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 39 of 49)
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importance less from the immediate consequences in which
it might involve the defendant, or the specific nature of the of-
fence imputed to him, than from the very extraordinary trans-
action which it has been necessary to disclose. The court
did not think it necessary, after six days of anxious applica-
tion, to recapitulate the whole examination ; and as to most of
the points of law, the judge said he had expressed his opin-
ions, in the hearing of the jury, in the progress of the trial.
He had been anxious to give, and in his judgment had giv-
en the prosecution the benefit of all the rules of law that
could aid in developing the facts involved in this trans-
action, tending in any way to show in a legal manner, the
defendant's participation in the abduction of Morgan. But,
while it was of vast importance to us all, that action and
energy should be given to our system, to which we owe


the security of life and property, yet there are rules for the
benefit of those who may be unfortunately involved in a
false charge for crimes — rules for the safety of innocence.
The most important of all these rules for the accused, is
the obtaining of an impartial jury. Upon this point great
pains had been taken ; and as that matter had been submit-
ted to the court, he had endeavored to admit no person
upon the panel, w^ho vv^as not wJiolly indifferent to the ques-
tion of the guilt or innocence of the defendant. The in-
dictment to be tried was for falsely imprisoning Morgan,
and conspiring to imprison and carry him to parts unknown.
There was no evidence to sustain either charge, unless the
jury should be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt, that
Morgan was in Fort Niagara. But no sort of connexion
between the defendant and those who took Morgan away
from Canandaigua, or those who had transported him
through that county, had been shown. In order to bring
the charge home to the defendant, it must be shown that
Morgan was actually confined in the fort, and that the de-
fendant had some agency in bringing him there, and con-
fining him. Or, if the defendant knew of his confinement
while it existed, and had command of the place where he
was confined, and did not interfere in any manner for his
relief, it would be a just inference of guilt.

The jury retired at about 1 1 o'clock on the evening of
the fifth day of the trial, and returned in a few moments
with a verdict of " Not Guilty."

I am, sir, &c.


New- York, March 23, 1832.

The court proceeded immediately with the trial of

Solomon G. Wright and Jeremiah Brown, both of whom


had been indicted for the misdemeanor of Morgan's abduc-
tion. Wright, it will be remembered, was the keeper of the
tavern at the junction of the road from Lockport, with the
Ridge Road — the house at which the kidnappers halted so
long, until Bruce joined them in the evening. A large par-
ty of Masons, as it has repeatedly been mentioned, assem-
bled at his house on that occasion. After a late supper,
they proceeded towards Lewiston, with the closed carriage,
which had been driven into Wright's barn, and kept guard-
ed, until their departure. The first witnesses examined, as
in most of the preceding trials, were the jailor and his wife,
from Canandaigua, and others, proving the abduction and
night journey t9 Hanford's Landing, and the passage of the
closed carriage along the Ridge Road to Wright's. Hi-
ram Hubbard's testimony was of the same forgetful and
dogged character as that heretofore given by the same wit-

David Maxwell, the keeper of the turnpike gate near by,
proved some mysterious conduct of Wright, at the time
the carriage stopped at his house. Brown, the other de-
fendant, was also abundantly identified, by various wit-
nesses, as one of the persons with the carriage, at Wright's,
and afterwards at Mollineaux's, where Bruce procured a
change of horses. Brown drove the carriage.

Mahala Farwell, who had testified to little purpose on
the trial of Jeweit, now made some admissions, respecting
the absence of her husband, which, though not bearing di-
rectly upon the case in hand, disclosed another instance of
the activity of the accused and their friends, in preventing
the attendance of witnesses. Her husband was believed to
be an important witness ; but although they had always
lived happily together, yet about three years ago, just be-
fore the holding of a court, he had left her. The belief
was, that he had been hired to abandon his wife for the
time being, and remain absent, until the affair should be over.



