Freemasonry in America
1786, Francesco Bartolozzi, Italian 1727 - 1815
Etching and engraving, works on paper
The Muriel and Philip Berman Gift,
acquired from John S Phillips bequest of 1876
to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
©the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
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 the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1730-41. the first documented Lodges existed in Philadelphia in1731, 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.
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.
The History of Freemasonry in Pennsylvania
Produced for the Grand Lodge of
Free and Accpetd Masons of Pennsylvania
by Big Picture Alliance Production, 2009
© The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania