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U.S. Presidents and Freemasonry

The purpose of this webpage is to present information about U.S. Presidents who had some involvement with Freemasonry, either as members or in some other way.

Please feel free to contact me with information, suggestions, or corrections about the information on this site. You can contact me by clicking on my name: Paul M. Bessel

There are 14 U.S. Presidents who are generally considered to have been Freemasons.  

The "rating" in the following chart is from various polls of historians' views of U.S. Presidents that were conducted at various times. The details about these polls are shown at the bottom of this webpage. These polls were not related, so their ratings may not correlate completely with each other.  However, there seems to be a general consensus among all the polls.  For example, Abraham Lincoln is always rated #1, the greatest of all U.S. Presidents, and Warren G. Harding is always rated as the worst of all the U.S. Presidents who served in that office.

Name

Years of Life &  Presidency

Rating
(see details above)

Involvement in Freemasonry

George Washington 1732-1799
1789-1797
"Great" - 
#2, #2, #3
EA Nov 4, 1752, FC Mar. 3, 1753, MM Aug. 4, 1753, in Fredericksburg Lodge (later No. 4), Virginia, MM 1753, named Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge #22, in  Alexandria, VA, April 28, 1788, and reelected Dec. 20, 1788, but there is no evidence he was ever installed or presided over any Masonic meeting. Somewhat active and supportive of Freemasonry
James Monroe 1758-1831
1817-1825
"Average" - 
#12, #18, #16
EA in Williamsburg Lodge #6 at Williamsburg, VA., Nov. 9, 1775, but there is no record of his taking any further degrees. The records of Cumberland Lodge #8 in Tennessee, June 8, 1819, show a reception for Monroe as "a Brother of the Craft."  possibly MM 1776
Andrew Jackson 1767-
1829-1837
"Great" or "Near Great" - 
#6, #6, #6
MM 1800?, his lodge is un-known but he is said to have attended 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 #29 at Nashville, which became Harmony Lodge #1 under the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, show that Jackson was a member. Very active in Freemasonry, 
Grand Master of Tennessee 1822-1823
James K. Polk 1795-1849?
1845-1849
"Near Great" - 
#10, #8, #11
EA, FC, MM, in Columbia Lodge #31, Columbia, Tenn., 1820, exalted a Royal Arch Mason in La Fayette Chapter #4 at Columbia in 1825
James A. Buchanan 1791-1868
1857-1861
"Below Average" - 
#26, #29, #36
EA Dec. 11, 1816, Lancaster Lodge #43, Lancaster, PA, FC & MM 1817, Junior Warden 1821-1822, Master 1825, exalted in Royal Arch Chapter # 43, in 1826, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
Andrew Johnson 1808-1875
1865-1869
"Average" - 
#19, #23, #32
EA, FC, MM, in Greeneville Lodge No. 119 now #3 at Greeneville, Tenn. in 1851, probably a member of Greeneville Chapter #82, Royal Arch Masons, since he joined Nashville Commandery of Knights Templar #1 in 1859. He received the Scottish Rite degrees in the White House in 1867
James A. Garfield 1831-1881
1881
#33 EA & FC Magnolia Lodge #20, Columbus, Ohio, MM Columbus Lodge #3O, 1864, Affiliated with Garrettsville Lodge #246 in 1866,  Affiliated with Pentalpha Lodge #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
William McKinley 1843-1901
1897-1901
"Average" - #18, #15, #10 is sometimes said to have received EA, FC, MM, in Hiram Lodge #10 in Winchester, West Virginia, in 1865, but William Moseley Brown is authority for the statement that this event took place in Hiram Lodge #21 at Winchester, Virginia in that year. McKinley affiliated with Canton Lodge #60 at Canton, Ohio in 1867 and later became a charter member of Eagle Lodge #43. He received the Capitular degrees in Canton in 1883 and was made a Knight Templar in 1884
Theodore Roosevelt 1858-1919
1901-1909
"Near Great" - #7, #7, #4 EA, FC, MM, in Matinecock Lodge #806, Oyster Bay, NY in 1901. Somewhat active, and very supportive of Freemasonry
William H. Taft 1857-1930
1909-1913
"Average" - #16, #16, #20 EA Feb. 18, 1909, MM "Mason at Sight" in Kilwinning Lodge #356, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1901?, Evidently, that made hirn a member at large, for the Grand Lodge issued him a demit and he became a member of that lodge. Somewhat active, and very supportive of Freemasonry
Warren G. Harding 1865-1923
1921-1923
"Failure" - #29, #31, #37 EA Lodge #7O, Marion, Ohio, Jun 28, 1901, received no other degree until after becoming U.S. President, FC & MM in Marion Lodge #70 in 1920 (MM Aug. 27, 1920), Royal Arch Chapter degrees in Marion Chapter #62 in 1921; Knight Templar in Marion Commandery #36, in 1921, Scottish Rite and Shrine in 1921
Franklin D. Roosevelt 1882-1945
1933-1945
"Great" - 
#3, #3, #2
EA Oct 11, 1911, FC, MM, in Holland Lodge #8, New York City, in 1911, Scottish Rite in Albany Consistory 1929, Shrine in 1930. Somewhat active, and very supportive of Freemasonry
Harry S. Truman 1884-1972
1945-1953
"Near Great" - #9, #8 EA Feb. 9, 1909, Belton Lodge #450, Grandview, Missouri, MM 1909. In 1911, Truman was the 1st WM of the new Grandview Lodge #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.
Gerald R. Ford 1913-(still alive)
1974-1977
#23 EA Sep. 30, 1949, Malta Lodge #465, Grand Rapids, Michigan, courtesy FC & MM Columbia Lodge #3, Washington, D.C., Apr. 20 &  May 18, 1951

