“American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities” By Mark A. Tabbert
With over four million members worldwide, and two million in the U.S., Freemasonry is the largest fraternal organization in the world. Published in conjunction with the National Heritage Museum, this extravagantly illustrated volume offers an overview of Freemasonry’s origins in seventeenth-century Scotland and England before exploring its evolving role in American history, from the Revolution through the labor and civil rights movements, and into the twenty-first century. American Freemasons explores some of the causes for the rise and fall of membership in the fraternity and why it has attracted men in such large numbers for centuries.
American Freemasons is the perfect introduction to understanding a society that, while shrouded in mystery, has played an integral role in the lives and communities of millions of Americans.
Copublished with the National Heritage Museum
“Revolutionary Brotherhood” by Steven Bullock
In the first comprehensive history of the fraternity known to outsiders primarily for its secrecy and rituals, Steven Bullock traces Freemasonry through its first century in America. He follows the order from its origins in Britain and its introduction into North America in the 1730s to its near-destruction by a massive anti-Masonic movement almost a century later and its subsequent reconfiguration into the brotherhood we know today. With a membership that included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Paul Revere, and Andrew Jackson, Freemasonry is fascinating in its own right, but Bullock also places the movement at the center of the transformation of American society and culture from the colonial era to the rise of Jacksonian democracy. Using lodge records, members’ reminiscences and correspondence, and local and Masonic histories, Bullock links Freemasonry with the changing ideals of early American society. Although the fraternity began among colonial elites, its spread during the Revolution and afterward allowed it to play an important role in shaping the new nation’s ideas of liberty and equality. Ironically, however, the more inclusive and universalist Masonic ideas became, the more threatening its members’ economic and emotional bonds seemed to outsiders, sparking an explosive attack on the fraternity after 1826. American History
“The Genesis of Freemasonry” By David Harrison
This book is a revealing but thoroughly enjoyable journey through the intricate history of English Freemasonry. Historian Dr. David Harrison reconstructs the hidden history of the movement, tracing its roots through a mixture of mediaeval guild societies, alchemy and necromancy. He examines the earliest known Freemasons and their obsessions with Solomon s Temple, alchemy, and prophecy, to the formation of the Grand Lodge in London, which in turn led to rebellions within the Craft throughout England. Harrison also analyzes the role of French immigrant, Dr Jean Theophilus Desaguliers in the development of English Freemasonry, focusing on his involvement with the formation of the mysterious modern Masonic ritual. All Freemasons and more general readers will find much of interest in this fascinating exploration of the very beginnings of Freemasonry, still one of the most mysterious brotherhoods in the world.
“The Freemasons” by Jasper Ridley
What did Mozart and Bach, Oscar Wilde and Anthony Trollope, George Washington and Frederick the Great, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt have in common? They were all Freemasons, a subject of endless fascination. To the layman, they are a mysterious brotherhood of profound if uncertain influence, a secret society purported in some popular histories to have its roots in the fabled order of the Knights Templar, or in the mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids. They evoke fears of world domination by a select few who enjoy privileged access to wealth and the levers of power. The secrecy of their rites suggests the taint of sacrilege, and their hidden loyalties are sometimes accused of undermining the workings of justice and the integrity of nations.
Though not a mason himself, Jasper Ridley nonetheless refutes many of the outrageous allegations made against Freemasonry, while at the same time acknowledging the masons’ shortcomings: their clannishness, misogyny, obsession with secrecy, and devotion to arcane ritual. In this much-needed reassessment, he offers a substantial work of history that sifts the truth from the myth as it traces Freemasonry from its origins to the present day.
The English Masonic Union of 1813
The bringing together of the Antients and Moderns to form the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813 was a tricky matter. How all this came about is not just an English tale but an Irish and Scots one as well. Complexities concerning ‘union’ included what to do about other masonic orders, especially the Royal Arch and the Knights Templar. For the first time ever this account provides a birds-eye view of the issues and personalities behind one of the big events of masonic history still affecting us today. “In this pioneering and stimulating book, John Belton tells with verve and enthusiasm the story behind the events which led up to the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813. Providing completely new perspectives on this key event in the history of British Freemasonry, John’s book will be of interest not only to freemasons but to all those who are interested in the contribution of Freemasonry to British culture and society.” – Prof Andrew Prescott, Kings College London
“William Hogarth: A Freemason’s Harlot” By Jeremy John Bell
William Hogarth, England’s most famous artist, was one of the first Freemasons to receive the Third Degree from the newly created Grand Lodge of England. Curiously, he hid all the signs, passwords and secret ‘knocks of recognition’ within his most popular artwork. Concealed so brilliantly within his paintings, they have not been seen for nearly three centuries. Hogarth also hid several details that slandered the ‘Father of Freemasonry’, Jean Desaguliers. The artist featured the third 3rd Grand Master covered in wax, dressed in drag, and ‘catching a fart’. Other curious details that have confused commentators for centuries can now be finally explained by their Masonic connection: Masturbating Kings, Ejaculating Ministers, Orgasmic Curtains and a Stabbed Chicken. However, the most shocking discovery is that Hogarth exposed a Earl and a Viscount as homosexuals, using graphic details within his most popular paintings. He did this in order to defend his Grand Lodge against a rival faction of Jacobite Freemasons. Over 300 illustrations explain this fascinating story of how Hogarth was commissioned by the Premier Grand Lodge to ensure its very survival. It will be of great interest in this, the Tercentenary of the inception of Modern Freemasonry. William Hogarth – A Freemason’s Harlot – with a foreword by Professor Sean Shesgreen author of Complete Engravings, (Dover Fine Art, 1973), Hogarth Times of Day, (Cornell, 1983). Available at brotherhogarth.com – Jeremy Bell has written articles on Freemasonry for the British Art Journal and articles on art for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
“Freemasons For Dummies” by Christopher Hodapp
Fascinated by Freemasons? Freemasons For Dummies is the internationally best-selling introduction to the Masons, the oldest and largest “secret society” in the world. This balanced, eye-opening guide demystifies Freemasonry, explaining everything from its elaborate rituals and cryptic rites, to its curious symbols and their meanings. Find out what goes on in a Masonic meeting. You’ll understand the true purposes of Masonic “secrecy” and philosophy, meet famous Masons throughout history, and discover related organizations like the Knights Templar, the Scottish Rite, Order of the Eastern Star, and the Shriners. Explore the controversies and conspiracy theories that swirl around this organization at the center of Dan Brown’s novel The Lost Symbol, and discover the changes coming to the Craft.
“The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War” by Michael Halleran
The first in-depth study of the Freemasons during the Civil War
One of the enduring yet little examined themes in Civil War lore is the widespread belief that on the field of battle and afterward, members of Masonic lodges would give aid and comfort to wounded or captured enemy Masons, often at great personal sacrifice and danger. This work is a deeply researched examination of the recorded, practical effects of Freemasonry among Civil War participants on both sides.
From first-person accounts culled from regimental histories, diaries, and letters, Michael A. Halleran has constructed an overview of 19th-century American freemasonry in general and Masonry in the armies of both North and South in particular, and provided telling examples of how Masonic brotherhood worked in practice. Halleran details the response of the fraternity to the crisis of secession and war, and examines acts of assistance to enemies on the battlefield and in POW camps.
The author examines carefully the major Masonic stories from the Civil War, in particular the myth that Confederate Lewis A. Armistead made the Masonic sign of distress as he lay dying at the high-water mark of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg.