William L. (William Leete) Stone.

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

. (page 29 of 49)
Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 29 of 49)
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been a hopeless undertaking. The idea was therefore
abandoned ; and the messengers, after making a fruitless
search, even to New-Orleans, for Smith and Whitney,
returned to report the circumstances of their bootless mis-
sion. -

The escape of King, and the manner in which, by ma-
sonic connivance and even direct assistance, he had been
enabled to flee, gave very great offence, and justly. A re-
presentation of the conduct of Capt. Hyde was made to
the War Department, and that officer was ordered into ar-
rest, and to repair to this city for trial ; but nothing fur-
ther resulted from that measure. Before, however, suffi-
cient time had elapsed for the public to give full vent to its
indignation at the manner in which King had been enabled
to elude his pursuers, — that is to say, on the 1 7th of May, he
suddenly re-appeared at Niagara, having voluntarily re-
turned to his former residence — whence his family had not
been removed. He immediately published a note in a
Lockport paper, under his own signature, addressed to
Messrs. Garlinghouse and Bates, informing them of such
return, and of his readiness " to transact any business they
" might have with him." Attempts had been made during
his absence, to procure his indictment lor murder, but with-
out success. But he had been indicUu! lor a misdemeanor;
and the second rlny i\hoA' his ap])arition, lie went voluntavz-


ly to the ministers of justice, and was recognized, himself in
the sum of one thousand dollars, and two sureties in the sum
of five hundred dollars each, for his appearance at the next
term of the court. In a week thereafter, he published an
address to the public, respecting his case, well calculated to
make a favorable impression in his behalf.

This return of Col. King, after the escape at cantonment
Towson, and his subsequent conduct, are among the most
remarkable incidents of these extraordinary transactions.
People knew not what to make of it. His original flight
could not have been without cause ; nor, unless he had ve-
ry powerful reasons for so doing, would he voluntarily have
retreated four thousand miles distant from his home, and
buried himself twelve hundred miles deep in the wilder-
ness, merely for the emolument of the paltry official situa-
tion he had obtained. Why, moreover, should he have
thus fled from the faces of his pursuers, if he knew he
could safely throw himself back into the hands of his accu-
sers, and repose securely upon his innocence ? It was, in
all respects, an unaccountably strange movement ; serving to
add another shade to the deep mystery, which it even now'
seems hkely will not be solved in all its ramifications, until
the great day of final account.

From this period the character of Anti-masonry began
to change. Indeed the effervescence which, during so many
months, had kept a large section of the state in ceaseless
agitation, had been gradually subsiding for some time. It
was in truth impossible that it should be otherwise. There
must necessarily be a point, above which the passions can-
not rise, and a stage, beyond which popular excitement and
delusion cannot be carried. The crises — the highest peri-
ods of action — cannot continue long, ere the mind will break,
and fall into positive delirium. In these respects, the law
of nature is as imperative in the physical, as in the natural
world. And while a strong popular excitement by sufficient


causes, may be impelled impetuously forward like the heav-
ing billow of the storm-driven ocean, yet when the storm
is spent, it will fall back to its level, like the same angry
billow when it breaks. But although the effervescence did
thus pass away, and the troubled elements become more
tranquil, there was no mitigation of the hatred of Masonry,
and no faltering in the determination to put it down. The
Anti-masons were less clamorous, perhaps, but not the less
resolute in their measures, or fixed in their purposes. Those
purposes were still to pursue their investigations in regard
to the fate of Morgan — to detect and punish the offenders,
if possible — and, in any event, to carry the question to the
polls at all our elections. To this end, measures were now
taken, and steadily pursued.

Very respectfully yours, &;c.


New- York, March 6, 1832.

