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Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840 (Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early ... History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia) Paperback – September 7, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The book s strength is its placement of Masonry in a variety of surrounding intellectual contexts. "Journal of Southern History"

Review

[Bullock's] research is exhaustive, his argument learned and subtle, his prose clear, and his insights numerous. Revolutionary Brotherhood is a major work of historical scholarship.--Pennsylvania History

|As Steven Bullock's learned and provocative Revolutionary Brotherhood makes clear, Masons were implicated in some of the most important controversies and conflicts of the Anglo-American age of Enlightenment and Revolution.--Reviews in American History

|I am persuaded by Bullock's interpretation. He not only traces the history of the Masons but also demonstrates how Masonry served as a vehicle for the emergence and consolidation of American elites. He does an outstanding job of illuminating Americans' changing ideas about the nature of 'society--that is, social relations among men.--Jan Lewis, Rutgers University-Newark

|Bullock has given us a marvelously detailed and carefully argued exploration of American freemasonry, in a book that will be the point of departure for any debate about its place in the early modern Atlantic world.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

|Bullock's account of how populistic, evangelistic, politically inventive anti-Masons deflated Freemasonry's claim to republican elitism is both timely and expert.--Choice

|Bullock's thorough and engaging volume compels us to integrate the seemingly arcane rites of this fraternity into our understanding of the factors that have shaped America.--New York History

|This richly researched book is certain to become the standard work on antebellum Masonry. . . . Bullock's careful approach enables him to catch the subtleties of Masonic thought very well. The book's strength is its placement of Masonry in a variety of surrounding intellectual contexts. . . . A stimulating and thoughtful portrait of early Masonry.--Journal of Southern History

|Any further inquires into the order of Freemasons in America will turn to this book as their starting point.--Journal of American History

|This encompassing and stimulating study . . . is an impressive synthesis about the place of Freemasonry in eighteenth and early nineteenth century American society and assuredly will be recognized as a landmark in the field.--Journal of Social History

|Bullock does an outstanding job linking Masonry to larger social and political developments. . . . There is much to learn in this eloquent book. Bullock offers keen insights to popular views of science, history, art and religion in the early republic, as well as exploring the fate of revolutionary fraternalism.--Journal of the Early Republic

|Bullock's greatest accomplishments are a thorough description of Masonry's founding, an excellent analysis of the Enlightenment's shifting influences, and an insightful discussion of Antimasonry. . . . This book has great merit.--American Historical Review

|Historians have long recognized that Masons were important figures in the era of the American Revolution. Now, in this wide-ranging study, Steven Bullock tells us why. Offering a fascinating analysis of their rhetoric and rituals, he discovers the early American Masons of the founding 'fathers' to be loving 'brothers.' He makes a strong case for the transformative power of the supposedly ephemeral social organizations of the early American republic.--Andrew R. L. Cayton, Miami University

|Bullock's book should become standard reading for anyone with an interest in the relationship between the public and the private or in the formation of the democratic imaginary. It complements what is now known about European freemasonry in the eighteenth century, and . . . it adds to current debates about the nature of republicanism, the Habermasian public sphere, and the interests of the first generation of independent Americans.--William and Mary Quarterly

|Steven Bullock has discovered the secret of Freemasonry: Masons played a very important role in the formation of the American nation. . . . An accurate portrait of the ancient, honorable fraternity. . . . The reader can appreciate the true influence of the Craft.--S. Brent Morris, book review editor of The Scottish Rite Journal

|In Revolutionary Brotherhood, Steven Bullock has proven our foremost guide through the vast forest of complexity and meaning that is early American Freemasonry. . . . One of the few indispensable books on the subject.--Mark C. Carnes, Barnard College, Columbia University

|This is an excellent work on the place of Freemasons in Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary America, and an excellent addition to any Mason's library.--The Empire State Mason

