Anti-Masonic Party

A political Party that arose as an indirect result of the William Morgan abduction and as a direct result of percieved Masonic abuses of privilege. This political Party was the FIRST Third Party system in US Politics.

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By Bro. Erik McKinley Eriksson

The Rise of the – Anti-Masonic Party

THE POLITICAL HISTORY of the United States contains accounts of numerous minor parties, each of which for a time made an unsuccessful struggle for power and then disappeared from the political arena. Of all these parties there has, perhaps, been none as unique as the Anti-Masonic Party which existed in certain states from about 1827 to 1840.

The “Morgan incident” has generally been given as the cause of this party, (1) so, in order to arrive at an understanding of the true place of this affair in the formation of the party, a brief description is necessary.¬†William Morgan, who resided at the time in Batavia, New York, was, on September 14, 1826, arrested on a charge of petit larceny, and imprisoned in the jail at Canandaigua. While confined there, he was kidnapped by several men and conveyed in a closed carriage across the country to Ft. Niagara, where public knowledge of his whereabouts ceased for a time. Later, judicial investigations were instigated to solve the mystery of his disappearance. It was established that Morgan had been initiated into Masonry at some time previous to coming to Batavia. Becoming incensed against certain Masons, he resolved to publish the secrets of Freemasonry and prepared a manuscript with that purpose in view. This aroused the more radical Masons who were accused of burning a printing office in an effort to destroy the documents. It was also brought out that those who kidnapped Morgan from the jail and took him to Ft. Niagara were Masons. During the investigation and trial of the accused Masons, public sentiment was raised to a high pitch of excitement by the charge that Masons were hindering justice and seeking to prevent the truth from being divulged. Enemies of the Fraternity charged that Masons had taken Morgan from the magazine of the fort in which he was confined and had drowned him in the Niagara river. Though various Masons were tried for the alleged crime, no one was ever punished for it. (2) What really happened to Morgan is still a matter of controversy. Masonic historians admit that the fact of his abduction was fully proved, but question the veracity of the evidence that he was murdered. They do not deny the fact of his disappearance from Ft. Niagara, but hold that the manner of his disposal is an unsolved mystery. (3) The autobiographies of William H. Seward and Thurlow Weed give extended accounts of the Morgan incident, and both hold that Morgan was drowned. But Masonic historians are justified in questioning their testimony, as both were prominent Anti-Masonic leaders, and therefore apt to be biased. Weed bases his account on an alleged confession made to him in 1831 by John Whitney, a Mason. This man, Weed relates, told him that he was in the party which removed Morgan from the magazine of Ft. Niagara. The commander of the fort was a Mason and connived at the plot. As the story goes, Morgan was placed in a boat and told that he was to be taken to Canada and settled on a farm in the interior, but when the boat was two miles from shore where the Niagara River merges with Lake Ontario, he was bound and weighted and dropped in the river, the boat returning to the fort. Whitney promised to give Weed a signed statement of the affair, but the latter neglected to secure it when he met Whitney at the Republican convention at Chicago in 1860. When Weed finally wrote to Whitney in 1868 in regard to the matter he learned that the latter was dead. So we have only Thurlow Weed’s unsupported word for the matter. (4) This fact is stressed, not because of its importance in relation to the Anti-Masonic party, but to show the true nature of the controversy. Whatever may have been the truth in the matter, the fact remains that William Morgan disappeared; the Masons, as an organization, were accused of his murder; and many people were ready to take up the charge and denounce the institution as an evil to be eliminated. The controversy raged on both sides, in press and speech, pamphlets were published, (5) and excitement ran high, first in Western New York, and then spread to other northern states. The movement did not confine its attack to Masonry but directed its fury against all secret societies.

