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The William Morgan
Memorial Digital Library
P O L I T I C A L A N T I - M A S O N R Y
ITS RISE, GROWTH AND DECADENCE.
ROB MORRIS, LL. D.,
Ita comparatum esse hominum naturam omnium,
Aliena ut melius videant et dijudicent,
Quam sua! -- TERENCK.
ROBERT MACOY, MASONIC PUBLISHER,
NO. 4 BARCLAY STREET.
[ 163 ]
The averments of Thurlow Weed that John Whitney
* A most intelligent and zealous Mason, who joined his fortunes with mine in 1857, and continued with me until the convulsions of the civil war separated us. Under my instructions he made extended tours through the "infected district" above named, and sent me a great mass of documentary matter concerning the Morgan affair. In May, 1860, I sent him to Great Britain where he pursued his inquiries for more light with unrivalled zeal, and was about to sail for the Orient when recalled in 1862 by the unhappy divisions of the civil war.
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died in 1861 at the time when he (Weed) was preparing to commit Whitney's confession, as he called it, to paper, is as false as many other parts of his revelations of September 1882, which I quoted in my last chapter. Mr. Whitney died, according to the statements of his family, in Chicago, Illinois, May 3,1869, and was buried by the Masonic Fraternity in Graceland Cemetery in that city. His son-in-law, still a resident of Chicago, testifies that he himself was present at the conference at the Tremont House in 1860 described by Mr. Weed, and that the affair was in every sense different from the accounts given by Weed. Here, according to this better authority, is what passed between them.
"Whitney accosted Weed with the query: 'What are you lying about me so, for? What are all these d---d stories you are telling about me and Morgan?' Weed endeavored to pacify him, begged him not to be angry and assured him that he was only using the statements for political effect. But Whitney insisted that they should be stopped, nor would he desist until Weed had promised to say no more about the matter. Whitney said, 'If you don't stop it, I'll wring your d---d nose off,' and his manner was so threatening that for a moment he seemed really about to pull Weed's nose."
It will be remembered that Mr. Whitney was suffering from the imputations originating with Weed thirty-four years before, and that his fortunes had been wrecked and his life embittered by Anti-Masonic malice and persecution, led principally by Thurlow Weed.
The whole subject of the deportation of Morgan was engineered by John Whitney and Nicholas G. Chesebro. There were but a few persons in their confidence, among whom were Col. William King, Burrage Smith, Loton Lawson and Eli Bruce. The plan from inception to consummation contemplated nothing more than a deportation of Morgan by friendly agreement between the parties, either to Canada or some more distant country. Ample means were provided
ORAL TESTIMONY OF WHITNEY. 165
by the concurrence of DeWitt Clinton and others, for the expenses of the deportation, and the after support of Morgan and his family. For several months the minds of the Masonic Brethren through the counties of Monroe, Ontario and Genesee had been agitated by rumors that William Morgan, a man too well known to them, was preparing an exposition under the advice of various suspended and expelled Masons, and would be prepared to spring it upon the public early in the winter following. This Morgan had been for three years a hanger-on to Freemasonry, tolerated by the middle class for his ready impartation in the ceremonials and instructions of the Order, and by the lower class for his social habits, and as one correspondent has it, "hale-fellow-well-met" and "bonhommie." Up to the spring of 1826 he had found a welcome entrance into many country Lodges for his mechanical expertness in the work, and many a hat collection had been taken up for him, after a night of exhaustive labor in conferring degrees. But his intemperate habits, his shabby style of dress, his peccadillos in the way of borrowing and not returning, * his vulgar, blasphemous and indecent style of conversation that disgusted the gentler sex and set them against him, all these things growing upon Morgan from month to month, had gradually closed the Lodge-doors against him, and narrowed the circle of his visitations. It had often been noticed, and I have alluded to it in a previous chapter, that Morgan rarely visited the same place twice He left vivid recollections behind him in the ledgers of merchants and tavern keepers, where items were entered to his debit, and in the wounded confidence of Brethren who in the incautiousness of hasty
* It was in the recollection of William Seaver that on one occasion a knot of Masons at Batavia were capping Scripture quotations, in which branch of fortune telling Morgan was an expert. One of the company told Morgan that he thought there was a verse that King David wrote expressly for him and he would find it in Psalm xxxvii, 21: "The wicked borroweth and payeth not again." The joke occasioned a general laugh in which Morgan joined.
