Philadelphia, Jan. 31, 1800.

Dear Sir,–* * * I have lately by accident got a sight of a single volume (the 3d.) of the Abbe Barruel’s Antisocial conspiracy, which gives me the first idea I have ever had of what is meant by the Illuminatism against which “illuminate Morse” as he is now called, & his ecclesiastical & monarchical associates have been making such a hue and cry. Barruel’s own parts of the book are perfectly the ravings of a Bedlamite. But he quotes largely from Wishaupt whom he considers as the founder of what he calls the order. As you may not have had an opportunity of forming a judgment of this cry of “mad dog” which has been raised against his doctrines, I will give you the idea I have formed from only an hour’s reading of Barruel’s quotations from him, which you may be sure are not the most favorable. Wishaupt seems to be an enthusiastic Philanthropist. He is among those (as you know the excellent Price and Priestley also are) who believe in the indefinite perfectibility of man. He thinks he may in time be rendered so perfect that he will be able to govern himself in every circumstance so as to injure none, to do all the good he can, to leave government no occasion to exercise their powers over him, & of course to render political government useless. This you know is Godwin’s doctrine, and this is what Robinson, Barruel & Morse had called a conspiracy against all government. Wishaupt believes that to promote this perfection of the human character was the object of Jesus Christ. That his intention was simply to reinstate natural religion, & by diffusing the light of his morality, to teach us to govern ourselves. His precepts are the love of god & love of our neighbor. And by teaching innocence of conduct, he expected to place men in their natural state of liberty & equality. He says, no one ever laid a surer foundation for liberty than our grand master, Jesus of Nazareth. He believes the Free masons were originally possessed of the true principles & objects of Christianity, & have still preserved some of them by tradition, but much disfigured. The means he proposes to effect this improvement of human nature are “to enlighten men, to correct their morals & inspire them with benevolence. Secure of our success, sais he, we abstain from violent commotions. To have foreseen, the happiness of posterity & to have prepared it by irreproachable means, suffices for our felicity. The tranquility of our consciences is not troubled by the reproach of aiming at the ruin or overthrow of states or thrones.” As Wishaupt lived under the tyranny of a despot & priests, he knew that caution was necessary even in spreading information, & the principles of pure morality. He proposed therefore to lead the Free masons to adopt this object & to make the objects of their institution the diffusion of science & virtue. He proposed to initiate new members into his body by gradations proportioned to his fears of the thunderbolts of tyranny. This has given an air of mystery to his views, was the foundation of his banishment, the subversion of the masonic order, & is the colour for the ravings against him of Robinson, Barruel & Morse, whose real fears are that the craft would be endangered by the spreading of information, reason, & natural morality among men. This subject being new to me, I have imagined that if it be so to you also, you may receive the same satisfaction in seeing, which I have had in forming the analysis of it: & I believe you will think with me that if Wishaupt had written here, where no secrecy is necessary in our endeavors to render men wise & virtuous, he would not have thought of any secret machinery for that purpose. As Godwin, if he had written in Germany, might probably also have thought secrecy & mysticism prudent. I will say nothing to you on the late revolution of France, which is painfully interesting. Perhaps when we know more of the circumstances which gave rise to it, & the direction it will take, Buonaparte, its chief organ, may stand in a better light than at present. I am with great esteem, dear sir, your affectionate friend.

Is the Letter Genuine?

Here is a comment on the above letter by lightindarkness, who would appear to be a freemason, on, in answer to an enquiry as to whether the letter as posted on this site was genuine:

I think its quite obvious why the veracity of this site should be questioned.(1) It’s a wordpress site – which anyone can put up – having a website doesn’t make you any sort of authority on the stuff you publish.
(2) A quick glance of the website shows that the website at the very lease has an obvious agenda toward finding negatively slanted conspiracies without verifiable evidence.
(3) Anyone can type a letter and make it sound like it was from the 1700-1800s. Its not that hard to copy the style of the time and use a thesaurus to inflate your
(4) Lots of internet websites simply lie about the stuff they post, especially when (2) is present.
(5) Other sites which use this letter also have a clear agenda, including one that tells us this is …somehow…proof that freemasons are satanists.
(6) If you look at the supposed “scan” – its not the same thing. This is the most obvious, but I decided to put it last just for fun. For example, in the first site, you clearly see in the letter (although you cant read all the words) the word “because” – which strangely, does not appear in the “
translation” for us. This paragraph does appear in the second link. Because the original document is scanned so badly we’ll never know if the typed version is accurate. And even if it IS accurate, it would be just as easy to fake it.As for what I think:It is one man’s opinion on a freemasons opinion of the fraternity. I think the claim that masons have any sort of christian artifacts is simply wishful thinking – much like other similar claims made that were later proven to be historically wrong. It is a Christian freemasons application of the fraternity, and while I disagree with most of it, there are some good points. I do agree that ideally we should strive for a world where we so well govern ourselves that government never has to step in to stop us from doing what we wish to do. Concurrently, I do not claim this is somehow innately secret or a philosophy that needs to be guarded. One need not be a mason to follow masonic teachings.Is it REAL? I don’t know. There is a chance that it could be, but the lack of its presence on anything other than sites with a CLEAR agenda against

masonry and similar institutions makes me question its veracity. Especially since everything Jefferson ever wrote is now online, I would expect to find hundreds or thousands of copies of it. At the same time the letter seems reasonable, and it does not make the outrageous claims typical of masonic hoaxes. Of course, it could just be that the person who made it up was knowledgeable on this fact so was careful about the masonic references.I confess I am not knowledgeable of the lesser known works of history that reference masonry, so I could very well be completely wrong. I’m sure my fellow brethren who are more experienced in these matters can probably shed further light (oh, the irony) on this matter.

The transcript of the letter, which was addressed to Bishop James Madison, can also be read at the Electronic Text Centre, University of Virginia Library, so it would appear to be genuine.

I have also posted this example of Jefferson’s original rough draft of the Declaration of Independance so that readers can compare for themselves the handwriting in the scanned letter above and in the rough draft and it would appear that it is clearly Jefferson’s:


Jefferson, a freemason himself, writes favorably of Wishaupt [sic], the founder of the Illuminati, so if it is a forgery, it has been made by a freemason (lightindarkness himself?).


4 Responses to “Thomas Jefferson on the Illuminati, January 31, 1800”

  1. 2 Ibsen February 23, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    If it’s fake, why would it be kept in the Library of Congress?

  2. 3 William Finch™ (@wmfinch) September 20, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Nesta Webster referred to this in 1921

  1. 1 Treasure of the 7th Seal... NOT the Beale Treasure - Page 12 Trackback on September 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm

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