For more information, see:
The name of Samuel Adams, a firebrand in America's Revolutionary War (not to be confused with non-Mason John Adams, America's second President or John Quincy Adams, an anti-Mason) is sometimes seen listed among America's Masonic 'Founding Fathers' by those who want to assert that all Masons are (were) Deists. Broad generalizations are absurd, particularly in instances such as this and the religious beliefs of the many involved in the American Revolution simply cannot be so easily generalized. More insidiously, the tie between Deism and Freemasonry is made incorrectly and maliciously. Sam Adams, the organizer of the Boston Tea Party, was not a Mason although he did participate in events involving Masons including his supporting a petition to support the orphans of Provincial Grand Master Joseph Warren who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill and the laying of a cornerstone (in his position as governor of Massachusetts) by then Grand Master Paul Revere. Multiple books published by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts do not list him as a Mason: one would think they'd be in a position to know.
Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, one of the greatest jazz musicians to have ever lived, is listed on dozens of 'Famous Masons' lists online. On some, it is asserted that he was a member of Montgomery Lodge #18 in New York but there is no such lodge (including Prince Hall Grand Lodges) in New York. In his autobiography "Stachmo", Mr. Armstrong makes reference to his membership in the Knights of Pythias - another fraternal organization which engages in charitable and fraternal causes. (Source: Joseph Walkes, President of the Phylaxis Society). Mr. Armstrong is also shown in the excellent reference book, "Freemasonry: A Celebration of the Craft" but there is no further information on him there. Based on lack of evidence, it must be concluded that Mr. Armstrong was NOT a Mason. See also the website entry here. Should you have more than hearsay information, do let us know. (PS: "Freemasons for Dummies" lists him but the author now acknowledges that this was in error.) A May, 2008 Los Angeles Times article also lists him as a Mason: obviously, they didn't look here first. Google is your friend, folks: and we're #1 (as of this writing) when you enter "Famous Freemasons". Shame on them for not doing their homework! <grin>
Neil Armstrong - American astronaut who as commander of Apollo 11 became the first human being to walk on the moon (July 20, 1969) has been cited by some as having been a Mason. It appears that the confusion may have resulted from the Masonic membership of his father. No one has been able to provide the name of the Lodge to which Armstrong might have belonged. David O. Norris, one of the authors of 'The Songs of Freemasonry' has indicated that when attempting to send a complimentary copy of their work to Armstrong, his assistant advised that he'd never been a Mason and returned the recording.
Lord Robert Baden-Powell, Chief Scout of the World and Founder of the World Scout Movement is sometimes wrongly identified as a Freemason. No proof of this has ever been found and immediately after his death in 1941, his non-membership was confirmed by his widow, Lady Olave Baden-Powell, by his daughter Betty, by his brother Major David Baden-Powell (who was a Mason) and also by V. W. Bro. Lord Somers, who succeeded Baden-Powell at the head of the scout movement. The same confirmation of non-membership was made at the consecration of Baden-Powell Lodge #448, United Grand Lodge of Victoria, Australia. Also see "Freemasonry and the Scout Movement" by George W. Kerr, 1994. The myth seems to continue, however, despite many attempts to debunk it. You can find one such discussion on this page of the pen-ultimate B-P web site.2
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an English philosopher and statesman, often referred to as the most influential and versatile writer of the 17th Century. He has been presumed by some to be the 'real' Shakespeare - and many have pointed to the connections between writings by Bacon and those of Shakespeare with that of Freemasonry. Realistically, the link between Shakespeare and Bacon has never been definitively proven nor was Freemasonry in its present form existent during his lifetime. Those who want to see links can find many 'connections' between the works of both Bacon and Shakespeare but such similarities are retrospective. The appearance of a square and - separately - what appears to be compasses on a book's frontspiece is held by some as "proof" that Bacon was a Mason; such ideas are, of course, impossible to prove at this time and it is doubtful that such a connection will ever be more than speculative conjecture. There are a number of books about this imagined connection. Head here and check their bibliography page using the Search function of your browser to locate them. Bottom line: if you see someone holding Bacon out to be a Mason, they're full of hot air!
Tony Blair - Anthony Charles Lynton Blair - the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is NOT a Mason. Perhaps because of his close association with the United States President George W. Bush (also NOT a Mason - see below) especially in matters involving the so-called 'War on Terror', Mr. Blair is sometimes claimed to be a Mason. Again, such assertions arise from those who want to assert the 'evil' of being a Mason and/or the benefits that accrue from membership. The irony of these many claims is that if these individuals had the power that the small handful of detractors claim, there would be no dissent allowed and those making the ludicrous claims would be instantly silenced. Common sense, though, rarely plays into the polemics of anti-Masonic rants.
