William L. (William Leete) Stone.

Letters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams online

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Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 27 of 49)
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ter, although he was then, and is yet, connected with a
press in a more important location. The General Grand
Chapter commenced its sittings on the 14th of September.

The messenger arrived, and presented the papers with
the delivery of which he had been charged, on the second
day of the session, viz: on the 15th. The gentleman ap-
peared greatly agitated, and seemed to think himself charg-
ed with a mission of high importance. Governor Clinton
presided during that session, but was not present in the
chapter when this message arrived — Mr. Snow, of Ohio,
being in the chair of the G. G. High Priest for the time be-
ing. The papers were presented, and referred to a select
committee, of which my • friend Col. Knapp, then of Bos^
ton, was chairman. This committee retired immediately,
and after some conversation with the messenger, became
satisfied, that in a moment of excitement at the west, of
which, however, they had received no previous intimation,


the papers had been improperly obtained. The committee,
therefore, without opening the papers, determined to report
immediately against receiving them, in order that they
might be sent back without delay, and delivered to the
owner. On returning into the chapter, they reported that
the papers which had been committed to them, appeared to
be private property, — papers with which the General Grand
Chapter had nothing to do, — and they recommended that
the messenger be instructed to return, forthwith, and deliv-
er them back to the owner. The report was concurred
in by the chapter, without a dissenting voice. Governor
Clinton came into the chapter afterwards, during the same
sitting, and having heard some intimation of what had ta-
ken place, made the inquiries naturally arising from such
an occurrence. The facts were explained to him, and he
declared emphatically his hearty approbation of the course
that had been adopted.*

Such, sir, in the briefest possible terms, is the history of
the real occurrence, which designing men have sought to
use ever since, as proof that the General Grand Chapter,
with Governor Clinton at its head, was accessary before
the fact, to the murder of Morgan. The circumstance that

♦ Since this letter was written, I have received a pamphlet of nearly 200
pages, containing the report of a committee of the Legislature of Rhode
island, appointed to. investigate the charges against Freemasonry. Among
the witnesses examined, was Moses Richardson, who, in the course of a
long and very strange deposition, makes the following statement : — " I was
*' a member of the General Grand Chapter, which was in session in the city
" of New- York in September, 1826, when the news was received, that Wil-
" liam Morgan had been abducted ; and the lamented De Witt Chnton, who
" presided at the meeting, immediately issued his proclamation, and offered
" fifteen hundred dollars reward for the apprehension of the culprits, and it
" was published in the newspaper the next day, which was thought sufH-
" cient." Mr. Richardson has here fallen into a number of ver}' serious mis-
takes, as will presently be seen by other testimony than my own. 1st. The
news of Morgan's abduction was not then received. 2d. Gov. Clinton M'aa
not officially advised of the abduction until the Gth of October — three weeks
afterwards. His proclamation was issued on the 7th of October, and was
first pubhshed about the 17th, at the west. Of course, it did not appear "in
" the newspaper the next morning." It did not offer 1500 dollars, nor any
other specific reward. The rewards were offered in subsequent proclama-


a portion of the manuscripts were thus sent to New- York,
was known immediately afterwards, and it was that fact,
and that alone, from which the implication of Gov. Clinton,
and the distinguished masonic gentlemen then assembled in
New- York, from different parts of the United States, in the
guilty transaction, has been inferred. A surmise was suffi-
cient, in the first instance, to set a rumor afloat. The broad
assertion of the fact soon followed. And it was thus that
a transaction, not only innocent in itself, but in the highest
degree honorable to the General Grand Chapter, to the com-
mittee to whom the papers were referred, and to Governor
Clinton himself, has been misrepresented and distorted, un-
til it has at length swollen into the atrocious accusations
which we have seen. But the misrepresentation did not
end with the story that the General Grand Chapter had ex-
amined the papers, and directed " their suppression at all
" hazards." In order to add to the plausibility, nay, to the
possibility of its truth, it became necessary to falsify dates,
and change the actual time of the meeting of the General
Grand Chapter. Morgan, it will be recollected, was taken
from Batavia, on the morning of September 1 1th. He was
thrown into prison in Canandaigua, on the night of that
day. And on the night of the 12th, two days before the
meeting of the General Grand Chapter, and three days pre-
viously to the arrival of the papers in New- York, he was
kidnapped from the jail, and stolen away to the west. It
was therefore an utter impossibility, that the General Grand
Chapter, or Gov. Clinton, could have been consulted in the
matter. This difficulty, however, was soon overcome by
the exercise of a little ingenuity, and still less of honesty. ^,
Knowing that the great body of the people would not speedi-
ly, if ever, be undeceived, the period of the meeting of the
General Grand Chapter was altered in the Anti-masonic
papers, and carried back into August ! This miserable
fraud gave the necessary time to impart consistency to the


