College of Arts and Sciences
Primary Subject Area
History, United States
freemasons, masons, secret, Ben Franklin, George Washington, Ancient, Modern
Ayers, Hannah R., "Founding Freemasons: “Ancient” and “Modern” Masons in the Founding Era of America with Particular Emphasis on Masons Benjamin Franklin and George Washington" (2008). Senior Honors Theses. 31.
Abstract From its inception in 1733, American freemasonry represented a fair portion of American society. However, though there would be groups of freemasons during this time whose ideals and morals could be traced to a Christian belief system, not all American freemasons considered themselves Christians. Though his book is full of excellent research, David Barton, founder of the Christian heritage research group Wallbuilders, generalized American freemasonry as being entirely Christian in his recent publication The Question of Freemasonry and the Founding Fathers. Though there were undoubtedly Christian groups of freemasons during this time period, the assertion that all masons were Christians is not entirely true and needs to be corrected. The non- Christian masons during this time period, known as “Modern” masons, never claimed a Christian heritage but instead had set up lodges that promoted values other than those espoused in Christianity. In order to correct Barton’s partially incorrect analysis of American masons during this era, evidence will be given to convince the reader of both the reality of anti-Christian freemasons and their feud with their Christian counterparts. The definition of both “Ancient” and “Modern” American freemasonry will be documented, the formation of and struggle between the two groups will be detailed, and the Enlightenment ideals that represented many of the beliefs of American “Modern” freemasons will be explained. Further, as examples of men who did not adhere to Christian values in the Craft, short biographies of Masons Benjamin Franklin and George Washington’s involvement with secular freemasonry will also be given.