Brethren, as I continue to learn our ritual, I am reminded of the time when my fifth-grade teacher had the entire class memorize the first two lines of the Declaration of Independence. In middle school, my history teacher had us watch the film version of the Broadway musical comedy “1776”. If you haven’t seen it, I must say it was quite entertaining. It was produced in 1972 and directed by Peter H. Hunt.
The setting takes place in the days leading up to July 4, 1776, Continental Congressmen John Adams and Benjamin Franklin coerce Thomas Jefferson into writing the Declaration of Independence as a delaying tactic as they try to persuade the American colonies to support a resolution on independence. As George Washington sends depressing messages describing one military disaster after another, the businessmen, landowners and slave holders in Congress all stand in the way of the Declaration, and a single "nay" vote will forever end the question of independence. Large portions of spoken and sung dialog are taken directly from the letters and memoirs of the actual participants.
My favorite character in this musical was Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin was an inventor, writer, scientist, Freemason, and founding father of the United States of America.
Most individuals recognize Benjamin Franklin as one the United States’ most influential Founding Fathers, however, many do not realize that he was also a Freemason. In 1730, he joined the Masonic Lodge of St. John in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By 1734, his hard work and dedication led him to the highest rank within his 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 the age of 84.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin was the fifteenth of seventeen children. 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. In 1776, he was sent to Paris to serve as America’s diplomat to France. In France, he joined and became the Master of the Nine Sisters Lodge in Paris.
Brother Franklin held deep respect for the institution of Freemasonry. 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 also possessed a strong faith in God, “the Great Father,” and worked towards a universal Brotherhood of all mankind.
In closing, as Freemasons, much has been given to us, and much will be expected of us. As Guardians of the Light revealed to us, we must strive to enlighten the hearts and minds of all those we encounter in the daily round –at home, in the neighborhood, in the workplace, and in the community –not by words, but by deeds –conscious acts of thoughtfulness and kindness. Our high calling as men and as Masons is to leave our world just a little better than when we found it.
Until next month, take care, God Bless and be safe!!!
Sincerely and Fraternally,
Trenton Cyrus #5 WM