Thank you for the Declaration of Independence.
Thank you for the strength, bravery, and dedication to fight so that I may have the opportunities I have today. I hope that I may live up to a fraction of the standard you set before me. I am in awe of your courage and your forethought for our freedom.
Happy 4th of July.
Should you need a little something to talk about over the holiday BBQ’s and the Firework celebrations, I wanted to share with you the role of Freemasonry and our Freedoms today.
Freemasonry may not have created the Declaration of Independence, but its principals of equality, brotherly love, and democracy influenced its very essence.
In the words of a few of our Founding Fathers:
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer! Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.
Thomas Paine – Common Sense, February, 1776
“Gentlemen, All though it is not possible to foresee the consequences of human actions, yet it is nevertheless a duty we owe ourselves and posterity in all our public councils to decide in the best manner we are able and to trust the event to That Being who governs both causes and events, so as to bring about his own determinations.
Impressed with this sentiment, and at the same time fully convinced that our affairs will take a more favorable turn, The Congress have judged it necessary to dissolve all connection between Great Britain and the American Colonies, and to declare them free and independent States as you will perceive by the enclosed Declaration, which I am directed to transmit to you.”
John Hancock – Cover letter to the Declaration of Independence
Philadelphia, July 6, 1776
In Masonic terms, only 9 of the 56 men who signed it were Freemasons.
William Ellery Rhode Island
Oct. 12 and/or Oct. 25 of 1748 St. John’s Lodge of Boston -First Lodge of Boston, 1748
Benjamin Franklin Pennsylvania
St. John’s Lodge of Philadelphia, 1731 – Grand Master of Pennsylvania, 1734
John Hancock Massachusetts
July 4, 1776 & Aug 2, 1776 became a Mason in Merchants Lodge No. 277 in Quebec, affiliated with Saint Andrew’s Lodge in Boston, 1762
Joseph Hewes or Howes North Carolina
Aug 2, 1776? Unanimity Lodge No. 7, visited in 1776, and buried with Masonic funeral honors
William Hooper North Carolina
Aug 2, 1776? Member of Hanover Lodge in Masonborough, N.C.
Thomas McKean Delaware
1781 listed as visitor to Perseverance Lodge in Harrisburg, PA
Robert Treat Paine Massachusetts
Aug 2, 1776? Attended Massachusetts Grand Lodge in 1759
Richard Stockton New Jersey
Aug 2, 1776? Charter Master of St. John’s Lodge in Princeton, 1765
George Walton Georgia
Aug 2, 1776? Solomon’s Lodge No. 1, in Savannah
William Whipple New Hampshire
Aug 2, 1776? St. John’s Lodge, Portsmouth, N.H., 1752
33 of the 74 men commissioned as Generals in the U.S. Continental Army were Freemasons, most notable:
Marquis de LaFayette, , Nathanael Greene, Israel Putnam, George Washington, and the turn coat Benedict Arnold.
And, 3 (of 13) Freemasons who were true patriots who risked everything for our nation’s freedom. They are less known than most, but they contributed greatly to the creation and preservation of our country.
Bro. Samuel Nicholas: Commissioned by Congress to organize and train five companies of marine forces, skilled in the use of small and large firearms, to protect America’s ships at sea. During the winter of 1776–77, his units provided for Washington’s small army, crossing the Delaware River at Trenton, fighting in the Battle of Princeton. He is considered the first Commandant of the Marine Corps, exemplifying the Marine motto Semper Fidelis.
Bro. John Glover: Head the Marblehead Regiment, he successfully engaged the British at sea and, later, triumphed over severe odds to evacuate the desperate remnants of Washington’s army from Long Island to Manhattan.
Bro. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenburg: The Episcopal priest and ardent patriot who is quoted as saying int he closing of a sermon “There is a time for all things—a time to preach and a time to pray; but there is also a time to fight, and that time has now come.” Then removing his clerical robes, revealing his Colonel’s uniform.
How we achieved our independence?
The final battle in the Revolutionary War was in 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia.
Washington learned that a French fleet was sailing toward North America and decided to plan a combined French and colonial attack against the British forces in Yorktown. The attack captured the British Army. The British could not get supplies by sea because of the French fleet and they could not retreat by land because of the French and colonial troops.
On October 17, 1781 the British Army surrendered. King George did not want it to be the last battle of the war, but Parliament decided that the loss was too costly. U.S. and British leaders signed the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783 which ended the war.
The full text reads:
IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
— John Hancock
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Thank you to Paul M. Bessel’s website for the Masonic information.
May the Great Architect of the Universe bless us all.