Throughout the year 1976 several American and French Freemasons were meeting in New York anticipating celebrating together the 200th anniversary of American Independence Day on July 4th. The French Freemasons were members of New York’s Lodge L’Atlantide which, since 1900, had been working under a charter from the Grand Orient de France. Later that same year, on December 10, 1976 it was decided to create an American progressive Lodge in New York which could be the nucleus of a future North American body of Masonic lodges, working under the concept of absolute freedom of conscience.
The newly established Lodge, under the distinctive title “George Washington No. 1,” received its Charter from the Grand Orient de France in accord with a covenant signed in August 1977 and ratified by the General Assembly of the Grand Orient de France in September, 1978. In 1979 this lodge joined the Centre de Liaison et d'Information des Puissances maçonniques Signataires de l'Appel de Strasbourg (CLIPSAS) in order to affirm a traditional, yet progressive, and liberal style of Freemasonry not only within the United States, but worldwide.
By 2001 several traditional lodges had been formed in North America. It was deemed appropriate in 2002 that the Grand Orient de France officially recognize and collaborate with the George Washington Union as a separate Grand Orient operating in North America with the ability to charter lodges. In 2005 the George Washington Union signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation with the Grande Loge Féminine de France.
Along with maintaining cooperative treaties with the Grand Orient de France and Grande Loge Féminine de France the George Washington Union maintains friendly relationships with some thirty Grand Lodges in twenty-two countries spread over four continents.