A party organized in the United States of America soon after the commencement of the Morgan excitement, professedly, to put down the Masonic Institution as subversive of good government, but really for the political aggrandizement of its leaders, who used the opposition to Freemasonry merely as a stepping-stone to their own advancement to office.
The party held several conventions; endeavored, sometimes successfully, but oftener unsuccessfully, to enlist prominent statesmen in its ranks, and finally, a 1831, nominated William Wirt and Amos Ellmaker as its candidates for the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency of the United States. Each of these gentlemen received but seven votes, being the whole electoral vote of Vermont, a which was the only State that voted for them.
So signal a defeat was this publicly expressed national estimate of the party, that in the year 1833 it quietly withdrew from public notice, and now is happily no longer in existence.
William L. Stone, the historian of anti-Freemasonry, has with commendable impartiality expressed his opinion of the character of this party, when he says that "the fact is not to be disguised-contradicted it cannot be--that anti-Masonry had become thoroughly political, and its spirit was vindictive towards the Freemasons without distinction as to guilt or innocence" (see his Letters on Masonry and Anti-Masonry, chapter xxxviii, page 418).
Notwithstanding the opposition that from time to time has been exhibited to Freemasonry in every country, America is the only one where it assumed the form of a political party-. This, however, may very justly be attributed to the peculiar nature of its popular institutions. Here the ballot-box is considered the most potent engine for the government of rulers as well as people, and is, therefore, resorted to in cases a in which, in more despotic governments, the powers of the Church and State would be exercised. Hence, the anti-Masonic convention held at Philadelphia, in 1830, did not hesitate to make the following declaration as the cardinal principle of the parties
"The object of anti-Masonry, in nominating and electing candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, is to deprive Masonry of the support which it derives from the power and patronage of the executive branch of the United States Government.
To effect this object, will require that candidates besides possessing the talents and virtues requisite for such exalted stations, be known as men decidedly opposed to secret societies." This issue having been thus boldly made was accepted by the people ; and as principles like these were fundamentally opposed to all the ideas of liberty, personal and political, into which the citizens of the country had been indoctrinated, the battle was made, and the anti-Masonic party was not only defeated for the time, but forever annihilated.
For those who desire a further study of this interesting topic, they may refer to the Anti-Masonic Party: A Study of Political Anti-Masonry in the United States, 1827-40, by Charles McCarthy, also contained in the Annual Report of the American Historical Association for 1902 (volume1, pages 365-574) ; Miscellany of the Masonic Historical Society of the State of New York, 1902 ;
Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York, 1920 (pages 128--45) ; Mackey's revised History of Freemasonry (volume vii, pages 2039-60).
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