National Treasure

In November 2004 a motion picture titled “National Treasure” was released by Touchstone Pictures in the US. Because movies and books involving Freemasonry normally create questions, we’ll try to provide some facts for you here.

We could weave a fanciful story – much like the movie does – based on myth and imagination. There are certainly Masons who will wink conspiratorially, maybe even themselves convinced by the movie that Masons built the United States. Although the Masonic fraternity was a strong unifying force for those of varying social classes who, for the first time, were coming together as equals (a central concept of Freemasonry), the organization itself was not 'directing' or 'coordinating' the actions which caused the formation of the country.

The movie's plot line is that an order of European Knights had amassed a huge amount of priceless treasure. It was brought to the United States and hidden by Masons in a secret location to keep it out of the hands of the British. The film has been characterized by many as having more holes in the plot line than Swiss cheese but it has nevertheless met with significant success. It has been suggested that this film was rushed into theaters in order to precede the anticipated publication of the next Dan Brown (of DaVinci Code fame) novel about - you guessed it - Freemasonry!

Certainly the film projects the fraternity in a reasonably positive way but we're sure that some questions will arise as a result.

Was Freemasonry involved with the American Revolution? NO! Were Freemasons involved? Yes, they were - and they brought many of the ideas taught in Freemasonry (that of toleration in particular but also the concept that men could work together regardless of prior 'station' in life) to the newly forming country. Is there some 'hidden knowledge' or secret treasure out there that they've somehow withheld? Ah, if only.....

Here are some other facts:

1. Freemasonry in its present form dates to 1717. Although there is one lodge in Scotland with records back to 1599 and some vague references to various manuscripts which mention ‘masons’ going back to the 1300s, the organization today dates from the creation of a Grand Lodge by three lodges of ‘speculative’ (as differentiated from ‘operative’) Masons in 1717.

2. Masonry moved quickly to the European continent – especially France – and immediately thereafter to the North American Colonies. The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, for example, dates its founding from 1733.

Trumbull's painting - Can you name the Masons?3. A fair number of those who were leaders in the Revolutionary War – on BOTH sides of the conflict – were Freemasons. While Washington and Franklin - mentioned in the film - certainly were Masons, Charles Carroll (identified as the last of the 56 signers) was not. (Because he was present at a Masonic cornerstone laying, it has in the past been surmised that he might have been but there is no evidence of this whatsoever.) It is NOT true that all of Washington’s Generals were Masons. And NOT all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution were Masons. For an unbiased account of the War, we suggest “Revolutionary Brotherhood” written by non-Mason Professor Stephen Bullock available from your local bookseller.

4. Masons do not have a right - then or now - to obligate their under-aged sons such as what occurred in the 'attic scene'.

Cross & Crown - the emblem of the Masonic Knights Templar5. References to the Templars are pure fantasy at best. The Masons are NOT descended from the historic Knights Templar of the 13th Century. In fact, the first time this myth was ever ‘floated’ was in 1737 (over 400 years and a dozen generations after they were destroyed). In France, a Scotsman (Chevalier Michael Ramsay) was supposed to have presented a lecture which made the claim. Nobody had ever heard of such a thing before then but the idea caught on like a wildfire and – repeated by wishful-thinking Masons and those who think the Templars were awful folk and love tying Freemasons to them - it continues. There is a degree, Knight Templar, that is one of those in the appendant body called the “York Rite”. The Knights Templars – as stated on their own website – are NOT related to the Knights Templars of the 1200-1309 time frame.

-- Were the Knights Templar "fabulously wealthy" as some assert? Who really knows? The current 'Templar fantasy' begun by books such as "The Hiram Key" would have you believe so but in reality, the Templars dedicated their lives to service of the church and a coin from the time shows them riding two together on horseback, marking the vows of poverty they took. They were vilified for centuries by the Catholic Church whose Pope at the time (late 1200-early 1300) was enormously jealous of the power they controlled as he battled with the King of France for control of the world while sinking ever further into debt.)

-- A youth organization for males 12-21 sponsored by the Masonic fraternity (DeMolay) exists in the United States and, to a very limited degree, elsewhere. Its name was chosen by its first nine (teen-aged) members back in 1919 when, meeting in a Masonic building in Kansas City, Missouri, they saw a painting of a Knight Templar on the wall. Walt Disney, the film company's producer, was a member of DeMolay although he was not a Freemason - so there is yet another 'maybe' connection if one wants to play 'connect-the-dots'. We'd point out that Disney and the film's star, Nicholas Cage, both also wore pants - providing even more similarities!

6. The Great Seal of the United States is NOT a Masonic symbol and had as much involvement in its design by non-Masons as Masons.

7. The Masons did NOT design Washington, DC and all the parts therein. DC's designer, Pierre L'Enfant, has at times been identified as a Mason but without any apparent proof whatsoever. Please see our book review on David Ovasson's "Secret Architecture" for a further discussion on this topic.

