American Phoenix

WHEN EUROPEAN COLONISTS sailed to North America, the Brotherhood organizations sailed with them. In 1694, a group of Rosicrucian leaders from Europe founded a colony in what is today the state of Pennsylvania. Some of their picturesque buildings in Ephrata still stand as a unique tourist attraction.

Freemasonry followed. On June 5, 1730, the Duke of Norfolk granted to Daniel Coxe of New Jersey one of the earliest known Masonic deputations to reach the American colonies. The deputation appointed Mr. Coxe provisional Grand Master of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It also allowed him to establish lodges. One of the earliest official colonial lodges was founded by Henry Price in Boston on August 31, 1733 under a charter from the Mother Grand Lodge of England. Masonic historian Albert MacKey believes that lodges probably existed earlier, but that their records have been lost.

Freemasonry spread rapidly in the American colonies just as it had done in Europe. The early lodges in the British colonies were nearly all chartered by the English Mother Grand Lodge, and members of the early lodges were loyal British subjects.
Englishmen were not the only people to colonize America. England had a major rival in the New World: France. The competition between the two nations caused frequent spats over colonial boundaries. This brought about a number of violent clashes on American soil, such as Queen Anne’s War during the first decade of the 18th century, and King George’s War in 1744. Even during times of peace, relations between the two superpowers were anything but smooth.

One of Britain’s loyal military officers in the colonies was a man named George Washington. He had been initiated into Freemasonry on November 4, 1752 at the age of 20. He remained a member of the Craft for the rest of his life. Washington became an officer in the colonial army, which was under British authority, by the time he reached his mid-twenties. Standing six feet three inches tall and weighing nearly two hundred pounds, Washington was a physically impressive figure.

One of Washington’s military duties was to keep an eye on French troops in tense border regions. The Treaty of Aixla-Chapelle executed in 1748 had ended King George’s War and had returned some territories to France. Both England and France benefited from this pause in hostilities because the wars were driving the two into debt. Even the inflatable paper currencies the two nations used to help pay for their wars did not prevent the serious financial difficulties that wars always bring.

Unfortunately, the peace lasted less than a decade. It was broken, according to some historians, by George Washington during one of his military forays into the Ohio Valley. Washington and his men sighted a group of French soldiers, but were not spotted by the French in return. On the command of Washington, his troops opened fire without warning. It turned out that Washington’s soldiers had ambushed credentialed French ambassadors traveling with a customary military escort. The French alleged afterwards that they were on their way to confer with the British to settle some of the disputes still existing over the Ohio regions.


Washington justified his attack by stating that the French soldiers were “skulking” and that their claim to diplomatic immunity was a pretense. Whatever the truth might have been, the French felt that they had been the victims of unprovoked military aggression. The French and Indian War was soon underway. It spread to Europe as the Seven Years War.

The renewed warfare was disastrous. According to Frederick the Great, the Seven Years War claimed as many as 853,000 military casualties, plus hundreds of thousands of civilian lives. Heavy economic damage was inflicted upon both England and France. When the war ended, England faced a national debt of 136 million pounds, most of it owed to a banking elite. To repay the debt, the English Parliament levied heavy taxes in its own country. When this taxation became too high, duties were placed on goods in the American colonies. The duties quickly became a sore point with the American colonists who began to resist.

Another change caused by the War was Hanover’s abandonment of their policy of keeping a small standing army in Britain. England’s armed forces were greatly expanded. This brought about a need to tax citizens even more. In addition, nearly 6,000 British troops in America needed housing and they often encroached upon the property rights of colonists. This generated yet more colonial dissent.

The fourth adverse consequence of the War (at least in the minds of the colonists) was England’s capitulation to the demands of several American Indian nations. The American Indians had fought on the side of the French because of the encroachment of British colonists on Indian lands. After the French and Indian War, the Crown issued the Proclamation of 1763 commanding that the vast region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River was to be a widespread Indian reservation. British subjects were not permitted to settle there without approval from the Crown. This sharply reduced western expansion.

The first of Britain’s new colonial tax measures went into effect in 1764. It was known as the Sugar Act. It placed duties on lumber, food, rum and molasses. In the following year a new tax, the Stamp Act, was instituted to help pay for the British troops stationed in the colonies.

Many colonists strongly objected to the taxes and the manner in which they were collected. Under British “writs of assistance,” for example, Crown custom agents could search wherever they pleased for goods imported in violation of the Acts. The agents had almost unlimited powers to search and seize without notice or warrant.

In October 1765, representatives from nine colonies met at a Stamp Act Congress in New York. They passed a Declaration of Rights expressing their opposition to taxation without colonial representation in the British Parliament. The Declaration also opposed trials without juries by British Admiralty courts. This act of defiance was partially successful. On March 17, 1766, five months after the Stamp Act Congress met, the Stamp Act was repealed.

Despite sincere efforts by the British Parliament to satisfy many colonial demands, a significant independence movement was developing in the American colonies. Under the leadership of a man named Samuel Adams, a secret organization calling itself the “Sons of Liberty” began to commit acts of violence and terrorism. They burned the records of the Vice Admiralty court and looted the homes of various British officials. They threatened further violence against stamp agents and other British authorities.


