Why Were so Many of the Founding Fathers Free Masons?

The Masonic fraternity promotes many ideals, such as equality, freedom and democracy, which were also cornerstones of the founding fathers' revolt against English rule. While there is an abundance of theories and speculation about the prevalence of Freemasonry among the founding fathers, only eight of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were confirmed Freemasons. Two other famous Freemasons of the Revolutionary era were George Washington and Paul Revere, but there were also many loyalist Freemasons.

After the signing of the U.S. Constitution, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson appointed another Freemason to assist in the design of the new capital, which is why Masonic symbolism is visible throughout government buildings, street layout and artwork in Washington, D.C. Some of the most recognizable symbols today include the square and compass, the pentagram, and the pyramid with the all-seeing eye, added to the one-dollar bill by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of 14 presidents and 40 vice presidents and known Freemasons, as of 2015.

The Freemasons are a favorite topic of conspiracy theorists, along with the Illuminati, the Knights Templar and other secret, ritualistic organizations. Many authors, including Dan Brown, and several movies, including "National Treasure," fictionalize Freemasonry and its role in the American Revolution. "National Treasure" stars Nicolas Cage as a historian and treasure hunter who races against a team of mercenaries to chase clues left by the Masonic founding fathers to discover a vast, ancient treasure hidden beneath Trinity Church in Boston, Massachusetts.