1984: Thread

grarpamp grarpamp at gmail.com
Mon Nov 7 03:10:41 PST 2022

To George Washington from G. W. Snyder, 22 August 1798
>From G. W. Snyder

Frederick-Town (Maryland) Augt 22. 1798.


You will, I hope, not think it a Presumption in a Stranger, whose
Name, perhaps never reached your Ears, to address himself to you the
Commanding General of a great Nation. I am a German, born and
liberally educated in the City of Heydelberg in the Palatinate of the
Rhine. I came to this Country in 1776, and felt soon after my Arrival
a close Attachment to the Liberty for which these confederated States
then struggled. The same Attachment still remains not glowing, but
burning in my Breast. At the same Time that I am exulting in the
Measures adopted by our Government, I feel myself elevated in the Idea
of my adopted Country. I am attached both from the Bent of Education
and mature Enquiry and Search to the simple Doctrines of Christianity,
which I have the Honor to teach in Public; and I do heartily despise
all the Cavils of Infidelity. Our present Time, pregnant with the most
shocking Evils and Calamities, threatens Ruin to our Liberty and
Goverment. Secret, the most secret Plans are in Agitation: Plans,
calculated to ensnare the Unwary, to attract the Gay and irreligious,
and to entice even the Well-disposed to combine in the general Machine
for overturning all Government and all Religion.

It was some Time since that a Book fell into my Hands entituled
“Proofs of a Conspiracy &c. by John Robison,”1 which gives a full
Account of a Society of Freemasons, that distinguishes itself by the
Name “of Illuminati,” whose Plan is to overturn all Government and all
Religion, even natural; and who endeavour to eradicate every Idea of a
Supreme Being, and distinguish Man from Beast by his Shape only. A
Thought suggested itself to me, that some of the Lodges in the United
States might have caught the Infection, and might cooperate with the
Illuminati or the Jacobine Club in France. Fauchet is mentioned by
Robison as a zealous Member: and who can doubt of Genet and Adet? Have
not these their Confidants in this Country? They use the same
Expressions and are generally Men of no Religion. Upon serious
Reflection I was led to think that it might be within your Power to
prevent the horrid Plan from corrupting the Brethren of the English
Lodge over which you preside.2

I send you the “Proof of a Conspiracy &c.” which, I doubt not, will
give you Satisfaction and afford you Matter for a Train of Ideas, that
may operate to our national Felicity. If, however, you have already
perused the Book, it will not, I trust, be disagreeable to you that I
have presumed to address you with this Letter and the Book
accompanying it. It proceeded from the Sincerity of my Heart and my
ardent Wishes for the common Good.

May the Supreme Ruler of all Things continue You long with us in these
perilous Times: may he endow you with Strength and Wisdom to save our
Country in the threatening Storms and gathering Clouds of Factions and
Commotions! and after you have completed his Work on this terrene
Spot, may He bring you to the full Possession of the glorious Liberty
of the Children of God, is the hearty and most sincere Wish of Your
Excellency’s very humble and devoted Servant

G. W. Snyder


In May of this year, Snyder published in Philadelphia The Age of
Reason Unreasonable; or The Folly of Rejecting Revealed Religion.. . .

1. John Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy against All the Religions and
Governments of Europe, published in Philadelphia in 1798, was in GW’s
library at his death. This letter from Snyder initiated a flurry of
correspondence between him and GW. GW replied on 25 Sept.: “Sir, Many
apologies are due to you, for my not acknowledging the receipt of your
obliging favour of the 22d Ulto, and for not thanking you, at an
earlier period, for the Book you had the goodness to send me.

“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. The same causes which have prevented my acknowledging the
receipt of your letter, have prevented my reading the Book, hitherto;
namely—the multiplicity of matters which pressed upon me before, & the
debilitated state in which I was left after, a severe fever had been
removed. And which allows me to add little more now, than thanks for
your kind wishes and favourable sentiments, except to correct an error
you have run into, of my Presiding over the English lodges in this
Country. The fact is, I preside over none, nor have I been in one more
than once or twice, within the last thirty years. I believe
notwithstandings, that none of the Lodges in this Country are
contaminated with the principles ascribed to the Society of the
Illuminati. With respect I am Sir Your Obedt Hble Servt Go:
Washington” (ALS, PWacD; letterpress copy, DLC:GW; LB DLC:GW).

