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 32 of 49)
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" all good men, which enjoined it upon them * to restore har-
" * mony to society, when interrupted, if possible.' "

An impartial observer, knowing little of the previous
history of the controversy, or of the feelings which had
been engendered on both sides, would have supposed that
in coming to this decision, the Masons had conceded all


that their opponents could have had the conscience to de-
sire. Certainly, if the professed, were the only, objects of
the Anti-masonic party, — if they were really and truly
warring against Freemasonry alone, for the single purpose
of procuring its annihilation, — they could require nothing
further from the Masons of the county of Monroe. . And
had they manifested a disposition to rest satisfied with this
general renunciation on the part of those Masons who had
thus publicly surrendered their charters, there can be no
doubt that the example would have had a powerful effect
upon the fraternity, far and wide in the land. But the
fact was otherwise. In the course of the address, its au-
thors had said, that " they did not think the occasion called
" for on elaborate review, nor, indeed, for a serious refu-
" tation of all the absurd imputations and extraordinary
" charges which had been so industriously arrayed against
" the fraternity ; neither was it proposed to indulge in an-
" gry rebukes, and bitter sarcasms against the doubtful
" motives and unkind passions, which obviously had, and
" still did, direct the movements of the master spirits of
" the exclusive party styling themselves Anti-masons.
" Such a course, although justifiable by the law of retalia-
" tion, would not mitigate past evils, and might, perhaps,
" aggravate anticipated ones, which they were unaffectedly
" anxious to avert." In another paragraph, it was assert-
ed by the signers of the address, " that they felt and knew
« that they were the proscribed and devoted victims of an
" unholy ostracism." This language gave mortal offence,
and no sooner was it published, than it was siezed upon
by the Anti-masonic papers, and denounced virith as much
virulence and acrimony, as though, instead of what it was
intended to be, a message of conciliation and peace, it had
been a justification of the murder of Morgan, and an order
for the death of a hecatomb of additional victims.


There was one unfortunate circumstance connected with
this address, affording the Anti-masons a pretext for the
course, which, with one accord, they pursued in relation to
it. The misfortune through the whole of this controversy
has been, that the guilty and the innocent have been con-
founded together, and the latter have always been nia.de to
suffer for the misdeeds of the former. It was so in the
present instance ; for, although among the forty signers to
this address we find the names of several of the ablest
professional gentlemen of the west, — men of great purity
of character and of high moral and religious worth,— men
who would no sooner screen others from the punishment
due to crime, than they would be guilty of crime them-
selves — yet, in the very same list of persons, thus protest-
ing with the utmost solemnity against the outrage commit-
ted upon Morgan, were several of those known to have
been implicated, at least in a knowledge of the conspiracy,
before it was consummated, if nothing more. One of
these persons had been sent express to New-York, with
the purloined manuscripts ; another, was the man into
whose hands the money voted for " the western sufferers,'^
as they were called by the Grand Chapter, had been placed
for distribution. Beyond a doubt, three fourths of the
forty were entirely innocent ; and they, at that time, sup-
posed their associates to be innocent likewise. But not so
thought the Anti-masons, who had been engaged in the in-
vestigations previously made, and yet pending. They knew
better ; and of course the surrender of their charters was
denounced as being merely a make-believe transaction, and
the address pronounced false and hollow.* In regard to
the Rochester Chapter and Encampment, both of which
had united in disclaiming all knowledge of, or participation
in, the conspiracy, and both of which had denounced the

* In 1830, Jacob Gould, one of the signers of the renunciation in 1829,
attested his sincerity by taking his scat in the Grand Chapter, as a member.


