The Christianization of Freemasonry

In this installment of Symbols & Symbolism, we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry on the Christening of Freemasonry, a sentiment that Mackey feels “… does not belong to the ancient system” of Freemasonry.

You can read more installments of Mackey’s Encyclopedia under Symbols & Symbolism here on this site and video of these segments on YouTube.

The interpretation of the symbols of Freemasonry from a Christian point of view is a theory adopted by some of the most distinguished Masonic writers of England and this country, but one which I think does not belong to the ancient system. [William] Hutchinson, and after him [George] Oliver – profoundly philosophical as are the Masonic speculations of both – have, I am constrained to believe, fallen into a great error in calling the Master Mason’s Degree a Christian institution. It is true that it embraces within its scheme the great truths of Christianity upon the subject of the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body; but this was to be presumed, because Freemasonry is truths and all truth must be identical. But the origin of each is different; their histories are dissimilar. The principles of Freemasonry preceded the advent of Christianity. Its symbols and its legends are derived from the Solomonic Temple and from the people even anterior to that. Its religion comes from the ancient priesthood; its faith was that primitive one of Noah and his immediate descendants. If Masonry were simply a Christian institution, the Jew, the Muslim, the Brahman and the Buddhist could not conscientiously partake of its illumination. But its universality is its boast. In its language citizens of every nation may converse; at its altar men of all religions may kneel; to its creed disciples of every faith may subscribe.

oliver and hutchinson
George Oliver & William Hutchinson

Yet it cannot be denied that since the advent of Christianity a Christian element has been almost imperceptibly infused into the Masonic system, at least among Christian Masons. This has been a necessity; for it is the tendency of every predominant religion to pervade with its influence all that surrounds it or is about it, whether religious, political, or social. This arises from a need of the human heart. To the man deeply imbued with the spirit of his religion, there is an almost unconscious desire to accommodate and adapt all the business and the amusements of life – the labors and the employments of his everyday existence-to the indwelling faith of his soul.

The Christian Mason, therefore, while acknowledging and appreciating the great doctrines taught in Masonry, and also while grateful that these doctrines were preserved in the bosom of his ancient Order at a time when they were unknown to the multitudes of the surrounding nations, is still anxious to give to them a Christian character; to invest them, in some measure, with the peculiarities of his own creed, and to bring the interpretation of their symbolism more nearly home to his own religious sentiments.

The feeling is an instinctive one belonging to the noblest aspirations of our human nature; and hence we find Christian Masonic writers indulging in it to an almost unwarrantable excess, and, by the extent of their sectarian interpretations, materially affecting the cosmopolitan character of the Institution.

This tendency to Christianize has, in some instances, been so universal, and has prevailed for so long a period, that certain symbols and myths have been, in this way, so deeply and thoroughly imbued with the Christian element as to leave those who have not penetrated into the cause of this peculiarity, in doubt whether they should attribute to the symbol an ancient or a modern and Christian origin.

Baphomet – Symbols and Symbolism

In this installment of Symbols & Symbolism, we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, on the infamously nefarious figure of Baphomet – the alleged false idol of the Knights Templar and one of the key instruments of their undoing by Pope Clement.

More installments of Symbols & Symbolism are available here and on YouTube.

Pope Clement V
Pope Clement

The imaginary idol, or, rather, symbol which the Knights Templars were accused of employing in their mystic rights. The forty-second of the charges preferred against them by Pope Clement is in these words:

Item quod ipsi per singulas provincias habeant idola: videlicet capita quorum aliqua habebant tres facies, et alia unum: et aliqua cranium humanum habebant.

Also, that in all of the provinces they have idols,namely, heads, of which some had three faces, some one, and some had a human skull.

Von Hammer, a bitter enemy of the Templars, in his book entitled The Mystery of Baphomet Revealed, revived this old accusation, and attached to the Baphomet an impious signification. He derived the name from the Greek words, Baph (βάπτισμα) – baptism, and μhtis (σοφία) – wisdom, and thence supposed that it represented the admission of the initiated into the secret mysteries of the Order. From this gratuitous assumption he deduces his theory, set forth even m the very title of his work, that the Templars were convicted, by their own monuments, of being guilty as Gnostics and Ophites of apostasy, idolatry, and impurity. Of this statement he offers no other historical testimony than the Articles of Accusation, themselves devoid of proof, but through which the Templars were made the victims of the jealousy of the Pope and the avarice of the King of France.

