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 33 of 49)
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the house of Enos Gillis, — a brother of James, who lived
a few rods farther on their route than Beach's. The cur-
tains of the carriage were down, and it was turned I'ound
and driven through the gate, into Mr. Gillis's yard. It re -
mained there some 20 or 30 minutes, and when driven
away several persons accompanied it on horseback. One
of these witnesses saw James Gillis, the defendant, near the
carriage, while standing thus in the back yard. If this was
the carriage, of which there can be no rational doubt, Hub-
bard is again explicitly contradicted, upon a point where
an honest mistake was impossible. As to Gillis, the defen-
dant, another witness proved his returning, on the following
day, mounted on his brothers horse. He said he had been
to Rochester, and seven or eight miles beyond ; and that he
came from Canandaigua, to his brother's house, on the pre-
ceding evening, in an extra carriage. U, again, it was


Hubbard's carriage that he came in, of which there is no
doubt, then Hubbard was again contradicted. The prose-
cution was here rested.

The first important witness called by the defence, was Eli
Bruce. He testified, that he was first informed that Mor-
gan was coming on the Ridge Road, on the evening of the
13th of September, by Burrage Smith, and another person,
now five hundred miles off, whose name he refused to give.
About six or eight days before that time, a gentleman call-
ed and requested him to proceed to Batavia, to take Mor-
gan away. It was stated that difficulties existed between
Morgan and Miller, and that the former would. go away
willingly. Being sheriff* of the county, and not wishing to
involve himself in any trouble, he declined the proposal.
At about the same time, Orsamus Turner called on him,
requesting that an apartment might be fitted up for the re-
ception of Morgan in the jail. He stated that Morgan was
expected there that night, on his way to Canada, and had
consented cheerfully to go away.* Witness was asked to
go to Wright's tavern, on the Ridge Road, where Morgan
was said to be, — he having, as before related, been driven
with the carriage, into Wright's barn. Witness inquired if
there was any trouble, declaring that he wished not to be
involved in any. On his arrival at Wright's, which was
about 9 or 10 o'clock, he found Morgan there. They then
proceeded to Lewiston, and thence down to Niagara ; David
Hague, now dead, and Morgan, being the only persons in
the carriage from Wright's to Lewiston. He was not at
this time acquainted with John Whitney. At or near the
gate beyond Wright's, a person passed them on horse-back,
whom he knew, but did not give the name. Morgan was
not bound, but only a handkerchief placed over his eyes

* This was on the 8th — at the time of Sawyer's expedition to Batavia,
which failed. The project then was, to have carried Morgan direct to Lock*
port. The Canandaigua movement was a distinct plot.



to prevent his seeing who were with him. On leaving the
carriage near the Niagara biirying-ground, they proceeded
to the ferry near the fort, and crossed over into Canada, — ■
where Morgan was to have been put upon a farm. Morgan
did not get out of the boat on the Canada side ; and as the
Masons there were not ready to receive him, — their ar-
rangements for his reception not being completed, — he
was brought back to the American side, and placed in the ma-
gazine of the fort, to await the preparations in Canada. When
Morgan got out of the carriage, he locked arms with Hague,
and another gentleman who joined them at Youngstown.*
Morgan conversed with Hague, — there was no liquor in the
carriage, — and he did not seem to be enfeebled. He thought
he was among friends. Witness left the fort before day-
light, on the morning of the 14th; had never seen Morgan
since, and knew not what was done with him. Wright's
tavern was three miles from the residence of Bruce at
Lockport, at the intersection of a road from the latter place
with the Ridge Road. Witness saw several persons whom
he knew at Weight's; and at the installation, a stranger
was pointed out to him as John Whitney. To a question
as to whose charge Morgan had been left in at the maga-
zine, the court would not suffer the witness to reply — upon
the ground that no persons but those upon trial, should be
implicated. For the same reason, also, the court would not
allow the names of those who had crossed in the ferry-boat
to be given. The project of taking Morgan away, witness
said, was not concerted in the Royal Arch Chapter in Lock-
port, although it might have been talked over incidentally,
in a desultory manner, by the members, but he could not re-
member specifically the time. The next day after the in-
stallation witness rode back from Lewiston to Lockport in
a sulkey. He knew not how Smith went to Lockport, nor

♦ Col. King.


how the sulkey came there, but understood that it was to be
sent home. He supposed it belonged eastwardly, and that
the horse attached to it was owned somewhere on the
Ridge, but if he had ever known, he had forgotten by whom
it was owned, or whither he was to send it. Such is a
faithful analysis of the testimony of Eli Bruce, on his first
examination as a witness.