The Sons of Liberty organized economic boycotts by urging colonists to cancel orders for British merchandise. These acts hurt England because the colonies were very important to Britain as a trade outlet. Therefore, in 1770, Britain bowed once again to the colonists by repealing all duties except on tea. By that time, however, the revolutionary fervor was too strong to be halted. The result was bloodshed. On March 5, 1770, the “Boston Massacre” occurred in which British troops fired into a Boston mob and killed five people.


Tensions continued to mount and more secret revolutionary groups were formed. Britain would still not repeal the tax on tea. On October 14, 1773, three years after the Boston Massacre, colonists dressed as Indians crept onto a British ship anchored in Boston harbor and threw large quantities of tea into the water. This incident was the famous “Boston Tea Party.”

These acts of rebellion finally caused Parliament to enact trade sanctions against the colonists. The sanctions merely fueled the rebellion. In 1774, a group of colonial leaders convened the First Continental Congress to protest British actions and to call for civil disobedience. In March 1775, Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech at a convention in Virginia. Within less than a month of that speech, the American Revolution got under way with the Battle of Concord, where an organized colonial militia called “the minute men” suffered eight casualties while inflicting 273 on the British. In June of that same year, George Washington, the man who some historians believe had gotten the entire snowball rolling two decades earlier when he had ordered his troops to fire on the French in the Ohio Valley, was named commander-in-chief of the new ragtag Continental Army.

Historians have noted that economic motives were not the only ones propelling the American revolutionaries. This became obvious after the British Parliament repealed nearly all of the tariffs they had imposed. King George III, despite being a Hanoverian, was popular at home and he initially thought of himself as a friend to the colonists. The sharp attacks against King George by revolutionary spokesmen quite upset him because the attacks seemed out of proportion to his actual role in the problems complained of by the colonists. More of the revolutionary rhetoric should have been aimed at Parliament. There was clearly something deeper driving the revolutionary cause: the rebels were out to establish a whole new social order. Their revolt was fueled by sweeping philosophies which encompassed much more than their disputes with the Crown. One of those philosophies was Freemasonry.

A “Who’s Who” of the American Revolution is almost a “Who’s Who” of American colonial Freemasonry. Freemasons fighting on the revolutionary side included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin (who had been a Mason since at least 1731), Alexander Hamilton, Richard Montgomery, Henry Knox, James Madison, and Patrick Henry.


Revolutionaries who were also Masonic Grand Masters included Paul Revere, John Hancock, and James Clinton, in addition to Washington and Franklin.


According to Col. La Von P. Linn in his article “Freemasonry and the National Defense, 1754-1799,”1 out of an estimated 14,000 officers of all grades in the Continental Army, one seventh, or 2,018, were Freemasons. They represented a total of 218 lodges. One hundred of those officers were generals. Col. Linn remarks:

In all our wars, beginning with the French and Indian Wars and the War for American Independence, the silhouettes of American military Masons have loomed high above the battles.2

Europe provided the Americans with two additional Freemasons of importance. From Germany came the Baron von Steuben, who personally turned Washington’s ragged troops into the semblance of a fighting army. Von Steuben was a German Freemason who had served in the Prussian Army as an aide-de-camp to Frederick the Great. He had been discharged during the 1763 Prussian demobilization after the Seven Years War. At the time that von Steuben’s services were procured in France by Benjamin Franklin, von Steuben was a half-pay captain who had been out of military work for fourteen years. Franklin, in order to get the approval of Congress, faked von Steuben’s dossier by stating von Steuben to be a Lieutenant General. The deception worked, much to the ultimate benefit of the Continental Army.

The second European was the Marquis de La Fayette. La Fayette was a wealthy French nobleman who, in his very early twenties, had been inspired by news of the American Revolution while serving in the French army in Europe, so he sailed to America to aid the revolutionary cause. In 1778, during his service with the Continental Army, La Fayette was made a Freemason. Later, after the war, La Fayette revealed just how important Freemasonry was to the leadership of the revolutionary army. In his address to the “Four of Wilmington” Lodge of Delaware during his last visit to America in 1824, La Fayette said:

At one time [while serving under General Washington] I could not rid my mind of the suspicion that the General harbored doubts about me; this suspicion was confirmed by the fact that I had never been given a command-in-chief. This thought was an obsession and it sometimes made me very unhappy. After I had become an American freemason General Washington seemed to have seen the light. From that moment I never had reason to doubt his entire confidence. And soon thereafter I was given a very important command-in-chief.3

When we consider the prominence of Freemasons in the American Revolution,* it should come as no surprise that revolutionary agitation came from Masonic lodges directly.


* Two important Revolutionary leaders who are thought not to have been Freemasons are Samuel Adams and Thomas Jefferson. According to John C. Miller, writing in his book, Sam Adams, Pioneer in Propaganda: It is surprising to find that Sam Adams, who belonged to almost every liberal political club in Boston and carried the heaviest schedule of “lodge nights” of any patriot, was not a Mason. Many of his friends were high-ranking Masons and the Boston lodge did much to foster the Revolution, but Sam Adams never joined the Masonic Society.4

Thomas Jefferson’s name was recorded in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Virginia in 1883 as a visitor to the Charlottesville Lodge No. 60 on September 20, 1817. The Pittsburg Library Gazette, Vol. 1, August 4, 1828, mentions Jefferson as a Notable Mason. During his lifetime, he was even accused of being an agent of Weishaupt’s Bavarian “Illuminati.” More recently, some Rosicrucians have cited Jefferson as a member of their fraternity. Despite all of this, actual records of Jefferson’s membership in any of those organizations appears to be either missing or nonexistent, except as that one-time visitor to the Charlottesville Lodge. For this reason, some Masonic historians believe that Jefferson was either an inactive Mason, or was not a member at all.


