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Benjamin Franklin: Freemason & President

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Benjamin Franklin was one of America’s greatest diplomats and hero of The War of Independence, born on the 17thJanuary 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts, son of Josiah Franklin soap maker, and his mother Abiah Folger.

It was his parents wish, that Benjamin should enter the church.  However, restraints on family finances saw him attend Boson Latin School for only two years, which meant he could not graduate.  Left school aged ten to work in his father’s soap and candle business.

Aged 13, Benjamin undertook the post of an apprentice to his brother James who ran a printing business, and founder of the 1721 New-England Courant Newspaper.

Benjamin wanted to write for the paper, but James said no.  So Benjamin did it anyway in defiant of his brother, by taking a pseudonym; Mrs Silence Dogood … they became a hit amongst the readers.  When he admitted to his brother it was he writing the letters, James became very jealous of the attention he had received.

James got thrown into jail for taking on the established Puritan Preachers on the controversial subject of smallpox, leaving Benjamin to run the paper.

Instead of thanking his brother for keeping the paper going whilst he was in prison, James made Benjamin’s life a living hell, until 1723 when he walked out.

Aged just 17, Benjamin went to Philadelphia, and worked in the printing industry, but it was Governor Sir William Keith of Pennsylvania who suggested he should go to London, where he worked as a typesetter.  Aged 20, he returned to Philadelphia with the help of Thomas Denham, a merchant who employed him.

The Junto group was formed in 1727 by Benjamin Franklin, consisting of artisans and tradesman intending to improve their community.

The exact date when Benjamin Franklin was initiated as a Freemason is unknown, but believed to be in the February of 1731, at St. John’s Lodge in Philadelphia.

Reading and discussions were their main aim.  As books were expensive, so the subscription library came into force.  This led to the founding of the “Library Company of Philadelphia” in 1731 by Franklin.  In 1739, books were housed at the State House of Pennsylvania … now we refer to it as Independence Hall.  All that changed in 1791 when a building was specially built for the purpose, containing rare books, pamphlets, 160,000 manuscripts and some 75,000 graphical items.

In 1728, Franklin set up a printing business with Hugh Meredith; The Pennsylvania Gazette, it was a forum by which he could comment on local reforms.    Over a period of time, he gained the respect of his local community.

In 1731, Benjamin Franklin was initiated into the Masonic Lodge.  In 1732 went on to publish the first German language newspaper, and in 1734 was appointed Grand Master of Pennsylvania’s Masonic Lodge, and that same year published the “Masonic Book in the America’s.”

Aged just 17 in 1723 Benjamin Franklin proposed to 15-year-old Deborah Read, but the offer of marriage was declined by her mother.  Deborah went on to marry John Rodgers, who accrued debts, and fled to Barbados to avoid prosecution, and being flung into jail.

In 1728 Benjamin Franklin fathered a child named William … mother not known.

Due to bigamy laws at that time, Deborah was not free to take Benjamin Franklin as her husband. So it was that Franklin went on to establish what was known as a common-law marriage on 1stSeptember 1730.

They had three children; “William, Franklin’s illegitimate son, Francis Folger Franklin born October 1732, who died aged four of smallpox.  Sarah Franklin born in 1743, who went on to marry Richard Bache, and they had seven children.

Along with running a printing shop, they ran a store, selling soap and fabric which Deborah was responsible for, and a book store run by Benjamin.

In 1733 Franklin published “Poor Richards Almanack” under the name of Richard Saunders, containing witty aphorisms and lively writings.

Around 1735, Benjamin Franklin was elected Secretary, a post he held until 1738.  He belonged to a committee responsible for the drafting of Lodge Laws.

In 1736, he organised Philadelphia’s Union Fire Company, the first of its kind in the city.  Then in 1752 he helped to found the Philadelphia Contribution for Insurance Against Loss by Fire.

For it was in 1743 Franklin invented a heat-efficient stove, and named it the Franklin Stove, to warm houses more efficiently.  He never took out a patent on its design, claiming it was for the people, to help improve society.  Then in 1749, Franklin retired from printing and concentrated his efforts on science and innovations, which led him down the route of electricity in the early 1750’s.

Politics introduced Franklin into new areas, and in 1757 went to England to represent Pennsylvania, over who should represent the Colony and its descendants.

William Franklin Benjamin’s illegitimate son studied law in the early part of the 1760’s.  He like his father before him also fathered an illegitimate son; William Temple Franklin born 22ndFebruary 1762, who went into care.  Later that year he married Elizabeth Downes, upon passing the bar, and was appointed Royal Governor of New Jersey in 1763.

America opposed the Stamp Act in 1765, had it not been for his testimony to Parliament which persuaded members to cancel the said act.

Benjamin Franklin’s wife died in 1774 of a stroke, whilst he was in England, he had often begged her to come to England, but she feared sea travel.  Franklin went on to stay in England as a Colonial representative until 1775.

Benjamin Franklin is remembered as one of the greatest of the Founding Fathers of the United States, having signed all original founding documents: (Declaration of Independence – Treaty of Paris – U.S. Constitution).

Benjamin Franklin played a major role in America’s development:

  • Unifying the colonists in their rebellion against England.
  • Philosophy concerning the rights of mankind.
  • Facilitating the American Revolution.

