AND ITS AFTERMATH.
BY BRO. JACOB HUGO TATSCH Past Junior Grand Deacon, Past Grand Orator, M. W. Grand Lodge F. & A. M. of Washington.
THE sombre side of history also serves its purpose, for it brings into sharp relief the high lights which would otherwise stand upon the horizon of past events without a distinguishing contrast. The story of Freemasonry is no exception, and is incomplete without a recital of the opposition directed against the institution by political and ecclesiastical adversaries.
The enemies of the Craft have been active from the Middle Ages up to the present hour. So fascinating has the subject become to me that my first paper has developed sufficient material for a series of monographs, each covering a vital phase of anti-Masonry. The paper now presented covers but one portion of the subject—yet one which has left a lasting impression upon Masonic development in the United States.1 Much stress has been laid upon the alleged abduction of William Morgan by members of the fraternity, and the immediate consequences, in so far as they affected the then existing Lodges in the United States; but comparatively little attention has been given to the political developments which followed the incident of Monday, September 11th, 1826, at Batavia, N.Y. An examination of legal and political histories, together with the reading of much biographical data, has revealed a mass of most interesting information, and it will be my purpose to weave these widely separated bits of history into a connected story—a story which has for its foundation the disappearance of William Morgan.
Brother Joseph E. Morcombe, Past Grand Historian of Iowa, has well said: “The skyline of history shows Freemasonry not as a central structure of its time, dwarfing all structures . . . but it does show a notable edifice, strongly constructed and designed for very definite purposes.” Freemasonry at the period now under discussion, 1826 to 1840, had a modest but well founded position in American affairs; and to obtain a proper setting for the incident which developed such huge proportions, a brief review of the social, political and economic events of the period in the United States will be of value.
The second war with Great Britain, 1812-1815, had already been recorded in history’s pages. The exclusion of foreign products during the war (a result of the effective blockage maintained by English vessels), and early tariff legislation enacted by Congress were factors which caused American manufacturers to increase in number and prosper amazingly. The cessation of European wars, however, brought European competition anew, and the commercial activities of rival manufacturers from across the seas forced many American firms out of business or reduced them to desperate straits.2 New Tariff legislation brought some relief, but a financial crisis could not be avoided entirely. The period of 1818 to 1820 records a period of distress which was not entirely obviated for several years.3
President Madison’s double term of office expired in 1817, when James Monroe succeeded him. Monroe was re-elected with scarcely any opposition in 1820, he receiving 231 electoral votes, and his opponent, John Quincy Adams, only
1. The story of antimasonry in the United States should also include a chapter on incidents of the Colonial and Revolutionary days. Our American brethren of the eighteenth century also witnessed a period when public sentiment was against the fraternity. This subject will be dealt with separately at a future period.
2. “The English manufacturers, to whose merchandise after years of commercial war an ample field finally opened, rushed as if to the attack of a fortress.” Robbino, American Commercial Policy. p. 153.
3. “The year 1819 was marked by a crisis, the first of those industrial and commercial storms which have since recurred at fairIy regular intervals in our history.” Dewey, Financial History of the United States, 4th edition, p. 166,
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one. During his second term of office, the tide of migration to the new West steadily increased. The steamboat was an important factor in the development of lands adjoining the Western rivers and the Great Lakes. Emigration from Europe was stimulated by the cessation of the Napoleonic wars and added to the population of the United States. The fertile fields of the South-west attracted the slave owners of the Atlantic seaboard who desired to avail themselves of the opportunities to raise cotton profitably in new districts. The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793 and the new machinery devised in England for the spinning and weaving of cotton stimulated cotton raising in the Southern States. The admission of new States—Indiana, 1816, Mississippi 1817, Illinois 1818, Alabama 1819, and Missouri 1821—gives sufficient evidence of the nation’s development during this period. The population of the United States increased from four millions in 1790 to thirteen millions in 1830.1
The presidential campaign of 1824 brought four candidates into the field, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson. Crawford was speedily eliminated from the contest by his ill-health; yet none of the remaining three received a majority of the electoral votes. For a second time in the history of the country a presidential choice was referred to the House of Representatives, and John Quincy Adams duly elected. John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, had been chosen vice-president by the electoral college.
As John Quincy Adams became one of Masonry’s foremost opponents in the anti-Masonic excitement of the early thirties, we can grant some time to his biographical record. Born in Massachusetts in 1767, he received his early education at home. He accompanied his father to Europe in 1778 and 1780, studying in Paris and in Leyden. At the age of fourteen he acted as Private Secretary to Francis Dana, American envoy to Russia (1781), and shortly afterwards joined his father at Paris as an additional secretary to the American Commissioners. Returning to Massachusetts, he entered Harvard, graduating in 1787, and opened a law office in Boston. President Washington appointed him Minister to the Netherlands in 1794, and he also represented the Government at the capitals of Portugal, Prussia, Russia and England. He became Secretary of State in 1817 under President Monroe.
The political successes which marked Adams’ career in other official capacities did not continue during his presidency, chiefly due to the virulent opposition of the Jackson adherents. He retired into private life in 1829; but resumed public activities when elected by a large anti-Masonic vote to the House of Representatives. He became one of the foremost opponents to slavery; and continued in office until his death from apoplexy on the floor of the House in 1848.THE MORGAN INCIDENT.
Twenty-six Grand Lodges governed Craft affairs in the United States at the beginning of 1826.2 The admission of new States into the Union was followed by the organization of Grand Lodges within the same territorial limits, clearly indicating that Masonic Lodges sprang up with the increasing population of the1. An interesting, sidelight of the times is the visit of Brother La Fayette to the United States in the summer of 1824. He was fêted on every side ; his journey through
the country was one of triumphs. He left for France in September, 1825, on a government vessel frigate, the Brandywine, carrying with him the good wishes and gratitude of the entire nation.
