Born in lvaldorf, Germany, July 17, 1763, left an orphan as a boy, Astor came to New York City to join a brother, working his way, and arrived in 1784. He was founder of the American fur trade, a founder of the Territory of Oregon where Astoria is named after him, was in the "fur wars " with Indians and with Canadian trappers, was pioneer and founder of the American trade with China, as a real estate dealer was a founder of Greater New York, was founder of the Astor Library, was the largest financial backer of the War of 1812, and in his will left $400,000 for building the Astor Library, equivalent to one million at present money values. He was one of the first founders of Holland Lodge, No. 8; and was Worshipful Master in 1798. From June 6, 1798, to .June 25, 1801, he was Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge; the books which he wrote out in his own copper-plate hand are still in the vaults of Masonic Hall, New York City.
The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.
For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.
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