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Product Details

  • Series: Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 2nd edition (September 7, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080784750X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807847503
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
As the first third party in an American presidential election (1832) the Anti-Masonic Party has usually appeared suddenly in the story of the Jacksonian Era with little explanation except that the Masons were suspected in the murder of one William Morgan, who threatened to reveal their innermost rituals and secrets. The prosecution of the case was hampered by the fact that Masons dominated local and state government, which came to be seen an secret, elitist plot against democratic institutions. Steven C. Bullock traces the history of the Masonic movement from England to America and demonstrates how Masons were critical to the success of the American Revolution and the creation of a new nation under the Constitution of 1789. As such the Masons were not a sudden a aberration in American history but a group central to the early history of the nation. Masonic meetings gave members a place to learn how democratic government worked, how to socialize, how to argue without resorting to force, and how to participate in establishing a concept of national interest, or virtue, in the language of the times. Bullock's volume is one of the most critical interpretations of this period in American History. Do not be put off by its academic style or philosophical tone, especially in the first chapter. It really moves along afterward and demonstrates how an organization that boasted such diverse members as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism), and Andrew Jackson came to be seen as a conspiratorial institution that needed to be curbed for the betterment of an egalitarian American democracy. It also illustrates how the Masons sprang back from near destruction to be the charitable organization better recognized by Americans living today. It's well worth while!
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Phillips on June 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Steven Bullock has added a great deal to the study of Masonry with this book. If nothing else were accomplished he makes clear to the Freemason the true difference between ancient and modern Masonry. This book is also a fine study of the social history of the United States in its early years. Often overlooked by historians, the importance of the Freemasons in the early republic is finally looked at in depth.
Freemasonry often claims a large role in the advent of the Revolution which according to Bullock does not seem to be the case. On the other hand its importance to the American cause during the Revolution can hardly be overstated. Southern planters like Washington and Lee had little in common New Englanders such as General Greene, a Quaker from Connecticut. They had even less in common with the likes of Lafayette and von Steuben. Their one common link was Freemasonry. It seems that the officer corps of the American army forged its strong bonds around the fraternity. Not just the generals but many officers of all ranks seem to have bonded through Masonry. Military lodges spread the fraternity through out the army and soon some regiments actually marched with the officers wearing their Masonic badges of office.
Freemasonry as the title of this book suggests seems to have been important in the transformation of the American social order after the war. Masonry acted somewhat as a school for democrats but the fraternity itself began to grow into an elite order of "nobility" that almost became a new aristocracy. This status would help bring on the antimasons as the brotherhood which had helped mold early America's social order failed to change with changing times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Dare on August 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Bullock's book is very well written and very interesting. If you are involved in the craft of Freemasonry, this is one of the books that I recommend that you read. It does touch upon some of the appendant/concordant body ritual aspects as well, so you may want to keep an eye out before reading into that part if you hope to join those bodies at some point. For the most part, it is not a problem and this book is great for everyone. It is specific to the "American" situation of Freemasonry, but still a wonderful book. As the Master of St. John's Lodge #1 from Rhode Island, I can say that our minutes and records demonstrate further some of the precepts of this book. An excellent source of light, one might say.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dr. C. H. Roberts on May 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a "must have" book for the person wanting to add a solid, well researched, and reliable study of the history and role of Freemasonry in these United States.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven D. Wittberger on February 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
Dr. Bullock, a non-Mason, casts a keen historical eye over this important period of our American history and adroitly explains Freemasonry's
considerable part in it that it played. A must read for Masons and non-masons alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Al J. Conetto on October 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was amazed at the influence Masonry had on the development of this country. We all know that Washington, Franklin, etc were Masons and contributed to making our country what it is now. But, I didn't realize that the fraternity and its teachings and philosophy played such a part in our freedom and representative government.

Every Mason should read this book twice. The first time I couldn't digest all the information and so I am reading it again. I especially want to make sure I didn't miss anything. Very thorough, deep, history of Masonry in the United States from the beginning of our nation.
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Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730-1840 (Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early ... History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia)
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