People often write on the internet about those things they know the least about. Such is the case with author Dan Brown who some have claimed to be a Mason because of the Masonic theme which is so prevalent in his best-seller, The Lost Symbol. Mr. Brown is NOT a Mason but wrote this letter which clearly explains his rationale for using Freemasonry as part of his plot line. Click on the letter for a larger, readable copy.
There is no proof whatsoever that Charles Bulfinch, the well-known architect, was a Mason. Author David Ovason made the claim in a book but provides no proof whatsoever. Based on the rest of Mr. Ovason's work, this is at best yet another one of his 'personal beliefs' with no actual support.
Lance Burton the world-famous Magician continues the "Royal Dynasty Of Magic" which has a long history with Freemasonry. Mason Harry Kellar, America's premier magician from 1887 to 1908, selected Mason Howard Thurston as his successor. Before his death in 1935, Bro. Thurston selected Dante as his successor. In turn, Mason 'Dante' (Harry Jansen) selected Lee Grabel (Mason Merill Lee Grabeel) who, similarly, selected Lance Burton in 1994 to continue this extraordinary tradition. Although Burton himself is not a Mason, he has been named an 'Honorary Shriner' in Zelzah Shrine in Las Vegas. Additionally, his Manager is a Mason who arranges an all-star magic show each year (starring Lance!) to raise money for the Shriners Hospitals. Mr. Burton also is donating the profit from a retail magic store next to the Lance Burton Theatre in the Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, to the Shriners Hospitals for Children.3
U. S. President George Herbert Walker Bush ("Bush 41") has also on numerous occasions been referred to as a Freemason. The confusion probably arises from the swearing in ceremonies at his inauguration when he took his oath of office on the George Washington Bible which belongs to St. Johns Lodge in New York City. Because the Bible belonged to a Masonic Lodge many writers assumed he was a Freemason - while others made the charge simply because they imagine everyone in power to be a boogey-man and part of some Masonic cabal. The Bible was used at the request of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. This particular Bible was first used on April 30, 1789, by the Grand Master of the Masons in New York, to administer the oath of office to President George Washington in New York City. Other presidents who took their oath of office with this Bible were Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter and their use is not because of its ties to Freemasonry but rather its ties to the formation of the United States.
U. S. President George Walker Bush, (Bush 43), son of President George H. W. Bush is now regularly rumored to be a Mason although this was not so when he first became President. He wished to take his Oath of Office on the same Bible as used by his father when he became President but the inclement weather was such that the custodians of the Bible from St. Johns Lodge #1 in New York concurred with President-elect Bush just moments before the ceremony that it would have placed the priceless treasure at too great a risk. Accordingly, a family Bible was used instead.
Anti-Mason Ed Decker brags that God answered his prayers that President Bush not take his oath on the Washington Bible. One would think that Mr. Decker should have perhaps spent that time praying for the starving in Africa or the homeless throughout the world - but anti-Masons do have their priorities, you know!
Famous Hollywood movie director James Cameron has been 'linked' by some anti-Masonic conspiracy-minded folks as having received the 33rd Degree of the Scottish Rite in some sort of secret ceremony during an Oscar Award presentation. Their claims, of course, totally ignore the fact that 'secret presentations' of that honor simply do not occur. All recipients of the award are announced publicly at the annual Scottish Rite meeting the year before the award is actually presented. The presentation is done at the next annual meeting. Since printed proceedings of both Annual Sessions are sent to thousands of Masonic bodies throughout the world, a simple review of them would clearly show no such presentation. In fact (perhaps ironically?) the Supreme Council in March, 2000 advised that there is not even a member within their organization named "James Cameron". An additional check has been made with the General Secretary of the Oakland Scottish Rite Bodies who also advised that James Cameron is not now and has never been a member of the Oakland Scottish Rite Bodies. The next time you see such information, ask the claimant to produce evidence that James Cameron is a Scottish Rite Mason. We'll bet they can't....
But we're pretty confident that they'll tell you it's all part of some secret conspiracy - although why a movie director would play such an important role is mind-boggling!
Oh - and since Jerry Bruckheimer produced a film with Nicholas Cage with a Masonic theme ("National Treasure"), we regularly get questions asking if one or the other (or both) are Masons. Answer: NO!
And despite the fantasy of some, there is no Masonic jurisdiction that has 'secret' initiations. Were either of these men to join, it would be trumpeted throughout the Masonic press everywhere and would come to this site's attention well before the event. There would be no reason for them to hide their membership.
Former United States Vice President Dick Cheney was sometimes mentioned as a Mason in various internet newsgroups and in August, 2002, we found him listed on two Masonic websites. Both sites (one essentially a copy of the other) 'trumpeted' him as the highest ranking government official who was a Mason. Both sites though were totally and completely wrong since Mr. Cheney is NOT a Mason. When this fact was brought to the attention of the site where we first saw the information, their Webmaster contacted the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Wyoming who confirmed that, as stated, Mr. Cheney is NOT a Mason.
