Of all the honors and many titles a man can assume in a lifetime, the greatest honor one Mason can pay another is to call him “Brother.” From the many Presidents of the United States, the founding fathers of our country, many who were Freemasons to statesmen, actors, military heroes, medical professionals, and scientists, all who called themselves Mason no matter their station in life are known as our Brothers.
GEORGE WASHINGTON (1732-1799)
First President (1789-1797)
Initiated: November 4, 1752, Fredericksburgh (Fredericksburg) Lodge No. 4, Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Brother Washington was raised to Master Mason at the age of 20 in 1753. He became Worshipful Master on December 20, 1788, and was inaugurated President of the United States on April 30, 1789, thus becoming the first, and so far the only, Brother to be simultaneously President and Master of his Lodge.
JAMES MONROE (1758-1831)
Fifth President (1817-1825)
(Lodge records lost) Initiated: November 9, 1775, St. John’s Regimental Lodge in the Continental Army. Monroe was not yet eighteen, but “lawful age” had not yet been universally fixed at twenty-one. In 1775, Brother Monroe took Membership in Williamsburg Lodge No. 6, Williamsburg, Virginia.
ANDREW JACKSON (1767-1845)
Seventh President (1829-1837)
(Lodge records lost) Initiated: 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. Brother Jackson is officially listed as a Member in the Lodge Return to the Grand Lodge of North Carolina and Tennessee for 1805. 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, Columbia Lodge No. 31, Columbia, Tennessee. Brother Polk assisted in the Cornerstone Laying of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., May 1, 1847.
Governor of Tennessee 1839-1841.
JAMES BUCHANAN (1791-1868)
Fifteenth President (1857-1861)
Initiated: December 11, 1816, Lodge No. 43, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Brother Buchanan became Worshipful Master of Lodge No. 43 1822-1823; and in 1824 was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the Counties of Lancaster, Lebanon and York.
ANDREW JOHNSON (1808-1875)
Seventeenth President (1865-1869)
(Lodge records lost during the Civil War) Initiated: May 5, 1851, Greenville Lodge No. 119, Greenville, Tennessee.
Military Governor of Tennessee, 1862-1865.
JAMES ABRAM GARFIELD (1831-1881)
Twentieth President (July 2 – September 19, 1881)
Initiated: November 19, 1861, Magnolia Lodge, No. 20, Columbus, Ohio. Owing 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.
WILLIAM McKINLEY (1843-1901)
Twenty-fifth President (1897-1901)
Initiated: May 1, 1865, Hiram Lodge No. 21, Winchester, Virginia. 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.
Governor of Ohio, 1892-1896.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1858-1919)
Twenty-sixth President (1901-1909)
Initiated: January 2, 1901, Matinecock Lodge No. 806, Oyster Bay, New York. Brother and President 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. Governor of New York, 1899-1901. Brother and President 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)
Initiated: 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 and President 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.” Brother and President Taft visited the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania on the occasion of a Special Communication held in the Masonic Temple (One North Broad Street), on March 12, 1912.
WARREN GAMALIEL HARDING (1865-1923)
Twenty-ninth President (1921-1923)
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 same Bible as was used by Brother George Washington for the same purpose on April 30, 1789 (the Altar Bible of St. John’s Lodge No. 1, New York City).
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT (1882-1945)
Thirty-second President (1933-1945)
Initiated: October 11, 1911, Holland Lodge No. 8, New York City. Brother Roosevelt participated in the Raising of his son Elliott (1910-1990) on February 17, 1933, in Architect’s Lodge No. 519, also in New York City. He was present, but did not participate in the Degrees when two other sons, James (1907-1991) and Franklin D., Jr. (1914-1988) became Members of their brother Elliott’s Lodge, on November 7, 1935. Brother and President 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.
Governor of New York, 1929-1933.
HARRY S TRUMAN (1884-1972)
Thirty-third President (1945-1952)
Initiated: February 9, 1909, 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 (by a landslide) the ninety-seventh Grand Master of Masons of Missouri, and served until October 1, 1941. Brother and President Truman was made a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33°, and Honorary Member, Supreme Council on October 19,1945 at the Supreme Council A.A.S.R. Southern Jurisdiction Headquarters in Washington D.C., upon which occasion he served as Exemplar (Representative) for his Class. He was also elected an Honorary Grand Master of the International Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay. On May 18, 1959, Brother and Former President 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)
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 made a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33°, 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; 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.
Other Famous Freemasons
Oliver Hudson Kelley January 7 [20?], 1826 – 1913
Founder of the The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, the nation’s oldest national agricultural organization, with granges established in 3,600 local communities in 37 states.
Born in Boston, Oliver Kelley moved to Minnesota in 1849 where he became a farmer. In 1864, as a clerk for the U.S. Bureau of Agriculture, Kelley received a commission from President Andrew Johnson to survey agricultural conditions in the Southern states following the American Civil War. At this time he conceived the idea of the Grange as a social and fraternal organization of farmers, and on December 4, 1867 he and six others secured the charter and Kelley became secretary until his resignation in 1878. The Grange was later instrumental in passing the “Granger Laws” which put an end to various abuses by the railroad industry in the late 1800s.
Raised Cataract Lodge No. 2, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Harold Edward Stassen April 13, 1907 – March 4, 2001
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”
– Robert Browning
As the then youngest governor in the history of the U.S. Harold Edward Stassen served as 25th Governor of Minnesota from 1939 to 1943. He ran for president of the United States nine times, governor of Minnesota four times, governor of Pennsylvania twice, the U.S. Senate twice, and mayor of Philadelphia once. He served as president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1948 to 1953.
Stassen gained a reputation as a liberal, particularly when, as president of the American Baptist Convention in 1963, he joined Martin Luther King in his march on Washington, D.C. President Franklin Roosevelt named Stassen to the American delegation to the first United Nations conference in San Francisco, where he helped write the UN Charter and was voted the most effective delegate. In 1951, he bravely spoke out against a bill in the Pennsylvania legislature that would have required loyalty oaths from professors.
In 2000, though living in a nursing home, Stassen was still promoting a 129-page proposal to revise the United Nations Charter and filing yet again for the Minnesota gubernatorial race.
Worshipful Master : 1939-1940
Shekinah Lodge No. 171, St. Paul, Minnesota
Daniel Carter Beard June 21, 1850 – June 11, 1941
Dan Beard was a painter, illustrator, and founder of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. He formed “The Society of the Sons of Daniel Boone” which developed into “The Boy Pioneers” in 1905, which then became the Boy Scouts of America after he heard about the work of Baden Powell. His writings on the group appeared in Recreation, a magazine that he edited.
He was the Boy Scouts of America’s first National Commissioner and Chairman of the Court of Honor and was the author of 21 books on outdoor living and survival skills
Griffith O. Ellis (1869/11/19 – 1948/02/04), co-founder and editor of American Boy, was Raised April 11, 1911 in Oriental Lodge No. 240.
Raised: November 30, 1917
Mariners’ Lodge No. 67, New York
Prince Hall c.1735 – December 4, 1807
Abolitionist, civic leader, caterer, leather-dresser, and founder of what would become the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, little is known of the life of Prince Hall. He is claimed by Grimshaw to have been born in Barbados, B. W. I. on September 12, 1748, although no record of this has ever been found. He is also claimed to have arrived in Boston from Africa in 1765 and sold to one William Hall who freed him in 1770. There were a number of Prince Halls in Boston at this period and the Certificate of Manumission deposited in the Boston Athenaeum Library, dated 9 April I770, cannot be positively identified as referring to Prince Hall.
In 1787, as a property owner and registered voter, he campaigned for the establishment of schools for Negro children in Boston, opened a school in his own home, and successfully petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to protect free Negroes from kidnapping and being sold into slavery. During the Revolutionary War he served in the Continental Army and is believed to have fought at Bunker Hill. In his last published speech, his charge to African Lodge in June 1797, Hall spoke of mob violence against blacks, counseling patience.
Although Grimshaw claims that Hall was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church there is no record of this, while a deposition, which is recorded in the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Register of Deeds, made by Prince Hall in August 1807, states that he was a leather-dresser by trade; that he was ‘about seventy’; and that in November 1762 he had been received into the full communion of the Congregational Church. The alleged patent appointing Prince Hall as Provincial Grand Master for North America appears to have been another of Grimshaw’s inventions.
Initiated into Lodge No 441 with fourteen others, the lodge granted Prince Hall and his brethren the authority to meet as African Lodge No. 1 (Under Dispensation). Hall petitioned the Premier Grand Lodge of England for a warrant which was granted on September 20, 1784 and delivered in Boston on April 29, 1787. African Lodge No. 459 was organized one week later, May 6, 1787.
Out of this lodge the African Grand Lodge of North America was formed on June 24, 1791 in Boston. The year following Prince Hall’s death, as a memorial to him, and by an act of the General Assembly of the Craft, the name was changed to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. The original Charter No. 459 has long since been made secure between heavy plate glass and is kept in a fire-proof vault in a downtown Boston bank.
His obituary in the Boston Gazette for Monday, 7 December 1807 notes his age as 72 which would infer a birth date of about the year 1735. His gravestone mistakenly notes the date of the published notice rather than his actual death the previous Friday.
Initiated, Passed and Raised: March 6, 1775
Lodge No. 441, Irish Constitution, attached to the 38th Regiment of Foot, British Army Garrisoned at Castle William (now Fort Independence) Boston Harbor
Founder: African Lodge No. 459, Massachusetts: 1787
Grand Master: 1791-1807
Henry Ford July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947
Inventor and capitalist businessman, Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line in his Highland Park, Michigan factory on December 1, 1913. The time to produce a Model T was reduced from slightly over twelve hours to 93 minutes.
Ford, paying significantly higher wages than competitors and reducing the workday to eight hours, was labeled a socialist while reinventing capitalism.
In November 1915 he organized the “Ford Peace Ship,” a group of pacificist who sailed to Europe to attempt mediation. In 1918, he lost a campaign for the Senate.
His editorials in The Dearborn Independent only confirmed the label of “ignorant idealist” given him by the Chicago Tribune.
By 1940, Ford had amassed a fortune in excess of one billion dollars, much of which he gave to charity through his philanthropic foundations.
Raised: November 28,1894
Palestine Lodge No. 357, Detroit, MI
Member: Zion Lodge No. 1
Colonel Harland Davis Sanders September 9, 1890 – December 16, 1980
American businessman, and founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant franchise, Harland David Sanders started the business in 1952 and sold it in 1964, although he remained their corporate spokesman until his death. Governor Ruby Laffoon made him a Kentucky Colonel in 1935 in recognition of his contributions to the state’s cuisine. And in 1939, his establishment was first listed in Duncan Hines’ “Adventures in Good Eating.”
Initiated: April 6, 1917
Demitted: February 27, 1920
Lodge No. 651 (Indiana), Henryville, Indiana
Courtesy to 651 (Indiana) by Clark 40 (Indiana)
Affiliated: October 27, 1953
Demitted: April 13, 1976
Hugh Harris Lodge No. 938, Corbin, Whitley County, Kentucky
William “Bud” Abbott October 2, 1895 – April 24, 1974
Radio, stage and screen performer William “Bud” Abbott was straight man for the popular comedy team of Abbott and Costello. Achieving their greatest success during World War Two, he and Lou Costello sold 78 million dollars in war bonds on a 31 day tour and entertained in 300 Army and Navy camps.
Daylight Lodge No. 525, MI
Harry Houdini April 16, 1874 – October 31, 1926
Born Erich Weiss, Harry Houdini was a world famous escape artist and trapeze performer, as well as the inventor of the diving suit, and the first successful aviator in Australia.
Houdini was not alone among Masonic magicians, a group which included such notables as Harry Keller, Howard Thurston, and Harry Blackstone.
His untimely death has been the topic of much folklore: his burst appendix was not caused by an earlier blow to his stomach nor did he collapse on stage.
Initiated: July 17, 1923
Passed: July 31, 1923
Raised: August 21, 1923
St. Cecile Lodge No. 568, New York
Audie Leon Murphy June 20, 1924 – May 28, 1971
Audie Murphy was the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II. After the war he moved to Hollywood; his first starring role came in a 1949 released film called Bad Boy. He went on to star in 44 feature films over the next 25 years. His 1949 autobiography To Hell And Back was a best seller. Murphy starred as himself in the 1955 film version which held the record as Universal’s highest grossing picture until 1975 when it was finally surpassed by Jaws.
He was also a successful thoroughbred and quarterhorse racehorse owner and breeder, having interests in such great horses as “Depth Charge.” Audie Murphy wrote some poetry and was quite successful as a songwriter.
In an effort to draw attention to the problems of returning Korean and Vietnam War veterans, Audie Murphy spoke out candidly about his personal problems with PTS, then known as “Battle Fatigue”.
Hollywood Lodge No. 542, North Hollywood, Calif.
Mark Twain Nov. 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910
Well known and often quoted author, Samuel Langhorne Clemens wrote such classics as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
One time editor of the Virginia City Enterprise, under the pen name of Mark Twain he also wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, and The Innocents Abroad.
Best remembered as a humorist, he also served as vice-president of the Anti-Imperialist League and president of the Children’s Theatre for immigrants in New York. Only active in his lodge for about ten years, after a trip to the Middle East in 1867 he presented his lodge with a gavel made from Lebanese cedar.
Freemasonry played little part in his many writings. In The Innocents Abroad Twain refers to God as the “Great Architect of the Universe” while in Tom Sawyer’s Conspiracy he refers to a local pillar of the community as being a freemason. In what may be the only public Masonic reference he made, he mentions “the grip and the word that lift a man up and make him glad to be alive” in a dinner speech to the New York City Lotus Club on November 10, 1900.
Initiated : May 22, 1861
Passed : June 12, 1861
Raised : July 10, 1861
Demitted : 1869
Polar Star Lodge No. 79, Missouri
J. Edgar Hoover January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972
Born in Washington, D.C., John Edgar Hoover received his LL. M. in 1916 and joined the Department of Justice on July 26, 1917. On May 10, 1924, Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone appointed the twenty-nine year old Hoover as Acting Director of the Bureau of Investigation and by the end of the year Hoover was named Director. He held the appointment through eight presidents until his death in 1972.
He built an efficient crime-detection agency, established a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory and a training institution for police.
Although Hoover successful avoided independent investigations of the FBI’s conduct and his administration during his tenure, the American Congress enacted legislation requiring Senate confirmation of future FBI directors and limited their appointment to ten years. Hoover’s writings include Persons in Hiding, Masters of Deceit, A Study of Communism and J. Edgar Hoover on Communism.
Raised : November 9, 1920
Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington, DC
General Douglas MacArthur 26 January 1880 – 5 April 1964
General Douglas MacArthur, “liberator” of the Philippines, shogun of occupied Japan and mastermind of the Inchon invasion, was an admired national hero when he was relieved of his command by President Truman in April 1951 for insubordination and disobedience.
Earlier in his career he had supervised the eviction of the “bonus marchers” from Washington, DC on July 29, 1932 in a controversially heavy-handed fashion. Retired from active service in December 1937, he was soon recalled to active duty as lieutenant general and named commander, United States Army Forces in the Far East, July 1941; was promoted to temporary general, December 1941; led American forces in Pacific campaigns as Supreme Allied Commander, 1941-1945; was promoted to temporary General of the Army December 1944; received the Medal of Honor for Philippine defense preparations and operations; was appointed Supreme Allied Commander, Japan, 1945; rank as General of the Army made permanent, April 1946; was designated commander in chief, Far East Command, 1947; upon the North Korean invasion of South Korea, was designated commander, United Nations Command in the Far East, July 1950.
“At the time of MacArthur’s removal President Harry S Truman was also a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri. Before dismissing General MacArthur, President Truman consulted with his advisors, which included Generals George C. Marshall who was Secretary of Defense at the time, and Omar N. Bradley who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In December of 1941, George Marshall had been made a Mason “at sight” by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia. Omar Bradley had been raised in West Point Lodge No.877, Highland Falls, New York in 1923. Dean Atcheson and Averell Harriman were also consulted. The recommendation to dismiss General MacArthur was unanimous… it was not the best of times for the Craft. Douglas MacArthur was relieved by Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgeway who was also a freemason. Like Bradley, he was a member of West Point Lodge No. 877, and was raised on May 1, 1924.”
Made on Sight: January 17, 1936
Grand Lodge of the Philippines
Affiliated : 1936
Manila Lodge No. 1
Norman Vincent Peale May 31, 1898 – December 24, 1993
Ordained a Methodist Episcopal minister, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was the pastor of Marble Collegiate Church for 52 years and the author of 46 books, including The Power of Positive Thinking.
Midwood Lodge No. 1062, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Grand Chaplain: 1949-51
Grand Lodge of New York