Brother James Madison?

by Midnight Freemason contributor
                                                                Steven L. Harrison, PM, FMLR

     Fifteen Freemasons have served as President of the United States.  For the record, the accepted list of those Brothers is as follows: George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, James Garfield, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford.  When compiling such a list, one always has to note that Lyndon Johnson advanced no farther than the Entered Apprentice Degree; but an Entered Apprentice is, indeed, a Freemason.

     I say it's the accepted list because there is some debate about whether others belong on the list.  The most notable of those is Thomas Jefferson who may... or may not... have been a Freemason.  New World Order theorists, anti-Masons and others with some form of off-base agenda erroneously claim other presidents, from George W. Bush and Barack Obama to all of them, belong on the list.  Then there is the odd case of David Rice Atchison.  There is no doubt he was a Freemason, and he may... or may not... have been president for a single day, March 4, 1849 — a subject we'll leave for another time.

     There is one president, though, where the keepers of the official list (whomever they may be) might have it wrong.  

     James Madison (1751-1836) is usually not considered to be one of the US Presidents who was a Freemason, but strong evidence exists that he was a member. 

     On February 11, 1795, John Francis Mercer, Governor of Maryland, wrote the following to Madison in a letter which still exists in the Library of Congress: "I have had no opportunity of congratulating you before on your becoming a Free Mason — a very ancient and honorable fraternity." 

     John Dove, an early Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Virginia said Madison was one of the original founders of Hiram Lodge 59 in 1800, and became a charter member. 

     On September 20, 1817, Madison marched in procession with Charlottesville Lodge 90 and Widow's Son Lodge 60 to lay the cornerstone of Central College at Charlottesville (later the University of Virginia).  

     According to William R. Denslow in his iconic book 10,000 Famous Freemasons, Madison may have been a member of Hiram Lodge 59, Westmoreland Court House, Virginia, which became dormant about 1814.  All Lodge records were lost or destroyed.  

     Perhaps most telling, however, were the attacks made on Madison during the anti-Masonic period.  

     It is safe to conclude just about the only thing not confirmed about the Masonic status of James Madison - most likely Brother James Madison - is the name of his original Lodge.


Steve Harrison, 32° KCCH, is a Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri.  He is the editor of the Missouri Freemasonmagazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Senior Warden.  He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and is a member of the DeMolay Legion of Honor.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to review the source material on Mercer, Dove, the procession and Denslow. But still, I'll check into investigating this with the GLofVA because I too am intrigued.