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Proceedings of the United States Anti-Masonic Convention

Rotating Compass & Square

Held in Philadelphia, September 11, 1830.

Graphic Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

Embracing the Journal Of the Proceedings, the Reports, and the Address to the People.

1996 Acacia Press, Incorporated.

Originally Published: 1830


  1. States Committees.
  2. Journal of the Convention.
  3. Mr. Whittlesey's report on the abduction and murder of William Morgan, and the means used to prevent convictions.
  4. Mr. Ward's report on the origin, &c. of masonry.
  5. Mr. Oliver's report on the pretensions of masonry.
  6. Mr. Morris' report on the truth of the disclosures.
  7. Mr. Taylor's report on the obligation of the masonic oaths.
  8. Messrs. Ward and Armstrong's report from the committee of seceding masons, or, a summary of freemasonry.
  9. Mr. Thacher's report on the early history of anti-masonry.
  10. Mr. Seward's report on the recent history of anti-masonry
  11. Mr. Ellmaker's report on the presidential nomination.
  12. Mr. Walker's report on the disqualifying nature of the masonic oaths.
  13. Mr. Todd's report on a national correspondence.
  14. Mr. Maynard's report on the effect of freemasonry on the Christian religion.
  15. Mr. Seward's report of the resolutions.
  16. Address to the People of the United States, reported by Mr. Holley.

No. 16


Fellow Citizens:

It is the privilege of freemen to consult together, openly and peaceably, on all subjects interesting to their common welfare. And so long as the opinion of a majority shall prevail, enlightened and frequent consultation, among them, will furnish the most efficacious and acceptable means of expelling wrongs, and removing fears. Wrongs the most cruel and criminal have been committed, and fears the most agitating and well founded, exist, among us. To confer together, and to address you, upon these evils, and the most wholesome means to be adopted for their suppression, we have been delegated to assemble here, by a portion of your countrymen, respectable for their intelligence, and dedicated, in heart and life, to the free constitutions and laws of our country. In executing the momentous duties assigned us, we would proceed, in the ingenuous free spirit of men, who earnestly seek the good of all.

Facts numerous and authentic, demonstrate the existence, in this community, of crimes and dangers, which, upon their first distinct disclosure to honest inquiry, excite equal surprise and solicitude; and which cannot be reflected upon, by any mind imbued with genuine self-respect, and a just regard for human rights, without the deepest abhorrence and alarm.

Freemasonry is the source of these crimes and dangers.

In 1826, William Morgan, your free fellow citizen, was, by highly exalted members of the masonic fraternity, with unlawful violence, seized,-- secretly transported through the country more than one hundred miles, to a fortress of the United States, then in charge of freemasons, who had prepared it for his reception,-- there imprisoned, several days and nights, against his utmost efforts to escape,-- and after suffering the most unmanly insults, and the most inhuman abuse, he was privately murdered. Previously to his seizure, numerous meetings of freemasons, in lodges and otherwise, were held for the purpose of contriving and adopting the most certain means of carrying into effect, their unlawful objects upon him. These meeting were attended, and the designs of them approved, by several hundred of the most respectable and intelligent of the masonic brethren. They included legislators, judges, sheriffs, clergymen, generals, physicians, and lawyers. And they proceeded in discharge of, what they deemed, their masonic duties.

William Morgan was a royal arch mason. And the cause of all this unlawful violence against his liberty and life, was, his determination to publish secrets of the order. These secrets are now published, partly from manuscripts prepared by him, but more extensively from the deliberate testimony of many worthy men, who had been initiated further into the dark mysteries of the brotherhood, than he had. The precise motive, which impelled Morgan to the determination of publishing, we do not know. As the act was one of conformity to his highest obligations, and therefore, of distinguished honour, we believe the motive to have been good. There is no room to doubt, that other members of the institution, being aware of the solemn fate, to which freemasonry had consigned him, for disobedience to its laws, felt themselves driven, by the fearful responsibility of membership, most carefully to weigh its objects, means, and tendency; and finding these, upon mature examination, to be wholly unjustifiable and dangerous, they were impelled, by good will to man, by allegiance to our government, and by the natural desire of self-approbation, to proclaim its character, and renounce its authority.

To assist in publishing the secrets of freemasonry a printer was employed. Against him, the malice of the fraternity was conspicuously displayed. While the manuscripts of Morgan, with all the printed sheets, were supposed to be in the printing office, it was fired, in the night, by a masonic incendiary, with such ingenious preparations as were well calculated to insure its speedy destruction, with that of all its contents. The office was a wooden building, of which the siding immediately under the stairs leading to the printing apartment, was smeared over with spirits of turpentine; and cotton balls, and straw filled with the same combustible substance, were scattered around its foundations. The fire was discovered almost as soon as applied, and happily extinguished. But the reckless determination of the incendiary, and his coadjutors, is farther confirmed, by considering, that a family of ten persons occupied the lower part of the building; while the printer's assistants, six in number, always slept in the upper rooms. The incendiary is known, and was subsequently a principal in the murder of Morgan.

Other evidences of malice against the printer have been manifested. On one occasion, large numbers of masonic ruffians, armed with clubs, assembled under different leaders, in the night time, in the vicinity of the printing office, with the declared purpose of obtaining the intended publication, by violence; from which they were prevented only, by the formidable preparations to defend it, made by the printer. On another occasion, a masonic constable accompanied and abetted, by a crowd of his brethren, under a false pretence of having a criminal process, for that purpose, arrested him,-- carried him to a neighbouring village,-- there illegally confined him in a lodge room,-- assaulted him, and threatened him with the fate of Morgan. By the assistance of friends, and the exertion of his own active intrepidity, the printer at length escaped. It is a remarkable circumstance evincing extensive concert and premeditation, that, on the day of this arrest, all the magistrates of the town, where it took place, were summoned into another town as witnesses, and could not be applied to, for any interposition of the civil authority, to preserve the public peace, or to protect the rights of the intended victim. For these offences, the constable and several others were indicted, and convicted.

The scene of these occurrences was the western part of the state of New York.

the people are intelligent and free, such enormities as those, to which we have referred, could not be committed, without producing excitement. Every unperverted feeling, and every upright voice, anxiously claimed the impartial and prompt application to them, of the appointed powers of our criminal jurisprudence. Then began to draw on, that dark eclipse, upon the vaunted lights of freemasonry, which, to the public eye, is rapidly becoming total, and through the eternal shadows of which, nothing will be discernible hereafter, but blood.

In this alarming emergency, the agents of government seemed paralyzed. Our public institutions and provisions for the preservation of tranquility, and the repression of crime, seemed nugatory. And without the use of other means than the law, and its official ministers, the most daring and brutal inroads, upon our dearest rights, would have passed off, without effort to understand their origin, punish their instruments, or provide against their recurrence. No arts were left untried by freemasons to baffle the pursuit of truth, and defeat the administration of justice. The lion's grip of the order was upon our courts, and loyalty to that, displaced fealty to the state.

A large proportion of the constables, justices of the peace, lawyers, judges, sheriffs, and jurymen, of the counties where these acts were performed, were members of the society, and had taken oaths binding them, in terms, to conceal each other's crimes. The high sheriffs were all masons, and at that time, summoned as grand jurors, at their discretion, any such men as had the common qualifications. In the counties of Genesee and Niagara, where the fraternity were most afraid of criminal prosecutions, majorities of freemasons are known to have been corruptly returned as grand jurors. And these sheriffs of these counties were both indicted, subsequently, as parties to the conspiracy for the abduction of Morgan. One of them was tried and convicted; the trial of the other has not yet taken place.

Perceiving that the public functionaries, whose duty it is to initiate proceedings in criminal cases, were totally inactive, through cowardice or corruption, the people, who are both the proprietors and beneficiaries of every department of government, undertook to inquire and present for themselves, in relation to these offences; with the determination, however, to use, as far as possible, the constituted authorities, and in no case, to overstep the rights reserved to them. They proceeded, in the generous spirit of men, to whose enlightened views, the general safety affords enough of motive and reward, for the most arduous exertion. They called public meetings, at which honest and intelligent committees were raised, to ascertain facts, and aid the public functionaries. And these committees entered with patriotic alacrity, upon the performance of some of the most difficult and responsible duties of freemen. Without any emolument, at great expense of time and money, in defiance of the most malignant, persevering, and ingenious counteraction of freemasons, they suspended their private concerns, and gave themselves up to all the labours of a complicated investigation. In these proceedings they could obtain no testimony, which was not voluntary, they derived no assistance from office, their motives were most venomously slandered, their conduct belied, and their lives endangered. Still they went on, fearlessly, disinterestedly, sagaciously, and successfully. The outrages had extended over six counties. It was a singular spectacle, indicative of the safety, and prophetic of the perpetuity, of our free institutions, to see private citizens traversing these counties, inquiring anxiously and cautiously, but severely, impartially, and persistingly, into all the circumstances of crimes the most revolting, for the sole purpose of opening the way most likely to be effectual, for their judicial exposure and punishment.

Whatever could be done by good and wise men, without special lawful authority, was performed, by these committees. They ascertained the principal facts respecting the kidnapping and murder, both as to the persons directly concerned in them, and their motives and principles of action; and thus laid a sure foundation,-- not for the lawful conviction and condemnation of those who are most guilty; that has hitherto been rendered impossible, by the felon sympathies and powerful interposition of freemasonry,-- but for the universal and endless execration of their crimes, and of the institution in which they originated.

Bills of indictment have been found for several of the minor offences; and convictions have followed in a few cases,-- upon the confession of the culprits, in some, and after protracted trials, in others. But most of those, who have been indicted, have been acquitted. In the conduct of these trials, the influences of freemasonry has been constantly apparent; and the whole force of it has been exerted to exile truth and justice from their most consecrated altars.

A faithful and able state officer, whose special duty it was made, by law, to institute inquiries into these offences, officially reported, in respect to the proceedings of which he had the charge, "Difficulties which never occurred in any other prosecution, have been met at every step. Witnesses have been secreted; they have been sent off into Canada, and into different states of the Union. They have been apprised of process being issued to compel their attendance, and have been thereby enabled to evade its service. In one instance, after a party implicated had been arrested and brought into this state, (New York,) he was decoyed from the custody of the individual having him in charge, and finally escaped. These occurrences have been so numerous and various as to forbid the belief, that they are the result of individual effort alone; and they have evinced the concert of so many agents as to indicate an extensive combination to screen from punishment, those charged with a participation in the offences upon William Morgan."

The services of this officer continued for but one year. By other prosecuting officers, and the committees, to which we have before alluded, many other important facts have been ascertained. All the persons engaged, in these outrages, were royal arch masons, at the time of their perpetration, or made so immediately after. Many masons called as witnesses, have notoriously committed perjury. Others have excused themselves from testifying, by alleging that they could not do so, without criminating themselves. Even since the time has elapsed, beyond which no prosecution can be lawfully instituted, for any participation in them, not amounting to a capital offence, some witnesses have contumaciously refused to be sworn at all; and others, having taken the requisite oath, have repeatedly refused to answer questions decided to be lawful, through the alleged fear of self-crimination, and that, after being warned from the bench, that they would be guilty of perjury, if they persisted in it, and were not actually implicated in the murder. And yet, all the convicts, and these witnesses more infamous than the convicts, are held up, by the exalted and influential of the fraternity, as heroes of fidelity to their duty, and victims to the prejudices of their fellow citizens. And they are still retained, as worthy and cherished members of the order.

Morgan's blood was shed, without any pretence that he had infringed the laws of the land, and with little or no private malice, on the part of those by whom he fell. The persons most deeply implicated, in the guilt of his fall, were industrious, intelligent, and reputable citizens, bound to life and to society, by all the usual ties. They did not proceed hastily, nor adopt their ultimate decision, without manifest and painful reluctance. Before they took his life, they deliberated, earnestly, frequently, and long, upon their masonic obligations. These obligations they thought binding. He had certainly and essentially violated them. The unanimous result of all their deliberations was, that he must die. And in the understanding of all masonic exposition, as well as of common sense, if the obligations were binding, they were right, in their decision.

A brave man had determined to reveal the secrets of freemasonry; and as he could not be prevented otherwise, his life was taken, in conformity with masonic laws. Having gone thus far, in transgression, the titular dignitaries of the order had less reluctance in going further. Accordingly, by banter, ridicule, and misrepresentation, they endeavoured to repress all inquiry into their conduct. Finding themselves not wholly successful in this, they prepared, as well as they could, for the exigencies of that judicial investigation, which they were not able to avoid.

The most prominent of the criminals fled. One of them confessing himself stained with the murder, and claiming assistance from a masonic body, in the city of New York, received it, and was effectually aided to escape to a foreign country. Some confessed themselves guilty of subordinate offences, to prevent the examination of witnesses, whom they knew able to establish, in detail, the foulest. Able standing counsel were employed, by the fraternity, to defend the criminals. Those who were convicted, were subjects of the deepest masonic sympathy, and received frequent aids, from organized bodies of their brethren.

While these various acts identified the institution at large, with the well known criminals, and exhibited the true principles of the association, high individual masons, and high bodies of the fraternity, were guilty of the grossest arts of deception to mislead the public, and save the institution. Thompson and Ganson, who were active conspirators in the abduction of Morgan, and the outrages accompanying it, signed a notice offering a reward of one hundred dollars for the conviction of the offender, who set fire to the printing office! The grand royal arch chapter of the state of New York, resolved that individually and as a body, they disclaimed all knowledge or approbation of the abduction of William Morgan. In this grand masonic body upwards of one hundred and ten chapters were represented, and Eli Bruce and John Whitney were members of it, both of whom were afterwards indicted, and convicted of the very offence specifed in the resolution! And several committees of lodges, chapters, and encampments, in public addresses, pretended to surrender their charters, in avowed pursuance of public opinion, while in secret, individuals employed on these committees, at the time, and afterwards, exerted every influence in their control, to sustain the institution.

What, then, are the extraordinary principles of a society, which requires and justifies such extraordinary acts ?

In all human governments, the principles set forth and adopted, under the sanctions of an oath, are regarded as most essential. With the loyal, no others are permitted to cancel these. And as they are expressed with the greatest attainable perspicuity, the obvious import of the terms in which they are conveyed, is always that, in which they are to be received. An oath is taken under the strongest possible sanction, is intended to be used for the highest purposes, and the form of it is adopted by the supreme authority. Hence, the duties which it prescribes are of the most imperative obligation.

When good men join the masonic society, and inconsiderately swear to obey its injunctions, without knowing what they are, as every mason does, they imagine there must, of course, be a reservation in favour of all civil and social duties. But this is a total mistake. The first oath, and many others in the series, fatally precludes it. It is a part of the language of the oaths, that the specific engagements contained in them, shall all be performed, "without any mental reservation, equivocation, or self-evasion of mind whatever." And any brother who does not so perform them, voluntarily subjects himself to the penalty of death.

What duties do the masonic oaths impose ?

The entered apprentice swears, " I will always hail, ever conceal, and never reveal any part .. of the secrets... of freemasonry which I have received, am about to receive, or may hereafter be instructed in, "

The fellow craft swears, " I will support the constitution of the grand lodge ..... and conform to all the by-laws, rules, and regulations of this or any other lodge of which I may become a member.... I will obey all regular signs and summons given, handed, sent, or thrown to me, by the hand of a brother fellow craft mason,"

The master mason swears, "I will not give the grand hailing sign of distress, except I am in real distress... and should I ever see that sign given, or the word accompanying it, and the person who gave it appearing to be in distress, I will fly to his relief, at the risk of my life, should there be a greater probability of saving his life than of losing my own.... I will not speak evil of a brother mason neither behind his back, nor before his face, but will apprise him of all approaching danger, if in my power... a master mason's secrets given to me in charge as such, and I knowing him to be such, shall remain as secure and inviolable in my breast as in his own, before communicated to me, murder and treason excepted, and they left at my own election,"

The mark master swears, "I will support the constitution of the general grand royal arch chapter of the United States: also, the grand royal arch chapter of this state, "

The royal arch mason swears, " I will aid and assist a companion royal arch mason, when engaged in any difficulty, and espouse his cause, so far as to extricate him from the same, if in my power, whether he be right or wrong. I will promote a companion royal arch mason's political preferment, in preference to another of equal qualifications. A companion royal arch mason's secrets, given me in charge as such, and I knowing him to be such, shall remain as secure and inviolable, in my breast as in his own, murder and treason not excepted,

From the first obligation of the thrice illustrious knight of the cross, the candidate under oath receives the following injunctions: " To the end of your life, you will not, in consideration of gain, interest, or honour, nor with good or bad design, ever take any, the least step or measure, or be instrumental in any such object, to betray any secret appertaining to the order and degree known among masons as the thrice illustrious order of the cross: should you know another to violate any essential point of this obligation, you will use your most decided endeavours, by the blessing of God, to bring such person to the strictest and most condign punishment, agreeably to the rules and usages of our ancient fraternity, and this by pointing him out to the world as an unworthy vagabond, by opposing his interest, by deranging his business, by transferring his character after him wherever he may go, and by exposing him to the contempt of the whole fraternity, and the world, but of our illustrious order more especially, during his whole natural life: nothing herein going to prevent yourself, or any other, when elected to the dignity of thrice illustrious, from retaining the ritual of the order. Should any thrice illustrious knight, or acting officer of any council, which may have them in hand, ever require your aid, in any emergency, in defence of the recovery of the said charge, your swear cheerfully to exercise all assistance in his favour, which the nature of the time and place will admit, even to the sacrifice of life, liberty, and property, From the second obligation of the same degree, the member receives the following injunctions: "You promise to lead a life as upright and just, in relation to all mankind, as you are capable of; but in matters of difference, to prefer the interests of a companion of the order, of a companion's friend, for whom he pleads, to any mere man of the world. You promise never to engage in mean party strife, nor conspiracies against the government or religion of your country, whereby your reputation may suffer, nor ever to associate with dishonourable men, for a moment, except it be to secure the interest of such person, his family, or friends, to a companion, whose necessities may require this degradation at your hands, " From the third obligation of the same degree, the member swears," To put confidence unlimited in every illustrious brother of the cross,-- never to permit my political principles to come counter to his, if forbearance and brotherly kindness can operate to prevent it,-- to look on his enemies as my enemies,

In the initiation of a candidate as an elected knight of Nine, he goes through the form of murdering a traitor, and swears, " I will revenge the assassination of our worthy master, Hiram Abiff, not only on the murderers, but also, on all who may betray the secrets of this degree, "

In the degree of knights adepts of the eagle or sun, there is an exposition of masonic emblems. One of these emblems is that of a man peeping, of which the exposition is this: "The man peeping, and who was discovered, and seized, and conducted to death, is an emblem of those who come to be initiated into our secret mysteries through a motive of curiosity, and if so indiscreet as to divulge their obligations, we are bound to cause their death, and take vengeance on the treason by the destruction of the traitor, "

In the degree of knights of Kadosh, the candidate swears " to follow at all times, and in all points, every matter that he is ordered, and prescribed by the illustrious knights and grand commander, without any restrictions," and especially, "to sacrifice the traitors of masonry."

Such are same of the principles expressed in their own language, which are adopted in the masonic degrees alluded to, and imposed upon the members, under circumstances most indecent, profane and frightful. God is deliberately called upon to take notice of the engagements contained in these extracts, and his vengeance invoked, by the member upon himself, if they are not observed: and the member pledges his life to the society, to be sacrificed, in the most barbarous forms, if he violates them.

More detestable principles cannot he imagined. They were never embodied for any purposes of mere speculation. No human mind is so constituted as to derive satisfaction in their contemplation. They excite to crime, and were intended for the shelter and protection of practical iniquity. Those who make them their rules of action, are enemies of the human race.

To these principles Morgan was a traitor, and they required his blood. The best men of the fraternity, who knew of the treachery, in the strength of their infatuated allegiance, became voluntary agents, in effecting the requisition. After the treachery was ascertained, and the fraternity began to move against the traitor, we see how cunningly adapted the whole masonic machinery is, to the accomplishment of their object with entire impunity. The proof of the authenticity of the revelations of seceding masons, in which the whole machinery is described, in detail, arising from the disinterested and reluctant testimony of a thousand original witnesses, is not greater than that arising from the wonderful and exclusive fitness of the machinery to produce the results we have witnessed. Revealed freemasonry is a stupendous mirror, which reflects, in all their horrors, the exact features of that vast spirit of crime, with which this nation is now wrestling, for all that makes life desirable.

The grosser parts of this machinery, are the secrecy, the private signs, pass words, tokens, grips, and ciphers; the subtler parts are the obligations: and the former are valuable only as they are capable of being employed to give effect to the latter. The obligations, it will be seen, compelled such as acknowledged them,-- to passive obedience,-- to warn each other of all approaching danger,-- to conceal each other's crimes, even the most aggravated,-- to extricate each other from difficulty, right or wrong,-- to support each other's reputation in all cases,-- to oppose the interest and blast the character of unfaithful brethren,-- to sacrifice the traitors of freemasonry,-- to give each other dishonest preferences, in matters of difference, over the uninitiated,-- and to advance each other political preferment in opposition to another.

The practical efficacy of these obligations we have seen,-- in all the outrages committed to suppress Morgan's publication, including his abduction and murder, -- in the violence upon the printer, and the attempt to burn his office,-- in the corruption of courts, sheriff's, and juries,-- in the purjuries of witnesses,-- in the libels upon honest individuals, courts, and juries,-- in the unlawful spiriting away of witnesses,-- in the rescue of persons implicated, who were in the custody of law,-- in the giving of intelligence to those who were in danger of being arrested as parties, or summoned as witnesses, in time for their escape,-- in the universal and persevering denial of facts, by adhering masons,-- in the appropriation of money, by the brethren, individually, and collectively, in aid of the convicts and other criminals,-- in the employment of standing counsel, by the fraternity, for the implicated,-- in the abuse of legal forms, county jails, and a fortress of the United States to the worst purposes of' tyranny, the arbitrary imprisonment of a fellow citizen,-- in the good fellowship and sympathy of the society with the convicts,-- in the contumacious refusal to be sworn in court, by some witnesses, who knew the worst, and to answer by others, after being sworn, to lawful questions, when the refusal necessarily implied perjury, or participation in murder,-- and in the political promotion of such numbers of the brethren, as is utterly inconsistent with the equal rights of others.

Can the well informed friends of freedom tolerate a society thus characterized? Is it consistent with the theory or practice of our most valued establishments, with any authority underived from itself, or any safety, but that of its adhering members? It exercises the highest powers of government, raises and appropriates money, makes and executes laws extending to life itself, which each of its subjects, in the sacred form of oaths, voluntarily abandons to its authority. It is a government of high priests, and kings, and illustrious knights, and grand commanders. And every person, who maintains connexion with it, in effect, renounces all allegiance to other governments, by swearing to perform acts entirely inconsistent with such allegiance, without any mental reservation whatever. In war, in peace, in all the business of life, every obligated mason, is bound to prefer a brother mason to other persons, and masonic duties, to other duties.

Are the masonic obligations binding! The united voice of all moral and political philosophy replies in the negative. The obligations of morality are incurred anterior to all others: they are imposed by authority absolute, and supreme, and can never be remitted. Political obligations are a branch of moral, and partake of the same early and divine origin. We have seen, that the masonic obligations are opposed to these, and they are self-assumed: all self-assumed obligations are posterior, and have no force in opposition to these. The nature of all obligation, as applicable to the mind, implies intelligence and free will: no authority can impose it, where either of these is wanting. One of them is always wanting, and sometimes both, in the oaths of freemasonry. No greater absurdity can be imagined than that an immoral engagement is rendered obligatory, by calling upon God to witness it, and to punish its nonperformance. It supposes that ignorance, vice, and presumption, by adopting the form of an oath, may, at will, employ the authority of the Supreme Being, against his own most sacred and unchanging laws.

Do the oaths of freemasonry disqualify for civil trust? Wherever they are regarded as obligatory they do. They are inconsistent with fidelity to the constitution, under which all our civil trusts are held, and to the support of which they oblige us. All foreigners, even the most enlightened, though they may be perfectly honest, and capable, though they may reside with us to their life's end, and be practical converts to the truth and beauty of our systems, are disqualified, by being the subjects of other governments. By stronger reasons, adhering freemasons are disqualified; for there is no government so adverse to ours, as theirs is, and none which punishes defection from allegiance with less ceremony, or severer penalties. Is it a circumstance in favour of freemasonry, that it encourages and supports its subjects in the secret usurpation of public offices and honours, to increase its reputation, power and influence? No man dare take upon himself the obligations of freemasonry in public. Or if a being should be found hardy enough so to brave the most honoured decencies and duties of life, it is not credible, that, in all free judgment, it would not amount to a universal civil disqualification. Shall secrecy make it otherwise? Shall that which is always the incontestible badge of shame or guilt, when used to cover a standing pursuit, and permanent relations, recommend those who wear it to the confidence of open hearted integrity, and in a government of which the first principles are publicity, accountability, and jealousy of power '?

The masonic institution makes it the duty of those who own its authority, in all cases where other circumstances, in their prepossessed opinion, are equal, to prefer the interests of a brother to those of any other citizen. This preference is the great purpose of its whole organization, the most distinct impress of its entire character. It provides the most crafty and effectual means to make this preference available. These means are intended to be kept wholly concealed from all those whose equal interests and rights it proscribes: and the more certainly to secure this object, it makes high pretensions of promoting the greatest of our earthly blessings, science, charity, and religion. All authentic disclosures of its history show it to be selfish, circumventive, and hypocritical, and are little else than pregnant proofs of its dishonour. Every man, who has taken its obligations, and considers them binding, by the clearest intimations of civil prudence and moral rectitude, is disqualifed, for offices of power and honour, out of its own unhallowed precincts.

Supposing only a part of the degrees, to which we have alluded, have been taken, such men cannot safely be our generals, for they are bound, even in behalf of a foreign enemy, if he be a mason, to give him notice of all approaching danger, and to stay the uplifted sword of their country's battle. They cannot safely be our negotiators for peace, against the negotiator of a foreign enemy, if he be a mason, for they are bound to look on his enemies as their enemies, and his friends as their friend . They cannot safely be our legislators, for masonry impliedly permits them to engage in mean party strife, and conspiracies against the government, if they can do so without loss of reputation,-- and to degrade themselves, by associating with dishonourable men, for the purpose of securing their interest, and that of their friends, to a brother, whose necessities may require it. They cannot safely be our executive officers, for they are bound to aid a brother so as to relieve him from any difficulty, if in their power, whether he be right or wrong. They cannot safely be our judges, or jurymen, because they are bound to give a brother notice of all approaching danger, and even fly to his relief, upon his giving them the masonic sign of distress, if there is a greater probability of saving his life than of losing their own, and because they are bound to an unlawful partiality, in all matters of difference between their brethren and uninitiated. Our laws intend, that all inquiries and determinations, by grand jurors, shall be without fear, favour, partiality, or hope of reward, and that all trials, by petit jurors and judges shall he decided, by the evidence and the law applicable thereto, and by nothing else. Freemasonry binds her votaries to other, and avowedly partial, grounds of decision. Who can describe the sum of injuries and wrongs corruptly inflicted upon the world, through the medium of such offices, by such principles? In the great freehold of our government, to confer such offices upon such men, by those who never have assumed the principles, or have cast them off, would be a self-sacrifice equally reproachful and disastrous.

To contrive the true theory of free government, is the proudest evidence of human intelligence: to institute such a government, the most glorious achievement of human wisdom: and to sustain it, with unfailing constancy, the greatest monument to human virtue. Our government is the inestimable purchase of the profound reflection, painful labours, disinterested exertions, and searching trials, of all past ages. It is free. We believe it to be the best that ever existed, because, more than any other, it corresponds with the rights, and encourages the duties of all men, over whom it is extended; and thus, more than any other, seeks and promotes the improvement and happiness of its subjects. But our government cannot be continued, without the active, strenuous, and constant, maintenance of principles directly opposed to those of freemasonry.

The first and most prominent injunction of freemasonry is secrecy. Any violation of this it punishes with infamy and death. Secrecy is the shutting up of the mind from communion with other minds. And so far as it prevails, in relation to any social good, it is selfish, sour, ignorant, and restless. Left absolutely alone, like a plant separated from the earth and the air, we should soon wither and die. And it would be no matter how soon, for if it were possible to keep us in such a state, we should be good for nothing. Our faculties are not at all adapted to it. Hermits are always the most miserable men. Ascetic and secluded associations have never been wise, or good, or happy. Neither is freemasonry, which inculcates their worst principles, not in melancholy seclusion from the world, but in the heart of it, the more successfully to prey upon it.

A virtuous mind cannot delight in secrecy. Its joy is in communion. We are made sociable by nature. Our best affections and our highest faculties equally indicate it. For they can neither be expanded into useful action, nor carry with them their appropriate rewards, without society. As social beings, if we discover useful facts, or important truths, we desire to communicate them to all, who are susceptible of benefits from their application. As all the principles of science, charity, and religion, are susceptible of beneficial application to the whole human race, good men and good governments will impose no artificial restriction, upon their universal diffusion. On the contrary, they will strenuously exert themselves to promote it. And there is no human praise, which imparts so much of the ineffable joy, that will accompany the final well done divinely pronounced upon the virtuous, as that which is the honest fruit of such exertions.

But secrecy is not more hostile to the spreading of useful facts and truths, than it is to their discovery. Free inquiry, free discussion, free communication, are essential requisites to the most valuable knowledge. In the arts and sciences, in ethics and theology, all liberal minds acknowledge their indispensable importance. In the political conduct of life, their importance is, if possible, still more manifest. They are the living foundations of our government, which would be speedily dissolved, in blood, without them. No man has ever yet sufficiently valued them: for they alone can safely be relied upon, to open and illuminate all the paths, in which the majestic power of public opinion displays itself. But freemasonry is opposed to free inquiry, free discussion, and free communication. Its great, fear is publicity, its best virtue silence. It professes to have inestimable treasures of social benefits, which it refuses to disclose to any but the small number of its devoted followers. In reference to all others, instead of employing, to communicate them, the various languages, in which all the patriotism and piety, the joys and sorrows, the useful discoveries and honourable designs, the undying thoughts and unfading hopes of the whole human family have been expressed, it conceals them, by substituting barbarous signs and uncouth ciphers. It first enslaves the mind by the chain of secrecy, then debases it by injurious ceremonies and vile principles, and finally insults it by mock titles and simulated virtues. It is incompetent to the support of any valuable object. There is no real duty, no honest enjoyment, no benevolent purpose, which cannot better be accomplished without it. It is a fit system for the outlaws of humanity and hope, hating the world, and making war upon it. With a misanthropic caution it excludes all the helpless and infirm from its communion, and with the stimulated ingenuity of experienced and impenitent guilt, it provides against detection and exposure. Its existence in our country is the greatest anomaly of modern times; and it is to be accounted for only, by the unsuspecting confidence in their fellow citizens, natural to men conscious of their liberty. Aware of this trait in the character of our people, designing members of the fraternity, and those who are weak enough to find pleasure in its fantastic frivolities and bloated titles, have lengthened its cords till they now probably embrace more than a hundred thousand of our countrymen.

Of this number, we cannot doubt, that a large proportion cherish no part of the spirit of the institution. Invited to join it, by its lofty pretensions, in early life they entered its theshhold. And, although disgusted at every step, for the purpose of understanding an institution, which they had once consented to enter, they suffered themselves to be raised to the second or third degree. Nothing could induce them to go further. Such were most of the masons, whose illustrious names have been so often abusively and boastfully arrayed, to shield the institution from the consuming reprobation now every where provoked against it, in unprejudiced minds, by its full and accurate exposure. These men in the bottom of their souls have all renounced it.

But there are other members of very different character, who adhere to it, with a tenacity exactly proportioned to their estimate of its adaptation to their evil designs. Washington represented it as capable of being employed for the basest purposes, and never visited a lodge, but once or twice, in the last thirty years of his life.

We live in an age of singular interest, and are the depositories of immeasurable responsibilities. Our ancestors voluntarily left their native seats,-- broke up the strong and amiable ties of local association,-- tore themselves from all their kindred, in spite of the absorbing and ingrained affections of consanguinity, and planted themselves, in the most secluded and dangerous wastes of nature. All the privations and sufferings of this course, they heroically met and endured, to preserve the rights of the mind. In these are to be found all the springs of liberty, civil and religious. And they constitute the only incorruptible wealth of the created, and uncreated, universe. By asserting them and preserving them with unparalleled and holy fortitude, our ancestors laid a sure foundation for a most unsullied and constantly increasing fame. All social action is commendable, or the reverse, as it advances or opposes these rights. Falsehood, injustice, cruelty, oppression, murder, treason, and every other imaginable crime, implies hostility to them, and is therefore to be resisted and subdued.

These are the great truths, taught by our early history. And profoundly impressed upon the minds of our citizens, they cannot be eradicated. One of the important inferences from them is, that individuals are not the property of government, but government the property of individuals, who have a right to modify, change, or abolish it. as a majority of those, who constitute it, may think most conducive to the common welfare. In support of this inference, our revolutionary war was waged, and our civil constitutions adopted. And these glorious events, while they have sent us forward, with unparalleled vigour and celerity in the road of improvement, have opened new prospects and awakened higher hopes, in the great family of nations. Following our example, the people are, every where, gradually understanding and claiming their rights. The arrogant pretenders to arbitrary power are sinking into comparative disesteem. And the only just government of human origin, that of public opinion, is universally raising on high, and spreading abroad, the welcome and protecting ensigns of her supremacy.

To this government freemasonry is wholly opposed. It requires unresisting submission to its own authority in contempt of public opinion,-- the claims of conscience,-- and the rights of private judgment. It would dam up the majestic current of improving thoughts, among all its subjects throughout the earth, by restricting beneficial communication. In attempting to do this, it has stained our country with a brother's blood, tempted many of our influential citizens into the most degrading forms of falsehood, and burst away, with its powers undiminished, its vengeance provoked, and its pollutions manifest, from the strong arm of distributive justice.

It is one of the striking evidences of the wisdom of the framers of our constitution, and a bright presage of its perpetuity, that it is fit for all emergencies. It contains provisions, which are abundantly adequate to the subversion of freemasonry. Perfectly convinced, that such a subversion must be effected or our liberties wrested from us, let us inquire, what are these provisions?

They cannot be found in our state legislatures, or in that of the union. The great object of legislation among us is to secure the rights, and promote the improvement of the people. To do this, the powers to legislate are defined and delegated. And these powers must not be transcended, or legislation would become usurpation. Against such usurpation suitable checks are contrived, and the people entertain a conservative jealousy.

All valuable discoveries, and beneficent exertions, originate with individuals. To perfect these, and apply them to practical improvement, men must be free. They must be permitted to associate as they please. To prevent them from meeting together and communicating, according to their own inclinations, either secretly or openly, by legislation, would be, to shut out the most useful labours and the purest enjoyments of life. But for every encroachment upon the rights of others, men must be answerable to some competent tribunal, or all, for which governments are instituted, would be insecure. Such a tribunal cannot be a legislature.

The means of overthrowing freemasonry cannot be found in any, or in all, of our executive authorities. These are discreetly restrained within limits entirely too narrow for such an effect.

They cannot be found in our judicial establishments. To these we are accustomed to look as the sacred shield of right, the inviolable refuge of innocence, and the steadfast avenger of guilt. They are the most trusted of our governmental departments. The qualities intended to be combined in them, of knowledge, disinterestedness, and firmness; the powers and duties, with which they are invested, to inquire, to deliberate, and to determine; and the means placed in their hands, to enforce their determinations, upon all the wide range of precious interests committed to their care, make them the most venerable and august of human institutions. They come up, in the estimation of good men, and in the holiest attributes of earthly power, next to the sovereign people themselves. But against freemasonry, the most alarming experience proves their ministry to be unavailing. The same jealousy of delegated authority, which our spirit of liberty applies to legislative and executive functions, it also applies, in some degree, to those of our courts of justice. The disabilities imposed by the people, to prevent oppression, upon every branch of power, carved out of the great aggregate of the national power, constitute the true reason, why all the branches referred to, are insufficient to exterminate the evils of freemasonry. But it does not, therefore, follow, that no sufficient means exist. They do exist. They belong to this nation by titles, which we deem forever indefeasible. They are derived directly from the Most High. They have been in our possession, from the commencement of our history, though sometimes defended by blood. They consist in the just exercise of the rights reserved by the people to themselves, as the great constituent, supervising proprietors of the republic.

In the first address of Mr. Jefferson, as president of the United States, he denominates " the right of election by the people a mild and safe corrective of abuses, which are lopped by the sword of revolution, where peaceable remedies are unprovided." This is the only adequate corrective of freemasonry,-- that prolific source of the worst abuses. And to this we must resort.

The abuses of which we complain involve the highest crimes, of which man can be guilty, because they indicate the deepest malice, and the most fatal aim. They bespeak the most imminent danger, because they have proceeded from a conspiracy more numerous and better organized for mischief, than any other detailed in the records of man, and yet, though exposed, maintaining itself, in all its monstrous power. That murder has been committed, is now acknowledged by all. That it has been so committed, and the malefactors have acted under such authority, and have been so aided and comforted, as to carry the guilt of treason, cannot be doubted. Protection from these crimes, is the first duty of government, and the object for which it is invested with its highest powers. But protection cannot be secured, by the ordinary means. Shall it therefore be abandoned? Shall we forego, in behalf of' freemasonry, or through fear of it, the primary purpose of civil organization? If we are true to ourselves it is certain we need not forego it; we can practically enforce it: for the rights of election remain. In these may be found full means,-- not of punishing the criminals,-- but of precluding any repetition of their crimes,-- of giving us that security against them, which is better than punishment, which is, indeed, the only proper object of all human punishment. The use of these means we advocate. Our adversaries reprobate it, and represent it as oppressive and persecuting.

The exercise of the elective franchise is as much a function of our government as any one performed, by legislatures, executive magistrates, or judges. And the honest, intelligent, and fearless use of it, by all to whom it pertains, is as much a duty, in every case, as a similar use of other functions is, in any case, by those to whom they pertain. Such a use of the elective function is the duty most imperious, because it is the great corrective, in the last resort, of all other functions.

To say that the powers of government should not be applied to the masonic outrages at all, would be so preposterous, as justly to excite suspicion of being implicated in them. Besides, it is now too late for any persons to say this with consistency; for since the inadequacy of all judicial application to them has been apparent, even adhering freemasons say, it was not improper to appeal to the courts: " punish the guilty." But if it was proper to appeal to the courts, in the first place, and that appeal has been rendered nugatory, by the criminal interference of freemasonry, the reason for appealing to the powers of government against the outrages, is immeasurably strengthened, not diminished. There is, therefore, no impropriety in resorting to the elective franchise to correct the evils of freemasonry. It invades no man's rights. It gives no man reason to complain. It is no more disreputable than it is to resort to a legislature, or a court of law, for the correction of an evil, which they were instituted to redress. Would it be tolerated, for a moment, to stigmatize as oppression and persecution, a resort to our legislators, for the passage of a law to promote the public security, or to our judicial tribunals, for the punishment of crime? Neither can it be, thus to stigmatize a resort to the elective franchise, for the abolishing of freemasonry, which is fatal to all security, and the very charnal house of crime.

If freemasonry ought to be abolished, it should certainly be so abolished as to prevent its restoration. No means of doing this can be conceived so competent as those furnished by the ballot boxes. These means are commended to our adoption, by the most urgent considerations, by their mildness, their safety, their sufficiency, and the tested insufficiency of all others. They are the means provided, by the most venerated of our political fathers. Who shall disparage them? Whoever is opposed to freemasonry and really desires its extinction, must use them, or confess himself a slave or tyrant. To extinguish it, by violence, would be tyranny, if it were possible. To extinguish it, by the expression of honest convictions against it, would not be tyranny, but it cannot be accomplished, unless a majority unite in such expression; and whether they do or not, cannot be ascertained, without a general vote. To desire its extinction, and do nothing to effect it, must proceed from indolence, fear, or the imagined force of assumed obligations in its favour, either of which amounts to a degrading slavery. To such slavery who is willing to submit? In truth none, who are not opposed to using every other means against it, are opposed to using our elective rights against it; and those who are opposed to using our elective rights against it, uniformly use their elective rights in its favour. The higher freemasons are expressly sworn to do it. Thus they adopt a conduct, which they stigmatize in us, as oppressive and persecuting, and which is so, when adopted secretly, by virtue of unlawful obligations, and in favour of a class of citizens, who associate for securing to themselves unequal privileges.

Anti-masons would defend their rights, the laws of their country, and the most sacred treasures of liberty, from a fearful assault. Seeking to preserve and perpetuate all the blessings intended to be secured, by our government, they would proceed, in the spirit of strict conformity with its provisions. And they invite all, who appreciate these blessings, to join them. They have no secret purposes to accomplish,-- no selfish objects to promote,-- no time, nor means to cast away, in idle ostentation, or for useless notoriety.-- They know the country is in danger; and they come forth, from their retirements, to shield it. On their farms, in their shops, at their counters, in their offices, and at their desks, they have heard the wail of the bereaved widow and orphans, and, feeling the sympathies of humanity, they have inquired how they became so. The answer to this inquiry, and the history connected with it, gave them their distinctive appellation, and compelled them publicly and openly to unite, for defending the most essential objects of society. Attached to their government, by conviction, habit, duty, and hope, they cannot patiently see its walls of protection overthrown, its principles undermined, or its power derided. In their minds, no names of human majesty are so dignified as that of freeman, no earthly interests so valuable as those of the nation, and no course of action so sure to be commendable as that, which invites public scrutiny, and is held to a just accountability. Murder and treason they cannot help regarding with abhorrence, however disguised; and will resist, whoever may perpetrate or abet them. Their chosen weapon of resistance is the right of suffrage,-- a weapon of equal power in every freeman's hand, and which is so tempered, as they trust, in the armory of patriotism, that neither the keen nor solid of freemasonry may resist its edge.

Fellow citizens, are we called to be anti-masons by the best feelings of our nature? Are our objects the highest that can effect the civil character? Are our means the most approved and indispensable? Unite with us,-- not for our sakes, but your own.-- Aid us in working out the redemption of our country from freemasonry. We are misrepresented and calumniated, as the chief public means of defeating the cause we have espoused. Examine by whom, and inquire into their motives. Be not deceived. If individuals among us are in fault, through ignorance, or passion, or interest, or profligacy, refuse them your confidence. But do not, therefore, betray your rights, and those of your country; nor let those beguile you into their support, who prefer secrecy to publicity, and freemasonry to republicanism. We are for practical, peaceable, and most necessary reform,-- not for the destruction, but the establishment of right. Freedom, in every beneficial sense, is the soul of anti-masonry.

Further revelations of the ceremonies and principles of freemasonry are not required; for these are perfectly exposed, and the exposition is so confirmed, as to be incapable of material modification. It will go down to all posterity among the undoubted records of imposture and guilt. But we cannot suppress our anxiety to commend our cause to the decided confidence, and active support, of all the nominal members of the fraternity. Among such, there are many, who have long possessed, and who still possess, our high esteem; and to whom we are attached, by the bonds of the most inseparable and holy brotherhood, those of a common nature, common wants, and a common destiny. We earnestly invite them to come out, with us, in defence of our common interests. Our course has been adopted after diligent inquiry into facts, and an honest comparison of freemasonry with the first principles of civil order; and we have no misgivings. We respectfully suggest to them similar inquiry and comparison. In proportion as men do this, we find our numbers increasing, and, knowing the inquisitive character of the people of the United States, it is scarcely more in our power, than it is in our wish, to exclude the anticipation of success. We know freemasonry cannot meet with their deliberate approval. When it was least suspected of evil, and highest in its harlequin attractions,-- when that holiness to the Lord, which is inscribed upon its gaudy garniture, and that charity with which its dark chambers are labelled, had not been publicly detected as wholly counterfeit,-- we know it was not a subject of their complacent regard. Shall the crimes with which it is now ineffaceably branded, and the pertinacity with which it justifies them, pass without their condemnation and rebuke? Shall that abuse of their confidence, which first brought their names into connexion with the mountebank retainers of the order, be an argument for sustaining the mountebanks, when their party coloured garments are seen dripping with the blood of innocence, and we perceive their power to strike away all the pledges of our common safety?

We know that the private opinions of such members concur with ours. We beseech them to concur with us in giving, to those opinions, a public and decided expression; for that will make them effectual to the only end we have at heart, the overthrow of freemasonry. We want not, and we expect not, the aid of the sinister, or the dissolute; of the slaves of office, of prejudice, of vice, or of faction. But we anxiously covet the a association of all, who are willing, on all occasions, and at all times, through evil report, and through good report, to contend for the great interests of truth, and justice, and freedom, and that security intended to be conferred, upon these interests, by our laws and constitutions. With such we are proud to labour, and, if need be, willing to suffer: for we shall not labour and suffer in vain. But we perceive, on all sides, the presages of our success; in the unspeakable importance of our cause; in the intelligence and self-respect of our fellow citizens; in the peaceable and just means, with which alone, we mean to promote it; in the favouring sympathies of the enlightened and wise of every name and clime; and in the undergoing, insuppressive, and inspiring hope, with which we may seek, for it, the protection of that Great Being, in whose hands are all the allotments of nations, and whose law is that of perfect liberty.

MASSACHUSETTS. Henry Gassett, Moses Thacher, Abner Phelps, Joseph Morton, Amasa Walker, Micah H. Ruggles, Stephen Oliver, Samuel B. Barlow, Pliny Merrick, Gardner Burbank, Nathan Adams. Joseph Goffe, Alpheus Bigelow, Jr., Lovett Peters, Nahum Harding, Nathan Lazell, Jr., Joshua Longley, CONNECTICUT. Nathaniel Terry, Jonathan Nichols, Zalmon Storrs, Elisha Stearns, Calvin Barber, Henry Perkins, John M, Holley, Noble R. Strong, NEW YORK. Rates Cooke, Joseph Case, Henry Dana Ward, Caleb Green, Samuel St. John, John L. Curtenius, Frederick Whittlesey, Vincent Whitney, Francis Granger, John Ellis, Henry W. Taylor, Alexander Sheildon, Samuel M. Hopkins, Herbert A. Read, George W. Stanton, John C. Morris, Robert S, Rose, William Williams, Thomas Lawyer, Samuel P. Lyman, John Bogardus, W. H. Maynard, William H. Seward, George H. Boughton, Elias Manchester, Charles Starr, Samuel N. Sweet, David Bernard, John Williams, Lebbeus Armstrong, Myron Holley, Thomas C. Green, Edward Bancroft, PENNSYLVANIA. Amos Ellmaker, William Miles, John Clarke, Joseph Ritner, James Patterson, Jr., Horatio G. Jones, David Potts, Jr., Peter Knepply, William Rutherford, William Line, Daniel Rhoads, James Todd, Michael Fackenthall, Jr., Charles Ogle, Ner Middleswarth, Harmar Denny, Ebenezer Greenough, Samuel Davis, George Walker, Levis Passmore, John Kauffelt, Nathaniel B. BoiIeau, Thaddeus Stevens, Alexander Plummer, William Brown, Samuel Leidy, William W. Irwin, Samuel Parke, VERMONT. William Slade, Allah Sabin, Augustine Clarke, Samuel C. Loveland, Josiah Rising, Martin Flint, RHODE ISLAND. Walter Paine, Jr., John Hall, OHIO. Robert Hanna, Isaac Gillert, Frederick Wadsworth, Ebenezer Currier, Thomas M. Key, Daniel Gillett, Thomas Boyd, NEW JERSEY. James Vanderpool, David Schencb, Kllison Conger, Abner Morse, G. P. M'Culloch, Abraham Brittin, John A. Ring, MICHIGAN. Samuel W. Dexter, MARYLAND. Ezra Slifer. DELEWARE.

Resource: Acacia Press

Further Reading

Born in Blood - Masonic New World Order(s)