Last month, I reviewed the Illuminati book titled Perfectibilists, written by Illuminati researcher and author Terry Melanson. He is also the owner of the popular Conspiracy Archive website.
After publishing the review, I approached Terry about discussing some of the details both in his book and in his Illuminati research that extends outside of the book.
For those of you that have followed along with our Illuminati digging, you know that the Illuminati was a very real secret society that existed throughout Europe in the 18th century.
Unfortunately, the story of that real secret society has been dwarfed by ridiculous myths about a modern secret cabal that allegedly runs modern society, and shoddy research conducted by modern-day “researchers” that make all sorts of claims about the continued existence of this group, but who provide not an ounce of evidence to support those claims.
Illuminati Interview with Terry Melanson
Terry is a rare Illuminati researcher that focuses on an evidence-based examination of the history of the Illuminati, and so I was pleased to sit down virtually with Terry and have a discussion about this fascinating subject.
Ryan: Could you describe a little about what inspired you to start your research into the origins of the Illuminati?
Terry: The inadequacy of offerings in English. Serious study on the subject has long been neglected by scholars, on the one hand, and on the other, conspiracy theory literature has only rehashed the basic outline while contributing endless amounts of conflicting speculation.
The latter situation, as suggested in the Preface to my book, is due in large part to the failure of the former. Not generally realized is the fact that a proper monograph on the Order (in English) had never been undertaken.
The closest we have is Vernon Stauffer’s PhD thesis a hundred years ago, New England and the Bavarian Illuminati. However, Stauffer concentrated on the Illuminati conspiracy theory as it developed in America, beginning in the late 1790s, with only one chapter devoted to a straight historical accounting of the Bavarian Illuminati.
When my initial research confirmed this, I realized there was an unprecedented opportunity for someone to take on the task and finally give it a worthy treatment.
The Spread of the Illuminati
Ryan: As you trace the path of the Illuminati in your book, it seems that as the years progressed and the secret societies spread into other countries, that records and evidence became more scarce. What do you know, or what is your opinion about the evolution of the 1700's and 1800's Illuminati as the world moved into the 1900's and beyond?
Terry: The Bavarian Illuminati are unique in the annals of secret societies. Not only were they suppressed by the government, a large cache of internal documents and correspondences were actually confiscated and published. This hasn’t happened, in quite the same way, before or since.
Thus, it was possible to form an opinion of what they were about from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Fundamentally, it was a subversive organization that sought to infiltrate all spheres of power, to form a state within a state, and spread enlightenment to the masses to such a degree that eventually there would be no need for either the state or organized religion – a utopian scheme, no doubt, but one that was essentially conspiratorial.
The infiltration extended to other secret societies as well, throughout central Europe, in various Masonic Lodges and Reading Societies.
There’s no proof, as an organization, that it continued beyond the mid 1790s.
Its modus operandi, however, was taken up again and again, especially during various revolutionary uprisings during the 1800s. The lasting influence of the Illuminati, then, is the idea that one could change society – abruptly or gradually – through the machinations of a secret society.
Filippo Buonarroti’s secret societies, in particular, are a good example. It’s beyond doubt that he drew inspiration from the Illuminati, and there’s also the real possibility that he may have been a member himself.
Ryan: As far as you are aware, is there any solid evidence whatsoever that early Colonial America and the founding of the United States was at all influenced by any Illuminati members?
Terry: The Illuminati had actually looked into the possibility of settling in America, and experimenting with a sort of utopian communitarian way of life. Ferdinand von Baader, one of the Areopagites of the Illuminati in Munich, sent a letter to both Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, in 1780, asking if his (unnamed) society could establish a colony in America.
Joe Wages has recently uncovered the actual letter and the reply from John Adams (details here). Basically, Adams said come on over! That America was free to everyone, as long as the society was law abiding. The plan was to purchase land in South Carolina and Georgia. However, it wasn’t carried through and there are no corresponding land records of purchases. Furthermore, the Illuminati that were involved in the plan – we know for sure – had never come to America.
There’s only one documented member of the Illuminati that came to America after being initiated – Johann Caspar Schweizer (1754-1811). That was in the late-1794, however, eleven years after the War of Independence had ended. Rather than the Illuminati having influenced revolutionaries in America, it was the other way around.
Radicals in Europe were deeply moved by what was occurring in America, and it was the subject of endless discussion. Moreover, symbols such as the Goddess of Liberty, the Liberty Cap and the Liberty Pole, were in use in America decades before being appropriated by the Jacobins.
But then we have this:
“We have abandoned, one after the other, this Sect, which, under different names, as we have been informed by several of our former Brethren, has already spread itself in Italy, and particularly at Venice, in Austria, in Holland, in Saxony on the Rhine, particularly at Frankfort, and even as far as America” [my emphasis].
That quote can be found in Abbé Barruel's Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism, Part III, p. 161. John Robison had also claimed that they spread into America as well. Both authors were utilizing the testimony of the defectors from the Illuminati, specifically one Johann Sulpitius Marquis de Cosandey (1762-1842).
The latter just happened to have been one of those that were privy to the Baader plan for colonizing America. It’s probably the case that Cosandey thought that surely the Illuminati had gone to America by the time he gave his deposition in 1785.
While there’s no evidence for such an assertion – he was wrong about Venice as well and probably Holland – this one statement is the seed for the Illuminati scare in America instigated by Jedidiah Morse and others.
The Longevity of the Illuminati Idea
Ryan: Do you have any evidence or reasons to believe that there exist any secret societies in the world today that have direct ties to the early Bavarian Illuminati?
Terry: Not directly. But as mentioned above, it is hardly necessary for that to be the case. Ideas have longevity; people, and the organizations they were involved in, die out. The true heirs of the Illuminati have always been those behind the scenes who engage in cryptocracy.
Ryan: I am often contacted by people that read my Illuminati articles asking how they can join. What do you think the allure is about this mythical group, and why would people be so quick to volunteer to devote their lives to it? Mental illness, or a social symptom of the spread of the mythical version of the society, or something else?
Terry: I’ve come across the same phenomena. Since 2002, on a monthly basis, more than one person emails me to ask if they can join the Illuminati. I don’t answer them, because 1) they are obviously too dim-witted to comprehend that my site is not claiming to be some remnant of the Illuminati, but in fact just an investigatory effort to uncover the details about it; and 2) they seem like adolescents to me, or perhaps they’re stuck at that stage mentally. It’s best not to humour them.
Ryan: Have you made any new findings since the publication of this book?
Terry: All serious research devoted to the Bavarian Illuminati proper will be posted at my site set aside for that purpose, Bavarian-Illuminati.info. Readers may also be interested in the following recent offerings: "10 Notable Members of the Bavarian Illuminati" and "The Influence of the Illuminati and Freemasonry on German Student Orders (and Vice Versa)." And, as time permits, I intend to continue with my translations of the Original Writings of the Illuminati.
Ryan: Any big plans for your website, your Illuminati work or any of your other research I could share with readers?
Terry: I’m always working on something or other. In the future, look for in-depth articles on Saint-Simon and his progeny, the revolutionary Amis de la Vérité, the French Carbonari and Joseph Rey, as well as an extended look into “Synarchy.”
Once again, I would like to thank Terry for taking the time to have this dialogue with Top Secret Writers, and sharing his extensive Illuminati research and information with TSW readers.
I look forward to exploring and discussing Terry's findings and articles in the future.