is no written-in-stone interpretation for any of these symbols). Often the compasses straddle the square, representing the interdependence between the two. In the space between the two, there is optionally placed a symbol of metaphysical significance. Sometimes, this is a blazing star or other symbol of Light, representing Truth or knowledge. Alternatively, there is often a letter G placed there, usually said to represent God and/or Geometry.

The square and compasses are displayed at all Masonic meetings, along with the open Volume of the Sacred Law (or Lore) (VSL). In English-speaking countries, this is usually a Holy Bible, but it can be whatever book(s) of inspiration or scripture that the members of a particular Lodge or jurisdiction feel they draw on—whether the Bible, the Qur'an, or other Volumes. A candidate for a degree will normally be given his choice of VSL, regardless of the Lodge's usual VSL. In many French Lodges, the Masonic Constitutions are used. In a few cases, a blank book has been used, where the religious makeup of a Lodge was too diverse to permit an easy choice of VSL. In addition to its role as a symbol of written wisdom, inspiration, and spiritual revelation, the VSL is what Masonic obligations are taken upon.

Much of Masonic symbolism is mathematical in nature, and in particular geometrical, which is probably a reason Freemasonry has attracted so many rationalists (such as Voltaire, Fichte, Goethe, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain and many others). No particular metaphysical theory is advanced by Freemasonry, however, although there seems to be some influence from the Pythagoreans, from Neo-Platonism, and from early modern Rationalism.
In keeping with the geometrical and architectural theme of Freemasonry, the Supreme Being (or God, or Creative Principle) is sometimes also referred to in Masonic ritual as the Grand Geometer, or the Great Architect of the Universe (GAOTU). Freemasons use a variety of labels for this concept in order to avoid the idea that they are talking about any one religion's particular God or God-like concept.

 
Degrees
 
The Three Degrees of Freemasonry
Referred to Blue Lodge or Craft Lodge

 

1° Entered Apprentice

2° Fellow Craft

3° Master Mason

 

As one works through the degrees, one studies the lessons and interprets them for oneself. There are as many ways to interpret the rituals as there are Masons, and no Mason may dictate to any other Mason how he is to interpret them. No particular truths are espoused, but a common structure—speaking symbolically to universal human archetypes—provides for each Mason a means to come to his own answers to life's important questions. Especially in Europe, Freemasons working through the degrees are asked to prepare papers on related philosophical topics, and present these papers in an open Lodge, where others may judge the suitability of the candidates' ascension through the higher degrees.

 
History of Freemasonry
 

Main article: History of Freemasonry

Freemasonry has been said to be an institutional outgrowth of the medieval guilds of stonemasons (1), a direct descendant of the "Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem" (the Knights Templar) (2), an offshoot of the ancient Mystery schools (1), an administrative arm of the Priory of Sion (3), the Roman Collegia (1), the Comacine masters (1), intellectual descendants of Noah (1), and many other various and sundry origins. Others claim that it dates back only to the late 17th century in England, and has no real connections at all to earlier organizations. These theories are noted in numerous different texts, and the following are but examples pulled from a sea of books:

Much of the content of these books is highly speculative, and the precise origins of Freemasonry may very well be lost in either an unwritten or a created history. It is thought by many that Freemasonry cannot be a straightforward outgrowth of medieval guilds of stonemasons. Amongst the reasons given for this conclusion, well documented in Born in Blood, are the fact that stonemasons' guilds do not appear to predate reasonable estimates for the time of Freemasonry's origin, that stonemasons lived near their worksite and thus had no need for secret signs to identify themselves, and that the "Ancient Charges" of Freemasonry are nonsensical when thought of as being rules for a stonemasons' guild.

Freemasonry is said by some, especially amongst Masons practising the York Rite, to have existed at the time of King Athelstan of England, in the 10th century C.E. Athelstan is said by some to have been converted to Christianity in York, and to have issued the first Charter to the Masonic Lodges there. This story is not currently substantiated (the dynasty had already been Christian for centuries).

A more historically reliable (although still not unassailable) source asserting the antiquity of Freemasonry is the Halliwell Manuscript, or Regius Poem, which is believed to date from ca. 1390, and which makes reference to several concepts and phrases similar to those found in Freemasonry. The manuscript itself refers to an earlier document, of which it seems to be an elaboration.

There is also the Cooke Manuscript, which is said to be dated 1430 and contained the Constitution of German stonemasons(4), but the first appearance of the word 'Freemason' occurs in the Statutes of the Realm enacted in 1495 by Henry VII, however, most other documentary evidence prior to the 1500s appears to relate entirely to operative Masons rather than speculative ones.

1583 is the date of the Grand Lodge manuscript(4), and more frequent mention of lodges is made in documents from this time onwards. The Schaw Statues of 1598-9(4) are the source used to declare the precedence of Kilwinning Lodge in Edinburgh, Scotland over St. Mary's (or Principal) Lodge. As a side note, Kilwinning is called Kilwinning #0 because of this very conundrum. Quite soon thereafter, a charter was granted to Sir William St. Clair (later Sinclair) of Roslin (Rosslyn), allowing him to purchase jurisdiction over a number of lodges in Edinburgh and environs (4), which is the basis of the Templar myth surrounding Rosslyn Chapel.

Another key figure in Masonic history was Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), who was made a Mason in 1646, although Speculative Masons were being admitteed into Lodges as early as 1634. There appears to be a general spread of the Craft during this time, but the next key date is 1717.

In 1717, four Lodges which met, respectively, at the "Apple-Tree Tavern, the Crown Ale-House near Drury Lane, the Goose and Gridiron in St. Paul's Churchyard, and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Westminster" in London, England (as recounted in (2)) joined together and formed the first Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of England (GLE). The years following saw new Grand Lodges open throughout England and Europe, as the new Freemasonry spread rapidly. How much of this was the spreading of Freemasonry itself, and how much was the public organization of pre-existing secret Lodges, is not possible to say with certainty. The GLE in the beginning did not have the current three degrees, but only the first two. The third degree appeared, so far as we know, around 1725.

 
Famous Masons

 

U.S. Presidents
Buchanan, James - President of the U.S.
Ford, Gerald R. - President of the U.S.
Garfield, James A. - President of the U.S.
Harding, Warren G. - President of the U.S.
Jackson, Andrew - President of the U.S.
Johnson, Andrew - President of the U.S.
McKinley, William - President of the U.S.
Monroe, James - President of the U.S.
Polk, James Knox - President of the U.S.
Roosevelt, Franklin D. - President of the U.S.
Roosevelt, Theodore - President of the U.S.
Taft, William Howard - President of the U.S.
Truman, Harry S. - President of the U.S.
Washington, George - President of US

 


Supreme Court Justices
Black, Hugo L. - Supreme Court Justice
Blair, Jr., John - Supreme Court Justice
Blatchford, Samuel - Supreme Court Justice
Baldwin, Henry - Supreme Court Justice
Burton, Harold H. - Supreme Court Justice
Byrnes, James F. - Supreme Court Justice
Catton, John - Supreme Court Justice
Clark, Thomas C. - Supreme Court Justice
Clarke, John H. - Supreme Court Justice
Cushing, William - Supreme Court Justice
Devanter, Willis Van - Supreme Court Justice
Douglas, William O. - Supreme Court Justice
Ellsworth, Oliver - Supreme Court Justice
Field, Stephen J. - Supreme Court Justice
Harlan, John M. - Supreme Court Justice
Jackson, Robert H. - Supreme Court Justice
Lamar, Joseph E. - Supreme Court Justice
Marshall, John - Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court 1801 - 1835
Marshall, Thurgood - Supreme Court Justice
Mathews, Stanley - Supreme Court Justice
Minton, Sherman - Supreme Court Justice
Moody, William H. - Supreme Court Justice
Nelson, Samuel - Supreme Court Justice
Paterson, William - Supreme Court Justice
Pitney, Mahlon - Supreme Court Justice
Reed, Stanley F. - Supreme Court Justice
Rutledge, Wiley B. - Supreme Court Justice
Stewart, Potter - Supreme Court Justice
Swayne, Noah H. - Supreme Court Justice
Todd, Thomas - Supreme Court Justice
Trimble, Robert - Supreme Court Justice
Vinson, Frederick M. - Supreme Court Justice
Warren, Earl - Supreme Court Justice
Woodbury, Levi - Supreme Court Justice
Woods, William B. - Supreme Court Justice

 
Military

Arnold, General Henry "Hap" - Commander of the Army Air Force
Bradley, Omar N. - Military leader
Byrd, Admiral Richard E. - Flew over North Pole
Doolittle, General James - Famous Air Force Pilot
Jones, John Paul - First Admiral of the U.S. Navy
Lafayette, Marquis de - Supporter of American Freedom
Lindbergh, Charles - Aviator
MacArthur, General Douglas - Commander of Armed Forces in Philillines
Marshall, George - General of the Armies
McClellan, General George B. - Army of the Potomac, Presidential candidate against Abe Lincoln, faced General Robert E. Lee at the battle of Antietam and twice Governor of New Jersey.
Montgomery, Richard Major General - Fist General Officer of the Continental Army killed in the Battle for Quebec on Dec 31, 1775.
Murphy, Audie - Most decorated soldier of WW11.
Nicholas, Samuel - Revolutionary War hero and the first Commandant of the Marine Corps. 
Peary, Robert E. - First man to reach the North Pole (1909)
Pershing, John Joseph - Decorated American Soldier
Rickenbacker, Eddie - Great American Air Force Ace
Tirpitz, Alfred Von - German Naval officer responsible for submarine warfare

