masons2 - In the 1820s there was a special relationship...

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In the 1820s there was a special relationship between the fraternal order of Freemasonry and America. It wasn't just because so many members of the founding fathers such as George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin had been members. It was also because the republic and the fraternal society held so many values in common. American republican values looked like Masonic values. These things such as, honorable civic-mindedness, a high regard for learning and progress, and what might be called a broad and tolerant religiosity. The masons and Americas companionship helped to give the new nation a symbolic core. The Masonic symbols of the compass, square, and other emblems decorated everywhere, even on jewelry, furniture, and table settings belonging to Masons and many non-Masons as well. It was not insignificant that a great number of Americans thought that the Great Seal of the United States contained Masonic symbols. It was a tribute to the brotherhood that people saw between Americans and the masons. Since the Revolution, Freemasons had become the semiofficial celebrators of American local culture. Wearing their distinctive aprons and flaunting their tools of stone masonry, they often laid the cornerstones of important government buildings and churches and also participated in parades and other public ceremonies. When the aging Lafayette made his return tour of the United States in 1824-25, members of the "craft" (as Masonry is called) conspicuously greeted their fellow Mason, often inviting him to stay at the local lodge. That tour further boosted Masonic membership, which had grown from 16,000 in 1800 to about 80,000 in 1822, or roughly 5 percent of America's eligible male population. However this relationship took a turn for the worse. Suspicions of the mason’s being a satanic group ruined its view in Americas eyes. There is a great deal of evidence to support this argument and I will prove it in this paper. How, then, did what looked like the best of times for Freemasonry so quickly become the worst of times? Some of the answer is because of the public's divided reaction to Lafayette's tour.
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To many citizens, those eye catching displays of fraternal affection suggested of something conspiratorial. Quite simply, they "heightened suspicion of the craft as an international order with secrets and a radical revolutionary past." From its birth as an organized fraternal movement in early-18th-century London to this very day, Freemasonry has been the object of wide curiosity and suspicion. With its complicated secret rituals, its involvement with ancient and modern wisdom and reason, and its exclusive membership the Masonic brotherhood has proved made for conspiracy theories. If the "grand secret" of Freemasons, as brother Benjamin Franklin once said, "is that they have no secret at all." The real history of Freemasonry is perhaps more interesting than all the tales about it. That history is part the story of the many far-fetched interpretations of the brotherhood. Indeed, the Masons' substantial accomplishments, in forming solid citizens,
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course SOC 210 taught by Professor Heckert during the Spring '08 term at Fayetteville.

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masons2 - In the 1820s there was a special relationship...

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