According to Col. Linn’s article, the famous Boston Tea Party was the work of Masons coming directly out of a lodge:

On December 6, 1773, a group disguised as American Indians seems to have left St. Andrew’s Lodge in Boston and gone to Boston Harbor where cargoes of tea were thrown overboard from three East Indiamen [ships from the East Indies]. St. Andrew’s Lodge closed early that night “on account of the few members in attendance.”5

Sven G. Lunden, in his article, “Annihilation of Freemasonry,” states that St. Andrew’s Lodge was the leading Masonic body in Boston. He adds:

And in the book which used to contain the minutes of the lodge and which still exists, there is an almost blank page where the minutes of that memorable Thursday should be. Instead, the page bears but one letter—a large T. Can it have anything to do with Tea? 6

In Sam Adams, Pioneer of Propaganda, author John C. Miller describes the hierarchy of the anti-British mobs which played such an important role in the conflict. The mobs were not just random aggregates of disgruntled colonials. Mr. Miller explains the important role of Freemasons in those mobs:

A hierarchy of mobs was established during Sam Adam’s rule of Boston: the lowest classes—servants, negroes, and sailors—were placed under the command of a “superior set consisting of the Master Masons carpenters of the town”; above them were put the merchants’ mob and the Sons of Liberty .. .7

Masonic Lodges were not johnny-come-lately’s to the revolutionary cause. There is evidence that they were the initial instigators. At least one lodge engaged in agitation from the very beginning. Letters and newspapers from the early 1760’s reveal that the Boston Masonic Society was stirring up anti-British sentiment at the end of the Seven Years War, a good ten years before the Revolution actually began:

The Boston Masonic Society peppered [governor Thomas] Hutchinson and the royal government from its meeting place in “Adjutant Trowel’s long Garret,” where it was said more sedition [inciting to revolt], libels, and scurrility were hatched than in all the garrets in Grubstreet. Otis and his Masonic brethren became such adept muckrakers that Hutchinson’s friends believed they must have “ransak’d Billingsgate and the Stews” for mud to sling at the Massachusetts aristocracy.8

We might wonder how American lodges became sources of revolt when they were nearly all chartered under the English system which, as we recall, was pro-Hanoverian and forbade political controversy within the lodges. It must be kept in mind that by the 1760’s, the anti-Hanoverian Templar degrees had become firmly established in Europe and had also traveled secretly to many of the lodges in the American colonies. For example, as mentioned in an earlier chapter, St. Andrew’s Lodge of Boston, which had perpetrated the Boston Tea Party in 1773, conferred a Templar degree already on August 28, 1769 after applying for the warrant in 1762 from the Scottish Grand Lodge in Edinburgh. That application was made almost a decade before the American Revolution began. Some Templars were not only anti-Hanoverian, they sought the abolition of all monarchy.

The philosophical importance of Freemasonry to the American Revolutionaries can also be seen in the symbols which the revolutionary leaders chose to represent the new American nation. They were Brotherhood/Masonic symbols.
Among a nation’s most significant symbols is the national seal. An early proposal for the American national seal was submitted by William Barton in 1782. In the upper right-hand corner of Barton’s drawing is a pyramid with the tip missing. In place of the tip is a triangular “All-Seeing Eye of God.” The All-Seeing Eye, as we recall, has long been one of Freemasonry’s most significant symbols. It was even sewn on the Masonic aprons of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and other Masonic revolutionaries.


Above the pyramid and eye on Barton’s proposal are the Latin words Annuit Ceoptis, which means “He [God] hath prospered our beginning.” On the bottom is the inscription Novus Ordo-Seclorum: “The beginning of a new order of the ages.” This bottom inscription tells us that the leaders of the Revolution were pursuing a broad universal goal which encompassed much more than their immediate concerns as colonists. They were envisioning a change in the entire world social order, which follows the goal announced in the Fama Fraternitis.

Barton’s pyramid and accompanying Latin inscriptions were adopted in their entirety. The design is still a part of the American Great Seal which can be seen on the back of the U.S. $1.00 bill.

The main portion of Barton’s design was not adopted except for one small part. In the center of Barton’s proposal is a shield with two human figures standing on either side. Perched atop the shield is a phoenix with wings outstretched; in the middle is a small phoenix burning in its funeral pyre. As discussed earlier, the phoenix is a Brotherhood symbol used since the days of ancient Egypt. The phoenix was adopted by the Founding Fathers for use on the reverse of the first official seal of the United States after a design proposed by Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress.


The first die of the U.S. seal depicts a long-necked tufted bird: the phoenix. The phoenix holds in its mouth a banner with the words E. Pluribus Unum (“Out of many, one”). Above the bird’s head are thirteen stars breaking through a cloud. In one talon the phoenix holds a cluster of arrows; in the other, an olive branch. Some people mistook the bird for a wild turkey because of the long neck; however, the phoenix is also long of neck and all other features of the bird clearly indicate that it is a phoenix. The die was retired in 1841 and the phoenix was replaced by the bald eagle—America’s national bird.

