Hope everyone out there had a safe and fun 4th of July. Although the holiday is over, I wanted to touch on the spirit of it, patriotism, and how Masonry uses it as one of its pillars of foundation. If you’re looking for the winners of the Handbook for the Freemason’s Wife giveaway, you will find that at the end of this post.
Many of us who are Freemasons or members of Masonic groups, know how deeply rooted we are in patriotism. However, sometimes I think that even we do not realize quite how deeply seeded this virtue is held throughout the community. The opening of every Chapter, Lodge, Bethel, etc, includes the Pledge of Allegiance, but I think that it goes far deeper than that. I think that Brother John Hillman said it best in a speech on the topic at during the communication of the Grand Lodge of Iowa,
“The candidate for the benefits of Freemasonry is halted on the very threshold to be admonished that piety and patriotism are supreme virtues, and he is assured that Masonry has no mantle of protection for the man who is a traitor to his country.” (Brotherhood,11)
Wow. We know that piety, or godliness is a big deal is Masonry, I mean, its a membership requirement for just about every affiliated organization; and to put patriotism on the same level? Obviously, love for one’s country is a huge deal within the Masonic community, if it is to be held at such a high standard. Really, if you think about it, many of the other virtues and lessons taught within Masonic groups can be seen as components of patriotism. For instance, the Cardinal Virtues of DeMolay, are Filial love, Reverence for sacred things, Courtesy, Comradeship, Fidelity, Cleanness, and Patriotism. Almost all of these virtues can be seen as components of patriotism in one way or another. The idea that if one is patriotic, that many of these other virtues will follow with ease is not hard to imagine.
I think that a lot of the reasoning for why patriotism is so deeply rooted is due to when it was officially founded, and some of its early key members. The United Grand Lodge of England, or UGLE, was founded officially in 1717, almost 60 years before the Declaration of Independence. Freemasonry reached the colonies not too long after. In many ways, Masons helped shape America, as you may or may not know. There are a number of books on the topic, but I will touch briefly on it here.
- On December 13, 1773, after a Masonic meeting, it was decided that the tea laden ships entering the Boston harbor should not be allowed to dock. After the signal given by Samuel Adams; John Hancock, Paul Revere, and a band of others, boarded the boats and dumped the tea overboard. They were (most) all members of the Boston Masonic Lodge
- On April 18,1775, Samuel Adams and John Hancock were arrested for treason for their actions. Joseph Warren, also a Mason, rang the alarm bells of the city of Boston. Paul Revere went on his famous ride to call the Minutemen to arms, and so the Revolutionary War began.
- On April 19, 1783, almost eight years to the day that the Revolutionary War began, the Commander in Chief, George Washington, declared the war was over, and signed a peace treaty. He was of course, a member of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22. During the time of the war, the head of the First Congressional Congress, Peyton Randolf, as well as the head of the Second and Third Congressional Congresses, John Hancock, we also Masonic brothers.
- August 2, 1776, many of members of the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, and signed the Declaration of Independence. Nine of the signers were known Freemasons. One of the signers is recorded as having visited a Lodge, and as many as 18 other signers are suspected Freemasons. The known signers are as follows: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas McKean, Robert Treat, William Emery, Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, Richard Stockton, George Walton, and William Whipple. Another not oft thought of fact known about the Deceleration of Independence. It was written and signed on parchment paper, which we usually just think of as paper. However, before paper was commercially made, parchment was made out of thin slices of sheep skin, the very same material that Masonic aprons are made of.
Hopefully this has helped given some insight into why patriotism is such a big deal within the Masonic community. Please note that this does not end in the United States. Patriotism is considered a core value in Masonic groups throughout the world, with of course, their own countries being the core focus. Many countries out there have some key players throughout their history that our Masons. The United States, however, to my knowledge is one of the few (if not the only) country where a number of Masons played such a big role in helping shape and create their country.
Now the moment I know you’ve all been waiting for! The winners of The Handbook for the Freemason’s Wife giveaway are Fresh From the Quarry and Jessica Ropke! Congratulations! Please send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org, and your book will be in the mail shortly. I want to thank everyone who took the time to enter, hopefully we can do something similar again in the near future. Have a great week!