Was a Freemason President Involved in Lincoln's Assassination?

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Robert H. Johnson

Wild question right? Well, perhaps not too wild for some. There is a conspiracy theory which holds that Andrew Johnson, Vice President to Abraham Lincoln, was the culprit who arranged the Presidential Assassination. This conspiracy was so entertained in the day, that a special Congressional Assassination Committee was formed just to investigate Johnson! 

Here are some facts to consider;
  • Andrew Johnson was made a Master Mason in 1843 in Greeneville Lodge No. 119, now No. 3 at Greeneville, Tenn.
  • Andrew was actually Lincoln's third choice behind Hannibal Hamlin and General Benjamin Butler. 
  • Lincoln had little to do with his Vice President after the inauguration due to Johnson's public drunkenness during his speech to Congress. Reports of his slurred speech and inappropriate  commentary travelled far and wide. 
  • Mary Todd Lincoln and several members of congress were convinced that Johnson knew of the conspiracy and did nothing to prevent it. 
  • Several hours before Lincoln was shot, John Wilkes Booth stopped by the Kirkwood house to meet with Johnson, but he was not home. Wilkes left a note for Johnson. 
  • It is reported that while Johnson was the military governor of Tennessee, He and Booth kept two sisters as their mistresses, whom they shared and were frequently seen together! (Civil War Echoes 1907 by Hamilton Howard)
  • While Johnson refused to join the confederacy and did join the Union, he did not believe in the abolition of slavery. When Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation, it's widely believed that Johnson managed to secure a promise from Lincoln that while the proclamation would apply to all the slaves held by those states in rebellion, Tennessee would be exempt. 

The preceding are the bullet points of the conspiracy. There is truth and anecdote alike, but it's all in the history books. The motive? The Presidency, a broken promise about the abolition of slaves in Tennessee and the public shaming for his drunkenness. Johnson was cleared of any involvement by that special committee, but it didn't stop the rest of the United States from viewing him suspiciously for many years. Johnson of course went on to become the 17th President of the United States. While he has the respect of Americans for being a leader of its people, to say he didn't tarnish the name of Freemasons worldwide with his drunken antics is probably understated. As for the involvement in the assassination of Lincoln, well, only God knows. 


  1. Millard, Joseph "America's Greatest Unsolved Murder" True, February 1953
  2. "An Overview of John Wilkes Boothe's Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln."http://home.att.net/~rjnorton/lincoln75.html
  3. Rhodehamel, John, and Louise Taper, EDS. Right or Wrong, God Judge Me: The Writings of John Wilkes Boothe. Pbk. ED. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001
  4. Hamilton Howard, Civil War Echoes (1907)
  5. Conspiracies & Secret Societies, Brad Steiger, Sherry Steiger


Bro. Robert Johnson, PM is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He is the Secretary of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 and Education officer for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois as well as a former member on the Grand Lodge Education Committee. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatrewhich focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four. He works full time in the executive medical industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to toss in the "no one's perfect" point of view here. While Johnson was far from a saint I've always given him some credit for an abiding love of country given the fact he is said to have been buried with his body wrapped in the American Flag and a copy of the Constitution under the pillow in his coffin. There is also ample historical documentation to indicate his impeachment was politically motivated and probably even a personal vendetta. His main antagonist in the impeachment was fervent anti-Mason Thaddeus Stevens. Johnson's dedication to the Craft played a significant role in prompting Stevens to take action against him.