[Editor's Note: This report was submitted by Mr. Syntax Era. Its purpose is to dispute a suggestion by Jinx that the Freemasons had been involved with the murder of one Captain William Morgan.]
Did the Freemasons kill Captain William Morgan?
In brief, William Morgan was an itinerant worker who settled in Batavia, NY in 1824. He managed to convince the Masons of Batavia that he was a Mason and participated in Lodge activities, made speeches and visited other Lodges. He signed a petition for the formation of a Royal Arch Chapter in Batavia, but some other Masons questioned his Masonic legitimacy. Another Royal Arch petition was then submitted, which he was not permitted to sign. Morgan was furious about this, and vowed revenge. He agreed to work with David Miller, the publisher or the "Batavia Advocate," the local newspaper, and several partners, in the publication of a book exposing Freemasonry. The project was made public and there was pandemonium among the Masons of Batavia and the surrounding towns in western New York, leading ultimately to his disappearance on September 19th, 1826. It is generally agreed that William Morgan was taken to Canada by Masons and there given $500 and a horse, with the agreement that he would never return. However, despite a lack of evidence, rumors persisted that he had been murdered.
Those involved issued the following statement:
"The plan from inception to completion, contemplated nothing more than a deportation of Morgan, by friendly agreement between the parties, either to Canada or some other country. Ample means were provided for the expenses and the after-support of Morgan and his family. This plan had been perfected from the fact that the minds of Masonic brethren had been agitated by rumors that William Morgan was preparing an exposition and was preparing to give it to the public. It was then mutually agreed that Morgan would destroy the document, refuse all interviews with his partner and hold himself in readiness to go to Canada, settle down there and upon arrival he should receive 500.00 dollars with his written pledge to stay there and never return to the States. We also agreed that Morgan's family should be cared for and sent to Canada as soon as a suitable home had been provided for them. What a tremendous blunder we all made! It was scarcely a week until we saw what trouble was before us. Morgan had sold us out as he had sold his friends in Batavia. Within forty eight hours after his arrival in Canada he had gone. He was traced to a point down the river not far from Port Hope where he had sold his horse and disappeared. He had doubtless got on a vessel there and left the country."
Morgan's deportation cannot be justified by any legal, moral or Masonic principle. It should be noted that Morgan's "expose" was nothing more than a cobbled plagiarism of earlier English exposures, of little interest or value.
Public interest in the affair began about three weeks after Morgan's disappearance in the form of inflammatory handbills printed throughout New York and Canada accusing the Freemasons of Batavia of abducting and murdering William Morgan. Conventions and public meetings were held demanding an investigation and offering rewards for the discovery and conviction of those involved. DeWitt Clinton, a distinguished and eminent Mason, was Governor of the State of New York at the time. He issued proclamations condemning the actions of those accused of abducting Morgan and secured indictments against the four men involved in the conspiracy.
The Grand Lodges throughout the United States passed resolutions, disclaiming all connection or sympathy with the outrage.