Joseph Garlinghouse, called by the prosecutor, testified,
that he was commissioned by Governor Clinton to pursue
Smith and Whitney, for which purpose he started in Au-
gust, 1827, and proceeded to Louisville, in Kentucky —
from which place they had been gone about three weeks —
Smith to New Orleans, and Whitney to St. Louis. His
authority to arrest them did not extend beyond Kentucky,
and he was obliged to abandon the pursuit. Whitney had
since stated to witness that he was at the time engaged in
settling some important business afiairs with a brother-in-
law, who had left his wife ; and the knowledge of his ar-
rival in that region, in pursuit, had given his said brother-
in-law an opportunity of taking the advantage, by which
circumstance, he, [Whitney,] had lost a thousand dollars.

Nicholas G. Cheseboro, called for the defence, swore,
that he did not know Whitney in the transactions on the
night of the 12th, at, Canandaigua, nor did he now recog-
nize him as one of those engaged with them on that occa-
sion. Nor did. he recollect having seen Gillis there on
that evening.

The cause lasted three days. It was summed up with
great ability by the counsel on both sides, and committed
to the jury by a brief charge from Judge Howell. The
jury retired at 10 o'clock at night, and returned a few
minutes before 12, with a verdict of GUILTY against
John Whitney, but in regard to the other defendant, Gillis,
they could not agree, and were discharged. Whitney was
sentenced to an imprisonment in the county jail, of one


year and three months ; and Eli Bruce to the same punish-
ment for two years and four months. " During the whole
" term of his imprisonment, he was visited by Freemasons
" from every part of the United States, who repaired to
" his cell as that of a martyr suffering for the conscientious
" discharge of some high and imperative duty. Notwith-
" standing the atrocity of his guilt, so clearly established by
" the testimony of his deputy and his own evidence, yet
" crowds daily thronged around him, testifying their sym-
" pathy and their respect. Every comfort that the laws
•»* would allow was provided for him ; and even ladies of
*' character waited upon him in person, with delicacies pre-
" pared by their own hands. The same jail has often con-
" tained Freemasons, imprisoned for debt, who were never
" cheered by the visits, or solaced by the sympathy, of their
« brethren."
» Very respectfully yours, &c.


New- York, March 14, 1832.

During the same spring a trial took place in the coun-
ty of Genesee, connected with this subject, which excited
some interest in that immediate neighborhood, though
scarcely heard of abroad. Those who have only listened
to the murmurings of the Anti-masonic excitement at a dis-
tance, without actually witnessing, or feeling, the force of
the storm, will hardly believe it possible, that at the pre-
sent day, a case of the kind of which I am about to^^speak,
could have occurred. Ten years hence, if the fact should
be left unrecorded, it would not be credited for an instant.
The cajsQ was this : During the first wild tumult of tlie ex-


citement, in 1827, in the delirium of their success at the
town elections, the project was broached of excluding the
name of every member of the masonic body from the ju-
ry box. The revised laws of the state gave the Anti-ma-
sons the power to do so, in all those towns in which they
had been successful, — it being the duty of the supervisor,
town clerk, and assessors of the several towns, annually to
transmit to the clerks of their counties respectively, an al-
phabetical list of the names of all persons in the said
towns, qualified and of sufficient understanding to serve as
jurors. It is likewise by that act made the duty of those
officers, annually to return a like list to the county
clerks, of all persons, so previously returned as qualified
jurors, but who have since died, removed out of the coun-
ty, or become otherwise disqualified, — and the slips of pa-
per containing the names of persons so returned, are to be
taken from the jury box by the county clerk and destroy-
ed. Those returns are transmitted by the town clerks to
the clerks of the counties. It was under the provisions of
this act, that the officers of the town of Bethany, in the
county of Genesee, determined to exercise their brief au-
thority against the Masons ; and some of the most pious
and respectable citizens of that town were put under tha
ban of exclusion, and so far disfranchised as to be returned
to the county clerk as " disqualified." The duty of this
officer was not discretionary; and the names of the unof-
fending Masons of Bethany were withdrawn, and the slips
whereon they were written, destroyed. It may well be
supposed that among a people no less free than jealous of
their rights, such an outrage upon their civil privileges
would not be patiently or quietly submitted to, A com-
plaint was preferred to the grand jury against the town
clerk of Bethany, as the agent in the transaction, and he
was indicted, much to their credit, even by an Anti-mason-,
ic grand jury. The indictment was tried at the court of


