TO 1846

By James Davis Carter







Chapter4- —————————+-+—-++——pages 119-154

THE ROLE of Freemasonry and individual Masons prior to and through
the American Revolution was that of the destruction of the traditional
social and political order based on an authoritarian philosophy and
characterized by inequality and privilege. Speaking generally, in the
ancient regime the church and state mutually supported each other in
maintaining their respective places of predominance and privilege.
Liberalism and liberals, which included Freemasonry and Masons, were
declared to be traitorous by the state, and heretical and atheistic by the

With the victorious end of the American Revolution, Masonic philosophy
had, for the first time in history, an opportunity to play a constructive role
in the erection of a political and social order. The experience of Masonic
organizations before the Modern Age had taught Masons that liberty for
the individual has never been handed down by the government—that
liberty is gained through the limitation of the powers of government, not
the increase of them. Masons had also discovered that freedoms are
learned—the individual has freedom of thought only as he learns to move
within the limits established by a rational intelligence; he has freedom to
form opinions only after he has learned to distinguish the true from the
false; he has social freedom only after he has learned to live according to
accepted standards of social intercourse; he has political freedom to the
extent to which the law protects his political rights; and he has freedom
to extend his liberties only when he has learned to fulfill obligations and
conditions of those liberties. Masons have long recognized that: “The
discovery of the power to aim at ideals ends freely chosen by his own will
and intelligence is the supreme achievement of man, and in that, more
than any other in any other single fact, lies hope of the future.” (1)

It is often contended that a close relationship between government and
operative masonry was already established when man entered the
historic age. It is possible that government, in its first rude form, may
have come into being in connection with some building activity by a
community of men. The magnitude of some ancient ruins indicates that
such buildings could not have been erected without a highly developed
system of government to control and coordinate the vast number of
workmen employed for long periods of time and to train the craftsmen
that were required. Investigation shows that as the Dark Ages gave way
to the Middle Ages, the builders were organized into craft guilds and by
the end of the Middle Ages a highly developed corporate structure, based
upon written charters or constitutions, had developed not only for the
builders but for all crafts and trades.

Attention has already been called to the surviving British Masonic
manuscripts of the Middle Ages and their relationship to the formation of
the philosophy of modern Freemasonry.(2) These documents contain
three classes of materials: Legends of the Craft, Regulations and Masonic
Ceremonies. The portion of interest here is the Regulations. The
provisions of these early codes of regulations applied to: ethics of the
Craft; relations between master and apprentices; duties of fellows and
apprentices; payment and acceptance of wages; moral behavior of
Masons to God, the Church, and the King.

The medieval craftsmen bound himself to his craft government by an oath
of obedience and allegiance just as the citizen of today binds himself to
his civil government. An example of such is found in the oath to the Guild
of St. Katherine at Stamford:

I shall be a true man to God almighty, to Saint Mary and to St. Katherine,
in whose honor and worship this Guild is founded; and shall be obedient
to the Alderman of this Guild and to his successors, and come to him and
to his Brethren when I have warnings and not absent myself without
reasonable cause. I shall be ready to pay scot and bear lot and all my
duties truly to pay and do; the ordinances, constitutions and rules of the
Guild to keep, obey, perform, and to my power maintain, to my life’s end,
so help me God and holydom and by this Book.(3)

The Masonic lodges, as a part of the guild system, possessed three
constitutional factors that gave them a certain amount of political
experience as follows:

They exercised a degree of restraint upon the state through their right to
exercise certain judicial functions.

They served as an integral part of an independent. unit of local

They possessed and exercised the right of voluntary association which
included the right of assembly and discussion(4)

It seems that masons exercised a considerable degree of self-government
under the guild system of the Middle Ages and that they probably had
progressed as far in the evolution of political practices as any other
organization not excepting the State or Church. There is no doubt that
Masonic government, through assembly, discussion, and election of it’s
officers and representatives for cooperation with other guilds in city
government, exercised a greater degree of democracy than either state or
church government at the beginning of the Modern Age. The Masons had
not permitted the development of highly autocratic hierarchy with
positions of privilege that could not be controlled by democratic means
from below.

An offshoot of the guild system was the trading company.(5) In 1463,
Edward IV granted a charter to a wool exporting company. In 1554, the
Russia company was incorporated; in 1581, the Turkey Company; in
1600, the East India Company. The latter two of these companies, with
charter provisions for the establishment of local government, brought the
germ of a written constitution to America. The charters of the proprietary
colonies were appropriate modifications of the written contract or
constitution concept. In the case of Mary land, Cecilius Calvert, Lord
Baltimore, a roman Catholic and the founder, was made a constitutional
monarch by the terms of the charter.(6) William Penn, the Quaker
proprietor of Pennsylvania, a religious dissenter and Mason,(7) was
empowered to establish a government for his colony in accordance with
his philosophy.

Before leaving England Penn prepared, with the advice of prominent
landholders who planned to emigrate to Pennsylvania, a constitution and
a body of laws for the colony. This Frame of Government, with some
emendations and omissions, was adopted by an assembly representing
the freemen of Pennsylvania in 1682. This First Frame was revised in the
Second Frame in 1683 and by the Charter of Privileges of 1702 which
became the fundamental law of the province.(8) This fundamental law
was based on the consent of the governed; that authority should be
vested in the law, not man.(9) This code in it’s final form was mild and
humane for the age. Prisons were converted into work houses and
reformatories and prisoners were not forced to pay fees or provide their
own support. All law-abiding persons who “acknowledged one Almighty
and eternal God to be the Creator, Upholder, and Ruler of the World”
were to be free to worship God in the manner of their choice.(10)

The colonial charters, the immediate antecedents of the American state
and federal constitutions, are therefore traceable to two major sources;
charters of incorporation, such as the joint stock trading companies; and
the doctrine of fundamental law and rights.(11) These principles are
fundamental in Masonry and Penn, since he was a Mason, may have
drawn his ideas, as well as those of representation and religious
toleration for those who believed in God, from this source but there is no
proof that he did.