John Jackson was again sworn as a witness on the pre-
sent trial, and his testimony varied considerably in several
essential particulars, from what it was on a former trial. It
w^ill be recollected that he accompanied Giddings to the
magazine, on the morning of the 14th of September, 1826.
According to his present testimony, he took a gun, w^hen
they went to the magazine, and Giddings had a pistol, but
he did not see him take a pistol. He did not take any am-
munition, and knew not that the musket was loaded. When
Giddings went up to the magazine, witness remained sixty
or seventy feet off. He heard a man in the magazine, as
Giddings approached, saying " be off." The voice was
loud, and witness dropped his gun and walked off pretty
lively, because he was frightened, and thought it best to be
off. Witness did not recollect that Giddings mentioned the
name of Morgan; but he, (witness) was sent up to Lewis-
ton, where thai Masons were proceeding with the installa-
tion, with instructions to tell Col. King, and David Hague,
that the man in the magazine was making a noise, and they
must come down. As he departed for Lewiston, in pass-
ing the magazine he again heard the man making a noise.
He could hear his voice, but not the words — might have
heard him say " O dear !"

A sister-in-law of Wrighf s, named Hannah Farnsworth,
who cooked the supper for the party on the evening of the
13th of September, was now called as a witness. Great
pains had been taken to procure her attendance on the other
trials, for three yejirs previously, but without success. On
her present examination, notliing was elicited of impor-
tance. She did not recollect any circumstance, implicating
any person whatever. Indeed she said " she did not feel
particularly called upon to recollect !" William P. Daniels
was likewise again sworn upon this trial. After having
admitted that he saw Bruce pass on the Ridge Road with
the Qlpsed carriage, at about U o'clock on the night of the


13th, — he was asked — did you see Jeremiah Brown ?
Ans. " Can't say that I did or did not." The court object-
ed to this mode of answering the question, and required of
him to tell what he meant by " can't say." The witness
replied that he did not see him [Brown] on the Ridge Road :
and again, " supposed he did : believed he did : had no
" doubt it was the man now in court." He did not recollect
whether Brown drove the carriage or not. He was not
told by Bruce that Morgan was in the carriage ; but " be-
" fore the abduction he might have heard the subject dis-
" cussed by individuals, and he might have heard it spoken
" of at Batavia !" The reporter of this trial,*' a copy of
which has also been furnished me by the Judge who pre-
sided, as being in general correct, remarks, in regard to
this witness : — " We never heard a witness answer ques-
" tions with more reluctance than this man Daniels, and we
" never wish to see another like exhibition in a court of jus-
" tice, of a struggle for mastery between the influence of the
*^ Masons, and those of the whole community."

A conversation was proved by Daniel Pomeroy, between
Col. King and another man, to the following effect. Wit-
ness lived in the western part of the town of J^ockport, and
attended the installation at Lewiston. He arrived at that
place on the preceding evening, and took supper with Col.
King and others, at the " Frontier House." While there,
that evening, witness was introduced to a stranger, from
Rochester, whose name he did not now recollect. Witness
heard the stranger say to King, that some person would be
there that night. King and the stranger then walked to
another part of the house, and were engaged in conversa-
tion. The witness walked up to them afterwards, and heard
the stranger say, as he came up to them — " He will be here
" to-night." He did not recollect that the name of Morgan

* Mr. Cadwallader, editor of the Lockport Balance.


was mentioned in connexion with that remark, but the sub-
ject of Morgan's book was immediately introduced, and the
stranger observed, " two or three degrees were written," or
" published," (witness did not recollect which ;) but King
replied that " he would take care of him" King knew that
witness was a Mason.

The next witness examined was Theodore F. Talbot,
Esq., with whose name you must long since have become
familiar, as one of the most active members of the celebra-
ted Lewiston Committee if investigation. Talbot's ex-
amination w^as made in reference to a conversation which he
had had with one of the defendants, (Wright,) in March,
1827. Witness was then on a tour of investigation along the
Ridge Road, and called on Wright to request information
of such circumstances as might be in his possession, or
within his knowledge. It must be here borne in mind, that
Wright himself had been examined as a witness, on the
trial of Whitney and Gillis, and had then sworn that he
knew nothing in particular of the mysterious carriage which
arrived at his house on the afternoon of the 13th of Septem-
ber ; or of the carriage being driven into the barn ; or of
any particular reason for the assemblage of so many peo-
ple at his house, on that occasion ; or of the arrival of
Bruce there that evening. Very different was that testi-
mony from the admissions made by him to Talbot, in
March, 1827. Mr. Talbot's examination as to that con-
versation with Wright, was long and particular — from
which it appeared that to most of the questions he had put
to Wright, he made evasive replies, or gave no explana-
tions at all. He admitted that the carriage was driven to
his house, at the time specified, but did not admit that Jere-
miah Brown was with it, although he said Brown some-
times passed that way. But the circumstance of the cur-
tains being closed down, gave him no surprise. The col-
lection of so many people at his house, excited no attention.