Baphomet as imagines in the Taxil Hoax
Baphomet as imagines in the Taxil Hoax

Others again have thought that they could find in Baphomet a corruption of Mahomet (Mohammed), and hence they have asserted that the Templars had been perverted from their religious faith by the Saracens, with whom they had so much intercourse, sometimes as foes and sometimes as friends. Nicolai, who wrote an Essay on the Accusations brought against the Templars, published at Berlin, in 1782, supposes, but doubtingly, that the figure of the Baphomet, figura Baffometi, which was depicted on a bust representing the Creator, was nothing else but the Pythagorean pentagon, the symbol of health and prosperity, borrowed by the Templars from the Gnostics, who in turn had obtained it from the School of Pythagoras.

King, in his learned work on the Gnostics, thinks that the Baphomet may have been a symbol of the Manicheans, with whose wide spreading heresy in the Middle Ages he does not doubt that a large portion of the inquiring spirits of the Temple had been intoxicated.

Amid these conflicting views, all merely speculative, it will not be uncharitable or unreasonable to suggest that the Baphomet, or skull of the ancient Templars, was, like the relic of their modern Masonic representatives, simply an impressive symbol teaching the lesson of mortality, and that the latter has really been derived from the former.

Famous Freemason | Tom Mix

Tom Mix , May 21, 1925
Tom Mix , May 21, 1925

In this series on Famous Freemasons, we delve deeper into the history of these notable individuals to explore their dynamic lives beyond the lodge room door. In this installment, we meet:

Tom Mix

b.Jan. 6, 1880 – d. Oct. 12, 1940

A name that many film buffs recognize, cowboys idolize, and at least for a time, the man that everyone wanted to be. Tom Mix was a circus performer, champion horseback rider, radio personality, beloved Freemason, and perhaps most known for his roles in Western films as the clean cut cowboy who always saved the day. Mix appeared in nearly 300 films, the majority of which were silent, and at one point in time was the #1 box office star in America.

Thomas Hezikiah Mix was born in Mix Run, Pennsylvania, on January 6th, 1880. He spent the

Tom Mix in The Fighting Streak - 1922
Tom Mix in The Fighting Streak – 1922

majority of his young life working on a local farm, and was instilled by his father with a love and passion for horses. Upon the onset of the Spanish-American War, like many others his age, Tom decided to enlist. Although never seeing any real war action, he moved through the ranks, and served his country well. Before being honorably discharged, Tom went on furlough where he met Grace I. Allen. On his next furlough, he decided to marry her. For a short period of time he returned to active duty, but ultimately was forced to choose between the military and his wife. This resulted in never returning to active duty from his last leave, and being declared AWOL. In the 15 years that followed, he had married and divorced three times. Though his marriages were unstable, his professional life and career was developing rapidly. He found work at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch, which boasted its own touring Wild West show. This gave Mix his first introduction to acting and performing, and went on to earn numerous riding and roping contests.

Tom-Mix big hat

His acting career flourished, scoring roles with various talent agencies and film companies. Throughout the 1920’s, he made over 160 cowboy films, and even built his famous set known as Mixville located today in what would become the Edendale district of Los Angeles unremarkably refereed to today as the Glendale Boulevard Corridor in the Silverlake area. Over 150 movies were shot in Mixville, which was considered to be its own Western town. It was complete with all of the props and locations you might find in a frontier town, such as a dusty street, hitching rails, a saloon, jail, bank, doctor’s office, and surveyor’s office. It even boasted a simulated desert, large corral, period homes, and an indian village of lodges near the back lot. Mix’s career was inspirational for future movie stars such as John Wayne and Ronald Reagan, both of which were very vocal about the influence which Mix’s career had on their lives.

