The Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, usually referred to as Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, sometimes are Free and Accepted Masons (A. F. & A. M. or F. & A. M.), is a secret fraternity founded upon man's religious aspirations, which, by forms, ceremonies, and elaborate symbolism, seeks to create a universal brotherhood, to relive suffering, cultivate the virtues, and join in the endless search for truth. It is the oldest and most widely distributed secret society, having an active membership of 1,400,000 in more than 25,000 Lodges which, except in Austria and Russia, mark the paths of commerce and civilization throughout the world. The Fraternity as now organized dates from 1717, when the four old Lodges in London met and formed a Grand Lodge.

Source: The Cyclopaedia of Fraternities, Albert C. Stevens, 1907.

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