Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MORGAN, William, Mason, born in Culpeper county, Virginia, about 1775. He served under General Andrew Jackson at the battle of New Orleans. He removed in 1821 to York, Upper Canada, where he became a brewer, and subsequently to Batavia, New York In August, 1826, it was reported that he was about to publish a volume that would expose the secrets of the order of Freemasons, of which he had been a member, and shortly afterward he suddenly disappeared. This caused great excitement, an(1 committees of safety and vigilance were formed that traced him westward to Fort Niagara, near Lewiston, New York, where he had been imprisoned. It was said that he had been conveyed in a carriage from Batavia to Fort Niagara by Freemasons, and it was afterward testified that he was drowned in Lake Ontario; but this story was denied, and it was affirmed that he had been seen alive at Smyrna, in Asia, and in other places. A body was produced, said to have been found near the mouth of Niagara river, but it was denied that it was Morgan's, and Thurlow Weed was said to have remarked that it was "a good enough Morgan till after election." Prosecutions were in due time instituted against those whom investigation showed to have been in any way concerned in the abduction, and repeated trials resulted in the conviction of some of them on minor charges, but no murder was ever judicially established, it was supposed to be shown in the course of these trials that the Masonic oath disqualified Masons in certain of the higher degrees for serving as jurors in any case where a Mason of like degree was a party and his antagonist was not. The excitement deepened, and resulted in the organization of an Anti-masonic party in western New York, which nominated a candidate for governor, Solomon Southwick, in 1828. In 1831 a National Anti-masonic convention was held, wherein most of the free states were represented, which nominated William Wirt, of Maryland, for president of the United States. Although Anti-masonic state and national tickets were supported in many free states, they were successful only in Vermont, which remained for several years under Anti-masonic rule, but the party lost its distinctive character, gradually faded out, and ceased to exist after 1835. Morgan's book, "Illustrations of Freemasonry, by One of the Fraternity who has devoted Thirty Years to the Subject," was published in various forms (1826; 2d ed., with an account of the kidnapping of the author, 1827; reprinted as "Freemasonry Exposed and Explained," with the verdict of the jury in relation to the abduction and murder of the author). See also " The Broken Seal, or the Morgan Abduction and Murder," by S. D. Greene (New York, 1870); "History of the Morgan Affair," by Robert Morris (New York, 1852); and "American Political Anti-Masonry," by Henry O'Reilly (printed privately, New York, 1879).
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