My Orlando Scottish Rite Brothers,
It is recorded history that out of the 45 Presidents of the United States of America, 14 were Freemasons, and of these, two were coroneted 33° Inspector General Honorary Scottish Rite Masons. A brief Masonic history of the US Presidents that were Freemasons is listed below:
GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799) – First President (1789-1797)
Brother Washington was initiated November 4, 1752, passed March 3, 1753, and raised August 4, 1753, at the age of 20, by Fredericksburg Lodge No.4, Fredericksburg, Va. He served as Worshipful Master of Alexandria Lodge No.22, Alexandria, Va. 1788 and 1789 while president of the United States of America, and also served as acting Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Maryland in laying the cornerstone of the U. S. Capitol on September 18, 1793, at Federal City as then called but no is known as Washington, D. C.
JAMES MONROE (1758-1831) – Fifth President (1817-1825)
Lodge records were lost, but through research, it was determined that Brother Monroe was initiated November 9, 1775, by Williamsburg Lodge No.6, Williamsburg, Va. Dates of passing to FC and being raised (MM) are not definite. However, records show he paid his lodge dues and visited many Masonic Lodges while President of the United States.
ANDREW JACKSON (1767-1845) – Seventh President (1829-1837)
The record for Brother Jackson has not been located. He seems to have been a Member of St. Tammany Lodge No.1, Nashville, Tennessee, as early as 1800. It was the first Lodge in Tennessee, organized in 1789, under a Dispensation from the Grand Lodge of North Carolina. The name was later changed to Harmony Lodge No.1 on November 1, 1800. On December 27, 1813, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee was granted its own Constitution. Brother Jackson was the sixth Grand Master of Masons of Tennessee, serving from October 7, 1822, until October 4, 1824.
JAMES KNOX POLK (1795-1849) – Eleventh President (1845-1849)
Initiated: June 5, 1820, Passed and Raised September 4, 1820, by Columbia Lodge No. 31, Columbia, Tennessee. Brother Polk assisted in the Cornerstone Laying of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., May 1, 1847. Brother Polk was Governor of Tennessee 1839-1841.
JAMES BUCHANAN (1791-1868) – Fifteenth President (1857-1861)
Brother Buchanan was Initiated December 11, 1816, Passed and Raised January 24, 1817, by Lancaster Lodge No. 43, Lancaster, Pa. Brother Buchanan became Worshipful Master of Lancaster Lodge No. 43 1822-1823; and in 1824 was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the Counties of Lancaster, Lebanon, and York of Pa.
ANDREW JOHNSON (1808-1875) – Seventeenth President (1865-1869)
The Lodge records for Brother Johnson was lost during the Civil War. However, researchers determined that he was Initiated, Passed and Raised May 5, 1851, by Greenville Lodge No. 119 (now No.3), Greenville, Tennessee. Brother Johnson was Military Governor of Tennessee, 1862-1865.
JAMES ABRAM GARFIELD (1831-1881) – Twentieth President (March – September 1881)
Brother Garfield was Initiated November 19, 1861, Magnolia Lodge, No. 20, Columbus, Ohio. Due to Civil War duties, Brother Garfield did not receive the Third Degree until November 22, 1864, in Columbus Lodge No. 30, Columbus, Ohio. On October 10, 1866, he Affiliated with Garrettsville Lodge No. 246, Garrettsville, Ohio, serving as its Chaplain in 1868-1869. Brother Garfield then became a Charter Member of Pentalpha Lodge No. 23 of Washington, D.C. on May 4, 1869; in fact, he was one of the petitioners for the Lodge Charter. Brother Garfield was assassinated July 2, 1881, and died September 19, 1881.
