William L. (William Leete) Stone.

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

. (page 34 of 49)
Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 34 of 49)
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ing upon the moral qualities and tendency of Masonry, and
the measures proper and expedient to be adopted in rela-
tion to it. Ihavd now before me the printed proceedings
of a large united meeting of this description, held in the
county of Oneida, on the 14th of January, 1830, the mea-
sures adopted at which were of the most decisive charac-
ter. Several members rose in the meeting, denouncing the


institution, and then and there renouncing it. Resolutions
were adopted pronouncing it to be the duty of all profes-
sors of religion to withdraw, and declaring that unless they
did so, it would be the duty of christian professors to with-
draw the hand of fellowship from them. They likewise re-
solved that the masonic institution was an obstacle to the
spread of the gospel, and that its entire overthrow must
precede the universal emancipation of the world from error
and sin. And finally, " a special day of solemn fasting,
" humiliation, and prayer, on account of the existence of
" Masonry in the church, and for the guidance and direc-
" tion of Almighty God, upon the manner in which it is to be
" treated," was appointed and set apart.

But notwithstanding the flow of pure christian feeling
which characterizes the most of their proceedings, — and I
have only referred to a few instances, as specimens of ma-
ny more, — I cannot persuade myself but that they were all
entirely wrong in principle. As to the worldly govern-
ment of a church, its members, or the governing ecclesias-
tical power, have an undoubted right to prescribe terms, the
same as in other voluntary compacts. So, also, as to the
leading doctrines of faith and practice. But in rogard to
the heart and the conscience, every- man must judge and
act for himself. Nor can any requirements be exacted, go-
ing beyond those prescribed by the Great Head of the
Church himself. Theology, however, does not properly
appertain to this discussion, — and I cheerfully dismiss this
branch of my subject, with the expression of my hearty de-
sire^ that there may hereafter be found too much wisdom on
all sides to allow any section of the christian church ever
again to be disturbed by such a question.

1 am very respectfully, yours.



New- York, March 16, 1832.

Under the conduct of Mr. Spencer, great activity was
manifested in the legal investigations of the conspiracy dur-
ing the summer of 1829. In the county of Genesee, all
efforts to procure indictments for the conspiracy and ab-
duction, had hitherto proved unavailing, although, as we
have already seen, there had been indictments, trials, and
convictions for the outrages upon Miller. The special
counsel was however determined not again to be foiled in
his attempts to discover the persons in Genesee, who had
been engaged in the conspiracy against Morgan. At the
June term of the General Sessions, therefore, Eli Bruce was
brought, on a habeas corpus, from the jail of Ontario, to tes-
tify before the grand jury of Genesee. One of the stand-
ing counsel of the persons indicted in other counties, was
in attendance, howeveV, and while Bruce was on his way
to the jury room, this gentleman placed a letter in his hands.
The consequence was, that on being brought before the
grand jury, he positively refused to be sworn as a witness,
and persisted in his refusal. A large body of Masons had
collected on the occasion, and Bruce was highly compli-
mented for his constancy and fidelity to the craft. But nu-
merous other witnesses were examined, and indictments
were found against William R. Thompson, the sheriff, Na^
than Follett, Blanchard Powers, and William Seayej,-^1
of whom were respectable citizens. ' • '*• *

In July, a Court of Oyer and Terminer was held in Nia-
gara county, at which term it was intended to bring on the


trial of the indictments in that county. But the cases were all
removed by the defendants, by certiorari, into the Supreme
Court. The examinations were resumed before the grand
jury, but no additional facts seem to have been elicited.
James Mather was examined as a witness, but his conduct
was such as to subject him to an admonition from the court.
His answers were so equivocal and unsatisfactory, how-
ever, that nothing could be extracted from him.

The continued absence of witnesses, was a perpetual
cause of embarrassment to the public prosecutor ; and
strong efforts were made between the July and August
terms of the courts, to discover and arrest some of those
who had been secreted. It was ascertained that one im-
portant witness, by the name of Harris, was in Montgom-
ery county. A warrant for his apprehension was taken
out, and an officer despatched for him with all possible se-
crecy. He was there on the arrival of the officer, but be-
fore a deputation could be obtained from the sheriff* of
Montgomery, a signal was " given, sent, or handed," and
the witness suddenly fled. Hannah Farnsworth was ano-
ther important witness in the case of Solomon C. Wright,
who had been indicted for perjury committed on the trial of
Bruce. She long had baffled all attempts to arrest her ;
but being at length taken, was admitted to bail, and on a
promise in open court to appear and testify, she was releas-
ed. She fled, and her recognizance was forfeited. Nor
could she afterwards be found.

