To the uninitiated, it may be surprising to learn of the many Freemasons who have held the two highest offices in the land throughout the history of the United States of America. George Washington, the country’s first President, was a Mason along with many other Founding Fathers. In the centuries since, many other Brothers have been elected to lead the executive branch, including 14 presidents and 18 vice presidents.

This election season, we have been reflecting on these men who we are honored to call Brother. While many are well-known, such as those among the Founding Fathers, yet over the centuries there have been many others. Let us explore some of the Masonic presidents and vice presidents who have enjoyed less familiarity despite their devotion to their brethren and country.

This blog is part of our #MasonicPresidents series. To learn more about all of the Masonic presidents and vice presidents from history, including those not mentioned below, search the hashtag #MasonicPresidents on our Facebook page.

James Buchanan

James Buchanan, Masonic President

House Representative, Senator, and the United States of America’s 15th President, James Buchanan was a member of our great fraternity for a great deal of his life. A member of Lancaster Lodge No. 43 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Bro. Buchanan was initiated to the brotherhood in 1816. Eight years later in 1824, he was appointed District Deputy Grand Master for the counties of Lancaster, Lebanon, and York.

John C. Breckinridge

John C. Breckinridge, Masonic Vice President

Serving alongside President Buchanan was his Vice President, John C. Breckinridge. Inaugurated as Vice President at the age of 36, Brother Breckinridge remains the youngest person ever to hold the office.

While it remains unclear when exactly Breckinridge became a Freemason, it is known that he first belonged to Des Moines Lodge No. 41 in Burlington, Iowa. He was ardently committed to the fraternity, later becoming a member of Temple Chapter #19, Royal Arch Masons, and Webb Commandery #2, Knights Templar, and joining Good Samaritan Lodge No. 174, all in Lexington, Kentucky. Notably, he was also the first Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Kentucky, receiving the 33° on March 28th, 1860.

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson, Masonic President

Before he became the seventh president of the United States, Brother Andrew Jackson served as a lawyer, judge, and general. It is not readily known when he officially became a Master Mason, however, it has been confirmed that by 1800, Bro. Jackson belonged to Harmony Lodge No. 1 in Tennessee. It was in the year 1823 he was appointed to serve as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Tennessee. To this day, he remains one of two presidents to serve as a Grand Master in the United States.

William King

William King, Masonic Vice President

Born in North Carolina in 1786, our thirteenth Vice President, Brother William Rufus Devane King, was a graduate of the University of North Carolina in 1803, a student of the law. Prior to his tenure as Vice President under President Franklin Pierce’s administration, King was also a United States Senator for the state of Alabama.

Vice President King was initiated as an Entered Apprentice in 1807 at the age of 21 in Phoenix Lodge No. 8 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Within a few months, he passed to the degree of Fellowcraft and was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in 1810.

Schuyler Colfax

Schuyler Colfax, Masonic Vice President

Brother Colfax was a journalist, businessman, and statesman who served as the 17th Vice President of the United States from 1869 to 1873 during the administration of Ulysses S. Grant. Prior to becoming Vice President, he served as the 25th Speaker of the House; it was during this tenure that he became known for his opposition to slavery. A founder of the Republican Party, he used his first term as speaker to spearhead the effort to pass what would become the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery

Brother Colfax was initiated to the craft as an Entered Apprentice at Lebanon Lodge No. 7 in Washington, D.C. in 1856. He completed the subsequent degrees at St. Joseph Lodge No. 45 in South Bend, Indiana.

James Garfield

James Garfield, Masonic President

The 20th President of the United States, Brother James Abrams Garfield, hailed from Ohio. He was a skilled orator who, during his tenure as an Ohio State Senator, ardently opposed Confederate secession. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War before being elected to Congress in 1962. After successfully winning the presidency in 1880, he was only able to serve for six months before he was sadly assassinated in 1881.

As a Freemason, Brother Garfield was initiated on November 19, 1861, at Magnolia Lodge, No. 20 in Columbus, Ohio. After a brief delay caused by his service in the Union Army during the war, Garfield received the Third Degree in 1864 at Columbus Lodge No. 30 in Columbus, Ohio. In the following years, he remained an active Mason, subsequently affiliating with Garrettsville Lodge No. 246, Garrettsville, Ohio, and serving as its Chaplain in 1868. Additionally, Brother Garfield became a Charter Member of Pentalpha Lodge No. 23 of Washington, D.C., and witnessed the 14th degree of the Scottish Rite in 1872.

Adlai Stevenson

Adlai Stevenson, Masonic Vice President

Brother Adlai Stevenson had a long, prestigious career working for the United States government. In his life, he was a District Attorney and the Assistant Postmaster General; he also served in the House of Representatives for the state of Illinois. However, he is best known for serving as the 23rd Vice President within the administration of President Cleveland.

As a Mason, he received the degrees in Metamora Lodge No. 82 in 1858 in Metamora, Illinois, a lodge that is no longer active. He remained active in the brotherhood for many years, going on to later affiliate with Bloomington Lodge #43 in Bloomington, Illinois, and even serving as Master in 1874. Beyond this, he was a member of the Royal Arch Masons, Metamora Council No. 38, Cryptic Masons; and DeMolay Commandery No. 24, and Knights Templar, in Bloomington. Ultimately, his activity and commitment to the craft were recognized in 1895 when was appointed by the Grand Lodge of Illinois to be Grand Orator.

Garret A. Hobart

Garret A. Hobart, Masonic Vice President

The successor to Stevenson, Brother Garret Hobart served as the 24th Vice President under President McKinley’s administration. Prior to his tenure in the executive branch, he had been an influential politician in the state of New Jersey, serving as the president of the state’s senate. He is known for augmenting the influence of the vice presidency by acting as a close advisor to President McKinley. Sadly, Vice President Hobart died while in office from heart disease in the year 1900.

Brother Hobart was raised as a Master Mason in 1868 in Falls City Lodge No. 82 in Paterson, New Jersey. Over the next few years, he would become active beyond his lodge, being initiated into Cataract Chapter #10, Royal Arch Masons, on Nov 6, 1871, and dubbed a knight in St. Omer Commandery #13, Knights Templar, later that year. His enthusiasm for Masonry continued, becoming a charter member of Adelphic Chapter #33, Royal Arch Masons, in 1874, and a charter member of Melita Commandery #13, Knights Templar two years later in 1876. That same year he became a 32° Scottish Rite Freemason.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, Masonic President

One of the most interesting men to ever hold the office, Brother Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States of America. A cattle rancher, a governor of New York, a conservationist, and a Harvard-educated scholar, President Roosevelt is also known within the fraternity for being steadfast in his dedication to its core values.

As President, Brother Roosevelt championed progressive domestic policies and conservationism, establishing many national parks and forests. His term was also marked by several major foreign policy accomplishments, including spearheading the construction of the Panama Canal brokering an end to the Russo-Japanese war for which he won a Nobel Prize.

Teddy joined Freemasonry when he was 42 years old in 1901, the same year he became president. He was initiated at Matinecock Lodge No. 806 in Oyster Bay, New York. Soon after, he visited the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for a celebration of the anniversary of Brother George Washington’s initiation into Freemasonry. He traveled often, endeavoring to visit local Masonic lodges as he did. In 1903 he broke ground for a Masonic temple in Spokane, Washington, and was present at the Masonic laying of the cornerstone for the House of Representatives’ building.

Thomas Marshall

Thomas Marshall, Masonic Vice President

From lawyer to the Governor of Indiana and on to becoming the 28th Vice President, Brother Thomas R. Marshall served for eight years under President Woodrow Wilson. With the country entering into World War I while he was in office, he hosted events across the United States to keep morale up.

Illustrious Brother Marshall, 33°, became a Freemason in 1881 when he received the degrees at Columbia City Lodge No. 189 in Columbia City, Indiana. His journey into the craft took him far; he was a member of Columbia Chapter No. 54, Royal Arch Masons, where he served as High Priest from 1889 to 1895. Later, he acted as the Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Indiana in 1899 and was a member of Columbia City Council No. 55, Cryptic Masons, serving as Illustrious Master from 1887 to 189. Additionally, Marshall became Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of Indiana from 1895-1896. He was also knighted in Ft. Wayne Commandery No. 4, Knights Templar, and would become a charter member of Cyrene Commandery No. 34 in Columbia City in1892, serving as Eminent Commander in 1897-1898. Finally, Brother Marshall received the 32° in Indiana Consistory in April of 1888, going on to receive the honor of the 33° the next year. He became an active member of the Supreme Council of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction in 1911.

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford, Masonic President

Ill. Brother Gerald Ford, 33° joined the fraternity in 1949 alongside his three half-brothers, Thomas, Richard, and James at Malta Lodge No. 465 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He later became a Master Mason at Columbia Lodge No. 3, Washington D.C., on May 18, 1951, and was the last president who belonged to the brotherhood of Freemasonry.

President Ford endeavored to realize the Masonic core values both in his personal life and his career working in government. This dedication was well known within the fraternity, leading him in 1962 to being made a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33°, and Honorary Member, Supreme Council Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.

Additionally, President Ford was elected to serve as an Active Member of the International Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay, and its Honorary Grand Master.

Curious about the other Brothers of our fraternity to hold the title of president and vice president? You can find all 14 presidents and 18 vice presidents on our Facebook page as part of our Masonic Presidents campaign. Search the hashtag “#MasonicPresidents” to uncover them all!