It is not clear when the Craft was born. Hundreds of Masonic scholars have investigated this question, but no conclusive answer has been found and perhaps never will be. The earliest written record of the term “Master Mason” appears in the Regis Manuscript, written about 1390 and now kept in the British Museum. Its mention of the “Master Mason” refers to the stonemasons of the Middle Ages. The tools of the stonemason date back, of course, to the earliest periods of history and are lost in the mists of time. This is also true of the geometry and geometric symbols used in the craft of building.
Over the ages, Freemasonry slowly took form. It has evolved into a comprehensive and effective form of fraternal teaching of basic morals, truths and personal fulfillment. It ranks the individual’s reasoning capabilities highly and encourages the questioning mind.
When the organization became what is called Speculative Masonry, men were accepted into the Craft without being actual builders; that is, they were spiritual builders. Speculative Masonry adopts the terms and concepts of the actual builders, but substitutes men for stone and mortar, and works toward self-improvement rather than the actual construction of buildings.
Masonry is a unique institution that has been a major part of community life in America for over 250 years.
In the United States, Freemasonry is a strong supporter of:
- constitutional government;
- quality public education;
- the freedom of religion and expression;
- the equality of all men and women;
- the need for strong moral character; and
- meaningful charity.
Freemasonry was introduced into Vermont in 1781 by a charter granted by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. This original charter is located in Windsor, Vermont. One of the original signers was Paul Revere. Two of Vermont’s most prominent citizens at that time, Ira Allen and Thomas Chittenden, were made Masons in Vermont in 1782.
The Grand Lodge of Vermont was organized at a communication in October 1794 in Rutland and currently has lodges in approximately 88 towns and cities in Vermont.
So what qualities does a modern mason possess that stand him apart from other men? He:
- has a basic philosophy of life that places the individual worth of each man high on its pedestal and incorporates the great teachings of many ages to provide a way for individual study and thought,
- has great respect for religion and promotes toleration and equal esteem for the religious opinions of others,
- provides a real working plan for making good men even better,
is a social organization,
- has many important charitable projects,
- has a rich worldwide history,
- can help to develop both public speaking and dramatic abilities and provides an effective avenue for developing leadership.
Famous Masons (By far, not an exhaustive list)
- Allen, Ira
- Armstrong, Louis
- Bartoldi, Frederick (Statue of Liberty)
- Berlin, Irving
- Cole, Nat King
- Douglas, Gov. James
- Doyle, Arthur Conan
- Ellington, Duke
- Franklin, Benjamin
- Gatling, Richard
- Hancock, John
- Hope, Bob
- Houdini, Harry
- Key, Francis Scott
- Marquis de Lafayette
- Marx, Harpo
- Menninger, Karl
- Mongolfier Brothers (invented hot air balloon)
- Revere, Paul
- Sousa, John Phillips
- Washington, George