Another important absconding witness was Orson Park-
hurst. He resided at Rochester, with Ezra Piatt, in Sep-
tember, 1826, when Morgan was brought to the village,
just at day -light, and was called up by Piatt, to drive his
carriage to Hanford's Landing, where he received Morgan
and his abductors from Hubbard's carriage. Parkhurst
then drove on with Morgan sixteen miles, to Isaac Allen's,
where fresh horses were in readiness. Immediately after


the transaction, he absented himself, and had been working
in different and distant places, until, in the summer of 1829,
it was ascertained that he was residing in a sequestered
place in New Hampshire.

" In August, 1829, a court of Oyer and Terminer was
" held for Monroe county ; and, as this was the last court
** at which a grand jury would be assembled in that coun-
" ty, before the statute of limitations would attach upon pro-
" secutions for the conspiracy and kidnapping, preparations
" were made for a more thorough investigation than had
** yet been had." Among others, an agent was employed
to go in pursuit of Parkhurst. He was found, and brought
back to within about forty miles of Rochester, where he
mysteriously escaped from the canal boat, in the night, and
was not afterwards heard of Having understood that by
subsequent disclosures it had been ascertained that his es-
cape was owing to the fortitude, the energy, and the affec-
tion of a woman, I wrote to Mr. Weed, the gentleman
who was employed as the agent in his discovery and ar-
rest, and who had him in charge at the time, for the parti-
culars ; and as the incident partakes somewhat of the ro-
mantic, I beg leave to enclose you the annexed extract from
the reply to my communication: —

" Obtaining a requisition from acting governor Throop, for the apprehen-
sion of Parkhurst, as a fugitive from justice, I found and apprehended
him in the town of Weathersfield, Vt. The persons impUcated, know-
ing that I was in pursuit of some of their associates, stationed men at Al-
bany to watch the stages and steam boats. As we were stepping into the
stage to go west from Albany, Parkhurst was seen by Ehhu Mather, who
drove the Morgan carriage from Gaines to Ridgeway. He immediately
communicated the fact to Mrs Platt, who was then residing at Albany.
In the absence of her husband, whose indictment and conviction were sure
to follow Parkhurst's testimony, Mrs P. instantly disguised her sex, by as-
suming men's apparel, obtained a sulkey, which she drove with great speed
to Schenectady, where she overtook the stage, and kept along in company
with us to Utica, — without, however, getting an opportunity of making her-
self known to Parkhurst.


" At Utica, we took a canal boat, and Mrs. P. kept on in the stage to
Weeds-Port, where she anticipated, and awaited our arrival. We reached
there early in the evening, and Mrs. P. came on board. In the course of the
evening she got an opportunity to make herself known to Parkhurst, who
readily consented to make an effort to escape. The project was facilitated
by the captain, (who was a Mason, and an acquaintance of Piatt's ;) and
sending the helmsman to bed, the captain took that post himself. At about
one o'clock, while 1, who thought all danger and possibility of escape was
over, had fallen to sleep, the stern of the boat was laid ashore, and the
lady, with my false witness, took the tow path, in the depth of the Monte-
zuma marshes, and made a successful retreat.

" Parkhurst, before meeting with Mrs. Piatt, had made up his mind to go
to Rochester, and reveal all he knew, and he could only have been induced
to escape, by just such an appeal as was made to him. He had been an
inmate of Piatt's family nearly two years, during which time he had had a
severe fit of sickness, and received the kindest attentions from Mrs. Piatt, of
whose estimable character all who know her bear cheerful testimony.
The welfare of her family, and the liberty of her husband, were in the hands
of Parkhurst. She had treated him when sick, with the tenderness of a
mother, and he would have been less than human, to have been deaf to
such an appeal. It was not until the last summer, that 1 ascertained in
what manner Parkhurst escaped. The devotedness of the action, on the
part of an affectionate wife and mother, entirely soothed the feelings of
mortification occasioned by the escape of my fugitive."

