William L. (William Leete) Stone.

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

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quite a number had come down from Lewiston, and six staid till after sup-
per, and' had given the names of Beach, Chubbuck, and Shaw: I think
Mr. Birdseye was examining Giddings at this time.

" Cross-examined. — Was here day before yesterday as a spectator ; am
here to-day as a witness ; I told this conversation to several before I went
home ; Chubbuck said that what Giddings had sworn to was as true as
what he had sworn to himself."

The cause of Elisha* Adams was ably defended by W.
H. Adams, Esq., and that of the people by the special coun-
sel, after which an elaborate charge was made to the jury
by judge Nelson.

The cause was committed to the jury at about 7 o'clock,
on Saturday evening. On Monday morning the jury came
into court, and declared that they had not agreed upon a
verdict, and could not agree. Eleven of them were ready
to render a verdict of guilty ; but there was one who would
never agree. Such being the state of the case, the court
directed the dissenting juror to stand up in the jury 'box.
He did so, and proved to be the only Mason on the panel.
The jury was then discharged.

The case of P. Whitney, Shaw, Beach, Miller, and Chub-
buck, was also very ably and eloquently summed up by
Messrs. Griffin and Adams, for the defence, and by the
special counsel for the prosecution.

The Judge occupied an hour and a half in committing
this cause to the jury, as there was a great accumulation of
testimony to be analyzed, and spread before them in an in-
telligible form. The proof of the existence of the conspira-
cy was established, the judge said, as had been conceded in
the course of the argument, on both sides. The jury there-
fore, would not be under the necessity of examining that
point. It was not contended, on the part of the people, that
the defendants were otherwise guilty, than as parties to the
conspiracy, and this fact was the leading and important in-
quiry submitted to them. The question then arose, were


the defendants, or either of them — for all or any of them
might be convicted — parties to the conspiracy, or to the
imprisonment of Morgan ? That they were, was positively
asserted by Giddings, under oath ; and the Judge proceed-
ed to examine the character and weight of that testimony,
to enable the jury to give it its just value, retaining the
ground that he was an admissible witness, and leaving it to
them to judge of its credibility. The court also adverted
to the testimony of Shed, which only went to implicate Shaw,
and would not ofjtself, conceding the truth of it, be suffi-
cient for that. He deemed the question to rely mainly upon
the credit attached to the testimony, of Giddings. It was a
question for the jury to decide. It was their province to
pass upon the whole. If their minds were at rest on the
question of guilt, they should convict, regardless of conse-
quences ; but if not, if they had any rational and conscien-
tiQUS doubts, their duty was to acquit.

On the morning of March 8th, the jury, having been out
all night, came info court with a verdict of " Not Guilty,"
in regard to Timothy Shaw and William Miller. Not be-
able to agree respecting the guilt or innocence of the other
defendants, the jury were discharged, and the court imme-
diately proceeded with another of these extraordinary

Very respectfully, yours, &c.


New- York, March 26, 1832.


The next and last of the conspiracy cases which came
to trial, was that of the People vs. Norman Shephard, and Dr.


Timothy Maxwell. The first witness called, was General
Jonathan K. Barlow, who resided in Genesee county in the
summer and autumn of 1826. The last time that he had
attended a lodge or chapter of Masons, was on the week
immediately preceding the 15th of August of that year.
The Mark-masters Lodge was first opened, and a conver-
sation ensued respecting the book which it was said Morgan
was now publishing. The Rev. Lucius Smith, master of
the lodge, and High Priest of the Chapter, was in the chair.
It was in part upon the business of Morgan's book, that
the meeting was summoned. There had been several pre-
vious meetings upon this subject, and a committee had been
appointed to concert measures for the suppression of the
book, although of this committee the witness first heard at
the present meeting. A report from that committee was
announced, and one of its members rose and addressed the
chair, wishing to know where they should present their ac-
counts to be audited. He stated that the committee had
been to Rochester and Buffalo, — and the witness believed
he added, " and Canandaigua :" but of this he was not quite
certain. The answer in regard to the account, was — " You
" must present it to the auditing committee." It was here
intimated that perhaps they had better hear the report be-
fore they acted upon it. The master then interrupted the
discussion,, by saying " it was not a proper place to receive
« the report. The lodge should be first closed, and the
" chapter opened." The necessary direction for that pur-
pose was thereupon given : all the brethren who had re-
ceived no higher degrees than the Mark, retired ; and the
chapter was opened in due form. The committee was
then called upon for the report, and one of its members —
but not the one who had spoken upon the subject in the de-
gree below — rose and made a report. He said : —

" W€ went to Rochester, and assembled the companions of the chapter,
and toUl them that one William Morgan was about to print the secrets of

504 LETTER xur.

Masonry ; that the companions, or a number of them, on bemg informed
who h« was, knew Morgan — and after having heard a relation of all the evi-
dences they had concerning the book, the High Priest of the chapter at
Rochester got up, pulled off liis coat, stripped up his sleeves, and said,

* Bring me the man that dare do that thing, and I will show you what to do

* with him.' The member of the committee who was making the report,
was interrupted immediately upon saying this, and told (by the High Priest)
it was unnecessary to report any further — that enough had been reported.
He said it was improper that the report should come before the chapter, be-
cause, he said, ' we may have spies upon us —and what is done here to-day,

* may be revealed on the house-tops to-morrow.' The Rev. High Priest went
on further to state, that it was not proper for the committee to report it in
common, but that they should keep it themselves, and do their own busi-
ness. Direction was then given to the chapter, to be cautious what was
said — to be discreet and careful. On the same evening, out of the chapter,
witness heard an inquiry made of the High Priest, by one who was in the
Mark Lodge, (but had been exalted that night,) ' what the report of .the

* committee was ?' He (the High Priest) 'said — 'Our committee know their

* own business, and can keep their own counsels, and transact their own bu-

* siness — and it is not fitting for you or me to know about it.'"

The person here referred to as having that night been ex-
alted to the degree of Royal Arch, was Judge William
Mitchell. The committee consisted of William Seaver,
Blanchard Powers, and Nathan Follett. It was Seaver
who first spoke of having the accounts for the expenses ol'
the committee audited. There was a pretty full chapter
assembled on that evening. On the day following, the wit-
ness, (General Barlow,) started on a journey, and did not
return until the middle of October. His testimony was
fully confirmed by the examination of Judge Mitchell, who
was the next witness called. During a part of the evening,
the Rev. High Priest was clad in his clerical instead of his
masonic robes.

Benjamin Porter, Jr., called as a witness, resided in Ba-
tavia in 1826, and was sent, some time in July, with a mes-
sage from William Seaver, to the High Priest of the Chap-
ter at Lockport. The- message was delivered : it related

'V* -PS^^


to Morgan's book, and a chapter was called that evening,
which witness attended.

Gustavus W. Pope, lived in Lewiston, and was acquaint-
ed with Dr. Maxwell. In the spring of 1827, witness had
a conversation with Maxwell, touching his having been at .'.: v
Batavia, at the time of Morgan's arrest : — " *'

" Witness asked him, familiarly, a question — said to liim, 'Mac, it issai4
you were at Batavia when Morgan was carried off.* He said he was there,
he supposed, at the time he was carried off His words were, * I was there
at the time three days and three nights.' He said he never saw Morgan,
or knew any thing about him — that he was there on his own business — but
if he could have got the old devil, he would have crammed him into his wag-
gon, and carried him off. Witness then said to him, ' you haye a good deal
to do with his Satanic majesty.' He replied that he had. This was the
sum of the conversation. Defendant said there was quite an assemblage
of people there, a good many, at that time — that he did not know what their
business was. Witness did not understand who went with him, (Maxwell)
— thinks he said he went alone, in a one horse waggon ; had a patient
about ten miles from here, and having business at Batavia, he went through.
Witness now thinks he said somebody was with him, but can't be certaiii.
To a question as to his testimony before the grand jury, witness answered,
that he did not remember what he then testified — but that what he now re-
lated was the truth, whatever he might have sworn to before the grand jury !

On his cross-examination, witness stated that the forego-
ing conversation with the defendant was jocose — more in
sport than earnest. Witness commenced the conversation
by way of a joke, and both laughed heartily. And yet it
was on the testimony of this very witness, that the bill of
indictment against defendant had been found !