The next trial of persons implicated in the abduction
of Morgan, and hitherto the most important in its charac-
ter and results, was that of Eli Bruce, Orsamus Turner, and
Jared Darrow, which took place before the Court of Gene-
ral Sessions of Ontario, at Canandaigua, on the 20th of Au-
gust, 1828. These defendants, it will be recollected, had
been jointly indicted for a conspiracy, at the August term
of the same court, in the preceding year. The prosecution
was conducted by Daniel Moseley, Esq. the special coun-
sel, assisted by B. Whiting, Esq., the District Attorney.
The case was opened to the jury by Mr. Whiting, who had
had much experience upon the subject. It was, of course, ne-
cessary again to go over with the whole history of the con-


338 LETTER xxxr.

spiracy from the beginning, wlien the warrant for the alledg-
ed larceny was issued against Morgan by Justice Chipnian,
The only new points elicited by the testimony of this ma-
gistrate, were, that when the warrant was granted at the
solicitation of Cheseboro, the latter — who well knew that
he was going fifty miles into another county, to seize his
victim — told the justice that Morgan was then only about
six miles oiF. The warrant was directed " to the sherift',
" any constable, or to N. G. Cheseboro, one of the coroners
" of this county." The particulars of the arrest of Morgan,
were proved by Halloway Haywai'd, and those of his being
taken from the jail at Canandaigua, by the jailor's wife, as
before. Hiram Hubbard, the keeper of a livery stable, who
had driven the party from Canandaigua, to eighty or one
hundred rods beyond Hanford's Landing, on the night of the
12th September, again underwent a long examination ; but
his memory appeared to be very conveniently forgetful. He
heard a cry or shriek, while harnessing his horses, but there
was no signal for him to start. The general details of the
journey were the same as heretofore given, with the excep-
tion that at Victor, he did not recollect where they had
stopped, — whether at Beach's tavern, or at some distance
beyond — but he declared that he only stopped at the water-
ing trough, and was not certain that any person got out of
the carriage there. The testimony upon this point, was
widely ditierent from that adduced upon it, at the first trial
before Judge Throop, in January, 1827 ; — and it is surpris-
ing how a man could discipline his mind to forget so well.
At Rochester, just about day-lio:ht, one of the passengers
left the carriage, and was gone abou^fiftecn minutes, when,
as the witness supposed, the same person returned, and re-
sumed his seat. The witness scarcely recollected any thing :
but he presumed that he wns told to drive to Hanfc^rd's
Landing, as hv did drive there, and stopped to obtain pro-
vender for his horses, but found none. He then drove fur-


thor on, leaving his passengers, as heretofore recited, about
one hundred rods beyond that place, near a piece of woods.
He did not recollect being told to keep the curtains of his
carriage down, on going out, but he rolled them up before
he reached Rochester, on his return. When the passen-
gers left his carriage, he did not observe them, particular^
ly, although he supposed he might have seen them, if he
had desired to do so. He left his passengers standing in the
road, and did not see them enter any other carriage. He
met two carriages on his return to Rochester — one a green
one ; — and a man in a sulkey. On the first trial of Chese-
boro and others, Hubbard testified that he had not been
paid for this trip. He now acknowledged that Cheseboro
had paid him some months afterwards, while he was in

Ezra Pratt, the keeper of a livery stable in Rochester,
testified, that on the 13th of September, he furnished a hack,
either a cinnamon coloured or a green one, to go to the in-
stallation at Lewiston. It was called for by a man about
day-light, and he was told to charge " the Grand Chapter
^^pro tem.^^ for the use of it. He made the entry thus in
his books, and had not been paid for the use of it. He
had hired a carriage to George Ketchum, to go to Batavia,
about the time of Morgan's arrest at that place — or the day
before, he believed. He did not hear of the abduction of
Morgan, until some days after it was said to have taken
place, and had no knowledge that he had ever been trans-
ported in his carriage. He did not know who " the Grand
" Chapter pro tern.," was, but presumed that somebody
would call after a while, and pay the carriage hire. A
number of other witnesses proved the movements of the
carriage at and about Hanford's, under suspicious circum-
stances. Four or five persons were in the carriage, among
whom one of the witnesses recognized Burrage Smith, as
ho supposed. There was a man on horse-back, who ap-


peared to accompany, or pass the carriage. This man
was Edward Doyle, of Rochester. Other witnesses satis-
factorily proved a carriage to have passed along the Ridge
Road, from the place where Hubbard had left his passen-
gers, towards Lewiston, under extraordinary circumstances ;
not stopping at public houses, and being drawn by horses
belonging to persons living on the road ; changed in bye
places ; driven by men who could not be ordinarily engag-
ed in such an occupation ; and generally preceded by some
one to procure the necessary relays of horses. Solomon
C. Wright, the keeper of the tavern on the Ridge Road,
where, as it has been formerly proved, there was a ma-
sonic gathering on the 13th., and where the mysterious car-
riage was driven into the barn, was again examined, but
no new evidence was obtained from him. Six miles west
of this place, where the road from Lockport — the resi-
dence of Bruce — intersects the Ridge Road — lived Col.
Mollineaux, to whom, in the night of the 13th, Bruce applied
for horses to go to Lewiston. Bruce called him up from
his bed — obtained the horses, and with the mysterious car-
riage proceeded forward, as I have formerly mentioned.
Cory don Fox was Hkewise again a witness on the present
trial. His testimony corresponded in the main, with that
formerly given, as to the arrival of the carriage in Lewis-
ton, and its being driven into a back street in the night. To
this place he drove another carriage, took the passengers out
of the former, and proceeded down to Youngstown. The
particulars of the visit to the house of Col. King ; his join-
ing them ; and the leaving of the whole party near the bury-
ing ground, corresponded with his former relations. When
the carriage started from Lewiston, Bruce got upon the
box, and told him to drive to Col. King's. James Perry, of
Lewiston, who had testified on the former trial, that, while
watching with a sick person on the back street where the
carriage came up, he saw two persons transfer a third from


one carriage into another, repeated his statement as before.
The person was without a hat, and appeared to be intoxi-
cated. He also saw them take something Hke a jug from
the first carriage. But Fox swore that he saw nothing of
this, and, indeed, observed nothing strange or unusual in
the whole affair. He had often been called up before of
nights — and though never engaged in smuggling, was not
accustomed to ask questions about other people's business.
In a part of this testimony, it will be observed, Fox forgot
his revelations to Mosher, and he also now swore that he
had no recollection of having spoken of the circumstances
of that night, as being in any wise strange. But to a ques-
tion whether he had not been taken into a lodge on the day
after this transaction, Fox appealed to the court for protec-
tion against questions that might criminate himself. The
court ruled that he need not answer the interrogatory.

Edward Giddings, a personage of great importance in
the future developements of this history, was now called
upon the stand as a witness, but objected to by Mr. Griffin,
of counsel for the defence, on the ground of his being an
unbeliever in the christian religion, and, therefore, an in-
competent witness. A number of witnesses were called
to establish this position. A man named David Morrison,
testified that he had known Giddings intimately since 1820 ;
had often heard him declare his opinion that there was no
God ; and that a belief in any thing spiritual superior to
nature, was contrary to reason and philosophy. Giddings
used the term God, as equivalent to the laws of nature ;
but he always admitted that there was an inward monitor
pointing out good and evil. Morrison said he had receivr
ed a letter from Giddings, in IvS26, containing the same sen-
timents, but he had never responded to that letter in wri-
ting. Another witness, named Gray, from Canada, who
had resided a few days in the house of Giddings, in 1826,
proved that the latter had no belief whatever in futurity,


and prided himself on his philosophy. The Bible, he said,
was a pretty story to amuse children with. Giddings had a
fine library, and witness said they were in the habit of
reading and admiring Voluey's Ruins. In all respects,
other than his religious views, Giddings was a man whose
character was much respected. Gray first became ac-
quainted with Giddings in a masonic lodge ; and on his cross
examination he admitted that he had come over from Can-
ada voluntarily to testify against him, because, as it was fear-
ed, he, (Giddings,) was probably intending to testify some-
thing against Mr. M'Bride. Another witness swore, that in
1816, Giddings had inquired of him what he thought about
the being called God — adding, himself, that he would as
soon kneel down to a cat, a dog, or a horse, as to the be-
ing so called. The counsel for the defence then read the
letter of Giddings, above referred to, addressed to Morrison.
In this letter, among many other specimens of infidelity,
were the following sentiments. — " God has the same care of
" a man as of an insect, of an insect as of a tree, of a tree as
" of a stone. With him there can be no difference or dis-
" tinction between beauty and deformity, virtue and vice,
" perfection and imperfection. Prayers are but mockery
" to his name, and ought not to be encouraged." " All
" [that] men can do, cannot change him. He is not sus-
" ceptible of persuasion, and, as relates to man, lie is in-
" capable of love or hatred." " This is my notion of vir-
" tue and vice ; that they do not refer to any future time,
" but relate altogether to man in his present state.'' " My
" views arc not in accordance with the Bible, for that book
" represents the deity as vindictive, revengeful and in-
« consistent." The date of this letter was April 10th, 1827.
The counsel for the defence, himself, swore, that in the pre-
ceding month of May, he had called on Giddings, and held
some conversation with him about the approaching trials.
He told Giddings that they meant to shut out his testimony,