story, and the purpose was for the time abundantly an-

I have had occasion, many months ago, to refer to the
transaction of which I have now given you some account,
and to expose the fraud in the alteration of the date, by the
Anti-masonic papers, ahhough the facts were adverted to
very briefly. But as that exposition was unheeded by those
for whom it was intended, with a single exception,* I am
now prepared to fortify my own, by other testimony, the
character of which will not be called in question. With a
view to the present essay, about a month since, I addressed
the following letter to my friend. Col. Knapp, whose name
lias already been mentioned : —

'' New-York, February b, ISS2.
" Dear Sir,

" You are already acquainted with the fact that I am
engaged in the preparation of a work, intended for the pub-
lic eye, upon the subject of speculative Freemasonry, and
the Antimasonic excitement. In the course of the history
which it is my intention to give of the origin and progress
of Anti-masonry, it will be incumbent upon me to notice, for
the purpose of repelling it, an infamous slander which has
connected the name of one of the illustrious dead, with the
unhappy transactions lying at the foundation of that excite-
ment. From the repeated conversations which we have
had together upon this subject, you will readily understand
the particular incident to which I would now call your at-
tention — especially as your own name has frequently been
connected with it by the more reckless of the Anti-masonic
presses. You were, as I well recollect, one of the represen-
tatives of the Grand Chapter of Massachusetts, in the Gene-
ral Grand Chapter of the United States, at its last septennial

* T. Weed, Esq., Editur of the Albany Evening Journal.


convocation, which was held in the autumn of 1826 ; and
as you were what is called a working member, and of
course intimately acquainted with all its proceedings, I feel
no hesitancy in making the request I am about to prefer,
entertaining at the same time the fullest confidence in the
authenticity, and a due estimate of the value, of the infor-
mation which I know it is in your power to furnish me in
reply. Will you, therefore, be kind enough to favor me
with as speedy an answer as your convenience will allow,
to the following queries ?

" 1st. Were you present in the General Grand Chapter,
in September, 1826, when a companion arrived from the
western part of this state, having in his possession certain
papers and manuscripts, to lay which before that body he
alledged he had been sent hither as an express ?

" 2d. On what day, and at about what hour, did this spe-
cial messenger arrive, and what was the peculiarity, if any,
of his manner ?

" 3d. What course was taken with the said papers, in
the first instance ?

" 4th. What in the second ?

" 5th. Was the late Most Excellent General Grand High
Priest, De Witt Clinton, presiding in the chapter, on that

" 6th. If aye, what was his conduct on that occasion, and
what remarks, if any, did he make from the chair on the
subject ?

" 7th. What was the final disposition of the whole matter,
so far as the General Grand • Chapter was concerned, offi-
cially or otherwise ?

" By answering the foregoing inquiries, and also by fur-
nishing me any additional information that may be within
your knowledge or possession, calculated to assist in the
elucidation of this branch of my investigations, you will

not only confer a favor upon me, but do what is of much



greater and higher consequence — assist in rescuing the
memory of a great and virtuous man, who has descended
to an untimely grave " v^ith all his country's wishes blest,"
from one of the most atrocious calumnies ever invented by

" I am, sir, very truly yours,

" Col. Samuel L. Knapp."

