"Freemasonry is a continuation of the ideals and philosophy of the great minds of the Age of Enlightenment. The Grand Orient of the United States of America continues in their footsteps, keeping alive the Masonic ideal of a Universal Brotherhood of all mankind."
A Social History of Ideas
"The Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement which dominated the world ...their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons, coffee houses, and printed books and pamphlets. "
"The Age of Enlightenment was preceded by and closely associated with the scientific revolution. Earlier philosophers whose work influenced the Enlightenment included Francis Bacon, René Descartes, John Locke and Baruch Spinoza. The major figures of the Enlightenment included Cesare Beccaria, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Immanuel Kant. Some European rulers, including Catherine II of Russia, Joseph II of Austria and Frederick II of Prussia, tried to apply Enlightenment thought on religious and political tolerance, which became known as enlightened absolutism. Benjamin Franklin visited Europe repeatedly and contributed actively to the scientific and political debates there and brought the newest ideas back to Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson closely followed European ideas and later incorporated some of the ideals of the Enlightenment into the Declaration of Independence (1776). One of his peers, James Madison, incorporated these ideals into the United States Constitution during its framing in 1787."
"Another important development was the popularization of science among an increasingly literate population. Philosophes introduced the public to many scientific theories, most notably through the Encyclopédie and the popularization of Newtonianism by Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet. Some historians have marked the 18th century as a drab period in the history of science; however, the century saw significant advancements in the practice of medicine, mathematics, and physics; the development of biological taxonomy; a new understanding of magnetism and electricity; and the maturation of chemistry as a discipline, which established the foundations of modern chemistry."
5. The Enlightenment and the Public Sphere source: YaleCourses
"Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons, which from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients. The degrees of freemasonry retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of Apprentice, Journeyman or fellow (now called Fellowcraft), and Master Mason. These are the degrees offered by Craft (or Blue Lodge) Freemasonry. Members of these organisations are known as Freemasons or Masons. There are additional degrees, which vary with locality and jurisdiction, and are usually administered by different bodies than the craft degrees.
The basic, local organisational unit of Freemasonry is the Lodge. The Lodges are usually supervised and governed at the regional level (usually coterminous with either a state, province, or national border) by a Grand Lodge or Grand Orient. There is no international, worldwide Grand Lodge that supervises all of Freemasonry; each Grand Lodge is independent, and they do not necessarily recognise each other as being legitimate.
Modern Freemasonry broadly consists of two main recognition groups. Regular Freemasonry insists that a volume of scripture is open in a working lodge, that every member profess belief in a supreme being, that no women are admitted, and that the discussion of religion and politics is banned. Continental Freemasonry is now the general term for the "liberal" jurisdictions who have removed some, or all, of these restrictions."
This is a course description from the University of Oregon:
"Freemasonry: Enlightenment secret societies and conspiratorial politics"
"History 195.003 - Fall 1997 - Ian F. McNeely"
"Course description: From the capital cities of Europe to the smallest Midwestern American towns, and in places as far apart as Mexico and China, freemasonry aimed to “build” a better society, taking its inspiration from masonry, the craft of bricklaying. Freemasons have been credited with helping to spread the progressive ideals of the Enlightenment. They have also been charged with conspiring to undermine religion and plot revolution."
"They formed private clubs, met in lodges, used arcane symbols, and conducted secret rituals behind closed doors. Yet their members made an enormous impact outside, in public life: Wolfgang Mozart, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, and the inventor of the guillotine were all freemasons."
"This course will use freemasonry as a vehicle to study several large themes in European and American history, ca. 1600-1820, including: the connections between Enlightenment thought and political activism, the importance of voluntary association to “civil society,” the conflicts between science and religion, issues of gender and masculinity, and recurrent fears of conspiracy and secret associations as threats to democracy. You will learn how to read and analyze primary sources and historians’ own writings. In-class workshops will prepare you for college-level writing and critique. As a final project, you will research a primary document on freemasonry (whether an actual text, a visual image such as a sundial, an interview with a living Freemason, or a Web site on freemasonry) and prepare a 10-12 page research paper."
Freemasonry 101: Age of Enlightenment
"A small, but influential group of philosophers, scholars, and writers promoted after 1685 the cultural movement of the Enlightenment, the critical spirit which sought to apply the reasoning and experience so fruitful in the natural sciences to understanding humans as individuals and in society. This critique of religious traditions and philosophical authority became the most important component of modern European secular (as contrasted to religious) culture. Indeed, Enlightenment political ideals of human rights, the economic philosophies of liberalism, and cultural practices of tolerance have triumphed in spectacular fashion in the twentieth century.