Sadly, though, the information still appears on the website of a New York Lodge and attempts by this site's author to contact their webmaster have proven fruitless. They have not updated their website in a couple of years so the lie propagates....
Chiang Kai-Shek(1887-1975) was both prominent and highly revered in all aspects of Taiwanese daily life but, although often rumored to be a Mason, was not.
Charlie Chaplain was not a Mason despite the fact that stories circulate from time to time that he was. The stories are untrue.
Former U. S. President Bill Clinton is not a Mason. He was a member of the Order of DeMolay, a youth group sponsored by Masons and during his membership was the presiding officer (Master Councilor) of his Chapter. Membership in DeMolay often leads a young man to seek Masonic membership but such membership is no guarantee of election as a Mason and in light of the many 'scandals' surrounding his presidency, it would likely be impossible for him at this point to attempt to join. Mr. Clinton - during his presidency - maintained a level of popularity with the citizens of the United States and the world which was unprecedented in modern history. IMPORTANT NOTE: We had reported here earlier a mistaken statement saying "However in light of his personal indiscretions, the awards given to him by DeMolay during his teenage years and his recognition in the DeMolay Hall of Fame given when he was the country's youngest Governor have all been rescinded!" In June, 2003 this site's author was at a meeting with DeMolay's Executive Officer, Jeff Kittsmiller, and asked about this matter. We were advised that such a rescission did not occur and that Mr. Clinton retains the honors he received for his work with DeMolay and subsequently. We sincerely apologize for any part we may have played in spreading incorrect information.
Sean Connery - Who knows how/why some folks decide that a particular individual just 'must' be a Mason. Regardless, about 4-5 times during each year, we get inquiries asking why we've omitted Sir Sean Connery, the famed actor and Scottish activist, from the list of Famous Freemasons. There's a simple reason: as far as anyone can prove, he's simply not a member of the Craft. Who knows: maybe his starring role in the 1975 film of (Mason) Rudyard Kipling's novel, "The Man Who Would Be King" following so closely on the heels of his recognition as 'Bond. James Bond.' caused some to fantasize. Regardless, there's no evidence whatsoever to indicate that he ever became a Mason and until someone can provide dates/places of his membership, he'll continue as a Famous Non-Mason - and one of our favorite actors! You can visit his personal website here.
Leonardo DiCaprio - Conspiracy theorists sometimes have an amazing ability to put together totally unrelated facts and from them create a hypothesis that is difficult to disprove. One of these involves this actor. Here are the assumptions on which Mr. DiCaprio is said to be a Mason:
Here, though, are the facts:
So here, again, a created fantasy has blossomed into a story that has a life of its own. If you still want to think that Mr. DiCaprio is a Freemason, you need simply provide the name/location of the lodge to which he belongs. We'll await your proof.
Walt Disney - World famous cartoonist, Walt was a DeMolay (a member of a fraternal organization for young men sponsored by Freemasonry). He did not, however, join the Masonic organization. Rumors circulate continuously around the internet and sometimes winding up in books as a result stating that he was a Mason. Some of these have proven quite tantalizing including those relating to his brother and to the many Masons he hired as cartoonists. No one, however, has been able to produce the name of a lodge to which Walt might have belonged in order that the records might be checked and surely if he were a member, that information would have come to notice long before these many years after his death. Despite a burning desire on the part of some to list him as a member of the Craft, there is simply no provable evidence that he was.
Another urban legend is that Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the engineering marvel which bears his name, was a Mason. In fact, you'll see him listed on Masonic sites here and there around the internet. During the years leading up to the centenary of the monument in 1989, extensive search was made to find even a scintilla of proof that he was a Freemason. None was ever found. While the total absence of evidence is not absolute proof, it is extremely improbable that nothing could be found about such a famous man who lived so very close to our time and well into the first quarter of the 20th century.
Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the Confederacy's most daring and effective cavalry commanders during the US Civil War, began his military service as a private and rose to command cavalry troops throughout the South during that horrific time. General Forrest founded the ORIGINAL Ku Klux Klan which began as a prankish social organization whose activities were soon directed against the leaders of the Reconstructionist government, both black and white. The organization quickly grew out of hand, being abused by wild youth attempting to use it for purposes of looting and pillage. Forrest disbanded the group and it ultimately died. It was later 'resurrected' by those seeking to use it for hatred and racism in the 1920s, well after Forrest's death in 1877. Forrest took ONE of THREE degrees of Freemasonry and never returned to the Lodge. He went to ONE MEETING!!!!!
