History of Freemasonry


Introduction

The Freemasons are the oldest and most widely known 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 is the Regius Poem, circa 1425. The 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 architecture, 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

There is some scholarly debate about the exact origins of the modern Masonic Fraternity.  However most people would agree that the organization, as we know it today, began in the early 18th century in England when the Mason Guilds started to accept members who were not members of the Mason's craft undefined these men were referred to as "speculative Masons" or "accepted Masons."  The first Grand Lodge of Speculative Masons in the world was founded in England in 1717, and it quickly started to spread to other countries throughout the Europe and then the world .


Freemasonry Comes to America
Freemasonry was brought to the United States by the early European settlers and the craft became very popular in colonial America. Henry Price, a Boston merchant and tailor, received a deputation from the Grand Lodge of England to form the first Provincial Grand Lodge in the Western Hemisphere.  The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts is the third oldest Grand Lodge, behind the Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodge of Ireland, in the world and the oldest in the Western Hemisphere.  It was officially constituted in the year 1733, and has been in continuous operation for over 280 years.  As the oldest Grand Lodge in the Western Hemisphere, Massachusetts has helped to charter many lodges outside of Massachusetts including some in Panama and China.


Many of the founding fathers were Master Masons, in fact thirteen of the signers of the Declaration of Independence belonged to the craft.  Among the country’s early Masonic leaders were George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, Chief Justice John Marshal


Today

While there have been high points and low points in the history of Freemasonry the ideas have continued to inspire men around the world.  Over the centuries, Freemasonry has developed into a worldwide fraternity emphasizing personal study, self-improvement, and social betterment by way of individual involvement and philanthropy. Despite the changes in the world Masonry continues to stay true to its tenets and teachings.  The dignity of man, the liberty of the individual, the right of all persons to worship as they choose, and the importance of education stand at the forefront of Masonic thought.

Today, there are over six million Freemasons throughout the world; you can find Masonic Lodges in every continent on the earth. There are over two million Freemasons in the United States. At the dawn of the 21st century, Freemasons continue their tradition of building bridges of brotherhood as they strive to make good men better.



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