It has been claimed by Freemasons that James Madison was a Mason. What evidence do they present to validate this allegation?
In the proceedings of the Antimasonic Republican Convention of Massachusetts, held at Worcester, September 5th and 6th, 1832, we read the following record:
“Letter from Rev. Dr. Emmons.
To the President of the State Antimasonic Convention, now convened at
I have no doubt but many great and good men, whom you highly respect and esteem, have belonged, and do now belong, to the Masonic fraternity; but I am convinced by the highest and most irresistible moral evidence, that the Masonic Institution itself, is the darkest and deepest plot that ever was formed in this wicked world against the true God, the true religion, and the temporal and eternal interests of mankind.
Nothing, therefore, but my protracted age, and other uncontrollable circumstances, could have prevented my meeting with the numerous, honorable, patriotic Antimasonic Convention of Massachusetts, and uniting with them in their noble and benevolent efforts to counteract the influence, and destroy the existence of Freemasonry in this our beloved country.
And now I deem it my duty, as one of the most aged clergymen living, who united in their best exertions to bring about our national independence and freedom, humbly and solemnly to exhort my younger brethren in the ministry, to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free; to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and to fulfill their solemn and sacred vows to defend the Gospel against all the delusion, hypocrisy, and infidelity of the open and secret enemies of the blessed Redeemer. And it is my sincere desire and prayer, that God would graciously grant His guidance and blessing to His servants who are convened to promote His glory, the prosperity of Zion, and the best interests of our yet free and happy nation.
I am, Sir, very respectfully, your humble servant,
Franklin, Sept, 3, 1832.”
Letter from James Madison.
Mr. Hallett of Suffolk, said he would avail himself of an interval in the proceedings of the Convention, to present some documents that could not fail to interest them. Masonry had propped herself up by claiming great men as her votaries; yet the Institution, with her usual arrogance, had claimed a great many more than ever belonged to her. Thus it has been repeatedly asserted by Masons, that all the Presidents of the United States, except two, were Masons.
Moses Richardson, Treasurer of the Grand Encampment of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, positively swore, under civil oath, in the Rhode Island investigation, that “all the Presidents of the United States except two” (the two Adams), “were Masons!” The Rev. Bernard Whitman of Waltham, in his Address at the Dedication of the Masonic Temple in Boston, last June, made the same assertion on his own individual authority. It accordingly goes out to the world that JAMES MADISON, among other of the ex-Presidents, was a member and approver of the Masonic Institution. A private individual, without consulting anyone, took occasion to write to Mr. Madison, sometime ago, inquiring of him if he was a Freemason, and forwarding to him the letters of Rush, Wirt and Adams. The brief reply of the venerable ex-President, has been placed in my hands recently, and I take this opportunity to present it to the public through this Convention. It will nail one more Masonic falsehood to the counter:
“Montpelier, January 24, 1832
I received long ago your interesting favor of the 31st October, with the pamphlet referred to, and I owe an apology for not sooner acknowledging it. I hope it will be a satisfactory one, that the state of my health, crippled by a severe rheumatism, restricted my attention to what seemed to have immediate claims upon it; and in that light I did not view the subject of your communication; ignorant as I was of the true character of Masonry, and little informed as I was of the grounds on which its extermination was contended for; and incapable as I was and am, in my situation, of investigating the controversy.
I never was a Mason, and no one, perhaps, could be more a stranger to the principles, rites and fruits of the Institution. I had never regarded it as dangerous or noxious; nor on the other hand as deriving importance from anything publicly known of it. From the number and character of those who now support the charges against Masonry, I cannot doubt that it is, at least, susceptible of abuses, outweighing any advantages promised by its patrons. With this apologetic explanation, I tender you, Sir, my respectful and cordial salutations.
(This letter, Mr. Hallett proceeded to remark, though brief, was emphatic. It showed the monstrous dereliction of the press in this country, which had left a man like JAMES MADISON, entirely in darkness as to the existence of the Masonic conspiracy against a free citizen, until he casually heard of it five years after it happened, from a stranger. It showed too, the impression the first flash of truth produced on the mind of this eminent man, in his calm retirement from the world. He does not sneer at Antimasons, but admits at once, that from the character of those who support the charges against Masonry, he cannot doubt that it is at least susceptible of abuses outweighing any advantages promised by its patrons! Yes, outweighing all its great pretensions of charity, brotherly love, science, antiquity and sublime devotion! Such is the opinion of JAMES MADISON, whom the Orator of the Dedication profanely brought forward, as one of the pillars to support the tottering edifice he was consecrating to the spirit of evil!)” 1
James Madison’s 1785 “A Memorial and Remonstrance” testifies to his belief in the “innate excellence of the Christian religion,” and his advocating “the diffusion of the light of Christianity” to the “whole race of mankind.”
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Third Antimasonic State Convention of Massachusetts, held at Worcester, September 5th and 6th, 1832, for the nomination of candidates for electors of President and Vice President of the United States, and for Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. Proceedings, Resolutions and Address to the People. Boston: Printed by Perkins and Marvin, 1832, pp. 18, 19. Library of Congress, Rare Book Collection.