Contemporaries who were religious or frightened by the French Revolution already in the eighteenth century condemned the Enlightenment as morally chaotic and politically subversive. Marxists brushed it off as “bourgeois ideology.” In the last twenty years, many historians and philosophers have launched a full-scale attack on the Enlightenment from a “post-modernist” perspective. They have condemned it for its Euro-centrism and universalism in a world where the European model is no longer unquestioningly accepted, for its naive belief in progress, and most damagingly, for its steadfast belief in universal foundations of truth and in the universal reliability of scientific method.
As we enter into the 21st century Freemasonry stands alone as the last bastion of hope against the darkness imposed upon mankind by the Post Modernists. It continues to point the way to a higher and more enlightened existence for all people through virtue, knowledge and tolerance.
"In 1660 the largely Masonic “Invisible College” gained the verbal support of the King, and Sir Robert Moray became its president. Two years later the King sealed its charter and it became the Royal Society, the first modern scientific think tank. The motto of the society was “Nullius in verba” which is translated as “Nothing by mere authority”. Thus began the Age of Enlightenment, which opened the way to our scientific and technical advances."
The Royal Society Seeks To Create A New Atlantis In America
"The Royal Society started from groups of physicians and natural philosophers, meeting at a variety of locations, including Gresham College in London. They were influenced by the "new science", as promoted by Francis Bacon in his New Atlantis, from approximately 1645 onwards. "
"A group known as "The Philosophical Society of Oxford" was run under a set of rules still retained by the Bodleian Library. After the English Restoration, there were regular meetings at Gresham College. It is widely held that these groups were the inspiration for the foundation of the Royal Society."
"The 18th century featured remedies to many of the society's early problems. The number of fellows had increased from 110 to approximately 300 by 1739, the reputation of the society had increased under the presidency of Sir Isaac Newton from 1703 until his death in 1727, and editions of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society were appearing regularly."
"During his time as president, Newton arguably abused his authority; in a dispute between himself and Gottfried Leibniz over the invention of infinitesimal calculus, he used his position to appoint an "impartial" committee to decide it, eventually publishing a report written by himself in the committee's name. In 1705, the society was informed that it could no longer rent Gresham College and began a search for new premises. After unsuccessfully applying to Queen Anne for new premises, and asking the trustees of Cotton House if they could meet there, the council bought two houses in Crane Court, Fleet Street, on 26 October 1710. This included offices, accommodation and a collection of curiosities. Although the overall fellowship contained few noted scientists, most of the council were highly regarded, and included at various times John Hadley, William Jones and Hans Sloane. Because of the laxness of fellows in paying their subscriptions, the society ran into financial difficulty during this time; by 1740, the society had a deficit of £240. This continued into 1741, at which point the treasurer began dealing harshly with fellows who had not paid. The business of the society at this time continued to include the demonstration of experiments and the reading of formal and important scientific papers, along with the demonstration of new scientific devices and queries about scientific matters from both Britain and Europe."
New Atlantis = North America
"This novel may have been Bacon's vision for a Utopian New World in North America. In it he depicted a land where there would be freedom of religion – showing a Jew treated fairly and equally in an island of Christians, but it has been debated whether this work had influenced others reforms, such as greater rights for women, the abolition of slavery, elimination of debtors' prisons, separation of church and state, and freedom of political expression, although there is no hint of these reforms in The New Atlantis itself. His propositions of legal reform (which were not established in his lifetime), though, are considered to have been one of the influences behind the Napoleonic Code, and therefore could show some resemblance with or influence in the drafting of other liberal constitutions that came in the centuries after Bacon's lifetime, such as the American Constitution."
Welcome To America: The Land of New Atlantis
"The Utopian 1627 book that inspired the founding of The Royal Society, identified America as Atlantis, and foretold many technologies of today."
source: Watchmen of Georgia
Sir Francis Bacon's book New Atlantis source: Watchmen of Georgia
Bacon's New Atlantis: A North American College Campus System Is Born
"New Atlantis is an incomplete utopian novel by Sir Francis Bacon, published in 1627. In this work, Bacon portrayed a vision of the future of human discovery and knowledge, expressing his aspirations and ideals for humankind. The novel depicts the creation of a utopian land where "generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit" are the commonly held qualities of the inhabitants of the mythical Bensale."
"The plan and organisation of his ideal college, Salomon's House (or Solomon's House), envisioned the modern research university in both applied and pure sciences."
Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban: The Father of Empiricism
English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, and author.
"Bacon played a leading role in establishing the British colonies in North America, especially in Virginia, the Carolinas and Newfoundland in northeastern Canada. His government report on "The Virginia Colony" was submitted in 1609. In 1610 Bacon and his associates received a charter from the king to form the Tresurer and the Companye of Adventurers and planter of the Cittye of London and Bristoll for the Collonye or plantacon in Newfoundland, and sent John Guy to found a colony there. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, wrote: "Bacon, Locke and Newton. I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences".