 

 
Sports
Cobb, Ty - An original member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
Combs, Earle Bryan - Baseball Hall of Fame
Dempsey, Jack - Sports
Hornsby, Rogers - A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
Naismith, James - Inventor of Basketball
Palmer, Arnold - Golf Pro
 

 

Actors\Writers
Autry, Gene - Actor
Borgnine, Ernest - Actor
Burns, Robert - The National Poet of Scotland
Casanova - Italian Adventurer, writer and entertainer
Clemens, Samuel L. - Mark Twain - writer
Cohan, George M. - Broadway star
Collodi, Carlo - Writer of Pinocchio
Doyle, Sir Author Conan - Writer - Sherlock Holmes
Fairbanks, Douglas - Silent film actor
Fields, W.C. - Actor
Gable, Clark - Actor
Gibbon, Edward - Writer - Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Godfrey, Arthur - Actor
Gray, Harold Lincoln - Creator of "Little Orphan Annie
Hardy, Oliver - Actor - Comedian
Kipling, Rudyard - Writer
Lincoln, Elmo - First actor to play Tarzan of the Apes (1918)
Mix, Tom - U.S. Marshal turned actor. Stared in over 400 western films
Murphy, Audie - Most decorated American Soldier of WWII
Pushkin, Aleksander - Russian Poet
Rogers, Roy - American cowboy and screen star
Rogers, Will - Actor
Scott, Sir Walter - Writer
Sellers, Peter - Actor
Shakespeare, William - Writer
Swift, Jonathan - Wrote Gulliver's Travels
Voltaire - French writer and philosopher
Wallace, Lewis - Wrote "Ben Hur"
Wayne, John - Actor

 


 

Musicians\ Entertainers

Basie, William "Count" - Orchestra leader/composer
Berlin, Irving - Entertainer
Clark, Roy - Country Western Star
Dickens, Little Jimmy - Grand Ole Opry Star
Ellington, Duke - Composer, Arranger and Stylist
Jolson, Al - Fame as the first 'talking picture' the Jazz Singer
Key, Francis Scott - Wrote U.S. National Anthem
Lloyd, Harold C. - Entertainer
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus - Composer
Sax, Antoine Joseph - Invented the Saxophone (1846)
Sibelius, Jean - Composer (Finland)
Skelton, Red - Entertainer
Smith, John Stafford - Wrote the music that became the US National Anthem.
Sousa, John Philip - Led the U.S. Marine Band from 1880 - 1892
Stratton, Charles "Tom Thumb" - Entertainer
Tillis, Mel - Country Singer
Whiteman, Paul - "King of Jazz"
 

 
Government Leaders
Abbott, Sir John J.C. - Prime Minister of Canada 1891-92
Bennett, Viscount R.B. - Prime Minister of Canada 1930-35
Borden, Sir Robert L. - Prime Minister of Canada 1911-1920
Bowell, Sir Mackenzie - Prime Minister of Canada 1894-96
Churchill, Winston - British Leader
Diefenbaker, John G. - Prime Minister of Canada 1957-63
Edward VII - King of England
Edward VIII - King of England who abdicated the throne in less than 1 year
George VI - King of England during W.W. II
MacDonald, Sir John A. - Prime Minister of Canada 1867-73 & 1878-91
Nunn, Sam - U.S. Senator
 

 
Astronauts
Aldrin, Edwin E. - Astronaut
Armstrong, Neil - Astronaut
Glenn, John H. - First American to orbit the earth in a space craft
Grissom, Virgil - Astronaut

 


 

Early American Pioneers

Austin, Stephen F. - Father of Texas
Bowie, James - Alamo
Brant, Joseph - Chief of the Mohawks 1742 - 1807
Burnett, David G. - 1st President of the Republic of Texas
Carson, Christopher "Kit" - Frontiersman, scout and explorer
Clark, William - Explorer
Cody, "Buffalo Bill" William - Indian fighter, Wild West Show
Colt, Samuel - Firearms inventor
Crockett, David - American Frontiersman and Alamo fame
Henry, Patrick - Patriot
Houston, Sam - 2nd&4th President of the Republic of Texas
Jones, Anson - 5th President of the Republic of Texas
Lamar, Mirabeau B. - 3rd President of the Republic of Texas
Lewis, Meriwether - Explorer
Livingston, Robert - Co-Negotiator for purchase of Louisiana Territory
Revere, Paul - Famous American
Travis, Colonel William B. - Alamo