It has already been pointed out that early in the seventeenth century, the
operative Masonic lodges in Britain began to admit members who were
not craftsmen as “accepted” Masons. This practice resulted in the
fundamental change from an operative craft guild to a speculative school
of philosophy. The survival of the Masonic organization while related
organizations were dying out in Britain and on the Continent is of some
significance. The first Grand Lodge which had it’s origin in London in
1717, adopted a constitution defining it’s powers and it’s relations with
subordinate lodges and individual Masons. The constitution was drafted
by Grand Master George Payne in 1720, and adopted by the Grand Lodge
in 1721. It was revised by the Reverend James Anderson, and printed in
the book form as Anderson’s Constitutions in 1723.

Anderson’s Constitutions conformed so perfectly to Masonic ideas of
government that adoption followed in the Irish and Scottish Grand
Lodges. In America, Benjamin Franklin issued a reprint of Anderson’s
Constitutions at Philadelphia in 1734 (12) for the use of American

The connection between the old constitutions of Masons and Anderson’s
Constitutions is not left to speculation; Anderson states that the Grand
Lodge in September, 1721, “finding fault with all the copies of the old
Gothic Constitutions, order’d Brother James Anderson A. M. to digest the
same in a new and better Method.” (13) The widespread acceptance of
Anderson’s and Anderson’s statement that he had been ordered to
-compile a digest of old constitutions supports the conclusion that the
climax of a long period of evolution in Masonic jurisprudence and is a
positive link in conilecting the old operative to the new speculative

The government established for the Masonic fraternity under the
Constitution of 1723 was a federal System. The subordinate lodges
retained control of purely local lodge affairs under a set of by-laws of
their own adoption and the Grand Lodge administered the general affairs
of the order.

A fundamental code of law beyond the legislative power of the Grand
Lodge was recognized in Article XXXIX thus:

Every Annual Grand Lodge has an inherent Power and Authority to make
new Regulations, or to alter these, for the real Benefit of this Ancient
Fraternity; Provided always that the Old Land Marks be carefully

The principles of representative government and majority rule were
adopted in Article X in these words:

The majority of every particular Lodge, when congregated, shall have the
Privilege of giving Instructions to their Master and Wardens, before the
three Quarterly Communications hereafter mentioned, and of Annual
Grand Lodge too; because their Master and Wardens are their
Representatives, and are supposed to speak their Mind. (15)

The principle of electing the officers and providing a rudimentary means
of protecting the ballot and elections from undo influence was established
in the Grand Lodge by Article XXXIX as follows:

.The Grand Master and his Deputy, the Grand Wardens, or the Stewards,
the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Clerks, and every other person, shall
withdraw, and leave the Masters and warden of the Particular Lodges
alone; in order to Consult amicably about electing a New Grand

Section 3 of Article XII established the term of office of the Grand Officers
at one year:

Grand Lodge must meet Annually in order to chuse every year a new
Grand Master, Deputy, and Wardens.(17)

Section 2 of Article XXIX established the principle that fiscal agents are
responsible to the legislative body in this manner:

The Grand Wardens and the Stewards are to account for all money they
receive or expend, to the Grand Lodge, after Dinner, or when the Grand
Lodge shall see fit to receive their accounts.(18)

The idea of checks and balances appears in the reservation of the power
to impeach the chief executive officer as implied in Article XIV:

If the Grand Master should abuse his Power, and render himself unworthy
of Obedience and Subjection of the Lodges, he shall be treated in a
manner to be agreed upon in a new Regulation: because hitherto the
ancient Fraternity have had no occasion for it, their former Grand
Masters having all behaved themselves worthy of the honorable

Majority rule, a limited executive, and universal suffrage are provided for
in Section 2 of Article XII as follows:

All Matters are to be determined in the Grand Lodge by a Majority of
Votes, each Member having one Vote, and the Grand Master (hvo)? Votes,
unless the said Lodge leaves any particular thing to the determination of
the Grand Master for the sake of Expedition. (20) (to be corrected,page 6
PDF file)

Freedom of speech and equality of participation in discussion are
guaranteed to all Masons in Article XXXVII:

the Grand Master shall allow any Brother Fellowcraft, or Apprentice to
speak, directing his Discourse to his Worship; or to make any Motion for
the good of the Fraternity, which shall be either immediately consider’d
and finish’d , or else referred to the Consideration of the Grand Lodge at
their next Communication.(21)

Though it was expected that Masonic education activity should continue
to be a most important part of the work of the subordinate lodges, Article
XXXVIII provided that:

The Grand Master or his Deputy, or some Brother appointed by him, shall
harangue all the Brethren, and give them good Advice.(22)

Article XXVIII constituted the Grand Lodge as a supreme court of appeals
and arbitration, either by the body or by committee, in these words:

All members of the Grand Lodge must be at the Place long before Dinner.
. .in order to receive any appeals duly lodg’d that the Appellant may be
heard and the Affair amicably decided; but if it cannot, it must bereferr’d
to a particular Report to the next Quarterly Communication.(23)

The basic principles of government employed in Anderson’s Constitutions
are: popular sovereignty by majority rule; government limited by
constitution; local lodges self-governing; Grand Lodge supreme in federal
system; a type of judicial review by the Grand Lodge; implied powers
exist in constitutional provisions.

It is impossible to state with certainty, the number, if any, of the principles
laid down in the Masonic constitutions that had their origin in Masonry. It
seems reasonable to assume, however, that, since builders were
organized into groups or lodges at a very early period in civilized society,
they might have originated some of them and certainly aided in their

The origin of these basic democratic principals of government is not as
important as the fact that they had been discovered and were being
practiced, after1734, in the area that became the United States. Any
serious student of American history and government can identify other
institutions practicing some of these same concepts, but probably no

other institution was so widely distributed in the colonies as Freemasonry.
Differences in religion, government, and economy, difficulties in
transportation and communication, and a spirit of localism and
individualism existed from north to south from east to west in varying
degrees, but the basic principles of Freemasonry were identical in the
approximately one hundred colonial lodges established by 1775, not
excepting the colonial governments, had so many leaders of the people in
thought or in action from the local community level, as were contained in
the ranks of Masonry. This general acceptance by a large segment of the
leaders of the people of fundamental concepts is significant in the
formation of a federal union type of government and becomes doubly so
when those leaders are bound to one another by fraternal ties which
engender trust and confidence. Events will show that such a condition
must exist in America to make union possible, even under the threat of
common dangers.

The first ideas of a union of the English colonies were no doubt conceived
as a defensive measure against hostile Indians, the Dutch in New
Amsterdam, the French in Canada, and possibly the Spanish in Florida.
Such proposed unions were regional in character and their effectiveness
was related to the degree of danger felt by the colonists. The New
England Confederation was formed in 1643 but ceased to function within
a few years. In 1697, William Penn called a conference of the twelve
governors of the colonies; they discussed the creation of a common army,
currency, and mint, but the only definite action taken was the creation of
a postal system under a Postmaster General for North America. Other
suggestions for the formation of a union were made in 1698 and 1701 but
no action followed. In 1722, Daniel Coxe, the first Provincial Grand
Master of New England outlined a plan of union in the preface of his
Descriptions of Carolina “which strikingly resembled the scheme
submitted by Franklin to the Albany Convention.” (24)

The Albany Congress was called by the Board of Trade in September,
1753, to meet at Albany, New York, on June 19, 1754, for the purpose of
trading with the Indians and making plans for the defense of the colonies
against the French who were challenging British expansion into the Ohio
Valley. At the appointed time, twenty-five delegates from seven colonies;
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut.
Pennsylvania, and Maryland—arrived at Albany and began their labors.

It was decided unanimously that a union of the colonies was desirable,
and a committee consisting of “Hutchinson of Massachusetts, Hopkins of
Rhode Island, Smith of New York, Tasker of Maryland, and Franklin of
Pennsylvania”(25)was appointed to draw up a plan of union. Hutchinson,
Hopkins, and Franklin are known to have been Masons. Franklin, in
particular, was convinced that political union of the American colonies
desirable before the meeting of the Albany Congress. On May 9, 1754,
Franklin undertook to impress on the readers of the Pennsylvania Gazette
the need for united action by printing a one-column, two-inch wood-cut of
a snake divided into eight segments, each of which bore the initials of one
of the colonies, with the caption “Join or Die.” “The cartoon was
immediately reproduced in four other newspapers in Boston and New
York.” (26)

It should come as no surprise that Franklin submitted a plan of union.
said to have been outlined while on his way to Albany. The plan provided
for a president-general to be appointed by the Crown, and for a grand
council to be elected by the colonial assemblies—the identical plan of
organization of American Provincial Grand Lodges at that time. The grand
council empowered to raise and pay soldiers, to build forts, and to equip
vessels to guard the coasts. The necessary funds were to be raised by the
grand council which was to have the power to levy taxes and impose
general duties—the identical type of general functions as exercised by a
Grand Lodge over subordinate lodges. Each colony was to retain it’s
charter, making only those changes necessary to comply with the
formation of the union but leaving the colony government in complete
control of local affairs—the federal union idea employed in the
relationship of local lodges to Grand Lodges. The plan was not adopted;
Franklin explained in his Autobiography that the plan had too much
prerogative in it to suit the colonial assemblies and too much democracy
to suit the royal government.(27)

Franklin left no hint that he used the constitution of Freemasonry as a
model for his Albany Plan but, since he published Anderson’s
Constitutions in 1734 and had served as Grand Master of the Provincial
Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania also in 1734 ,(28) there can be no doubt
that he was familiar with the Masonic constitution. The fact that he called
the council of representatives of the several colonies a grand council and
that the council of the representatives of Masonic lodges is called a Grand
Lodge is circumstantial evidence that Masonry was influencing his
thinking. In the light of this evidence, the similarity of the two plans of
government leads to a reasonable conclusion that the Masonic
constitution was used as a model for Franklin’s Albany Plan.

It is generally agreed among American historians that had Franklin’s
Albany Plan been adopted, the American Revolution might never have
occurred. The Albany Plan contained the essence of the Constitution of
1789 and the evidence just presented shows that the Albany Plan
contained the essence of Masonic ideas on government.

The outbreak of the Revolution brought the collapse of royal government
in the colonies. Only the town and county systems of local government
remained capable of exercising any governmental functions until de facto
revolutionary state governments were organized, largely at the insistence
of Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and the Masons controlling the
prorogued Virginia assembly, under a System of Committees of Safety.
These men set up the dependent Continental Congress which cannot be
considered a truly national government for a permanent union of the
stares. But was a step in that direction.

Richard Henry Lee’s resolution of June 7, 1776, in the Continental
Congress calling for a declaration of independence also called for the
appointment of a committee to draw up articles of confederation. This
resolution makes the fourth attempt by Masons to unite the American
colonies. The Congress was composed of fifty-six delegates, thirty-two of
whom are known to be Masons.(29) On June 12, 1776, a committee was
appointed to draw up a plan for a union of the states consisting of one
delegate from each state. The following Masons were members of the
committee: John Dickinson. Chairman, Josiah Bartlett, Samuel Adams,
Roger Sherman, Thomas McKean, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Joseph Hewes,
Robert R. Livingston, Stephan Hopkins.(30) This committee reported a
draft of the Articles of Confederation on June 20, 1776, but did not secure
approval until November 16, 1777, because of the extreme reluctance of
Congress to propose a central government which would infringe the
sovereignty of the states. The states were even more reluctant to
establish a union than the Congress for it was three and one-half years
before the states completed ratification of the plan and placed it in
operation. Weak as the central government was under the articles of
Confederation, it represented a victory for the unionists and was a
necessary step in the evolution of a satisfactory national government for
the United States.

