Freemasonry in America
America 1730 - 1775
Even before the founding of the London Grand Lodge in 1717. Freemasonry came to the American colonies. As the New World, America offered great opportunities for freedom, liberty, and prosperity, but the colonies also experienced hardship, war, and isolation.
At first, individual Freemasons immigrated to the colonies; then came the first American-born Freemason, Jonathan Belcher. He was made a Freemason in London, then later returned to be colonial governor of Massachusetts Bay from 1730-41. the first documented Lodges existed in Philadelphia in 1731, while the first duly chartered Lodge from London was Boston in 1733. Soon British Grand Lodges had appointed Provincial and Deputy Grand Masters to support and charter new lodges.
The American Star (George Washington) - Frederick Kemmelmeyer, CA. 1755 - 1821
Oil and gold leaf on paper, 1803- Gift of Edgar Williams & Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1962
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art
By the 1750s, more than a dozen Lodges were operating in every major town. In Philadelphia and New York, merchants and artisans used Freemasonry to encourage civic institutions and trade. In the south, gentleman joined Freemasonry out of a sense of Public obligation, just as they served in the militia, their church, or colonial government. In New England, artisans and middle-class men used Freemasonry to improve themselves, meet new clients, and participate in community affairs.
On the eve of the War for Independence, diverse American Freemasons, united by rituals and tenents of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, could visit dozens of Lodges and find fellowship and friendly discourse.
For more information about Freemasonry in America. Here are some of our favorite sites to aid in your research. Just click on the logos, and it will take you either to their online library or museum.
Robert R Livingston
Masonic Library of
Grand Lodge of New York
of Free and Accepted Masons
The Samuel Crocker Lawrence Library
The Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M.
The George Washington
Masonic National Memorial
Masonic Museum & Library