Wright admitted to witness, that the fact of the singular
circumstances under which the carriage arrived, and the
fact that it was not driven up to the door, as was usual
with carriages, had excited some suspicions in the public
mind, but not with him. In answer to the question why
they drove the carriage into the barn, on so clear a night,
when there was a convenient shed, he replied that people
sometimes chose to have their carriages put in safe places.
He also had informed the witness in that conversation, that
he had himself opened the harn-doors, to admit the carriage^
and that he unhitched the horses from the carriage with his
own hands. When asked why, inasmuch as he kept a hos-
tler to take that part of the labor, he had left his bar, where
there was a crowd of people, to perform these offices him-
self — and why, when he had met the hostler coming to the
barn with provender, he took it from him, to feed the hor-
ses himself, he gave no explanations whatever, nor did he
attempt to deny the facts. When asked if he did not think
it strange that travellers should have supped at his house,
and taken their departure thence at such a late hour, he re-
plied that travellers had a right to do as they pleased, and
he did not feel hurt about it. He told witness that the car-
riage returned about sun-rise the next morning — he did not
know the driver, but admitted that Jeremiah Brown was in
the carriage. But he had not asked Brown any questions.
He admitted that when the carriage was driven away in
the night, it did not come up to the steps to take in the pas-
sengers, and he admitted that he saw it drive away. Lo-
ton Lawson had been there at about that time — probably
coming from the west, the first or second day after the in-
stallation. I have given a very brief epitome of this ex-
amination, but it embraces all that is essential to the case,
and in the principal facts, the defendant's admissions and
declarations, soon after the outrage, were directly in con-


tradiction to his testimony as given on'the trial of Whitney
and Gillis.

A witness who was in the employ of the defendant,
Wright, testified, in substance, that he came in from work
rather earlier than usual on the evening in question, and
found a large collection of people at the house ;-^most of
them had sticks, which he thought very large ones to walk
with. Soon after he came in, he saw a movement, when
the whole company mounted their horses, and rode off on
the Ridge Road eastwardly ; — Wright did not go with
them, but some one rode his horse. In about ten or twen-
ty minutes afterwards, witness being up stairs, the compa-
ny returned, and as he thought there was an unusual bustle,
he went down, to see what they were about. He saw them
driving the carriage into the barn. The entrance was high
and difficult, and several persons took hold of the wheels
and body to thrust it in. The doors were then closed upon
it. There was much of whispering among the people, in
which Wright bore a part. Brown, the other defendant,
was also among them when they returned, and he heard
him declare to somebody — " it was a tedious job." They
took supper there : Bruce was amongst them, with Orsamus
Turner, the printer, of Lockport. The witness retired to
bed before the company departed, and he knew nothing
further that was material to the case.

Hiram B. IJopkins, David C. Miller, and a number of
other witnesses, were examined by the prosecution, but
their evidence was not material, and the prosecution rested.

The testimony offered by the defence had little to do
with the case, any farther than that the characters of both
defendants were shown to have been unexceptionable. In-
deed the counsel for the prosecution admitted this fact, ar-
guing therefrom, the evil tendency of the masonic institu-
tion, since, by its influence, feuch men had been involved in