For the fifth time, John Jackson was called — one of the
most unyielding non-mi-recordo witnesses ever brought up-
on the stand. He was at Batavia when Morgan was ar-
rested. Formerly he swore that he went thither on his
own business — knowing nothing of the Morgan affair. He
now said . he went partly on his own business, and to ac-
company David Hague. But his testimony was so full of



contradictions, and so peculiar, that I depair of conveying
an adequate idea of its manner by analysis, and I must
therefore quote it without much abridgement : —

" John Jackson. — Was at Batavia after Morgan was taken away ; went
from here to Batavia ; went alone ; overtook some folks that were going
that way ; overtook Hague from ten to twelve miles east of Lockport.
Witness can't say whether he started in the morning or in the evening j
can't be positive whether he had company all the way or not ; went on
horseback. Thinks he did not go into the village of Batavia with Hague j
separated about one mile this side of the arsenal. Hague rode on and left
witness. Witness had conversation with Hague about suppressing Mor-
gan's book, on the way. Hague was telling witness that a certain man had
obtained a copy that Miller had. That was about all was said ! Hague
said he was going, and invited him to go. Does not recollect that Hague
hired a horse for witness to go ; don't think Hague said he wanted him to
assist in suppressing the book. Arrived at Batavia same day, a little before
night ; staid there one night. Witness was around the streets till after he
saw the bustle in arresting Miller, and thinks he left there soon after. Was
informed by a merchant there, that Morgan had been taken away by the
Masons, and that he supposed they were going to carry off Miller. Did
not see Doctor Maxwell at Batavia ; saw him three or four miles east of
there towards Le Roy, on the Canandaigua road. Witness saw a bustle,
and asked Maxwell, ' What's the matter now?' * God !' said he, * they
have got Miller ; they have taken Morgan, and Miller was to go.' Wit-
ness went to the tavern where they took Miller in Batavia ; did not get any ..
breakfast that day ; don't know the name of the place or tavern. Other
persons were passing about there, but don't know who they were. Witness
supposed he went alone ; there were people on the road, but did not know
them ; thinks that he asked Mac if he knew Morgan, and that he was ta*
ken off; Mac said he heard he was taken off by some men from Canandai-
gua, but that he did not know the men. Witness left Batavia the same
day he saw Mac at the tavern, and staid at Carrington's (eight miles east
of Lockport) that night, or a few hours, till day-light ; no one was with wit-
ness. Can't say how long it was before he went down to the fort. Witness
went to Batavia partly on his own business, and to accompany Hague ; that
was about all I He understood Hague meant to get the other copies of
Morgan's books or disclosures. Saw no others besides Hague that heknew
went on that business. Did not see Shephard, and does not know he went
out. Ha^ue had before told witness what was going on ; thinks it was the
night before he, (witness,) started from home.

By the Court. — Witness supposed these copies were to be got by intrigue,
the same as the others were ; swpposecl they could get some stranger to


make friends with Miller, and get liberty to read it, and then clear out with
it. Don't recollect as any other way was suggested. Thinks nothing was
said about taking Morgan ; don't recollect as any thing was said about Mor-
gan, only that he was the one who wrote it."

Jehiel C. S. Ransom, attended a meeting of the lodge at
Lockport, the first week in September, 1826. Measures
were proposed to suppress the publication of the book pre-
paring by Morgan. He understood that the meeting was
called for that purpose. He did not remember seeing
Maxwell there, nor did he know that Shepherd was pre-
sent. Eli Bruce, called again upon this trial : attended the
meeting of the lodge mentioned by Ransom, but had no re-
collection whether either of the defendants, or even Ransom
himself, was present. Orsamus Turner was sworn likewise
upon this trial. He was present at the meeting of the lodge
referred to ; but did not recollect whether Shepherd was
there. Maxwell, he was quite sure, was present. They
were at first, ten or twelve of them, talking over the sub-
ject of Morgan's book, in the street, and finally concluded
to go into the lodge-room, as being more retired. " He
" had heard Maxwell was at Batavia at the time Morgan
" was carried offj and witness went and asked him about it.
" He admitted that he was there, and told some of the cir-
« cumstances — stating that Morgan had been put in the car-
" riage at Batavia, and had gone to Canandaigua. He relat-
" ed the circumstances pretty much as witness had since
" heard them ; it could not have been long after news came
" that Morgan had been carried off^ — thinks it was before
" the installation, but after he (witness) had been to Fort
" Niagara on the business. Defendant did not say how long
" he had been at Batavia, or that he went with Hague."