The “Morgan incident” was the match which lighted the fires of political Anti-Masonry, but it alone would never have brought such a party into being had not the social and political conditions been ripe. At the time of Morgan’s abduction in 1826 there was but one political party, the Democratic-Republican, but underneath the surface were conditions which made the formation of a new party easy. Though the Federalists had disappeared from national polities they still retained a feeble hold in some states. New England had never completely entered the Democratic-Republican ranks, while many of the aristocrats of the north were kept out of the party by the old fear of “Jacobinism.”‘ Within the ostensibly solid ranks of the Democratic-Republican party, factions had arisen due to jealousy among the leaders for each other. Further, various sections were becoming arrayed against each other. The economic interests and social ideals of the South, West, and East were different, and these sections were becoming conscious of the fact. The various divisions, already existent in 1824, were intensified by the election by the House of Representatives in 1825, of John Quincy Adams to the presidency. Factionalism was especially well defined in New York, where a fight had long raged over the Erie canal. The supporters of the canal were led by DeWitt Clinton; the opponents, own as “Bucktails” were led by Martin Van Buren. However, in 1826, Clinton went over to his enemies, leaving the canal supporters leaderless and practically unorganized. Thus, in western New York, especially, soil was prepared for the planting of the seeds of the Anti-Masonic party, when the Morgan incident occurred. (6)

In seeking the basis for the Anti-Masonic party, the element of religion must be considered. The late twenties and early thirties were a time of great religious activity. The organization of a Christian political party was proposed as early as 1827. Many of the leading religious men of the country entered the Anti-Masonic party so that it become for all effects and purposes, a religious party, wielding religion as one of its most effective weapons. Churches passed resolutions against Masonic clergymen and laymen, and the Masonic order, resolutions which were endorsed by Anti- Masonic political gatherings. Among the churches condemning Freemasonry were the Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist, Baptist, Dutch Reformed, Mennonites, Dunkards, and Quakers. (7) The Anti-Masonic movement had all the fanaticism of a religious crusade. No organization, whether civil, military, or religious, was free from its influence. Teachers were removed from their positions and the children of Masons forbidden to attend school, while ministers who were Masons were deprived of their pastorates, and members of churches were excluded from their churches because they were Masons and denied such privileges as the communion. (8)

But the Masons did not yield ground without opposition. Writers and speakers hastened to defense of the institution when the attack was begun on it because of the Morgan incident. So effective was the defense that there was a reaction in favour of the fraternity in early 1827. Members of the fraternity entered politics and openly defended the principles of the Order. This gave the Anti-Masons an opening, and they accused the Masons of attempting to use their society for the purpose of subverting the Government. (9) Attempts were made to deprive Masonic bodies of their chartered rights, and to secure the passage of laws forbidding Masons to hold meetings and perform their rites. The latter met these attacks as best they could. Resolutions were generally passed by the Grand Bodies “disavowing all connection or sympathy with the outrage on Morgan and claiming that a whole great Fraternity should not be held responsible for the unauthorized and unMasonic acts of a few misguided men.” (10) In many places they advised either that work be suspended or that the charters be surrendered. This did not satisfy the opposition “who insisted not only upon the renunciation of Masonry, but also its denunciation.” If Masons refused to renounce their principles they were strongly denounced, while, if they did, their renunciation was regarded as added proof of their wrong doing. Under this persecution, Masonic work almost entirely ceased for a time. Even the Grand Bodies in some of the states suspended their meetings for years. In New York state about four hundred lodges, or two-thirds of the total number, suspended work and became extinct, while in Pennsylvania there were only forty-six active lodges in June, 1838. But there were, in every jurisdiction, a few faithful members who kept the work in hand, and were ready to revive the Order when the Anti-Masonic excitement died out. Thus, in the late “thirties” a rapid revival began and the Masonic fraternity again became prosperous. (11) These events had their effect on the political alignment of Masons in general. It was assumed that these were naturally in opposition to “Jacksonian Democracy,” but circumstances forced most of them into the ranks of the Jackson men. One reason for this was that President Andrew Jackson, himself a Mason, was the only one of the great national leaders who dared support the Order openly. On one occasion, during the heat of the excitement, he declared that “the Masonic Society was an institution calculated to benefit mankind and trusted it would continue to prosper.” A second reason for the Masons joining the Democratic party, was the coalition between the Anti-Masons and the National Republicans, (the other Anti-Jackson party in 1832), especially in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Later, when it became clear that the Anti-Masonic party was essentially an Anti-Jackson party, many Masons returned to the National Republican ranks and worked with such Anti-Masonic leaders as Thurlow Weed. (12)

There are other facts of interest to be considered in connection with the origin and rise of the Anti-Masonic Party. One of the peculiarities to be noted is that it was a rural movement almost entirely. Its strength lay in the country districts, while the Masons were strong in the cities. (13) It is to be noted further that the New England influence was predominant in the movement, though the, Germans, and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians of Pennsylvania, and the Quakers were strong elements in the Anti-Masonic Party. The chief strength of the party lay in New England, New York, and in such other places as had received immigrants from that section. The chief leaders, such as Thurlow Weed in New York, and Thaddeus Stevens in Pennsylvania, were of New England extraction. (14)

The Anti-Masonic leaders were among the shrewdest politicians this nation has ever had, directing the movement to suit their own ends after the Morgan incident had kindled the necessary excitement. Among; the prominent men who sympathized with the purposes of this party were John Quincy Adams, John Marshall, John C. Calhoun, James Madison, Daniel Webster, William H. Harrison. Their attitude brought many into the fold of the Anti-Masons. The most active of the leaders were Thurlow Weed, William H. Seward, Albert Tracy, William H. Maynard, Francis Granger, Fred Whittlesey, John C. Spencer, Myron Holley, Henry D. Ward, Millard Fillmore, and Thaddeus Stevens, – a group of very brilliant newspaper men and politicians. These men conducted an active propaganda in behalf of their party. Numerous newspapers were established, one of the most prominent being the Albany Evening Journal, edited by Thurlow Weed. There re in 1832, no less than one hundred forty-one Anti-Masonic papers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Indiana, Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Over two-thirds of this number were concentrated in two states, New York having forty-five weeklies and one daily, and Pennsylvania fifty-five weeklies. (15)

Another means of strengthening the party was use of conventions. This party was the first to use the device of a national convention. One reason this was that the party had such few members in Congress that it could not employ a congressional caucus in making nominations for national offices. (16) State conventions were also held frequently. Between February 19, 1828, and July 23, 1830, there were six such conventions in New York, including three conventions of seceding Masons; two in Massachusetts; one in Kentucky; two in Vermont; two in Rhode Island; one in Ohio; and one in Michigan territory. (17)

Prominent leaders, as well as many lesser members of the party, travelled about spreading Anti-Masonic propaganda by means of public lectures and exhibitions. Among the most active of these were S.D. Greene, Jarvis Hanks, and Avery Allen, all of whom had been Masons but had renounced the Order. (18)



Having considered the conditions which made the rise of the Anti-Masonic Party possible, attention will be directed to the party’s political activity in various states. It is not intended to make an extended survey of this phase of Anti-Masonic history, but it is necessary to follow the cause of Anti-Masonry in the states to serve a background for the national Anti-Masonic party, which is intended to occupy the place of chief importance in this paper.

The first steps to organize a political party out of the opposition to Masonry aroused by the Morgan incident, were taken in February, 1827, when meetings were held at Batavia and at several other towns in western New York, and it was resolved to withhold support from Masons seeking election to public offices. Thus began a political organization which spread rapidly throughout the rural districts of western New York. Rochester became the centre from which the doctrines of Anti-Masonry were propagated. Little success was attained in the election of that year. (19) Thurlow Weed and other leaders in New York made attempts to unite the Adams men and the Anti-Masons in the election of 1828, but were frustrated by the more radical of the latter who nominated Solomon Southwick for governor. He polled 33,335 votes, while Judge Smith Thompson, the National Republican candidate, received 106,415 votes, and Martin Van Buren, who was elected governor, received 136,783 votes. The Anti-Masons elected seventeen assemblymen and four state senators. The vote on presidential electors showed that the western part of the state had given Adams sixteen electors while Jackson received twenty from the state. (20)

The year 1829 was marked by a state convention which met February 19, 1829, at Albany. The most active men at this gathering were Southwick, Weed, Whittlesey, Granger, Seward, Holley, Maynard, Tracy, and Ward. One of the most significant events of this convention was the resolving, on Feb. 20, to hold a national convention at Philadelphia, September 11, 1830. The election of 1829 was on the whole favourable to the Jackson party, though the Anti-Masons made slight gains in the state legislature. By this time true Anti-Masonry had come to mean Anti-Jacksonism. The National Republicans and Anti-Masons were united on most questions, opposing the administration forces on the leading questions of the day and both supporting the “American System,” – the national bank, the tariff, and internal improvements. (21)

The New York Anti-Masons showed surprising strength in the election of 1830, their candidate for governor, Francis Granger receiving 120,361 votes and Emos Throop, the Democratic candidate, receiving 128,892 votes. The fact that many Masonic adherents of Clay in eastern counties voted for the Democratic candidate rather than for Granger was all that assured the election of Throop. The election of 1831 produced little excitement. The greatest source of excitement was absent, since the “Morgan trials” had been ended by the statute of limitations. About thirty members of the party were elected to the state assembly. (23) In the election of 1832 the Anti-Masonic party in New York came out with the same platform as the National Republicans, namely, “The American system.” The two parties united in supporting the same electoral and state tickets, though the state conventions of each nominated the presidential candidates put forward by their respective national conventions. In spite of this coalition, the Democratic party carried both the electoral and state tickets in the fall of 1832. (24)

In Pennsylvania, the various German sects, – Mennonites, German Reformed, Amish, Dunkards, Moravians, and others; the presence of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians; the Quakers; and other religious sects; and the dislike of the people of the Western part of the state for the Democratic state administrations’ policy in regard to internal improvements, supplied fertile soil for Anti-Masonic propaganda. Efforts were made to organize the party in the western part of the state as early as 1827. Participation in the election of 1828 was ineffective. The election of 1829 showed the Anti-Masonic party well established in the state. The party candidate for governor, Joseph Ritner, polled 49,000 votes, while fifteen members of the house and one member of the state senate, as well as one congressman, were elected. (25) Ritner was president of a state convention held at Harrisburg, Feb. 26, 1830, while Thaddeus Stevens appeared as a delegate. The election of that year gave the Anti-Masons six congressmen, four state senators, and twenty-seven members of the house. (26) The Anti-Masonic state convention which met at Harrisburg, February 22, 1832, nominated Ritner for governor and endorsed the party’s candidates on the national ticket. The state administration was condemned and it was charged that Governor George Wolf, a Democrat and a Mason, had brought the state government under Masonic influences. The coalition was in evidence in that state also, but nevertheless, the Democrats were victorious in the election. (27)

Though Pennsylvania and New York were the two strongest Anti-Masonic states, several other states were active in the movement. The movement was strong in Vermont but this was without much effect since the state was of little importance in national political affairs. The Anti-Masonic party was first really organized in this state at a convention held August 5, 1829. The chief significance of the movement in Vermont is that this state was the only one carried by the Anti-Masonic candidate for President in the election of 1832, William Ward. The party’s candidate for governor, William A. Palmer, was also elected by the legislature after forty-three ballots, the popular election having proved indecisive. (28) Anti-Masonry as a political movement, had its beginning in Massachusetts on November 1, 1828, though as a social movement it existed earlier. The party first showed strength in the election of 1830 when it elected three state senators and about twenty members of the house. The political strength of the party in this state was, however, negligible. (29)

Political Anti-Masonry was introduced into Ohio in 1829, but it was not marked with such bitterness as characterized the movement in other states. This state lacked the great party questions and the indifferences between sections which characterized Pennsylvania. The party failed to prosper and had, in 1831, only fifteen members in the legislature. In 1832, a coalition of Anti-Masons and National Republicans was formed, but was unsuccessful. (30)

In 1829, the Anti-Masonic party appeared in Rhode Island, but it did not gain any strength until 1831. The party’s vote was insignificant, but was important locally because the Anti-Masons held the balance of power. (31)

The Anti-Masonic Party appeared in Connecticut in 1828. In February, 1829, a state convention was held. A coalition with the National Republicans in 1832, enabled the party to elect sixty-seven members of the lower house of the legislature, eight state senators, and one United States senator. (32)

The Quakers in New Jersey early took up the Anti-Masonic cause. The vote in this state was light, the vote for Wirt in 1832 being only five hundred. (33)

New England emigration to Michigan territory carried Anti-Masonry with it. The party made its appearance here in 1828 and showed its strength the next year by electing John Riddle as the Territorial Delegate to Congress.

