The New International Encyclopædia/Anti-Masons
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AN'TI-MA'SONS. The name of a political party in New York and other States, organized in 1827-28, chiefly as the result of excitement over the fate of William Morgan, of Batavia, N. Y., who was said to be about to publish, or betray, the secrets of the Masonic order, of which he was a member. He disappeared suddenly in 1826, and his fate has never been satisfactorily determined. The opponents of Freemasonry declared that he had been murdered and his body sunk in the river or lake at Niagara. Legal inquiries followed, but proved nothing. At or about that time the governor of the State was a Mason of the most advanced degrees, and probably a majority of all public officers were members of the order. Widespread excitement pervaded western New York, and the Anti-Masonic party was formed, casting 33,000 votes in 1828, about 70,000 in 1829, and 120,000 in 1830, though many in the latter year were anti-Jackson men, without reference to Masonry. The party attempted to organize on national lines in 1830, and especially in connection with its National Convention of 1831; and in 1832 it supported William Wirt for President, but carried only one State, Vermont. The party was also able, through the disorganization of the Democrats, to control temporarily Pennsylvania, and it was strong in Ohio and Massachusetts; but after 1835 it disappeared as rapidly as it had arisen. Many who were conspicuous later in the two chief parties, such as Thurlow Weed (q.v.) and Seward (q.v.), were members of this party for a brief time; but upon the coalescence and harmonizing of each of the dominant parties, the life of a third national party became an impossibility, especially upon the subsidence of the excitement out of which it had arisen. Consult: Hammond, Political History of New York State (Cooperstown, 1846); Hopkins, Political Parties (New York, 1900).