 

 

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Franklin, Benjamin - 1 of 13 Masonic signers of Constitution of the U.S.
Hancock, John - 1of 9 Masonic signers of Declaration of Independence

 

 

Other Famous Masons

Balfour, Lloyd - Jewelry
Bartholdi, Frederic A. - Designed the Statue of Liberty
Baylor, Robert E. B. - Founder Baylor University
Beard, Daniel Carter - Founder Boy Scouts
Bell, Lawrence - Bell Aircraft Corp.
Borglum, Gutzon & Lincoln - Father and Son who carved Mt. Rushmore
BuBois, W.E.B. - Educator/scholar
Calvo, Father Francisco - Catholic Priest who started Freemasonry in Costa Rica 1865
Chrysler, Walter P. - Automotive fame
Citroen, Andre - French Engineer and motor car manufacturer
Desaguliers, John Theophilus - Inventor of the planetarium
Dow, William H. - Dow Chemical Co.
Drake, Edwin L - American Pioneer of the Oil industry
Dunant, Jean Henri - Founder of the Red Cross
Ervin Jr, Samual J. - Headed "Watergate" committee
Faber, Eberhard - Head of the famous Eberhard Fabor Pencil Company
Fisher, Geoffrey - Archbishop of Canterbury 1945 - 1961
Fitch, John - Inventor of the Steamboat
Fleming, Sir Alexander - Invented Penicillin
Ford, Henry - Pioneer Automobile Manufacturer
Gatling, Richard J. - Built the "Gatling Gun"
Gilbert, Sir William S. - Was the librettis for "Pirates of Penzance"
Gillett, King C. - Gillett Razor Co.
"Grock - Swiss Circus Clown
Guillotin, Joseph Ignace - Inventor of the "Guillotine"
Hedges, Cornelius - "Father" of Yellowstone National Park
Henson, Josiah - Inspired the novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
Hilton, Charles C. - American Hotelier
Hoban, James - Architect for the U.S. Capitol
Hoe, Richard M. - Invented the rotary press, revolutionizing newspaper printing
Hoover, J. Edgar - Director of FBI
Houdini, Harry - Magician
Jenner, Edward - Inventor - Vaccination
Jones, Melvin - One of the founders of the Lions International
Lake, Simon - Built first submarine successfull in open sea.
Land, Frank S. - Founder Order of DeMolay
Lipton, Sir Thomas - Tea
Marshall, James W. - Discovered Gold at Sutter's Mill California 1848
Mayer, Louis B. - Film producer who merged to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Mayo, Dr. William and Charles - Began Mayo Clinic
Maytag, Fredrick - Maytag
Menninger, Karl A. - Psychiatrist famous for treating mental illness
Michelson, Albert Abraham - Successfully measured the speed of light in 1882
Montgolfier, Jacques Etienne - Co-developer of the first practical hot-air balloon
New, Harry S. - Postmaster General who established Airmail
Newton, Joseph Fort - Christian Minister
Olds, Ransom E. - American automobile pioneer
Otis, James - Famous for "Taxations without Representation is Tyranny"
Papst, Charles F. - Coined the term "Athletes Foot"
Peale, Norman Vincent - Founder of "Guidepost"
Penny, James C. - Retailer
Poinsett, Joel R. - U.S. Minister to Mexico who developed the flower: Poinsettia
Pullman, George - Built first sleeping car on train.
Ringling Brothers - All 7 brothers and their father were Masons.
Salten, Felix - Creator of Bambi
Sarnoff, David - Father of T.V.
Schoonover, George - Founder of "The Builder"
Stanford, Leland - Drove the gold spike linking the intercontinental railroad
Stanford, Leland - Railroads & Stanford University
Still, Andrew T. - American Physician who devised treatment of Osteopathy
Teets, John W. - Chairman and President of Dial Corporation
Thomas, Dave - Founder of Wendy's Restaurant
Thomas, Lowell - Brought Lawrence of Arabia to public notice
Wadlow, Robert Pershing - Tallest human on record being almost 9 feet tall
Warner, Jack - Warner Brothers Fame
Webb, Matthew - First man to swim the English Channel (1875)
Wyler, William - Director of "Ben Hur"
Zanuck, Darryl F. - Co-founder of 20th Century Productions in 1933
Ziegfeld, Florenz - His Ziegfeld's Follies began in 1907

 

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