act as oft'ensive alike to the laws of God and man, it was
now specifically and boldly declared, publicly, and in so
many words, " that that chapter and encampment employ-
*' ed and paid a masonic spy, who, as the pretended part-
" ner of Miller and Morgan, was nearly two months ma-
" luring the conspiracy.* He reported his progress, regu-
" larly, to the encampment ; and when the plot was ripe,
" they sent some of their members to Batavia, and others
" to Canandaigua, to aid in its consummation. Members
" of that chapter aided to force their victim into the hack
" at Canandaigua, and formed a part of his guard through
" the whole route. When the hearts of some of the per-
" sons who had met to inflict masonic vengeance upon
" Morgan, shrunk from the task, this chapter and encamp-
" ment were referred to for further instructions. They de-
" spatched one of their members to Fort Niagara. * *
« * * # # Some of their members were compelled to
" fly, but they have been cherished and supported by those
" who remained behind. The outrage was distinctly re-
" cognized, by the chapter and encampment, by the fact of
" their retaining in their bosoms and fellowship, the men
" who committed it. Members of the chapter and en-
" campment, when called upon to testify in relation to the
** outrage, have taken false oaths." And these, it was add-
led, are the " absurd accusations^^ which the masons, in
,their address, had declared unworthy of a " serious refu-
." tationJ^ Subsequent disclosures, moreover, have shown,
that there was too much truth in these charges. But
whether true or not, at the time, was immaterial, since
there was no resisting such appeals to the popular passions ;
and the measure which had been resolved upon by the Ma-
sons, right and proper in itself, and unexceptionable in its
iHanner, as those who were not Anti-masons would gener-

* Johns.


ally have supposed, entirely failed in its design. The war-
fare was prosecuted as vigorously as ever, alike against the
just and the unjust — for there was no discrimination among
the people, and every mason was believed to stand in all re-
spects upon the same footing.

Having thus failed in the object so sincerely and honest-
ly sought to be obtained by the majority of those who pub-
lished the address, it is a source of much regret that the
effort was made in that quarter, and in the mode in which
it was attempted. The scornful manner in which that de-
claration was received, has ever since been pointed at by
the acting masons in other parts of the country, when they
have been urged to terminate the contest by a removal of
the cause, as an evidence that the cancelling of charters,,
and the relinquishment of the order, will do no good. It
is not that, alone, as many of our friends believe, which
the opponents of speculative masonry desire : and since
what they consider a cruel persecution, — an unconstitution-
al proscription, — does not cease with the giving up of a
lodge, they insist that they may as well hold on upon their
empty titles and gilded trappings to the end.

I remain, sir, very truly yours.


New- York, March 12, 1832.

The exceptions taken to the indictment on which Eli
Bruce was tried and convicted at the Ontario Sessions, in
August, 1828, having been argued before the Supreme
Court, and decided against the defendant, the cause was
again brought before the Court of vScssions at its May term,
in 1829. Hiram B. Hopkins was called and examined by


the court, in aggravation of punishment. He was deputy
sherifl' of Niagara county under Bruce, and resided with him
in the same house — the jail being under the same roof.
He testified, that, some six or eight days before the abduc-
tion, Bruce directed him to prepare a cell for the reception
of Morgan, whom he said he expected there that night.
Accordingly the most secret cell was put in order for that
purpose. Witness had previously heard that Morgan was
to be taken away from Batavia, for revealing the secrets of
Masonry, and to be carried to Niagara. He also under-
stood that Bruce was concerned in the project. Morgan
was to come by the way of Lockport, and be lodged in the
cell thus prepared. He had been told that Morgan was to
be taken to, or by, Niagara, and put on board a ship of war,
for his masonic offence. Witness had made inquiries what
he should say, if called on as a witness, and Bruce instruct-
ed him that he might truly declare he knew nothing about
it, because he had never seen Morgan, in any part of the
transactions. Heretofore, witness said he had considered
himself bound by his masonic obligations not to make any
disclosures. But after he began to apprehend that Morgan
had been put to death, he had reasoned and reflected much
on the nature and character of those obligations, and now
considered himself fully absolved from their longer observ-
ance. He had attended the installation of the chapter at
Lewiston, on the 14th of September, 1826, and learned
while there, that Morgan was confined in Fort Niagara.

At the same term of the court, came on the trial of John
Whitney and James Gillis — both of whom had been long
previously indicted for being concerned in the same con-
spiracy. Whitney, it will be recollected, had fled to Lou-
isiana, with Burrage Smith, soon after the public attention
began to be seriously directed to the circumstances of this
singular outrage. Smith died at New-Orleans, and, as in
the case of Col. King, Whitney had returned voluntarily,


after the unsuccessful embassy of Messrs. Garlinghouse and
Bates, in pursuit of them. GilHs's name, you may recollect,
occurs in a former letter, as having been seen among the
kidnappers, at Victor, on the night of Morgan's being taken
from Prison. He fled to Pennsylvania ; but had been sub-
sequently arrested in Ontario, and held to baiL

The cases having been called, the special counsel declaim-
ed his intention to have the defendants tried together. Gil-
lis had pleaded to the indictment, at a former term of the
court, but was not now present. Mr. Griffin, of counsel for
Mr. Whitney, requested that he might be tried alone ; but
the special counsel objected, inasmuch as the cases of the
defendants were connected, and also on account of conve-
nience to the witnesses, many of whom were from a long
distance, and should be allowed to return home with all
suitable dispatch. Mr. Sibley, of counsel for GiHis, object-
ed to his being tried during his absence. He had attended
two or three terms of the court, to take his trial, but then
the prosecution was not ready. Living in another state, it
was fairly to be presumed that the notice of trial had not
reached him. The special counsel replied that Gillis had
never been prepared for trial when the people were ready.
At the last term of the court he was ready, but, by some fa-
tality, the people's important witnesses were not in attend-
ance, though they had been subpcenaed, and attachments
issued. The witnesses were now attending at great trou-
ble and expense. The court remarked that at the previous
term, the cause of Gillis was announced as being ready for
trial the day before it was to have come on ; but two of the
ivitnesses were then discovered to have mysteriously disap-
peared, and therefoi^e the people were not ready. It was
under such circumstances that the trial had been put off,
and the court would not allow another postponement, if the

special counsel chose to try the defendant in his absence.



The cause then proceeded — a jury was empannelled
without much difficulty, and Mr. Whiting, the Districf At-
torney, opened in behalf of the people. The initiatory
testimony, relative to the taking of Morgan from the jail,
and forcing him into the carriage at Canandaigua, was the
same, as in the histories given in all the preceding trials,
and mostly from the same witnesses. In regard to the stop-
ping of Morgan's mouth with a handkerchief, it was now
indisputably proved to have been the act of Chescboro,
whose intentions, according to his own deposition, were so
very innocent in that matter. The night journey of Loton
Lawson to Rochester, on the evening of Morgan's being
committed to jail, (September 11, 1826,) was again proved,
as formerly, together with his return to Canandaigua, on
the morning of the 12th, and the arrival there of John
Whitney and Burrage Smith, on the afternoon of that day.
The testimony of Ackley, at whose house they stopped in
Canandaigua, was on this occasion more full and minute,
than on his previous examination. It was now proved by
two or more witnesses, that at the time the carriage in
which Morgan was taken away, was moving about the
street, preparatory to setting off, there was a horse and
sulkey standing before the door of Ackley's tavern. Smith
was seen in this sulkey a few minutes before the carriage,
(having taken up Morgan, and a part of his kidnappers, in
the street,) repassed the tavern, on its way to Rochester,
The horse and sulkey were driven oft' at the same time. I
am thus particular in noting this fact respecting the sulkey,
because it is an important circumstance in identifying tiic
parties. On the trial of Bruce, it may be recollected, it wa«
disclosed that a man, supposed to be Smith, drove up to, and
passed, the carriage where it had stopped, about eighty or
one hundred rods from Hanford's Landing, and he appear-
ed then to the witness, to belong to the pnrty in the carriage.


This sulkey will again appear in subsequent trials, as the
perplexities of these extraordinary transactions are disen-
tangled. Tea was prepared both for Smith and Whitney,
at the given hour ; but after waiting some time, Smith not
coming in, Whitney took tea by himself. He went out ear-
ly in the evening, and did not return. Just before the sul-
key was driven away, Lawson came in and borrowed a
cloak of Ackley. This garment is mentioned because it
will be elsewhere referred to.

Hiram Hubbard, so often mentioned as the owner and
driver of the carriage from Canandaigua to Hanford's, was
again called as a witness. On his direct examination he
testified in effect, as on former occasions, mentioning two or
three additional facts. There were five persons with him
in his carriage, of whom he knew neither. He was not ac-
companied by a man in a sulkey ; but a man passed him
in a sulkey, when two or three miles from Canandaigua.
He stopped at the reservoir in front of Beaches tavern, in
Victor, hut only for a moment or two ; and this was the only
stop he made in Victor. At Hanford's house a man got out
of the carriage, and procured a bottle of liquor.* They
then drove on, and stopped in a field near some woods, one
or two hundred rods from Hanford's. His cross examina-
,tion did not materially vary his testimony. He saw no
force, in putting a man into his carriage ; heard no com-
plaints on the way ; was told to take his own time in driv-
ing ; there were no changes in the number or persons of
his passengers on the way ; and when they got out he did
not observe that any person was bound. He was engaged
to go for this party by Mr. Chauncey H. Coe,one of the stage
proprietors at Canandaigua, for whom he frequently did
jobs of the kind. He was paid, however, by Cheseboro,

* Corroborating the testimony respecting the bottle or jug seen by the
witness who was watching with the sick man, at Lewiston.


as has already been stated. Coe testified that he engaged
the carriage of Hubbard at the request of Cheseboro. He
could not tell how Smith and Whitney left Canandaigua on
that evening. They did not go in any regular stage.

A Mr. Scrantom testified to the fact of Whitney's being
in Canandaigua at the time of the abduction. He said to
witness, he had come to engage a journeyman stone-cutter,
and witness went with him^ to a shop, in quest of one.
The workmen were not at home. Witness wished to send
a letter to Rochester, and Whitney ofiered to take it, re-
questing witness to bring it to the tavern in the course of
the evening. He wrote his letter, and went by appoint-
ment, but could not find him at that place, or elsewhere in
the village. Nor was his name upon the books of any of
the stage offices. Whitney had seen witness several times
before the trial. In the fall previously, defendant had asked
witness how it had happened that Hall, (the jailor,) knew
of his having been in Canandaigua on the evening of
the outrage. Witness replied that he had mentioned the
fact, though rather incautiously, and in sport. Whitney
then requested him to recollect the application for a stone-
cutter, and the conversation.

An important witness was now introduced in the person
of Mrs. Hanford, the wife of the innkeeper at the Landing,
so called. She testified to the carriage calling early in the
morning of the 13th, as heretofore related. Two persons
came into the house, of whom Hiram Hubbard was one, and
called for something to drink. They took a decanter to
the carriage, and when they returned with it, drank some-
thing themselves. One of them said — "He was damned
glad to get out of jail at first !" They appeared to talk sig-
nificantly with their eyes. She asked them if they had a
prisoner. They replied no, but only a man who had been
on the limits. Witness first heard of the abduction of Mor-


gan through a statement in the newspapers ; and the mo-
ment she saw the account, she was convinced by the cir-
cumstances related, that Morgan must have been in that
carriage. She went immediately to her husband with the
account, and she had endeavored to call to mind the looks
of the two persons who came in at that time. Hubbard,
she was sure, was one ; but she was not so confident as to
Whitney. The person with Hubbard looked like the de-
fendant, but was not so delicate in his hands, or his complex-
ion. Mrs. Hanford had left that place in April, following
the time of which she was speaking — having removed to
Pittsburgh, where they had been living two years. When
the carriage drove off, the man who came into the house
with Hubbard, remained behind, and walked the stoop for
some time. There was something in the deportment of the
party at the time, that induced her to suppose there was
mischief a-foot. Hubbard inquired for oats ; but as there
were none in the house, he would not wait to have them
brought from the barn, as he said they must drive to Lew-
iston that day.

A man by the name of Gregory, who lived on the Ridge
Road, fifteen miles west of Gaines, testified to the fact of
meeting the mysterious carriage, on the 13th of September,
1826. Elihu Matthew was driving it, and there was a man
on the box with him, or in the carriage, who very strongly
resembled the defendant, John Whitney. Until witness
came to attend the present trial, he had supposed the person
implicated by this name, was Whitney the distiller. Wit-
ness had lived in Rochester, and although he knew not John
Whitney by name, yet he had seen the stone-cutter a hun-
dred times ; and it was now strongly impressed upon his
mind that the defendant w as the man whom he saw on the
coach-box with Mather. He also met Burrage Smith with
a horse and sulkey, a little in the rear of the carriage. He


had Adams's pet horse ; and witness told him he was driv-
ing the animal too hard. Smith replied — " no matter — the
concern is able to pay for it."

