Freemasons belong to the one of the largest fraternal organizations in the world. Originally, the Freemasons were an organization for stonecutters, but during the 1600s, the Masons opened their doors to men of all social rankings. The Masons became less of a business association and more of a social group dedicated to brotherhood, equality, and peace. It also is a charity and provides needed services to both members and nonmembers. Originally centered in England, Masonic lodges exist today across the world.
The Masons formed their first lodge in America in 1733 in Boston, Massachusetts. By the American Revolution, there were approximately 150 American lodges. Today, American Masons account for roughly three-quarters of the organization's membership.
Not all Americans supported the Masons and their actions. Many people feared the relatively secret organization. In 1821, William Morgan, a Freemason in New York, was kidnapped. Many people attributed the kidnapping to the Masons because Morgan had threatened to publish the organization's secrets. An Anti-Masonic Party was formed in the northeastern part of the United States. The Anti-Masons campaigned against Freemasonry until the mid-1830s.
The Masons had a small presence in Ohio during the early 1800s and a number of early Ohio political and military leaders were members of the organization.