Freemasonry arose from the stonemason's guilds during the Middle Ages. During the Enlightenment, Freemasons worked to spread their belief in the importance of education, individuality, and formation of democratic governments. In 1717 in England, four lodges joined to form the Grand Lodge of England, the first administrative or policy-making body of Freemasonry. Soon after, Freemasonry spread beyond Europe to colonial America where bodies of Masons organized into lodges with members and officers.
Freemasonry encourages moral character, self-improvement, social betterment, and philanthropy. It also upholds individualism and the belief that each person should be judged with no regard to race, national origin, religious creed, social status, or wealth. The organization does require a faith in God, but is not a religion nor does it advocate a particular faith or practice. Membership is restricted to men, yet separate, affiliated organizations for females, such as the Order of the Eastern Star and the Order of Amaranth, were established in the 1850s.
Today, the Masons fund medical research, give money to homes for the disadvantaged and are involved in many other community service projects. They also function largely as a social organization. Organizationally, each state or province has a Grand Lodge that serves as an administrative and policy-making body, and individual lodges retain autonomy over finance, elections, social activities, and ceremonies. - NRHP, 16 April 2008
|Member||William F Cody||1870||1917|
|Poet Laureate of Freemasonry||Dr Robert Morris|
|Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York||Robert Livingston|