News

    14 US Presidents Also Freemasons

    February 19 was President's Day, when America honors the 43 men who have ascended to the nation's highest office since 1789, when George Washington took the first presidential oath. Seldom noted amid the school projects is the fact that Washington was the first of 14 of our chief executives who have been Freemasons.

    Freemasonry is an ancient worldwide fraternity or club dedicated, its members say, to brotherhood, good works and wisdom.

    Some say Freemasonry, also called simply "Masonry," began with the secret societies of ancient Greece and Egypt. Others say its roots lie with the stonemason guilds of medieval Europe. Whatever the roots of Masonry, modern Washington, D.C. is full of the Masonic imagery cherished by the fourteen U.S. presidents who have counted themselves among the Masonic "brethren."

    The giant obelisk known as the Washington Monument, for example, was dedicated by Masons. The cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol was laid by George Washington, wearing a ritual apron and using the special tools to which his membership in the Masons entitled him.

    A painting of the scene hangs in the hushed wooden offices of retired Navy Rear Admiral William G. Sizemore, 33rd Degree Mason and Director of Education and Americanism at the Mother Supreme Council of the World Headquarters of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, United States of America.

    "We take great pride that the father of our country, George Washington, was a Mason," says Sizemore. "And as we've moved along through the history of our country, many of our presidents were Masons. Many of the writers of the Constitution were Masons."

    Freemasonry burgeoned during the so-called Enlightenment period of the 18th century. It was a time when many American and European intellectuals, many of whom were Masons, began to question the Divine origins of the monarchy, and to assert that freedom of conscience and religious freedom were universal rights as well as traditional Masonic values.

    Past Masonic Grandmaster and current Masonic leader Richard Fletcher of Vermont says because many of these intellectuals were also American revolutionaries, they were able to influence the way their new republic would work. "Freemasons were deeply involved in the creation of this country because a great underpinning of Freemasonry is the right of people to choose their own leaders, the right of people to think for themselves [and] the right of people to vote," says Fletcher. "We also strongly and firmly believe in public education, the right of the people to learn... That's what the United States became. And in its early history, Freemasons played a very prominent role in this."

    That is why, according to Mr. Fletcher, many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were Masons. The masons are so liberally represented among the early presidents.

    "You do not have to become a Freemason to become a good president," Fletcher says, "but I believe some of our great presidents have been Freemasons. And I think there is more than coincidence to this. They were men that believed in freedom. They were men that believed in human rights. They were men that believed in education. They were men that believed you could think for yourself. Their highest goal was to serve the nation."

    Richard Fletcher adds that these qualities were integral to the populist style of Masonic President Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, who was elected to the White House in 1828. "He was viewed as one of the common men. He brought people around him that were 'from the ranks,' and he touched a lot of the populace in this country in a way that made them feel he was friend to all of them and that he was 'their guy.'" Fletcher says Jackson was not "as regal as some of the earlier presidents and was quite down to earth in his dealings with people. But I can tell you one thing: you knew exactly where you stood with the man!"

    Many 20th century presidents have been Masons. Both Roosevelts were Masons, for example. And Gerald Ford, our 38th president was a Mason, as was Harry S. Truman , who occupied the Oval Office from 1945 to 1953. Fletcher says he has special respect for President Truman, both as a Mason and as a chief executive. "Harry Truman once said that his decisions, he never gave a second thought to them once they were made."

    Fletcher notes that when Truman was a U.S. Senator, prior to becoming President, he held the highest office in Freemasonry, Grandmaster. "And he said on several occasions that he was most proud of this office, because it had been given to him by his brothers. He did not seek it."

    George Enders, a guide at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, says it was a sense of brotherhood between Masons that inspired him to join the fraternity. It is a sentiment he says all masons must share whether they become presidents or not. "Each president had in himself the idea of being friends with everybody," he says. "It's our responsibility to look after each other. Now I don't mean they have to be high[ly] educated -- high judges, multi-millionaires or anything like this. The common man that digs a ditch has the same feelings as that man up there. It makes you stop and think. My country is built on this. And I'm part of my country!"

    The worldwide Masonic movement claims an estimated 4.5 million members, with lodges, or chapters, in almost every country in the world

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora