FOUNDATION OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
Researched and Compiled by Pauly Fongemie for Catholic Tradition
PART 2: THE DEEP ROOTS OF FREEMASONRY IN THE UNITED STATES
Freemasonry, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, appears to have been a fast disappearing entity, when, in 1717, the "Four Old Lodges" in London, under the influence of a group of men of the Royal Society, met at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern and "cemented" under the world's first Grand Master a "center of union and harmony" by establishing the first Grand Lodge.
Before this, men who had been made Masons in the still existing lodges had come to the colonies, as well as to other parts of the world. Sir William Alexander visiting the American colonies early in the seventeenth century, was recorded as being present, July 3, 1634, "at a meeting of the Lodge of Edinburgh, Scotland, when he was "admitted felowe off the Craft." Jonathan Belcher, made a Mason in London in 1705, later became Provincial Governor of Massachusetts, for two examples among many.
Under the first Grand Lodge began the Masonic growth and prosperity. By 1721, there were twelve lodges in London and two years later, the number had risen to twenty, besides nine elsewhere in England, of which the first was held in the Queen's Head Inn at the fashionable resort of Bath. The Grand Lodge of England soon had the honor of a "noble brother at their head" and then, patronized by royalty, the Craft spread rapidly throughout Great Britain and the Continent. It appeared in France in 1725, in Spain in 1729, and shortly afterward in Holland, Germany, Russia, Portugal [the descendants of whom were counted among those who persecuted the three Fatima seers], Poland, Austria, and other parts of Europe. Eventually the Craft would hold Mexico in its grasp, culminating in the Mexican Martyrs, many priests and even children among them. Meanwhile, the Masons of Ireland and Scotland, following the precedent of their English brethren, set up, in 1725 and 1736 respectively, Grand Lodges of their own. Thus at the very beginning of the Grand Lodge era, Freemasonry, to quote the language of a contemporary writer, "took a run and ran itself out of breath."
There existed a close working relationship between the Colonies and the Mother Country, so thus it is no surprise that the Pennsylvania Gazette, edited by Benjamin Franklin, records that in the second decade after the so-called "revival" of 1717, there were already "several Masonic lodges" in that province; or that, within ten years, lodges appeared in the provinces of Massachusetts (1733), Georgia (1734), South Carolina (1735), New Hampshire (1736), and New York. (1737), and in the British islands of Montserrat, Antigua, and St. Christopher.
In just ten years the Craft was entrenched in Virginia (1743), and Rhode Island (1749), followed in succeeding years by Maryland and Connecticut (1750), North Carolina (1753), New Jersey (1761), and Delaware (1765), thus completing the list of the Colonies some years before the outbreak of the Revolution.
Two generations of Masons had been made in the first lodges of Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Savannah, before the first Masonic brethren laid down their lives on the village green at Lexington and on Bunker Hill. There were also special denizens of the Craft known as "military lodges":
George Washington is said to have been "healed" as an "Antient" Mason in the Lodge of Social and Military Virtue, No. 227, on the register of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, during his trip to Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, in the winter of 1756 to visit Governor Shirley. The majority of these lodges, however, came to the colonies with the British forces during the last French and Indian War.
During the Revolution, the number of military lodges had swelled by about one-half, of which ten were instituted in the Continental Army under Washington. Thus, prior to the close of the Revolution, some two hundred warrants issued by not less than thirteen Grand Lodges, British and Provincial, were or had been in force in what would become the United States. In brief, all Colonial Masons intervisited freely, except that "Moderns" and "Antients" sometimes interdicted each other.
A distinction of far more practical importance arose from the democratic ideals of the "Antients" as opposed to the aristocratic, not to say monarchical leanings of the premier Grand Lodge of England. The first lodges in the Colonies were "Modern," having been organized by the first Grand Lodge before its rival had come into existence. They were commonly patronized by provincial governors and other royal officials, officers of the British armies and fleet, and leading Colonial notables. The "Antient" lodges were propagated largely by men in the British merchant service and by military lodges of Antients, with the aid and support of Scotch and Irish lodges.
The origin of a number of early Colonial lodges was not unlike that of the first Irish lodges in London. In both Philadelphia and Boston, those identified with shipping interests, including artisans and mechanics employed around the docks, were refused admission to the "Modern" lodges, both because they were followers of the "good old way" and because of their lower social status. They were thus forced to apply elsewhere for charters. In Boston, application was made to the Grand Lodge of Scotland; in Philadelphia, to the "Antient" Grand Lodge of England. And similar steps were taken in other provinces.
The members of the British military lodges usually fraternized freely with the local lodges. During the long winter evenings while stationed on garrison duty in various parts of the Colonies, they made Masons both in the Colonial militia and in the surrounding civil population. A number of the military leaders of the Revolution were "initiated prentices" and "passed fellow-craft" during the French and Indian Wars, and the value of military lodges then became apparent to Washington and other Colonial officers.
Freemasonry is credited with bridging the gulf between civil and military life, for instance, Mount Vernon Lodge, No. 3, at Albany, formerly known as Union Lodge, No. 1, owes its origin to Military Lodge, No. 74, on the register of Ireland in the First Regiment of British infantry.
Let us pause here to note that eighteenth century practice of the Craft adhered to the Masonic obligation of secrecy much more literally than is now sometimes the situation. In 1720, "some scrupulous brothers" in London burned a number of priceless old manuscripts that they "might not fall into strange hands." [Recall Jefferson's employment of secrecy in the United States Seal versus that of Franklin Roosevelt and the dollar bill.] Grave protest was made about the first books that were issued on Freemasonry. And much excitement was aroused by the publication in London of a number of revelations of the Masonic ritual.
Benjamin Franklin, who devoted no small part of his life to Freemasonry as Solange Hertz so well documents, and who wrote copiously upon so many subjects, has left nothing as to his Masonic doings save some old account books, a brief paragraph or two, and a letter of reassurance to his mother. And Paul Revere, who could tell such animated stories of his famous ride and other missions, although an active member of St. Andrew's and Rising States Lodges of Boston and later Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, thought fit to leave no record of his connection with the famous "Tea Party" or other Masonic activities.
At least one Masonic historian freely admits that the newspapers of the Colonies took care that the public "was not altogether without information about the Craft."
In Behind the Lodge Door, historian Paul Fisher writes:
"The first Lodge of Freemasonry in America was established at Philadelphia in 1730, and claimed Benjamin Franklin as a member. Indeed, many leaders of the American Revolution, including Washing ton, were members of the Craft. That is not surprising, since many of them also were Deists, the forerunner to modern day Unitarianism.
"Historian Paul Hazard observed that Deists believed there "must be no form of constraint." They found no need for priests, ministers, nor rabbis. No more sacraments, rites, nor ceremonies; no more fasting, mortifying the flesh; no more going to church or synagogue. The Bible, to Deists, was a book just like any other.  , Deism, said Hazard, became devoted to the law of nature and free thinking; and upon the heels of Deism and Natural Religion, came Freemasonry.
"Actually, Masons were most active in bringing about the Revolutionary War in America, according to the New Age." [p. 32]
The New Age, is the official magazine of American Masonry.
Fisher goes on:
"A 1940 editorial in that publication declared: 'It was the Masons who brought on the war, and it was Masonic generals who carried it through to a successful conclusion. In fact, the famous Boston Tea Party, which precipitated the war, was actually a recessed meeting of a Masonic Lodge.'
"French historian Bernard Fay, writing of the Boston Tea Party, said the incident emanated from a tavern known as the "Green Dragon or the Arms of Freemasonry." [Ibid.]
" . . . Fay also said Benjamin Franklin established a 'network of Masonic newspapers' in all the English colonies, one of the most prominent of which was Peter Zenger's Journal in New York.
"Franklin, Fay wrote, utilized French Freemasons to aid the American Revolution. The American Revolutionary activist ingratiated himself to the widow of Claude Adrien Helvetius, the wealthy Encyclopedist, banker and atheist, who helped found the Lodge of Nine Muses----the intellectual center of French Freemasonry.
"Through Madame Helvetius, Franklin was admitted to the Nine Muses and became Master of the Lodge. There he devoted himself to a propaganda campaign which swung French public opinion in favor of the American Masonic cause. Franklin's 'admirable work,' said Fay, was the most carefully planned and most efficiently organized propaganda ever accomplished, and 'made possible the military intervention of France on the side of the Americans.'