Levi W. Sibley, a musician from Rochester, who attend-
ed the installation at Lewiston, on the 14th of September,
proved that both Smith and Whitney were at Lewiston on
the morning of the 14th, between 8 and 9 o'clock. Wit-
ness went thither in the steam-boat from Rochester. Smith
and Whitney returned with them in the boat, on the eve-
ning of the installation. Neither of them went up in the
boat. In descending the river, the boat stopped at Youngs-
town, and Smith and Lawson stepped on shore, — asking
the captain if there would be time for them to go up to the
fort. The reply was in the affirmative, if they would go
quick. On returning to the boat, they came from the direc-
tion of the fort.

The Rev. Francis H. Cuming, (then of Rochester,) deli-
vered the address at the installation. He saw Smith and
Whitney there. He went to Lewiston in the stage, and
neither of those persons went with him.

The partner of the defendant (Whitney,) in the stone-
cutting business, proved that he left Rochester, in the win-
ter after Morgan's abduction, without apprising him of his
intention of so doing. He went away without settling his
affairs, or arranging their business ; and without making any
provision for the support of his family during his absence.
He returned in September, 1828.

A number of witnesses were successively examined re-
specting the circumstances attending the journey of the
closed carriage along the Ridge Road, but they testified to
no new fact of consequence. A young man named Aid-
rich, was next called upon the stand, but objections to his
being sworn were raised by the counsel for the defence,
wpon the same principles on which the testimony of Ed-


Ward Giddi'ngs had been excluded, on the trial of Eli
Bruce, in the preceding August. It was proved, on the one
hand, that in a conversation respecting the exclusion of
Giddings, Aldrich had repeatedly declared that his own be-
lief was the same. He did not believe in any future punish-
ment^ and would not change [his principles for the sake of
being a witness. On the other hand, the prosecution prov-
ed that he had professed correct religious notions until he
was 18 years old, — that he was now about 24, — and that he
was a universalist, believing in punishment for sin in the
present world, but not in the future. The question of his
admissibility, under such circumstances, was very ably ar-
gued on both sides. Judge Howell afterwards stated, that
there were great and increasing difficulties arising upon
these questions. The court adhered to the decision in the
case of Giddings; but a majority of the bench now doubted
whether the case of Aldrich could be brought within that
rule. He therefore cheerfully acceded to the opinion of
his two associate judges, and would permit the witness to
be sworn. The opinion of the court was then called for
on the second point, viz : the necessity of a belief in future:
rewards and punishments. Judge Howell, in reply^ said
that he now concurred in the opinion of Chancellor Wal-
worth, disagreeing with the doctrines heretofore maintained
by the Supreme Court. The present Supreme Court, he
stated, had also adopted the opinion of Chancellor Wal-
worth. The witness was then sworn.

He lived in Dr. Beach's tavern, in Victor, at the time
Morgan was carried off. At about 12 o'clock at night, on
the 12th of September, he heard a carriage driving as he
thought, up to the house. Being in bed, he rose, and look-
ing out, saw the carriage a little beyond. Witness went
down to the bar, as somebody knocked, desiring to come in
to obtain somethino-^) drink. lie had seen two or thrce^


persons standing by the door, and on opening it, both the
defendants, James GilHs and John Whitney, entered and
called for a bottle of liquor. He gave them a decanter of
gin, which they took out of doors, — Gillis offering a three
dollar bill in payment, which witness could not change.
Gillis then promised to pay it in the morning, when the de-
canter should be returned. Witness knew Smith and
Whitney well, having lived at Rochester, and believed that
he saw Smith with Whitney, on the steps. A sulkey was
there, and Dr. Beach called up the ostler to bring out a
horse to put into it. The party went off, and he saw no
more of them. The horse taken for the sulkey, was re-
turned the next day, by the stage from Rochester. This
testimony, it will be observed, essentially contradicts Hub-
bard's evidence on the former trials, and by inference upon
the present.

Two witnesses were successively examined, who proved
that about the same time of night, a carriage drove up to

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 32 of 49)