Anti-Masonic Party

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Freemasonry · Grand Lodge · Masonic Lodge · Masonic Lodge Officers · Grand Master · Prince Hall Freemasonry · Regular Masonic jurisdictions

History of Freemasonry · Liberté chérie · Masonic manuscripts

The Anti-Masonic Party (also known as the Anti-Masonic Movement) was the first "third party" in the United States.[1] It strongly opposed Freemasonry and was founded as a single-issue party aspiring to become a major party.

It introduced important innovations to American politics, such as nominating conventions and the adoption of party platforms.

Contents

Origins

The Anti-Masonic Party was formed in upstate New York in 1828.

Some people feared the Freemasons, believing they were a powerful secret society that was trying to rule the country in defiance of republican principles. These opponents came together to form a political party after the Morgan affair convinced them the Masons were murdering their opponents. This key episode was the mysterious disappearance, in 1826, of William Morgan (1774-1826?), a Freemason of Batavia, New York, who had become dissatisfied with his lodge and intended to publish a book detailing the secrets of the freemasons. When his intentions became known to the lodge, an attempt was made to burn down the publishing house. Finally in September 1826 Morgan was arrested on charges of petty larceny. Someone paid his debt and upon his release he was seized by parties and taken to Fort Niagara, after which he disappeared.[2]

The event created great excitement and led many to believe that not just the local lodge but all Freemasonry was in conflict with good citizenship. Because judges, businessmen, bankers, and politicians were often Masons, ordinary citizens began to think of it as an elitist group. Moreover, many claimed that the lodges' secret oaths bound the brethren to favor each other against outsiders, in the courts as well as elsewhere. Because the trial of the Morgan conspirators was mishandled, and the Masons resisted further inquiries, many New Yorkers concluded that Masons "controlled key offices and used their official authority to promote the goals of the fraternity. When a member sought to reveal its 'secrets', so ran the conclusion, they had done away with him, and because they controlled the officials, were capable of obstructing the investigation. If good government was to be restored all Masons must be purged from public office".[3] They considered the Masons to be an exclusive organization taking unfair advantage of common folk and violating the essential principles of democracy. True Americans, they said, had to organize and defeat this conspiracy.

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