but they were afraid Mr. B , (a zealou/ proselyting

professor of religion, since deceased,) would convert him.

To this Giddings replied that B was the last man who

could convert him.

To sustain the character of Giddings, and counteract the
preceding testimony against him, a number of persons were
called by the prosecution. One witness testified that he
had known Giddings fourteen years, and had often held con-
versations with him on religious subjects, in which he had
always expressed his belief in a supreme being. He had
heard him so express his belief within fifteen months pre-
ceding the examination. He had never heard Giddings say
that man was not responsible to God, or that God would not
punish man ; and it was never questioned in the neighbor-
hood, but that he believed in a supreme being, and relied
upon his protection. Another witness testified to a perfect-
ly accidental conversation with Giddings, just about one
year previously, while waiting at the ferry. This conver-
sation was astronomical, and Giddings then avowed his be-
lief in a deity, who created and superintended all things.
Nothing, he said on that occasion, came by chance. An-
other witness, (the new sherift' of Niagara,) who had known
Giddings seven years, having heard that he did not believe
in the existence of a God, asked him how it was. Giddings
replied that he believed in an overruling providence, or su-
preme being, — he [the witness] not recollecting which term
he had used. Giddings also added his belief that virtue was
rewarded, and vice punished. The counsel for the prose-
cution here put in and read two letters ; — the first was from
Morrison to Giddings, in which he responded fully to the
sentiments contained in the letter quoted above, although M.
had just sworn that he had written him no reply. The se-
cond was a letter dated Cincinnati, Ohio, April 19, 1818,
from Mr. Giddinp^s to his wife, in which he twice recogniz-


ed a God, and earnestly invoked his protection for health
and safety to return to his family.

The prosecution then proposed to adduce testimony of
the good character of Giddings ; but the court remarked,
that moral character, however stainless, would not obviate
the objection. The law requires a higher sanction for the
administration of an oath. The question of admitting the
witness to be sworn, was argued at length by the counsel
of both sides; but the court, after consultation, ruled that
the sentiments of Giddings rendered his testimony inadmis-
sible. A person, to be a competent witness, must believe in
a supreme being who holds men accountable for their con-
duct. No man, said Judge Howell, can be a witness, who
denies this accountability.

Elisha Adams was then called upon the stand. The coun-
sel for the defendants remarked, that as Mr. A. stood indict-
ed for a participation in the same offence, they hoped the
court would be careful that his rights were not invaded. A
long examination followed, but nothing of importance was
elicited from this witness. The only fact bearing upon the
question, was an acknowledgment that Giddings came into
the woods where he was at work, and requested him to go
and see Col. King, Dr. Maxwell, and Obed Smith. On his
cross-examination, he said this incident occurred the spring
succeeding the outrage upon Morgan ; but he was also com-
pelled to acknowledge the fact, that King had left the coun-
try in the previous autumn, and was not at Youngstown at
any time in the spring of 1827.

The next witness called was John Jackson; and as his
evidence afibrds a striking specimen of that description of
testimony which has contributed so much to the public dis-
satisfaction in regard to what have been called " masonic
" witnesses," 1 think it important to give his examination
without much abridgment. The report 1 am compressing,


is that of the^ Anti-masonic Inquirer, of Rochester, which
Mr. Moseley, the special counsel, has certified to a commit-
tee of the legislature to be substantially correct. John
Jackson lived at Lockport, in 1826, but was at the house of
Giddings on the night of the 13th of September ; and on the
morning of the 14th —

