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John James Beckley is Born

Today in Masonic History John James Beckley is born in 1757.

John James Beckley was an American political manager and the first Librarian of the United States Congress.

Beckley was born in London, England on August 4th, 1757. At the age of 14 his impoverished parents sent him to live in the colony of Virginia. He was an indentured servant and of low social status. What he had was ambition. He eventually graduated from the College of William and Mary.

By 1783, Beckley amassed 49,000 acres in what became West Virginia, although it was tied up in litigation for many years. Also in 1783, he was elected for the first time as the Mayor of Richmond, Virginia. He served as Mayor again in 1788.

Beckley was close with Jefferson and Madison. Madison sponsored him as Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. He also wrote several articles denouncing Alexander Hamilton and his Federalist Party.

In 1792, Beckley had become the propaganda machine for the new Republican-Democratic Party being started by Madison and Jefferson. He told Madison "I enclose eight copies of the 'Political Observations.' I brought two dozen from New York and have distributed them all. I expect 50 more in a day or two, and shall scatter them also - they were bought and dispersed in great numbers there, and are eagerly enquired after by numbers here - it will be republished in Boston, Portsmouth, Vermont, and at Richmond."

Also in 1792, Beckley brought to light an affair Hamilton was having with a friends wife. It also revealed Hamilton had been paying hush money to the woman's husband. It was agreed the affair needed to be kept quiet until it came to the publics attention in 1797.

In 1795, Beckley took the lead on denouncing Jay's Treaty which tried to resolve outstanding issues between the United States and Great Britain after the independence of the United States. The following year he went after George Washington claiming, among other heinous charges, he stole public money. He called for Washington to be impeached.

Also in 1796, Beckley became Thomas Jefferson's campaign manager in Pennsylvania. In his role, the first professional to hold the position, he set the standard for the first party system.

After his hard work on Jefferson's campaign, Jefferson rewarded Beckley by getting him his old position of Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Beckley also convinced the House to give him one additional title, Librarian of Congress.

Beckley passed away on April 8th, 1807.

Beckley was a member of Williamsburg Lodge No. 6 in Williamsburg, Virginia.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.