Throughout his acting career, Tom Mix was also a devoted freemason. He was raised on February 21, 1925, at Utopia Lodge No. 537, in Los Angeles California. He joined both the Scottish Rite and The Royal Arch, and participated in the famed 233 club. The 233 was an entertainment industry social club which claimed over 1,700 Masons as members from the motion picture and theatrical industries. Members of 233 included: Douglas Fairbanks, Harold and Frank Lloyd, Wallace Berry and Louis B. Mayer. One of the outstanding patriotic activities of the Club was a gigantic “Pageant of Liberty” in the Los Angeles Coliseum on July 5, 1926 before an audience of 65,000 and employing over 2,500 actors and a chorus of 1,200. Mix, the star that he was, rode into the spectacle astride his horse Tony portraying Paul Revere beside Hoot Gibson who rode as a Pony Express rider. With the 233, Mix is said to have participated in traveling Craft degree team composed of actors.

Tom Mix and the Great K & A Train Robbery - 1926
Tom Mix and the Great K & A Train Robbery – 1926

Tragically, Mix died in a fatal automobile accident on October 12, 1940. His memorial service was held at Little Church of Flowers at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA, not far from Mixville. A memorial of a sorrowing horse marks the location of Mix’s passing in Arizona highway. At his memorial service Mix’s close friend, Monte Blue, read a Masonic ritual in his honor.

Mix was truly a man from another era, a mythical era when celebrity and fame created legends… even if for just a little while. Tom Mix left a legacy for many, and is still regarded today as one of the most influential actors in the history of film-making. Without his influence, countless actors may have never graced the silver screen. His impact changed lives and history as we know it.

You can visit the Tom Mix Museum in Dewey, Oklahoma, and for more on Tom Mix, the blog of a Western fan has great things to say about The greatest cowboy of the silver screen.

The Ashlar

In this installment of Symbols & Symbolism, we look at a reading from Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, on the Ashlar – a symbol familiar to every individual made a mason.

More installments are available here under Symbols & Symbolism, and on YouTube.

ashlar in freemasonry

“Freestone as it comes out of the of the quarry.” – Bailey. In Speculative Masonry we adopt the ashlar in two different states, in the Apprentice’s Degree.

The Rough Ashlar, or stone in its rude and unpolished condition, is emblematic of man in his natural state – ignorant, uncultivated, and vicious. But when education has exerted its wholesome influence in expanding his intellect, restraining his passions, and purifying his life, he then is represented by the Perfect Ashlar, which, under the skillful hands of the workmen, has been smoothed, and squared, and fitted for its place in the building. In the older lectures of the eighteenth century the Perfect Ashlar is not mentioned, but its place was supplied by the Broached Thurnel.

The Apprentice – A New Book From Masonic Traveler

At last, the little project is complete.

After months (and years) of conceiving, studying, plotting, writing and then assembling my little endeavor into the Great Work has come into the world.

I humbly submit to you my work:

The Apprentice, The World and the Universe as One: A Treatise on the First Degree of Freemasonry

postcard-4.5inx6.5in-h-front
The Apprentice by Gregory Stewart ISBN-13: 978-0986204104

This follow up book to my 2010 project Masonic Traveler – Essays and Commentary is a different approach to understanding the importance and meaning behind the First Degree of Freemasonry.

Taking the approach from the Scottish (French) Rite degrees, this work explores the nuance of symbolic initiation lost in the contemporary system at work in much of the main-stream practice. By using the Scottish Rite First Degree, the meaning and process of the masonic initiation takes on new dimensions why compared to Albert Pike’s First Degree treatise in Morals and Dogma. It is that dimension that this work seeks to explore celebrating the art and history behind the initiation process.

The idea behind this work is that the degree, whether intentional or as a byproduct of revision and deconstruction, is a metaphorical entry point onto the Tree of Life from the mystical tradition of the Kabbalah. That, the first degree, when examined next to the works of other esoteric writers, becomes the foundation degree of initiation as it blossoms into a rich allegorical journey from chaos into order.

While not a tell-all expose into Freemasonry, the work, at a deeper level, is an attempt to understand what it means to BECOME a Freemason.

