Many Freemasons believe that the Fraternity has its origins in the building of King Solomon’s Temple and that the three degrees represent the three classes of workmen, the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason. These are, in fact, the names of the three degrees of the Blue Lodge. Others believe that the Fraternity was born from the guilds of stone masons who built castles and cathedrals of medieval Europe.
Other “popular” theories claim the Fraternity was originated by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt or as a place for the Knights Templar to hide after the purge by Phillip of France and Clement V in 1307. What we know for sure is that organized Speculative Freemasonry began in 1717 when four London lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House, St. Paul’s Churchyard, and formed themselves into a Grand Lodge.
Masonry in the United States can be traced back to early colonial times. By the American Revolution there were an estimated 250 lodges in the colonies. Many Masons of the time, including Geroge Washington, Nathaniel Green, and Henry Knox were staunch patriots. Many claim that the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights were documents founded upon Masonic principles.
In the United States each state and the District of Columbia is organized independently under it’s own Grand Lodge. Individual Lodges are chartered by the Grand Lodge and work under that charter.
Masonry teaches good men to become better, not better than others, but better then themselves. It teaches life’s lessons through a progressive series of degrees. Symbolic, or Blue Lodge Masonry is composed of the degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason. It is the foundation upon which all other Masonic orders are based. The prescribed ritual is taught using symbolism and allegories, the interpretation and value of each is unique to each brother mason, based upon his own experiences.
The three golden tenets of Masonry are Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. The Mason comes to realizes that he must do more than attend the meeting of his Lodge if he is to truly appreciate the value of Freemasonry and understand the principles underlying its teachings.