2. The following data is taken from Bro. Josiah H. Drummond’s list as it appears in the Catalogue of the Library of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, 1873:—
|MASSACHUSETTS: St. John’s Lodge organized 1733; Ancient, 1769, United Grand Lodge, 1772; VIRGINIA, 1778; MARYLAND, 1783; PENNSYLVANIA, GEORGIA, NEW JERSEY, 1786; SOUTH CAROLINA, 1754, 1787; NORTH CAROLINA, 1787; NEW YORK, 1787, CONNECTICUT, 1789, NEW HAMPSHIRE, 1789; RHODE ISLAND, 1791 (Drummond erroneously gives date 1794) ; VERMONT, 1794; KENTUCKY. 1800; DELAWARE, 1806; OHIO, 1809; DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, 1810-11; LOUISIANA, 1812, TENNESSEE, 1813; INDIANA, 1818; MISSISSIPPI, 1818, MAINE, 1820; MISSOURI, 1821; ALABAMA, 1821; ILLINOIS, 1823: MICHIGAN, 1826, reorganized, 1844. (Michigan has an unusual Masonic History. See Mackey, History of Freemasonry, vol. v., p. 1428. J.H.T.)|
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new political sub-divisions. The same proportion of Masons that participated in public affairs during the early days of the new nation continued to exert an influence in the era under consideration. Henry Clay was Grand Master of Kentucky in 1820-21; Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, in 1822-23; De Witt Clinton, during whose administration as Governor of New York the Erie Canal was built, and who faced the fury of the Morgan Excitement in all its violence, had been elected Grand Master of New York in 1806, and served in 1814 at [sic] Grand Master of the Grand Encampment, and as General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter of the United States in 1816.
A satisfactory biographical sketch of William Morgan is difficult to prepare. The opponents of Masonry give a sanctimoniousness to the man which is questioned by the student of the present day; yet, also, we question the scurrilous remarks and odium cast upon the principal character in the drama by the Masonic writers of the period and of later decades. Samuel D. Greene, an anti-Masonic writer, says 1:— ” At the time I joined the Masons, Captain William Morgan was my neighbor, and I was in free and daily intercourse with him. He was a man of fine personal appearance, about fifty years of age, of remarkable conversational powers, so that he was everywhere known as a good talker. He was a native of Culpepper County, Virginia, and was, by trade, a bricklayer; but for several years before coming to Batavia, he had been otherwise employed. He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and brought his title of Captain from the army during that war. He had served under General Jackson, at New Orleans, and was a man of fine soldierly bearing. He was gentlemanly and agreeable in his manners. In later years the Masons charged him with being a drunkard, but in my judgment, without reason. He was a convivial man, and at times would drink freely, according to the fashions of the day. I myself have seen him when he had been drinking, more than was good for him; but he was not what, in the general acceptation of the word at that time, or at any time, would be called a drunkard. It was the period of hard and general drinking, and certainly it ill becomes Freemasons to charge men on this score, for no body of men among us have done more, from generation to generation, to promote drinking habits than they.”
Brother Rob Morris, a prolific Masonic writer of the last century—one who may well be named the George Oliver of America—states that he conversed with more than one hundred people since he began his Morgan investigation in 1846, speaking with friend and foe alike. He refutes the claim that Morgan was a man of good character, and in proof of his assertion quotes men who knew him as saying he was ” a hanger on at grog shops,” “idle,” “ignorant,” “a common sailor with the vices and diseases of the class,” “a wretch who for years abandoned wife and children to the charity of the public,” “a botch at his trade of brick mason” ; “during his residence in our village (Batavia) no respectable person kept company with him or his wife.”2 It is further stated that a standing reward of $50 was offered to anyone who would prove Morgan’s connection with Jackson’s army, or find his name upon the rolls of the American army, but that this reward was never claimed.
E. S. Ferguson, of Uhrichsville, Ohio, a distant relative of Morgan, gave the following information to Morris in 1856[.] Morgan was said to have been born in Culpepper County, Virginia, August 7, 1774. He married Lucinda Pendleton in October, 1819, who was left with two small children when Morgan disappeared in 1826. In 1821 he went to York, Canada, and began business there as a brewer.
Another relative, John Day, a Freemason, of Gordonsville, Kentucky, is quoted as saying that Morgan served his apprenticeship as a bricklayer with Day’s brother at Hap Hazard Mills, Madison County, Virginia. Reaching his majority, Morgan is said to have left for Kentucky, returning to Virginia after four years. He worked upon the Orange County Courthouse, Virginia, and subsequently moved to Richmond.
1. The Broken Seal, or, Personal Reminiscences of the Morgan Abduction and Murder. Boston, 1870, p. 15.
2. William Morgan, or Political Anti-Masonry, its Rise, Growth and Decadence. Rob Morris, LL.D., 1883, p. 55.
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Mrs. Lucinda Morgan, in her affidavits, states that she and Morgan came to Western New York and settled at Batavia in 1823. No records have ever been found to indicate where Morgan was initiated, passed and raised in the Craft; neither are records extant indicating when he received the degrees of Mark, Master, Past Master and Most Excellent Master. The entries in the original records of Western Star Royal Arch Chapter 33, at Le Roy, N.Y., are as follows: —
|“||February 15, 1825. Voted that William Morgan’s petition be entered on file.”|
|“||April 12, 1825. Voted that the ballot be passed for William Morgan. Pas and clear.”|
|“||May 31, 1825. William Morgan, Israel Rathbone and Beach Defores was duly prepared and was exalted to the degree of Royal Arch Mason.”|
On the ledger accounts the following entries are reported by Rob Morris: —
|“||Dr. — William Morgan|
|$0 18, from August 30, 1825, to January 10, 1826.”|
In 1811 David Cade Miller and Benjamin Blodgett established the weekly Republican Advocate. The first hints of the impending publication of a Masonic exposè appeared in an August, 1826 issue, David C. Miller stating editorially that he had been threatened with violence if he did not stop his intended exposure. Morgan had deposited with the clerk of the northern district of New York the title of a book: “Illustrations of Masonry by one of the Fraternity. God said let there be light and there was light.”
Aside from comments in the Republican Advocate and the PeopIe’s Press—a rival publication—nothing of import occurred until Morgan’s arrest, Monday, September 11th, 1826, by a party of six men, headed by Holloway Hayward, constable of Canandaigua, N.Y., who carried a warrant sworn to by Ebenezer Kingsley, a tavern keeper, of Canandaigua, charging William Morgan with the theft of a shirt and cravat taken five months before. He was taken to Canandaigua, forty eight miles away, arraigned, examined and acquitted of the charge of petty larceny. He was immediately re-arrested upon an execution for a debt of $2.65, and jailed for want of security. He was released on the evening of Tuesday, September 12th, through payment of the debt by another party, and, departing in a coach with several other persons, was later traced to Fort Niagara, where he had been confined in the magazine. Here all trace of the man ends, though many and varied stories have been published of his re-appearance in Syria as a merchant, in Mexico as a derelict, in the West as an Indian chief and in Australia as leading “an industrious and praiseworthy life.”1
The announcement in the Republican Advocate that “There will be issued from the press in this place, in a short time, a work of rare interest to the uninitiated, being an exposition of Ancient Craft Masonry, by one who has been a member of the Institution for years,” created a furore in the village of Batavia. On the night of September 8th a party gathered to sack Miller’s office; but he had been warned of the plan and attempts to destroy the newspaper office were
1. The History of Freemasonry in Canada, by J. Ross Robertson (vol. ii., p. 121) contains an account of the Morgan incident vitally necessary to a thorough study of the subject, containing, as it does, matter not found elsewhere. The chapter is replete with illustrations, several being facsimiles of letters and diary entries. Details of the legal prosecution by American authorit[i]es can be found in The Masonic Martyr. The Biography of Eli Bruce, Sheriff of Niagara County, N.Y., by Rob. Morris, LL.D., a 12 mo. volume of 313 pages published in 1861. Bruce was charged with a violation of his duties as a public officer for having participated in the removal of Morgan, and was committed to the County Jail of Ontario, N.Y., for twenty-eight months on May 23, 1829.
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frustrated. However, the office was found afire on the night of the 10th. The flames were speedily extinguished and the incendiaries never discovered, in spite of a reward offered March 7, 1827, by the leading men of the community, among whom many of the local Masons were signers. William Seaver, Jr., first signer, was Master of Wells Lodge No. 282, of Batavia.
The much heralded work finally appeared in November, 1826. Comment upon it is unnecessary as the early editions are readily obtainable in Masonic libraries, and the work has been re-printed by hundreds of thousands from 1827 up to the present day. It is a common sight in metropolitan book stores, being priced from 25c. to several dollars a copy. The original issue was followed in subsequent years by enlarged editions, of which Elder David Bernard’s Light on Masonry—in two editions—is best known, and Avery Allyn’s A Ritual of Freemasonry, illustrated by numerous engravings, to which is added a Key to the Phi Beta Kappa, the Orange, and Odd Fellows Societies, originally issued in 1831 and re-printed in 1852 and 1854.THE ANTI-MASONIC EXCITEMENT.
A meeting which was destined to become the first of a series of anti-Masonic sessions was held at Batavia, September 25, 1826, to determine what had become of Morgan. This was followed by another on October 4th. The excitement coupled with the accusations that the Masons had murdered Morgan, brought out a proclamation from Governor De Witt Clinton, of New York, on October 7th, urging the officers of the law to use all available methods in an attempt to apprehend the offenders and to prevent further outrages. A similar proclamation, offering a reward in addition, was issued October 26th, and a third followed on March 19, 1827, increasing the reward to $1,000 and offerlng a free pardon to any one who ” as accomplice or co-operator shall make a full discovery of the offender or offenders.”
On January 13, 1827, an anti-Masonic Convention was held at Seneca, N.Y., which was speedily followed by others in Western New York. Churches participated in the general feeling against the fraternity by disbarring Masons from their pulpits, and in general condemning the “irreligious” tendency of the institution. A convention of Baptist churches held September 12, 1827, at Milton, N.Y., adopted a platform giving the following fifteen reasons for denouncing and opposing Freemasonry:
|1.||Because Freemasonry professes a divine origin.|
|2.||Because its rites correspond with the Egyptian.|
|3.||Because it adopts unscriptural modes of teaching; it proposes to impart religious consolation with stone hammers.|
|4.||Because its songs are often of a profane character.|
|5.||Because it pretends that its religion and morality are those of the Bible.|
|6.||Because it perverts and degrades the meaning of Scriptural texts.|
|7.||Because it uses the name of God irreverently.|
|8.||Because it authorizes the practice of religious rites, etc., not countenanced in the New Testament.|
|9.||Because it imposes obligations of a moral and religious nature, only communicated to Masons, and not even to churches.|
|10.||Because it affixes new names to God, the Father and the Son.|
|11.||Because it omits the name of Jesus in its system.|
|12.||Because it excludes the female sex from its order.|
|13.||Because it amalgamates all men of all religions who profess to believe in the existence of a Supreme Being.|
|14.||Because it authorizes prayers accommodated to the prejudices of the Jews.|
|15.||Because it adopts orders of Knighthood from Popery.|
The discovery of a drowned man’s body October 7, 1827, on the beach at Oak Orchard Harbor, N.Y., about forty miles from Niagara, gave new impetus to the excitement, and injected the element on which a new political party was
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shortly afterwards elected. The published inquest of the coroner’s jury giving “accidental death” as its verdict, brought a party of Batavians to the scene, where the body was disinterred October 13 and [a] second inquest held Monday, October 15, 1827. Among those in the party were Thurlow Weed, a New York State politician, who had served one term (1825) in the State Assembly on the John Quincy Adams ticket; Russell Dyer, who was one of the partners in the old publishing firm of Morgan, Miller & Co. ; and David C. Miller, also one of the firm, and the publisher and editor of the Republican Advocate. The widow of Morgan was summoned to the second inquest, where she expressed her conviction that the corpse was that of her husband.
Now another incident arose which added to the excitement by providing a subject upon which opinion was still further divided. On September 24, 1827, Timothy Monro, of the township of Clark, district of Newcastle, Upper Canada, had left for the American side in a rowboat, and upon his return trip was upset and drowned. Publicity relative to the discovery of the body at Oak Orchard Harbor brought Mrs. Sarah Monro, the widow, to the seat of the original inquest, with the result that her minute descriptions of the body and clothing of the corpse made a third inquest decidedly advisable. A coroner’s jury impanelled at Batavia October 29, 1827, brought in a verdict “that the body is that of Timothy Monro who was drowned in the Niagara River on the 26th of September, 1827.”
The anti-Masonic forces, which had been weakened by the lapse of time sInce Morgan’s disappearance on September 11th of the year before, now rallied about the supposed corpse of Morgan, supplementing the religious and local political antagonisim with the slogan “This is a good enough Morgan until after the election!” The anti-Masonic feeling was utilized to its utmost by political leaders opposed to the Jacksonian democracy. Anti-Masonic nominating conventions were held in September and October in Western New York, and as a result the anti-Masons seated fifteen of their candidates in the State Assembly. No anti-Masonic candidates were elected to the State Senate, but the returns of the election showed the strength of the new party, which held a State convention of its own on August 4, 1828;having been disappointed in the results of the Whig convention of July 23rd, when Judge Smith Thompson, a non-Mason, and Francis Granger, a bitter anti-Mason, were nominated governor and lieutenant-governor respectively. This anti-Masonic convention of August 4th nominated Francis Granger as governor (he not yet having accepted the Whig nomination for lieutenant-governor), and John Crary for lieutenant-governor.
These two nominations naturally placed Granger in a difficult position. To the great indignation of the anti-Masons, he declined their nomination. They forthwith held another convention, September 7th, nominating a radical anti-Mason, Solomon Southwick, for governor. The elections which followed polled the following votes:—
|Democratic||… …||Martin Van Buren||… …||136,794|
|Whig||… …||Smith Thompson||… …||106,444|
|Anti-Masonic||… …||Solomon Southwick||… …||33,345|
Early in 1828—prior to the State elections detailed in the foregoing paragraph—the rapid growth of the anti-Masonic sentiment caused the New York Democrats to introduce a measure in the Legislature calculated to conciliate the anti-Masons. This measure, provided for the appointment of a commission to investigate the death of Morgan, and became a law April 15th. Both the Democrats and the Whigs exerted themselves to the utmost to win over the anti-Masons. The Whigs had the advantage, inasmuch as their candidate for the presidency, John Quincy Adams, was a non-Mason, while Andrew Jackson, candidate of the Democratic Party, was a Past Grand Master of Tennessee. Furthermore, Western New York, the stronghold of the anti-Masons, had formerly been opposed to the Democrats. These two factors aided the Adams men. Thurlow Weed, a political boss of great experience, and editor of the Anti-Masonic Enquirer of Rochester, N.Y., became Adams’ political manager in Western New York. Speaking of the excitement caused by the approaching
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election, he says: ” The feelings of the Masons, exasperated by the existence of a political organization which made war upon the institution of Freemasonry, became intensely so by the renunciation of Masonry by ministers, elders and deacons of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches. The conflict therefore became more embittered and relentless, personally, politically, socially and ecclesiastically, than any other I have ever participated in, and more so probably than any ever known in our country. Thousands of Masons, innocent of any wrong and intending to remain neutral, were drawn into the conflict, when all were denounced who adhered to the institution. On the other hand, the anti-Masons maintained that the abduction and murder of Morgan resulted legitimately from the obligations and teachings of the order.”1
The successes of the anti-Masons in 1828 caused them to re-align their forces and to spend the year 1829 in quiet preparation and organization for the approaching presidential campaign. The anti-Masonic sentiment had quickly spread into Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Ohio, where it exercised considerable influence in the State elections. New York elections for governor in 1830 brought the following votes:
|Democratic||… …||Enos T. Throop||… …||128,842|
|Whig & Anti-Masonic||… …||Francis Granger||… …||120,861|
|Anti-Masonic||… …||Ezekiel Williams||… …||2,332|
While defeated in the gubernatorial contest, the anti-Masons nevertheless seated many of their men in the Assembly, and numbered among their adherents such men as Wm. H. Maynard, Albert Tracy, Milliard Filmore [sic], later President of the United States, Francis Granger, John C. Spencer and William H. Seward. These men retained the goodwill of the people generally by their support of certain popular measures, such as a change in the militia system, the abolishment of imprisonment for debt, a decentralization of the political power of the State (whereby it was provided that mayors of cities were to be elected by the people) and like measures.
A convention of the Anti-Masonic Party was held September 11, 1830, at Philadelphia, wherein representatives from the States and the Territory of Michigan participated. A later convention at Baltimore, September 26, 1831, resulted in the nomination of William Wirt, of Maryland, for president, and Amos Ellmaker, of Pennsylvania, for vice-president. This was the first convention ever held in the United States for the nomination of national candidates, and it is to the credit of the now practically forgotten Anti-Masonic Party that we have national nominating conventions with fixed representation and a platform.
The election, however, was a keen disappointment to the anti-Masons. Andrew Jackson, democratic candidate, received 219 electoral votes, Henry Clay 49, John Floyd, of Virginia, 11, and Wirt, the anti-masonic candidate, merely 7. These seven electoral votes were cast by Vermont—the only State in the Union giving the party any votes.ANTI-MASONRY IN PENNSYLVANIA.
We have seen in our review of existing economic conditions that the steamboat played an important part in the development of the country. Railroads had not yet reached a point where they were rivals of water transportation. Commerce in the interior was handled by wagon trains and by boats on the inland waterways. The rapid settlement of the territory to the West necessitated better transportation facilities, and the building of canals to connect large waterways followed.The Erie Canal, begun July 4, 1817, and completed October, 1825, was one of the large national events, and played a most important part in New York State politics, as well as influencing congressional matters.
Among the States interested in transportation facilities was Pennsylvania. In addition to the political and economical reasons for supporting the Anti-Masonic
1. Autobiography of Thurlow Weed i., pp. 302, 303.
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Party was the fact that large parts of the State—chiefly the South-Eastern—were settled by people who were radically opposed to the taking of oaths. The German sectarians inhabiting the region divided their religious adherence among various sects, chiefly the Mennonites, the German Reformed Church, the Amish, the Dunkards, the Moravians, the Shchwenkfelders, the “New Born” and the Inspirationists. Quakers, Lutherans and Presbyterians also opposed the Craft; and the other sects, like the Methodists and Baptists of New York and New England, also joined their brethren of the East in the unparalleled opposition.
The first anti-Masonic convention held in Pennsylvania. assembled at Harrisburg, June 25, 1829. After a quiet campaign, the gubernatorial election showed that Joseph Ritner, the anti-Masonic candidate, polled 49,000 votes as against George Wolf, a Mason, nominated by the Democrats, who won the election by a majority of 27,000 votes. “The election of 1829 demonstrated that a new and strong party had arisen in Pennsylvania. The leaders had obtained results beyond their expectations. The remarkable suddenness of its rise can only be attributed to the fact, that the elements were all there, and it required only thorough organization to make it a triumphant success.”
The physiographic situation of Pennsylvania also served in the formation of political parties through the diverse interests of the different sections. These reasons played an important part in the developments of 1829-30. The inhabitants of the South-Eastern part of the State found the natural outlet for mountain and water power products to the South; and the physical nature of the country being such that waterways could not be practically developed, they took little interest in canals, and sought other means of transportation. A project to aid the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad Company to build a line was strongly debated, the opposition being led by Philadelphia, which desired to have the rich trade of the district diverted to itself, rather than to Baltimore to the South. The Legislature of 1829-30 finally appropriated $3,459,532 as a loan for canal and railroad construction purposes.1
A second anti-Masonic convention was held at Harrisburg, February 26, 1830. Here Thaddeus Stevens first made his appearance as a leader of the party in Pennsylvania, and laid the foundation for greater activities in the national anti-masonic [sic] convention held the following year at Baltimore. No remarkable results followed this convention, the party gaining in certain counties and losing in others in the election that followed. The success of the party was not solely due to the anti-Masonic sentiment, but to the refuge that this party offered to the malcontents of every political faith. Subsequent conventions and elections led the way to the Baltimore Convention of 1831, and anti-Masonic affairs in Pennsylvania were purely local until the Jackson opposition burst out under the leadership and genius of Thaddeus Stevens. He became the leader of the party in Pennsylvania, and about him clusters the interest that the movement in this State has for the Masonic student.
The period of 1832-33 was one of decline in so far as anti-Masonry was concerned in Pennsylvania. The Bank question and the re-organization of the anti-Jackson forces occupied the centre of the political stage for 1834. The Second Bank of the United States had been chartered in 1816 for twenty years, and as early as 1829 open hostility to the Bank was shown. President Jackson’s first message to Congress, December, 1829, indicated his attitude toward it by raising a question as to the constitutionality and expediency of the law creating the Bank. Stevens defended the Bank and anti-Masonry in the same breath, and it is to his untiring efforts that the anti-Masonic party was revived during 1834-35 and took an active part in political affairs of the State, even though a tendency already
1. An interesting act of the 1829-30 session of the State Legislature was the repeal of the law which exempted the Masonlc Hall in Philadelphia from taxation. After long and violent debate, the measure carried 53 to 31. An interesting. sidelight of modern times is the attitude of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in declining exemption from taxation on the Masonic Home, and the determined stand of this Grand Lodge in supporting a sentiment that religious and charitable institutions pay their share of public expense.
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existed toward the absorption of the anti-Masons into the Whig party, ultimately took place.
The life of the anti-Masonic party was sustained through the obstruction policies carried on by Stevens. His adherents were sufficiently strong to cause conciliatory and bargaining overtures from the opposition forces, and it was by such tactics that anti-Masonry in Pennsylvania saved itself from the decline which had already made serious inroads in New York and New England States.
Another phase which now developed was that of a union of Church and State, arising out of the question of education. As previously noted, the Germans and the Quakers of Pennsylvania were ardent anti-Masons, largely due to religious grounds, and both of these classes had their own schools for the education of their children. The typically American sentiment which had always favoured education under the direction of the State had crystallized against the parochial schools early in the nation’s history, and as early as 1830 we find Pennsylvania considering a modern school system. While an avowed leader of the anti-Masonic party, it is to the credit of Thaddeus Stevens that he took sides against his party in the support of the public school. As the subject of public education is one now before the American public on a nation-wide basis by means of the Towner-Sterling Bill, it will not be amiss to quote a letter written by Stevens, defending his position in supporting Pennsylvania College:
You tell me that my course in relation to the college will injure your political party, and consequently injure you individually. If anything could change my purpose, a belief of this position would. For, however I may sacrifice myself, I do not assume the right to sacrifice you. But that could only happen upon the supposition that I became unpopular, and still continue to be your candidate. That I will never do. I have already resolved that the weight of my name shall never again burthen your ticket. I will withdraw from any active part in your political discussions. And if it be necessary to the well-being of our country, dear to me as all my Friends and Constituents, I will withdraw from your country to some place where the advocates of Antimasonry may be advocates of Knowledge.”1
One of Stevens’s most remarkable orations deals with the subject of public education.2
Seldom in the history of Masonry has the Fraternity been accused of an alliance with the Roman Catholic Church. This very fact, however, existed during the anti-Masonic period, for it was declared that: ” Catholicism, Masonry and infidelity were combined to crush the liberty of the Republic. We have read much about Church and State in this contest and from whom has it come? None other than those who for the last six years have priest-ridden the Commonwealth.”3 Quoting further: “In those days of religious disturbance and bitter religious feeling such accusations were not to be despised, and formed valuable campaign literature. This was the beginning of the strong anti-Catholic feeling in Pennsylvania with which so many prominent anti-Masons, especially in the Western part of the, State were later connected.”4
The elections of 1835 brought Joseph Ritner to the governorship of Pennsylvania. His belief that the election was due to his support of anti-Masonic principles resulted in “An act to suppress secret societies bound together by unlawful oaths.” A “committee of five, with Thaddeus Stevens as chairman was appointed to investigate the evils of Freemasonry, with power to send for
I. Pennsylvania Telegraph, January 25, 1834.
2. Life of Thaddeus Stevens by McCall, pp. 41-45.
3. Pittsburg Manufacture, quoted in ‘Pennsylvania Intelligencer,” Sept. 24, 1835.
4. The Anti-Masonic Party: A Study of Political Anti-Masonry in the United States, 1827-184O. Charles McCarthy, Ph.D. Obtainable in Vol. 1, Annual Report of the American HistoricaI Association, 1902, pp. 365-574. The writer is indebted to this for much of the data presented in this article.
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persons and papers.” The witnesses were brought before the committee on January 18, 1836, and all the opponents of Masonry were out in force to learn first hand of the iniquities of the Craft. But great was the disappointment. The Masons simply refused to answer the questions, but either put up or read strong and dignified protests.
The anti-Catholic spirit displayed in the fall of 1835 took added life in 1836. Martin Van Buren, who had been unanimously nominated for President on the Democratic ticket (with the active support of Jackson) was accused of close relations with the Pope. The Pennsylivania Intelligencer of September 15, 1836, contains the following:—”Van Buren and the Pope ! . . . Now for the first time a candidate for the first office in the Union, comes before the people, as the correspondent of the Pope of Rome, as the fawning sycophantic flatterer of a foreign tyrant—for the purpose of arraigning one religious denomination against another—of making a sectarian party in politics, and of securing the influence of what he impiously calls the ‘Holy Father’ upon the Catholics of the United States, to unite in a body, in politics. . . . In a letter to the Pope, Martin acknowledges the Pope to be the ‘ head of the great Christian Church ‘ and offered congratulations to the Holy Father upon his recent accession to the tiara!”
The elections of 1836 definitely indicated the downfall of the anti-Masonic party in Pennsylvania. Governor Ritner, in his message of 1836, made one more determined attack upon the Masonic institution, in which he denied Washington’s active support of the fraternity. He urged a full investigation of secret societies; but the Democratic majority did not adhere to his views. Their opposition brought out a valuable contribution to Masonic literature in Ezra Lincoln’s Vindication of General Washington, published in Boston 1841.
The Pennsylvania political campaign of 1836 was one of the most notorious in American history. It led to a contested election, and a period of mob violence known as the “Buckshot War.” The day the Legislature met, December 4th, the little town of Harrisburg was an armed camp. The militia was ultimately called out, buckshot cartridges issued, but fortunately not required. The Whig majority in the Senate brought about a recognition of the Democratic strength in the House, and the restoration of peace and order ended the ” Buckshot War” and at the same time the anti-Masonic party in Pennsylvania.
Thus ended a period of Pennsylvania history unique in political annals. A great personality made it possible, for it was Thaddeus Stevens who whipped the anti-Masonic party into a working force, and maintained it during its dark hours. His was a leadership seldom seen, and he a foe to the Craft who challenges the admiration of the Masonic student for his courage, daring and strength. His attitude on the public school question alone is sufficient to enroll him among non-affiliates who nevertheless had the courage to support a movement bigger than his party.THE WESTERN STATES AND NEW ENGLAND.
Boundary lines of political sub-divisions did not suffice to stem the tide of anti-Masonry, for we find the antagonism carried into adjoining States. Ohio, while having many things in common with Pennsylvania, still contrasted with that State and with New York in the nature of anti-Masonic activities. “There were no great party questions apparently and no fierce or bitter contentions over sectional matters, such as in Pennsylvania. Each member of the Legislature seems to have voted as a general thing, independent of party issues.”1 Only one anti-Masonic convention is recorded in Ohio, and outside of electing delegates to the national convention, partook of no political characteristic.
Michigan also felt the effects of the excitement in the closing of Lodges, and vicissitudes of Michigan Grand Lodges during the early days of the territory tell the tale. Mackey states that Stony Creek Lodge “Is the only lodge which maintained its existence during the dark days of the anti-Masonic excitement.”1
1. The Anti-Masonic Party. McCarthy. Chapter xxi.
2. History of Freemasonry. Mackey. Vol. v., p. 1430.
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An anti-Masonic convention was held in June, 1829, when John Biddle was nominated as territorial delegate to Congress. His election was the only successful event in the history of the party in Michigan.
New Jersey has recorded activity of anti-Masonry within its boundaries. The Quaker element aided in the life of the involvement; but, nothing of importance took place at any time, and the party in this State died an early death.
With a brief recital of New England’s contribution to anti-Masonic history, the story of the movement in the United States can be closed. Maine and New Hampshire, it is true, felt the effects of the movement, but it is in Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut that the deepest influences can be traced.
Vermont is one of the richest fields offered to the student of anti-Masonry. Grand Lodge ceased, for many years, to hold sessions; every Lodge in the State surrendered its charter or became dormant; the Legislature passed an Act forbidding extra-judicial oaths; a Vermont anti-Masonic paper records the names of 140 publications of the same kind.1
McCarthy, in his chapter on Vermont, says: ” Vermont was well fitted for such a movement. The State bordered upon New York, and in the exciting days of the early agitation caught some of the spirit of anti-Masonry prevalent in that State. To this has been added the fact that some of the witnesses wanted in the Morgan abduction trials had escaped into Vermont. Again, the soil was favorable because the people were almost entirely small farmers of the religious New England type, and it was in this sort of community that anti-Masonry found its most fruitful soil. 2
The Danville North Star was one of the first anti-Masonic papers to appear in the State, it being established in 1827. From this time, until 1836, the State was a battle ground for the anti-Masonic party, the first anti-Masonic convention having been held on August 5, 1829. Added impetus was given to the movement by a story to the effect that one Joseph Burnham, a Mason, was said to have been released from prison by the superintendent, also a Mason, contrary to facts as shown by the recorded death of Burnham on October 15, 1826. A Legislative investigation revealed the falseness of the story, but the incident served a political purpose, and strengthened the anti-Masonic movement at a critical time.