In this work are:

  • Two never before seen original poems by the author
  • Original Art envisioning the meaning of the initiation
  • Three explorations of the work
  • Notes to support the thesis

An interesting note, all aspects of the book from its creators hand. Not a pain stream or commercially published work, its creation is with an artisanal work as the product of a loving devotion to the medium and subject matter. Also interesting about the book is that this work is the first of three to round out three ineffable degrees of the fraternity taking us ever higher into the allegorical tree of life.

And, with this announcement I want to publicly thank those who invested in the work through Kickstarter. So, a big round of thinks to:

Gord Echlin, Davide Riboli, Joseph James, Jorge Dagang, Jeffrey S. Kupperman, Carlos A. Rodriguez, Saint Cloud Lodge #221; Ann Arbor-Fraternity Lodge No. 262, F. & A.M., Michigan; John R. Merrick, Daniel Barston, Kelly Feldcamp, Randy Reese, Seth Allen, Nicholas Vettese, Jeff Ewing, John D. Spreckels Lodge #657; June E. Lennon, Freemason; Bro. Alex Towey, Johnny Arias, Gar Pickering, Chris Cochrane, Melissa Howe-Pomeranz, Gary Iverson, Luis A. Feliciano, Stewart A. Anderson, Andrew SmithKirk Bielskis, mmg86, Prenna Sergent, Matt Frye, Corey HiltonJason Hawkinson-Prater, Thomas Butler, J. A. Foster, Christopher Davis, Dominic J. Tufo, F.&A.M., California; David W. Douglas, Ireland, Shanan Hough, Shawn Michael and Philip Michael Hugh Lawson.

I couldn’t of made this happen without your support.

Hardcover
Published by FMI Publishing
ISBN-10: 0986204102
ISBN-13: 978-0986204104
Available on:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
and through a special offer here.

What Does Brotherhood Mean

From Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, this installment of Symbols & Symbolism presents his exploration of what the term Brother and Brotherhood means.

Look for more installments on Symbols & Symbolism here, and on YouTube.

Brother

The term which Freemasons apply to each other. Freemasons are Brethren, not only by common participation of the human nature, but as professing the same faith; as being jointly engaged in the same labors, and as being united by a mutual covenant or tie, whence they are also emphatically called “Brethren of the Mystic Tie.”

Brotherhood

When our Savior designated his disciples as his brethren, he implied that there was a close bond of union existing between them, which idea was subsequently carried out by St . Peter in his direction to “love the brotherhood.” Hence the early Christians designated themselves as a brotherhood, a relationship unknown to the Gentile religions; and the ecclesiastical and other confraternities of the Middle Ages assumed the same title to designate any association of men engaged in the same common object, governed by the same rules, and united by an identical interest.

The association or Fraternity of Freemasons is, in this sense, called a brotherhood.

The All-Seeing Eye

From Albert G. Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, this installment of Symbols & Symbolism presents his exploration of the All-Seeing Eye. Note, some links have been added as reference to the original quoted sources.

Look for future installments on Symbols & Symbolism here, and on YouTube.

all-seeing_eye

An important symbol of the Supreme Being, borrowed by the Freemasons from the nations of antiquity. Both the Hebrews and the Egyptians appear to have derived its use from that natural inclination of figurative minds to select an organ as the symbol of the function which it is intended peculiarly to discharge. Thus, the foot was often adopted as the symbol of swiftness, the arm of strength, and the hand of fidelity. On the same principle, the open eye was selected as the symbol of watchfulness, and the eye of God as the symbol of Divine watchfulness and care of the universe. The use of the symbol in this sense is repeatedly to be found in the Hebrew writers. Thus, the Psalmist says

The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry (Palms 34:15),

which explains a subsequent passage (Psalms 121.4), in which it is said:

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

In the Apocryphal Book of the Conversation of God with Moses on Mount Sinai, translated by the Rev. W. Cureton from an Arabic MS of the fifteenth century, and published by the Philobiblon Society of London, the idea of the eternal watchfulness of God is thus beautifully allegorized:

Then Moses said to the Lord 0 Lord dost thou sleep or not? The Lord said unto Moses, I never sleep: but take a cup and fill it with water. Then Moses took a cup and filled it with water, as the Lord commanded him. Then the Lord cast into the heart of Moses the breath of slumber; so he slept, and the cup fell from his hand, and the water which was therein was spilled. Then Moses awoke from his sleep. Then said God to Moses, I declare by my power, and by my glory, that if I were to withdraw my providence from the heavens and the earth, for no longer a space of time than thou hast slept, they would at once fall to ruin and confusion, like as the cup fell from thy hand.

all seeing eye small

On the same principle, the Egyptians represented Osiris, their chief deity, by the symbol of an open eye, and placed this hieroglyphic of him in all their temples. His symbolic name, on the monuments, was represented by the eye accompanying a throne, to which was sometimes added an abbreviated figure of the god, and sometimes what has been called a hatchet, but which may as correctly be supposed to be a representation of a square.

The All-Seeing Eye may then be considered as a symbol of God manifested in his omnipresence-his guardian and preserving character – to which Solomon alludes in the Book of Proverbs, 15.3, when he says:

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding (or, as in the Revised Version, keeping watch upon) the evil and the good.

It is a symbol of the Omnipresent Deity.

Read more on the All Seeing Eye as Omnipresent Deity

the broken column

The Broken Column in Freemasonry

From Albert G. Mackey and his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, this installment of Symbols & Symbolism presents his exploration of the Broken Column. Note, some links have been added as reference to the original quoted sources.

Look for future installments on Symbols & Symbolism here, and on YouTube.

The Broken Column

time, virgin, broken pillar, art, illustration
Time, the weeping virgin and the broken column

Among the Hebrews, columns, or pillars, were used metaphorically to signify princes or nobles, as if they were the pillars of a state . Thus, in Psalm 11:3, the passage, reading in our translation: If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? is, in the original, when the columns are overthrown, I.E..: when the firm supporters of what is right and good have perished.

So the passage in Isaiah 19:10 should read: her (Egypt’s) columns are broken down*, that is, the nobles of her state.

In Freemasonry, the broken column is, as Master Masons well know, the emblem of the fall of one of the chief supporters of the Craft. The use of the column or pillar as a monument erected over a tomb was a very ancient custom, and was a very significant symbol of the character and spirit of the person interred. It is accredited to Jeremy L. Cross (from the Masonic Chart) that he first introduced the Broken Column into the ritual, but this may not be true.


* This passage in Isaiah 19:10 reads: And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish. (KJV)

Statesman, postmaster, Freemason: Ben Franklin.

Illustrious Brother Ben Franklin and Freemasonry

Statesman, postmaster, Freemason: Ben Franklin.
Ben fKranklin in Paris

Ben Franklin has long stood as one of the patriarchs of American Freemasonry. As one of the most prominent Founding Fathers, today Franklin is known for little more than the face on the $100 dollar bill. Yet, the history of the man behind such an honor is rich with industriousness, inventiveness and political genius such that he is perhaps one of a few who could be considered a modern day Renaissance man, both in and out of the fraternity.

Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston, MA (as calculated by the new style – Gregorian calendar dating). His intelligence and wisdom helped him excel as an author, scientist, philosopher, statesman, and postmaster. As well known as Ben Franklin is as a Founding Father of the United States, he is also known as an illustrious Freemason.

No one can be sure of exactly when Benjamin Franklin was initiated into St. Johns’ Lodge, but it was some time during the year 1730 or 31, most likely during the February meeting[1] of St. John’s Lodge in Philadelphia. Before his initiation into the Freemason brotherhood, Benjamin Franklin made some lighthearted jokes about fraternity in his publication, the Pennsylvania Gazette. One source says that his joking was to:

“advertise” himself to St.  John’s Lodge so that when he applied he would not be regarded as a stranger.[2]

After being initiated, however, Franklin’s writing in the Gazette changed because of his Masonic influences. Thereafter he published many positive and affirming stories in the Gazette about the craft. These publications have become the core for understanding the history of Freemasons in the United States, especially in Pennsylvania.

Franklin was in no way a simple and ordinary member of the Masonic lodge. He was appointed as the Junior Grand Warden of the Provincial Grand Lodge in Pennsylvania in the year 1732 and as the Grand Master on June 24, 1734.* In 1734, he also printed the first Masonic book in the United States. His Mason Book was the publication of Anderson’s Constitutions.[3] Franklin was quickly elected as secretary of St. Johns’ Lodge, and he held the position from 1735 until 1738. Franklin continued to be an active member of the fraternity, and he continued to be elected and appointed for many positions. In March of 1752, Benjamin Franklins was put onto a committee for the first Masonic building in the United States. The lodge was to be in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

ben franklin and his beaver skin hat

Benjamin Franklin was not only involved in Freemasonry in the United States; he also traveled abroad to take part in meetings and lodges which came about in his diplomatic missions to Europe. In November of 1760 he was entered upon the Minutes as the Provincial Grand Master during the Grand Lodge of England’s meeting in Crown & Anchor, London, a position he was elected into in June of 1760.[4] In April of 1778 he was in Paris to assist with the initiation of Voltaire into the Lodge of Nine Sisters. He continued to be affiliated with the Lodge of Nine Sisters for years through the funeral services for Voltaire and as master of the Lodge for two years. Voltaire had such affection for Franklin that it was written:

The aged Voltaire who in the last year of his life came in triumph to Paris grappled Franklin to himself as with hooks of steel. He placed his withered hands in benediction on the head of Franklin’s grandson as if to confer the philosophy and inspiration of the epoch on the third generation. The two great thinkers were taken together to the theater and at the close of the play were called upon the stage while the excited thousands cried out “Solon and Socrates.”

From: Cyclopædia of Universal History: The modern world. 2 pt By John Clark Ridpath

funeral of voltaire

Benjamin Franklin passed away on April 17, 1790. He will always be remembered by the citizens of the United States as an intelligent Founding Father and scientist. For Freemasons, however, he is so much more.

Count Mirabeau’s eulogy, suggested at the French National Assembly, was perhaps most fitting for Franklin, saying:

Would it not become us, gentlemen, to join in this religious act, to bear a part in this homage, rendered, in the face of the world, both to the rights of man and to the philosopher who has most contributed to extend their sway over the whole earth? Antiquity would have raised altars to this mighty genius, who, to the advantage of mankind, compassing in his mind the heavens and the earth, was able to restrain alike thunderbolts and tyrants. Europe, enlightened and free, owes at lest a token of remembrance and regret to one of the greatest men who have ever been engaged in the service of philosophy and liberty. I propose that it be decreed that the National Assembly, during three days shall wear mourning for Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin’s Masonic career spanned a period of 60 years achieving, in his day, one of the highest Masonic accords, that of an Illustrious Brother. Given Franklin’s prolific career, in and out of Freemasonry, here below is a blended time line of his secular and Masonic life.

January 17, 1706 (New style dating) Born, Boston.

April 2, 1722 The first letter of “Silence Dogood” published.

November 5, 1724 Franklin sails to London to procure type and printing supplies.

July 21, 1725 Franklin leaves London for Philadelphia.

Fall, 1727 Franklin founds the Junto club.

October 2, 1729 Franklin became the owner, publisher, and editor of the weekly newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette.

February 1730-1 Initiated in St. John’s Lodge, Philadelphia

June 10,1731 Franklin publishes his “Apology for Printers,” a defense of the freedom of the press.

June 1732 Drafts a set of By-law’s for St. John’s Lodge

June 24, 1732 Elected Junior Grand Warden.

franklins Mason Book

December 28, 1732 Franklin published the first edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack under the pseudonym “Richard Saunders”

June 24, 1734 Elected Grand Master of Pennsylvania.

August, 1734 Prints his Mason Book a reprint of Anderson’s Constitutions, the first Masonic book printed in America.

1734-5 The State house (Independence Hall) built during Franklin’s administration. According to old Masonic and family traditions, the corner-stone was laid by him and the brethren of St. John’s Lodge.

1735 Franklin elected to serve as Secretary to St. John’s Lodge. Continues to 1738.

October 151736 Franklin appointed clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly.

December 7, 1736 Franklin organized the Union Fire Company of Philadelphia.

April 13, 1738 Franklin in a letter to his Mother, says: “Freemasons have no principles or practices that are inconsistent with religion and good manners.”

