Other articles have covered the history and diversity of Freemasonry in detail. Here is just a short introduction to this mysterious organization, with some trivia regarding it.
1. Freemasonry is practised globally, and there are almost five million members around the world.
2. They do not have a single leader. It is a collective of individuals comprised of smaller lodges and organisations that all answer to the Grand Lodge that is in their jurisdiction – i.e. their locality. These lesser members cannot speak on the behalf of the whole organization. That is allowed by each Grand Lodge and no matter what no member (however respected and admired) may overthrow the Grand Lodge’s authority.
3. Freemasonry, contrary to popular belief, is not just one big institution but is made up of several organizations. These hold different but similar endeavors that they work toward, such as educational or social or philanthropic areas of focus.
4. There were several American presidents and prominent figures from the United States (or “the New World”, as freemasons like to refer to it) that were Freemasons. Some notable examples include Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman and James Polk.
5. Freemasons have had great influence on the US justice system – specifically the Supreme Court. From its foundation, the Supreme Court has had many Masons among their members, at times entertaining a ratio of Mason to non-Mason of 7 to 2.
6. Arguably, one the most important documents of the Western world is the Declaration of Independence. Of the 56 signatures on this historical document, 8 of them were from members of the Freemasons.
7. Unknown to many is that Benjamin Franklin received funding and arms to aid in the American Revolution from certain French Masons, as well as the British government.
8. There have also been a number of astronauts during the so called “Space race era” who were Freemasons.