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 28 of 49)
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them, and show the baseness of the slander. You will par-
don the liberty I take in thus recommending the publishing
of these documents ; ^or, I think, as this libel has been open-
ly made, the refutation ought to be equally public,

♦ Vide Appendix, Ir


" With my respects to Mrs. C. and family, and my sin-
cere wishes, that you may be blessed with many happy re-
turns of the season, believe me, sincerely, your friend,


" To his excellency,

" De Witt Clinton, Albany T

" P. S. Franklin Marsh, of whom you make inquiries, is a
mason by trade, and with whom I am but little acquainted.
I am, however, informed that he is a man whose word is
entitled to credit."

The sudden and unexpected decease of the principal in
the preceding correspondence, cut it short at this point, and
prevented its publication, or the adoption of any other mea-
sures in the premises. These interesting papers, and the
documents connected with them, are now, consequently, for
the first time permitted to see the light. I will not pause
to dwell upon them. To comment, would be but to im-
peach the understanding of the reader. I will, therefore,
only add, upon this point, that, if a long chain of circum-
stances, bearing directly upon his innocence, prove any
thing ; — if the whole course of his official conduct in this
matter, and his private, as well as his public correspon-
dence, are to be received in evidence ; — if the testimony of
unimpeachable witnesses, is to have its proper weight ; —
and, if, superadded to all these, his own solemn declarations,
are to be received as the testimony of one, " whose word
" but yesterday would have stood against the world," then
is the refutation of the foul slander complete : the blot is
wiped from the patriot's escutcheon : his name, and his
fame, are triumphantly vindicated.

But while I refrain from comment, it is impossible to fore-
go reflection upon the circumstances of the diabolical ca-
lumny, thus, as I hope, satisfactorily refuted. That Mor-


gan was basely betrayed, and carried into captivity, wc all
know. That he was murdcr(3d, I have long since ceased to
entertain or express a doubt, nor am I aware that in the pre-
ceding letters, I have failed, on any proper occasion, to ex-
press an abhorrence, not only of that deed, but of the unjus-
tifiable methods that have at any time been taken to screen
the perpetrators from punishment. Even-handed justice,
however, requires that we should be equally unsparing in
the bestowment of merited censure upon those who would
pursue their victim beyond the precincts of the grave.
Deeply as I deplore and execrate the usurpation by indivi-
duals, of the execution of public justice, it is impossible to
detach from the mind of any man engaged in furthering its
behests, the question of personal malice. The quo animo
is always sought by every juror, and exerts an influence
upon his mind, in all its degrees and relations, from malice
prepense, sudden wrath, infatuated zeal, self defence, and
monomania, to absolute insanity and idiocy. The three first
classes alluded to, are never sanctioned by the tribunals of
justice ; yet still, in meting out punishment, they are not
lost sight of; and in the stigma infixed upon the character
of the oflfender, they receive their appropriate gradation of
infamy by the public award. The case then stands thus in
contrast — Morgan, a man of no peculiar estimation in socie-
ty, with no extensive fiimily relations, and, by his own
shewing, essentially guilty of perjury, was, for the viola-
tion of his oath, unjustifiably put to death by infatuated Ma-
sons, not only without authority, but in shameful violation
of the laws of the land.

Governor Clinton, on the other hand, holding an impor-
tant public station — possessed of a reputation dear to him-
self and valuable to his country — surrounded by a large and
interesting family, and extensive connexions — guilty of no
crime or indiscretion, on which even party vengeance could.


at any time, fasten, is accused by persons calling them-
selves Anti-masons, of the double murder of Morgan, and
of himself!

By as much as character is dearer to an honorable mind
ihan Hfe,is the atrocity of wantonly destroying the former,
more infamous than taking the latter, even without the ex-
tenuating apology of infatuation. What relative or friend
of Gov. Clinton, would not infinitely have preferred that he
should have been murdered, than that his character should
have been destroyed by such abominable imputations, if the
proofs of their falsity were not, fortunately and triumphant-
ly attainable ? That they are so, affords no palliation to
the infamy of his accusers ; — and the attempt, either in this
state, or in Pennsylvania, to sustain the cause of Anti-ma-
sonry by traducing the illustrious dead with a calumny so
foul and vital, can excite little less abhorrence than the
deed it proposes to avenge.