Freemasons consider their fraternal ties to transcend their political and national divisions. When the War for American Independence was over, however, the American lodges split from the Mother Grand Lodge of London and created their own autonomous American Grand Lodge. The Scottish degrees soon became dominant in American Freemasonry. The two major forms of Freemasonry practiced in the United States today are the York Rite (a version of the original English York Rite) and the Scottish Rite. The modern York Rite has a total of ten degrees: the topmost is “Knights Templar.” The Scottish Rite has a total of thirty-three degrees, many of which are Knight degrees.

The influence of Freemasonry in American politics remained strong long after the Revolution was over. About one third of all U.S. Presidents have been Freemasons, most of them in the Scottish Rite.*


* In addition to George Washington and James Madison, Freemasons in the Presidency have been: James Monroe (initiated November 9, 1775), Andrew Jackson (in. 1800), James Polk (in. June 5, 1820), James Buchanan (in. December 11, 1816), Andrew Johnson (in. 1851), James Garfield (in. November 22, 1861 or 1862), William McKinley (in. May 1, 1865), Theodore Roosevelt (in. January 2, 1901), William Howard Taft (in. February 18, 1908), Warren Harding (in. June 28, 1901), Franklin D. Roosevelt (in. October 10, 1911), Harry S. Truman (in. February 9, 1909), and Gerald Ford (in. 1949).


The list of prominent American Freemasons also includes such people as the late J. Edgar Hoover, founder of the F.B.I., who had attained the highest (33rd) degree of the Scottish Rite, and presidential candidate Jesse Jackson (in. 1988). Famous American artists have also been members, such as Mark Twain, Will Rogers and W. C. Fields.

The influence of Freemasonry in American politics extended beyond the Presidency. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have had a large Masonic membership for most of the nation’s history. In 1924, for example, a Masonic publication listed sixty Senators as Freemasons.9 They constituted over 60% of the Senate. More than 290 members of the House of Representatives were also named as lodge members.


This Masonic presence has waned somewhat in recent years. In an advertising supplement entitled, “Freemasonry, A Way of Life,” the Grand Lodge of California revealed that in the 97th Congress (1981-1983), there were only 28 lodge members in the Senate and 78 in the House. While that represents a substantial drop from the 1920’s, Freemasonry still has a good-sized representation in the Senate with more than a quarter of that legislative body populated by members of the Craft.

The American Revolution was more than a local uprising. It involved many nations. France was a secret participant in the American cause long before the actual outbreak of war. As early as 1767, the French Foreign Minister, Duke of Choiseul, had sent secret agents to the American colonies to gauge public opinion and to learn how far the seeds of revolt had grown. France also dispatched agent provocateurs to the colonies to secretly stir up anti-British sentiment.


In 1767, Benjamin Franklin, who was not yet committed to armed warfare with England, accused France of attempting to blow up the coals between Britain and her American subjects. After Choiseul was deposed in 1770, his successor, Compte de Vergennes, continued Choiseul’s policy and was instrumental in bringing about France’s open military support for the American cause after the War for Independence began.*


* Interestingly, Vergennes was also a Freemason. He supported some of the French Freemasons, such as Voltaire, who were creating the fervent intellectual climate that led to the French Revolution. The French Revolution overthrew Vergennes’ king, Louis XVI, within a decade of Vergennes’ death. It is ironic that while he was alive, Vergennes had opposed all deep-seated reforms to French society. He thereby helped create the popular discontent which did so much to make the French Revolution successful.

Frederick the Great of Prussia was another to openly support the American rebels. He was among the first European rulers to recognize the United States as an independent nation. Frederick even went as far as closing his ports to Hessian mercenaries sailing to fight against the revolutionaries. Just how deeply Frederick was involved in the American cause may never be known, however. There is no doubt that many colonists felt indebted to him and viewed him as one of their moral and philosophical leaders.


Decades after the Revolution, a number of Masonic lodges in America adopted several Scottish degrees which had reportedly been created by Frederick. The first American Lodge of the Scottish Rite, which was established in Charleston, South Carolina, published a circular on October 10,1802 declaring that authorization of its highest degree came from Frederick, whom they still viewed as the head of all Freemasonry:

On the 1st of May, 5786 [1786], the Grand Constitution of the Thirty-Third Degree, called the Supreme Council of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, was ratified by his Majesty the King of Prussia, who as Grand Commander of the Order of Prince of the Royal Secret,* possessed the Sovereign Masonic power over all the Craft. In the New Constitution this Power was conferred on a Supreme Council of Nine Brethren in each nation, who possess all the Masonic prerogatives in their own district that his Majesty individually possessed, and are Sovereigns of Masonry.10


* Degrees in the Scottish Rite are grouped together in sections, and each section is given a name. Order of Prince of the Royal Secret is today called the Consistory [Council] of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret and contains the 31st and 32nd degrees of. the Scottish Rite. Another indication of the early Scottish Rite’s admiration for things Prussian is found in the title of the 21st degree, which is called Noachite, or Prussian Knight.

Some scholars argue that Frederick was not active in Freemasonry in the late 1700’s. They feel that his name was simply used to lend the Rite an air of authority. This argument may well be true, or at least partially so. The significance of the Charleston pamphlet lies in the loyalty that the early American Scottish Rite openly proclaimed to German Masonic sources so soon after the founding of the new American republic.

While some German Freemasons from Prussia were aiding the American cause, other German Masons were helping Great Britain, and at an enormous profit. Nearly 30,000 German soldiers were rented to Great Britain by six German states:

  • Hesse-Kassel

  • Hesse-Hanau

  • Brunswick

  • Waldeck

  • Anspach-Bayreuth

  • Anhalt-Zerbst

More than half of those troops were supplied by Hesse-Kassel; hence, all of the Germans soldiers were known as “Hessians.”


