Builders of Empire: Freemasons and British Imperialism, 1717-1927 [NOOK Book]

Overview

They built some of the first communal structures on the empire's frontiers. The empire's most powerful proconsuls sought entrance into their lodges. Their public rituals drew dense crowds from Montreal to Madras. The Ancient Free and Accepted Masons were quintessential builders of empire, argues Jessica Harland-Jacobs. In this first study of the relationship between Freemasonry and British imperialism, Harland-Jacobs takes readers on a journey across two centuries and five continents, demonstrating that from the ...
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Builders of Empire: Freemasons and British Imperialism, 1717-1927

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Overview

They built some of the first communal structures on the empire's frontiers. The empire's most powerful proconsuls sought entrance into their lodges. Their public rituals drew dense crowds from Montreal to Madras. The Ancient Free and Accepted Masons were quintessential builders of empire, argues Jessica Harland-Jacobs. In this first study of the relationship between Freemasonry and British imperialism, Harland-Jacobs takes readers on a journey across two centuries and five continents, demonstrating that from the moment it left Britain's shores, Freemasonry proved central to the building and cohesion of the British Empire.

The organization formally emerged in 1717 as a fraternity identified with the ideals of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, such as universal brotherhood, sociability, tolerance, and benevolence. As Freemasonry spread to Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australasia, and Africa, the group's claims of cosmopolitan brotherhood were put to the test. Harland-Jacobs examines the brotherhood's role in diverse colonial settings and the impact of the empire on the brotherhood; in the process, she addresses issues of globalization, supranational identities, imperial power, fraternalism, and masculinity. By tracking an important, identifiable institution across the wide chronological and geographical expanse of the British Empire, Builders of Empire makes a significant contribution to transnational history as well as the history of the Freemasons and imperial Britain.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Audacious and interesting. . . . Marshals an impressive array of source material, creating a sweeping view of British Masonry over more than two centuries. . . . . It is impossible to recommend this book enough. . . . Should be required reading for anyone interested in British imperialism and Masonry in particular. . . . 'Thank you' to Professor Harland-Jacobs for this important contribution to Masonic scholarship."—International Masonic Review

"Fascinating. . . . Supported by an amazingly rich collection of documents, impressive illustrations and diagrams. . . . The book not only tells us brilliantly the story of British imperial Freemasonry but also offers new ways to think about the global history of imperialism. . . . Provides new perspectives to our understanding the historiography of trans-national colonialism."—Acta Orientalia Vilnensia

"Ambitious and absorbing . . . a careful, measured accounting of the broad Imperial scope of British and Irish Masonry, based on impressively wide-ranging archival research and serious engagement with recent historiographical debates."—Journal of Modern History

"Brings long overdue recognition to the importance of Freemasonry to the culture of the British Empire and provides a firm foundation upon which other scholars can build."—Journal of World History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469606651
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 4/23/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,181,802
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Jessica L. Harland-Jacobs is associate professor of history at the University of Florida.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2007

    BUILDERS OF EMPIRE

    'Builders of Empire' is a refreshing new book on Freemasonry by Jessica L. Harland-Jacobs, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Florida. This is a meticulously researched book which sets the record straight on the propagation of the fraternity in the 18th and 19th centuries and links it to British imperialism '1717-1927'. Its intent is to demonstrate the social impact Freemasonry has had on the civilized world. Freemasons are portrayed as crusaders for modern civilization. Consequently, Masons were either envied or viewed with disdain for their influence. As a history book, it doesn't try to interpret Masonic motives, but simply observes the facts. Dr. Harland-Jacobs' style of writing is reminiscent of the works of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. This is not a novel but an interesting thesis on the symbiotic relationship between the spread of Freemasonry and the rise of the British Empire. Included are descriptions of the colonization of Freemasonry in North America, the Caribbean, India, Australasia, and South Africa. The author is not overly concerned about the esoteric side of Freemasonry, but it is obvious she grasps the significance of our customs 'handshakes and passwords' and degree work. As a non-Freemason she shows a remarkable grasp of what the fraternity is about which, to me personally, is very encouraging. The book discusses in detail the differences between the 'Ancients' and the 'Moderns,' the development and impact of the Regimental Lodges in the British Army, the role of women, the development of Prince Hall Masonry, class distinctions within the fraternity 'elite versus working class', the concept of the 'Empire Grand Lodge,' and much more. In particular, I found the discussion of how the Grand Lodges were forced to adapt to changing times most interesting. For example, issuing warrants to allow Regimental Lodges to meet, coordinating communications between the Grand Lodges of Ireland, Scotland, and England, and how the 'Ancients' and the 'Moderns' ultimately merged. Had the Grand Lodges not adapted, they would have surely perished. The book debunks the myths of the fraternity and shows it for what it is and isn't. As such, it shoots down the arguments of the conspiracy theorists as promoted by the anti-Masons. Its nice to see someone who has honestly done their homework and 'gets it.' The book is written more as a college text book than as a rambling novel. If Dr. Harland-Jacobs uses this in the classroom, it bodes well for the fraternity. This book should be considered as must reading for all Freemasons, particularly Grand Lodge officers, and I believe we are indebted to Dr. Harland-Jacobs for reminding us of the greatness the fraternity once was and could be again if we truly thought of it as a universal concept. Actually, her book left me wanting more, such as a follow-up book as to the rise and fall of Freemasonry in the 20th century.

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