Freemasonry (the Freemasons), also known as the Free and Accepted Masons (F&AM), is a fraternal order whose beginnings are debated, but can be tracked back to at least the 16th century. Some historians and Freemasons claim that the origin of the order came about in the 10th century BCE during the building of Solomon’s Temple (being that operative masons built the temple and had a brotherhood or order of masons that believed in brotherly love and morality among other beliefs). The earliest known masonic document (of the Freemasons) was written in 1390. Therefore, the order must be at least that old.
Freemasonry emphasizes moral and metaphysical beliefs and a common belief in a supreme being or “the Great Architect of the Universe”, that being God. Moral emphases lies on truth, brotherly love, charity, relief, and faith, among others.
In order to join the Freemasons’ Blue Lodge (the main and root lodge), a person must be male, of the age of eighteen or older, and be of good moral character. A prospective Freemason submits an application to the lodge that contains extensive information about the prospective freemason and is signed by a member of the order, as well.
Men are not the only ones that can by associated with the Freemasons. Women are considered to be a part of the Freemason family when they are the wife or daughter of a Freemason. Males under the age of eighteen are considered to be a part of the Freemason family if they are the son of a Freemason. The members of the Freemason’s family are allowed to join different Freemason associations. The Eastern Star is for wives of Freemasons. The Jobs Daughters is for daughters of Freemasons. The De Molay is for the sons of Freemasons.
There are other branches of the Freemasons. But in order to join these branches, one must first obtain the third degree in Freemasonry known as the Master Mason degree (obtained only in the Blue Lodge). Among these other branches are the York Rite, Scottish Rite, and the Shriners.
Many U.S. Presidents were Freemasons. Among them are George Washington, Gerald Ford, and James Garfield. Other famous Freemasons include Benjiman Franklin, Paul Revere, Bob Dole, Jack Dempsey, Michael Richards, Louis Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, William “Bud” Abbott, Davy Crockett, Nat King Cole, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and many, many, many more. There were or are Mexican Presidents, British Kings, U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Irish Musicians, African-American Civil Rights Activists, and so much more that are or were Freemasons.