Notes - Things I found interesting
They began as a Trade Union for masons especially those who did the ornamental carvings in freestone. (Middle Ages, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries).
Between about 1550 and 1700, the Freemasons changed. They ceased to be an illegal trade union of working masons who accepted all the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and became on organization of intellectual gentlemen who favored religious toleration and friendship between men of different religions, and thought that a simple belief in God (Deism) should replace controversial theological doctrines.
The book discusses the founding of the Grand Lodge, how the Freemasons were persecuted by the Catholic Inquisition and the few women who were allowed to become Freemasons. And the mystery of d'Eon a man who was accused of being a woman and refused to submit to a medical exam to prove otherwise thus making a laughingstock of the Freemason lodge he belonged too.
The Presbyterians in Massachusetts persecuted Quakers and disapproved of the religious tolerance promoted by the Freemasons.
In America Benjamin Franklin and George Washington are two of the most famous Freemasons. While Franklin appreciated the philosophical and intellectual leanings of the Freemasons Washington saw it as a social club. During the Revolutionary War King Louis XVI of France sent Freemason Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette to help the Americans. Joseph Brant was the first Native American to become a Freemason.
Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were both Freemasons. Mozart wrote eight compositions about Freemasonry.
Casanova is remembered today for his womanizing but the fathers and mothers of Venice who complained to the authorities about his conduct were worried, not that he would seduce their daughters, but that he would persuade their sons to become atheists and Freemasons. While there were Freemasons on both sides of the French Revolution their Grand Master of French Grand Orient Philippe, Duke of Chartres, who at the death of his father became the Duke of Orleans, renounced his title and took the name Philippe Egalite and voted to convict and execute Louis XVI.
During the French Revolution there were Freemasons on both sides. In France, Thomas Paine was imprisoned in the Luxembourg prison and sentenced to death. In England the Prince of Wales and Moira assured Pitt that the Freemasons were loyal , and said that no one could suspect that a society, which included members of the royal family, was seditious.
Napoleon wasn't a Freemason but he permitted and encouraged his closet relatives, military commanders, and political advisers to join. An Empress Josephine lodge was formed in Strasbourg and in Milan. Josephine was the Grand Mistress of the lodge. Wellington joined the Freemasons, but was embarrassed about it and requested that a Freemason lodge NOT be named after him.
The Count of Artois joined the Freemasons but when he became Charles X, he pursued a more reactionary policy then Louis XVIII.
The most famous of all the heroes of Polish independence, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, was not a Freemason, though he was a personal friend of La Fayettte. (Kosciuszko, Mississippi is named after him; also he is from Belarus not Poland).
Robert Owen did not become a Freemason even though many members of the aristocracy who were Freemasons sympathized with his views and regretted that they couldn't help the oppressed working man. Richard Carlile was against the Freemasons because he believed Secret Societies were sinister things. He was prosecuted by the British Government for publishing and selling atheist literature.
William Morgan has the distinction of being the only person murdered by the Freemasons. But as Ridley points out Freemasonry wasn't to blame for his death. Hoodlums behave like hoodlums even if they join the Freemasons. Morgan was a victim of the people he associated with and the morals of the place he lived. Public indignation against the Freemasons over the Morgan affair was used to discredit Andrew Jackson, who was a Freemason, during the Presidential election in 1824. The anti-masonic movement became an important political force in the states of Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New York, but was not strong enough to defeat Jackson in the election of 1828. While anti-masonry failed in terms of politics it did great harm to the Freemasons in the United States for twenty years.
John Brown was a Freemason, although after the Morgan affair he left the Freemason and joined an anti-masonic movement before devoting himself to the struggle against slavery. Freemasonry was not and issue in the Civil War, there were Freemasons on both sides of the conflict. Lincoln was not a Freemason but Andrew Johnson was.
Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, Mirabeau Bonaparte Lamar, Anson Jones and William B. Travis were all Freemasons. Davy Crockett was not. Their opponent Santa Anna was a Freemason.
The hysterical element was introduced into anti-masonry by Gabriel Jogand-Pages who wrote under the pseudonym Leo Taxil. Taxil was a French Freemason. He began writing books attacking the Pope and was expelled from the Freemasons. After six years of writing for the Anti-Clerical League he announced that he had repented and proceeded to write a series of books attacking Freemasonary. Taxil's success with the Memoirs of an Ex-Pallandist by Miss Diana Vaughan resulted in a great anti-masonic congress. Eventually Taxil revealed he made the whole thing up.
In the twentieth century anti-Semitism began to be directed at all Jews, no matter what religion they professed and the Freemasons were accused of being the Jews accomplices and pawns in the Jewish campaign against civilization.