It was believed that had the attendance of Parkhurst been
secured, he would have identified several persons in Ro-
chester, as having participated in the conspiracy and ab-
duction. The only person indicted at this term, however,
was the Rev. Francis H. Cuming, then a settled clergy-
man, in that place. He has since left the state. The in-
dictment against Simeon B. Jewett, was removed to the
Supreme Court at this term, by the defendant. At the
October term of that tribunal, Jewett made a mo-
tion to quash the indictment, on the ground that par-
tiality had been exercised by town officers, in selecting
grand jurors from the ranks of the Anti-masons, to the ex-
clusion of the masonic fraternity, and also that some of the
members of the grand jury had expressed opinions upon

the question of his innocence. The motion was denied.


402 LETTER xxxvr.

In September further investigations were made before at
grand jury of Niagara, and indictments were found againit
Henry Maxwell and Norman Shepherd. " An attachment
" was issued against John W. Beals, who had been duly
" subpoenaed to attend this court as a witness, and had re-
" fused to attend. He was a respectable citizen, and a
•* Mason of high grade. He was arrested on the attach-
" ment, and gave bail to appear and answer for his con-
" tempt. But he did not appear, and his bonds were for-
" feited."

But, notwithstanding the legal proceedings of the summer
of 1829, to which I have thus rapidly adverted, the public
mind seemed to have become more tranquilized, and less
clamor was heard at a distance upon the subject of Anti-
masonry. The character of the special counsel who had
been clothed with the whole power of the state to bring to
punishment the offenders,' was such as to deserve, if not to
command, the entire confidence of the people ; and it was
hoped, that a consciousness that all which the law would
allow, and the zeal and ability of an indefatigable man
could accomplish, would have entirely allayed the excite-
ment, and stripped it, in a measure, of its political charac-
ter. But as the November elections approached, the new
party again took the field with renewed activity, and the
result showed that their principles of action had struck
deeper root, and spread wider their branches. The elec-
tions, it is true, were of less interest than those of the prece-
ding year, which involved the choice of a governor, mem-
bers of congress, and a president for the Union. But the
Anti-masons nevertheless turned out to a man ; marched
up to the polls with as much solemnity as the Covenanters
in Scotland whilom went to battle ; — demanding " where is
" Morgan ?" and voting down all parties. They carried four-
teen of our western counties at this election, and one in the"
eastern part of the state. In many other counties where


the Anti-masons were unsuccessful, they showed an aug-
mented number of votes ; and the total number polled upon
that question, was computed at about 60,000. No evidence
of " dying away," was read in that result.

Very respectfully, &c.


New- York, March 18, 1832.

The next in the series of trials of which I have given
an abstract, is that of Elihu Mather, who was indicted for
participating in Morgan's abduction, being accused of driv-
ing the carriage in which he was conveyed, through the coun-
ty of Orleans, towards Niagara ; and the main question in
which seemed to be, whether or not he knew the fact, that
Morgan was in it, and carried forcibly without his consent.

This case was brought to trial before Judge Gardiner, at
the Circuit Court held in the county of Orleans, in Novem-
ber, 1829. So much difficulty was experienced in empan-
nelling a jury, and so much contrariety of testimony was
taken before them, that the trial of the cause lasted ten days.

The first questions arose in the empannelling of the jury
to try the accused. Robert Anderson was called and chal-
1 enged for principal cause, on the ground that the defendant
and juror were both members of the masonic fraternity.
This was demurred to, and the demurrer sustained by the
judge, on the ground that as nothing appeared by the plead-
ings as to the nature and objects of that association, it form-
ed no legal qualification, and consequently was not the sub-
ject of challenge for principal cause.