Hesse-Kassel’s troops were considered to be the best of the mercenaries; their accurate gunfire was feared by the colonial troops. In many battles, there were more Germans fighting for the British than there were British soldiers. In the Battle of Trenton, for example, Germans were the only soldiers against whom the Americans fought. This does not mean that the German soldiers were especially loyal to Britain, or even to their own German rulers. Almost one sixth of the German mercenaries (an estimated 5,000)deserted and stayed in America.

The use of German mercenaries created a stir in both England and America. Many British leaders, including supporters of the monarch, objected to hiring foreign soldiers to subdue British subjects. For the Germans, the arrangement was as lucrative as ever. The Duke of Brunswick, for example, received 11,517 pounds 17 schillings 1 ½ pence for the first year’s rental, and twice that figure during each of the following two years. In addition, the Duke received “head money” of more than seven pounds for each man, for a total of 42,000 pounds for Brunswick’s six thousand soldiers.


For each soldier killed, Brunswick was paid an additional fee, with three wounded counting as one dead. The Prince of Hesse-Kassel, Frederick II, earned about 21,000,000 thaler for his Hessian troops, amounting to a net total of approximately five million British pounds. That was an almost unheard of sum during his day and it accounted for more than half of the Hesse-Kassel fortune inherited by William IX when his father died in 1785. The Hesse-Kassel treasury became one of the largest (some say the largest) princely fortunes in Europe because ofthe American Revolution.

The American Revolution followed the pattern of earlier revolutions by weakening the head of state and creating a stronger legislature. Sadly, the American revolutionaries also gave their new nation the same inflatable paper money and central banking systems that had been erected by revolutionaries in Europe. Even before the American Revolution was won, the Continental Congress had gotten into the inflatable paper money business by printing money known as “Continental notes.” These notes were declared legal tender by the Congress with nothing to back them. The Continental Congress used the notes to buy the goods it needed to fight the Revolutionary War.


Cooperative colonists accepted the money on the promise that the notes would be backed by something after the war was won. As the Continental notes continued to come off Ben Franklin’s press, inflation set it. This caused more notes to be printed, which triggered a hyperinflation. After the war was won and a new “hard”currency (currency backed by a metal) was established, the Continental notes were only redeemable for the new currency at the rate of one cent to the dollar. It was another clear and painful lesson on how paper money, inflation and devaluation can be effective tools to help nations fight wars.

Ironically, some American Founding Fathers used the experience of the Continental notes to urge the creation of a central bank patterned after the Bank of England to better control the currency of the new American nation. The proposed central bank was a hot issue of debate with strong emotions running for and against the plan. The pro-bank faction won. After several years of controversy, America’s first central bank, the Bank of the United States, was chartered in 1791. The charter expired twenty years later, was renewed after a five-year lapse, was vetoed by President Andrew Jackson in 1836, regained its charter twenty-seven years later (in 1863), and finally became the Federal Reserve Bank, which is America’s central bank today. Although considerable opposition to a central bank has always existed in the United States, the country has had one, under one name or another, for most of its history.

The Founding Father credited with creating America’s first central bank was Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton had joined the revolutionary movement in the early 1770’s and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and aide-de-campon Washington’s staff by 1777. Hamilton was a good military commander and became a close friend of George Washington and the Marquis de La Fayette. After the war ended, Hamilton studied law, was admitted to the bar, and in February 1784, founded and became director of the Bank of New York.

Hamilton’s goal was to create an American banking system patterned after the Bank of England. Hamilton also wanted the new U.S. government to assume all state debts and turn them into one large national debt. The national government was to continue increasing its debt by borrowing from Hamilton’s proposed central bank, which would be privately owned and operated by a small group of financiers.

How was the American government going to repay all of this debt?

In an act of supreme irony, Hamilton wanted to place taxes on goods, just as the British had done prior to the Revolution! After Hamilton became Secretary of Treasury, he pushed through such a tax on distilled liquor. This tax resulted in the famous Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 in which a group of mountain people refused to pay the tax and began to speak openly of rebellion against the new American government. At Hamilton’s insistence, President George Washington called out the militia and had the rebellion crushed militarily! Hamilton and his backers had managed to establish in the United States a situation identical to England before the American Revolution: a nation deeply in debt which must resort to taxing its citizens to repay the debt.


One might legitimately ask: why did Messrs. Hamilton and Washington bother participating in the American Revolution? They simply used their influence to create the very same institutions in America that the colonists had found so odious under British rule. This question is especially relevant today as the United States faces an astounding national debt of over two trillion dollars, and an enormous tax burden on its citizens far higher than anything ever conceived of by Britain to impose on the colonists in the 18th century.

Although Hamilton’s plans were largely successful, they did not go without very considerable opposition. Leading the fight against the establishment of a privately-owned central bank were James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. They wanted the government to be the issuer of the national currency, not a central bank. In a letter dated December 13, 1803, Jefferson expressed his strong opinion about the Bank of the United States:

This institution is one of the most deadly hostility existing, against the principles and form of our constitution.11

He added: institution like this, penetrating by its branches every part of the Union, acting by command and in phalanx [unison], may, in a critical moment, upset the government. I deem no government safe which is under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities, or any other authority than that of the nation, or its regular functionaries.12

Although one of Jefferson’s objections to the central bank rested on his concerns that such a bank might be an obstruction during times of war, he was nonetheless quite farsighted about some of the effects that such an institution would have. Not only did the U.S. central banks create major financial panics in 1893 and 1907, but the financial fraternity operating the U.S. central bank has exerted, and continues to exert today, a strong influence in U.S. affairs, especially foreign affairs, just as Jefferson had warned. It was Jefferson’s powerful influence, incidentally, which caused the five-year delay in the renewal of the bank’s charter in 1811.

