The Freemasons are the oldest and most widely fraternal organization in the world. Symbolically, the Craft dates back to the days of Solomon and his building of the first temple in Jerusalem. The oldest document that makes reference to Masons in the Reglus Poem, circa 1425. The illusterious roots of the organization date to when its members were operative Masons who built castles and cathedrals throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. The foundation of the ritual is based on the story of the building of King Solomon’s Temple.It incorporates metaphors with symbolic meaning from archecture, engineering, masonry, and construction. It uses the signs and words developed by the Masonic guilds as methods of recognition and the language evolved from a number of sources.
18th Century Beginnings
The organization, as we know it today, began in the early 18th century in England when the Masons stated to accept members who were not members of the Mason’s craft – these men were referred to as “Speculative Masons” or “Accepted Masons.”
Freemasonry Comes to America
Freemasonry was brought to the United States with our early settlers and the Craft became very popular in colonial America. Henry Price, a Boston merchant and labor, recieved a deputation from the Grand Lord of England to form the first Provincial Grand Lodge in the Western Hemisphere.
Our Founding Fathers
Among the country’s early Masonic leaders were George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and John Hancock. Another influential Mason, Chief Justice John Marshall, served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States for more than 34 years and shaped the court into its present form.
In the late 1800s, at a time when the U.S. Government provided no social safety net,” the Masonic tradition of founding orphanages, homes for widows, and care for the aged provided the only protection many people knew. Over the centuries, Freemasonry has developed into a worldwide fraternity emphasizing personal study, self-improvement, and social betterment by the way of individual involvement and philanthropy. The dignity of man, the liberty of the individual, the right of all persons to worship as they choose, and the importance of education stands at the forefront of Masonic thought.
Today, there are approximately five million Freemasons throughout the world. Nearly three million of them reside in the United States. At the dawn of the 21st century, Freemasons continue their traditions of building bridges of brotherhood as they strive to make good men better.
Information borrowed from the Indiana Grand Lodge.