With great regard, I am, &c.


New- York, March 4, 1832.

The publication of the entire lectures of the first three
degrees of Freemasonry, including the obligations of those
degrees, by Miller, from the manuscripts of Morgan, had
induced many members of the fraternity, to reflect more
seriously than they had previously done, upon the binding
efficacy of those obligations, including, of course, those of
the higher degrees. Alarmed, as many religious members
of the order were, in regard to the moral influence of the
institution, as it had been illustrated in the case of Morgan,
and the conduct of a considerable portion of the craft re-


specting it, public renunciations had been frequent, almost
from the time the accounts of the outrage had been first
noised abroad.

These renunciations were not confined to thc^'western
section of country, nor to any particular calling. ^ Mem-
bers of the bar, and of the clerical profession ; the merchant,
the mechanic, and the agriculturist, in many parts of the
country, within and without the state of New- York, came
forward, from time to time, publishing to the world their
renunciations of the order, together with their reasons for
so doing. It is no part of my duty to canvass the wisdom,
the necessity, or the policy, of adopting this method of ab-
juring the institution, and its obligations. It is sufficient to
state the fact ; but while I do this, I am free to declare, that,
from the character and intelligence of the greater portion
of those thus renouncing, we have no right to question the
purity of their motives. Having so renounced, and reason-
ed themselves into a perfectly sincere belief, that none of
their obligations either were, or ought to be, of any binding
force whatever, (being, in their opinion, contrary to the spi-
rit both of the civil and the divine law,) a convention of
Masons of this description was held at Le Roy, in the coun-
ty of Genesee, on the 19th of February, 1828.

The object of this convention was an interchange of sen-
timents upon the subject which was now engrossing so large
a portion of the public mind, and a full and free discussion
of the principles and obligations of the masonic institution.
The convention was opened with religious services by at-
tending clergymen, and organized by the choice of Leonard
B. Rose, Esq., as president, and the Rev. David Barnard,
secretary. After full discussions had taken place, the con-
vention adopted the following opinions, viz : — In regard to
the antiquity of the institution, that it was not ancient ;
on the score of morals^ that it did not promote morality ; —
touching its benevolence, that it was not benevolent ; — re-


specting its ceremonies, that they were degrading, and op-
posed to Christianity ; — and, in fine, that it was the duty of
honest Masons to expose the secrets and obHgations of the
order to the world.

Morgan's book was then examined, and it was declared
by the convention to be a full and fair revelation of the first
three degrees of speculative Masonry. To the truth of
this declaration, thirty-five seceding Masons, of various de-
grees, "solemnly and sincerely testified," by subscribing
their names.

The convention proceeded to make what they have pro-
nounced a full and fair disclosure of the obligations of the
four higher degrees of ancient Masonry, together with the
degrees of knighthood to the Templar's inclusive. The
four former correspond with those contained in " Bernard's
" Light on Masonry," to the general character of which I
have been called to testify my own opinion, before a legal
commission. It is unnecessary to repeat that opinion in
this place. But in regard to the obligations of the Red
Cross Knights, and the Templars, as disclosed by this con-
vention, I am free to declare that I know of no such obliga-
tions in any degrees. Seven members of the convention
are represented in the proceedings, to have been knights,
and have sanctioned the obligations to which I refer. But
I am at a loss to conjecture where, or in what country, such
obligations could have been devised, or by what masonic
authority adopted. I have received those degrees, and as-
sisted in conferring them ; and certain I am, that such obli-
gations were new to me, when I saw them in the printed
report of the proceedings of this convention. My impres-
sion is, that they must have been devised westward of Al-
bany, and imposed upon candidates without the sanction of
any governing body. Indeed I am authorised to state, that
when the forms of those obligations were receivf^i in this
city, measures were taken by the (rrand Encampment to


ascertain whether any encampment under its jurisdiction
had in fact ever administered any such obHgations, and if
so. where, and by whom they had been imposed.

The concluding acts of this convention were, the ap-
pointment of a committee " to draft a memorial to Con-
" gress on the subject of the prostitution of the fortress of
" Niagara, to the incarceration of William Morgan, by per-
" sons calling themselves PVeemasons, without any legal
" authority for such violence and coercion ;" and also the
appointment of a committee of arrangements for a great
Anti-masonic celebration of the national festival, on the
4th of the ensuing month of July.

The memorial to Congress, as directed by the foregoing
resolution, was presented by Mr. Tracy, in the month of
May following, and its reference to the judiciary committee
suggested. It charged that the military post at Niagara,
under the care of officers of the army of the United States,
had been made subservient to the illegal course alledged
to have been pursued in respect to Morgan, and prayed
that an inquiry might be instituted in Congress upon that
subject. Several gentlemen spoke on the presentation of
the memorial, and among others, Messrs. Tracy and Storrs,
of New- York ; Barbour, of Virginia ; and Wright, of
Ohio. It was considered by the house, that the investiga-
tion of abuses of that description, if any existed, belonged,
in the first instance, to the Executive Department, which
had the charge and superintendence of the army. The
memorial, wiiich, by the way, was accompanied by no
proofs, was therefore referred to the President of the Uni-
ted States ; and it was not heard from afterwards. The
course of the debate clearly showed, that in the then pos-
ture of political affairs, there was a general wish, on all
sides, to rid themselves of any inquiry into such a matter :
and all parties seemed to acquiesce in the disposition thus
mafic of the memorial. The inquiry had such bearings, in


many directions, that all parties in Congress appeared at a
loss how to handle a subject of so much novelty, and the
scope of which was not so fully or clearly developed,
as to enable any one to foresee the probable effect which
the investigation might have on their particular views in
the then approaching election.

Another convention assembled at the same place, on
the 6th of March following. It consisted of seventy-
nine members, representing twelve counties, and comprised
a formidable array of talent and high personal character
and wealth. General William Wadsworth was chosen
president of this convention, and Dr. Matthew Brown and
Robert Fleming, Esq. secretaries. It was by this body of
citizens, that the Anti-masonic party first received, avowed-
ly, its political " form and pressure." A series of strong re-
solutions was adopted, embodying, substantially, all the
charges that had been preferred against Freemasonry dur-
ing the controversy, repeating the denunciations of the or-
der, individually and collectively, and inveighing against
the press, after the violent example set in the primary
meetings of the people the year before. In many
respects, the committee, in drafting their resolutions, and
the members in adopting them, were not as scrupulous in
regard to facts, as they should have been. Among other
things the convention resolved, " that we discover in the ce-
" remonies and obligations of the higher degrees of Mason-
" ry, principles which deluged France in blood, and which
" tend directly to the subversion of all religion and govern-
" ment." Now I must be permitted to say — what I think
has already been shown in the earlier part of this exposition,
that these very respectable gentlemen had made no such
discovery. Those degrees, in this country, at least, neither
professedly nor covertly, embrace any principles of the
kind. The convention also resolved, that they " lamented

" the entire subjugation of the press, throughout the Union,



" to the control of Freemasonry." Nothing could have
been more unjust, or untrue, than this sweeping proscrip-
tion of the whole of the public press, whatever may have
been the conduct of a portion of it, which, I am free to ad-
mit, was sufficiently reprehensible. Resolutions were like-
wise passed, directing the raising of funds for the establish-
ment of additional Anti-masonic presses ; thanking the Lew-
iston committee for its great exertions to investigate the
mysteries of the Morgan outrage ; and proposing the first
great Anti-masonic State Convention, to assemble in Utica,
on the 4th of August following. The objects of convoking
such a convention, were sufficiently broad, as all will admit.
It was stated to be necessary — " to take measures for the
" destruction of the masonic institution ; for sustaining the
" liberty of the press, and asserting the supremacy of the
" laws ; for protecting the rights and privileges of the citi-
" zens against the vindictive persecutions of members of the
" masonic society ; and to take into consideration such oth-
" cr business as the said convention shall deem expedient in
" the furtherance of such objects." A memorial was, more-
over, directed to be sent to Congress, similar to that agreed
upon by the preceding convention, just noted above ; and in
conclusion, an address to the people was adopted, well cal-
culated to prolong the excitement, and increase the popular
jealousy and hatred of Masonry. Among other reckless
assertions, it was declared to be a fact, without qualifica-
tion, that " to the bosom of Freemasonry every revolution
"and conspiracy, which has agitated Europe for the last
« fifty years, might be distinctly traced ;"— that its princi-
ples were identically the same with Illuminism, 6z:c.,— the
entire groundlessness of which assertion I have heretofore
shown. In addition to this address, a memorial was adopt-
ed, and ordered to be presented to the I/egislature, praying
for the enactment of laws prohibiting' thr administration of
the masonic oblicrations.