The Masonic Convention that took place at Morristown, New Jersey, in
December, 1779, under the auspices of American Union Lodge, seems to
be significant. Over one hundred Masons from the various military lodges
were present. This group drew up a petition to the several Grand Lodges
to establish a General Grand Lodge for the United States and proposed
General George Washington as General Grand Master. The Grand Lodges
of Pennsylvania and Virginia agreed to the plan but that of Massachusetts
declined and the project was dropped. The leaders in government, the
army, and in Masonry—often the same men—were seeing the need for a
closer and stronger union among American Masons in their attempt to
establish a strong central government in the new nation.

Under the articles of Confederation, two other ideas basic in Masonry
were introduced into American government. A review of the origin and
history of the craft masonry reveals that one of the purposes of the
organization was to train apprentices to be master workmen. This
tradition of educational activity was carried forward into Speculative
Masonry and there expanded. In the days of Operative masonry secrecy
was employed to prevent an oversupply of skilled workmen, but after the
transition from builders in stone to builders of a social structure, there
need be no limitation of workmen except to those capable of receiving the
instruction. The Masonic educational concept now became two-fold: (1)
each lodge became a school for the teaching of Masonic philosophy to
those who gained admission; and (2) each Mason., through his life,
became a teacher of Masonic philosophy to the community. In other
words Freemasonry became the missionary of the new order—a liberal,
democratic order in which Masons sought to lead mankind through
education into a more equitable and just society. The implementation of
this educational concept aided if it did not inspire the establishment of
the public free schools, financed by the state, for the combined purpose of
technological and sociological education of the mass of humanity,
beginning in childhood. The public free schools were considered free, in
that no sect could prescribe the teachings of it’s dogmas: and free, in that
they were open to all citizens without charge except as to his proportion
of the taxes used for their Support. A German printer, Christopher Sowrs,
of Germantown, wrote to Conrad Weise, in complaint of the activities of
Benjamin Franklin and the Freemasons generally on behalf of the free
schools as follows; “The people who are the promoters of the free schools
are Grand Masters and Wardens among Freemasons, their very pillers.”

The opposition to the ideas of Masons on the subject of free public
schools was strong in 1785, but it was not strong enough to prevent a
provision for such education being incorporated in the Ordinance of May
20, 1785, as follows: “There shall be reserved the lot No.16, of every
township, for the maintenance of public schools within said township;
(32) This action was further confirmed in Article 3 of the Northwest
Ordinance of July 13, 1787, in these words: “Religion, morality, and
knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of
mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever
encouraged.” (33)

The Masons of the revolutionary generation did not live to see the
consummation of their dream of a state supported public school system
but they made a start toward its realization, Accepting the fact that
adoption of the idea would take time, they did the next best thing—-they
endowed schools where they could not induce state or local political units
to establish them. The following are a few examples of their efforts:
George Washington founded a free school in Virginia at Alexandria, urged
the founding of a national university, supported the establishment of the
Military Academy at West Point, and left a bequest for a national
university that was ultimately bestowed on Washington and Lee
University. (34) Benjamin Franklin was the moving spirit in the
organization of the Library Association of Philadelphia in 1731, the
founder of the first free school in the city, and one of the founders of the
Academy which grew into the University of Virginia.(36) Abraham
Baldwin sponsored and was largely responsible for the founding of the
free school system and the University of Georgia. The majority of the
founding first Board of Trustees of the University of Georgia were
Masons.(37) John Macon and David Ker were founding members of the
Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina.(38) Gamaliel
Painter gave his entire estate to Middlebury College.(39) John Dickinson
was president and benefactor of Dickinson College.(40) Michael Myers
founded Oneida Academy.(41) Samuel Kirkland founded Hamilton
Colledge.(42) Stephan Girard founded Girard Colledge.(43) Henry Knox
proposed and Henry Burbeck founded West Point Military Academy.(44)
John Kendrick erected a school at Wareham, Massachusetts.(45) DeWitt
Clinton, the son of general James Clinton, founded the public school
system of New York.(46) The minutes of Lodge No.2 of Philadelphia for
February 13, 1781, read as follows: “A Representation of the unfortunate
situation of the family of Brethren of Bro. Ad Betten deceas’d being laid
before this Lodge from the Brethren of No. 29 it was therefore
unanimously agreed that this Lodge pay Ten pounds specie, annually
towards the Education of our deceased Bros. Eldest son until he is able to
procure a subsistence for himself.”(47) the first normal school in America
was opened in a portion of the Masonic Temple at Lexington,
Massachusettes.(48)The Grand Lodge of Virginia set up the first Grand
Lodge Educational Fund in 1812. (49)

When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, ending the Revolutionary
War, much of the territory of the United States within the limits
established by the treaty was politically unorganized. The Americans

were just beginning to penetrate beyond the mountains when the war
began; with the end of the war occupation of the western lands presented
the nation with a major problem. The United States, just emerged from a
colonial status, was itself a mother country before it had a firmly
established government. The Northwest Ordinance of July 13, 1787,
established the precedent for the creation and admission of new states to
the union on a basis of complete equality with the original thirteen. This
was a new colonial policy. Heretofore colonies had been free and
independent of the mother country, like the ancient Greek colonies, or
dependencies, like the English colonies in America had been. Masons
were familiar with this equality concept because new Masonic lodges
were always constituted on an equal basis with other lodges in the
fraternity. This policy is indicated in the concluding statement of the
constitution ceremony in Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 as follows:
“And this Lodge being thus completely constituted, shall be register’d in
the Grand Master’s book, and by his Order notify’d to the other Lodges.

