You’ve heard their names all your life: George Washington … Benjamin Franklin … Samuel Adams … Ethan Allen … Paul Revere. You knew these astonishingly brave and gifted men were some of America’s great Founding Fathers. But did you know they also were Masons?
As it turns out, Freemasonry had a crucial role to play in shaping the character and actions of many Founding Fathers. In fact, nine of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons—including John Hancock—and at least seven other signers are believed by historians either to have been Masons or people who had ties to the brotherhood.
But things didn’t stop there. The profound influence of Founding Fathers who were Masons continued well beyond 1776. As we fought against the British in the Revolutionary War (1775 to 1783), 33 of the 74 generals of the Colonial Army were Masons. And when America created its Constitution—a beacon of hope to all who cherish freedom—13 of the 39 signers of the great document were Masons.
A Foundation of Character That Helped Create a Great Nation
While they had a critical role in helping to launch America, the Founding Fathers who were Masons—particularly the most famous ones, such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin—rarely, if ever, talked openly about the connection between their political views and their masonic association. Nonetheless, historians almost universally assert that it was Masons—famous Founding Fathers plus more obscure brothers—who were the ones pushing their American homeland to break free from Great Britain and become its own constitutional republic. As historian James Brown wrote about Benjamin Franklin and his contemporaries: “What influence Freemasonry may have had on the life and character of Benjamin Franklin can only be conjecture, but that it did influence him and his contemporaries in the great struggle for American independence seems beyond doubt.”
Ideas and Values That Were Ahead of Their Time
What is also beyond doubt is that the Founding Fathers who were Masons were men ahead of their time, deeply committed to living and sharing values and ideas that would become cornerstones of democracies around the world. One succinct way to describe what Freemasonry is all about is: “Creating better men and a better world.” America’s great Founding Fathers who were Masons did this by fighting for separation from Great Britain, which they saw—correctly—as the one vital way to create religious freedom and other liberties throughout America.
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