Freemason keys allegedly lurk behind every little thing from the to plan of ours nation’s funding to murder. Members that the enigmatic Masonic brotherhood include prominent politicians, founding Fathers and also titans of business. In modern times, Masons are well-known for donating millions to charity. Yet who space the Freemasons and what perform they was standing for? Is there really a secret Freemason handshake? here are 7 things you might not know around Freemasons.

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1. The Freemasons are the earliest Fraternal company in the World.

Freemasons belong come the oldest fraternal organization in the world, a group started during the Middle ages in Europe as a guild of expert builders. With the decrease of cathedral building, the focus of the culture shifted. Today, “Freemasons space a social and also philanthropic organization meant to do its members lead an ext virtuous and also socially oriented lives,” states Margaret Jacob, professor the at college of California, Los Angeles, and also author of Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and also Politics in Eighteenth-Century Europe. Grounded in the Enlightenment, the company “still conveys main point values, spiritual tolerance, thirst for understanding sociability,” claims Cécile Révauger, a freemason, historian of Freemasonry and professor at the college of Bordeaux.

While not a secret society, per se, the does have secret passwords and also rituals the originate with the middle ages guild, says Jacob: “In the initial guild, there were 3 stages: Apprentice, Fellowcraft and also Master Masons who oversaw everyone working on a site. Today, these levels are more philosophical.”

Did you know? The Regius Poem, or Halliwell Manuscript, has the earliest referral to Freemasons and also was published in 1390.

2. Freemason signs Aren’t What friend Think.

Freemasons have long connected using visual symbols drawn from the tools of stonemasonry. The “All-Seeing Eye,” or Eye of Providence, while no designed by Masons, has actually been supplied by the team to stand for the omniscience the God. The most famous Freemason symbol, “The Square and Compasses,” depicts a builder’s square joined by a compass. The “G” at its facility remains subject to dispute; some specialists at the Massachusetts institute of Technology, because that example, believe the “G” in the symbol’s center represents geometry, a critical field to the first Freemasons, if others think it to represent God, the “Grand Architect the the Universe.” The Square and also Compasses remains a popular symbol ~ above Masonic rings.

There’s another, lesser-known Masonic symbol drawn from nature: the beehive. “Masons were originally working guys who were claimed to be as busy as bees,” claims Jacob. “And the beehive symbolizes the industriousness the the lodge.”


The Masonic square and also compasses symbol is watched on the key floor wall at the headquarters of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Washington, D.C.

Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images

WATCH: America's publication of Secrets: Freemasons top top Vault.

3. Yes, there Is a Freemason Handshake. Several, Actually.

Freemasons greet one an additional with a variety of handshakes, all based on one’s rank in ~ the organization. “There is a handshake for each degree: Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master, i.e., the an initial three levels and additionally in the higher degrees,” says Révauger. “Each rite has actually its very own handshakes, so there is quite a variety. They room used throughout Masonic ceremonies.”

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American statesman and also scientist Benjamin Franklin, opening a Masonic lodge, c. 1770-1790.

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President wilhelm Howard Taftposing for a portrait in ceremonial Freemasonry attire, Alexandria, Virginia, 1911.

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President Theodore Roosevelt attract his master Mason apron and also necklace in ~ a masonic temple, 1912.

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt (center, prior row) through a group of Freemasons wearing full masonic regalia, throughout the initiation of his sons James (directly behind his father) and also Franklin Jr (right of James) in to Freemasonry, with Justice Ferdinand Pecora (4th indigenous left, standing) and Mayor Fiorello La Guardia (5th from left, standing), new York, 1935.

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President bother S. Truman (center, an initial row) at Masonic Breakfast in ~ the Statler Hotel, 1952.

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