Lafayette & Franklin Banks & Masonic Temple, Cincinnati, Ohio
Freemasonry's impact on America is more significant than anything that speculation would hold. A movement that emerged from the Reformation, Freemasonry was the widespread and well-connected organization. It may seem strange for liberal principles to coexist with a secretive society but masonry embraced religious toleration and liberty principles, helping to spread them through the American colonies. In a young America, Masonic ideals flourished. In Boston in 1775, Freemasonic officials who were part of a British garrison granted local freemen of color the right to affiliate as Masons. The African Lodge No. 1. was named after the order's founder, Prince Hall, a freed slave. It represented the first black-led abolitionist movement in American history. One of the greatest symbols of Freemasonry, the eye-and-pyramid of the Great Seal of the United States, is still on the back of the dollar bill. The Great Seal's design was created under the direction of Benjamin Franklin (another Freemason), Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Freemasonry principles strengthened America's founding commitment to the individual's pursuit of meaning. Beyond fascination with symbolism and secrecy, this ideal represents Freemasonry's highest contribution to U.S. life. Freemasons rejected a European past in which one overarching authority regulated the exchange of ideas. Washington, a freemason, in a letter to the congregation of a Rhode Island synagogue wrote: "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily, the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens..." Freemasonry's most radical idea was the coexistence of different faiths within a single nation.
Cincinnati wasn't always known by the present name. It was first called Ft. Washington in honor of George Washington. Then, in 1788, it was named Losantiville. There is no data on just who dreamed that name up, but in 1789, the local Indians came calling bent on destroying the tiny settlement. They failed. Another attack came in 1790 and 91. By 1802, the Indians gave up, and the settlement was named Cincinnati, in honor of the Society of the Cincinnati by General Arthur St. Clair, then the governor of the Northwest Territory. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was the one who named it "The Queen City of the West". Looking at any police car will remind you of the nickname. Winston Churchhill called Cincinnati one of the most beautiful cities in the Union. Harriet Beecher Stowe started writing "Uncle Tom's Cabin" while living in Cincinnati. Washington Roebling built a magnificent suspension bridge spanning the Ohio river long before the Brooklyn Bridge was built and it is still standing, looking as good as it did when it was first built in 1867. In the late 1800's, William Proctor and James Gamble established the company known as Proctor and Gamble, who made Star Candles. The candles were shipped to the Ohio River and each box was marked with a star inside of a circle. This logo evolved into the Moon and Stars logo that was recently removed from their products because a few people thought that it was satanic. Actually, the logo featured a moon with 13 stars, one for each of the original colonies. Cincinnati is located in Hamilton county, which was named for Alexander Hamilton.