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Secret societies are a common concern of conspiracy theories and Hollywood blockbusters alike. The legends surrounding them add to their mystique, while obscuring the truth. One thing is certain: such groups are dedicated to elevating members above others. It’s “us” versus “them.”
At one time, Christianity was a secret society to avoid Roman persecution. Founding fathers like Washington and Franklin were Freemasons. And in the Ivy League, secret societies are the elite among the elite, and their members often become world leaders.
Dr. Ian Smith grew up with a single mom in a working-class family, and as a young African-American man, thought he wasn't a likely candidate for any secret societies while he was a student at Harvard. Then one day he received an invitation with three blue torches under his dorm room door.
"It’s been several decades since I joined the club and I have no idea why they chose me," Smith said.
The invitation was to join the Delphic Club, a secret society reportedly started by J.P. Morgan in the late 19th century. That card opened a door to a world most never see, and inspired Smith's novel "The Ancient Nine."
Even as Harvard and other universities discourage or even actively try to shut down clubs for not being inclusive, Smith says their influence continues to this day.
Larry Potash has the Backstory.