these breaches of the law. The witnesses examined to
other points, were, 1st. James B. Lay, of Batavia. He was
present at Danold's tavern, on the morning of September
11, when Morgan was arrested and carried away to Canan-
daigua ; but he saw no violence, although he observed con-
siderable excitement. 2fL Johnson Goodwill, also of Bata-
via. He testified to the particulars of an interview with
Morgan, on Sunday, the 10th, when the latter voluntarily
introduced the subject of the book he was preparing. He
said he had been persuaded into the undertaking by Miller,
Davids, and Dyer, who had promised to supply him with
money, but had not done so. They had not treated him
well. He had undertaken the work on account of his pov-
erty, because he had no means of obtaining a living ; and
he would even then gladly relinquish and suppress it, if he
could get back his manuscripts. He had attempted to do
this, but Miller, he said, would not give them up. Morgan
expressed, very anxiously, a desire to be altogether rid of
Miller, and the witness offered him an asylum, with his fam-
ily, at his own house. He also assured Morgan that if he
was so poor, there would be no difficulty in providing means
for his support, provided he would get back his manuscripts,
and stop the work. In regard to his difficulties with Mil-
ler and Davids, Morgan said to witness, he had written
them a sharp note, which he was apprehensive was so
much in the form of a challenge that they might take the
advantage of him, by instituting a prosecution. The third
witness for the defence, was William R. Thomson, sheriff
of Genesee, at the time of Morgan's arrest. He corrobora-
ted the testimony of the last witness, respecting the difficul-
ties that existed between Morgan and Miller, and the strong
desire manifested by the former to get entirely clear from
the latter. The defence was rested here.

Messrs. Griffin and Barnard summed up for the defend-
ants, and Messrs. Birdscye and Whiting for the people.


Judge Marcy charged the jury with great clearness and im-
partiality, and the cause was submitted to the jury at the
close of the fourth day of the trial. The jury remained out
thirty-six hours, and then came into court with a verdict of
" Not Guilty" — to the astonishment alike of the Bench,
the Bar, and the People. There is not — there cannot be, a
particle of doubt, that both of the defendants were concern-
ed in the abduction, though not as principals. They knew
that Morgan was a free citizen under constraint, — held un-
der such constraint without legal process, — and they were
not only assenting to his being thus held in duress, but were
aiding and assisting.

It was understood that ten of the jurors were for con-
victing the defendants ; but the two obstinate members
solemnly declared that they would stay out and die, before
they would consent to a verdict of guilty ; and the ten ac-
commodating gentlemen yielded. While this jury was out,
a Mason was detected in conveying provisions, wrapped in
a cloak, to the two " faithful" members. He was arraigned
before the court, and promptly punished.

Just upon the heel of this trial, came out in the Anti-
masonic papers, another of those terrific tales of masonic mur-
der, which had previously been interspersed between the le-
gal transactions so frequently occurring in the progress of
Anti-masonry. It is a story of which I hardly know what
to make. That it was a masonic murder, perpetrated in the
same spirit with that which projected and executed the out-
rage upon Morgan, 1 am most unwilling — nay, I cannot
believe ; — and yet, there are most unpleasant features in the
narrative. The story is substantially this : — A Mr. Lemu-
el De Forest, said to be a well known and respectable inha-
bitant of the county of Livingston, published a deposition
embracing the following extraordinary statement. In the
summer and autumn of 1809, Mr. De Forest lived in Al-
bany, where he became acquainted with a man by the name


of Loring Simbnds, a sash-maker by trade, and who had
been in the army. He was in the employ of Mr. Lucas
Hooghkerk, a respectable master-builder, in Albany. Si-
monds, in the course of his familiar conversations with
De Forest, informed him that when he came to Albany, he
had fifteen or sixteen hundred dollars, which he entrusted
to some masonic friends, — a firm, — which failed soon after-
w^ards, and took the benefit of the act without paying or
securing to him the amount of a shilling. In revenge
for being thus swindled, by his brethren, he determined to
reveal the secrets of the masonic order, and he proposed to
instruct the deponent, De Forest, in the mysteries. They
were in the habit of meeting upon this subject, in an old un-
inhabited house, in Van Schaick-street,near the two-steepled
church. Simonds had taken three degrees, all of which he
was teaching to his friend De Forest. On one of these oc-
casions, Simonds had expressed an apprehension that he
might lose his life for what he w^as doing ; but the remark
was made rather sportively, and it passed off". After some
time had elapsed, on a Friday afternoon, when they were
in the old building, unobserved, as both supposed, Simonds
being engaged in giving him some illustrations of Masonry,
on a sudden a man by the name of Webb, an English-
man of about fifty years of age, known to both as a Mason,
came wearily up stairs, and exclaimed as he pointed at the
teacher of De Fores't, — " Simonds, you villain I You are a
*^ perjured wretch : I have caught you in the very act ; if I


