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Les Neuf Soeurs



Established in Paris in 1776 by Jérome Lalande (the first "Venerable Master") and Antoine Court de Gébelin, Les Neuf Soeurs was a leading Masonic Lodge (of the 'Grand Orient de France', the oldest in continental Europe) that was influential in organising French support for the American Revolution. Benjamin Franklin was its "Venerable Master" from 1779–81. Its membership was closely linked the salon based around Madame Helvétius known as the Cercle d'Auteuil. During the French Revolution, from 1789 until 1792, Les Neuf Sœurs became a 'Société Nationale' and was not reconstituted until 1808.

Other members not on our database included: Jean Sylvain Bailly, John Paul Jones, Jean-Antoine Houdon, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Claude-Emmanuel de Pastoret, Pierre-Louis Roederer, Dominique-Joseph Garat (ditto) and Georges Danton. Many of the great educational reforms in France and beyond were initiated by members of the lodge. Condorcet was long rumored to be a member, but there is no proof of his affiliation: this legend was initiated by Barruel's 'Mèmoires pour servir à l'histoire du jacobinisme', and was reprised by Louis Amiable, see C. Porset, 'Condorcet, Marie-Jean-Antoine de Caritat, marquis de (1743-1794)', C. Porset et C. Révauger, Le monde maçonnique des Lumières (Europe-Amériques & Colonies). Dictionnaire prosopographique (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2013), voll. 3, I, 851-852.

For more information, see: Nicholas Hans, 'UNESCO of the Eighteenth Century. La Loge des Neuf Soeurs and its Venerable Master, Benjamin Franklin' (Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Oct 30 1953, Vol.97, No.5); Barbara B. Oberg et al, eds., 'The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol.34: Nov 1780–April 1781' (YUP, 1998) & Dainard et al, eds, 'Correspondance Générale d'Helvétius, Vols 3 & 4'.