At this stage of the proceedings, the special counsel,
finding, as the reporter in substance remarks, that the
witnesses remembered nothing to the purpose, abandoned
the prosecutions, and the jury of course rendered a verdict


of "NOT GUILTY." The court was thereupon adjourned
without day.

On the 22d of April following these trials, the Governor
transmitted to the legislature the final report of the special
counsel upon the whole transactions arising from the con-
spiracy and the abduction of Morgan, In this report, Mr.
Birdseye stated very briefly the results of the three trials
at the late Special Circuit Court, developing far more than
had been previously known of the true character, and the
closing scene, of that dark conspiracy, although there had
been no convictions in either case. The special counsel
considered that the disclosures warranted the opinion that
Morgan's life had been taken; but there was no testimony
inducing the belief that either of the persons yet under in-
dictment, with the exception of Elisha Adams, was present
at the perpetration of the crime. And as to him, the belief
was rather a matter of inference, than of positive proof.
Nor did the counsel suppose, that, with the exception of
Adams, there was any person yet living, and wilhin the
jurisdiction of the United States, who was present when
the victim was put to death.

The testimony on the last mentioned trials, had left no
doubt of the forcible abduction of Morgan, although by
threats and delusive promises, he had been induced to re-
main passive during his journey from Canandaigua to Nia-
gara. In regard to P. Whitney, Beach, Chubbuck, and
Adams, the indictments against whom remained undisposed
of by reason of the disagreement of the jury, no doubt ex-
isted of their having acted under the fullest knowledge that
Morgan vi^as forcibly imprisoned in the magazine. Not-
withstanding the efforts of the defendants, first to exclude
the testimony of Giddings, and then to destroy his credi-
bility, the special counsel declared his belief that the truth
©f his relation was not impaired.


As to an indictment yet pending in Genesee^ and another
in Monroe, the commissioner gave it as his opinion that there
was not sufficient testimony within his knowledge to justify
him in bringing either of the parties to trial. In regard to
the first, there was also another objection, arising from the
manner in which the indictment had been procured — less
than twelve jurors having agreed to find a bill. This
bill, however, had been presented in pursuance of a com-
pact by the jury at the commencement of their session:
their body was very thin, and they had agreed that bills
found by a majority should be presented. In respect to the
case in Monroe county, (that of the Rev. Mr. Cumings,
now settled in Pennsylvania,) Mr. Birdseye had been as-
sured by his predecessor in office, that it neither could nor
ought to be brought to trial, until Simeon B. Jewett was
placed in a situation to be examined as a witness ; and
from the course this cause had taken, and the length of time
that must elapse before it could be carried through the
Court of Errors, he did not think it would be right to hold
the indictment over the head of a citizen to await such
a contingency. For these, and other reasons, which he
was ready to communicate to the Governor, the special
counsel advised the entry of a nolle prosequi in both cases.

In regard to the indictments against Adams, Whitney,
Chubbuck, and Beach, the special counsel intimated an opin-
ion that no further testimony could be procured, and no ad-
ditional facts developed; and of course the inference was,
that no good would result from further proceedings in the
premises. Should they be still prosecuted, however, the
District Attorney of Niagara, he thought, would be abun-
dantly able, with the lights of former investigations before
him, to take charge of the matter. There would, therefore,
be no farther need of continuing the office of special coun-
sel. The document of which I have thus presented a brief
abstract, is the last official paper connected with the Mor-s
gan trials. With continued regard, I am, &c.



New- York, March 28, 1832.


