Skip to content

What is Freemasonry?

The origins of Freemasonry are not known. However, among Masonic Scholars, it is agreed to that it arose from the stonemason guilds that were part of the Middle Ages, as much of the symbology and language of various texts that came about during this time.

What is known, is that in 1717, four lodges in London, England were formed, that made up the “Grand Lodge of England” and as expected, the fraternity had more extensive recorded history as a result.

Overall, Freemasonry played a multifaceted role in Colonial America, serving as a social network, a political forum, and a keeper of moral and philosophical teachings. Its influence helped shape the ideals of the American Revolution and left a lasting impact on American society. Members are attracted to its emphasis on fellowship, charitable work, and the pursuit of knowledge as central aspects of the Masonic experience.

You will hear repeatedly that Freemasonry “makes good men better”

Freemasonry in Colonial America

Freemasonry played a significant role in Colonial America, both socially and politically. It emerged in the early 18th century, with the first documented lodge established in Philadelphia in 1730. Here are some key points about Freemasonry in Colonial America:

  1. Origins: Freemasonry’s origins in America can be traced back to England and Scotland. The fraternity’s principles of moral teachings, self-improvement, and brotherhood appealed to many colonial elites.

  2. Social Structure: Freemasonry provided a platform for social interaction among the colonial elite. It transcended social and economic boundaries, allowing members from various backgrounds to come together in a spirit of fraternity.

  3. Political Influence: Freemasonry exerted political influence in Colonial America. Many prominent figures in the American Revolution were Freemasons, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Paul Revere. Masonic lodges served as meeting places where revolutionary ideas were discussed and plans were made.

  4. Values and Ideals: Freemasonry promoted values such as liberty, equality, and fraternity, which resonated with the ideals of the American Revolution. The fraternity’s emphasis on individual rights and democratic principles influenced the thinking of many colonial leaders.

  5. Organizational Growth: Freemasonry experienced significant growth during the colonial period, with lodges established in various colonies. By the time of the American Revolution, Freemasonry had become well-established throughout the colonies.

  6. Symbolism and Rituals: Freemasonry is known for its symbolism and rituals, which were present in Colonial America as well. The fraternity’s ceremonies and symbols held deep meaning for its members and contributed to the sense of belonging and identity within the organization.

  7. Legacy: The legacy of Freemasonry in Colonial America can still be seen today. Masonic symbols and influence are evident in American architecture, currency, and political institutions. The fraternity continues to thrive in the United States and remains a significant part of American culture.

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Here are some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence who were Freemasons:

  1. Benjamin Franklin
  2. John Hancock
  3. William Hooper
  4. Robert Treat Paine
  5. Richard Stockton
  6. William Whipple
  7. William Floyd
  8. Philip Livingston
  9. Thomas McKean
  10. John Penn
  11. George Walton
  12. William Ellery
  13. Lyman Hall
  14. Thomas Nelson Jr.

This list is not exhaustive, and there may have been other signers who were Freemasons as well. Freemasonry’s principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity were in alignment with the ideals of the American Revolution, and many of the Founding Fathers were drawn to the fraternity.

Note: There were 81 general officers in the Continental Army, and 33—or 41%—of them were Freemasons, including George Washington.

Famous Freemasons:

A total of 14 U.S. Presidents have been identified as Freemasons. Here they are in chronological order:

  1. George Washington
  2. James Monroe
  3. Andrew Jackson
  4. James K. Polk
  5. James Buchanan
  6. Andrew Johnson
  7. James A. Garfield
  8. William McKinley
  9. Theodore Roosevelt
  10. William Howard Taft
  11. Warren G. Harding
  12. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  13. Harry S. Truman
  14. Gerald R. Ford


Here are some well-known figures historically associated with Freemasonry:

Founding Fathers and Politicians:

  • Benjamin Franklin (Grand Master of Pennsylvania lodge)
  • George Washington
  • John Hancock
  • Paul Revere
  • Marquis de Lafayette
  • Winston Churchill
  • Harry S. Truman


Artists and Musicians:

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Mark Twain
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Oscar Wilde
  • John Wayne
  • Charlie Chaplin


Scientists and Inventors:

  • Isaac Newton
  • Nikola Tesla
  • Guglielmo Marconi
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Louis Pasteur


Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs:

  • Henry Ford
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • J.C. Penney
  • Walt Disney
  • Sam Walton



  • Jack Dempsey
  • John Elway
  • Scottie Pippin
  • Sugar Ray Robinson


Writers and Entertainers:

  • Jonathan Swift
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Robert Burns
  • William Hogarth
  • Norman Rockwell


This is just a small sample, and Freemasonry boasts members from diverse fields throughout history.