To the foregoing letter I was promptly favored with the
following communication in reply : —

''New-York, February 8, 1832, .
" Dear Sir,

" I embrace this, the first opportunity I have had since
the receipt of your letter, to give you such answers to your
interrogatories as my best recollections afford. I was a
member of the General Grand Chapter of the United States,
at their septennial convocation, in September, 1826, having
taken my scat as a delegate from the Grand Chapter of
Massachusetts. On the second day of the session, the se-
cond officer of the General Grand Chapter, — companion
Snow, from Ohio, — being in the chair, in the fore part of the
day, he stated to that body that a special communication had
been made to him from the western part of the state of
New- York, and suggested the propriety of putting it into
the hands of a committee, before tlic nature of it was known
to the chapter at largo. This was agreed to, and I had the
honor of being appointed chairman of the committee. It
being stated that it might be a matter of importance, the
committee forthwith retired to consider the communication.
I went into the committee room without a hint upon the
subject, A young gentleman, whose name I never inquir-
ed after, presented the committee some printed pages and a
manuscript; statini!. at the same time (hat sov(.'ral of the


masonic fraternity in his part of the country, had appre-
hended that some mischief might ensue from the pubHcation
of such a work as the printed pages and manuscript pur-
ported to be, particularly in the state of feeling which he
said prevailed among the Masons in the west. The mes-
senger was in the highest state of excitement. The com-
mittee patiently heard his story, and having deliberated
thereon, returned the messenger his papers without any
examination of them, telling him, distinctly, that it was a
subject in which the General Grand Chapter could take no
part. The committee having agreed unanimously in this
opinion, returned to the lodge room and made a verbal re-
port. This was accepted with but a few, or no remarks,
from the companions, at the time, and without a dissenting
voice. In a subsequent portion of that day, our General
Grand High Priest, De Witt Clinton, took the chair ; and
while in it, inquired if a communication had been made
from the fraternity of the west, and if so, what had been
done thereon ? I stated to him the course pursued by the
committee and chapter, which met with his entire approba-
tion ; and he repeated the language which had been used by
the committee, that this body had nothing to do with the
subject, and, that it was not worthy the notice of Masons.
The communication made no excitement in the General
Grand Chapter ; they then thought it one of those idle ap-
prehensions frequently known among young Masons, and
there left it. A few hours after the interview which the
messenger had with the committee, he came to me and ap-
peared dissatisfied, or, at least, disappointed, at the indiffer-
ence shown by the General Grand Chapter on the subject
of his communication, and at this time let fall some hints
that the writer of the manuscript might at that time be in
prison for debt. My reply to him was, if he is imprisoned
for debt, go and raise money among the fraternity, to pay


the debts he is held for, and discharge ihem, and see that lie
has his liberty, and his manuscripts as soon as possible.

" In this, as in all other intercourse I ever had with our
Grand High Priest, De Witt Clinton, I have ever found him
honorable and high-minded, and in a most remarkable de-
gree possessing the confidence and affection of all the mem-
bers of the General Grand Chapter, while at the head of the
institution, which was a period of nearly twenty years ; and
how deeply he was lamented at his death, will be seen by
looking at the proceedings of the General Grand Chapter,
in September, 1829.

" Yours, truly,


" To Wm. L. Stone, Esq."

Conclusive, however, nay, triumphant, as I think this vin-
dication might be considered, even were the case to be rested
here, — more especially when taken in connexion with the
facts and circumstances touching the conduct of Governor
Clinton, in relation to the Morgan business, and the portions
of his correspondence respecting it, which have been incor-
porated in several of the preceding letters — yet there is
other and stronger testimony in reserve. I have already
intimated in the present letter, that Gov. Clinton was in his
life-time apprised, to some extent, of the aspersions cast up-
on his character upon this subject, and that he was not back-
ward in the adoption of measures to rescue his own good
name from the obloquy. No further evidence of this fact
need be adduced — stronger testimony cannot be — than the
following correspondence, which took place between Gov.
C. and Jacob Le Roy, Esq., a gentleman of great respecta-
bility residing in the county of Genesee, a short time pre-
viously to the lamented decease of tlie former : —


•' Le Roy, October 29, 1827.
" My dear Sir,

" You have, doubtless, been long acquainted with the
great excitement prevailing in this section of the state, in
consequence of the abduction of Morgan ; which excite-
ment, I regret to say, is increasing, owing to the designing
views of some of the leaders of the Anti-masonic party.
Your name in this transaction, is now becoming conspicuous,
and some of our most respectable citizens have informed
me, that certain Masons have asserted that you have writ-
ten to them, authorising this act. I have endeavored to
trace it to its source, and in every instance, where I have
been able to meet with the persons said to have made the
assertions, have found them slanders ; the person here, who
appears most conspicuous in making these charges, is said
to be Dr. F****. I have charged him with the fact, which
he positively denies. A number of our most influential ci-
tizens, your friends, knowing my acquaintance with you,
have requested me to write, and beg of you to answer the
following questions : —

" Did you know that any attempts were to be made to
carry oft* Morgan, previous to his abduction ?

" Did you ever, in conversation with Dr. F****, or Mr.
B****, of Batavia, or any other Mason, lead them to sup-
pose you were in favor of his abduction ?

" Have you ever written to any Mason, authorising the
act ?

"Did you, while on your visit to this county, in the sum-
mer of 1826, attend any of their Masonic meetings ?

" Did you, as has been stated by Southwick, tender your
hospitality to Col. King, while in Albany, knowing at the
time, he had been a participator in these transactions ?

" You, no doubt, may think I am bold and free in thus
questioning you, on subjects in which you may think I have


no concern ; — but, my dear sir, it is from the purest motives
(being perfectly satisfied in my own mind of the wicked-
ness of these charges,) that your exalted character, should
be shielded from such assassin-like attacks. I am persua-
ded your denial of these assertions will put the authors to
that disgrace which they so justly deserve, and put down
at once these infamous reports.

" I have again to beg you will not take offence at this
communication, coming, as you well know, from one, who
ever has been a strong friend and admirer of your charac-

" With the greatest respect,

" Believe me, most sincerely,

" Your friend,
" To his excellency,

" De Witt Clinton, Albany T

" New-York, November 3, 1827.
*' My dear Sir,

" I have received your letter of the 29th of October,
and have a full impression of the honorable and friendly
motives which governed you in writing it ; — I beg you to
accept my sincere thanks. I shall now answer it fully, and
satisfactorily, and with great pleasure.

" I have always condemned the abduction of Morgan,
and have never spoken of the measure, but as a most un-
warrantable outrage, and as deserving the most severe
punishment. I had no previous knowledge of any such
intention. I never gave it, before or after, the least en-
couragement, cither verbally or in writing, directly or

You may recollect that I was in your county, in July,
1826. During that time I attended no masonic meeting,


nor did I ever speak to Dr. F****, Mr. B****, or any other
person, in a way that would lead them to suppose that I
countenanced any outrage on Morgan, or any other person,
nor can I recollect to have had any conversation at that
time, about Morgan, or his intended publication. I cannot
think there can be a human being so base as to make such
an insinuation, seriously, and believing it.

" The only time I saw Col. King, after the Morgan affair,
was on his way to Washington ; and then he called on me
in Albany, to transact some business for the state, when at
the former place, which I declined committing to his agen-
cy. I had no satisfactory proof of his being concerned in
that outrage. Indeed he introduced the subject himself,
disclaiming all participation.

" I have seen, if I recollect right, in Miller's Batavia pa-
per, an assertion that in virtue of an official station in Ma-
sonry, I might have avoided a discovery of the offenders,
or prevented the offence. It is sufficient to say, that this
assertion is totally false.

" I have also seen, in a Le Roy paper, say of the 17th of
October, an averment, from an anonymous writer, that he
had heard a Mason say, he would not have been concerned
in the outrage, if he had not seen a letter from me favora-
ble to the act. Although very reluctant to institute prose-
cutions against printers, yet, in this case, I am willing to de-
part from a general rule ; and unless the printers disavow
the nefarious slander, and give up the name of the writer
for prosecution, which 1 authorise you to demand, I shall
not fail to bring them before a tribunal of justice.

*' You may make such use of this letter' as you may think

" I am, truly, your friend,


" To Jacob Le Roy, Esq.

" Ttr Roy, Genesee counti/, N. F."