In the month of April, 1831, a case was tried before a
local magistrate, in the county of Chenango, New- York,
which deserves to be noted among the minor occurrences
of the present history. I have, formerly, had occasion to
speak of those seceding Masons, who have traversed the
country, giving exhibitions of the process of conferring the
several degrees, — broad caricatured representations, of
course, — but, probably, marked with strong resemblances.
There have been two classes of these exhibitors, viz: —
those who have resorted to the measure as the most effec-
tual method of inducing the fraternity to relinquish the or-
der, and those who have practised the new vocation as
showmen, for the mammon of unrighteousness. Their re-
ception has been different with different classes of the com-
munity. The wonder-loving uninitiated, have crowded
the exhibitions to arrive at a practical knowledge of the
mighty mysteries of the craft ; those nominal Masons who
have forfeited membership by non user, and who are anxi-
ous to have the institution numbered among things forgot-
ten, have laughed at the joke of seeing fools so readily
parted from their money ; while the zealous adhering
Masons, who seem determined to be buried due east and
west with their aprons on, have been exceedingly annoyed,
without possessing either the wisdom, or the philosophy, to
conceal their vexation. In some places w^here these exhi-
bitions have been advertised, the Masons have met in num-


bers, and put them down. In others, they have deterred
the showmen by intimidations ; and in others, again, actu-
al riots, though none of a very serious description, have

In the case of which I am now to speak, however, a still
different method was resorted to, with a view of putting
an end to these exhibitions altogether. The laws of this
state prohibit showmen from traversing the country, and
picking the pockets of the people by their exhibitions, with-
out procuring a license for each exhibition, from two mag-
istrates of the town where their kick-shows, or feats of jug-
glery, are to be displayed for the edification of 'the multi-
tude. The penalty for each unlicensed exhibition of the
kind contemplated by the statute, is twenty-five dollars.
Much to the annoyance of my brother Masons of the town
of New Berlin, in the county of Chenango, a man by the
name of Harlowe C. Witherell came among them, and
gave an exhibition, " for gain or profit," of what he called
in his advertisement, " a practical demonstration of the first
" seven degrees of Freemasonry." Fired with indignation
at having their hallowed rites thus exposed to the vulgar gaze,
at twenty-five cents per capita of the spectators, the over-
seers of the poor, to whom the revenues derived from show-
men accrue, incontinenily commenced a prosecution for
the recovery of the penalty attached to a violation of the
law. Connected with the exhibition were also a series of
painted illustrations of Freemasonry, which were specified
in the second count of the plaintiff's declaration.

Although the action was brought before a justice of
the peace, yet, its nature gave it speedy notoriety, and
imparted to it a high degree of interest in that community.
On the day of trial, three lawyers appeared on a side.
The counsel for the defendant demanded a jury. A venire
was accordingly issued, and a panel summoned by a con-
stable who happened to be a Master Mason. The counsel


for the defendant challenged the array, upon that ground,
and also because some of the jurors summoned were Ma-
sons, as likewise was one of the plaintiffs. The counsel
for the latter declined arguing the question. The defen-
dant's counsel then read from the statute, to show, that, if a
constable be in any way interested against or in favor of
either party, it is a good cause of challenge. The coun-
sel for the plaintiffs replied, and denied the cause of chal-
lenge. The defence rejoined, and made a specific offer to
prove that the masonic obligations are of such a nature, as
to disqualify its members from acting impartially in a case
of this kind. The court decided that witnesses might be
called and examined to the points specified by the defen-
dant's counsel. TJiree witnesses were then successively
called, who proved the fact, that the constable and one of
the plaintiffs were Freemasons — the first a Master Mason,
and the second of the degree of Royal Arch. They all
swore, substantially, to the accuracy of the obligations as
disclosed by Morgan, and printed in Bernard's Light on
Masonry, to which I have already referred. Tv^o of the
witnesses were examined at considerable length as to the
Master Mason's obligation, of which they gave no very fa-
vorable impressions.

A third witness was tlien called, but the counsel for the
prosecution expressed a wish to go no further into this
question, whereupon the array was quashed by the court,
and a new venire issued and given to a constable who was
not a Mason, and by whom another jury was summoned.
In opening the cause to the jury, the plaintifTs counsel stat-

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Leete) StoneLetters on masonry and anti-masonry, addressed to the Hon. John Quincy Adams → online text (page 43 of 49)