"...it [Freemasonry] covers the whole globe from Egypt to India, from Italy to England, from America to Australia, and the isles of the sea; from London to Sidney, from Chicago to Calcutta. In all civilized lands, and among folks of every creed worthy of the name, Masonry is found " - Joseph Fort Newton, The Builders: A Story and Study of Masonry.
"This is what the Lord says Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and the last; apart from me there is no God." Isaiah 44:6,8
"...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." Ephesians 5:9
No matter where you go in the Western world, if you're observant, you'll notice that Freemasonry has left its mark. It seems every village, town, and city has some connection to the Craft and that is because, in fact, many do.
I grew up near a town whose population has historically stayed around 850 people, and where the outlying municipality hosts a population of 2000 in a district that covers 784 square miles. In other words, there's a lot of space and not many people. Nevertheless, the local Lodge register shows some impressive numbers; 74 members in 1900, almost 200 by 1920, and in 1940 the count stood at 275. From 1961 to 1980 the Masonic Lodge showed 425 men on the roster.
Although my town's Lodge disbanded a few years ago, its impact on the community was palpable. Over the decades, mayors and town councilmen have taken part in the rituals, as had a significant number of businessmen. In conversations with a few old timers, including Freemasons, it was clear that my town's existence had been greatly influenced by this group; sometimes through acts of benevolence, other times by quiet agreements between Brothers, and occasionally under clouds of controversy. Most men in my district, I believe, joined out of social or business interests, and it's unlikely that more than a handful grasped the deeper principles of the Craft and not one, as far as I know, ever became a nationally recognized Masonic figurehead, philosopher, or historian.
My town was representative of hundreds of similar communities, with its Lodge being a tiny part of a worldwide fraternity - a "Brotherhood" of men from every corner of the globe and every walk of life. This larger Brotherhood extends backwards in time too, as English Freemasonry has its official beginning in 1717 and French Freemasonry in 1733. And according to some Masonic philosophers, its history reaches into the distant recesses of early-European and Middle Eastern cultures.
Indeed, the ancient roots of the Craft have been discussed and debated, with many prominent Masons pointing to linkages between their Order and Old Testament personalities and events, mystical Jewish legends, and Egyptian belief systems. During the 18th century it was widely held that "Masonry was instituted at the Tower of Babel by Nimrod and thence spread to the Chaldeans." Speculation abounds, yet one cannot ignore the symbolic linkage with the ancient world.
The role of Freemasonry as an historical driver for internationalism is important too. Jessica Harland-Jacobs, author of Builders of Empire, demonstrates the bond between British colonialism and Freemasonry, noting that wherever the Empire went the Masonic Lodge was sure to go. In this imperil-Masonic ballet and its subsequent world-spanning network, Harland-Jacobs sees the beginnings of modern globalism.
"Examining the history of Freemasonry, I argue, presents an excellent way to evaluate the contribution of cultural institutions to the historical process of globalization. Freemasons established one of the first global institutional networks that not only linked farflung Britons to one another but also brought Britons into contact with other European imperialists as well as indigenous men throughout the formal and informal empires."
She goes on to say,
"An analysis of Freemasonry makes it possible to identify various characteristics that enable institutions to function on a worldwide basis and promote globalization." 
Another point she makes is that Freemasonry's tie with Empire building allowed for the solidification of a supranational identity, the transcendence of "national distinctions even in a climate of intense international rivalry."
Going beyond the British colonial experience, the idea of supranational identity fits with what Albert Pike famously wrote in 1871. Pike, the American father of the modern Scottish Rite branch of Freemasonry (Pike' work with the existing Scottish Rite began in earnest in 1855), penned the following;
"The whole world is but one republic, of which each nation is a family, and every individual a child." This line has been repeated by other Masonic personalities, including J.D. Buck, who viewed this as one of the geniuses of the Craft. Many other Masonic scholars, authors, and philosophers speak to the internationalism of the Brotherhood and the subsequent quest for world unity, including Manly P. Hall, who voiced the need for global interdependence:
"For this age we must have a doctrine of synthesis, a code actuated and dominated by the spirit of unification."