It has already been observed that, at the time the Articles of
Confederation were in process of formation, leaders in the army,
government, and Masonry were of the opinion that a stronger central
government was necessary . In 1780, Washington, Hamilton, and Madison
advised the strengthening of the Confederation.(51) A specialized study of
the background of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 reveals that the
Society of Cincinnati, the officers of the Revolutionary Army, and the
Masons began the agitation for the writing of the Constitution of the
United States. The records show that the most influential officers of the
Revolutionary Army and members of the Society of Cincinnati were active
Masons. Their experiences in Masonry had shown them the value of unity
while experiences during the Revolution had demonstrated the limitations
resulting from lack of unity and singleness of command.

Disagreements between states developed almost immediately after the
formation of the government under the articles of Confederation and it
was one of these conflicts that gave the proponents of a stronger central
government a chance to propose a measure leading in that direction.
James Madison induced Maryland to establish a commission in 1785 to
prepare rules to end the confusion in navigation on the Potomac. The
Commission found that changes, if made would affect Pennsylvania and
Delaware and, if they adopted the changes, other states would as well.
Madison persuaded the Virginia legislature to invite the states to a
convention to be held at Annapolis, Maryland, September 11, 1786, for
the purpose of considering a uniform code of regulations for commerce.
Nothing was accomplished at Annapolis but the convention, before
adjournment, issued a call for another to meet at Philadelphia the second
Monday in May of 1787.

The Congress was not pleased at being thus ignored but public opinion
was developing in favor of a stronger central government. After Virginia
and other states elected delegates to attend the Philadelphia convention,
Congress issued a call for a convention to meet at the same place and
time to consider the revision of the Articles Of Confederation.

Fifty-five delegates assembled in accordance with the call, of this number,
thirty-three listed below were Masons:

Abraham Baldwin, Gunning Bedford, John Blair, William Blount, David
Brearley, Jacob Broom, Daniel Carroll, William R. Davie, Jonathan Dayton,
John Dickinson, Oliver Ellsworth, Benjamin Franklin, Eldridge Gerry,
Nicholas Gilman, Alexander Hamilton, William Houston, William Samuel
Johnson, Rufus King, John Langdon, John Lansing Jr., James McClung,
James McHenry, James Madison, Alexander Martin, Robert Morris,
William Paterson, William Pierce, Charles Pinckney, Edmund Randolph,
George Read, Roger Sherman, George Washington, George Wythe.(52)
Of this group, two were Past Grand Masters, Franklin and Blair; two were
Grand Masters, Randolph and Brearley; and two were later elevated to
the Grand Mastership, Bedford and Davie. (53)

Philadelphia was one of the greatest centers of Masonic activity in the
New World, and it is inconceivable that the Masons of that city, who had
done so much to foster growth of Masonry in pre- revolutionary days,
overlooked the opportunity to entertain appropriately the distnquished
Masons who were attending the Convention. The City Tavern was the
rallying place of Philadelphias leading Masons, who met there socially on
many occasions before the revolution and held lodge there when
Freemasons Lodge was used as a hospital during the war. (54) The City
Tavern, too, became the rallying place for members of the Convention.
Here the members dined, slept, and held many conferences. Since in the
nature of things whenever men of different opinions and interests
congregate for the purpose of coming to agreement, they do most of their
real work, carrying on their most important discussions, and determine
most of their course, in of two or three off the record, one can only guess
to what extent Masonic brotherhood smoothed the path for the
compromises and agreements effected in the Convention.

The Convention had been called for the purpose of revising the Articles of
Confederation, but, after examining the magnitude of that task, decided
to build a new frame of government. This decision was in itself a
revolution but men who had challenged the might of Britain were not
prone to quibble over this technicality. I t had been said of this men that;
Though divide in their Opinions, they were among the best leaders of the
day, and no superior men could have been found for the task before them.
(56) William Gladstone, a British statesmen and prime minister, once
described the American Constitution as the most wonderful work ever
struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man. (57) A more
sober evaluation is that the Convention of 1787 was one of the great
creative assemblages in history.

The Constitution of the United States, as written by the Constitutional
Convention of 1787, has been the study of many specialists in the field of
government, and they are in substantial agreement that its fundamental
concepts include: popular sovereignty, limited government, local self-
government. Supremacy of the national government in the federal
system, separation of powers, supremacy of the judiciary through judicial
review, and individual rights protected by constitutional provisions. (58)
It was one thing for a group of men possessing the abilities and
experiences of those who made up the Convention to write the
Constitution and entirely another to secure its acceptance by diverse and
conflicting interests of the states. Most of the members of the Convention
took part in the ratifying conventions in their states. (59) James Madison,
Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote eighty-five letters called the
Federalist that are considered the greatest argument ever produced for
the federal system of government. The Federalist is one of the classics in
the literature of federalism, and is one of the great books produced by
Americans in the field of government. (60) While propaganda in favor of
the Constitution, The Federalist was propaganda on a high plane and
probably did more to secure the ratification of the Constitution than any
other factor. In the realm of practical politics, Madison, Hamilton,
Washington, Sherman, Ellsworth, Dickinson, Randolf, and Johnson
contributed the influence, which tipped the balance in favor of ratification
in the hard fought battle in the state conventions. The efforts of Madison
in the Constitutional Convention, composing part of The Federalist, and in
the Virginia ratification convention has earned him the sobriquet of
Father of the Constitution. Masons of lesser reputation were influential in
the state conventions. In Georga, for example, William Stephens, Joseph
Habersham, James Powell, George Handley, and Henry Osborne, all
members of Solomons lodge, worked for ratification with success that
Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the Constitution. (61)

Ratification had been won not only only the merits of the Constitution but
by the promise of the federalists to submit a series of anendments to
meet the objections of opponents. Madison took the lead in carrying out
this promise; he collected some two hundred proposed amendments from
state legislatures, learned societies, and prominent individuals, reduced
them to seventeen, and submitted them to Congress which approved and
submitted twelve of them to the states for ratification. Ten were ratified
and these ten are usually referred to as the Bill of Rights because, in
general, they provided additional protection to the natural rights of the
individual. Included in these amendments were principles long advocated
by Masons: religious toleration; freedom of speech; a speedy trial
according to law before equals when accused of law violation; no
imposition of excessive punishment; and the reservation of all powers not
delegated in the Constitution.

