Anti-Masonic Party

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Anti-Masonic Party
Founded 1828 (1828)
Dissolved 1838 (1838)
Preceded by Federalist Party unofficially
Succeeded by Whig Party unofficially
Ideology Anti-Masonry
Protectionism
Social conservatism
Politics of the United States
Political parties
Elections

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 as a single-issue party, and later aspired to become a major party by expanding its platform and positions on other issues. After the negative views of Freemasonry among a large segment of the public began to wane in the late 1830s, most members of the Anti-Masonic Party joined the Whigs, the party most in line with its views on other issues. Although lasting only a decade, the Anti-Masonic Party introduced important innovations to American politics, such as nominating conventions and the adoption of party platforms.

Origins[edit]

The Anti-Masonic Party was formed in upstate New York in 1828.[2] Anti-Masons were opponents of Freemasonry, believing that it was a corrupt and elitist secret society which was attempting to rule the country in defiance of republican principles.[3]

William Morgan, whose disappearance and probable death led to creation of the Anti-Masonic Party.

The opponents of Freemasonry formed a political party after the Morgan affair convinced them the Masons were murdering men who spoke out against them. This key episode was the mysterious 1826 disappearance of William Morgan, a Freemason of Batavia, New York. Morgan had been a member of the lodge in Rochester, New York, but was denied admission in Batavia.[4] He intended to retaliate by publishing a book detailing the supposed secrets of Masonry's initiation rituals. When his intentions became known to the Batavia lodge, an attempt was made to burn down the business of the printer who planned to publish Morgan's book.[5] In September 1826 Morgan was arrested on flimsy allegations of theft in an effort to prevent publication of his book by keeping him in jail. The individual who intended to publish Morgan's book paid his bail, and he was released from custody. Shortly afterwards, Morgan disappeared.[6]

Some Masons argued that Morgan had left the Batavia area on his own, either because he had been paid not to publish his book, or to escape Masonic retaliation for attempting to publish the book, or to generate publicity that would boost the book's sales.[7] The generally accepted version of events is that Masons killed Morgan by drowning him in the Niagara River.[8] Whether he fled or was murdered, Morgan's disappearance led many to believe that Freemasonry was in conflict with good citizenship.[9]

Because judges, businessmen, bankers, and politicians were often Masons, ordinary citizens began to think of it as an elitist group.[10] Moreover, many claimed that the lodges' secret oaths bound the brethren to favor each other against outsiders, in the courts and elsewhere.[11]

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 promoting the goals of the fraternity by ensuring that Morgan's supposed killers escaped punishment.[12] When a member sought to reveal its 'secrets', so ran the conclusion, the Freemasons had done away with him. Because they controlled the courts and other offices, they were supposedly capable of obstructing the investigation. True Americans, they said, had to organize and defeat this conspiracy. If good government was to be restored "all Masons must be purged from public office".[13]

Formation of a political party[edit]

Solomon Southwick, newspaper publisher and 1828 candidate for Governor of New York.
Thurlow Weed, newspaper editor who helped form the Anti-Masonic Party.

Opposition to Masonry was taken up by some churches as a religious crusade, particularly in what became known as the Burned-over district.[14] It also became a political issue in Western New York, where in early in 1827 many mass meetings resolved to support no Mason for public office.[15]

In New York at this time the supporters of President John Quincy Adams, called Adams men, or Anti-Jacksonians, or National Republicans, were a feeble organization. Shrewd Adams supporters determined to use the strong anti-Masonic feeling to create a new party in opposition to the rising Jacksonian Democracy nationally, and the Albany Regency political organization of Martin Van Buren in New York.[16] In this effort they were aided by the fact that Andrew Jackson was a high-ranking Mason and frequently spoke in praise of the organization. The alleged remark of political organizer Thurlow Weed (which Weed denied), that an unidentified corpse found in the Niagara River was "a good enough Morgan" until after the 1828 elections, summarized the value of the Morgan disappearance for the opponents of Jackson.[17][18]

In the elections of 1828 the new party proved unexpectedly strong. Though its candidate for Governor of New York, Solomon Southwick was defeated, the Anti-Masonic Party became the main opposition party in New York.[19] In 1829 it broadened its issues base when it became a champion of internal improvements and the protective tariff.[20]

Anti-Masonic Party members expanded the use of party-affiliated newspapers for political organizing by publishing over 100, including Southwick's National Observer, and by 1829 the Albany Journal, edited by Thurlow Weed, had become the preeminent Anti-Masonic paper.[21][22][23] The newspapers of the time reveled in partisanship. One brief Albany Journal paragraph in an article opposing Martin Van Buren included the words "dangerous," "demagogue," "corrupt," "degrade," "pervert," "prostitute," "debauch" and "cursed."[24]

Conventions and elections[edit]

Former Mason William Wirt won Vermont's Electoral College votes in the 1832 Presidential Election for the Anti-Masonic Party.
Amos Ellmaker, 1832 Anti-Masonic candidate for Vice President.

A national Anti-Masonic organization was planned as early as 1827, when the New York leaders attempted, unsuccessfully, to persuade Henry Clay to renounce his Masonic membership and head the movement.[25]

By 1832 the Anti-Masonic movement's effort to broaden its appeal enabled it to spread to neighboring states, becoming especially strong in Pennsylvania and Vermont. In 1831, William A. Palmer was elected Governor of Vermont on an Anti-Masonic ticket, an office he held until 1835.[26] Palmer's brother-in-law, Augustine Clarke was an Anti-Masonic presidential elector in 1832, served as Vermont State Treasurer from 1833 to 1837, and was appointed to the Whig National Committee in 1837.[27][28][29] Other Vermont Anti-Masonic electors in 1832 included former Governor Ezra Butler and former United States Representative William Strong.[30]

The highest elected office held by a member of the Anti-Masonic Party was Governor. Besides Palmer in Vermont, Joseph Ritner was the Governor of Pennsylvania from 1835 to 1839.[31]

In addition, Silas H. Jennison, an Anti-Mason, was elected Lieutenant Governor of Vermont with Whig support in 1835. No candidate, including Palmer, received a majority of votes for Governor, as required by the Vermont Constitution. The contest then moved to the Vermont General Assembly, which could not choose a winner. The General Assembly then opted to allow Jennison to act as Governor until the next election. He won election as Governor in his own right as a Whig in 1836, and served from 1836 to 1841.[32][33]

Though the Anti-Masonic Party elected no United States Senators, and controlled no houses of a state legislature, Anti-Masons in state legislatures sometimes formed coalitions to elect Senators and organize their chambers. Examples include: William Wilkins, elected to the Senate in 1830 by a coalition of Democrats and Anti-Masons in the Pennsylvania General Assembly;[34][35] and William Sprague, elected Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1831 by a coalition of Democrats and Anti-Masons.[36]

The Anti-Masonic Party conducted the first presidential nominating convention in U.S. history for the 1832 elections, nominating William Wirt (a former Mason) for President and Amos Ellmaker for Vice President in Baltimore. Wirt won 7.78 percent of the popular vote, and the seven electoral votes of Vermont.[37] Soon the Democrats and Whigs recognized the convention's value in managing parties and campaigns, and began to hold their own.[38]

Following Ritner's election in 1835, a state convention was held in Harrisburg[39] on December 14–17, 1835, to choose Presidential Electors for the 1836 election. The convention nominated William Henry Harrison for President and Francis Granger for Vice President. The Vermont state Anti-Masonic convention[40] followed suit on February 24, 1836. Anti-Masonic leaders were unable to obtain assurance from Harrison that he was not a Mason, so they called a national convention. The second national Anti-Masonic nominating convention[41] was held in Philadelphia on May 4, 1836. The meeting was divisive, but a majority of the delegates officially stated that the party was not sponsoring a national ticket for the presidential election of 1836 and proposed a meeting in 1837 to discuss the future of the party.[42]

Although Harrison was not elected in 1836, his strength throughout the North was hailed by Anti-Masonic leaders because the Anti-Masonic Party was the first to officially place his name in contention.[43] By the mid-1830s other Anti-Jacksonians had coalesced into the Whig Party, which had a broader issue base than the Anti-Masons. By the late 1830s many of the Anti-Masonic movement's members were moving to the Whigs, regarding that party as a better alternative to the Jacksonians, by then called Democrats.[44] The Anti-Masonic Party held a conference in September 1837 to discuss its situation; one delegate was former President John Quincy Adams.[45]

The Anti-Masonic Party held a third national nominating convention[46] at Temperance Hall in Philadelphia on November 13–14, 1838. By this time, the party had been almost entirely supplanted by the Whigs. The Anti-Masons unanimously nominated William Henry Harrison for President and Daniel Webster for Vice President in the 1840 election. When the Whig National Convention nominated Harrison with John Tyler as his running mate, the Anti-Masonic Party did not make an alternate nomination and ceased to function.[47][48]

Later Anti-Masonic Party[edit]

Jonathan Blanchard, 1884 candidate for President as the candidate of the Anti-Masonic Party's second incarnation.

A later political organization called the Anti-Masonic Party was active from 1872 until 1888. This second group had a more religious basis for its anti-Masonry and was closely associated with Jonathan Blanchard of Wheaton College.[49]

Legacy[edit]

As people became more mobile economically during the Industrial Revolution and began to move west as new states were populated by white settlers and added to the Union, the growth of the Anti-Masonic movement was caused by the political and social unrest resulting from the weakening of longstanding family and community ties. With Freemasonry one of the few institutions that remained stable during this time of change, it became a natural target for protesters. As a result, the Morgan Affair became the catalyst that turned the movement against Freemasons into a political party.[50] Under the banner of "Anti-Masons" able leaders united Anti-Jacksonians and others who were discontented with existing political conditions.[51] The fact that William Wirt, their choice for the presidency in 1832, not only was a former Mason but also defended Freemasonry in a speech before the convention that nominated him indicates that opposition to Masonry was not the Anti-Masonic movement's sole issue.[52]

The Anti-Masonic movement gave rise to or expanded the use of many innovations which became accepted practice among other parties, including nominating conventions and party newspapers.[53]

In addition, the Anti-Masons aided in the rise of the Whig Party as the major alternative to the Democrats, with conventions, newspapers and Anti-Masonic positions on issues including internal improvements and tariffs being adopted by the Whigs.[54]

Members of Congress[edit]

Grattan H. Wheeler, Anti-Masonic Congressman from New York.

The Anti-Masons did not elect anyone to the United States Senate, but elected several members of the United States House of Representatives. This list includes:[55]

Massachusetts:
William Jackson, John Reed, Jr.

New York:
William Babcock, Gamaliel H. Barstow, Timothy Childs, John A. Collier, Bates Cooke, John Dickson, Philo C. Fuller, Gideon Hard, Abner Hazeltine, George W. Lay, Henry C. Martindale, Robert S. Rose, Phineas L. Tracy, Grattan H. Wheeler, Frederick Whittlesey

Ohio:
Jonathan Sloane

Pennsylvania:
Robert Allison, John Banks, Charles Augustus Barnitz, Richard Biddle, George Chambers, William Clark, Edward Darlington, Edward Davies, Harmar Denny, John Edwards, Thomas Henry, William Hiester, Francis James, Thomas McKean Thompson McKennan, Charles Ogle, David Potts, Jr., Andrew Stewart

Rhode Island:
Dutee Jerauld Pearce

Vermont:
William Cahoon, Benjamin F. Deming, Henry Fisk Janes, William Slade

Notable office holders and candidates[edit]

President Millard Fillmore's political career began as an Anti-Masonic member of the New York State Assembly in 1829.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard B. Morris, Encyclopedia of American History, revised edition, Harper & Row (New York), 1961, pages 170–171
  2. ^ Marshall Cavendish, Exploring American History: From Colonial Times until 1877, 2008, page 979
  3. ^ Samuel A. Whittemore, Free Masonry: A Poem. In Three Cantos, 1830, page 166
  4. ^ Robert James Maddox, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, American History, Volume 2, 1998, page 37
  5. ^ Jasper Ridley, The Freemasons: A History of the World's Most Powerful Secret Society, 2013, unknown page number
  6. ^ Peck, William F. (1908). History of Rochester and Monroe county, New York. The Pioneer publishing company. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  7. ^ The Skeptic's Dictionary: Freemasons, retrieved September 9, 2014
  8. ^ "Captain William M. Morgan of Batavia New York", Christian Martyrs
  9. ^ Josephus Nelson Larned, The New Larned History for Ready Reference, Reading and Research, Volume 1, 1922, page 374
  10. ^ Chip Berlet, Matthew Nemiroff Lyons, Right-wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort, 2000, page 38
  11. ^ Sydney Nathans, Daniel Webster and Jacksonian Democracy, 1973, page 88
  12. ^ Henry Dana Ward, The Anti-Masonic Review, Volume 1, 1828, page 290
  13. ^ Rayback 1959, pp. 18–19
  14. ^ David G. Hackett, That Religion in Which All Men Agree: Freemasonry in American Culture, 2014, page 118
  15. ^ Michael Kazin, Rebecca Edwards, Adam Rothman, editors, The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History, Volume 1, 2010, page 39
  16. ^ Anne-Marie Taylor, Young Charles Sumner and the Legacy of the American Enlightenment, 1811–1851, 2001, page 40
  17. ^ Thurlow Weed, Selections from the Newspaper Articles of Thurlow Weed, 1877, pages 50–51
  18. ^ Lucien V. Rule, Pioneering in Masonry: The Life and Times of Rob Morris, Masonic Poet, 1922, page 63
  19. ^ Mark Stein, American Panic: A History of Who Scares Us and Why, 2014, page 45
  20. ^ Edward S. Mihalkanin, editor, American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell, 2004, page 451
  21. ^ Jeffrey D. Schultz, John G. West, Iain S. MacLean, editors, Encyclopedia of Religion in American Politics, 1999, page 18
  22. ^ Charles Elliott Fitch Encyclopedia of Biography of New York, Volume 1, 1916, page 318
  23. ^ Benson John Lossing, The Empire State: A Compendious History of the Commonwealth of New York, 1888, page 447
  24. ^ John G. Gasaway, Tippecanoe and the Party Press Too: Mass Communication, Politics, Culture, and the Fabled Presidential Election of 1840, 1999, page 228
  25. ^ The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2. Encyclopedia Britannica Company. 1910. p. 127. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  26. ^ Wells, Frederic Palmer (1902). History of Newbury, Vermont. The Caledonian Company. p. 340. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  27. ^ Bouton, Nathaniel (1856). The History of Concord, Vermont. McFarland & Jenks. p. 697. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  28. ^ Niles, William Ogden (September 30, 1837). "National Antimasonic Convention". Niles' National Register, Volume 53. p. 68. Retrieved September 2014. 
  29. ^ Hemenway, Abby Maria (1882). The History of the Town of Montpelier, Including that of the Town of East Montpelier. A. M. Hemenway. p. 273. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  30. ^ Vermont Secretary of State (1902). Vermont Legislative Directory. Vermont Watchman Co. p. 199. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  31. ^ Pennsylvania Bureau of Statistics (1875). Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics of Pennsylvania, Volume 2. B. F. Meyers, State Printer. p. 17. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  32. ^ Duffy, John J., et al. (2003). The Vermont Encyclopedia. University of Vermont Press. p. 171. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  33. ^ Wells, Frederic Palmer (1902). History of Newbury, Vermont. The Caledonian Company. p. 340. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  34. ^ Polk, James K., author, Cutler, Wayne, editor (1996). Correspondence of James K. Polk: Volume IX, January-June 1845. University of Tennessee Press. p. 39. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  35. ^ A History of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1956. p. 508. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  36. ^ American Historical Association (1903). Annual Report, Volume I. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 551. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  37. ^ Haynes, Stan M. (2012). The First American Political Conventions: Transforming Presidential Nominations, 1832-1872. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 27. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  38. ^ Goldwag, Arthur (2012). The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right. p. 172. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  39. ^ "PA US President – AM Convention Race – Dec 14, 1835". Our Campaigns. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  40. ^ "VT US President – AM Convention Race – Feb 24, 1836". Our Campaigns. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  41. ^ "US President – AM Convention Race – May 04, 1836". Our Campaigns. 2008-03-27. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  42. ^ Trefousse, Hans Louis (1997). Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-century Egalitarian. University of North Carolina Press. p. 45. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  43. ^ Mueller, Richard Mueller (1922). The Whig Party in Pennsylvania. Columbia University. p. 276. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  44. ^ Adams, Sean Patrick (2013). A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson. Blackwell Publishing. p. 343. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  45. ^ Haywood, H. L., editor (1921). The Builder: A Journal for the Masonic Student, Volume 7. National Masonic Research Society. p. 77. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  46. ^ "US President – AM Convention Race – Nov 13, 1838". Our Campaigns. 2009-05-23. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  47. ^ Remini, Robert Vincent (1991). Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. p. 528. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  48. ^ McLaughlin, Andrew Cunningham (1914). Cyclopedia of American Government, Volume 1. D. Appleton and Company. p. 49. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  49. ^ Volo, James M. (2012). The Boston Tea Party: The Foundations of Revolution. ABC-CLIO, LLC. p. 21. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  50. ^ Norton, Mary Beth (2005). A People & A Nation: Volume 1: To 1877. Houghton Mifflin. p. 276. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  51. ^ Scarry, Robert J. (2001). Millard Fillmore. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 34. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  52. ^ McLaughlin, Andrew Cunningham (1914). Cyclopedia of American Government, Volume 1. D. Appleton and Company. p. 49. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  53. ^ Goldwag, Arthur (2012). The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right. p. 172. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  54. ^ Mihalkanin, Edward S., editor (2004). American Statesmen: Secretaries of State from John Jay to Colin Powell. Greenwood Press. p. 451. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  55. ^ Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, List of Anti-Masonic Party Members of Congress, retrieved June 17, 2014

Sources[edit]

  • Epstein, David A. (2012). Left, Right, Out: The History of Third Parties in America. Arts and Letters Imperium Publications. ISBN 978-0-578-10654-0.
  • Holt, Michael F. "The Antimasonic and Know Nothing Parties," in History of U.S. Political Parties, ed. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (4 vols., New York, 1973), vol I, 575-620.
  • McCarthy, Charles (1903), The Antimasonic Party: A Study of Political Antimasonry in the United States, 1827–1840, Washington: Government Printing Office , reprinted from Annual Report of the American Historical Association 1, 1902, pp. 365–574 .
  • Robert J. Rayback, Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President. Buffalo Historical Society. 1959.
  • Hans L. Trefousse; Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian. University of North Carolina Press. 1997.
  • Vaughn, William Preston (1983) The Antimasonic Party in the United States, 1826–1843. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1474-8, the standard history
  • Van Deusen, Glyndon G. Thurlow Weed, Wizard of the Lobby (1947)
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

See also[edit]