Under the rules of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee, he would not have been considered a Mason. The attempt to link him to Freemasonry is made by those who want association of the current racist organization (not the one Forrest founded) to the fraternity. Such attempts ignore history and facts in their entirety. We have other comments about the KKK here. (Masonicinfo Note: apparently the Confederate Lodge of Research of Virginia has listed Gen. Forrest on their list of Confederate officers who were Masons without any disclaimer as to the fact he did not complete the membership requirements. While 'a bell cannot be unrung' in terms of one passing through the degrees - or, in this case, a single degree - it seems preposterous to note that the individual was a 'member' with the implication that he was involved in the organization when, in fact, he attended only one of three REQUIRED meetings to secure full membership and never paid dues as is a requirement for continued membership. Forrest's active membership was the sum total of less than two hours: do you REALLY think that he learned very much from the organization during that time?)
Reverend Billy Graham - Sometimes referred to as 'America's Minister', Rev. Graham is frequently identified as a Mason by religious intolerants whose ideology is different from his. They feel, apparently, that connecting him with Freemasonry will smear his outstanding abilities and his life-long commitment to his faith. In the earliest days of the world wide web (we seem to recall it was about 1994), a listing of famous Freemasons appeared on the web site of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, USA. Dr. Graham's name appeared on the list in error based on an assumption by the person who prepared it. (No, it isn't a conspiracy to hide anything! In fact, it's likely that the information may have come from the book by former Mason Jim Shaw who lied that he had received the 33rd Degree of the Scottish Rite with Rev. Graham in attendance. Since Shaw never received that honor, clearly there is nothing to his claim. Read about it here!) Since then, though, unsubstantiated claims have flown about on the internet and one of the most frequent questions we receive dealing with specific individuals concerns Dr. Graham. The simple fact - as substantiated by his organization - is that he is FAR too involved with his ministry to devote time to any other organization. Like other recognizable leaders who are not Masons, Dr. Graham has from time to time been present at Masonic or Masonic-family events. There is a picture sometimes found on the web of him attending a DeMolay public installation of officers. Over his lifetime, Dr. Graham has attended thousands of meetings of groups. To state that Rev. Graham held Masonic membership simply based on his attendance was an assumption by that webmaster of the most absurd proportions. Regretfully, most of those who insist that Rev. Graham is a Mason are those who want to smear both him and the fraternity.
Mason Jeff Armstrong in Illinois has also noted that when Dr. Graham was a student at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, he rented the Masonic Hall for his weekly sermons. This could have easily caused many to assume that he was somehow connected with Freemasonry not realizing that many Masonic Halls in the US and elsewhere are readily available for rental purposes (although some jurisdictions prohibit it).
And there are still a couple of dozen rants left over on the web from religious intolerants who want to name every prominent religious leader as a Mason as if this were somehow a terrible thing. For the record, neither Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, or Kenneth Copeland are Masons either. You'll note that NONE of the material making these claims can cite where these men were supposedly members but instead rely on absurd statement that they're "secret" members. No such thing, folks! In fact, you'll note that the claims regarding Copeland all have similar wording. Why? They all came from the fantasy of a single anti-Masonic website created by conspiracy-obsessed Mark Flynn. It definitely proves the old saw that a lie can travel around the world while the truth is still putting on its socks!
General Ulysses S. Grant's father and two brothers were members of the Masonic Lodge at Galena, Illinois. The father often told friends that Ulysses intended to petition for the degrees but in the press of duties in the army and the presidency, it was delayed. In 1871, Grant told a group of Knights Templar that when he returned home he would petition Miner's Lodge No. 273. The Grand Master arranged to make him a Mason "at sight" but Grant died before this could be accomplished.
We have seen the name of Alex Haley, noted author of Roots which achieved not only phenomenal commercial success but also changed the way the United States thought about slavery, listed on several Masonic Websites as a 'Famous Freemason'. Each time we've sent along a note to the Webmaster asking for the name and location of his lodge. We've yet to receive that information despite over two dozen different places that we've asked for it. One Masonic Webmaster, in fact, became quite indignant that we would deign to question his list and responded in less than a Masonic way, upset apparently that we wanted proof of the sources he seemed to feel must be kept secret - which reinforces that point that not all Masons are perfect or know everything about Freemasonry and its members! The fact is, as with others on this page, someone makes a claim or 'thinks' they heard something and the next thing you know, it's on a website or getting published somewhere.... The late Mr. Haley is NOT - to the best of our knowledge and belief - a Mason! We would ask anyone taking exception to this to please provide us with the name and location of a lodge where we might verify his membership. Since this website's section on 'Famous Freemason' began in 1999, we've received over a hundred messages, nearly all of which promised to get back to us with 'proof positive'. In over a decade, we've yet to receive said 'proof' from any of those who have written to us though some have tried vague diversions. ("Maybe he was a Prince Hall Mason." - Fine, but they keep membership records too. Lodge name and location PLEASE!) Perhaps some folks realized that this is just an 'urban myth' but sadly, the myth is perpetuated.
Although there are several 'references' to Freemasonry in the works of science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, the author's widow confirmed to a member of the former CompuServe Masonry Forum that he was not a Mason although he had a deep respect for the organization. Perhaps nowhere was this so clearly exhibited as in Revolt in 2100 where Masons will find a comparison in those revolting against a repressive government - although we should be quick to point out that Freemasonry does not promote violation of law nor are matters of partisan politics discussed within the Lodge.