A comparison of the principles of government contained in Andersons
Constitutions, universally adopted by Masons, with those contained in the
Constitution of the United States reveals that they are essentially the
same in both documents. There is conclusive evidence that the majority of
the men who worked for a federal union and wrote the Constitution were
Masons. Some of these Masons were the most influential leaders of the
fraternity in America, fully conversant with Masonic principals of
government. Freemasonry was the only institution at that time governed
by a federal system. There is not a scrap of evidence left by any member
of the Constitutional Convention indicating that these principals were
drawn from any other source. Since the government of the United States
bears such a startling similarity to the government of the Masonic
fraternity, both in theory and in structure, it is difficult to ascribe the
similarity to coincidence.

Some students of history and government profess to see the philosophy of
John Lock as the dynamic force in the shaping of the Constitution. There
is in Lockes theory but little that had long been current coin in political
philosophy. (62) If this is true, where did Locke find his ideas? The Grand
Lodge of Pennsylvania printed in the 1781 edition of the Ahiman Rezon, a
letter by John Locke in which he says, speaking of Masons: However of all
their arts and secrets, that which I most desire to know is: The skylle of
becommynge and parfyghte, [quoting an ancient manuscipt]; and I wish it
were communicated to all mankind, since there is nothing more true than
the beautiful sentence, That the better men are, the more they love one
another; Virtue having in itself something so amiable as to claim the
hearts of all that behold it. (63) The Leland Manuscript, the authenticity
of which has been challenged but stoutly defended, contains notes and
comments written May 6, 1696, by Locke to Thomas, Earl of Pembroke, a
part of which reads as follows: I know not what the effect the sight of this
old paper may have upon your Lordship; but for my own part I cannot
deny, that it has so much raised my curiosity, as to induce me to enter
myself into the fraternity, which I am determined to do (if I may be
admitted) the next time I go to London, and that will be shortly. (64)
Locke was residing at Oates, near London, at the date given in the Leland
Manuscript. His letters to Mr. Molyneaux, dated March 30 and July 2,
1696, prove that he was initiated into Masonry between those dates (65)
although the Grand Lodge of England has no Masonic documents with
which to determine his lodge membership. (66)

In 1667, Locke drew up the fantastic, feudalistic fundamental
Constitutions of Carolina as a frame of government for the proprietors.
(67) The only provision of the document in any way similar to the
Constitution of the United States was a slight measure of religious liberty.
A powerful intellectual force must have entered the orbit of Lockes
thinking after 1667 to alter his viewpoint that a desirable social and
political order should be based upon property and privilege to one based
upon natural rights and equality. The evidence that Locke had studied
some Masonic documents; that he was sufficiently impressed to become a
Mason; and the parallelism between the philosophy in his later writings
with that of Masonry supports to some degree the conclusion that Locke
drew his ideas from Masonry. In view of this evidence, any influence that
Locke may have ha d on the formation of the Constitution was indirectly
A study of the members of the Constitutional Convention discloses that
only James Madison and James Wilson had done a substantial amount of
reading and thinking about political theory. Others appear to have read
the subject smatteringly, and to have reflected on it even less. Most
members of the Convention in mentioning political theory seem merely to
be repeating catch phrases. This being true, the product of the
Conventions labors was a document of expediency based largely upon
those practices of social control consistently throughout the states and
that the majority of the members were well acquainted with its principles
and structure. It may be assumed that the basic principles of such an
institution, which had already formed wide-spread acceptance, should be
used as the pattern for a civil government.

A new frame of republican government had been written but it yet
remained to be tested in operation. On June 21, 1778, New Hampshire
became the ninth state to ratify the new constitution, the required
number for the organization of the new government. On July 2, 1788, the
last Congress under the Articles of Confederation resolved that the states
should choose presidential electors on the first Wednesday in January,
1789, who, a month later, should select a president and vice president;
and that a congress elected under the Constitution should meet the first
Wednesday in March following in New York.

Washington was the unanimous choice for president and John Adams, a
non-Mason, was chosen vice-president. On April 30, 1789, Washington
took the oath of office as President of the United States administered by
Chancellor Robert B. Livingston, Grand Master of the grand Lodge of

New York. (68) General Jacob Morton, Worshipful Master of St. Johns
lodge in New York City—the oldest lodge in the cityand Grand Secretary
of the Grand Lodge of New York, was marshal of the inauguration
ceremonies. It was one of his duties to provide a Bible for the occasion.
Morton brought from tile alter of St. Johns Lodge the Bible upon which
Washington placed his hand while repeating the obligation to uphold the
Constitution of the United States and then kissed the sacred volume to
complete the ceremony. (69)

Washington was not considered a brilliant man but his character was
such as to command the respect and confidence of both Americans and
foreigners. (70) It has been written that Washington had imbibed the
Wisdom, strength, and beauty of Masonry. It exerted a profound influence
upon his career, from the time when he was raised a Master Mason, in
1753, through all the vicissitudes of war, peace, and nation building. In
him the sublime truth of the Order found practical expression in shaping
the character of the United States of America. (71)

Of those who accompanied Washington in the inauguration ceremony,
Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, Baron von Steuben, General Henry
Knox, and John Adams, all except Adams were Masons. It may be added
that the Governors of the thirteen states at the time of Washingtons
inauguration were Masons. (72)

Washington chose four Masons for his first Cabinet as follows: Secretary
of State, Thomas Jefferson; Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton;
Secretary of War, General henry Knox; and Attorney General, Edmund
Randolph, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1788. (73)
There can be no doubt that these men were chosen because of their
fitness for public office but in the minds of such men as Washington,
Masonic membership was another evidence of a mans reliability and
fitness for trust. (74) Washington wrote as follows: being persuaded that a
just application of the principles on which the Masonic fraternity is
founded must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall
always be happy to advance the interests of the Society and be
considered by them a deserving Brother. (75)

One of Washingtons first duties was to appoint the first Chief Justice and
four Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. Four of the five were
Masons as follows: John Jay, Chief Justice, and Associate Justices William
Cushing, Robert H. Harrison, and John Blair. (76) There is a possibility
that Associate Justice James Wilson may have been a Mason, but no
evidence that he was has been discovered.

The first Congress elected under the Constitution had several Masons in
its membership. In the Senate of the twenty-six members twelve are
known to have been Masons: Oliver Ellsworth, James Gunn, William S.
Johnson, Samuel Johnston, Rufus King, John Langdon, Richard Henry Lee,
James Monroe, Robert Morris, William Paterson, George Read, Phillip
Schuyler. (77)

John Langdon was elected as Presiodent of the Senate pro ternpore.
Twenty of the sixty-six men who served in the House of Representatives
are known to have been Masons as follows: Abraham Baldwin, Theodorick
Bland, John Brown, Daniel Carroll, Elbridge Gerry, Frederick A.
Muhlenberg, John Page, Josiah Parker, John Sevier, Nicholas Gilman,
Thomas Hartly, James Jackson, John Lawence, James Madison, Roger
Sherman, William Smith, John Steele, Thomas Sumter, Jeremiah Van
Rensselaer, (78)

Frederick A. Muhlenburg was elected Speaker of the House of

The possible connection between Masonry and government may be found
in the famous painting by Samuel Jennings which appeared in 1792
sometimes called “The Genius of America Encouraging the Emancipation
of the Blacks. The important point is that the symbols appearing in the
painting are unmistakably Masonic symbols. The central figure is the
Virgin, traditional symbol of the Freemasons craft, sitting on a couch near
the East Gate of the ground floor or checkered pavement of the temple of
Virtue. The right arm and shoulder, the side of strength and fidelity,
support the Stewards rod, one end of which rests upon a dark stain,
representing spilled blood, on the checkered pavement while the other
holds high the cap of Liberty. Before her on a pedestal and leaning
against it are five of the books of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the
right are a lute and sphere representing the arts of music and astronomy,
seven in all. At her feet lies a broken Corinthian Column, the Column of
Beauty representing a murdered Grand Master, and near it is a bust
representing the features of Grand Master Joseph Warren who was killed
at Bunker Hill. Between the broken column and the bust lies the Masters
Square among the scattered and confused designs of an Unfinished
Temple. Attentive to her words of Light are dark-skinned persons
representing all people still in the darkness of ignorance and superstition.
This painting, of course, is the product of one mans thought and has no
official connection with the government of the United States but it is so
suggestive as to justify some further interest in symbolism. Man is an
enigmatic creature having a dual nature, temporal and spiritual. His
institutions reflect the multiple facets of his complex and varied mental
processes. He is at once occupied with the routine of satisfying the
human needs for food, clothing, and shelter and the less tangible and
more varied spiritual and social needs. His viewpoints are as varied as the
individuals, subject not only to the external changes of environment but
to self-created internal changes. Man alone has within himself any
considerable power of thought or imagination. One facet of mans
behavior to come out of his imagination, superstition, spiritual groping,
and reasoning is symbolism.

Signs, pictures, objects, emblems, words, numerals, music or any means
of conveying ideas from one individual to another become the vehicle of
symbolism or symbols. Certain of mans activities lend themselves more
readily to symbolism than others. The ritual of Freemasonry is especially
rich in symbols familiar things that convey a hidden meaning to the
initiated. Philosophic Masonry is the heir to the symbolism practiced in
the ancient mysteries, the Hebrew Cabal, and medieval Rosicrucian

In this present age, where material things engross almost every waking
hour, symbolism has lost much of its fascination, but it was not so in the
eighteenth century when the revolutionary heroes pledged their lives,
their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the erection of a new nation. As
the crisis moved toward its climax the ideals for which they fought began
to assume symbolic form. Late in the afternoon of July 4, 1776, the
Continental Congress resolved, that Dr. Franklin, Mr. Adams and Mr.
Jefferson be a committee to prepare a device for a Seal of the United
States of America. On August 20 the committee reported its design to
Congress; but the report was tabled, and for three years and a half no
further action was taken. On March 25, 1780, the report of the first
committee was referred to a new committee consisting of James Lovell,
John Morin Scott, and William Churchill Houston. This committee
received artistic assistance from Francis Hopkinson. A new design was
reported on May 10, (or 11), 1780, but debate was followed by
recommital to the committee with no further progress for two more years.
In the spring of 1782 a third committee, composed of Arthur Middleton,
John Rutledge, and Elias Boudinot with the assistance of William Barton,
A.M. reported a third design for a seal to Congress which was found not
satisfactory. On June 13, 1782, Congress referred all of the committee
reports to Charles Thomason, Secretary of Congress. Thomason
immediately wrote his report to Congress and submitted it on June 20,
1782; the report was accepted the same day and thus the design of the
great seal was fixed. It is described as follows:

ARMS. Paleways of thirteen pieces, argent and gules; a chief. azure; the
escutcheon on the breast of the American eagle displayed proper, holding
in his dexter talon an olive branch, and in his sinster a bundle of thirteen
arrows, all proper. And in his beak a scroll, inscribed with the motto, E
Pluribus Unum.