Not having heard from GW, Snyder wrote GW again on 1 Oct. from
Frederick: “Some Weeks ago I sent you a Letter with Robison’s Proof of
a Conspiracy which I hope you have received. I have since been more
confirmed in the Ideas I had suggested to you concerning an Order of
Men, who in Germany have distinguished themselves by the Names of
Illuminati—German Union—Reading Societies—and in France by that of the
Jacobine-Club, that the same are now existing in the United States. It
also occurred to me that you might have had Ideas to that Purport when
you disapproved of the Meetings of the Democratic-Societies, which
appeared to me to be a Branch of that Order, though many Members may
be entirely ignorant of the Plan. Those Men who are so much attached
to French Principles, have all the Marks of Jacobinism. They first
cast off all religious Restraints, and then became fit for
perpetrating every Act of Inhumanity. And, it is remarkable, that most
of them are actually Scoffers at all religious Principles. It is said
that the ‘Lodge Theodore in Bavaria became notorious for the many bold
and dangerous Sentiments in Religion and Politics that were uttered in
their Harangues, and its Members were remarkable for their Zeal in
making Proselytes’; (and no Wonder since the Order was to rule the
World.) Is not there a striking Similarity between their Proceedings
and those of many Societies that oppose the Measures of our present
Government? Even in this small Place the French-Faction is very
numerous—their Expressions are like those of Bloody-Lutetia [Lutetia
Parisiorum, or Paris]: their Sentiments in exact Unison with those of
the Jacobine Club: their Hearts panting for Faggots and Guillotines.
The Foundation of their Sanctuary is laid with Lies, and every Stone
of the Superstructure reared with Falsehood. They are laboriously
employed to excite Discord—to extinguish public Virtue—to break down
the Barriers of Religion—to establish Atheism, and work the Downfall
of our Civil—and Religious Liberty. Should their perfidious Schemes
succeed (I tremble even at the Imagination of the Consequences) what
would become of our Columbia?” (ViMtvL).

GW responded on 10 Oct.: “Sir: It is more than a fortnight since I
acknowledged the receipt of your first letter, on the subject of the
Illuminati and thanked you for Robinson’s account of that society. It
went to the post office as usual addressed to the Rev’d Mr Snyder, at
Frederick Town Maryland. If it had not been received before this
mishap must have attended it, of which I pray you to advise me, as it
could not have been received, at the date of your last, not being
mentioned. I am, &c. G. Washington” (typescript, ViMtvL).

On 17 Oct. Snyder wrote GW: “Your Excellency’s Favour of the 25th of
Septr last I had the Pleasure to receive on the 3d Current. My
Pleasure, however, was interrupted, because I had sent another Letter
[dated 1 Oct.] for your Excellency to the Post-Office about an Hour
before I received Your’s.” After further pleasantries Snyder goes on
to write: “I should be very happy in your Excellency’s good Opinion,
that the Contagion of Illuminatism or Jacobinism had not yet reached
this Country; but when I consider the anarchical and seditious Spirit,
that shewed itself in the United States from the Time M. Genet and
Fauchet (who certainly is of the Order) arrived in this Country and
propagated their seditious Doctrines, which the illuminated Doctor
from Birmingham has been zealously employed to strengthen, I confess I
cannot divest myself of my Suspicions: yet I trust that the Alwise and
Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe will so dispose the Minds of the
People of these United States that true Religion and righteous
Government may remain the Privileges of this Nation! I cannot conclude
without acquainting your Excellency that I have made Extracts from
‘Robison’s Proofs of a Conspiracy,’ and arranged them in such a Manner
as to give a compendious Information to the Public of the dangerous
and pernicious Plan of the ‘Illuminati or Jacobins,’ and by some
Remarks to caution them against it. I had them published in ‘Bartgis’s
Federal Gazette’ of this Place, from which they were copied and
inserted into the ‘Baltimore Federal Gazette[’] of the 9th Inst. I
write under the Signature of Cicero. Whether my Endeavours shall
benefit the Public Time alone can evince. Harm I am conscious I do not
design. Should your Excellency have Leisure to peruse the Piece, I
shall deem it a peculiar Favour to receive your Opinion upon it”

GW’s response from Mount Vernon on 24 Oct. brought the exchange to a
close: “Revd Sir I have your favor of the 17th instant before me; and
my only motive to trouble you with the receipt of this letter, is to
explain, and correct a mistake which I perceive the hurry in which I
am obliged, often, to write letters, have led you into.

“It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the
Iluminati, 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.

“The idea I meant to convey, was, that I did not believe that the
Lodges of Free Masons in this Country had, as Societies, endeavoured
to propagate the diabolical tenets of the first, or the pernicious
principles of the latter (if they are susceptible of seperation). 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 seperation of
the People from their Government in view, is too evident to be

“My occupations are such, that but little leisure is allowed me to
read News Papers, or Books of any kind; the reading of letters, and
preparing answers, absorb much of my time. With respect—I remain Revd
Sir Your Most Obedt Hble Ser. Go: Washington” (letterpress copy,

2. The Illuminati was the name of a secret society founded in 1776 in
Bavaria by Adam Weishaupt. It had an organization similar to the
Freemasons and evinced republican and deistic principles.

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