We have just finished viewing the American Revolution in a less than rosy light. There was, however, a powerful humanitarian influence at work inside the circle of Founding Fathers that must be acknowledged. The United States is one of the freer countries today as a direct result of that influence, even if Americans are still far from being a completely free peoples. The American founders affirmed important freedoms, especially those of speech, assembly and religion. An excellent Constitution was created for the United States that has proven highly workable in such a large and diverse society.


The genocide which seemed to go along with earlier Brotherhood political activity is conspicuously absent in the American Revolution. American Freemasons today are proud of the role that their Brethren played in creating the American nation, and justly so. The spark of humanitarianism which periodically resurfaces in the Brotherhood network surely did so again during the founding of the American republic.

If we were to name a few of the most important humanitarians among the Founding Fathers, we might list such well-known figures as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, and Richard Henry Lee. One of the most important of the Founding Fathers is rarely mentioned, however. He is the one in whose memory no large monuments have ever been erected in Washington, D.C. His portrait does not grace any U.S. currency and he did not even have a postage stamp issued in his honor until 1981. That man was George Mason.

George Mason was described by Thomas Jefferson as “oneof our really great men, and of the first order of greatness.”13 Mason is the most neglected of the Founding Fathers because he ignored political glory, shunned office, and was never famous for his oratory; yet he stands as one of the most farsighted of the men who created the American nation. After the Revolution, George Mason opposed the plans of Hamilton and declared that Hamilton had “done us more injury than Great Britain and all her fleets and armies.”14


It was George Mason who pushed hardest for the adoption of a federal Bill of Rights. The ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution which constitute the Bill of Rights are based upon Mason’s earlier Virginia Declaration of Rights written by him in 1776. The Bill of Rights almost did not make it into the American Constitution, and it would not have done so had not Mason engaged in a heated battle to ensure its inclusion. Despite his chronic ill health, Mason published influential pamphlets denouncing the proposed Constitution because it lacked specified individual rights. Most drafters of the Constitution, including Alexander Hamilton, declared a Bill of Rights unnecessary due to the balance and limitation of powers imposed on the federal government by the Constitution.


Mason persisted and was supported by Richard Henry Lee and Thomas Jefferson. With the backing of James Madison, the Bill of Rights was finally pushed through to ratification in the final hours. When we consider how the federal government has grown since then and how crucial the Bill of Rights have become, we can appreciate what a man of vision George Mason truly was. His far-sightedness and humanitarianism were also manifested in his attempts to completely abolish slavery. At a time when even his friends George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were slave owners, George Mason denounced the slave trade as a “disgrace to mankind” and worked to have it outlawed throughout all of the states.


George Mason did not succeed in this quest during his lifetime, but his dream did come true less than a century later when slavery was abolished in the United States by the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution.*


* La Fayette and a few other Freemasons also deserve credit for the success of the anti-slavery movement. They belonged to a Masonic organization known as the Societe des Amis des Noirs (Society of the Friends of the Blacks) which worked to bring about the universal emancipation of blacks. Unfortunately, Aryanism still remained very much alive in other Brotherhood branches.


Although most American schoolchildren do not hear much about George Mason in their history lessons or have his portrait hanging in their classrooms, he was one of the great heroes of human freedom.

The renewed spark of humanitarianism which arose during the American Revolution was soon overshadowed.


The establishment of the inflatable paper money system in the United States was a clue that something was still badly amiss in the Brotherhood network. As similar revolutions led by Freemasons erupted around the world, the old horrors reemerged. One of those horrors was calculated genocide.

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The World Afire

ONE SIGNIFICANT BY-PRODUCT of the American Revolution was a philosophical reshaping of how people viewed revolution. When Benjamin Franklin was in France to win French military support for the American cause, he engaged in an intensive public relations campaign. He vigorously promulgated the idea of “virtuous revolution”—a concept which had already found increasing favor in the Masonic lodges. The public at that time tended to view violent revolution as a crime against society. Franklin was successful in changing this perception by encouraging people to accept violent revolutions as steps in the progress of mankind.


Revolutionaries were no longer to be frowned upon as criminals, he argued, because they were idealists righting for freedom and justice. A new motto was coined:

“Revolution against tyranny is the most sacred of duties.”1

These bold ideas electrified Paris and helped to win open French support for the American cause, but at a terrible long-term cost to human society. The ideas expressed by Franklin have helped to stimulate endless bloody revolutions ever since.