By the decease of Gov. Clinton, the duties of chief magis-
trate, for the residue of the term, devolved upon the Lieut.
Governor — the Hon. Nathaniel Pitcher. On the 18th of
March, the excitement at the west not having abated, and
the feeling continuing gradually to spread, Gov. Pitcher
transmitted a special message upon the subject, to the
Senate — the legislature being then in session. As an apo-
logy for taking this course, the acting Governor referred to
the constitutional requirement, that the person administering
the government should " take care that the laws are.faith-
" fully executed." He then proceeded briefly to refer to the
excitement at the west, in consequence of the alle^dged
clandestine removal of a citizen of the state, and the uncer-
tainty of his fate. He also referred to the unsuccessful
exertions which the citizens had made to develope the mys-
t<3rious transaction, and to bring the offenders to justice.
He did not directly censure the course that had been adopt-
ed by the people ; but suggested, that, while the trials and
convictions which had taken place, had rather increased
the mystery of the transaction, the efforts of the individual
citizens, though stimulated by a patriotic zeal, had not al-
ways been guided by discretion ; and had, therefore, as there
was reason to fear, tended rather to prevent, than to pro-
mote, a judicial developement of the truth. The fact of
the sudden and mysterious disappearance of an important
witness, was adverted to in the message as an alarming cir-
cumstance ;* and under all the circumstances of the case, it
was deemed advisable by the Executive, to recommend an
exercise of the constitutional powers of the Legislature, in
order to facilitate the discovery and punishment of the of-
fenders. Some action of this kind, was judged by the Ex-

* In the summer of 1S27, Elisha Adams, a witness who had been sum-
moned to attend the trials at Canandaigua, after proceeding as far as Ro-
chester, suddenly disappeared, and was not for a long time heard from, nor
could any traces of him be discovered for many montiis.


ecutive to be equally due to the violated majesty of the
laws ; to the apprehensions of our fellow citizens, which
never could nor ought to be satisfied until justice was ob-
tained ; and to those who had been, or might be, included
in the general and vague suspicions always produced by
such transactions. It was, said the message, an imperative
duty to the innocent, that those really guilty should be de-
tected and punished. Another inducement for the direct
interposition of the government, was found in the belief that
such a course w^ould calm the feverish .excitement of the
public mind, and prevent designing men from perverting
that excitement to their own selfish purposes. The enact-
ment of a law was therefore recommended, authorising the
appointment of a competent person for the special purpose
of investigating the alledged criminal transactions in re-
spect to Morgan, and all the incidents connected therewith —
and who should be clothed with full and ample powers to
perform all duties necessary to a full and fair judicial de-
termination of the whole matter. The message was refer-
red to the committee on the judiciary, of which Mr. John
C. Spencer was chairman.

Perhaps it may be considered an unfair suggestion — but
still, I have not been able to banish the impression, that the
people may possibly have been indebted for this special
message, to the strong and decided indications of the united
and vigorous political action, which had then so recently
been manifested at the second Le Roy Convention. The
number of counties represented in that body, and the weight
of character and influence comprised within it, together
with its recommendation of a state convention, preparatory
to the next ensuing general elections of the state, shadowed
forth too clearly a monition to escape the lynx-eyed po-
liticians by whom the acting Governor was surrounded.
But, whatever might have been the motive for the sending
in of this message immediately after the proceedings of


the convention hadi reached Albany, it was a very proper
measure in itself, and might, with propriety, have been pro-
posed at an earlier period of the session.