It is reported that Lyndon B. Johnson (U.S. President 1963-1969, rated "Average - high", #10 out of 36) was a Freemason in the sense that he took the Entered Apprentice, or 1st Degree, but did not continue to the 2nd and 3rd degrees. Some would consider him to have been a Freemason, but others would not. EA Oct. 30, 1937, in Johnson City Lodge #561, Johnson City, TX.

There have been reports that Thomas Jefferson (U.S. President 1801-1809, rated "Near Great", #4 out of 36, among the 10 best) was a Freemason, but most researchers now believe there is no evidence of this.

At least one U.S. President, John Quincy Adams (1825-1829, rated "Average - high", #16 out of 36) was a very active Antimason. He wrote and spoke about his views that Freemasonry was antithetical to the ideals of the United States, and that it would be better for our country if Freemasonry were to disappear. His father, John Adams (U.S. President 1797-1801, rated "Near Great"), was probably at least mildly opposed to Freemasonry.

Notes for a Lodge presentation about U.S. Presidents and Freemasonry


1948 Poll conducted by Arthur M. Schlesinger of 55 historians, published in Life Magazine on November 1, 1948

Great
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. George Washington
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. Woodrow Wilson
5. Thomas Jefferson
6. Andrew Jackson

Near Great
7. Theodore Roosevelt
8. Grover Cleveland
9. John Adams
10. James K. Polk 

Average
11. John Quincy Adams
12. James Monroe
13. Rutherford B. Hayes
14. James Madison
15. Martin Van Buren
16. William Howard Taft
17. Chester A. Arthur
18. William McKinley
19. Andrew Johnson
20. Herbert Hoover
21. Benjamin Harrison

Below Average
22. John Tyler
23. Calvin Coolidge
24. Millard Fillmore
25. Zachary Taylor
26. James Buchanan
27. Franklin Pierce

Failure
28. Ulysses Grant
29. Warren G. Harding 


1962 Poll conducted by Arthur M. Schlesinger of 75 historians, published in The New York Times magazine on July 29, 1962

Great
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. George Washington
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. Woodrow Wilson
5. Thomas Jefferson

Near Great
6. Andrew Jackson
7. Theodore Roosevelt
8. James K. Polk 
9. Harry Truman
10. John Adams
11. Grover Cleveland

Average
12. James Madison
13. John Quincy Adams
14. Rutherford B. Hayes
15. William McKinley
16. William Howard Taft
17. Martin Van Buren
18. James Monroe
19. Herbert Hoover
20. Benjamin Harrison
21. Chester Arthur
22. Dwight D. Eisenhower
23. Andrew Johnson

Below Average
24. Zachary Taylor
25. John Tyler
26. Millard Fillmore
27. Calvin Coolidge
28. Franklin Pierce
29. James Buchanan 

Failure
30. Ulysses Grant
31. Warren G. Harding 


1982 Poll conducted by Chicago Tribune of 49 historians, published in the Chicago Tribune magazine on January 10, 1982


1. Abraham Lincoln
2. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. George Washington
4. Theodore Roosevelt
5. Thomas Jefferson
6. Andrew Jackson
7. Woodrow Wilson
8. Harry Truman 
9. Dwight Eisenhower
10. William McKinley
11. James Polk
12. Lyndon Johnson
13. Grover Cleveland
14. John Kennedy (tie)
14. John Adams (tie)
16. James Monroe
17. James Madison
18. Martin Van Buren
19. John Quincy Adams
20. William Taft
21. Herbert Hoover
22. Rutherford Hayes
23. Gerald Ford
24. Chester Arthur
25. Benjamin Harrison
26. Jimmy Carter
27. Calvin Coolidge
28. Zachary Taylor
29. John Tyler 
30. Ulysses Grant
31. Millard Fillmore 
32. Andrew Johnson
33. James Garfield
34. Richard Nixon
35. Franklin Pierce
36. James Buchanan
37. Warren Harding
38. William Harrison


http://www.americanpresidents.org/survey/historians/performance.asp

http://www.opinionjournal.com/hail/rankings.html

http://ragz-international.com/ranking_the_presidents.htm


Copyright 1998-2014 by Paul M. Bessel - all rights reserved

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Please note that I no longer am updating the webpages about Freemasonry. I still maintain my memberships but otherwise I am not active.