"Moreover, he asserted, Franklin's work also had 'a great intellectual influence throughout Europe, spreading the idea, or what might be called the myth, of virtuous revolution.' Up until that time, the French historian said, revolutions had been viewed 'as crimes against society.' Subsequently, revolutions 'were accepted as a step in progress of the world,' a step and a perception which 'originated with the American Revolution and grew out of Franklin's propaganda.' " [p. 33]
Solange Hertz' book, cited in Part 1, confirms this.
There were six Masonic lodges in Boston alone prior to the Revolution, and an estimated 1000 Masons there. One of the earliest governors of Massachusetts, Jonathan Belcher was initiated into the Craft in 1704.
The first non modern lodge, an "Antient" lodge was established in Boston at the Green Dragon Tavern in 1752, the same year that George Washington entered Masonry in Virginia. The Tavern was also known as "The Freemasons' Arms", not surprisingly. It was known as "a nest of sedition," and served as the headquarters for the Sons of Liberty, especially Paul Revere. The building was taken down in 1832 but was subsequently rebuilt on Marshall Street in the years to come. While Samuel Adams was one of the Sons of Liberty as was John Adams, his cousin, it is not known for certain that these latter two held Masonic membership. Fraternal historians generally agree that there is no record of such. Some historians believe that the only reason Samuel refrained was that he was on the brink of financial ruin and could not accept the monetary obligations of membership. Others think it was more than this alone, but that the conflict between the Antient and Modern lodges confused him. But he was one of the most active and ardent members of the Sons of Liberty and the affairs at the Green Dragon.
The first Continental Congress was actually inspired by Grand Master Coxe in 1772 who envisioned a "Union of the colonies" later joined in advocacy by "Brother" Benjamin Franklin in 1754 and was pronounced by "Brother" Edmund Randolph to be almost perfect, but was defeated by a very slender majority. A number of the Committees of Correspondence involved in igniting the Revolution, as well as the Committees of Safety that took over local civil and military authority in the early stages of the violent insurrection were composed almost exclusively of Masons, and their meetings, often being necessarily in secret, were frequently held in lodge rooms. The leaders of these Committees and of the Provincial Assemblies were most often Masons according to records. The Congress itself consisted of members of the Committees of Correspondence. Many leading Freemasons in the various Colonial Assemblies who played an important part in the Insurrection against the British Crown were elected delegates.
Philadelphia, partly by reason of its central location and partly as the principal city in the Colonies, was selected as the meeting place of the Continental Congress. The City Tavern, described by John Adams as "the most genteel" in America, was the rendezvous for members of the Congress. Here, the week preceding the day of opening of the Congress, the delegates gathered for breakfast, dined and suppered together, and for private conferences. The leading Masons in Philadelphia were frequent visitors at the City Tavern and Masonic meetings were held here temporarily during the Revolution while the Freemasons' Lodge was being used as a makeshift hospital.
The formal history of Freemasonry in America begins with the appointment, in 1730, of Daniel Coxe as Provincial Grand Master for New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania for two years. Coxe did not visit the Colonies during this time and there is no evidence that he ever exercised his functions. His name is of Masonic interest chiefly because he published the first formal plan for the Union of all the Colonies.
The first record of the meeting of a lodge of Freemasons in America appears in the Pennsylvania Gazette, June 26, 1732. The notice announces that a grand Lodge met at the sun Tavern and chose William Allen Grand Master of the Province, who appointed Benjamin Franklin as his Junior Grand Warden.
The Congress having assembled in the City Tavern on the morning of Sept. 5, 1774, marched from there in a body and convened in Carpenter's Hall where they quickly elected Peyton Randolph, then Provincial Grand Master of Virginia and the highest Masonic officer present, to the chair.
The rest of the history of this Convention we leave to other historians for we have already provided enough documentation that the Founders were either active Freemasons or friendly to its "religion."
Freemasonry is the religion that dissipates and enervates true religion so as to make the rationale of the actual governing elite, and its Hidden Hand, the CFR and other like-visionary powers, plausible and indeed necessary.