Cover image for Revolutionary brotherhood : Freemasonry and the transformation of the American social order, 1730-1840
Revolutionary brotherhood : Freemasonry and the transformation of the American social order, 1730-1840
Bullock, Steven C.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, [1996]

Physical Description:
xviii, 421 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
"Published for the Institute for Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia."
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
HS523 .B85 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In the first comprehensive history of the fraternity known to outsiders primarily for its secrecy and rituals, Steven Bullock traces Freemasonry through its first century in America. He follows the order from its origins in Britain and its introduction into North America in the 1730s to its near-destruction by a massive anti-Masonic movement almost a century later and its subsequent reconfiguration into the brotherhood we know today. With a membership that included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Paul Revere, and Andrew Jackson, Freemasonry is fascinating in its own right, but Bullock also places the movement at the center of the transformation of American society and culture from the colonial era to the rise of Jacksonian democracy. Using lodge records, members' reminiscences and correspondence, and local and Masonic histories, Bullock links Freemasonry with the changing ideals of early American society. Although the fraternity began among colonial elites, its spread during the Revolution and afterward allowed it to play an important role in shaping the new nation's ideas of liberty and equality. Ironically, however, the more inclusive and universalist Masonic ideas became, the more threatening its members' economic and emotional bonds seemed to outsiders, sparking an explosive attack on the fraternity after 1826. American History

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Revolutionary Brotherhood is a painstaking study of the early social history of American speculative Freemasonry. Bullock's case depends on a creative juxtaposition of Colonial and early national sociology with his imaginative uses of official Masonic records. His Anglo-American Freemasonry is a yeasty compound of scientific rationalism, bourgeois social ascendancy, fraternal camaraderie, and a demotic obscurantism. Early British lodges, supported by mystifying dilettantes and aristocratic dabblers in the occult, became vital hubs of ambitious middle-class merchants, professionals, and congenial noblemen. Freemasonry offered important ameliorative defenses against a parlous modern economy, but early American lodges were principally local networks of the well-to-do bourgeoisie, who used Freemasonry as a warrant to claim an elite status otherwise missing from Colonial society. The American Revolution gave patriotic Masons a chance to exemplify the Republic's moderate ideals of virtuous meritocracy. As a result, many ambitious Americans joined and Masonic lodges grew exponentially for a generation. Bullock's account of how populistic, evangelistic, politically inventive anti-Masons deflated Freemasonry's claim to republican elitism is both timely and expert. Upper-division undergraduates and above. L. J. Mahoney Spokane Community College

Table of Contents

List of Illustration
List of Tables
Introduction: Understanding Salem Town's Fraternity
Part I Colonial Masonry
1 Newton and Necromancy: The Creation of the Masonic Fraternity
I The Remains of the Mysterys of the Ancients
II The Augustan Style
III An Honour Much Courted of Late
2 The Appearance of So Many Gentlemen: Masonry and Colonial Elites, 1730-1776
I The United Party for Virtue
II The Greatest Order and Regularity
III A Very Harmless Sort of People
Part II The Revolutionary Transformation
3 Where Is Honour? The Rise of Ancient Masonry, 1752-1792
I The Good Old Way
II The Mason's Arms
III The Country People
4 According to Their Rank: Masonry and the Revolution, 1775-1792
I Great Trubles amonge Masons
II Free and Independent
III The Cares and Fatigues of the Soldier's Life
Part III Republican Masonry
5 A New Order for the Ages: Public Values, 1790-1826
I Temples of Virtue
II The Great Instrument of Civilization
III Around the Enlightened World
6 An Appearance of Sanctity: Religion, 1790-1826
I Neutral Ground
II Dedicated to the Worship of God
III Spiritual Masonry
IV Cavils, Objections, and Calumnies
7 Preference in Many Particulars: Charity and Commerce, 1790-1826
I The Most Charitable and Benevolent of the Human Race
II Bound to Regard You as a Mason
8 In Almost Every Place Where Power is of Importance: Politics, 1790-1826
I The Most Influential and Respectable men
II We Have Nothing to Do with Politics
III Men of All Parts of the Union Mingling Together
9 Into the Secret Place: Organization and Sacrilization, 1790-1826
I The Lodge of Instruction
II The Rugged Road
III The Thick Veil
Part IV Masonry and Democracy
10 The Lion and the Crows: Antimasonry, 1826-1840
I The Concentration of Great Numbers on a Single Point
II A Stupendous Mirror
III These Desperate Fanatics Epilogue: Losing the Right to Reverence: Masonry's Decline and Revival A Note on Masonic Sources Notes IndexIllustrations
1 George Washington
2 Masonic Temple
3 The Temple of Solomon
4 The Five Points of Fellowship
5 Les Free Masons
6 The Second Grand Anniversary Procession
7 Lodge Summons, Philadelphia Ancient Lodge No. 2
8 Saint Peter's Lodge Night
9 Membership Certificate, Rising States Lodge
10 Prostyle Temple
11 Tracing Board
12 University of North Carolina Cornerstone
13 Freemason's Heart Supported by Justice and Liberty
14 Membership Certificate, Alexandria Lodge
15 Tavern Sign
16 Advertisement, J. T. Jacobs and Co.
17 The Master's Carpet
18 The Fifth Libation
19 The Chamber of Reflection
20 The Masonic Minstrel
21 The Living Arch Three times Three
22 The Living Arch
23 Masonic Penalties
24 Antimasonic Apron
25 Master Mason's CertificateTables
1 Occupations of Modern Masons, Boston, and St. John's Members, Philadelphia, 1750-1770
2 Occupations of Ancient Masons, St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston, and Lodge No. 2, Phladelphia, 1752-1775
3 Summary of Occupations of Ancient and Moderns
4 Boston Masons in 1771 Provincial Tax
5 Philadelphia Masons in 1756 City Tax
6 Occupations of Port Royal Lodge Members
7 Public Offices of Port Royal Lodge Members
8 Military Ranks of Members of Three Lodges
9 Military Ranks of Lodge No. 19 (Ancient), Pennsylvania Artillery
10 Occupations Listed in Lexington Kentucky, Directory, 1806, and of Lodge Members, 1794-1810
11 Age at Membership of Jordan Lodge Members, Danvers, Massachusetts, 1808-1827
12 Occupations of Members of Ark Lodge, Geneva, New York, and Jordan Lodge Members, Danvers, Massachusetts, 1807-1827
13 Occupations of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston, and Lodge No. 2, Philadelphia, 1790-1820
14 Occupations of Members of Holland Lodge No. 9