Our history is full of Masons from all walks of life. Masonary does not select members based on their wealth, worldly titles or status, but it is the internal qualifications that recommend a man to be made a Mason.
More than a dozen U.S. presidents were members of this fraternal organization, including George Washington (pictured), who earned the distinguished title of Master Mason.
James Monroe and Andrew Jackson also were Masons, and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are said to have had connections to the organization. Presidents of the 20th century that were members: William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, William H. Taft, Warren Harding, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford. Lyndon B. Johnson was initiated but completed only the first of the three Masonic degrees.
Benjamin Franklin became a grand master in 1734 and edited and published the first Masonic book in America that same year. Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and Francis Scott Key are also believed to have been Masons. Other Founding Fathers and Patriots who were Masons: John Hancock, Paul Revere, Elbridge Gerry, Josiah Bartlett, and George Clinton.
Many Masons have walked the halls of Congress or resided in governor's mansions. Congressmen Henry Clay, Nelson Aldrich, and William Jennings Bryan were members. More recently, Sens. Birch Bayh, Lloyd Bentsen, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, and Sam Ervin were Masons. So were the father and grandfather of Sen. John McCain. Former senators Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Conrad Burns, and Sam Nunn are Masons, as are Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Charles Rangel. Famous Masonic governors include DeWitt Clinton, Thomas Dewey, George Wallace, George Ryan, Ed Rendell, and David Paterson. Longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover also was a member.
The organization has had its fair share of comedic talent over the years, including Bud Abbot, W. C. Fields, Harpo Marx, Oliver Hardy, Will Rogers, Red Skelton, Peter Sellers, Richard Pryor, Don Rickles, and Michael Richards.
Classic screen stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Clark Gable, and Ernest Borgnine and directors Cecille B. DeMille and Billy Wilder were Masons.
Western film stars Gene Autry, John Wayne, Glenn Ford, Tex Ritter, and Roy Rogers also were members. Magician Harry Houdini, Wild West showman "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and all seven of the Ringling brothers (founders of the circus bearing their name) were Masons, as was Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and many other Looney Tunes characters.