President's Day 2017 Fayetteville National Cemetery Fayetteville, Arkansas Photo by: WM Tommy G. Monk
Freemason Presidents of the United States of America
George Washington President 1789-1797 / Master Mason 1753
George Washington became a Mason at age 20 in 1753. it is suggested that he may have attended approximately nine Masonic lodge meetings during the remaining 46 years of his life, and probably never presided over any lodge. However, George Washington wrote letters in which he said he was happy to be a Mason, and, in 1791, described Masonry as being “founded in justice and benevolence…the grand object of Masonry is to promote the happiness of the human race.” Asked more specifically about Freemasonry in 1798, Washington wrote, “…So far as I am acquainted with the principles and Doctrines of Free Masonry, I conceive them to be founded on benevolence and to be exercised for the good of mankind. If it has been a Cloak to promote improper or nefarious objects, it is a melancholly [sic] proof that in unworthy hands, the best institutions may be made use of to promote the worst designs.” Interestingly, brother George Washington took his oath of office as the first President of the United States with his hand upon a Bible from St. John’s Lodge No. 1,of the Ancient York Masons. Since then, George Washington’s Inaugural Bible has been used used for the inaugurations of Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush. Additional use has been made in the funeral processions of Presidents Washington and Abraham Lincoln and in the center-stone laying of the U.S. Capitol, the addition of the Washington Monument, the centennials of the cornerstone laying of the White House, U.S. Capitol, and the Statue of Liberty, the 1964 World’s Fair as well as the launching of the aircraft carrier George Washington. The Washington bible is, interestingly, still in active use by St. Johns Lodge when not in civic display.
James Monroe President 1817-1825 / Master Mason 1776
Entered Apprentice in Williamsburg Lodge No. 6 at Williamsburg, VA., on November 9, 1775. Sadly there is no record of his taking any further degrees beyond the first. The records of Cumberland Lodge no. 8 in Tennessee, June 8, 1819, show a reception for Monroe as “a Brother of the Craft.” possibly a Master Mason in 1776. Said of the Masonic president James Monroe, he was an “Episcopalian of deistic tendencies who valued civic virtues above religious doctrine.” Stating in his first inaugural address the concept of religious freedom, “boasting that Americans may worship ‘the Divine Author’ in any manner they choose.” From The Religion of James Monroe, in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Autumn, 2003.
Andrew Jackson President 1829-1837 / Master Mason 1800
It is suggested that President Jackson become a Mason in Harmony lodge No. 1 in Tennessee. Harmony Lodge began as No. 29 under the charter of North Carolina, later to be named No. 1 under the Tennessee grand Lodge in 1913. It has been said that Br. Jackson attended lodge at Clover Bottom Lodge under the Grand Lodge of Kentucky. He was present in lodge at Greeneville in 1801 and acted as Senior Warden pro-tem. The records of St. Tammany Lodge No. 29 at Nashville, which became Harmony Lodge no. 1 under the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, show that Jackson was a member. A very active Freemason, President Jackson served as the Grand Master of Tennessee Masons from 1822 to 1823.
James K. Polk President 1845-1849 / Master Mason 1820 Master Mason 1820. EA, FC, MM, in Columbia Lodge No. 31, Columbia, Tenn., 1820, exalted a Royal Arch Mason in La Fayette Chapter No. 4 at Columbia in 1825. President Polk, as a Freemason and elected Commander in Chief, assisted in the cornerstone laying of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 1847. In Polk’s career as president he oversaw the opening of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Smithsonian Institution, the groundbreaking for the Washington Monument, and the issuance of the first postage stamps in the United States. Polk was an early supporter of westward expansion expressed in a term that Democrats would later call “Manifest Destiny.”
James Buchanan President 1857-1861 / Master Mason 1817
Master Mason 1817, Entered Apprentice Dec. 11, 1816, Lancaster Lodge No. 43, Lancaster, PA, Fellowcraft & Master Mason degrees in 1817. President Buchanan was the Junior Warden of his lodge from 1821 to 1822, and the Worshipful Master of the lodge in 1825. He was later exalted in Royal Arch Chapter No. 43, in 1826 going on to become Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Said of Buchanan in his work President James Buchanan: A Biography, by Philip S Klein, “His many talents, which in a quieter era might have gained for him a place among the great presidents, were quickly overshadowed by the cataclysmic events of civil war and by the towering Abraham Lincoln.”
Andrew Johnson President 1865-1869 / Master Mason 1851
Master Mason 1851, Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, in Greeneville Lodge No. 119 now No. 3 at Greeneville, Tenn. In 1851, johnson was probably a member of Greeneville Chapter No. 82, Royal Arch Masons, as he joined the Nashville York Rite Commandery of Knights Templar No. 1 in 1859. President Johnson received the Scottish Rite degrees in the White House in 1867. Johnson joined the fraternity at the conclusion of his Senatorial term in the House of Representatives in 1843.
James A. Garfield President 1881 / Master Mason 1864
Master Mason 1864, EA & FC Magnolia Lodge No. 20, Columbus, Ohio, MM Columbus Lodge No. 30, 1864, Affiliated with Garrettsville Lodge No. 246 in 1866, Affiliated with Pentalpha Lodge No. 23 Washington, D. C. as charter member in 1869. Exalted in Columbus Royal Arch Chapter 1866, and Knight Templar 1866, 14th Degree Scottish Rite 1872. In his time, Garfield is credited as being a Chaplin of a lodge that he held membership in. Politically interesting, Garfield supported articles of impeachment against President (and Masonic Brother) Andrew Johnson over charges that he violated the Tenure of Office Act by removing Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.
