THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE UNITED STATES ANTI-MASONIC CONVENTION:
Held in Philadelphia, September 11, 1830.
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.
Where 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 persistently, 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, &c."
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, &c."
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, &c."
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, &c."
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, &c."
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, &c." 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, &c." 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, &c."
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, &c."
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, &c."
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 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.