Elsewhere in my paper I have recorded the casting of Vermont’s entire electoral vote for Wirt, the candidate of the anti-Masonic party for President of the United States. Vermont was the only State to give such ardent support. Such unanimity in a national issue clearly indicates how successful the party was in local and State matters, yet victory was only gained after hard struggle. A convention held in 1831 nominated William A. Palmer for Governor, but close voting on three candidates brought the choice of Governor to the State Legislature, where Palmer was elected on the ninth ballot. He was a candidate for re-election at the close of his term, and again the Legislature was called upon to make a choice, when Palmer was elected on the 43rd ballot. A third election for Governor in 1833 returned Palmer to the gubernatorial chair, as did a fourth in 1834. Sentiment was against him, however, in 1835, and while he received the highest number of votes at the elections, he was defeated in the election forced upon the Legislature, and after many unsuccessful ballots, Palmer was finally defeated through the election of Silas H. Jennison. The year 1836 saw the end of the party in Vermont, when the anti-Masonic vote supported the Whigs.
An interesting sidelight of the times is the resolution of the 1831 Anti-Masonic Convention to the effect “That the convention views with great regret and astonishment the influence of Masonry—that no man is duly qualified to be President of the United States unless he is a high Mason, murderer and a duelist.” This was directed against Andrew Jackson. The convention further declared that it “considered adherence to Masonry a disqualification for any responsible office in the State or nation.”
1. See William Morgan. Morris. Chapter x.
2. The Anti-Masonic Party. McCarthy. Chapter xix.
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In reviewing the history of Freemasonry in Massachusetts, it is at first difficult to believe that a State which has contributed so much to the story of Masonry in America, and whose Masonic leaders of the early days were men of national importance, could ever give support to anti-Masonic movements. Yet this is a fact—but the reason is also obvious. The Puritanical spirit, especially pronounced in the rural district (as in Vermont also) nourished the orthodoxy of the Protestant Church, and made possible “the hatred of the cities for their aristocratic Influence, power, wealth and cosmopolitanism. These conditions, together with that natural reforming spirit, jealous patriotism, and proscriptive religious zeal of the New Englander which has so often displayed itself in American history, formed an excellent basis of the movement which is being described.”1
The story of political anti-Masonry in Massachusetts begins November 1, 1828, when a meeting in Fall River led to a political organization in the Congressional elections. The usual distribution of anti-Masonic literature followed at meetings addressed by itinerant lecturers, who found theirs a lucrative calling. However, these pamphlets and the utterances of Masonry’s opponents did not go unanswered, for a declaration was put forth in 1831, signed by twelve hundred Freemasons of Boston and vicinity, denying the allegations and charges against the Order. A committee was appointed by the anti-Masonic members of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1832 to answer this paper.2
Political strength first developed in 1831, when representatives of the party considered themselves unfairly dealt with in the filling of vacancies in the Senate. Following elections showed that the party had gained considerable support. Its members were active and carried weight in the Legislature, although attempts to elect an anti-Masonic Governor failed. Samuel Lathrop, anti-Masonic candidate in 1832, received less than half of the votes cast for Governor Lincoln, who, while desiring, the “dissolution and extinction of the institution of Freemasonry” could not unite himself as chief magistrate with any combination of men in means for its suppression. However, in the campaign of 1833, it was felt that Lincoln could not be successfully placed in the field again by the National Republican party, and John Davis was nominated, and ultimately elected. This election showed the strength of the Masons in Massachusetts, for it was their opposition to John Quincy Adams, former President of the United States, that prevented his nomination for Governor of Massachusetts. While he had supported Lincoln in the last election, the Masons knew Adams to be one of the institution’s most influential opponents, and was accordingly opposed by Masons in the National Republican party, even though he had the unquestioned support of Daniel Webster and his friends. The strength of the Masons in Massachusetts caused the defeat of every anti-Masonic candidate for Governor placed in the field, and the party died out in 1836 when a complete union with the Whigs took place. Issues looming upon the national political horizon made this course necessary, and the last official act of the party in the State was a resolution to have a national convention. No other States, however, agreed to support this sentiment, and the matter was dropped.
The movement in Rhode Island and Connecticut was closely related to events in Massachusetts. The same underlying causes were at work there, namely, the rural opposition to the cities, and the orthodoxy which flourishes so well in small communities. An outstanding feature of the entire anti-Masonic movement is the strength of the anti-Masons in the country, and the strength of the Masons and their friends in the cities. This was readily conceded by both parties. Another source of strength for the anti-Masons in New England was the fact that the secret societies had played an important part in the French Revolution. The adherents of the orthodox churches had a dread and a horror of democracy which led to disorder or atheism.
1. The Anti-Masonic Party. McCarthy. Chapter xx.
2 The complete reply can be found in The Broken Seal by Samuel D. Green, pages 300 to 301 inclusive.
3 The student interested in the influence of secret societies in European French politics will find much of interest in Secret Societies and the French Revolution, Together With Some Kindred Studies, by Una Birch, London and New York, John Lane Company, 1911.
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Evidence of this fear is shown in a resolution passed by an anti-Masonic convention held at Le Roy, N.Y., March 6th and 7th, 1828, ” Resolved, That we discover in the ceremonies and obligations of the higher degrees of Masonry, principles which deluged France in Blood, and which tend directly to the subversion of all religion and government.”1
To one who has delved in every conceivable place for material worthy of consideration for this paper, the facts presented tell the tale most meagrely [sic]. I am convinced that there still are numerous by-ways which remain unexplored, and I also feel that the ground already explored can be gone over again and again with profit.
We have seen how an incident, at first rather insignificant, developed into a movement which exceeded even the expectations of those shrewd and unscrupulous men who availed themselves of the material offered for a skillful exploitation of public sentiment. The perspective through which we view the incidents of 1826-1840 enables us to view the entire period with a vision of clearness not granted to our brethren of those trying times. The Morgan incident, per se, is insignificant, its effect upon the Craft to-day negligible. It did disturb the development of the fraternity in the United States during the period of its influence, but many are agreed that the affair as a whole was beneficial rather than detrimental. It was a testing period, such as comes to all of us some time
in our lives, and from which institutions are not necessarily exempt.
It would be most interesting to follow the political movement known as the Anti-Masonic Party as it merged with movements of later years. A “Christian Party,” a forerunner of one by the same name which wielded considerable influence during one of the closing decades of the century, can be seen as a development of the anti-Masonic affair. The “Know-Nothing Party,” which, very broadly speaking, had its existence during the period of 1830-1860, has elements which can be traced into the incidents of the anti-Masonic excitement. The fusion of various factions into new movements makes it difficult to point out clearly these various connections in a few words, but the student interested in the subject will be able to find material of great value in many unexpected places.
Study on one subject develops themes along associated lines which tempt the student of Craft antiquity and history to make many an excursion in neighbouring fields. The Morgan affair immediately brings up the question of the origin of our penalties, and how they became incorporated into our work. The development of the American ritual is another subject which received attention during my study of the Morgan affair, for we find many a statement to the effect that the Morgan exposé was nothing new, but merely a re-publication of the so-called Exposures which had circulated in Great Britain during the eighteenth century. I cannot agree with such writers, even though I understand their motives for the statements. As a hint for the Craftsman who wishes to take up a new field of study, let me suggest that perhaps the American Grand Lodges preserve forms and ceremonies which became lost at the Union of the two English Grand Lodges in 1813. The work of pre-revolutionary Lodges in America partook both of ‘Modern’ and ‘Antient’ rituals. Granting that the change in American working made through the influence of Thomas Smith Webb and Jeremy L. Cross has had a serious effect, still we may find points hitherto untouched. The Morgan exposé, together with others that followed in America, contain much of exceedingly great value to the student of ritualistic origins, and I commend the subject to him for further investigation. In this connection the sessions of the “Conservators of Masonry” must not be overlooked.
1. As recorded in Light in Masonry, by Elder David Bernard, Utica, 1829, p. 419.
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This paper would not be complete without mention of the anti-Masonic revival of the seventies and eighties. Compared to the excitement of 1826-1840, it does not loom so largely upon the horizon of political anti-Masonry in the United States; yet it too is an important development of the story, and must be mentioned at least briefly. At a later date I hope to present a lengthy and detailed paper on this phase alone, but lack of space and missing data of importance prevent me from going into the subject too deeply at present.
The death of some of the principal actors in the drama of the early part of the nineteenth century attracted attention anew to the old story of the Morgan affair. De Witt Clinton, John Quincy Adams, and officers of national importance had been gathered to their fathers many years before; but the death of Thaddeus Stevens in 1868, and the publication of The Broken Seal in 1870, re-directed attention to the Morgan incident. The Christian Cynosure, a religious paper published in the Middle West, began an attack upon the Masonic institution in the publication of anti-Masonic tracts. The old stories were revamped and freely distributed through the agencies of orthodox churches.
The “Christian Party,” so-called, placed J. B. Walker, of Illinois, in the field in 1876, as presidential candidate. In 1880 Gen. J. W. Phelps, of Vermont, received this distinction from the hands of his friends; and in 1884, according to Rob Morris, “It is understood that Jonathan Blanchard himself is to be the candidate for the chair of George Washington. This party was insignificant, and played a part of no importance in American political affairs of the period.”
THE MORGAN MONUMENT.
The Anti-Masonlc Sun Almanac, 1832, published by Avery Allyn, of Philadelphia, has a prophetic illustration on its last page. Here is presented a monument inscribed “In Memory of William Morgan, Murdered by the Masons, September, 1826.” The movement to erect a monument was begun as early as 1828, but the final erection of it call be traced to a convention of anti-Masons held at Aurora, Illinois, October 31, 1867. It resulted in a second convention at Pittsburgh, Pa., May 5-7, 1868, when the “National Association of Christians Opposed to Secret Societies ” was organized, and incorporated in Illinois in 1874 as “The National Christian Association.” During its fourteenth national convention at Batavia, N.Y., September 8 to 13, 1882, the present Morgan monument was erected September 11, 1882. It consists of a granite cylindrical shaft surmounted by a figure of Morgan, the entire work resting on a base whose four sides have tablets with the following inscriptions:
First tablet (south side) : ” Sacred to the Memory of WILLIAM MORGAN, a native of Virginia, a captain of the war of 1812, a respectable citizen of Batavia, and a martyr to the freedom of writing, printing and speaking the truth. He was abducted from near this spot in the year 1826 by Freemasons and murdered for revealing the secrets of their Order.”
Second tablet (east side) : ” Erected by volunteer contributions from over 2,000 persons, residing in Canada and twenty-six of the United States and Territories.”
Third tablet (north side) : ” The Court Records of Genesee county and files of the Batavia Advocate, kept in the Recorder’s office, contain the history of the events that caused the erection of this Monument. “
Fourth tablet (west side) The bane of our Civil Institutions is to be found in Masonry, already powerful and daily becoming more so. I owe my country all exposure of its dangers. CAPT. WILLIAM MORGAN.”
1. Even to-day, especially in the large cities, of the United States, these same tracts can be found re-printed from badly worn plates on poor paper. They are the product of an Illinois religious publishing house.
Jacob Hugo Tatsch, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum vol. 34 (for 1921) pp. 196-209. Reprinted with permission of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, London, England. Capitalization amended to current AQCStyle Guide.