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20 US presidents who belonged to secret societies

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theodore roosevelt
AP Photo

To the paranoid mind, it probably sounds somewhat startling that 20 out of 45 US presidents have been affiliated with some kind of secret society.

Are there any movies with remotely benevolent secret orders? Most fictional secret societies are depicted as ominous — and usually feature troublesome chanting, outdated robes, sacrifices, and nefarious global plots.

The societies presidents have been involved with, however, function more like social clubs. Under the secret handshakes and mysterious rituals, many are just like fraternities.

14 presidents were Freemasons. Masonic lodges essentially function as combination of a social club, charitable organization, and business network. The fraternal organization has been around since at least the 1700s, likely arising from early modern organizations of stonemasons.

Here are the presidents who have belonged to Masonic lodges or other secret societies at some point.

Abby Jackson and Christina Sterbenz contributed to an earlier version of this post.

George Washington

george washington
VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images

Secret society: Freemasons

That's right. The first president of the US also happened to be rather involved in a secret society.

George Washington was the country's first ever Masonic president.

In Ron Chernow's "Washington: A Life," he notes that the future president may have been attracted to the Masonic Order's adherence to Enlightenment ideals.

Washington joined the Order of the Freemasons early in his life, entering Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 at the age of 20, according to Mount Vernon's official website. 

Masonic influences even came into play at Washington's first inauguration. During the ceremony, he swore his oath on a Bible from St. John's Masonic Lodge No. 1 in New York.

The first president's Masonic ties followed him his entire life — and beyond. There's even a George Washington Masonic National Memorial, which was dedicated in 1932 and finally completed in 1970.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
Hulton Archive / Stringer / Getty Images

Secret society: Flat Hat Club Society

Thomas Jefferson may have been a member of the FHC. Society at the College of William and Mary, but that doesn't mean he was impressed by the group.

In one 1819 letter, the third US president reflected on his experience in the secret society: "There existed a society called the FHC society, confined to the number of six students only, of which I was a member, but it had no useful object. Nor do I know whether it now exists."

The initials FHC stood for "Fraternitas, Humanitas, et Cognitio" — Latin for "brotherhood, humanity, and knowledge." However the group became known as the Flat Hat Club, probably a reference to the mortarboards students wore at the time.

Members identified themselves with a secret handshake, along with a silver badge inscribed with the words "stabilitas et fides" (stability and faith, which is now the motto of William and Mary's campus newspaper).

The group pretty much died out when the Revolutionary War interrupted classes. However, the name lived on with William and Mary's student newspaper and the secret society itself re-surged in 1972, under the name the Flat Hat Club.

Andrew Jackson

andrew jackson
Library Of Congress/Getty Images

Secret society: Freemasons

Jackson's status as a Mason actually became a major political issue during his presidency.

In 1826, Mason were implicated in the (still unsolved) kidnapping of a New York man who threatened to reveal their secret rites. An anti-Masonic political party formed shortly after, claiming Masons were sinister, elitist, and anti-democratic, Slate reported.

The Anti-Masonic Party found a natural foe in Jackson, who was not only a Mason, but a high-ranked one. Jackson served as the grandmaster of the grand lodge of Tennessee from 1822 to 1824.

James K. Polk

James K. Polk
National Archives / Handout / Getty Images

Secret society: Freemasons

According to the "Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky," the 11th president was initiated in Columbia Lodge No. 31, Columbia, Tennessee in 1820. He was 25 at the time and had just been licensed to practice law.

James Buchanan

James Buchanan
Sours: https://www.businessinsider.com/us-presidents-who-were-in-secret-societies-2017-4

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Sir Tony Robinson sheds light on some common myths about Freemasonry - Ancestry

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The truth about Freemasonry

I REFER to the recent reportedly planned attack on the Freemason building in Johor Baru by suspected terrorists (online at bit.ly/star_attack).

I am not surprised by it, as Freemasonry in Malaysia has been wrongly demonised for too long as being a secret Zionist and anti-Islamic organisation trying to establish global supremacy.

Allow me to share the truth about Freemasonry (also known as the Craft), which is one of the oldest and largest, peaceful, charitable, non-religious, non-ethnic, and non-political fraternities in the world with around five to six million Masons.

Freemasonry, which transcends ethnic, religious, social and educational divisions, promotes moral and spiritual development by preaching the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God. This noble “borderless brotherhood” is most relevant in today’s uncertain world of sectarian and ethnic strife as a means of promoting universal peace, understanding and unity.

The three grand principles of Freemasonry are Brotherly Love (being tolerant and behaving with kindness and understanding towards fellow beings); Relief (acting charitably towards both one’s own brethren and the community at large); and Truth (striving for truth in all matters, demonstrating integrity in daily actions, and adhering to high moral standards). Regarding relief, Masons in Malaysia have donated millions of ringgit to various multiracial and multireligious charitable organisations and needy individuals.

Freemasonry has been falsely misrepresented by certain quarters either due to sheer ignorance or in pursuit of a self-serving agenda. I wish to dispel some of the grossly unfair and inaccurate propaganda against Freemasonry.

First, Freemasonry is not a secret society; it is a society with certain secrets pertaining to phrases, grips and signs by which Freemasons identify one another and establish their respective degrees of attainment in Masonic knowledge. More importantly, the constitutional rules, aims, principles, meeting place, and membership of a masonic lodge are known to the authorities. Indeed, the Malaysian masonic lodges are registered with the Registrar of Societies.

Second, Freemasonry is neither a religion nor a religious body with a particular path to salvation. Discussion of religious matters is strictly forbidden at Masonic meetings. There is no such thing as a “Masonic” God. Neither does Freemasonry promote any one religious creed. Masons are expected to continue to follow and practise their own faith whatever that may be.

Third, Freemasonry is not a Zionist movement and neither is it a threat to Malaysia’s national security.

For the record, Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn stated in the Dewan Rakyat in October 1978 that, based upon a detailed study by a committee appointed by the National Islamic Affairs Council, there was no evidence to prove there was any links between Freemasonry and Zionism.

The PM also reiterated that “there is no proof to say that Freemasonry is a threat to the nation either as a social threat or as a security threat”.

Fourth, Freemasonry does not worship Satan; there is no satanic ritual involved in lodge meetings. Additionally, what Freemasonry advocates is the antithesis of the very concept of Satan. Freemasonry champions good against evil, justice against injustice, and brotherly love against intolerance and hatred.

Fifth and finally, Freemasonry is not a secret world order trying to establish global supremacy. There is no one single or centralised worldwide body that governs Freemasonry.

Furthermore, Masons are strictly forbidden to discuss politics during masonic meetings. They are, however, exhorted to become exemplary citizens by demonstrating loyalty to their nation and strictly adhering to its laws.

In a nutshell, Freemasonry is neither a political nor a religious organisation. It is a social and fraternal organisation promoting universal brotherhood, peace, religious freedom, integrity, high moral standards, and good citizenship.

DR RANJIT SINGH MALHI

Kuala Lumpur

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    Sours: https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/02/18/the-truth-about-freemasonry
Inside the secret world of the Freemasons

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