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970), popular self-help book author ("Think and Grow Rich" which has sold more than 30 million copies according to Wikipedia and is one of the best selling books of all times), has sometimes been mentioned as a Mason but no one has provided proof of this through documentation. In 2010, Mr. Sam Barry provided a link to one of Hill's less well known books in which he seems to be making a point that he is, in fact, a Mason yet the major listings of 'Famous Masons', including perhaps the most popular (Denslow's "10,000 Famous Freemasons") published in 1958 during the height of his popularity, fails to list him either in the original volume listing those whose surname begins with the letter H or in the fourth volume in the series published in 1961 where many additions and corrections were included. The jury is still out on this one and it should be remembered that an obscure reference in a biography is far from evidentiary proof. Certainly many Masons who love Hill's works and feel that they have a great resonance even in today's world would love to know he was a member of the Craft. (PS: Andrew Carnegie, Hill's idol, was not a Mason either!)
Bob Hope, the late American comedian and film actor, noted for his unflagging devotion to entertaining American military troops overseas for over 50 years, sometimes appears on lists of Famous Masons. Mason Gani Hernandez, Jr. confirmed with the Masonic Service Bureau of Los Angeles in July, 2000 that Mr. Hope was not a Mason.
U. S. President Thomas Jefferson was, at several points during the past two hundred years, identified as a Mason. Jefferson was involved in Revolutionary matters with many who were Masons and the appearance of the Jefferson name in Lodge record books of the time gave credence to the assumption. Recent research, including a manual examination of the 'porch books' (the book wherein a lodge attendee signs his name upon arrival) revealed that the Jefferson names appearing there in were, in fact, other men. These ledgers were also correlated with the known whereabouts of the President at the time to prove conclusively that they were not the same persons. The prodigious Masonic author, Allen E. Roberts, did yeoman work in this effort. History shows that Jefferson was 'friendly' towards the fraternity but that does not make him a member. (Note also: one 'Fake Masonry' group likes to show his likeness on one of their graphics in one of their typical attempts at obfuscation. The group's founder who touts himself as quite knowledgeable in Masonic history should and does know this but it's part of their attempts to seduce the gullible into joining their organization.)
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson received his Initiatory Degree (the first of the three Masonic degrees one takes to become a Master Mason) on October 30, 1937. After receiving that degree, he found that his congressional duties (he was elected to Congress in 1937) took so much time he was unable to pursue Freemasonry further. At that time, in the Jurisdiction of Texas, a person not completing all three degrees would not be considered a 'Mason'. He attended ONE MEETING, period.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 as he stood on the balcony of a Memphis, Tennessee motel room. He was a champion of the United States' civil rights movement and is widely credited for spearheading significant movement in racial equality through his non-violent protests during the very violent 1960s.
Pierre L'Enfant, the fabled designer of the city of Washington, D.C., has often been identified as a Mason. However, there is no proof whatsoever that he was. Many of those who've based their conspiracy theories of some overarching world domination wherein Masonic symbols were embedded in the design of the capitol city will be aghast to think that they've based the credibility of their rants on a mountain of sand; nevertheless, we encourage them to produce credible PRIMARY evidence of Mr. L'Enfant's membership.
In 1959, for example, the then Librarian of the Scottish Rite's Southern Masonic Jurisdiction located in Washington, D.C., Ray Baker Harris, stated in a letter "We have never come across any information showing Pierre Charles L'Enfant to have been a Mason." (From the April, 1959 Philalethes magazine.) See also our comments about the so-called "Secret Architecture" of Washington, DC as presented in a book by (pseudonym?) David Ovason.
Those who want to fantasize about all of the supposed 'Masonic symbols' that were designed into the city plan will need to find some other explanation than the designer's Masonic membership - if they can.
Note: In the March-April, 2011 edition of the Scottish Rite Journal, there appeared an article which uses original source material previously unexamined to conclude that L'Enfant WAS, in fact, a Mason. At this point, the jury is still out on this matter. The author claims "...strong circumstantial evidence...." showing that a Francis L'Enfant as recorded in the minutes of a lodge in New York is one and the same as Pierre. He concludes that the Secretary made a mistake in names. However, circumstantial evidence and direct (or proven) evidence are two different things. His conclusion "However, the historical record is clear: Major L’Enfant was a brother, even if he appears not to have advanced beyond Entered Apprentice." further muddies the water. If L'Enfant was NOT a Master Mason then, under the rules which then applied, his entry and attendance at ONE MEETING ONLY would not have qualified him to be considered a "member". No dues, no benefits including right of burial as a Mason, etc. would have applied in his case. He would not have been entitled to visit other lodges NOR would he have been permitted to call himself a Mason. Simply using the CIRCUMSTANTIAL evidence claimed, we feel it's somewhat foolish to assert that L'Enfant was a Mason and, more especially, to claim that Freemasonry somehow influenced him if he, in fact, never continued beyond the supposed single meeting he attended - and there's not even circumstantial evidence to date to show he did.