Benjamin Franklin, member of secret groups, in America, France and England, the main players of the War of Independence.

  • Master of the Masonic Lodge of Philadelphia.
  • Master of the Nine Sisters Lodge of France, from which came the French Revolution.
  • England’s Hell-Fire club, a political and sexual club founded by Francis Dashwood.

Franklin was Deputy Postmaster General for North America, and agent to the Pennsylvania Assembly, who resided in London, England for sixteen years.

Franklin became great friends with Francis Dashwood, Lord Despencer, and became a regular guest at the Dashwood estate of West Wycombe Park.

Some six miles from the Dashwood estate, on the banks of the River Thames, close to Marlow, laid the ruins of Medmenham Abbey.  A former Cistercian Order of Monks, founded it in 1145, the perfect location for the Hell-Fire club, located in a grove of trees, and almost concealed from sight.

The Roman Room within the Abbey housed indecent Roman frescoes, walls covered in famous English prostitutes, complimented with Egyptian gods and goddesses in wall niches.

Around 1752, Dashwood opened the Medmenham Monks Society, later known as the Hell-Fire club.  For his monks, there be nuns…  Many were prostitutes, other’s local women who craved excitement, but mostly ladies of society.

The order consisted of two groups of monks; the superiors and inferior members.  The Hell-Fire club was frequented by many important people, with combined power, they could control governments.

It was for this reason Benjamin Franklin became a member around 1764.

Franklin had many friends in England, but his loyalty to America, and the corruption in English politics, made him question, whether America should break their connection with England.  Then it came to his attention that one Thomas Hutchinson, thought to be working for the American people as an English-appointed Governor of Massachusetts, but in truth still worked for King George III of England.

Declaration of Independence

Shortly after his return to America, Franklin was elected to the Second Continental Congress, and was involved in drafting the Declaration of Independence, which was signed by 56 representatives including himself on 4thJuly 1776.

The French Government signed a Treaty of Alliance in 1778 with the American’s, and Franklin went on to sign the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Upon his return home, Franklin was honoured for his works; he became President of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania, a delegate of the Constitutional Convention, signing the Constitution.

One of his final acts he will go down in history for; the anti-slavery treaty of 1789.

Benjamin Franklin, a loyal subject to his country, fought for what he believed in, and died aged 84 on the 17thApril 1790.  It is said 20,000 people attended his funeral.  His legacy still lives on…

Benjamin Franklin’s Masonic Timeline:

On the 6thJanuary 1705 Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston Massachusetts.

Franklin organized the Leathern Apron Club in 1727, a secret society in Philadelphia.

1730-1731: In the February he was initiated into Philadelphia’s Saint John’s Lodge.

In the June of 1732, drafted a set of By-Laws for Saint John’s Lodge.

On the 24thJune 1732 was elected Junior Grand Warden and Grand Master of Pennsylvania.

In the August of 1734, advertised the reprint of Anderson’s Constitutions of the Free Masons, the first Masonic book printed in America.

During Franklin’s administration as Grand Master 1734-5, The State House and Independence Hall. According to the old Masonic and family traditions the cornerstone was laid by him and the Brethren of Saint John’s Lodge.

According to letter written by Franklin on the 13thApril 1738 to his mother.  He is reportedly have stated that Freemasons have no principles or practices that are inconsistent with religion.

On the 25thMay 1743 visited Saint John’s Boston Lodge.

On the 29thAugust 1749 the Tun Tavern Lodge petitioned Provincial Grand Master Franklin for a Deputation under his sanction.  On the 13thMarch 1750 he was deposed as Provincial Grand Master and immediately appointed Deputy Grand Master by William Allen, Provincial Grand Master.

On the 12thMarch 1752, was appointed on Committee for building the Freemason’s Lodge in Philadelphia, and on the 25thOctober visited the Tun Tavern Lodge.

On the 24thJune 1755 played a prominent part in the Grand Anniversary and Dedication of the Freemason’s Lodge in Philadelphia, the first Masonic building in America.

In 1760 became Provincial Grand Master of Philadelphia.

On the 17thNovember 1760 present at the Crown & Anchor in London, England’s Grand Lodge.

In 1776 Benjamin Franklin became affiliated with Masonic Lodges in France.

On the 7thApril 1778, he assisted at the initiation of Voltaire in the Nine Sisters Lodge, a famous lodge in Paris.

On the 28thNovember 1778 officiated at the Lodge of Sorrou, the Masonic Funeral Service.

Benjamin Franklin was elected Worshipful Master on the 21stMay 1779, a post he held for two years.

In 1782 elected Venerable Worshipful Master of Loge des Neuf Soeurs, Grand Orient de Paris.

On the 7thJuly became member of the Respectable Lodge de Saint Jean de Jerusalem.

On the 24thApril 1785, elected Venerable d’Honneur of Respectable Lodge de Saint Jean de Jerusalem.

In the 1785 elected honorary member of Loge des Ron Amis, Good Friends, Rouen France.

On the 19thApril 1906, memorial services were held at his grave side in Christ Church yard, Philadelphia by officers of the Pennsylvania Lodge.  The occasion being to observe the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin.

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