John Adams – not a freemason

A few weeks after coming to Boston, HBO started running an excellent new series, John Adams. Nice syncronicity and well worth watching.

Whether you like their series or not, HBO have always offered stellar quality, and this is no different. The production value is very high, and it featuers great Hollywood actors like Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson. There are seven episodes of approximately an hour, telling the story of John Adams, the War of Independence, his presidency and more; it is also very much a drama centred around his family life. The highlights for me is the acting, the dialogue and the camera-work of Tak Fujimoto, which is almost like paintings in how they are framed. I was a little hesitant after the first episode, but the series builds in strength after that. Still, for an HBO series about the creation of law, independence and politcs, Deadwood is still far superior.

According to the conspiracy loonies, all American presidents were “upper echelon” (whatever that means) freemasons. Not true. Adams’ own son, John Quincy Adams, actually ran for Congress as a representative of the Antimasonic Party. Of his father he wrote that he decided not to join freemasonry because “there was nothing in the Masonic Institution worthy of his seeking to be associated with it.” (source: Bessel) The series does feature other freemasons of renown, like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin but makes no comment on it.

I think it’s serves as a healthy reminder that Independence was not, after all has been said and done, won by freemasons, nor a particular Masonic agenda. Which is not to say that freemasonry was not important to these men, and the choices they made. I will recommend reading Chris Hodapp’s Solomon’s Builders: Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington D.C., which does a good job of seperating the wheat from the chaff on this subject.

EDIT: OTOH, Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon has a close-up of Giamatti in Shoot’en Up, wearing a Masonic lapel pin. Coincidence …? 😛

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One thought on “John Adams – not a freemason

  1. I read the book, but missed the film. Adams was certainly one of the most interesting of the founders. He was possibly the most radical revolutionary of the bunch. Washington and the southern contingency seem to have been mostly insulted at not being accepted as English Aristocrats, and wanted, at first, to remain English, just get their due. Adams saw that a complete break was wanted, and saw an opportunity for a radical new social contract. Thankfully there were Madison and Jefferson to work with him, and many others not so famous.

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