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The Right to Pursue Happiness

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The Freemasons have been a part of the nation's history for a very long time. In America's founding, they played a key roles as signers, thinkers, and writers of the Constitution. Today they maintain that key role; they donate to charities, help others, and encourage a sense of community. It is said that the meaning of the famous phrase; "The right to pursue happiness" has changed over time. No group or organization has facilitated and embodied every step of that change more than the Freemasons.

Many of the leading figures in the American Revolution were Freemasons, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, Robert Treat Payne, Richard Stockton, George Walton, and William Whipple. Other famous Freemasons during the American Revolution included General Lafayette, the traitor Benedict Arnold, Paul Revere, Benjamin Tupper, Ethan Allen, John Paul Jones, and Robert Livingston. These men along with many other American colonists believed they had been persecuted and unfairly treated, so together they wrote the Declaration of Independence and they acted on it. They felt they had the right and the responsibility to pursue their happiness. Pursue being used with the 1700's connotation; "the right to hunt with hostile intent" as defined by Samuel Johnson's dictionary.

The Masons' ideas of Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth have been needed at other times in our history as well. The single largest enrolment of Freemasons was in the 1930's, right in the middle of the Great Depression. Nearly 12% of the male population or 3,303,000 men were enrolled (Baigent). When the American people could not eat or work, they rallied to the ideals of the Freemason organization and tried to find some kind of relief from their hardship by meeting with friends and being a part of a community that could make a difference.

Today, there are more than two million Masons in North America (Piatigorsky). Made up of men from all different walks of life, they are still determined to enforce the words that their predecessors once helped right. However, they do it with a modern perception of the word pursue; "to carry out or participate in an activity" (Kessinger). They focus less on themselves and more on the community and world around them. The Freemasons of North America contribute over two million dollars a day to charitable causes (note). Much of that assistance goes to people who are not Masons. Some of these charities are vast projects. The Shrine Masons (Shriners) operate the largest network of hospitals for burned and orthopedicly impaired children in the country, and there is never a fee for treatment. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a nationwide network of over 150 Childhood Language Disorder Clinics, Centers, and Programs (Many other Masonic organizations sponsor a variety of charities, including scholarship programs for children. They also perform

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