In 1826 William Morgan
, a citizen of western New York, announced his intention to publish a book in which the secrets of freemasonry were to be disclosed.
It was printed at Batavia, N. Y.
On Sept. 11 Morgan
was seized at Batavia
, upon a criminal charge, by a company of men who came from Canandaigua
He was taken to that place, tried and acquitted on the criminal charge, but was immediately arrested on a civil process for a trifling debt.
He was cast into jail there, and the next night was discharged by those who procured his arrest, taken from prison at nine o'clock at night, and at the door was seized and thrust into a carriage in waiting, which was driven rapidly towards Rochester
He was taken by relays of horses, by the agency of several individuals, to Fort Niagara
, at the mouth of the Niagara River
, and deposited in the powder magazine there.
It was known that the freemasons had made violent attempts to suppress Morgan
's announced book, and this outrage was charged upon the fraternity.
A committee was appointed, at a public meeting held at Batavia
, to endeavor to ferret out the perpetrators of the outrage.
They found evidences of the existence of what they believed to be
an extended conspiracy, with many agents and powerful motives.
Similar meetings were hell elsewhere.
Public excitement became very great and wide-spread; and a strong feeling soon pervaded the public mind that the masonic institution was responsible for the crime.
The profound mystery in which the affair was involved gave wings to a thousand absurd rumors.
Mutual criminations and recriminations became very violent, and entered into all the religious, social, and political relations.
A very strong anti-masonic party was soon created, at first only social in its character, but soon it became political.
This feature of the party first appeared at town-meetings in the spring of 1827, where it was resolved that no mason was worthy to receive the votes of freemen.
A political party for the exclusion of masons from public offices was soon spread over the State of New York
and into several other States, and ran its course for several years.
In 1832 a National Anti-Masonic Convention was held at Philadelphia
, in which several States were represented, and William Wirt
, of Virginia
, was nominated for the office of President
of the United States
Although the party polled a considerable vote, it soon afterwards disappeared.
The fate of Morgan
after he reached the magazine at Fort Niagara
was never positively revealed.