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day (Thursday, September 14). There was quite a company of us there, and the intelligence was freely communicated, after the Chapter was opened, that Morgan was in Fort Niagara. The greatest satisfaction was evinced at the news, especially that the MSS. and printed sheets had been destroyed and that in a few days Morgan would be effectually separated from the company that had led him to his ruin.
During the day it was reported to us at Lewiston that 'Morgan had gone into the theatricals' and was shouting and alarming the people in the vicinity. It was a common thing with the fellow, as the people of Batavia used to testify. He had had delirium tremens. He couldn't endure to be left alone. His eyes hurt him terribly. He saw snakes in the apartment. He had been a half way convert of Joe Smith, the Mormon, and had learned from him to see visions and dream dreams. So we sent a man down to him, and before night two or three more, before he could be quieted, and nothing less than heavy doses of rum did it at last. That evening the Rochester and Lockport people went home. Lawson, myself and a few others remained in the vicinity until Sunday night the 17th, when two Canadian Brethren came over, received Morgan, who by this time had become quiescent, receipted to me for the money ($600) and crossed to the west side of the river. They traveled on horseback, three horses in the party, Morgan riding one all that night and part of next day. Monday night, the 17th, they rode some thirty miles further to a point near the present city of Hamilton, where the journey ended. Morgan signed a receipt for the $600. He signed also, as attested by the two witnesses, a paper which I had previously drawn up, detailing the circumstances of his deportation, commencing Monday, September 11, declaring that he had entered into the arrangement of his own free will and accord, pledging himself to remain in Canada in the vicinity where the party left him until he should get permission from Col. King, Sheriff Bruce or John Whitney to change his location, and finally promising to reform his habits by industry, economy and temperance.
Such, Brother Morris, is a true account of the deportation of William Morgan. We supposed we could at any time trace him up. We were preparing to send his wife and
ORAL TESTIMONY OF WHITNEY. 197
children to him as agreed. We were happy in the thought that the excitement which had arisen in the Lodges would be allayed, and that peace and harmony once more would be given to us by the S.A.O.T.U. We went home filled with the reflection that the Craft would be the gainer by our labors. I wrote a personal letter to Gov. Clinton giving him all the circumstances of the affair, and really supposed that was the end of it.
What a tremendous mistake I made, what a tremendous blunder we all made, I needn't tell you. Had we really put the miserable fellow to death, had he been drowned or poisoned before leaving Batavia, not half the uproar had followed. It was scarcely a week until we saw what trouble was before us. It was not a fortnight until Col. King sent a confidential messenger into Canada to see Morgan and prepare to bring him back. But alas, he who had sold his friends at Batavia had now sold us. He had gone. He had changed his name, changed his clothes, bought a horse and left the village 'riding as on the wings of the wind,' within forty-eight hours of the departure of those who took him there. King sent a second person Who employed an old Indian scout, thoroughly posted in the calling, to follow him up. He found that Morgan had gone east at the rate of fifty miles a day to a point down the river not far from Port Hope. He had sold his horse and disappeared. He had doubtless got on board a vessel there and sailed out of the country. At any rate that was the last we ever heard of him.
Speaking of Indians, you know that head chief Brant, was charged with taking a hand in this affair, and some of the Anti-Masonic journals charged him with murdering Morgan. Brant was a high toned gentleman, and when he heard of the charge he wrote the celebrated letter which no doubt you have seen. *
That week's work, Brother Morris, cost me dear enough. I was what John C. Spencer called a respectable stonecutter, and the affair nearly broke me. At the Canandaigua
* I give a copy of this epistle:
"To The Editor of the York (U. C.) Observer:
Sir -- I have just read a paragraph in the New York Spectator" (this was Southwick's paper) of the 17th inst., wherein it is stated that the Fraternity of Niagara had sent for me to receive and sacrifice the unhappy Morgan of whom so much has been lately spoken. You will oblige me by contradicting this report, which is wholly false. Neither
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