William McKinley President 1897-1901 / Master Mason 1865
Master Mason 1865, He is sometimes said to have received EA, FC, MM, in Hiram Lodge No. 10 in Winchester, West Virginia, in 1865, but William Moseley Brown is authority for the statement that this event took place in Hiram Lodge No. 21 at Winchester, Virginia in that year. McKinley affiliated with Canton Lodge No. 60 at Canton, Ohio in 1867 and later became a charter member of Eagle Lodge No. 43. He received the Capitular degrees in Canton in 1883 and was made a Knight Templar in 1884. President William McKinley said in 1901 that the brotherhood of fraternal societies was similar to the brotherhood of “equal citizenship” in the U.S. It is suggested that McKinley became a Mason upon observing fraternal kindnesses exchanged between Masons in the Union and Confederate Armies during the Civil War.
Theodore Roosevelt President 1901-1909 / Master Mason 1901
Master Mason 1901, EA, FC, MM, in Matinecock Lodge No. 806, Oyster Bay, NY in 1901. Somewhat active, and very supportive of Freemasonry. Theodore Roosevelt, said in 1902, “One of the things that attracted me so greatly to Masonry . . . was that it really did live up to what we, as a government, are pledged to — of treating each man on his merits as a Man”. From Roosevelt’s obituary in the New York Times, January 1919: Colonel Roosevelt was a member of the local lodge of Masons, and never failed to keep up his interest in it. He had made a habit for many years of visiting Masonic lodges wherever he went, as a member of the Oyster Bay lodge, and, returning, to tell his brother Masons here of his visits.
William H. Taft President 1909-1913 / Master Mason 1901
President Taft was made a Master Mason at Sight in Kilwinning Lodge No. 356, in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1901. That made him a member at large, until the Grand Lodge issued a demit to Taft when he became a regular member of that lodge. Somewhat active, Taft was very supportive of Freemasonry. More on on Taft an Freemasonry from the National Heritage Museum: Making a Mason at Sight: The Case of President-Elect Taft. To the diversity of faith that Freemasonry supports, Tast was a member of the First Congregational-Unitarian Church which he joined at an early age through his parents. It is suggested that as he rose in government, he spent little time in Cincinnati. and attended the church infrequently worshiping when he could.
Warren G. Harding President 1921-1923 / Master Mason 1920
President Harding received his Entered Apprentice Degree at Lodge No. 7O, in Marion, Ohio on June 28, 1901. He received no other degree until after becoming U.S. President, FC & MM in Marion Lodge No. 70 in 1920 (MM Aug. 27, 1920), Royal Arch Chapter degrees in Marion Chapter No. 62 in 1921; Knight Templar in Marion Commandery No. 36, in 1921, Scottish Rite and Shrine in 1921. Interestingly, Harding was blackballed on the first petition for membership in 1901 on objection and rumor over his heritage. That impediment was over come and he was made an Entered apprentice on June of that year, but delaying his further progress for nearly 20 years.
Franklin D. Roosevelt President 1933-1945 / Master Mason 1911
Master Mason 1911, EA Oct 11, 1911, FC, MM, in Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City, in 1911, Scottish Rite in Albany Consistory 1929, Shrine in 1930. Somewhat active, and very supportive of Freemasonry Theodore Roosevelt, said in 1902, “One of the things that attracted me so greatly to Masonry . . . was that it really did live up to what we, as a government, are pledged to — of treating each man on his merits as a Man”.
Harry S. Truman President 1945-1953 / Master Mason 1909
Master Mason 1909, EA Feb. 9, 1909, Belton Lodge No. 450, Grandview, Missouri, MM 1909. In 1911, Truman was the 1st WM of the new Grandview Lodge No. 618. Grand Master of Missouri 1940-1941. Very active and supportive of Freemasonry, Master of Missouri Lodge of Research while U.S. President, Masonic Ritualist, district lecturer and deputy Grand Master for several years, buried with Masonic rites in Independence, MO, in televised ceremony. Harry S. Truman was Grand Master of Missouri, an enthusiastic Masonic ritualist, and Master of lodges while an active politician. He attended Masonic lodge meetings while campaigning, and while he was President of the U.S., and he wrote, “The greatest honor that has ever come to me, and that can ever come to me in my life, is to be Grand Master of Masons in Missouri”
Gerald R. Ford President 1974-1977 / Master Mason 1949
Master Mason 1951, EA Sep. 30, 1949, Malta Lodge No. 465, Grand Rapids, Michigan, courtesy FC & MM Columbia Lodge No. 3, Washington, D.C., Apr. 20 & May 18, 1951 Ford was initiated September 30, 1949, at Malta Lodge No. 465, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, along with his half-brothers Thomas Gardner Ford (1918-1995), Richard Addison Ford and James Francis Ford. The Fellowcraft and Master Mason Degrees were Conferred by Columbia Lodge No. 3, Washington, D.C., on April 20 and May 18, 1951, as a courtesy to Malta Lodge. Brother Ford was made a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33rd degree, and Honorary Member, Supreme Council A.A.S.R. Northern Jurisdiction at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, on September 26, 1962, for which he served as Exemplar (Representative) for his Class. Brother and President Ford was unanimously elected an Active Member of the International Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay and its Honorary Grand Master, at its Annual Session held at Orlando, Florida, April 6-9, 1975. Ford held this post until January 1977, at which time he became a Past Honorary Grand Master, receiving his Collar and Jewel on October 24, 1978 in Topeka, Kansas, from the Hon. Thomas C. Raum, Jr., Grand Master, Order of DeMolay.
Lyndon B. Johnson President 1963-1969 / Fellowcraft 1937
Lyndon B. Johnson was initiated on October 30, 1937 in Johnson City Lodge No. 561, at Johnson City, Texas. As having never completed his degrees, Johnson is not considered in this list as one of the Masonic Presidents.