8.  The Masons have no definable connections to Egypt, the Pharos, or The Temple of Solomon EXCEPT that the building of King Solomon’s Temple is used as part of the ALLEGORICAL presentation of Freemasonry’s teachings of being true to one’s word. Early Masonic writers would very regularly make claims about the antiquity of ‘the Craft’ (as it’s sometimes called) but none had any supporting evidence for their claims. Just as England's Royal Society made claims linking it to Adam and Eve, Freemasons in the 1700s followed the established protocols of the time and gained acceptance by citing a lengthy ‘heritage’ – all, sadly, imaginary. In the early 1900s, realism for Masonic authors became more important than impressing others with folk tales and consequently, the only ones claiming such fanciful connections today are either very naïve Masons who either have never read current Masonic literature or willfully ignore facts or anti-Masons who want to denigrate the roots of civilization.

But about the movie...

I'm looking at YOU!Our first encounter with the inability of folks to separate reality from fact was on a trip to Las Vegas perhaps 30 years ago. We, like everyone else who goes there, had headed for one of the show rooms. Because of a number of major blunders by the hotel, we were being treated as 'VIP's and wound up being welcomed into the VIP line. As those who've been there know, the 'regular' line and the VIP line are generally side by side, the later being a LOT smaller. As you move toward the door, you pass a hundred or more others. We'd been up near the door for a minute or so when there was an audible commotion at the rear of the line which moved towards us like a wave as an attractive couple came up the VIP line towards where we were. At just that moment, the door by the VIP line opened and the dozen or so couples in the VIP line were ushered into a small ante-room area. I wound up right beside the man at whom all the people in the 'general admission' line were pointing and, even, shouting to. I said, somewhat embarrassed, "Everyone seems to know you. I'm sorry, but I don't." He replied that everyone knew him as an actor on a soap opera but he doubted that one in a thousand knew his real name - which he used to introduce himself and shake hands with me. The whole incident was awfully enlightening.... Until that time I'd never realized how many people cannot separate fact from fiction. Today with contrived 'reality TV' and books like Dan Brown's 'The DaVinci Code' which say they're real but are, in fact, fiction, the ability to discern has become nearly a lost art in society.

Here are some FACTS from the topics covered in this movie:

There would have been no reason whatsoever for American Masons to keep ANYTHING from the British or, moreover, the British Masons! American Freemasonry derived its origin from Freemasonry in Britain and today recognizes the United Grand Lodge of England as the 'Mother Grand Lodge'. Thus, the story line used by National Treasure is simply a 'literary hook'. It would have NEVER happened in reality.  

The “Eye in the Pyramid” is NOT a Masonic symbol. The eye in a triangle has been a symbol for the all-seeing Deity LONG before Freemasonry appeared. There is a difference, however, between a TRIANGLE and a PYRAMID. Some folks don’t quite ‘get it’ though.

The Masonic emblem – the square and compasses - does NOT universally have the letter “G” in its center. In fact, outside of the US, it’s almost never found except when it’s been imported from America in some way. Beyond that, it’s a fairly recent innovation and first began to appear sometime around or immediately after the US Civil War - nearly a century after the events in this film took place. The idea of a square & compasses with the letter G in the middle being found on the back of the Declaration of Independence is ‘poetic license’ in its truest form.

And speaking of "G", this movie is rated "PG - Parental Guidance" because of 'mild violence'. After watching the film a couple of times, we're of the opinion that there's more violence shown on the nightly news and accordingly believe that this would make a great movie to be shown at any casual Masonic function if there's the time available.

So why do Masons care about this film?

Well, it's not too very often that Masonry appears so very prominently in a film. Further, a lot of Masons love a good 'yarn'. Heck, Masons fell all over the movie version of "The Man Who Would Be King" written by Brother Mason Rudyard Kipling when it came to the 'big screen'. 'National Treasure' is fun to watch and many folks enjoy Nicholas Cage (not a Mason) as well as the plot-twists of Jerry Bruckheimer (not a Mason either)

A couple of anti-Masons/Masonophobes argue that it's obvious Masonry cares about the film because this website has a page devoted to it. Yep, one of about 325 pages we've got here - and ignoring the fact that we write about a lot of current topics folks find of interest. This site is designed SOLELY by its creator to addresses questions about Freemasonry, particularly vis-à-vis those who want to defame it. This website has always been the sole effort of one individual and is NOT the spokesperson for Freemasonry by any stretch of the imagination.

There's nothing anti-Masonic about this film and we have created this page simply to provide some answers the rational and normal questions raised by curious people.

There's an 'official' National Treasure website where you can go to see more information about this film and the DVD now for sale has the usual 'treasure hunt' additions, albeit like most movies, they're not truly accurate.

We're pretty sure SOMEBODY will notice that the currency now being minted in the United States has changed but they'll be quick to note the 'conspiracy' in the fact that there are no plans at present to change the $1 bill - according the the US Treasury's website!

Anyway..... Thanks for stopping by!

Just so you know, this website is about anti-Masonry and why folks think that a fraternity which has been SO important to so many millions of men over the past three centuries and spends some $2 million dollars a day on charity is - to them - just awful. In addition, on this site you'll find lots of interesting facts about Freemasonry, its charities, and its famous members. We've also got a section where there are some book reports. Stick around and check us out. No maddening pop-ups, and NO ADS. Do enjoy! 

22 October 2004
Updated 27 November 2004 and 9 September 2005

 

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