The introduction provides the central argument of the book. I argue that from the 1730s through the early twentieth century the changing beliefs and initiatory practices of this all-male society were broadly appropriated by the religious worlds of an evolving American social order. Moreover, to differing degrees and at different times, the cultural template of Freemasonry gave shape and content to the American “public sphere.” This argument is then placed in the context of recent scholarship on Freemasonry. This book draws upon recent scholarship and advances arguments intended to offer a more complete picture of Freemasonry in American culture. An overview of the book’s chapters is then provided.
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