Anderson was then challenged for favor. Dr. Joseph K.
Brown, on the part of the people, testified, that there was a


pqint in an obligation he took like this — " that I will aid and
"assist a companion Royal Arch Mason whenever I shall
" see him engaged in any difficulty, so far as to extricate
" him from the same, whether right or wrong," and that he
knew of no exception or qualification. Daniel Pratt and
Archibald L. Daniels were also sworn, to prove a particular
intimacy between the accused and the proposed juror ; but
nothing on this head was shewn beyond the ordinary cour-
tesies of friendship. Robert Anderson was then sworn on
the part of the defendant, and testified, that there was a
clause in the Royal Arch Mason's oath, which, without be-
ing qualified, was something to the effect mentioned by Dr.
Brown. That qualification he stated to be, that when he
saw a Royal Arch Mason in a quarrel with another, he was
to try to get him away, and give him a particular sign,
whether right or wrong in that quarrel, — but that all obli-
gations, lectures, and charges, expressly required him to
obey the laws. The friendship between Masons, he said,
was similar to that which exists among members of church-
es and societies, liable to be severed by personal or poHti-
cal considerations. Witness admitted, on cross-examination,
that he might have said at first that he did not believe Mor-
gan to have been carried off against his will — he then
thought it might possibly be a trick between Miller and
Morgan, — and had participated in the feelings of Masons
generally, on the subject. Had no particular opinion
whether Morgan was, or was not, in the carriage when it
arrived at Gaines, but was impressed with the idea that, if
so, Mather must have known it.

Isaac W. Averil, Milton W. Hopkins, and Orson Nichol-
son were also adduced by the counsel for the people. No-
thing of interest was elicited from the former witness, and
the main point bearing upon the case testified to by the two
latter, (in which they concurred,) was, that the inculcation to
be a good citizen, and obey the laws, was contained in the


charge, and not in the oath, — but that there was no obhga-
tion to protect or commit crime. .

The judge instructed the triers, that if in their opinion it
was proved, contrary to the testimony of Anderson, that
the obligations were given without being accompanied at
the time by the explanation he had given, it should exclude
him as a juror. Even then, if they found evidence of at-
tachment or prepossession between them, sufficient to create
a bias which would not readily yield to testimony, it would
be their duty to pronounce him unquaUfied. The triers de-
termined that Robert Anderson did not stand indifferent.

John Dolly was also called as a juror, and challenged for
principal cause, which was overruled by the judge, and he
was then challenged for favor by the counsel for the peo-
ple. The proposed juror testified on this issue that he was
a mason of eight or nine degrees, and acquainted masoni-
cally with the defendant.

Joseph K. Brown again testified as to the nature and ex-
tent of masonic obligations, substantially as he did in the
case of Anderson.

Orson Nicholson and Wm. Ruggles were also called, but
the results of their examination did not seem essentially to
vary the bearing of the point in issue from what it was in
Anderson's case. The triers however decided that John
Dolly did not stand indifferent.

Stephen Martin, Jr., wa§ challenged for principal cause by
the defendant, on the ground that he had formed and ex-
pressed an opinion of his guilt, and called Eldridge Far-
well, who testified that he had heard Martin say, that he
believed the masonic institution to be corrupt, — that Mor-
gan had been carried away by Masons alone, along the
Ridge Road, in a carriage driven by Elihu Mather, — that
he knew Morgan was in it, and he (witness) believed him to
be guilty. The public prosecutor then offered the chal-
lenged juror to explain, who testified that he had no fixed


opinions of the prisoner's guilt, other than such as were
founded on printed statements in the papers and reports in
conversation. If the evidence supports the circumstances
he has heard, then he has a fixed belief of the guilt of the
defendant, otherwise not, and in such case his present belief
would be removed. Upon this evidence the judge decided
that the challenge for principal cause was sustained, and
the juror was set aside.

Samuel Clark, another juror, was called, and a principal
challenge for cause was made to him by defendant's coun-
sel. Upon being sworn as a witness, he testified that he
had formed an opinion, but had not expressed it. The
court thereupon decided that the challenge was not sustain-
ed. He was then challenged to the favor by defendant's
counsel, and being again sworn, testified that he had formed
an opinion that the defendant was guilty. On his cross-ex-
amination, he stated that his opinion was formed in conse-
quence of reports, and of what he had read. The judge
charged the triers that if they believed the juror had now a
fixed opinion which it would require testimony to remove,
he was disqualified, whether that opinion was founded on
rumor alone, or on rumor and printed statements. The
triers decided that the juror was not indifferent.