Oyer and Terminer held at Batavia, in April, 1829. " It
" appeared in evidence that those returned as disqualified
" jurors were freeholders, and it was admitted by the de-
" fendant's counsel, that they were men of understanding,
" of intelligence and integrity ; it was also admitted that
** they were returned as disqualified because they were Ma-
" sons. It appeared in evidence that great excitement pre-
" vailed in Bethany at that time, and that the exclusion of
" Mason from juries was frequently talked of, and generally
" conceded to be correct and proper. It appeared also by
*' one witness that the town clerk wms told that if he did
" not take care of their interest, (the Anti-masons) they
" would take care of him. The defendant, however, was
" proved to be a man of integrity and candour, and it was
-*' abundantly shown that he acted by the advice and coun-
" sel of others, and apparently with a view conscientious-
*' ly to discharge his trust. The court charged the jury,
** that although the defendant had grossly mistaken his du-
** ty, they did not think there was evidence enough to show
" that he acted corruptly. They also charged that the de-
** fendant could not be convicted on the indictment, be-
" cause he acted merely as the clerk of the board of in-
" specters in making the return." The court, therefore,
advised the jury to acquit the defendant, which was accor-
dingly done. The foregoing quotation is from Brown's His-
tory — a work which is in general too partial to allow much
reliance to be placed upon it, in matters of opinion ; but
in the present case I am free to adopt the author's commen-
tary, when he declares his conviction " that the returning
" of Masons as disqualified jurors was in violation not on-
« ly of the letter but of the spirit of the law. In criminal
^ cases, however, the intention constitutes the sole criterion
>* of guilt. Some palliating circumstances were proved on
" the part of the defendant, and it was, therefore, upon the
f* whole perhaps right that he should have been acquitted ;


" still it was equally proper that he should have been ar-
" raigned at the bar of his country for an act sanctioned
" neither by law nor justice, and which could not be done
" without trampling upon both.''

The irritation arising from attempts like the foregoing, ta
oppress the Masons — without reference to their guilt or in-
nocence in the Morgan outrage, — was enough to render
the society of any neighborhood sufficiently unpleasant ;
but the most unhappy consequences resulting from the ex-
citement to the social relations of the people, were connect-
ed with the institutions of religion. A very considerable
number of the clergy, of different sects, belonged to the
masonic institution. Various circumstances had conspired
to bring them into the lodges. The Masons, themselves,
courted the fellowship of the clergy, to increase their own
respectability, by acquiring a more sober and hallowed
character than the world were disposed to allow them to
possess ; for which purpose the Grand Lodge, several years
since, authorised their gratuitous admission. Such a re-
gulation in their favor, was naturally flattering to them ;
their curiosity respecting the supposed mysteries of the or-
der, was as easily excited as with other people ; and it was
very natural for them to suppose that by joining themselves
to the fraternity, they might increase their own usefulness
in the cause of their master. But the opponents of the Ma-
sons for a long time knew of no distinctions ; and the divine
in the pulpit, with his deacons at the altar, if they had ever
attached themselves to the proscribed order, were as likely
to be scorched by the burning zeal directed against the
craftj as the humble tylcr with his drawn sword at the door
of the lodge-room. The fiercest contentions arose in local
churches ; clergymen were dismissed, or compelled to re-
sign their pastoral charges ; fellow-members of churches
refused to partake of the sacred elements of the supper at
the same table ; and, in one instance, a clergyman bearing


the curse of Freemasonry, was personally assaulted in th^:^^
pulpit. From single churches, the spirit of proscription^^*
entered many ecclesiastical bodies, threatening to produce
a wider field of spiritual disunion and desolation.

In these measures, I am constrained to say that the Bap-
tists, long ranking among the most unassuming and most
tolerant of modern religious sects, took the lead, by the
adoption, at the Genesee Consociation held in June, 1828, of
a declaratory resolution, " that they would neither license,
" ordain, or install, those who sustain any connexion with
" the institution of Masonry, or who will not disapprove and
" renounce it ; nor would they give letters of recommenda-
" tion in favor of such persons to preach in any of the church-
" es in their connexion." This resolution called forth a re-
ply, in a printed letter of twenty pages, by the Rev. Joseph
Emerson, of Connecticut, a member of the same denomina-
tion of religionists, which a judicious friend would never
have advised him to make public ; — for although the wri-
ter spoke many truisms, and said sundry sensible things, yet
he was clearly ignorant of the actual facts of the case in the
western part of New- York. He knew not what a load of
guilt had been incurred by a portion of the fraternity in
that section of country, which was then pressing the insti-
tution to the earth. Nor, had he been ever so well inform-
ed, was he the Hercules to remove the burden. His letter,
in fact, was such as might have been expected from a fanci-
ful sophomore, just »' brought from darkness to light," who
had neither searched backwards for the history of the or-
der, nor looked forward to consequences. The effect was
obvious. The Consociation put forth a reply which not
only shivered his lance into splinters, but, from the mildness
of its tone, and the unpretending ability with which it was
written, while it left their assailant hors du comhaU gave
them an advantage in the argument in favor of their resolu-
tion-, which they would not otherwise have possessed.


Other ecclesiastical bodies in the same connexion, followed
the example, and among them the Baptist Association, sit-
ting in the same year, as I believe, in the county of Sarato-
ga. A clergyman, by the name of John Lamb, was exclu-
ded from the Baptist Church in Waterford, for being a Free-
mason ; and the difficulties arising upon the subject in that
religious community, continued down to the last year, at
which time an ecclesiastical council was held to consider of
the matter. The publications of the parties lead me to sup-
pose that much ill blood had been excited, and kept in quick
circulation, in reference to this subject, during the whole
period since the excommunication of Mr. Lamb. In Octo-
ber, 1829, the Baptist Conference for the state of New-
York, held a session at Whitesborough, in the county of
Oneida. At this meeting Freemasonry was a leading topic
of discussion, and a resolution was adopted declaring it to
be the duty of every member of a christian church, who
was a Freemason, to dissolve his connexion with that insti-
tution ; but excusing such members from disclosing mason-
ic secrets, or avowing any opinions as to the character or
tendency of Masonry. This resolution gave high dissatis-
faction to some of the Baptist associations in the western
part of the state ; and the association of Chautauque county,
in September last, published a strong address and protest
against so lenient a resolution. Nothing short of a require-
ment of unqualified renunciations, in such cases, would sat-
isfy those western churches. In the Baptist Association of
this part of the state, the principle of the Whitestown Con-

, ference seems to have been extended, and all members of
the church, who would not renounce visiting the lodge-room,
were excluded from the sacramental rites of the religion
they professed. I do not know that in this city there was

^,any occasion to enforce the regulation, but such a principle was

adopted, and is yet a rule of action wiul that denomination.



The Associated Reformed Synod of New- York, at a
meeting in Newburgh, in 1830, likewise took up the subject
of Freemasonry, and unanimously adopted resolutions ex-
pressing their decided disapprobation of the principles and
usages of Freemasonry, warning their people against all
connexion with the institution, and enjoining it upon all
church sessions under their inspection, to adopt efiective
measures " to remove the contamination from their church-
" es." But as this branch of the christian church is descen-
ded from the Scots, their ecclesiastics find a sufficient war-
rant for this procedure in the annals of their own denomi-
nation. So long ago, even, as 1757, the Associate Synod of
Scotland passed an act, after great deliberation, requiring
the church sessions under their charge to make diligent
investigation among their people, to ascertain whether any
of them had taken the masonic oaths. All persons who
should be found to have received them, were required to
renounce ; and unless they did so, and expressed contrition
for what they had done, they were " to be reputed under
" scandal, incapable of admission to sealing ordinances, till
" they answer and give satisfaction as before appointed."
The sessions were moreover directed " to proceed unto
" higher censure, as they shall see cause, in the case of per-
"sons whom they may find involved in the said oaths,
" with special aggravation, as asking or relapsing into the
" same, in opposition to warnings against doing so."