May 14, 1743 Franklin published his A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge Among the British Plantations in America, the founding document of the American Philosophical Society.

May 25, 1743 Visits St. John’s Lodge, Boston.

November 24, 1747 Franklin and others organized a volunteer militia – the Associators – for the defense of Pennsylvania

June 10, 1749 Appointed Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania by Thomas Oxnard of Boston. Franklin promptly stepped down in 1750 when Lord Byron, Grand Master of England, acting directly, deputized William Allen, Provincial Grand Master for Pennsylvania.

August 29,1749 Tun Tavern Lodge petitions P. G. M. Franklin for a Dispensation.

November 14, 1749 Franklin and others organized the Academy of Philadelphia

March 13, 1750 Deposed as Provincial Grand Master and immediately appointed Deputy Grand Master by William Allen.

May 9, 1751 Franklin elected a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly (reelected annually until 1764)

March 12, 1752 Appointed on Committee for building the Freemason’s Lodge in Philadelphia.

June, 1752 Franklin, who has not yet heard of the French success, experiments with flying a kite in a thunderstorm, and also proves that lightning is electrical in nature. He describes this experiment in the October 19 edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette.

first postmaster ben franklin

October 25, 1752 Visits Tun Tavern Lodge, Philadelphia.

August 10, 1753 Franklin appointed joint Deputy Postmaster General of North America.

May 9, 1754 Disturbed by increasing French pressure along the western frontier, Franklin designed and printed a cartoon of snake cut into sections, over the heading “Join or Die,” in the Pennsylvania Gazette (often credited as America’s first political cartoon).

June through July, 1754 Franklin attends the Albany Congress as a representative from Pennsylvania proposing a union of the colonies in defense against the French.

October 11, 1754 Present at the Quarterly Communication held in Concert Hall, Boston.

June 24, 1755 Takes a prominent part in the Grand Anniversary and Dedication of Freemason’s Lodge in Philadelphia, the first Masonic building in America. Serves as Deputy Grand Master of Pennsylvania until 1760.

March 21, 1756 Franklin meets George Washington while on post office business.

July 26, 1757 Franklin arrives in London, July 26, 1757, Franklin returns to Philadelphia on Nov. 1st.

November 17, 1760 Present at Grand Lodge of England held at Crown & Anchor London. Entered upon the Minutes as Provincial Grand Master.

September 9, 1762 King George III commissioned William Franklin the royal Governor of New Jersey. Franklin returns to Philadelphia on Nov. 1st.

1762 Addressed as Grand Master of Pennsylvania.

May 6, 1775 Franklin elected a delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

June 1, 1776 Continental Congress appointed Franklin to the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence.

1776 Affiliates with Masonic Lodges in France.

1777 Elected Member of Loge des IX Soeurs (Nine Sisters or Muses.)

February 27, 1777 Franklin moved to Paris suburb of Passy, where he remained during French mission.

February 7, 1778 Assists at the initiation of Voltaire in the Lodge of the Nine Sisters. (You can see Franklin’s Masonic apron he wore in Paris from the Musée de la Franc-maçonnerie)

November 28,1778 Officiates at the “Lodge of Sorrow “or Masonic funeral services of Voltaire.

1782 – Elected Venerable (W. M.) of Loge des IX Soeurs Grand Orient de Paris.

July 7, 1782 Member R.’ L.’  – De Saint Jean De Jerusalem (Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem).

April 24, 1785 Elected Venerable d’honneur of R.’ L.’ De Saint Jean De Jerusalem (Ordre de Saint-Jean de Jérusalem)

1785 – Honorary Member Loge des Bone Amis (Good Friends) Rouen, France.

December 27, 1786: In the dedication of a sermon delivered at the request of the R. W. Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, by Rev. Joseph Pilmore in St. Paul’s Church, Philadelphia, Franklin is referred to as “An illustrious Brother whose distinguished merit among Masons entitles him to their highest veneration.”

April 23, 1787 Franklin elected President of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

February 12, 1789 Franklin composed, signed, and submitted the first petition against slavery to appear before the U.S. Congress.

