August 2015 Event: Freemasonry in 19th-Century New York


From mysterious origins to current practice, our speaker Dr. Mark Kotlko-Rivera will discussed the origins and activities of the ancient order of Freemasons, commonly know as the Masons.  The event was held on August  23 at The Lofts at Prince Street in Manhattan.

The world’s oldest and largest fraternal organization, the Freemasons entered the world of nineteenth-century New York as a respected group that claimed many civic, religious, and political leaders among its numbers. By the late 1820s, Freemasonry was in tatters, under accusations of having committed ritual murder in an upstate community, and it became the focus of the first single-issue political party in American history, the Anti-Masonic Party. Hounded almost to extinction, Masons regrouped in the 1840s, and began a rise to national prominence resulting in the Age of Fraternalism later in the century, when thousands of Masons marched publicly on the streets of Manhattan at regular intervals, and Masons publicly dedicated the Statue of Liberty and Cleopatra’s Needle. Yet by the end of the century, the seeds had been sown for the rumors that plague Freemasonry to this day: accusations of devil worship and attempts at world domination.

Dr. Mark Koltko-RiveraDr. Mark Koltko-Rivera went behind the events to explain the forces behind Masonry’s expansion, persecution, and triumph, in 19th-century New York. Dr. Koltko-Rivera holds a doctoral degree in psychology from New York University. The author of Freemasonry: An Introduction (Tarcher/Penguin, 2011), he is a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Freemason and a Masonic Knight Templar. He has appeared as an authority about Freemasonry on such television shows as Hunting the Lost Symbol, America’s Book of Secrets, Brad Melzer’s Decoded, and Ancient Aliens.

All proceeds benefitted the New York 19th Century Society, a non-profit organization that promotes the study and understanding of life in 19th-century New York City through participatory workshops for the public.
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