U. S. President Abraham Lincoln was not a Freemason. He applied for membership in Tyrian Lodge, Springfield, Illinois shortly after his nomination for the presidency in 1860. However, he withdrew his application because he felt that his application for membership at that time might be interpreted as a political tactic to obtain additional votes. He advised the lodge that he would resubmit his application again when he returned from his service as president. Lincoln, as we know, never returned. On the death of the President, Tyrian Lodge adopted, on April 17, 1865, a resolution to say "...that the decision of President Lincoln to postpone his application for the honors of Freemasonry, lest his motives be misconstrued, is the highest degree honorable to his memory."
A number of Masonic groups participated in Lincoln's funeral procession and when these stories in the newspapers reached Europe, Masons there 'assumed' that Lincoln was a Mason. The French in particular had numerous tributes to "Brother Lincoln" published in their papers thus adding to the myth.
His non-membership notwithstanding, there are a number of Lodges throughout the United States and a couple of more in countries where Freemasonry began when they were under United States rule with lodges styled "Lincoln". Your Webmaster became a Mason in one of the latter, in fact....
In April, 2007, a blog that regularly denigrates regular/recognized Freemasonry and actively supports the pseudo "United Grand Lodge of America" posted that Lincoln was an Entered Apprentice Mason (i.e., he had received the first of three degrees in Freemasonry). It's simply not true! (It should also be noted that there are also numerous other mis-attributions on that same page. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, for example, did NOT live most of his life in Hiram, Maine but rather in Portland, Maine and Cambridge, Massachusetts as this page from the Maine Historical Society explains. There are others gaffes not germane to this website's page but illustrative of the misinformation found on that blog.)
Barack H. Obama, 45th President of the United States, being a Mason is simply an urban myth. See here for more information.
The actor Carrol O'Connor who became tremendously popular for his portrayal of humorous bigot Archie Bunker on the 1971-1979 US television program "All In The Family" is sometimes thought to have been a Mason because he wore a Masonic ring during his portrayal of a Southern sheriff in another acclaimed television series, "In The Heat Of The Night". During the first decade of this website, we looked at a LOT of pictures and videotapes of that series but never saw that ring clearly shown - and it could well have been a prop even if it did have a Masonic emblem. No one can produce any provable information (i.e., Lodge name) that Mr. O'Connor was a Mason.
We've also received this from Brother K. Snow whom we know from other venues to be a reliable source. Bro. Snow writes:
In mid-2011, a re-airing of the television series resulted in the posting to YouTube of many clips. You can see the ring being worn by Mr. O'Connor at this link. if you pause it at 7:54-7:55 you can clearly see that it is a Masonic ring. Many thanks to Bro. Adrian Cannon, King Solomon #14, Prince Hall F&AM, Albany, Georgia for being the first to provide this detailed information.
U. S. Revolutionary Thomas Paine who arrived in the Colonies in 1774
and whose fiery pen was said to ignite the Revolution and help shape the country we know
today is sometimes believed to be a Mason, presumably because of his affiliations with
Benjamin Franklin and Nicolas deBonneville. Paine was the author of Common Sense
and was known for quotes such as "These are the times that try men's souls."
Many later US politicians have praised him extensively. He is also often cited cited by anti-Masons
as an example of the evils of Freemasonry because of his anti-Christian rhetoric. Those who
make this argument, however, ignore two salient points. The first was that Paine - although writing strongly
against the Christianity of the day - never denied God! From Paine's perspective, he was
against the churches which presumed to speak for God without authority but he never denied
the existence of God. The second point ignored is that there is no evidence whatsoever to support the claim
that Paine was ever himself a Mason. Although he wrote "An Essay on the Origins of
Freemasonry", he traced the society to the Druids, something precious few
other Masonic writers would ever claim. He himself never claimed to be a Mason and there is no record of his
attendance at lodges in or near the areas where he lived and/or traveled during his lifetime.
In their enthusiasm, some Grand Lodges in the early 1990s created brochures
using his name: the fact is, however, there is no evidence whatsoever that he
was a member.
Colin Powell, former United States Secretary of State, military officer who became a four star general, held the position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Advisor and much more. His name appears on a number of web sites as being a 33rd Degree (they leave out "Scottish Rite" but it doesn't matter because it's all a contrived lie regardless) Mason. However, just look at ANY of these sites where General Powell's name appears and you'll find that they are hyper-conspiracy venues and/or sites with rabid religious rants. Apparently because someone is able to make something out of themselves - unlike those site creators - they've just GOT to be getting help from their membership in the Freemasons. Surely, they'd all be knuckle-draggers were it not for their supposed Masonic membership, right? With all of the tremendous accomplishments of Secretary Powell including two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President's Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, and more, the Masons would be trumpeting his membership from the rooftops if he, in fact, were a member. He's not. Incidentally, you'll usually see Colin Powell's name right there with Rich DeVos, founder of Amway, who's also identified as a 33rd Degree but who's also NOT a Mason. Why let truth stand in the way, eh?