Freemasonry's influence at the national level is another significant aspect of the Craft's reach, and the British historical experience is rife with domestic examples. Furthermore, important and often controversial Masonic connections are observable throughout the nations of Europe, including France and Italy.
In the Western Hemisphere the Lodge has been an important player too. Brazil and Venezuela are historically tied to the Craft. Mexico has a long Masonic past, with a Masonic War between the Scottish and York Rite, and then the Civil War with opposing Masonic and Catholic lines during the first part of the last century. But it's in the United States of America where we see the grandest examples of the Lodge working within the early domestic story.
First, we need to be clear. It has loosely been said that "all" of America's founding fathers were members of the Masonic Lodge. Wrong. Some were, it is true, and many were not. Nevertheless, it must be noted that Freemasons were involved in the founding of America, including the first celebrated act of British resistance: The Boston Tea Party.
"The revolution against the British oppressors had begun in a warehouse owned by a Mason," explains historian David Ovason, "and the group which had participated in the Boston Tea Party, in 1773, had been composed largely of Masons."
This isn't to say that Freemasonry ruled the Revolution, just that members of the Lodge played an important role in fermenting the rebellion. At the same time, we need to keep in mind that Masons and non-Masons alike both supported and condemned America's split from England.
In noting the above, it's interesting to see the documentable numbers regarding those who signed Americas founding documents, and the composition of George Washington's staff in the Continental Army. Consider the following breakdown given by the Masonic Service Association.
Note: "Confirmed" means the person was a verified member of the Lodge through official documentation. "Unconfirmed" means that the person's status is in question, yet the possibility of membership exists as hints are found in family sources, non-verified records, or tradition. "No affiliation" means that the Masonic Service Association discovered no personal connection with the Lodge during its research.
Generals of Continental Army: 
Cont. Army Aides and Secretaries: 
Articles of Association: 
Articles of Confederation: 
Constitution of the United States: 
The Masonic membership of George Washington, the first US President, is also noteworthy. Again, the following data is extracted from the work of Ronald E. Heaton, Masonic Membership of the General Officers of the Continental Army (The Masonic Service Association, 1960).
- Received his first three degrees in the "Lodge at Fredericksburgh," Virginia. November 4, 1752, Entered Apprentice.
- "On December 20, 1779, Washington was proposed as Grand Master of the United States, by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, and a second proposal was made on January 13, 1780. On December 27, 1779, the American Union Lodge, at Morristown, New Jersey, led a convention to organize a National Grand Lodge, with George Washington as Grand Master." (p.3) Apparently George Washington turned down this request.
- "Washington was named the first or Charter Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 39, on April 28, 1788, to serve to December 20, and was re-elected, serving in all twenty months. This Lodge No. 39 was then under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania; it is now Washington-Alexandria Lodge No. 22, of the Grand Lodge of Virginia." (p.3)
- "On March 6, 1789, Washington was made an honorary member of Holland Lodge (now Lodge No. 8) of New York, 'in consideration of the Masonic virtues which distinguished him'."(pp.3-4)
- "On September 18, 1783, Washington laid the cornerstone of the National Capitol in Washington, in what has been said to be the greatest public Masonic occasion in American history. Washington, Master Mason, President of the United States, and America's first citizen, laid the cornerstone of the Capitol of the United States, with full Masonic ceremonies, in concert with the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge No.22, from Alexandria, Virginia." (p.4)
James R. Case, whose report Freemasons at the First Inauguration of George Washington, April 30, 1776 was published by The Masonic Service Association in 1964, noted the following.
" the incidents connected with the first inauguration ceremony, one in which the principal [Washington], a Mason, took an oath administered by a Grand Master of Masons, upon the Bible of a Masonic Lodge. It has sometimes been asserted that Samuel Allyne Otis, the Secretary of the Senate who held the Bible, was also a Mason." (p.22) [See the last section in "What's Wrong with The Harbinger's "Ancient Mystery?"
The city of Washington DC likewise has historical connections to Freemasonry The city of Washington DC likewise has historical connections to Freemasonry, enough that at least two books have been recently published on the facts and speculation surrounding the layout and design of the city - with one forwarded by the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite.
