Introduction: Born in Blood
ELITE AND SECRET SOCIETIES have shaped history since the beginning of civilization. From the time of the Crusades to the twenty-first century a handful of families have controlled the course of world events and have built their own status and wealth through collective efforts and intermarriage. The greatest elite society was that of the Knights Templars.Admission to the organization often required breeding and wealth that were the privilege of a select few. Outside the core a larger force was needed to fight wars and to maintain the organization's far-flung assets. These forces would grow to include an army, a navy; various real estate, and a banking empire. In 1307, when the massive Templar organization was suddenly outlawed by the avarice of the French king, it did not die; it simply moved underground.
The Templars survived militarily. By pledging themselves to various powers, the military orders survived their open attack by both state and church and the mass executions and imprisonments of the fourteenth century. The Knights of Christ, the Teutonic Knights, the Swiss Guard, and the Scots Guard outlived those who prosecuted them. Several are alive and well in the new millennium.
The Masonic brotherhood created in post-Templar Scotland was largely responsible for influencing the American concepts of liberty, freedom, due process, and derriocracy.The concept of the "military lodge"--in which a nonpermanent lodge traveled with soldiers--brought to America by the fighting units of Europe would further the ideals and fight the war for independence. The climax was when French forces, enlisted through Masonic channels, arrived under the command of high-ranking Masons and Knights of Saint John and defeated the British at Yorktown. The result was an elected American president who was a Mason, sworn in on the Bible of a Masonic lodge by the grand master of New York's Masons, and a new form of government. But there was a downside. The higher ideals of liberty and equality were compromised by the elite, who remained in control.
The breakup of the Templars in the early 1300s was directly responsible for the dramatic rise in piracy that plagued Europe, America, and even the Indian Ocean.The ports in Scotland, Ireland, and America where pirates could openly dock and sell their booty were protected by Masonic cells that extended to the courthouses and capitol buildings. Smuggling, too, grew as a worldwide enterprise despite its illegality.
The slave-trading industry was furthered by Masonic groups. In the first fourscore years ofArnerican history the slave-trading ports from Charleston to Newport were controlled by a handful of families bound by Masonic and family ties. These merchants would not relinquish the lucrative trade and seemed to stop at nothing in fighting abolition.The presidency was something members of the mercantile elite felt they could buy, and when money couldn't decide an election they used other means to seize control.
In an effort to derail abolition, Presidents Harrison and Taylor suffered sudden and suspicious deaths that put pro-slave vice presidents in power. When even death failed to halt abolition the country wound up in the most destructive war it ever fought. The Civil War ended at Appomattox, where the armies of Jefferson Davis surrendered--but not for the elite. A conspiracy organized by members of the quasi-Masonic Knights of the Golden Circle to kill President Lincoln sought to nullify the Emancipation Proclamation and its effects on the trade with England. The postwar efforts at reconstruction would also be stained by another Masonic group of "knights," the Ku Klux Klan.
Profits from drug running, smuggling, slave trading, and even piracy are directly responsible for the founding of several of the country's most important banks, which are still in operation today. New England's staunch insurance business was born and prospered through profits earned from insuring opium and slave ships. The large railroad system that was built throughout the continental United States in the nineteenth century was funded with profits from illegal drug smuggling.And one of the greatest opium fortunes would provide seed money for the telephone and communications industry.
Masonic membership did not merely present opportunity in the underworld. Benjamin Franklin acknowledged that success in the printing business hinged on just which Masonic lodge one belonged to in the city of Philadelphia. John Jacob Astor, who once held one-fifteenth of all American personal wealth,joined the prestigious Holland No. 8 Lodge in New York to advance his businesses. Success in the legal profession, almost a prerequisite for government office, was ensured to the sons of the wealthy who could study at the Temple in London. Passing the bar is a term that originated in the Templar stronghold in London, and it is a rite of passage that must be achieved today in order to join the legal profession. Promotion in the military was denied to many who would not be part of the military lodge, a portable home to brothers that included George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, and John Paul Jones.
The secret and elite structures that have built Americas business empires and family fortunes have concealed their history well. We have inherited colleges and universities named for slave traders and opium dealers. We honor presidents and other politicians whose families built their fortunes through crime. We patronize businesses founded by men whose fortunes are rooted in illegal activity.
Many of the families regarded as America's blue bloods, our equivalent of aristocracy, have hidden in their ancestral closets men who would make today's organized criminals look cherubic. They were not mere horse thieves and snake oil salesmen, nor were they con men who were ridden out of town on the rail. These Founding Fathers rose to great wealth. Their legacy was passed on to heirs who still enjoy that wealth--and their power too, which is protected by the institutions they put in place and ensures their participation in the future. The system, thanks to ill-gotten gains and power, perpetuates itself.
From the Knights Templar to Skull and Bones
Secret Societies of America's Elite
From the Knights Templar to Skull and Bones
• Reveals the enormous influence secret societies still have on contemporary American life.
• Shows how the secret Masonic cells that smuggled in the democratic ideals inspiring the American Revolution also enabled the future elite of the new society to build huge fortunes.
Elite and secret societies have always been a major force in the history of Western civilization. The alliances formed in secret societies such as the Knights Templar, the Knights of Christ, and the Freemasons transcended patriotism and religious beliefs and had a powerful influence on the establishment of the United States of America. While these secret associations of merchants, smugglers, occultists, gamblers, spies, and slavers succeeded in freeing the United States from foreign domination, the dark side is that the elite used their secret connections to further their own wealth and power. These secret cells did not hesitate to sponsor the assassination of a president and even attempted to break up the union on several occasions when it was deemed expedient.
From the Sons of Liberty and the Essex Junto to the Ku Klux Klan, secret societies have played critical roles in building the fortunes of America's elite. Now Steven Sora reveals in alarming detail how secretive societies continue to wield power even today as organizations such as Yale's Skull & Bones unite America's modern ruling families as strongly as Masonic Lodges once connected the Astors, Livingstons, and Roosevelts. Their immense power and wealth allow this elite to control America to an even greater degree than the Templars once dominated Europe.