The late Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995) who was killed by an assassin in a cowardly attack is sometimes seen cited as being a Mason. Despite the difficulties in proving a negative, Israeli Mason Leon Zeldis, one of only 40 living Fellows of the Philalethes Society (the oldest and largest Masonic research society) puts to rest any such claim in his research paper on this subject. You can read it here on the Philalethes website.
President Ronald Reagan has sometimes been referred to as a Freemason but he is not. Some confusion as to his membership arises from a ceremony held in the Oval Office of the White House on February 11, 1988, when a group of Freemasons presented President Reagan with a Certificate of Honor (a local recognition, not something that is common in most other Grand Lodges in the world) from the Grand Lodge of Washington, D.C. He was also then made an "Honorary Scottish Rite Mason" - again, something contrived for the occasion and not common to Scottish Rite nor permitting the honoree any particular access to meetings for members where Masonic ceremonies are performed.
However, since the title of Freemason can only be conferred by a Grand Lodge of Masons, President Reagan could only be referred to as an Honorary Shriner (he was also an Honorary Member of the Imperial Shrine due to his extensive work with that organization over the years) or as an Honorary Scottish Rite Mason. The Shrine and Scottish Rite are appendant bodies and cannot confer the title 'Freemason' on any person. The Certificate of Honor was simply a piece of paper and nothing more.
There is no credible evidence whatsoever that Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah's Witness faith, was a Mason. Some have charged that his tombstone appears as a keystone (a symbol used in Royal Arch Masonry), that there appears on the stone a crown and cross and that the stone is in the shape of a pyramid. (Those who make the claim do so for their own ends ignoring the fact that the cross and crown have long been symbols of Christianity, that the pyramid is often used in one-dimension view to represent the Trinity etc.) A review of Russell's personal life would have likely found him unwelcome within a Lodge. A current author says of him "Russell's faults as a writer were perhaps the least of his shortcomings. Accusations of sexual and financial improprieties, for example, dogged him throughout his adult life. Russell's notorious difficulties with his long-suffering wife Maria, aired during a series of sensational libel, separation, and alimony suits near the turn of the century, became a particular source of embarrassment for both the pastor and his flock. (Russell's stature couldn't have been enhanced when a Pennsylvania judge concluded that his "continual arrogant domination" of his wife was enough to "render the life of any sensitive Christian woman a burden and make her life intolerable."4
This notwithstanding, Pastor Russell did, upon occasion, make reference to Masons. The oft-repeated quote from Russell that is used attempting to 'prove' he was a Freemason was made in 1913 in a Masonic hall in San Francisco. Russell said "Now, I am a free and accepted mason. I trust we all are. But not just after the style of our masonic brethren." We ALL are? No, the composition of his audience would have precluded any such thing (men and women as well as some children were there!) so those who cite this simply haven't used their brains. Russell further stated "True Bible believers may or may not belong to the masonic fraternity, but they are all masons of the highest order, since they are being fashioned, chiselled and polished by the Almighty to be used as living stones in the Temple Built Without Hands. They are free from sin, and therefore accepted by the God of Heaven as fit stones for the heavenly Temple." BUT later in his address he stated plainly "I have never been a mason." In many cases, this isn't the result of sloppy scholarship but rather another tactic by Freemasonry's detractors to somehow tarnish the organization by pointing to the claimed membership of someone they don't like.
And, contrarily, one internet supporter of Russell's regularly argued that Freemasonry was totally against the Preacher's philosophy but the argument he makes is based on his interpretation rather than facts since Freemasonry as an organization would never take a stance on any matter such as that.
In the final analysis, those attempting to condemn Russell based on supposed Masonic membership fail to produce any evidence of his membership (the name of his lodge or the names of lodges he ostensibly visited, for example) and his supporters use faulty logic in arguing against it. One online poster wrote this: "Yes, sigh .. Russell was a freemason. The burden of proof rests with those saying otherwise. To me this has nothing to do with world conspiracies or a race of reptilian aliens invading Brooklyn." So because HE says that Russell was a Mason simply because that's what he believes for some unknown reason, someone has to prove a negative. That's the typical way it goes. He doesn't need to prove it; he just needs to make a claim and we need to prove that he's wrong. A bit upside down, isn't it?
Russell is not mentioned in any Masonic reference works, a unique situation indeed if he were a Mason, if only because of his notoriety. Oh, and did we mention?: the "pyramid tombstone" that's so often referred to is actually a monument erected to Russell by the Watchtower Society which has in the past (before the days of the internet) regularly criticized Freemasonry. Pastor Russell's actual gravestone (shown above on the right) is a couple of dozen yards away....
