Masonic history is full of colorful characters, from George Washington to Mozart. But who are the 13 most powerful Freemasons? This list includes household names like Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill, as well as lesser-known but no less impressive individuals like Mark Twain and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Each of these Masons has made a significant contribution to the fraternity and left a lasting legacy.
1. Benjamin Franklin joined after establishing his own society
A few years after establishing his own club, the Leathern Apron Club, Franklin joined Saint John’s Lodge in Philadelphia.
When it came to fulfilling his duties as a Revolutionary War hero, a Founding Father, and an inventor, his time as Grand Master of Pennsylvania’s Order did not interfere.
2. George Washington used Masonic rituals when laying the foundation for the Capitol
The Masons had a close association with the first President of the United States of America.
In less than a year after initiation, he was elevated to Master Mason and performed Masonic ceremonies at the cornerstone laying of the United States Capitol on September 18, 1793.
Initiated: November 4, 1752.
3. Mozart somehow became a Mason and wrote more than 600 pieces of music during his lifetime
Mozart, an Austrian composer and the son of a Freemason, composed a lot of masonic musical pieces during his long and productive career. He was a member of the Zur Wohltätigkeit (Charity) Lodge, which was located in Austria.
Initiated: December 14, 1784.
4. Simón Bolívar was a 33rd degree Freemason
A famous hero of the war for independence from the Spanish Empire, the South American liberator and political leader, Simon Bolivar, is revered today as one of the world’s greatest political leaders.
He belonged to the Masonic Lodge “Lautaro,” which was based in Cadiz, Spain, and which was also the home of a number of other South American founding fathers. Simón Bolvar was awarded the 33rd degree of Inspector General Honorary in April 1824.
5. Mark Twain joined a St. Louis lodge
Mark Twain is a literary giant. He was a member of the Polar Star Lodge No. 79, A.F. & A.M. in St. Louis, where he progressed quickly to the rank of Master Mason within a few months of being a member.
At one point, Twain had been suspended for not paying his dues, but he was reinstated only a short time afterwards.
In 1867, he resigned from the order, but the following year, he visited another lodge.
Initiated: May 22, 1861
6. Winston Churchill was an active member of the Masonic fraternity throughout his life
Along with being a two-term British Prime Minister and an honorary American citizen, Churchill was a member of England’s Studholme Mason Lodge No. 1591.
He had a family connection to the Masons and several Mason friends, but he had little personal involvement with the order outside of restricted social events. He resigned from his lodge in 1912, but remained active in Freemasonry for the remainder of his years.
Initiated: May 24, 1901
7. The founder of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Ataturk was surrounded by Freemasons throughout his life as a reformer and the founder of the Republic of Turkey.
Six of his seven senior military staff members were Freemasons during the war for independence. He was a member of Salonica’s Lodge Veritas, which was governed by the French Grand Orient.
8. Franklin D. Roosevelt was an honorary Mason
Franklin D. Roosevelt served as governor of New York, as our 32nd president, and as the man who led the country through the Great Depression and World War II. He later became an Honorary Grand Master of the Order of DeMolay.
At the White House, which hosted the event conferring the honorary title. He was a member of New York City’s Holland Lodge No. 8.
Initiated: October 11, 1911
9. By the age of 25, J. Edgar Hoover had become a Mason
The FBI was founded by J. Edgar Hoover, but it’s safe to say that he’s more known for his time as a Mason.
By the time he was 25, he was a Master Mason, a 33rd Degree Inspector General Honorary, and in 1965 he was awarded the Grand Cross of Honor, the Scottish Rite’s greatest honor.
To honor him, the Mason’s House of the Temple has set aside a chamber in its main hall for him.
10. Earl Warren was one of five Masonic judges in the United States
Earl Warren served as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1953 to 1969.
He was one of five Masonic Chief Justices, and he also served as the Grand Master of the Masons of California for a year. He was also a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, making him one of the most senior members of the order.
11. Silvio Berlusconi belonged to a Blackballed Lodge
Prior to his elevation to great political power, current Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi was a member of the masonic lodge, Propaganda Due, a group of prominent individuals tasked with the mission of transforming Italy’s government into a more authoritarian one.
Berlusconi escaped the penalty despite lying in testimony about the length of his membership and the amount he paid in member fees.
The Grand Orient of Italy revoked the group’s charter in 1976.
12. Jesse Jackson remains an active member of his lodge
One of Prince Hall Freemasons’ most notable members is Reverend Jesse Jackson, a 33-degree member of the fraternity.
A Master Mason, he received his degree in 1987. The Chicago Harmony Lodge No. 88 is where Jackson calls home. Today, he is still involved in Masonic activities as well as the fight against human rights violations.
Initiated: May 25, 1987
13. John Elway is a perpetual lifetime member
John Elway is a two-time Super Bowl champion and the Denver Broncos’ executive vice president of football operations.
He expressed interest in becoming a Freemason only after his football career ended, but he eventually became a “perpetual member” (meaning lifetime member) of South Denver Lodge No. 93.
Initiated: June 28, 2002
Check out the full list of Famous Freemasons (A-Z)