Bro∴ Alain de Keghel is eminently qualified to write about North American Freemasonry, having lived and worked in the United States with the French Diplomatic Service. Although universal in nature, Freemasonry bears the imprint of the society in which it exists, and Freemasonry in North America is no exception. American Freemasonry, in particular, was deeply influenced by the colonial and postcolonial experience of the close association of many of the early political leaders with Freemasonry, which led to the intertwining of American Freemasonry with American public life. This experience lent credibility to Freemasonry that it lacked in other societies, and this despite the split of American Freemasonry along racial lines, which still persists. Other characteristics of American Freemasonry are noted, such as the involvement of the families of Freemasons in organizations associated with Freemasonry. While very few women in the United States are involved with women’s Freemasonry, the wives and daughters of American Masons are often involved in America’s version of adoptive Masonry, the Order of the Eastern Star, and similar organizations. In addition, there are youth organizations that are closely associated with Freemasonry in North America, with lodges sponsoring and actively supporting Masonic-inspired orders for both boys and girls.
American Freemasonry in particular has long had a complicated relationship with French Freemasonry. On the one hand, it honors French Masonic heroes such as Lafayette and remembers that it was the French Masonic community that was instrumental in obtaining French support for the American Revolution. On the other hand, American Freemasonry remains deeply religious and looks with suspicion on any kind of Freemasonry that is not similarly religious. This has resulted in an ambiguous attitude on the part of American Freemasons toward Freemasonry in France, which is explored in this book.
Bro∴ de Keghel’s book is a valuable addition to the understanding of Freemasonry in North America in general and in the United States in particular. It is a pleasure to write the afterword for an important addition to the world of Masonic scholarship.
JOHN L. COOPER III was the grand master of Masons in California in 2013–2014 and chairman of the Conference of Grand Masters of Masons in North America in 2014.