WILLIAM McKINLEY (1843-1901) – Twenty-fifth President (1897-1901)
Brother McKinley was Initiated May 1, 1865, Passed May 2, 1865, and Raised May 3, 1865, by Hiram Lodge No. 21, Winchester, Va. Brother McKinley Affiliated with Canton Lodge No. 60, Canton, Ohio on August 21, 1867; and demitted from same to become a Charter Member of Eagle Lodge No. 431, also in Canton. Following Brother McKinley’s death on September 14, 1901, the name was changed to William McKinley Lodge effective October 24, 1901. Brother McKinley was Governor of Ohio from 1892 to 1896. Brother McKinley was assassinated September 6, 1901, and died September 14, 1901.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1858-1919) – Twenty-sixth President (1901-1909)
Brother Roosevelt was Initiated January 2, 1901, Passed March 27, 1901, and Raised April 24, 1901, by Matinecock Lodge No. 806, Oyster Bay, New York. Brother Roosevelt visited the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (in its present home, the Masonic Temple at One North Broad Street) on November 5, 1902, for the Celebration of the Sesqui-Centennial of Brother George Washington’s Initiation into Freemasonry. Brother Roosevelt was Governor of New York, 1899-1901. While he was President, Brother Roosevelt issued an Executive Order dated October 17, 1901, changing the name of the “Executive Mansion” to the “White House.”
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT (1857-1930) – Twenty-seventh President (1909-1913)
February 18, 1909, Brother Taft was made a “Mason at Sight” within the Body of Kilwinning Lodge No. 356, Cincinnati, Ohio, by Grand Master Charles S. Hoskinson. His father and two brothers were also Members of this Lodge. Brother Taft addressed the Brethren, saying, “I am glad to be here and to be a Mason. It does me good to feel the thrill that comes from recognizing on all hands the “Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.”
WARREN GAMALIEL HARDING (1865-1923) – Twenty-ninth President (1921-1923)
Brother Harding was Initiated: June 28, 1901, Marion Lodge No. 70, Marion, Ohio. Because of some personal antagonism, Brother Harding’s advancement was hindered until 1920, by which time he had been nominated for President. Friends persuaded the opposition to withdraw the objection, and on August 27, 1920, nineteen years after his Initiation, Brother Harding achieved the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, in Marion Lodge. At his request, Brother Harding took the Oath of Office of President of the United States upon the Altar Bible of St. John Lodge No.1, which was the same Bible as was used by Brother George Washington when he was inaugurated as President on April 30, 1789.
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT (1882-1945) – Thirty-second President (1933-1945)
Brother Roosevelt was Initiated October 11, 1911, Passed November 14, 1911, and Raised November 28, 1911, by Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City. Brother Roosevelt was made the first Honorary Grand Master of the Order of DeMolay on April 13, 1934, at the White House. Brother Roosevelt was a cousin of former president and Master Mason, Theodore Roosevelt. Brother Roosevelt was Governor of New York, 1929-1933.
HARRY S TRUMAN (1884-1972) – Thirty-third President (1945-1952)
Brother Truman was Initiated February 9, 1909, Passed and Raised March 18, 1909, by Belton Lodge No. 450, Belton, Missouri. In 1911, several Members of Belton Lodge separated to establish Grandview Lodge No. 618, Grandview, Missouri, and Brother Truman served as its first Worshipful Master. At the Annual Session of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, September 24-25, 1940, Brother Truman was elected the ninety-seventh Grand Master of Masons of Missouri and served until October 1, 1941. Brother Truman was coroneted a 33° Inspector General Honorary by the Supreme Council on October 19, 1945, at the Supreme Council A.A.S.R. Southern Jurisdiction Headquarters in Washington D.C. He was also elected an Honorary Grand Master of the International Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay. On May 18, 1959, Brother Truman was presented with a fifty-year award, the only U.S. President to reach that golden anniversary in Freemasonry.
GERALD RUDOLPH FORD (1913-2006) – Thirty-eighth President (1974-1977)
Brother Ford was Initiated September 30, 1949, Malta Lodge No. 465, Grand Rapids, Michigan, along with his half-brothers Thomas Gardner Ford (1918-1995), Richard Addison Ford (1924-) and James Francis Ford (1927- ). 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 coronated a 33° Inspector General Honorary Member Supreme Council A.A.S.R. Northern Jurisdiction at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, on September 26, 1962. Brother 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 in Orlando, Florida, April 6-9, 1975. Brother 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.
(Above information is credited to internet research and other publications)
In closing – may the blessing of heaven rest upon us and all regular Masons, may brotherly love prevail, and ever moral and social virtue cement us. AMEN!
Ill:. George R. Van Pelt, Sr., 33°
Master of Kadosh