[Warren G. Harding, half-length portrait, seated in vehicle, facing right, wearing mason's hat]
National Photo Company Collection.
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.
The Shriners is a society established in 1870 and is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, USA. It is an appendant body to Freemasonry. Shriners wear the Fez as a mark of their membership in the same way that a Master Mason wears the white lambskin. Before a man can become a Shriner, he must become a Freemason. In fact, if you look carefully at the full name — Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine — you can rearrange the letters A.A.O.N.M.S. and spell “A MASON.” All Shriners are Freemasons, but not all Freemasons become Shriners.
Warren Gamaliel Harding (November 2, 1865 – August 2, 1923) was the 29th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1921, until his death. Harding died one of the most popular presidents in history, but the subsequent exposure of scandals that took place under him eroded his popular regard, as did revelations of an extramarital affair. Harding was born and lived in rural Ohio all his life, except when political service took him elsewhere. Harding appointed a number of well-regarded figures, including Andrew Mellon at the Treasury, Herbert Hoover at Commerce, and Charles Evans Hughes at the State Department. A major foreign policy achievement came with the Washington Naval Conference of 1921–1922, in which the world's major naval powers agreed on a naval limitations program. He was succeeded by his vice-president, Calvin Coolidge. "I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends... They're the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!"