Besides the states mentioned, political Anti-Masonry appeared in Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Alabama, Maryland, and North Carolina. Its career in these states was ephemeral, and the party never prospered in any of them. (34)


The chief interest in the Anti-Masonic movement lies in a consideration of its career as a national political party and especially in the part played by the party in the election of 1832, when it had its own national ticket, in the field. The New York Anti-Masonic leaders had formed a plan for a strong national organization as early as 1827. Then began the search for a man who would make an acceptable national leader. John Quincy Adams in a letter had stated that he was not a Mason and never expected to be. This made him the national leader of Anti-Masonry in 1828. But, because he was unpopular in New York he was not the most acceptable candidate for the party’s presidential nomination in 1832. Henry Clay was considered as a leader who could unite the Anti-Jackson forces, but he was a Mason and refused to renounce the Order, though his allegiance to it was half-hearted. In a letter he said, “Masonry and Anti-Masonry have legitimately in my opinion nothing to do with polities.” In another letter he said that the use of the power of the Government “to abolish or advance the interest of Masonry or Anti-Masonry . . . would be an act of usurpation or tyranny.” Giving up hope of securing Clay, the Anti-Masons had to look elsewhere for a leader. John C. Calhoun was considered but his advocacy of nullification in South Carolina made him unacceptable. Judge John McLean of Ohio was approached and consented to accept the party presidential nomination to oppose President Jackson in 1832 if no other opposition candidate was put in the field. (35)

Before a nomination for the presidency was made the Anti-Masonic party held two national conventions. The campaign of 1832 was opened in 1830 when a convention of New York Anti-Masons meeting at Albany resolved to hold a national convention in Philadelphia in September of that same year. (36) This convention assembled at the appointed place on September 11, 1830. Ninety-six delegates were present from New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Maryland, and the territory of Michigan. Francis Granger of New York was chosen president of the convention. No attempt was made to nominate a national ticket but an address was drawn up by Myron Holley setting forth the principles for which the party stood. William H. Seward was delegated to draw up the creed of the party in the form of resolutions. (37) Before adjourning the convention voted to hold another national convention at Baltimore on September 26, 1831. It was to be made up of delegates, equal in number to the Congressmen and the United States Senators from each state, who were to be chosen by all those people who were opposed to secret societies. The purpose of this convention was to be the nomination of candidates for President and Vice-President in the election of 1832. (38) This convention met as had been determined, one hundred fifteen delegates being present from thirteen states. Among those in attendance were Thaddeus Stevens and William Heister of Pennsylvannia; John Rutherford of New Jersey; Jonathan Sloan of Ohio; William Sprague of Rhode Island; John C. Spencer, Thurlow Weed, William H. Seward, James Burt, Henry Dana Ward, Gamaliel H. Barstow, James Wadsworth, Myron Holley, Samuel Miles Hopkins, Timothy Childs, George H. Boughton, James Geddes, David Russell, Samuel A. Foot, and Nicholas Devereux of New York. When the convention met, John McLean was the man in view for the nomination as presidential candidate. It was known prior to this time that Henry Clay had decided to accept the National Republican nomination for the presidency. Accordingly, McLean wrote a letter from Nashville under date of September 7, 1831, withdrawing his name from consideration by the convention, giving as his reasons that the multiplication of candidates might so distract the public mind as to prevent an election by the people. (39) After the convention had been organized it was resolved to invite Charles Carroll, of Carrolltown, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who lived a short distance from Baltimore to sit in the convention but he was unable to be present. Chief-Justice John Marshall and William Wirt, ex-Attorney-General of the United States, were in the city and were invited to take seats in the convention, an invitation which they accepted. (40) John C. Spencer of New York was chosen president of the convention. (41) When the first meeting adjourned, Thurlow Weed accompanied by John C. Spencer, Albert H. Tracy, and Abner Phelps, called on Wirt, whom they found in sympathy with their cause and who consented to the use of his name as the party candidate for president. A few of the delegates, notably Thaddeus Stevens, were hesitant to accept Wirt as the presidential candidate, but were finally won over. (42) On Wednesday, September 28, 1830, the formal nomination took place, Wirt being named candidate for President, and Amos Ellmaker of Pennsylvania being nominated for vice-president. Each received one hundred eight votes out of one hundred eleven members present. It was then resolved to make the nominations unanimous and a committee composed of John Rutherford of New Jersey, Jonathan Doan of Ohio, and Thomas Elder of Pennsylvania was appointed to call on Mr. Wirt, to inform him of the convention’s action and request him to accept the nomination. The convention assembled at eight P. M. that same day to receive Wirt’s reply. In this address Wirt pointed out what he regarded as the principals of the Anti-Masonic party; stated that he had been initiated as a Mason in early life but had not attended a lodge for over thirty years, and said that he had seen no harm in Masonry until political Anti-Masonry had sprung up. This address was so strange, coming as it did from the Anti-Masonic presidential candidate, that it deserves to be quoted in part. Speaking of the Masonry opposed by the new party, he said:

