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Among the stranger exchanges of George Washington was a series of letters on the Illuminati of Bavaria, detailing the society’s attempts to overthrow religion and government in Europe and its presence in the United States under the guise of “Democratic-Republican Societies.” Washington’s sharp criticism of the societies is often interpreted as attacks on political partisanship.
To understand Washington’s views, we need to examine the context. The United States won its independence from the British empire during the war of 1776, and a revolution of a very different type soon followed in France, in 1789. While the Americans established a system rooted in divine faith and individual rights, the French Revolution led to the Reign of Terror and its executions by guillotine, its “Dechristianization” movement seeking to destroy religion, and its laws to govern even the most minute decisions of each person.
Behind the French Revolution were various revolutionary societies such as the Jacobins—from which there is a direct lineage to the creation of communism in the Cercle Social in 1790 and later the Communist League (1847–1852), of which Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were members when they wrote “The Communist Manifesto.”
Before the communist revolutions swept the world, however, rumors were spreading in the United States and in Europe of a new revolutionary conspiracy. It would be a revolution that sought to create tyranny over all citizens, and that aimed to destroy not just the traditional systems of government, but also traditional beliefs and morality.
In 1798, this conspiracy was brought to the surface by John Robison, a Scottish scientist and professor of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh (who was also, fittingly, the inventor of the siren).
He published a book titled “Proofs of a Conspiracy Against All the Religions of Governments of Europe, Carried On In the Secret Meetings of Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies, Collected From Good Authorities.” The book, which included copies of letters Robinson received as a member of a Freemason lodge, was sent out to warn the various countries about the planned revolutions.
That same year, Augustin Barruel, a French publicist and Jesuit priest, published his “Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism,” which also warned of a revolutionary conspiracy against government and religion in Europe.
Amidst this upheaval in 1798, Washington was mailed a copy of Robison’s “Proofs of Conspiracy.” According to the National Archives, the book was still in Washington’s library at the time of his death.
The sender was G.W. Snyder, who wrote to Washington on Aug. 22, 1798, warning him that the Illuminati was attempting to “overturn all Government and all Religion, even natural” and “to eradicate every Idea of a Supreme Being, and distinguish Man from Beast by his Shape only.” Since the Illuminati in Europe was attempting to subvert the Freemasons, Snyder asked Washington, who was also a Mason, to beware of the organization’s attempts.
Through a series of exchanges, Washington told Snyder that the revolutionary societies had not infiltrated the Freemason lodges in the United States, yet said he was certain the doctrines of the Illuminati and the principles of Jacobinism were already spreading through other means in America.
Washington wrote to Snyder on Sept. 25, stating, “I have heard much of the nefarious, & dangerous plan, & doctrines of the Illuminati, but never saw the Book until you were pleased to send it to me.”
After a further exchange of letters, Washington clarified his position on the Illuminati and Jacobins in the United States. He wrote on Oct. 24: “It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more fully satisfied of this fact than I am.”
Washington wrote that he didn’t believe the Freemason lodges in the United States had yet been infiltrated by the “diabolical tenets” of the revolutionary movements, yet added that the tenets of the Illuminati and Jacobins could be seen in the “Democratic Societies” that were spreading throughout the country at the time.
“That Individuals of them may have done it, and that the founder, or instrument employed to found, the Democratic Societies in the United States, may have had these objects—and actually had a separation of the People from their Government in view, is too evident to be questioned,” he wrote.
The Democratic-Republican Societies, meanwhile, were known for their support of the violent French model of revolution, which aimed to reorganize all society through violent revolution and to replace religious moral order with a new totalitarian state under the banner of “reason.” They took various forms, including the German Republican Society and the Democratic Society of Pennsylvania.
They tied to similar societies that ran under the illuminist brand in Europe around the same time, in the Republican Carbonari and the Democrat Carbonari behind the Cercle Social. Communist leader Leon Trotsky described these societies in his autobiography as being an origin of the communist revolution. He wrote, “In the eighteenth century, freemasonry became expressive of a militant policy of enlightenment, as in the case of the Illuminati, who were the forerunners of revolution; on its left, it culminated in the Carbonari.”
There were rumors that one of the clubs in western Pennsylvania was behind the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. Washington sent a 12,500-man militia to curb the “insurrection” and declared that it was the “first ripe fruit of the Democratic Societies.”
He added in a Sept. 25, 1794, letter regarding the societies and their rebellion, “I did not, I must confess, expect it would come to maturity so soon.”
Washington’s harsh criticisms of the societies led to their downfall until after the War of 1812. He had continued to condemn the Democratic Societies even up until his 1796 farewell address, when he declared, “The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.”
He declared that these societies would “become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government.”
Yet, by 1824, the societies had again gained influence and run four candidates under the Democratic-Republican banner. This culminated in the creation of the Democratic Party and the National Republican Party.
When the modern Republican Party was founded in 1854, it deliberately chose to name itself after the Jeffersonians. In response, contemporary Democrats embraced the name Democratic-Republican to reinforce their party's claim to the party's pre-Jacksonian history. Modern Democratic politicians continue to claim Jefferson as their founder.
Who is "serving evil and oppression"? The illuminati? Really?
You do know...
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"Everything the state says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen." Nietzsche