Some people believe Freemasonry traces its roots to the building of King Solomon's temple. No one knows just how old it is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Probably, it arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the castles and cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Possibly, they were influenced by the Knights Templar, a group of Christian warrior monks formed in 1118 to help protect pilgrims making trips to the Holy Land.
In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization in England when the first Grand Lodge was formed. Since then, Freemasonry has spread throughout the world and Grand Lodges have been opended in all the United States and provinces of Canada.
Masonry played a key role in the founding of the United States. Several founding fathers were strong Masons including: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin (Past Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvannia), Nathan Hale, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Ethan Allen, and John Paul Jones, not to mention France's Marquis de Lafayette. These forefathers embedded Masonic symbols and customs in the trappings of our goverment; e.g., the inauguration of officers, the "all seeing eye" on the U.S. one dollar bill, the layout of the buildings in our capitol. Masonry is also a part of our vernacular; for example, "on the level", "the third degree", "past masters", are commonly found in our speech, even today.