Quakers and Freemasons
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
The Religious Society of Friends or Quakers was a religious movement founded by George Fox (1624 -1691), where the Quakers were persecuted for opposing the puritanism of Oliver Cromwell. So they went to the United States in search of a space with religious freedom in Rhode Island, where William Penn, who was a Quaker, founded the Pennsylvania Colony with money paid to his family by some debtors of theirs.
The Quakers held silent religious services, without sermons, without spiritual guides, or rituals and religious creeds. They believed that each person had a dose of the ‘holy spirit’ through an inward light and had a direct relationship with the Holy Spirit without the need for intermediation. For them, the figure of Jesus was a revelation of God’s will for humanity. During a religious service, any member could feel the inspiration to speak, read the Holy Scripture, recite a poem or sing a hymn.
The followers of George Fox, did not pay tithes to the state church, did not swear before the court, did not take their hats off to the powerful, and did not fight in wars. But they sought an end to slavery, humane treatment of criminals and care for the weak and the poor. On one occasion Fox was brought before a judge and he told him that the word of God would make him quake. The judge scoffed, calling him a quaker, and that’s the origin of the name Quakers.
In the United States, Quakers were not well received by Christians who saw them as heretics and persecuted and even executed them, accusing them of witchcraft. But soon they engendered respect for their simple and modest lifestyle.
During the revolution they refused to pay taxes and to fight. They advocated the abolition of slavery, humane treatment of criminals, and were against the mistreatment of aboriginal Indians in the United States. They were behind the creation of the Underground Railroad for the liberation of the slaves. In modern times they opposed the Vietnam War and many of them became involved in the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr.
Starting in the eighteenth century they split into 4 groups: the Hicksites who were engaged in social reform in the eastern United States; the Gurneyites dedicated to preaching the Gospel, with ministers presiding over worship services, who were led by Joseph Gurney; the Wilburites, led by John Wilbur, who maintained traditional customs, and the Orthodox Quakers who focused on the figure of Christ, held Yearly Meetings in Philadelphia and who are a large community with like-minded groups in Latin America and Kenya.
Masonic lodges are the other part of the current US model of the State, which very soon became the focus of insurrection against the domination of the British monarchy. Those thirteen colonies were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
The involvement of Freemasonry became very important in the independence of the British colonies of North America. Most of the leaders who were signatories to the United States Independence Act of July 4, 1776, were prominent Freemasons such as Franklin, Ellery, Hancock, Hewes, Hooper, Paines, Stockton, Walton, and Whipple.
Nine of the thirteen delegates who signed the Articles of the New Confederation were also Freemasons: Adams, Carroll, Dayton, Dickinson, Ellery, Hancock, Harnett, Laurene, Roberdaw, and Bayard Smith. The citizens who signed the Political Constitution of the United States were also Freemasons: Bedford, Blair, Brealey, Brown, Carroll, Dayton, Dickinson, Franklin, Gilman, King, McHenry, Peterson, and Washington. It is also claimed that the Republican Army that fought the English troops were members of the Freemasons.
So Freemasonry became visible in all areas of the new country, and as a result the lodges and freemasons enjoyed the respect of citizens and did not have to hide, as happened later in Latin America. After the United States Declaration of Independence, the Council meeting in Philadelphia entrusted to John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson the creation of the new official seal of the State with each of them suggesting a design. Jefferson proposed an image of the people of Israel journeying towards the Promised Land, Franklin proposed an allegory with Moses leading the Jews across the Red Sea and John Adams proposed the Greek theme of Hercules. And the final design was proposed by Congress Secretary Charles Thomson, who was a Freemason teacher from a Philadelphia lodge and a disciple of Franklin.
In the North American Revolution, the Masonic triad of ‘freedom, equality and fraternity’ was used for the first time, the same one used in the French Revolution on July 4, 1789. Another famous Freemason of United States Independence was the Marquis de La Fayette, one of the generals of the Independence Army who was the architect of the Freemason exchange of correspondence between the United States and France.
Addendum: The idea behind this article is to name the main characters that brought about the Independence of the United States and their historical association with the main heroes of the French Revolution. It was an unprecedented chaotic situation that currently seems to be bringing to an end the political model of Western democracy that reigned successfully for more than two hundred years.