" GOOD TO PUT A KNIFE INTO YOU !" Saying this,he turned
upon his heel and disappeared. Both parties were of course
startled at the surprise ; but Simonds trembled like an as-
pen leaf. His countenance changed to an ashy paleness,
and he staggered back to a seat. A pause oi a few mo-
ments ensued, when he said—" Well : I will not give it up
« so;" and after another short interval of silent astonishment,



they separated. On the very next morning, at about 10
o'clock, word was brought to De Forest that his friend was
dying at a gambling house in the Colonic, — now the fifth
ward of Albany. He hastened thither, and found Simonds
in the agonies of death ; — there was a rattling in his throat,
and green frothy matter was discharging from his mouth
and nose in copious quantities. While De Forest was
there, some eight or ten persons came in, and among them
a physician, who, after feeling his pulse, remarked that
his case was hopeless, and departed. Simonds died in the
afternoon, and a few friends made up a contribution for his
burial. No coroner's inquest sat upon his body ; his re-
mains were taken home to his house in Van Schaick-street ;
and interred on the following day, by the eight or ten per-
sons before referred to. Mr. Hooghkirk, his employer, su-
perintended the arrangements for the funeral, and was him-
self a high and active Freemason. The character of Si-
monds was good, and he left a wife and two or three small
children. Such is the story, as solemnly sworn to by a re-
spectable citizen. Mr. De Forest likewise declares that he
has never entertained a doubt of his friend having been
murdered by the Masons, for making the disclosures refer-
red to. And those disclosures, he adds, were in perfect
agreement with Moi'gan's illustrations.

The Anti-masons seized upon this tale as greedily as they
had done upon that of Miller, heretofofe related ; but it did
not make so deep an impression, or cause so lively an ex-
citement. The most remarkable feature of the tale is the
coincidence between his own previously expressed appre-
hension of evil; the discovery and threat of Webb; and
the sudden and violent death occurring immediately after-
wards. But tliis coincidence might very well have b^en
caused by the threat, and the foreboding. The operation of
fear, might have suddenly disordered his mind. Such a
result is not only physically possible, but physically proba-


ble ; and while in this situation he most likely used the
means of self-destruction. There is yet another circum-
stance : he was at a gambling house. Perhaps he had
spent his last shilling : nay, his sixteen hundred dollars
might have been lost by play. If so, what more natural,
or common, than that he should have preferred, in a mo-
ment of wretchedness and despair, to face death than a des-
titute wife and children ! Simonds, beyond a doubt, died


I am, sir, very truly yours.


New- York, March 25, 1832.

There were several transactions in the year 1830,
which, though not exactly forming a part of the Morgan
history, are nevertheless entitled to notice, since they forci-
bly exhibit the spirit by which Freemasonry was actuated,
in all cases where the supposed rights of the craft were con-
cerned, or its rites and mysteries made the subject of le-
gal investigation. During the most feverish state of the
Anti-masonic excitement, a newspaper had been establish-
ed at Rochester, the avowed object of which was to vindi-
cate the Masons from the aspersions, as they were called,
of their antagonists, and to oppose the Anti-masons at all
points. This paper, which was conducted with more of
flippancy and smartness, than talent, was excessively
virulent in its course, and during the period that Mr. Spen-
cer discharged the duty of special counsel, he was the stand-
ing subject of its bitterest invective. The paper was es-
tablished by masonic contributions, and patronised al-
most exclusively by them. The cause of the persons in-


dieted for the conspiracy, was warmly espoused by it, and
they were represented as innocent and persecuted men.
On the conviction of John Whitney, the jury was grossly
libelled by this paper — (The Craftsman) — for which libel
the editor was promptly indicted. " He was tried on this
"indictment in January, 1830, when the jury could not
" agree on their verdict. It was afterwards ascertained that

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 39 of 49)