The abduction too suspected murder of William Morgan inward western New York State inward 1826 ignited a tilt that fed conspiracy thinking nearly the Freemasons too created a national anti-Masonic movement.
Morgan, born inward Virginia inward 1774, was originally a stonemason, but worked at several trades. In the early on 1820s, he moved from Ontario, Canada, to upstate New York, settling inward Rochester too and so inward Batavia, too resuming masonry.
Soon afterward, he sought admission to a Masonic social club inward nearby LeRoy. Morgan was initiated into the lodge, but when he supported the formation of a novel social club inward Batavia, other members of the proposed social club took his bring upward off the petition, therefore denying him membership.
Morgan retaliated yesteryear entering into a contract alongside local printer David C. Miller to disclose an exposé of the “secrets” of Freemasonry. Miller, Morgan, too other backers of the projection were harassed too threatened, but went frontward alongside the project.
On 10 September 1826, merely about 3 weeks after Morgan had received a copyright for his book, Illustrations of Masonry, Miller’s impress store was assault burn inward an apparent effort to cease the book’s publication. The same day, a fellow member of the Canandaigua Masonic social club obtained a warrant for Morgan’s arrest on charges of piddling theft.
Morgan was arrested the adjacent solar daytime too taken to Canandaigua. He was released for lack of evidence, but was straight off rearrested on debt charges too imprisoned. The next night, Morgan was abducted from the Canandaigua jail too forced into a wagon yesteryear iv men; he was never seen again.
Reports of Morgan’s disappearance raised questions nearly the extent of Masonic interest inward the incident. Popular accounts of a conspiracy, which was said to involve nearly 70 Masonic brethren, held that Morgan had initially been taken to Canada, where plans to pay him inward telephone commutation for staying out of the U.S.A. had fallen through.
After a few days, according to these charges, he was leap alongside weights too thrown into the Niagara River merely below the falls. When a decomposed manlike soul corpse was constitute close Lake Ontario to a greater extent than than a yr after Morgan’s disappearance, the corpse was initially identified too buried every bit Morgan, though many charged that the local coroner, hoping to delight the anti-Masonic movement, had deliberately ignored signs that called its identity into question.
The torso was after exhumed too identified every bit ane Timothy Munroe. Morgan’s torso was never recovered, too merely about held that he had non been murdered at all, but had resettled inward Canada or the West Indies.
The Morgan thing also fed world alert nearly the amount of influence the Freemasons had on government. Half of all officials inward the county where Morgan disappeared, too every bit many every bit two-thirds of officeholders across New York State, including then-governor DeWitt Clinton, belonged to Masonic lodges.
The lite sentences given to the iv men involved inward the Canandaigua kidnapping increased the furor. Anti-Masonic conventions were held inward the area, too the delegates called for a especial counsel to hold upward appointed to investigate the case. The resulting investigation went on for 5 years; a full of fifty-four Masons were indicted too thirty-nine were tried, but solely x were convicted of crimes, too no definitive resolution of the representative was found.
Charges of a Masonic “cover-up” inward the Morgan thing fueled the get-go national volume anti-Masonic movement, which spawned dozens of newspapers too other publications too created a political party, too which viewed Freemasonry every bit an enemy to the values of the “Christian democracy.”