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July 2nd 2017

Happy Fourth of July to everyone! I thought I’d give you a little something to spark a friendly debate while gathering with friends. How many signers of the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons and when was it signed? These are the names I have been able to find, and the dates they attended. Confirmed Masons are:

• William Ellery, First Lodge of Boston, MA in 1748
• Benjamin Franklin, Grand Master of Pennsylvania in 1734
• Joseph Hewes, Unanimity Lodge No. 7 in Edenton, NC in 1776
• William Hooper, Hanover Lodge in Masonboro, NC (no date found) Highlights from the Installation of Officers
• Robert Treat Paine, Massachusetts Grand Lodge in 1759
• Richard Stockton, Old St. John’s Lodge in Princeton, MA in 1765
• George Walton, Solomon Lodge No. 1 in Savannah, GA (no date found)
• William Whipple, St. John’s Lodge in Portsmouth, NH in 1752
• John Hancock, Merchants Lodge No. 277 in Quebec and affiliated with Saint Andrew’s Lodge in Boston, MA

There are eight other signers purported to have been Masons but no evidence exists. There is one, however, that I find especially interesting; Thomas McKean was listed as a visitor to Perseverance Lodge in Harrisburg, PA but is not believed to have been a Mason.

Congress voted on the legislation on July 2, 1776 and it was approved with a unanimous vote. The term “Declaration of Independence” was not used on that day. The document was ratified on July 4th, and that appears to be the first time the term was used.

Although we celebrate American Independence on the Fourth of July, and that date appears on the document, there is only one man who may have actually signed the document on the Fourth of July: John Hancock. Later, Thomas McKean challenged the date of the signing, pointing out that many of the signers were not present on July Fourth, and that some of the signers had not even been elected to Congress yet. It is generally agreed by most scholars that the majority of the signatures were gained on August 2nd, while Elbridge Gerry and Oliver Wolcott may have signed it as late as September 4th. In any case, we can be grateful for the many men who were a part of organizing these United States of America.

Upon the square,

Huff

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