The American Revolution was followed by many other revolutions and/or the establishment of republican-style governments throughout the western world and South America. The success of the American Revolution had made it easy to rally people to fight. We witness during this era the French Revolution, the creation of,

  • the Batavian Republic in the Netherlands (1795-1806)

  • the Helvetic Republic in Switzerland (1798-1805)

  • the Cisalpine Republic in northern Italy (1797-1805)

  • the Ligurian Republic in Genoa (1797-1805)

  • the Parthenopean Republic in southern Italy

Between 1810 and 1824, the Spanish colonies in South America took up arms and won their political independence. In 1825, the Decembrist revolt broke out in Russia. A second revolution erupted in France in 1830. In that same year, a revolt in Holland brought about the sovereignty of Belgium. A Polish revolution in 1830 and 1831 was successfully stamped out by Russia. In 1848, a major wave of revolutionary activity swept Europe spurred by an international collapse of credit caused in good part by the new inflatable paper money system, bad harvests, and a cholera epidemic.

In nearly all of those revolutions, we continue to see important revolutionary leadership positions held by Freemasons. During the first French Revolution, a key rebel leader was the Duke of Orleans, who was the Grand Master of French Masonry before his resignation at the height of the Revolution. Marquis de La Fayette, the man who had been initiated into the Masonic fraternity by George Washington, also played an important role in the French revolutionary cause. The Jacobin Club, which was the radical nucleus of the French revolutionary movement, was founded by prominent Freemasons.


According to Sven Lunden’s article, “The Annihilation of Freemasonry”:

Herbert, Andre Chenier, Camille Desmoulins and many other “Girondins” [moderate French republicans supporting republican government over monarchy] of the French Revolution were Freemasons.2

Freemasons were the primary leaders of the 1825 Decembrist revolt in Russia. Some of the planning for that revolt took place within their lodges.

In South America, according to Richard DeHaan, writing in Collier’s Encyclopedia:

The order [Freemasonry] played an important role in the spread of liberalism and the organization of political revolution in Latin America. Like French Freemasonry, the Latin American movement was also generally anticlerical. In Mexico and Colombia, Masons helped win independence from Spain, while in Brazil they worked against Portuguese domination.3

Mr. Lunden agrees:

In Latin America, too, the process of liberation from the Spanish yoke was the work of Freemasons, in large measure. Simon Bolivar was one of the most active of Masonry’s sons, and so were San Martin, Mitre, Alvear, Sarmiento, Benito Juarez—all hallowed names to Latin Americans.4

Regarding other revolutions, Mr. Lunden adds:

Many of the leaders in the great year 1848, which saw so many uprisings against feudal rule in Europe, were members of the Order; among them was the great Hungarian hero of democracy, Louis Kossuth, who found a temporary refuge in America.5

The 1800’s also witnessed the wars of Italian unification led by Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882), who was a thirty-third degree Mason and the Grand Master of Italy. The victorious Garibaldi placed Victor Emmanuel, another Freemason, on the throne.

The Italian wars of unification left two important legacies: a united Italy and the modem Mafia. The Mafia was a loosely-knit secret society founded in Sicily in the mid 1700’s. At first, the Mafia was a resistance movement formed to oppose the foreign rulers who controlled Sicily at the time.


The early Mafiosi were popular heroes who specialized in criminal acts against the hated foreigners. The Mafia built an underground government in Sicily and held power by extortion. The Mafia assisted Garibaldi when he invaded Sicily in 1860 and declared himself dictator of the island. After the foreign rulers were ousted and Italy was unified, the Mafia became the violent criminal network we know today.

Freemasonry was clearly an important catalyst in the creation of modern Western-style government. The vast majority of Freemasons who participated in the revolutions were well-intended. The representative form of government they helped to create was certainly an improvement over some of the governments they replaced.*


*  This is not to say that monarchy is always bad. History has seen a few benevolent monarchs who ruled well, who could act for peace, and who were popular with their people. Hereditary or life-term leadership has the advantage of stability. It can work if the monarch is accountable for his or her actions and can be removed for chronic incompetence or abuse of power. Monarchies have rarely functioned well on Earth because monarchs have usually ruled by so-called “divine right” and have therefore not been accountable to the people they governed.


Regrettably, the lofty ideals of those Freemasons were in the process of a speedy betrayal by sources within the Brotherhood network itself.

One consequence of the French Revolution was a severe disruption of the French economy. Food production had dropped severely and the new regime was in deep political trouble because the majority of Frenchmen were still loyal to the monarchy. Under this cloud, the revolutionary government decided to solve the problems of political opposition, hunger and distribution of wealth by reducing the human population of France. Rather than increase food production to meet the demand, it was decided to reduce the demand to match the lessened amount of food.


Throughout the French nation, a program of mass murder was launched as an official program of the revolutionary council. This program was known as the Reign of Terror. People were put to death by all means available, including guillotine, mass drowning, bludgeoning, shooting, and starvation. Although not as many people were murdered as the council had planned, it has been estimated that over 100,000 people died.

We have noted that genocides are committed by grouping people into superficial categories usually based upon race, religious belief, or nationality. The victims are then targeted for slaughter even though they may be guilty of no crimes against their murderers. The French revolutionaries took the process to an extreme. During the Reign of Terror, people were grouped simply according to their economic and vocational standing. Those who fell into the wrong categories were deemed members of an undesirable social class and were killed. This was certainly as superficial a distinction as one can make, yet grouping people in this fashion has been extremely successful in factionalizing human beings.

The French Revolution dragged nearly all of the major powers of Europe into a war. Initially benefiting from this was William IX, the prince who had inherited the immense Hesse-Kassel fortune. William IX rented out, at a handsome fee, 8,000 soldiers to England to fight against the French during the first half of the 1790’s. When Napoleon Bonaparte later became emperor of France, William IX seemed to gain even more. After Napoleon’s troops occupied German regions west of the Rhine River, including some Hessian properties, Napoleon compensated William IX by awarding him a large section of Mainz and by conferring upon William the title of Elector—a status higher than prince.