In regard to the Presbyterian Church, and the cognate per-
suasion of orthodox Congregationalists, I have seen but a
single case of a positive inhibition of the sacramental ele-
ments to those professors who should refuse to relinquish
their Masonry.* In the year 1828 or '29, the synod of Gen-

* It is proper lo state, however, that opposition to Masonry did not s1ioa\-
itself for the first time in tlic Pre.sl)yt<Mi;in Church of the United States, ut-
ter the Morgan outruoe. A strong report against the masonic institution,
was made in 1820, in the synod of the Presbyterian Chnith, assembled at


esee recommended the withdrawal of their church members
from the institution, but did not insist upon such an act, or a
formal renunciation. A declaration in the following words
was, however, recommended to the consideration of the
christian brethren : — " I cheerfully make known for the
" satisfaction of my christian brethren, that I have discon-
*' tinned all connexion with the institution of Freemasonry,
" and intend to remain so disconnected during my life ; and
" that I recognise no obligations devolving on me in conse-
" quence of masonic oaths, as binding me to do or counte-
" nance any thing which is not in accordance with the mo-
" rality of the gospel, and the laws of the land, as common-
"ly understood among my christian brethren." Church
difficulties having arisen in the state of Vermont, in 1830,
upon this subject, and attempts having been made to ex-
clude adhering Masons from their christian rights and pri-
vileges, a large ecclesiastical council of clergymen with
their delegates was convened at Danville, in that year.
Their proceedings were marked with mildness and wisdom.
They refused excluding their masonic brethren from the
rites of the church, but advised them to cease attending
lodges, although they might not choose formally to re-
nounce ; and they also recommended the adoption of a de-
claration, after the form of the synod of Genesee. But the
series of resolutions adopted by that council, breathe the
genuine spirit of Christianity — that spirit " which suftereth
" long, and is kind."

The Rochester Presbytery, however, forming the excep-
tion made above, early in the year 1829 published various
considerations with a view to remedy present evils, and
prevent future ones, which required the " ministers and

Pittsburgh. Long and animated debates arose upon the subject, and its
consideration was,postponed until another year, when it was renewed. The
craft, however, treated the attack with a degree of indifference bordering
upon contempt, and the report was never adopted.


" members'^ of the respective churches under their im-
mediate charge, " absolutely to dissolve their connexion
" with Freemasonry, and explicitly to signify the same to
" their christian brethren." One of their reasons for re-
sorting to this measure, is stated to be " the well-known
" instances of the employment of Freemasonry as an instru-
** ment of evil and designing men, in the history of Illu-
" minism." In saying this, they -spoke without credible au-
thority, as I have already shown in my eighth letter. But
this error is not very material ; while it is but justice to re-
mark, that the general tone and scope of the address pub-
lished by the Rochester Presbytery, was worthy of much
praise. In one of their propositions they distinctly state,
that while " they wish their christian brethren to withdraw
*' from the institution, they by no means give their counte-
** nance to those methods of renouncing Freemasonry that
" involved a breach of fidelity, or a violation of oaths, or
" other pledges of confidence, by which masonic brethren
" may have bound themselves." They also enjoined it up-
on their churches to make no hasty decisions, or rash ex-
communications ; and indeed the whole address was tem-
pered by that mild and benignant spirit which is every
where breathed in the tolerant doctrines of Christianity.

But to illustrate still further, the extent, and the depth of
feeling, that came at last to prevail among the religious com-
munity at the west upon this subject, I can state, that large
public meetings of professors of religion of different deno-
minations, were repeatedly held, for the purpose of consult-

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 33 of 49)