" They were all going to the installation at Lewlston ; Mr. Giddings did
not go ; witness did not go with the rest ; Giddings went to the fort in the
morning, accompanied by witness ; don't recollect what Giddings carried
with him ; it might have been provisions ; Giddings had some drink too ;
thinks he did take some food up ; don't know whether it was in his hand, on
his arm, or tied round his body ; Giddings went toioards the magazine ; wit-
ness did not see hira open it ; believes he saw the door of the magazine open;
supposes Giddings opened it ; did not see any body in the magazine ; heard
a noise ; don't know what it was ; it was a voice from the magazine ; did not
see any body ; don't know whether it was a man or a woman ; it was the
voice of a person ; did not see Giddings leave any thing in the magazine j
don't know that there is any window to the magazine ; witness did not stay
there long; don't recollect what conversation Giddings had with the person
in the magazine ; saw Giddings have a pistol at the house ; don't recollect
seeing it at the magazine ; Giddings presented the pistol to witness, but he
declined taking it ; did not see Giddings lay it down ; heard something said
at the magazine about a pistol, but don't recollect certain what it was ; don't
know exactly whether Giddings opened the door of the magazine ; thinks the
door was open, and that Giddmgs conversed with a man who was inside ;
don't know but Giddings said, " here is some victuals and drink for you;'*
did not stand very near the magazine door ; might have been two rods off;
don't recollect but that Giddings might have spoken to the voice within, about
the pistol. "When Giddings opened the door, witness might have been look-
ing the other way ; Giddings did not go into the magazine ; the noise wa«
not very loud ; don't recollect any words; heard the noise after he got away;
he was for making off when he heard the voice ; did not see Giddings leave
any thing with the man ; did not see him take any thing back to the house ;
if he took provisions up, he presumed that he left them; saw Giddings take
the pistol up as they started to go to the fort ; witness thought it was time to
he miseing, when he heard the noise ; Giddings did talk to the man in the
magaains ; witness did not stop to sss any doer shut."

To a question whether the witness carried the pistol to
the person who owned it, the counsel for the defendants ob-



jected, which objection the court sustained. The court also
decided that it was improper to ask the witness if Giddings
told him that the person in the magazine was William Mor-
gan. On a second call to the stand, Jackson testified that
he had told a person at Lewiston, on the same day, that a
man was confined in the magazine ; but the person to whom
he thus told it, was now dead.

Another witness was down at the fort three or four days
after the installation on the 14th September : he had heard
that a man was imprisoned there, and talked with Giddings
about it, but he did not visit the fort himself, although Gid-
dings went thither while witness was at his house.

The testimony on behalf of the prosecution was here
rested, and the counsel for the defence called Nicholas G.
Cheseboro ; but after a few moments of consultation, declin-
ed having him sworn.

The counsel for the prosecution then stated that the ex-
clusion of the testimony of Mr. Giddings had entirely de-
prived them of their testimony against Turner and Darrow,
two of the defendants. It was therefore proper for the jury
to pass upon their cases at that stage of the proceedings.
These parties were accordingly acquitted instanter.

Gen. Matthews, of counsel for the defence, now interpos-
ed an objection to the validity of the indictment. That in-
strument set forth a conspiracy at Canandaigua, in the coun-
ty of Ontario, to imprison and kidnap William Morgan,
and that in pursuance of that conspiracy, he vras imprisoned
and carried away, or in other w^ords abducted. The truth
was, that Morgan was imprisoned there, in Ontario county j
and so far as Bruce was concerned, according to the evi-
dence, he had only helped to carry him away in Niagara
county, and confine him i lie re. If Bruce had therefore
committed any oftence, it was that of false-imprisonment,
in which net the indictment must be merged. That oflfenf*e


being local, the counsel contended that the county of Onta-
rio could have no jurisdiction in the case, — the defendant
having a right at common lav^ to be tried in the county
where the crime is pi'oved to iiave been committed.

The points thus raised, were ably and ingeniously argued
upon both sides. The court entertaining doubts upon the
question thus presented, intimated that should the defendant
be convicted, the sentence would be suspended until the
matter should have been carried up and decided in the Su-
preme Court.

W. H. Adams, Esq., summed up the case to the jury for
the defence, and Mr. Moseley closed on the part of the peo-

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 29 of 49)