Sixth President of the United States, who served from 1825 to 1829. Adams, who has been very properly described as "a man of strong points and weak ones, of vast reading and wonderful memory, of great credulity and strong prejudices," became notorious in the latter years of his life for his virulent opposition to Freemasonry. The writer already quoted, who had an excellent opportunity of seeing intimately the workings of the spirit of Anti-Masonry, says of him: "He hated Freemasonry, as he did many other things, not from any harm that he had received from it or personally knew respecting it, but because his credulity had been wrought upon and his prejudices excited against it by dishonest and selfish politicians, who were anxious, at any sacrifice to him, to avail themselves of the influence of his commanding talents and position in public life to sustain them in the disreputable work in which they were enlisted. In his weakness, he lent himself to them. He united his energies to theirs in an impracticable and unworthy cause" (IV. Moore, Freemasons magazine, volume vii, page 314).
The result was a series of letters abusive of Freemasonry, directed to leading politicians, and published in the public journals from 1831 to 1833. A year before his death they were collected and published under the title of Letters on the Masonic Institution, by John Quincy Adams (published at Boston, 1847, 284 pages).
Some explanation of the cause of the virulence with which Adams attacked the Masonic Institution in these letters may be found in the following paragraph contained in an Anti-Masonic work written by one Henry Gassett, and affixed to his Catalogue of Books on the Masonic Institution (published at Boston, 1852). "It had been asserted in a newspaper in Boston, edited by a Masonic dignitary, that John 11. Adams was a Freemason. In answer to an inquiry from a person in New York State, whether he was so, Mr. Adams replied that 'he was not, and never should be.'
These few words, undoubtedly, prevented his election a second time as President of the United States. His competitor, Andrew Jackson, a Freemason, was elected."
Whether the statement contained in the italicized words be true or not, is not the question. It is sufficient that Adams was led to believe it, and hence his ill-will to an association which had, as he supposed, inflicted this political evil on him, and baffled his ambitious views.
Above reference to Adams being a member of the Craft is due to a confusion of the President's name with that of a Boston printer, John Quincy Adams, who was proposed for membership in St. Johns Lodge of that city on October 11, 1826. He was admitted on December 5.
But on the latter date the President was busily engaged at Washington as may be seen by reference to his Memoirs. This diary' also shows (on page 345, volume vii, Lippincott edition), a statement by Adams himself which settles the question. He says "I told Wilkins he might answer Tracy, that I am not and never was a Freemason."
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