Santa Anna - Mexican army general and President. We have more about him here.
Shah of Iran (Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi) - a long-time friend to the US and its allies, he was forced to leave his country when it was taken over by Muslim fundamentalists under the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini. In some quarters, he is claimed to be a Mason. However according to a Mason in Washington DC, his late ex-Imperial Majesty (HIM), the King of Kings and the Light of the Aryans, would NEVER deign to even be made a Freemason at sight, let alone go through all the ritual. This Mason writes
(Our source for this information asked that we not credit him directly. His identification is on file with us and validated, however.)
James Smithson, the British mineralogist and chemist, whose legacy provided the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution in 1846 is sometimes seen on lists of Famous Freemasons. We believe that such inclusion is wishful thinking as he is not listed by any of the numerous compilations which list those who are deemed 'Famous'. Regrettably, our inquiries to the Webmasters of the sites where he is listed have failed to produce any evidence of investigation into their listing - or even responses!
The name of Baruch Spinoza, a 17th century philosopher, has appeared on web pages and in statements by the couple of proponents of a self-created group pretending to be 'the real deal' in Freemasonry. In an apparent attempt to use Spinoza's often obscure philosophies to entice those seeking 'something more' in life, they've attached him to their convoluted revisionist history to thereby encourage further membership in their organization. The simple facts are, however, that Spinoza lived and died well before Freemasonry existed in its modern format. (He lived from 1632 to 1677 while Freemasonry began in 1717.) He also lived and died in the Netherlands where the first Masonic lodge there met in 1734. While the IDEAS of Spinoza may have influenced many in the Age of Enlightenment, the thread that connects him to Freemasonry is tenuous at best and he certainly was NOT a Freemason himself.
Voltaire was the pen name used by the famous essayist and philosopher from the period of the French Enlightenment, François-Marie Arouet. Perhaps you've seen his name on practically every single listing of Famous Freemasons and you're wondering why it's here on our "Famous Non-Masons" page. The reason is quite simple: the outspoken supporter of civil liberties and social reform was given membership in a French lodge more, it would seem, to add a famous personage to their ranks than because of his interest in the fraternity. He was invited to become a member at 84 years of age! While men who are older than this have, on occasion, joined Freemasonry, too often we see wild-eyed speculation about Freemasonry being a haven for the burgeoning ideas of philosophers and social changers such as Voltaire. Facts, however, are quite different. He was, upon his joining, frail and in ill-health. He was received into the lodge with a single, abbreviated degree followed by extensive speech-making and glorifying of his personage. He received neither of the other two degrees and 53 days later he was dead! Care to speculate again on how much he directly influenced Freemasonry as a member of the organization - or how much his membership in Freemasonry influenced his thoughts and ideas? While it is certainly true that he influenced many, many around him, for counterfeit 'Free-Masons' to claim him as 'one of our own' is - to us at least - absurd hubris. If you see a breathless essay on why we as Masons today should embrace the thoughts and ideas of 'the Mason' Voltaire, please remember that it's either from a Masonic writer totally ignorant of Masonic history or a piece of pure stupidity.
Coincidentally, at least one counterfeit pseudo-Masonic group loves to tout Voltaire and the Enlightenment as a part of their 'history' (even though they were formed in 2005!). With the appearance of the information above on this site, they have pretty much substituted Ben Franklin as their hero in attempts to obfuscate, removing the 'front and center' example of Voltaire although he still appears pretty regularly.
(Born November 21, 1694. Apprentice Degree on April 7, 1778. Died May 30, 1778.)
Meredith Willson whose '76 Trombones' was one of this website author's 'signature songs' as a budding high school musician (there was also 'Sentimental Journey' and 'Canadian Sunset', both great for romance, but I digress!) has been regularly identified on the web as being a Mason. Despite his being a native of Mason City, Iowa and his widow having been very active in a Foundation in his honor (headed by a Mason and the ex-Mayor of the city), there's no indication there that he was a member of the Craft. If you have any VERIFIABLE information on this, please let us know. We know he played in Sousa's Band and that many of those who did were Masons (as was Sousa). We've also heard other anecdotal information about Willson but none provide specific details of a Masonic membership. What we seek is Lodge Name and Date. Our thanks to Wor. Bro. Gerald Edgar for his work in researching this matter as well as to Bro. John Klaus who shared some personal reminiscences!
ARS Quatuor Coronatorum, Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, Volume
97 for the Year 1984 Published November 1985; Edited for the Council of Q.
C. Correspondence Circle Limited by Cyril N. Batham, P.A.G.D.C.,P.M. ISBN 0
907655 07 6 Cloth Bound Volume; Printed in Great Britain by the Garden City
Press Limited, Letchworth, Hertfordshire SG6 1Js.
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