Further imprints of Masonry are scattered throughout America's heritage, including the Statue of Liberty - designed by Freemasons from France and dedicated with a full Masonic ceremony. And speaking on the role of the Craft in the making of America, historian Steven Bullock writes,
"Masonry's mysterious world, seemingly so alien, was intimately intertwined with the central themes of American history. As a secret organization that sought public honor and attention, Freemasonry is an especially sensitive indicator of the changing boundaries between private and public."
All of the above demonstrates, in a brief fashion, the complex and undeniable role of Masonry in Western history, and its widespread influence in society - from small villages to the flavoring of American public institutions. FC
Carl Teichrib is the editor of Forcing Change (www.forcingchange.org), a monthly online publication detailing the changing worldview and transforming agendas now shaping society, the church, and nation.
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Index to previous reports by FC
1 Joseph Fort Newton, The Builders: A Story and Study of Masonry (The Torch Press, 1914/1916), p.231.
2 Some scholarship points to the time of the Templars as the birthing of the Brotherhood, and other historians point to the era of King Solomon. Some, such as Manly P. Hall and Albert Pike, reveal tightly embedded esoteric connections back to Egyptian and Babylonian ages, while J.S.M. Ward takes the Craft back to "the primitive initiatory rites of prehistoric man, and from those rites have been built up all the ancient mysteries, and thence all the modern religious systems. It is for this reason that men of all religious beliefs can enter Freemasonry " (J.SM. Ward, Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods, p.viii).
3 Albert Mackey and Robert Ingham Clegg, Mackey's History of Freemasonry, Volume One (Chicago, IL: The Masonic History Company, 1921), p.62.
4 Jessica L. Harland-Jacobs, Builders of Empire: Freemasons and British Imperialism, 1717-1927 (The University of North Carolina Press, 2007), p.11.
5 Ibid., p.11.
6 Ibid., p.11, 74.
7 Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Charleston, SC: The Supreme Council of the Thirty-Third Degree, Southern Jurisdiction of the United States, 1871/1944), p.220.
8 J.D. Buck, Mystic Masonry and the Greater Mysteries of Antiquity (Regan Publishing Corporation, 1925), p.16.
9 Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy (Philosophic Research Society, 1984), p.470.
10 An interesting book that delves into the Masonic influence within British society is Adrian Gilbert's work, The New Jerusalem: Rebuilding London The Great Fire, Christopher Wren and the Royal Society (London, UK: Bantam Press, 2002).
11 For a short introduction to the Mexican Masonic Wars, see the research paper, Brothers Divided: Mexico's Masonic Wars, by Edward N. Thompson of the Jacques DeMolay Lodge, No. 1390, Houston, TX, September 2, 1989.
12 David Ovason, The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital: The Masons and the Building of Washington DC (New York, NY: Harper, 2000), p..76.
13 Ronald E. Heaton, Masonic Membership of the General Officers of the Continental Army (Washington, DC: The Masonic Service Association, February 1, 1960).
14 Ronald E. Heaton, Masonic Membership of Washington's Aides and Military Secretaries (Washington DC: The Masonic Service Association, May 15, 1961).
15 Ronald E. Heaton, Masonic Membership of the Signers of the Articles of Association (Washington, DC: The Masonic Service Association, September 15, 1961).
16 W. Eugene Rice, Masonic Membership of Signers of the Declaration of Independence (Washington, DC: The Masonic Service Association, December 15, 1958).
17 Ronald E. Heaton, Masonic Membership of the Signers of the Articles of Confederation (Washington, DC: The Masonic Service Association, March 15, 1962).
18 Ronald E. Heaton, Masonic Membership of the Signers of the Constitution of the United States (Washington, DC: The Masonic Service Association, September 17, 1962).
19 The two books are, David Ovason, The Secret Architecture of Our Nation's Capital: The Masons and the Building of Washington DC - forwarded by C. Fred Kleinknecht (Harper, 1999), and Nicholas R. Mann's book, The Sacred Geometry of Washington DC: The Integrity and Power of the Original Design (Barnes and Noble, 2006).
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