The cordiality between Napoleon and Elector William did not last very long, however. William IX tried to play the old trick of courting both sides of the conflict in order to make a fortune by renting soldiers. William foolishly leased mercenaries to the Prussian king for a quarter of a million Pounds to fight Napoleon and then tried to claim “neutrality.” True to the warning of Machiavelli, this double-dealing finally caught up and backfired on the House of Hesse. Hesse-Kassel was soon annexed and made part of Napoleon’s “Kingdom of Westphalia.”


It was not until after Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 that William IX was able to regain Hesse-Kassel. Hesse-Kassel remained under the control of his dynasty until 1866, when it was taken over by Prussia. Although the Hessian royal family has remained influential in German society until well into the twentieth century, it never regained exclusive rule over its territory. Hesse merged into what has become modern Germany—a country that was unified in large part by the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty.

Despite the reversals suffered by Hesse-Kassel, the upheavals in France proved to be a boon for one of William IX’s financial agents: Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1743-1812), founder of one of the most influential banking houses of Europe.
Mayer Amschel was an ambitious and hard-working merchant who began his career in the Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt-am-Main in Hesse. In 1765, two decades before the French Revolution, Rothschild managed to gain a hard-won audience with Prince William IX, who was still at that time living in Hesse-Hanau. Mayer Amschel strove to ingratiate himself with the Hessian prince by selling antique coins to William at extremely low prices.


William, who always had an eye open to increasing his material fortunes in any way possible, was delighted to take advantage of Rothschild’s generous bargains. As a reward, William granted Rothschild’s request to be appointed a “CrownAgent to the Prince of Hesse-Hanau.” This appointment, made in 1769, was more honorary than substantial, but it gave Mayer Amschel a big boost in his community standing and aided his efforts to create a successful banking house.

During the twenty years following his appointment, Mayer Amschel continued to keep in close contact with Prince William IX. Rothschild’s goal was to become one of the Prince’s personal financial agents. Rothschild’s perseverance finally paid off. In 1789, the year in which the French Revolution began and four years after William IX inherited the wealth of Hesse-Kassel, Mayer was given his first financial assignment on behalf of Prince William. This, in turn, led to the coveted position as a personal financial agent to the Prince.

Rothschild made a fortune from various activities while serving under William IX. The French Revolution and the wars it triggered created many shortages throughout Hesse. Rothschild capitalized on this situation by sharply raising the prices of the cloth he was importing from England. Rothschild also struck a deal with another of William IX’s chief financial agents, Carl Buderus. The deal enabled Rothschild to share in the profits from the leasing of Hessian mercenaries to England. Virginia Cowles, writing in her excellent book, The Rothschilds, A Family of Fortune, described the arrangement:

At this point Mayer made a proposition to the enterprising Carl Buderus. England was paying the Landgrave J William IX] large sums of money for the hire of Hessian soldiers; and the Rothschilds were paying England large sums of money for the goods they were importing. Why not let the two-way movement cancel itself out, and pocket the commissions both ways on the bills of exchange? Buderus agreed, and soon this extra string to the Rothschild bow was producing an impressive revenue.6

Out of those beginnings rose the House of Rothschild, named after the red shield (“roth” [red] and “schild” [shield]) used as its emblem. The Rothschild family soon became synonymous with wealth, power, and banking. For generations, the Rothschild house was Europe’s most powerful banking family and it remains influential in the international banking community today. Sharing the Rothschild house in Frankfurt during its early days was the Schiff family. The Schiffs also became a major banking family and they have done business with the Rothschilds all the way up until our own time.

Control of the Rothschild house, as well as many other banking houses, passed from father to son(s) over the generations. The Rothschilds, Schiffs, and other banking families were truly part of a hereditary “paper aristocracy” to which Brotherhood revolutionaries had given a great deal of power when they established the inflatable paper money system and its attendant central banks.

Many historians writing about the Rothschild family focus on the fact that Mayer Amschel was Jewish. The Rothschilds have been important supporters of Jewish causes throughout the family’s history. Less frequently mentioned is the fact that the Rothschilds were also associated with German Freemasonry. This association apparently began with Mayer Amschel, who accompanied William IX on several trips to the Masonic lodges. Whether or not Mayer actually became a member is uncertain. It is known that his son, Solomon (founder of the Rothschild bank in Vienna), had become a Freemason. According to Jacob Katz, writing in his book, Jews and Freemasons in Europe, 1723-1939, the Rothschilds were one of the rich and powerful Frankfurt families appearing on a Masonic membership list in 1811.

The Scottish degrees used in the German lodges were Christian in nature. This created problems for Jewish men like Rothschild who may have wanted to participate. To solve the dilemma, efforts were made in Jewish communities to change certain rituals in order to make Freemasonry acceptable to Jews. Special Jewish lodges were created, such as the “Melchizedeklodges named in honor of the Old Testament priest-king whose importance we discussed in an earlier chapter.


Those who belonged to the Melchizedek lodges were said to be members of the “Order of Melchizedek.” This was an extremely interesting development, for across the Atlantic Ocean the name of Melchizedek was about to be resurrected on the American continent during what some people believe to have been a series of significant UFO episodes. Those episodes gave the world a new religion: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, better known as the Mormon Church.

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