Iron John In The Gilded Age

“The Almighty dollar,’ Washington Irving wrote, was the “great object of universal devotion” among Americans. Tocqueville described moneymaking as the “prevailing passion.” And though the object of their craving sometimes changed, Tocqueville noticed that the emotional intensity persisted. This was why tightfisted Yankee merchants would break down in penitential tears and convert to Christ, why sober Ohio farmers would abandon their homesteads and join Utopian communes.Read more »

Fraternal Arts

The Ubiquitous Signs and Symbols of American Freemasonry

The order of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons can trace its beginnings back to the fourteenth century and the golden age of cathedral building, when the art of masonry flourished as the most demanded of the skilled trades. After the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, however, cathedral building fell from grace, the demand for stonemasons declined, and the order became less a guild than a social fraternity to which almost anyone could belong—and thousands did: over the centuries, lodges blossomed throughout Europe, Asia, and the Americas.Read more »