" Le Roy, Novemher 13, 1827,
" My dear Sir,

" Your favoi" of the 3d inst. came to hand in due
pourse, by which I was much pleased to perceive, that my
communication was received in the friendly manner intend-
ed. On the receipt of it, I immediately called on the edi-
tors of our village paper, and demanded the author of the
libellous attack made on you, in their paper of the 18th.
They readily gave up the name, which I should have in-
formed you of sooner, but at the request of the gentleman
implicated, (whose name is James Ballard,) who wished I
should defer writing you, until he could procure some de-
positions to prove the source from which it had originated.
He has this day put me in possession of these documents,
with the wish that I should enclose them to you. These
papers will enable you to see from whence the slander has
its origin. Mr. Ballard's standing here has always been
very respectable, and he is a gentleman of considerable

" There is no doubt in my mind, that a letter, purporting
to have been written by you, approving of this outrage, has
been circulated through this country ; but whether by the
Masons, as a motive to urge on people to this disgraceful
transaction, or by other persons for political purposes, I am
unable to say. No pains have been spared to satisfy the
people, of your being deeply implicated in the afiair. The
course you have now determined to take, however, will
unravel the mystery, and disclose to you a scene of villainy
you are not aware of.

" I have shown your letter to many of our respectable
citizens, who are perfectly convinced of the infamous slan-
der, from the frank and decisive manner in which you have
replied to all the questions submitted in my letter to you of
ihe 29th of last month. A very general wish has been ex-
pressed, that J should permit the letter to be published, but


1 have declined doing so, until I know your pleasure on the
subject. Most respectfully, your friend,

" To his excellency,

" De Witt Clinton, Albany J^

''Albany, December 14, 1827.
" My dear Sir,

" On my return from New- York, last month, I found
your letter of the 13th November, Mr. Ballard's of the same
date,* and the affidavits of Franklin Marsh, Hiram GrifFen, Eli-
as Cooly and Mollis Pratt,t fixing the authorship of the slan-
ders against me on James Ganson. Between that time and
this, my attention has been so entirely engrossed with the
recent and approaching session of the legislature, that I had
not time to attend to any but public concerns. I now thank
you for your very prudent and friendly course. Mr. Bal-
lard's conduct would have appeared in the same light, if,
instead of being the trumpeter of a vile slander, and what
he must have known to be such, he had consulted me, if he
could have possibly wanted any satisfaction, in a case of
slander so obviously diabolical. But as he has fixed the
authorship on Ganson, I shall require from the latter a writ-
ten document. If this is not satisfactorily furnished, an-
other course must be pursued. It may be proper to men-
tion, that the Morgan committee of Batavia, have, much
in honor of their candor, done justice to my conduct rela-
ting to this whole aflair.

" I am, dear sir, with my respects to Mrs. Le Roy,
" Your sincere friend,


« To Jacob Le Roy."

'^ Vide Appendix, G. f Vide Appendix, H.



'^Albany, January 5, 1828.
« My dear Sir,

"Did you receive a letter from me dated the 14th De-
cember last ? I wish to come to some conclusive result
with Ganson. Who is Franklin Marsh, one of the affidavit
makers ? If Ganson does not make the amende honorable,
in writing, I shall institute a prosecution against him, if i
find, on the advice of counsel, that it will lie.
" I am your sincere friend,

" To Jacob Le Roy."

" Le Roy, January 5, 1828.
** My dear Sir,

" I have this day "received yours of the 5th, inquiring
of me whether a letter written by you on the 14th of last
month, had come to hand. I did receive that letter in due
course, and did not conceive from its contents, it was your
wish that I should have procured Ganson's refutation, but
inferred it was your intention to have demanded from him,
yourself, such a denial, as you should think satisfactory, or
I should have immediately attended to it. I have now had
drawn up as strong a denial of the charges, as could be
done, to which you have Ganson's signature, and which I
hope will meet your approbation.* I should, were I placed
in a similar situation, desire the editors of our paper, to pub-
lish all these affidavits, and also Ganson's denial, whicli
would at once satisfy every one that there was a lie between

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 27 of 49)