Home Today's Reason to Drink July 30: The Freemasons Invade America

July 30: The Freemasons Invade America


On this day in 1733, the Society of Freemasons officially opened their first American lodge. And while they had an official charter from the London Grand Lodge, this new Boston lodge lacked a key fixture that all the British lodges possessed. A bar. Outrageous, I know. The fact is, the colonial who went through all the trouble to get the charter, a Mr. Henry Price, was a bit of a prude. Unfortunately, this terrible idea was passed on to other American lodges until it became a rule that you couldn’t have a proper bar on the premises. Which is why the Founding Fathers, many of whom were masons and robust imbibers, would meet in pubs like the Green Dragon rather than their lodges. Sure, the lodges were a more private place to plot rebellion, but hey, who wants to plot rebellion sober? True Story: This prohibition against drinking in lodges would eventually lead to the creation of the Shriners in 1870. Masons Walter Fleming and William Florence decided to fork off and create a fraternal organization that was less uptight, more fun and, yes, with proper bars in their lodges. So if you run into an older guy wearing a fancy red fez and maybe driving a tiny car, offer to buy him a drink. He’s one of the fun masons.

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Editor/Publisher of Modern Drunkard Magazine.