“But, gentlemen, this was not and could not be Masonry as understood by Washington. The thing is impossible. The suspicion would be parricide, nor can I believe that in the quarter of the union with which I am best acquainted, intelligent men of high and honourable character, if they have been drawn into these shocking and impious oaths, can consider them as paramount to their duties to their God and their country. It is true that after the practical exhibition of Masonry which we have had in New York, no man of common prudence can sleep over these discoveries, and will take care in every case of doubt to inquire. But both justice and prudence demand discrimination for the powers of a president ought not, in my opinion to be prostituted to the purpose of a blind and unjust proscription, involving innocence and honour with guilt and treason, and no man is worthy of a nomination to this high office in whose judgment and patriotism, confidence cannot be placed to make the proper distinction between them. In the view of all honourable men he would deservedly become an object of disgust, if he could stoop to commit himself to any pledges, in a case like this, as the price of his nomination.

“If with these views of my opinion, it is the pleasure of your convention to change the nomination, I can assure you sincerely that I shall retire from it with far more pleasure than I should accept it. If, on the contrary, it be their choice to abide by it, I have only to add, that in a government like ours, I consider no citizen at liberty to reject a nomination by so respectable a body, upon personal considerations.”

The convention, after hearing this address read, unanimously voted to stand by the nomination. At the same meeting a communication was received from Amos Ellmaken accepting the party’s nomination for vice-president. (48) The convention did not draw up a party platform but issued a lengthy address to the people of the United States, in which it denounced Freemasonry; exposed what it purported to be Masonic secrets; reviewed the Morgan incident, placing the blame on the Masonic lodge and urged political action to remove what it termed a “danger.” Stating that the men who filled the nation’s two highest offices should possess the qualifications of industry, intelligence, honesty, independence, vigilance, judgment, prudence, disinterestedness, and patriotism, it presented its candidates, William Wirt of Maryland and Amos Ellmaker of Pennsylvania, as being qualified for the offices of president and vice-president respectively. (44)

The campaign of 1832 was warmly waged, but as the anti-Jackson forces were divided it could hardly be expected that Jackson would be defeated for re-election to the presidency. Had the Anti-Masons and National Republicans been able to unite their votes for either Wirt or Henry Clay, instead of running them as rivals their chances would have been much better. The more zealous of the Anti-Masons were dissatisfied with the nomination of Wirt, stating that he “had no claim for support of the Anti-Masons superior to either Jackson or Clay.” The leaders such as Weed, however, were satisfied with their choice. Wirt himself did not act in a manner to arouse confidence of enthusiasm. He was aged and sickly, and expressed a wish to withdraw from the race because he failed to unite the party as he had hoped to. (45) Though the Anti-Masons and National Republicans were running rival candidates for the presidency, they nevertheless formed coalition wherever it seemed expedient, as has been pointed out in the survey of the political activity of the Anti-Masons in the states. This coalition was bitterly denounced by the newspaper organ of the Jackson administration, The Washington Globe. One editorial contained the following vehement language, ‘We see the Nationals, and the Nullifiers, the political Masons and the political Anti- Masons – all the malcontents who wish the Government pulled down and re-edified on their own principles, or severed and multiplied, to make the chief power accessible to the different aspirants – uniting their strength against one of the fathers of the Republic (President Jackson), whose patriotism and popularity rebuke their ambitious hopes. We rejoice to see this coalition among factious politicians. It unmasks their depravity to the people.” (46) Previously, the Globe had expressed satisfaction when Wirt was nominated, because it made Clay and Wirt rivals, and so divided the Jackson opposition. (47) The coalition was especially active in Ohio and in Pennsylvania. In Ohio, the Anti-Masonic party was not very strong, so the party ticket was withdrawn in favour of Clay. The Globe “played up” this move in the following language: “Thus have the leading Anti-Masons bargained and sold their whole party to the Grand Royal Arch Mason, Henry Clay! Will the people who compose this party ratify this sale by their leaders? It is not only their votes but their principles which are bargained away! They are required to support a Royal Arch Mason for the Presidency, in violation of the fundamental principle of their organization.” In order to compensate (as the Globe claimed) the Anti-Masons for their action in Ohio, the Clay electoral ticket in Pennsylvania was withdrawn, and the adherents of the “American System” were urged to vote for Wirt. (48)