Carlos C. Ashley, a tales-man, (the panel being exhaust-
ed,) was returned by the sheriff, and testified that he had
not formed or expressed any opmion of the guilt or inno-
cence of the defendant. On his further examination, he
stated that he had been for eighteen months a partner with
James Mather, the defendant's brother, in the tanning busi-
ness : that James Mather was rich, and furnished the capi-
tal, and that he, witness, was poor, and furnished the labor
for carrying it on ;. that he had been in the employ of
James Mather three months before the partnership com-
menced, and that, during all that time, the subject of Mor-
gan's abduction had never been the subject of conversation,


although he had read the newspaper reports of the trials of
Bruce and Whitney. Had formed no fixed opinion of the
guilt or innocence of the defendant, and thinks he can hear
the testimony and give it its due weight, without any strug-
gle in his own mind. The judge decided that the juror
was indifferent. He was accordingly sworn, and the paneL
being full, the trial proceeded.

Mary W. Hall, Israel R. Hall, Wyllys Turner, and Hi-
ram Hubbard were sworn; but their testimony relating
wholly to the abduction of Morgan from Canandaigua, and
to that part of his conveyance westward, which was pre-
ceding the place or time in which the defendant's alledged
participation in it commenced, it is not necessary here to
recapitulate it.

Benjamin Wright, Esq., of Adams, in the county of Jef-
ferson, testified, that in the winter of 1828, the defendant
was at his (witness') office in Adams, when a conversation
took place between them, in which he asked defendant about
the fate of Morgan. Defendant said he had no doubt but
that Morgan was dead, and went into a detail and mention-
ed several individuals, among whom was one of the name
of Bruce. He said they were prosecuted so severely, that
unless the lodges and chapters should do something for thera,
they and their families must probably sufier, and asked wit-
ness about the state of the funds of the lodge and chapter
in Adams. Witness asked' defendant what could induce
men of such standing as those he named, to engage in the
transaction of carrying ofi' Morgan. Defendant's reply
was, in substance, that it was done probably without much
reflection. In the course of the conversation, the defend-
ant said he was called upon, while he was in or about a tan-
yard, by his (defendant's) brother, or in a tan-yard of his
brother, and at (he time when he was so called upon, he
had no knowledge of Morgan's being in the carriage. Wit-
ness was a Freemason, and knew Mather as such. Being


examined again, witness testified that defendant said that
had he known that Morgan was in the carriage when he
was called on to drive it, or what this business would lead
to, or something of that kind, he should have had nothing
to do with it, or he should not have driven the carriage.

Sarah Wilder testified to the identity of the carriage in
which Morgan is supposed to have been conveyed, whilst
it stopped at Clarkson.

Silas D. Luce, a stage driver between Oak Orchard and
Clarkson, testified that in going east, and within one and a
half miles from Gaines' corners, he saw a carriage coming
west, and the defendant just behind it, riding one horse, and
leading another, very fast. That the defendant soon over-
took the carriage which stopped, whereupon the horses
were taken out, and those brought by Mather harnessed
in. At this point of time witness passed the carriage.
When the harnessing was completed, the defendant got on
the box and drove the carriage on. Witness looked back
and saw the man who had been driving coming towards
Gaines with the horses which had just been taken from the
carriage. Knew Elihu Mather well.

Israel Murdock testified, that on 13th September, 1826,
about noon, he was standing at the door of Joseph L. Per-
ry, at Ridgeway, about nine miles west of Gaines, and saw
a carriage coming up and a person driving whom he thought
to be the defendant. The next day he saw the same car-
riage coming back from the west, and Elihu Mather driv-
ing it. He then distinctly recognized him.

Six respectable and unimpeachable witnesses here suc-
cessively testified to the fact of having seen Mather, at
diflferent places on that day, driving the carriage westward-
ly. They all knew Mather, and one of them saw him on
the following day, returning with the carriage.

Wm. P. Daniels being sworn, was asked whether on the
evening of 13th of September, 1826, he, witness, was at


the house of Solomon C. Wright, in Newfane. Witness
refused to answer, on the ground that it might criminate
himself. It was admitted that the witness was not under
prosecution, and the public prosecutor insisted that as the
time fixed by the statute of limitations in such cases had
elapsed, he was bound to answer. To this it was replied,
that it was now generally believed that Morgan was mur-

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 34 of 49)