In 1910 Newfoundland issued a postage stamp to commemorate Bacon's role in establishing the colony. The stamp describes Bacon as "the guiding spirit in Colonization Schemes in 1610". Moreover, some scholars believe he was largely responsible for the drafting, in 1609 and 1612, of two charters of government for the Virginia Colony. William Hepworth Dixon considered that Bacon's name could be included in the list of Founders of the United States."
"Bacon has been called the father of empiricism. His works argued for the possibility of scientific knowledge based only upon inductive reasoning and careful observation of events in nature. Most importantly, he argued this could be achieved by use of a sceptical and methodical approach whereby scientists aim to avoid misleading themselves. While his own practical ideas about such a method, the Baconian method, did not have a long lasting influence, the general idea of the importance and possibility of a sceptical methodology makes Bacon the father of scientific method. This marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science, the practical details of which are still central in debates about science and methodology today.
Bacon was generally neglected at court by Queen Elizabeth, but after the accession of King James I in 1603, Bacon was knighted. He was later created Baron Verulam in 1618 and Viscount St. Alban in 1621.[b] Because he had no heirs, both titles became extinct upon his death in 1626, at 65 years of age. Bacon died of pneumonia, with one account by John Aubrey stating that he had contracted the condition while studying the effects of freezing on the preservation of meat. He is buried at St Michael's Church, St Albans, Hertfordshire."
A Royal Society Influences The New World Order
"The philosopher and member of the Royal Society, John Locke, in his 1690s Letters Concerning Toleration, laid the foundations of law which now protect freedom of thought. Locke argued for the separation of religious authority from civil authority, so that a person’s religious persuasion could not be held against them in court. This is now considered a fundamental human right. Much of Locke’s philosophy influenced and was influenced by Freemasonry and the Royal Society.
The French Freemason and philosopher, Voltaire, espoused Locke’s work and Masonic ideas in Europe in the early 1700s. Later, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, would clearly define the aims of the movement.
The Age of Enlightenment was humanitarian as well as cosmopolitan; enlightened despots promoted social reform, and movements such as Freemasonry, built on humanitarian ideal of a universal brotherhood, spread rapidly throughout Europe and numbered among its adherents kings, poets and composers.
The pursuit of learning and love of art became more widespread, particularly among the expanding middle class. This made demands on writers and artists that affected both subject matter and presentation. Philosophy, science, literature, and the fine arts began to address a general public beyond the experts and connoisseurs. Novelists and playwrights began to depict everyday people with everyday emotions. This had far-reaching effects in the world of Freemasonry.
In Living the Enlightenment, Margaret C. Jacob (Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles) argues that the hundreds of Masonic lodges founded in eighteenth-century Europe were among the most important enclaves in which modern civil society was formed, creating in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Britain new forms of self-government in microcosm, complete with constitutions and laws, elections, and representatives.
Some of the greatest names of the American Revolution were Freemasons: Ethan Allen, Edmund Burke, John Claypoole, William Daws, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, John Paul Jones, Robert Livingston, Paul Revere, Colonel Benjamin Tupper, and George Washington. Of the 56 signers of The Declaration of Independence, eight were known Masons and seven others exhibited strong evidence of Masonic membership. Of the forty signers of the Constitution, nine were known Masons, 13 exhibited evidence of Masonic membership, and six more later became Masons. There is some existing evidence to suggest that Thomas Paine was also an active Freemason in both America and France.
There were many other Masonic influences in early American history: (1) Lafayette, the French liaison to the Colonies, without whose aid the war could not have been won, was a Freemason; (2) the majority of the commanders of the Continental Army were Freemasons and members of “Army Lodges”; (3) most of George Washington’s generals were Freemasons; the Boston Tea Party was planned at the Green Dragon Tavern, also known as the “Freemasons’ Arms” and “the Headquarters of the Revolution”; (4) George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States by Robert Livingston, Grand Master of New York’s Masonic lodge, and the Bible on which he took his oath was from his own Masonic lodge; and (5) the Cornerstone of the Capital Building was laid by the Grand Lodge of Maryland.
On 8 December 1730, Benjamin Franklin printed in his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, the first documented notice about Freemasonry in North America. Franklin’s article, which consisted of a general account of Freemasonry, was prefaced by the statement that ‘there are several Lodges of FREE-MASONS erected in this Province’… Franklin himself became a Freemason in February 1731, and Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania in 1734. That same year, he ushered into print the first Freemasonic book to be published in America, an edition of Anderson’s Constitutions.
On September 1, 1752, a new lodge of Masons held its first meeting in Fredericksburg and soon attracted members. Under Daniel Campbell as Master, a class of five was initiated on November 4. George Washington, one of this group, paid his initiation fee of £23s. as an Entered Apprentice. Later, Washington would comment to King David Lodge in Newport, Rhode Island, “Being persuaded that a just application of the principles on which the Masonic Fraternity is founded must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interest of the Society and to be considered by them as a Brother.”