The administration organ used effectively the weapon placed at its disposal by this political trade which it termed the “bargain and sale.” It pointed out that the most electoral votes Clay could hope to gain were ninety, which was fifty-five short of the required number. Since there was no Anti-Masonic ticket in Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, the Globe showed the maximum number of electoral votes that Wirt could gain if he carried every state in which his party had a ticket, was one hundred twenty-four, which would be twenty-one short of enough to elect him. Having shown this, the editorial stated that it was the hope of the coalition, not to elect either Wirt or Clay in the popular election, but to prevent a choice by the people, so that Henry Clay would have a chance to “bargain” for the Presidency in the House of Representatives, as had been done in 1824. The people were urged to vote the Jackson ticket, “the ticket of Union and Liberty,” unless they wanted to see the events of 1824 repeated. (49)

Another point on which the Jackson organ attacked the Anti-Masons was the bank question. It attacked both Wirt and Ellmaker, as it did Clay and Sergeant, the National Republican candidates, because they were all paid attorneys of the Bank of the United States. This was an effective attack, for the election showed that the people approved of the administration hostility to the bank. (50)

The election proved an overwhelming victory for Andrew Jackson. When the electoral vote was counted before a joint session of congress, on February 13, 1833, it was officially shown that Wirt and Ellmaker had carried but one state, receiving the seven electoral votes of Vermont. Clay and Sergeant carried five states, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, and Kentucky, and, besides, received five of Maryland’s eight votes. South Carolina threw her eleven electoral votes to Floyd and Lee. Jackson and Van Buren carried the remaining states, Jackson receiving two hundred nineteen votes. Van Buren received only one hundred eighty-nine votes, since Pennsylvania threw her thirty votes for vice-president to Wilkins. (51)


After this election of 1832, the Anti-Masons rapidly declined both in the states and as a national party. However, the party did not disappear from each of the states at the same time. New York, the birthplace of the Anti-Masonic party, was one of the first states from which it disappeared. The election of 1833 was overwhelmingly in favour of the Democrats, they electing one hundred four members of the assembly out of one hundred twenty-eight, while the Anti-Masons elected only one state senator. “This election meant the death of the Anti-Masonic Party and the organization of the Whigs.” (52) In Pennsylvania, the party did not die out as soon as in New York, but lingered on. In 1833, twenty-three Anti-Masons were elected to the lower house and seven to the state senate. After 1833, the Anti-Masons voted with the Whigs, until, finally, they merged with that party. Before this took place, the party was to enjoy a period of prosperity under the leadership of Thaddeus Stevens. The election of 1835 resulted in am overwhelming victory for the party candidate for governor, Joseph Ritner, he receiving 94,023 votes to 65,804 for George Wolf. Nine Anti-Masonic state senators were elected, while all but twenty-eight of the lower house were Whigs or Anti-Masons. But the Whig-Anti-Masonic coalition went down to defeat in the election of 1836. This election showed the Anti-Masons practically absorbed by the Whigs, though the party did not entirely disappear until 1838. (53) The election of 1836 found the Vermont Anti-Masons, for the most part merged with the Whigs. (54) The election of 1836, in Massachusetts, showed all the Anti-Masons except a few radicals, united with the Whigs. (55) The Ohio Anti-Masonic party was dealt a death-blow by the election of 1832. In 1834, political Anti-Masonry united with the Whigs in that state. (56) By 1838, the Anti-Masons of Rhode Island were entirely merged with the Whig party. (57) The Connecticut Anti-Masonic Party vote in 1835 was insignificant, and after this the Whigs absorbed the remnant of the party. (58) In New Jersey the party dwindled away after the election of 1832. (59) By 1838, the Anti-Masonic Party was no longer a factor in the politics of the states in which it had flourished.

The election of 1832 showed that it would be useless again to run a national ticket on the issue of Anti-Masonry and the leaders regarded the party as dead politically. Though dead as a national party the leaders wished to swing the Anti-Masons to the support of an Anti-Jackson candidate in the next election. Anti-Masons were unwilling to unite in support of Henry Clay. Daniel Webster was regarded with favour because he had condemned Masonry, but he was a New Englander, and hostile to the South, so was unacceptable as a national leader. Finally, in 1835, the Anti-Masons nominated William Henry Harrison, who was also the Whig candidate. But the Anti-Masonic Party did not entirely lose its identity in the campaign of 1836. A convention, composed of fifty-three Anti-Masons from the States of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts, met at Philadelphia, September 11, 1837, and decided to hold a nominating convention in the same city the next year. This convention met on November 13, 1838, and named Harrison and Tyler as their candidates. These were also the Whig candidates. This event practically completed the merger of the Anti-Masonic Party with the Whig Party, and was the closing activity of the party, in national politics. Thus came to an end one of the strongest parties in American political history. (60)

(1) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist, Assn. Rep., 1902, p. 370. This authority holds that the disappearance of William Morgan was merely incidental to the formation of the party. (2) Seward, Autobiography, pp. 69-70. (3) Gould, Hist. of Free Masonry, Volume 4, p. 327. (4) Weed, Autobiography, Volume 1, pp. 332-335. (5) Typical of these were: Brown, A Narrative of the Anti-Masonic Excitement, a defense of Masonry; and Giddins, The Anti-Masonic Almanac, which bitterly attacked Masonry, and revealed what it purported to be the secrets of Masonry. (6) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 369-370. (7) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 540-543. (8) Gould, Hist. of Free Masonry, Volume 4, pp. 327-328. (9) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 538-539. (10) Gould, Hist. of Free Masonry, Volume 4, pp. 327-328. (11) Gould, Hist. of Free Masonry, Volume 4, p. 328; McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, p. 539. (12) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep, 1902, p. 539-40. (13) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep, 1902, p. 546-47. (14) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902 pp. 547-548. (15) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 548-549. (16) Ibid., p. 549. (17) Giddins, Anti-Masonic Almanac, Volume 4, p. 45. (18) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 549-550. (19) Ibid., pp. 372-374. (20) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 375-383, passim. (21) Ibid, pp. 384-391, passim (23) Ibid., “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, (24) Ibid., pp. 412 – 420, passim (25) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist.Am.Rep, 1902, pp. 427-432, passim. (26) Ibid., pp, 432-35. (27) Ibid., pp. 437-503, passim. (28) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic 1902, pp. 604-614, passim. (29) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic 1902, pp. 515-525, passim. 1902, pp. 515 – 525, passim. (30) Ibid., pp. 526-530, passim. (31) Ibid., pp. 526-530, passim. (32) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep, 1902, pp. 554-555. (33) Ibid., p. 555. (34) Ibid., p. 556. (35) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 531-533. (36) Seward, Autobiography, pp. 76-77. (37) Seward, Autobiography, p. 79. (38) Stanwood, Hist. of the Presidency, Volume 1, p. 156. (39) Weed, Autobiography, Volume 1, pp. 385-389. (40) Ibid., p. 390. (41) Nile’s Register (1831), Volume 41, p. 83. (42) Weed, Autobiography, Volume 1, pp. 390-391. (43) Nile’s Register (1831), Volume 41, pp. 83-85. (44) Nile’s Register (1831), Volume 41, pp. 166-174. (45) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 534-535. (46) Washington Globe, Aug. 25, 1832, Volume 2, No. 76 (p. 3, column 3). (47) Washington Globe, Oct. 1, 1831, Volume 1, No. 86 (p. 1, column 3). (48) Washington Globe, Oct. 27, 1832, Volume 2, No. 94 (p. 2, edurnn 1). (49) Washington Globe, Oct. 27, 1832, Volume 2, No. 93 (p. 4, column 1). (50) “Washington Globe, Oct. 13, 1832, Volume 2, No. 90 (p. 2, column 3). (51) Washington Globe, Feb. 16, 1833, Volume 3, No. 23 (p. 1, column 4). (52) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 424-425. (53) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep, 1902, pp. 454-503, passim. (54) Ibid., p.514. (55) Ibid., p.625. (56) Ibid., p.530. (57) Ibid., p.554. (58) Ibid., p.555. (59) Ibid., p.555. (60) McCarthy, “Anti-Masonic Party,” Am. Hist. Assn. Rep., 1902, pp. 535-536.

– Source: The Builder – March 1921