April 17,1790 Benjamin Franklin passed to the Grand Lodge beyond.

April 19, 1906 Masonic Services at his grave in Christ Church yard, Philadelphia by the R. W. Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, the occasion being the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the Birth of Brother Benjamin Franklin.

* – See the comment from Pete Normand with an informative note on the history of Pennsylvania Freemasonry.

Masonic history composed from:
The Masonic Chronology of Benjamin Franklin, compiled by Julius F. Sachse, 1906.

Secular history composed from:
Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary – Timeline

[1] http://www.masonicworld.com/education/files/artoct02/benjamin_franklin.htm
[2] ibid.
[3] http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=libraryscience
[4] http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/biography/franklin_b/franklin_b.html

Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research

Quatuor CoronatiJanuary 12th marks the Anniversary of the consecration of Quatuor Coronati Lodge in London.

Quatuor Coronati is a Masonic Lodge in London dedicated to Masonic Research. The name, Quatuor Coronati, derives from the Regius Poem (lines 497-534) which is considered to be one of the oldest Masonic documents; dating back to approximately 1390. Its name, the Four Crowned Ones, is from its Latin translation of Quatuor Coronatorum.

From the Regius Poem:

The art of the four crowned ones (Ars quatuor coronatorum)

Pray we now to God almighty,
And to his mother Mary bright,

That we may keep these articles here,
And these points well all together,
As did these holy martyrs four,
That in this craft were of great honor;
They were as good masons as on earth shall go,
Gravers and image-makers they were also.
For they were workmen of the best,
The emperor had to them great liking;
He willed of them an image to make
That might be worshiped for his sake;
Such monuments he had in his day,
To turn the people from Christ’s law.

The lodge, today, meets at Freemason’s Hall on Great Queen Street in London and was founded in 1886.

Following 10 years of spirited debate, Revd. A.F.A. Woodford,

…encouraged a group of earnest young ‘Masonic students’ in their open arguments and provided the intellectual environment that gave birth to the ‘authentic’ school of Masonic research – which relied not on the testimony of the Bible and of ancient historians, but on manuscript records, the primary source for all truly academic history.

Following a few years of formative dialog, the lodge was consecrated on January 12th, 1886 as Quatuor Coronati was established after nine dissatisfied brethren (Charles Warren, William Harry Rylands, Robert Freke Gould, the Revd. Adolphus Frederick Alexander Woodford, Walter Besant, John Paul Rylands, Major Sisson Cooper Pratt, William James Hughan and George William Speth) obtained a warrant in 1884. However, owing to Charles Warren, the first Master being absent on a diplomatic mission in Southern Africa; the lodge was not inaugurated until 1886.

Woodford, in his oration at its consecration set forth its purpose saying:

…the members proposed, by means of papers, discussions and publications, to help forward the important cause of Masonic study and investigation [and] induce a more scholarly and critical consideration of our evidences, a greater relish for historical facts.

Their dissatisfaction that precipitated in the founding  Quatuor Coronati arose in how the history of Freemasonry had been interpreted at that time and thus endeavoring to conduct their own examination of for themselves using an evidence-based approach in their study. It was intended that any result of their research would “replace the imaginative writings of earlier authors on the history of Freemasonry.”

The lodge intended to develop global interest in research from Brethren around the world: holding quarterly meetings in which papers are delivered and questions are posed to the presenters. Annual transactions entitled Ars Quatuor Coronartorum are published. In addition to these, the lodge upholds the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle (QCCC). Membership to the Correspondence Circle is not restricted to Freemasons and open to anyone interested in Masonry and fraternal societies.

Among the original objectives of the lodge were the ideas of providing a center and bond of union for Masonic students as well as a desire to attract intelligent masons who they hoped to imbue with a love of research. The founders also intended to reprint rare Masonic manuscripts with the intention of dedicating a library to such works and eventually translating them to many other world languages.

Of note to American Freemasons, in 2007 S. Brent Morris was the first (and only) American to head Quatuor Coronati Lodge.

Their work of Quatuor Coronati continues today as the Premier Lodge of Research and this once new style has become known as the ‘authentic school’ of Masonic research.