Freemasonry and the birth of America

CODEX Entry 2633: Freemasonry and the birth of America


Another important phase in these tidal shifts of power occurred when the Grand Orient de France merged in 1804 with the rival Grand Lodge, the Rite Ecossais, known in English as The Scottish Rite. At the time, Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon and recently crowned King of Spain and Italy was Grand Master of the Grand Orient, and his younger brother Louis Bonaparte was Deputy Grand Master. This merged organisation contained amongst its members many of the founding fathers of the United States of America. Benjamin Franklin was a member of the French Grand Orient. While George Washington was a freemason of the Fredericksburg Lodge, it has no recorded Charter and its founding Master has been deleted from their records, but it’s early adoption of the Royal Arch Masonry suggests an amity to the Grand Lodge of England.

The ritual form on which the Grand Orient of France was based was abolished in England in the events leading to the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813. This had much more to do with the Grand Alliance against Napoleon Bonaparte then any debate on ritual. However, despite this, the two jurisdictions continued in amity until the 1860s. In 1868 the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of the State of Louisiana appeared in the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, recognised by the Grand Orient de France, but regarded by the older body as an invasion of their Jurisdiction. The new Scottish Rite body admitted blacks. The resolution of the Grand Orient the following year that neither colour, race, nor religion could disqualify a man from Masonry prompted the Grand Lodge to withdraw recognition, and it persuaded other American Grand Lodges to do the same. Political tensions between France and England were reflected by the withdrawal of amity at this time, and this has not been reintroduced since despite fighting together in two world wars.