Three days after the receipt of the message, a bill was
reported by the committee, in compliance with the execu-
tive recommendation. It was debated and adopted in the
Senate on the 25th of March, and sent down to the Assem-
bly for concurrence. The bill was taken up in that house,
on the 4th of April; and on the 15th it became a law.
Daniel Moseley, Esq., of Onondaga county, was immediate-
ly commissioned by the Executive, to fill the important of-
fice thus created. This appointment did not give the peo-
ple in the region of the excitement, so much satisfaction as
had been felt by the passage of the law. Mr. Moseley was
charged with a want both of talents and energy for the sit-
uation ; and although the senatorial district in which he
resided, was strongly of his own political party, yet such
were the prejudices excited against him in the public mind,
that he failed in an attempt to be elected to the Senate, in
the autumn subsequent to his apppointment. My own opin-
ion upon the subject is, that injustice was done to Mr. Mose-
ley, touching the discharge of his duties as special com-
missioner. His labors were as faithful as those of any other
counsellor employed in those investigations, and he is more-
over a sound and virtuous man, whose fidelity in the trans-
actions referred to, cannot be, and ought never to have been,

The memorial of the Le Roy Convention, remonstrating
against the masonic obligations, and praying for the pas-
sage of a law prohibiting them altogether, was presented in
the Assembly on the 19th of March — the day after the act-
ing Governor's message to the Senate. This memorial was
referred to a select committee, consisting of Messrs. Childs,
Granger, and Wardwell. On the 2d of April, following,
this committee reported a bill pursuant to the prayer of the


memorialists, which, with tlie accompanying report, was
ordered to be printed. But no further mention of it ap-
pears on the legislative journals, and the presumption is,
that it was never called up.

Early in the same month, (April,) Messrs. Garlinghouse
and Bates, who had been despatched, as I have already sta-
ted, to the southwestern part of the territory of the United
States, returned from an unsuccessful mission, and made a
report ^of their proceedings to the acting Governor. It was
known that Smith and Whitney, had fled to the valley of
the Mississippi. The officers wenj; thither, but, although
they often heard of the fugitives, yet they could not succeed
in arresting them. Repairing to Arkansas, they were fur-
nished by Gov. Izard with the necessary papers, with which
they proceeded to cantonment Towson, upon the Red Ri-
ver, twelve hundred miles above its junction with the Mis-
sissippi, and arrived there on the 14th of February, 1828.
" Mr. Garlinghouse went alone, and privately presented his
" papers to the commander of the station, while his com-
" panion remained without the fort. He exhibited the or-
" der of the Governor, — a letter from, the Adjutant General
" of the army, under the direction of the Secretary of War, —
"and also a letter from Col. Arbuckle, commanding oflicer
" at cantonment Gibson, and requested Capt. Hyde, then in
" command of the station, to furnish assistance for the ar-
" rest of King, who, it appeared, was then there. This of-
" ficer refused to assist himself, or to furnish assistance, or
" even to furnish a guard for his removal." He proposed,
however, to send for a lieutenant to accompany the sheriff
to King's store ; but the officer thus sent for could not be
found ; and it afterwards appeared that the captain himself,
during the absence of the messenger, held a conversation
with the very oflicer for whom he had sent ; and it also
appeared, that, after the sheriff had obtained another offi-
cer to accompany him to the store, the lieutenant referred


to, and with whom the captain had thus conversed, had al-
ready anticipated the sheriff, and taken King away into the
woods. Mr. Bates was afterwards informed by the officer
himself, of the fact that he did thus take King away, on
learning that messengers had arrived to arrest him for the
murder of Morgan, and that he had directed King's clerk ta
take his horse to him, where he was waiting for him in the
forest. The officers who had thus favored the escape of
the fugitive, were understood to be Masons. To attempt a
pursuit, in the vast wildernesses of the west, would have

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 28 of 49)