For the CREST. Over the head of the eagle, which appears above the
escutcheon, a glory, or, breaking through a cloud, proper, and
surrounding thirteen stars, forming a constellation, argent, on an azure

REVERSE. A pyramid unfinished. In the Zenith, an eye in a triangle,
surrounded with a glory proper. Over the eye these words, Annuit
Coeptis. On the base of the pyramid the numerical letters MDCCLXXVI.
And underneath the following motto, Novus Ordo Seclorum. (79)

[NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM, the new secular order]

Among those who helped design the Great Seal of the United States the
following are known to have been Masons: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas
Jefferson, William Churchill Houston, and William Barton. Whether they
drew heavily upon Freemasonry in this work it is impossible to assert but
when an informed Mason examines the Great Seal here is what he sees:
On the obverse is an eagle whose dexter wing has thirty-two feathers, the
number of ordinary degrees in Scottish Rite Freemasonry. The sinister
wing has thirty-three feathers, the additional feather corresponding to the
Thirty-Third Degree of the same Rite conferred for outstanding Masonic
service. The tail feathers number nine, the number of degrees in the
Chapter, Council, and Commandery of the York Rite of Freemasonry.
Scottish Rite Masonry had its origin in France; the York Rite is sometimes
called the American Rite; the eagle thus clothed represents the union of
French and American Masons in the struggle for Liberty, Equality, and
Fraternity. The total number of feathers in the two wings is sixty-five
which, by gematria, is the value of the Hebrew phrase yam yawchod
(together in unity). This phrase appears in Palms 133 as follows: Behold,
how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,
and is used in the ritual of the first degree of Freemasonry. The glory
above the eagles head is divided into twenty-four equal parts and reminds
the observer of the Masons gauge which is also divided into twenty-four
equal parts and is emblematic of the service he is obligated to perform.
The five pointed stars remind him of the Masonic Blazing Star and the
five points of fellowship. The arrangement of the stars in the constellation
to form overlapping equilateral triangles and the Star of David calls to the
Masons mind King Davids dream of building a Temple, to his God, the
Companions who rebuilt a desecrated Temple, and the finding of the Word
that was lost. The gold, silver, and azure colors represent the sun, moon,
and Worshipful Master, the first that rules the day, the second, the night,
and the third, the lodge. While silver, connected with the letter Gimel or
G and being surrounded on an azure ground by a golden glory, reminds
the Mason of the letter G, a most conspicuous furnishing of a proper
lodge room. The shield on the eagles breast affirms by its colors, valor
(red), purity (white), and justice (blue), and reminds the Mason of the
cardinal virtues. The value of these colors, by gematria, is 103, the value
of the phrase ehben ha-Adam (the stone of Adam) and suggests the
perfect ashlar, or squared stone, of Freemasonry. One hundred and three
is also the value of the noun bonaim, a Ranbbinical word signifying
builders, Masons. Thus the national colors spell out, by gematria, the
name of the fraternity. The scroll in the eagles beak, bearing the words E
Pluribus Unum (of the many) reminds him also of the unity which has
made brothers of many.
On the reverse, is the All Seeing Eye within a triangle surrounded by a
golden glory. Besides the obvious Masonic significance of this design, it
has a cabalistic value of seventy plus three plus two hundred, equaling
two hundred and seventy-three which is the value of the phrase ehben
mosu habonim (the stone which the builders refused) familiar to all Royal
Arch Masons. It is also the value of the Hebrew proper noun Hiram Abiff,
the architect of Solomons Temple and the principal character of the
legend used in the Master Mason degree. The triangle is isosceles,
formed by two right triangles having sides of five, twelve, and thirteen
units in length, illustrating the 47th Problem of Euclid. The triangle also
represents the capstone of the unfinished pyramid and reminds the
Mason of the immortality of the soul and that in eternity he will complete
the capstone of his earthly labors according to the designs on the trestle-
board of the Supreme Architect of the Universe. The unfinished pyramid
cannot fail to remind him of the unfinished condition of the Temple when
tragedy struck down its Masters architect.
The blaze of glory found on either side of the Great Seal cannot fail to
remind the Mason of the Great Light in Masonry which is the rule and
guide to faith and practice and without which no Masonic lodge can exist.
It reminds him that only more light can dispel the pall of ignorance in
which he stumbles until he enters tile Celestial Lodge where all light is
Returning from this short excursion into symbolism to summarize the
investigation into the possible connections that might exist between
Masonry and United States government, several appear to be significant:

(1) The fundamental principles laid down for the government of the
Masonic fraternity by its oldest surviving documents are found to be
present in the Constitution of 1789.
(2) Many of the leading spirits in the development of a federal union
were Masons.

(3) The evolution of the idea of a free public school system supported
by the state was fostered by many Masons.

(4) The policy of admitting new states to the Union on a basis of
complete equality with the old finds its counterpart in Masonry in
the creation of new lodges equal in every respect to the position held
by older lodges.

(5) A number of tile men who influenced the writing and who wrote
the Constitution of 1789 were Masons well informed in Masonic
philosophy, practice, and organization.

(6) Masons occupied many influential offices in the executive,
legislative, and judicial branches of the government in this period of
its greatest plasticity.

These points of significance lead to the conclusion that investigators in
the fields of history and government have overlooked an in influence in
the formation of the government of the United States that may well have
been as important as the economic pressures of the age. It also appears
that political theorists have overlooked an influence of major importance
in the evolution of American democracy; a democracy that may be defined
as much broader than a special political form, a method of conducting
government by means of officials elected by popular suffrage; a
democracy in which these processes are only a means, the best means so
far discovered, for realizing the idealistic goals for the full development of
human potentialities. This democracy is a way of life, social and
individual, founded on faith in human capacity and intelligence and in the
just power of accumulated and cooperative experience; and in equality
before the law and in its administration and in the right to have and
express opinion—a democracy whose final definition coincides with that
of Freemasonry.

The fundamental pattern of Anglo-American life was now cut. It remains
now to follow the pioneer westward to Texas and take note of the place
Masons and Freemasonry occupied along the trace.