Most Americans recognize Benjamin Franklin as one our Nation’s most influential Founding Fathers, but many do not realize that he was also a Freemason. In 1731, he joined the Masonic Lodge of St. John in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1732, Franklin helped to create the bylaws of his Lodge. By 1734 his hard work and dedication led him to the highest rank within the organization: Grand Master. That year, Franklin also published the first Masonic book printed in America, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, which was produced in Philadelphia. Devoted to Freemasonry, Franklin remained an active member for over sixty years until his death in 1790 at age 84. In 1776, he was sent to Paris to serve as America’s diplomat to France. In France, he joined and became the Grand Master of the Nine Sisters Lodge in Paris.
Franklin’s Early Life
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin was the fifteenth of seventeen children of his father, Josiah Franklin, and his mother, Abiah Folger, who was Josiah’s second wife. Like all his siblings, Benjamin was raised as a Christian. He attended the Boston Latin School until he decided to pursue a career as a journalist. Ending his formal education, he went to work as an apprentice printer for his brother, James Franklin: the creator of the first independent newspaper in the American colonies. At the age of twenty-four, Benjamin was hired by the Pennsylvania Gazette, where he was able to both publish and write editorials for the local community. One of Benjamin’s defining characteristics was his seemingly insatiable desire for knowledge. He was driven by a love of learning that ultimately led him to become one of the best writers, statesmen, and scientists of his day.
Franklin’s Role as a Founding Father
A political expert, Benjamin Franklin, was recognized for his great wisdom and ingenuity by other influential Freemasons of his day, including Paul Revere, John Hancock, John Paul Jones, and George Washington. Franklin felt personally responsible for his role in shaping America’s future and devoted much of his life to U.S. politics. At the time of his birth the future United States. existed solely as a small and dependent British colony. Assisting in the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence at the age of seventy, Franklin took great responsibly in leading the colony through the Continental Congress. He also signed the Treaty of Paris and the U.S. Constitution. Franklin was a visionary who worked with dedication to create a more perfect society in America: an intellectual and humane civilization.
Devoted Scientist and Inventor
A celebrated inventor, he created many things including: the lightning rod, the glass armonica, bifocal glasses, a flexible catheter, and the Franklin stove. His renowned work with electricity earned him the Copley Medal from the Royal Society. In 1743, Franklin created the scientific-based American Philosophical Society, which was instituted to help scientists discuss their experiments and discoveries. Describing the society, Franklin writes, “The One Society be formed of Virtuosi or ingenious Men residing in the several Colonies, to be called The American Philosophical Society, who are to maintain a constant Correspondence.”
Franklin’s Faith in Freemasonry
Franklin held deep respect for the institution of Freemasonry and Freemasons. He explained his trust of Freemasons to his skeptical mother in a letter: “I assured her that they are in general a very harmless sort of people, and have no principles or practices that are inconsistent with religion and good manners.” He respected his Brothers for their peaceful ways, strong morals, and dedication to self-betterment.
Benjamin Franklin possessed a strong faith in God, “the Great Father,” and worked towards a universal Brotherhood of all mankind. He wrote, “Scripture assures me, that at the last Day, we shall not be examin’d what we thought, but what we did; and our Recommendation will not be that we said Lord, Lord, But that we did Good to our Fellow Creatures.”
Timeline of Ben Franklin’s Life
1706: Born on January 6, in Boston, MA.
1718: Apprenticed as a printer to his brother James Franklin
1724: Moved to London and worked in a London Printshop until 1726
1731: Became a Freemason joining St. John’s Lodge in Philadelphia
1732: Published his first Poor Richard’s Almanac
1734: Elected Grand Master of Pennsylvania
1737: Became Postmaster for Philadelphia
1751: Elected to Pennsylvania Assembly; Published Experiments and Observations on Electricity
1753: Named Deputy Postmaster-General for North America
1754: Proposed a plan for Union of the Colonies
1756: Elected to Royal Society
1763: Sent to London representing Pennsylvania; Became unofficial spokesman for the Colonies
1766: Testified against the Stamp Act before the British House of Commons
1769: Elected President of the American Philosophical Society
1772: Elected to the French Academy of Sciences
1776: Assisted in Drafting and Signed the Declaration of Independence
1777: Negotiated French support for the U.S. War of Independence
1783: Signed treaty of peace with England
1787: Attended Constitutional Convention
1790: Died on April 17th in Philadelphia, PA.