William Morgan Exposes Freemason Secrets
William Morgan’s book about the secrets of the Freemasons led to his disappearance.
Morgan’s disappearance then led to America’s First Great Conspiracy Theory, and the creation of the Anti-Masonic Party.
Born in Virginia, William Morgan moved around a great deal as a young man.
Eventually settling in Rochester, New York, Morgan made unprovable claims that he fought in the War of 1812.
Additionally, he claimed that he was a high-level Freemason.
The local Masons refused to accept that this low character (he was known to be a drunkard and swindler) could possibly have achieved such a high station in their organization.
This set off a chain of events which led to America’s first great conspiracy theory.
Morgan was embarrassed and angered by his treatment of the local Masons.
He decided to right a ‘tell all’ book, giving out their secrets to the world.
Despite many of the Founders being Freemasons, the organization had begun to be cast under suspicion. The secrecy of their organization, mixed with a new enthusiasm for democracy during President James Monroe’s Administration (AKA the Era of Good Feelings), led to mistrust of Masons.
The timing for Morgan’s book was perfect, and a local newspaper owner offered to publish the story.
Then William was arrested…
After an arson attempt on publisher David Cade Miller’s office failed, William Morgan was arrested on charges of burglary and unresolved debts.
Miller came to the prison and bailed him out.
Morgan was arrested again, charged with failing to pay his bar tab.
Before he could be bailed out a second time, a group of men appeared at the jail. They had Morgan released and brought to a waiting carriage.
Two days later, the group appeared at Fort Niagara.
William Morgan was never seen again.
Where’d He Go?
So, what happened to William Morgan?
Well, as is often the case when people ‘disappear,’ it’s hard to say.
The most likely scenario seems to be that he was killed and dumped in the river. Though this is largely based off assumptions made by his contemporaries who had a mistrust of Masons, the facts we do have seem to point in that direction. Additionally, one of those involved made a death bed confession regarding his involvement in the murder.
The other, less-likely, possibility is that the men offered Morgan a large sum of money to leave. While this is a plausible conclusion, due to William’s apparent selfishness, it is doubtful that the Masons in the then frontier town of Rochester could afford to pay anything near what his book would make. (Note: technically, this took place in the smaller town of Batavia. Rochester was then as now the center of commerce for the area and more well known, hence why it’s referenced in this article.)
In the aftermath of William Morgan’s disappearance, Freemasonry turned into America’s first great conspiracy theory.
David Cade Miller published Morgan’s book and it was read throughout the United States.
The text pushed already bubbling sentiment over the edge and the Anti-Masonic Party became a major player in national politics. Newly elected president John Quincy Adams began to consider himself Anti-Mason as did later President Millard Fillmore.
William Morgan and his disappearance played an important role in the transition from the Founding Period to the Second Party System of the United States.
If you’d like to read William Morgan’s book you can click here to read it for FREE.
If you are interested in learning more about Freemasonry during the American Revolution, I would recommend checking out ‘Revolutionary Brotherhood.’ Pick it up through the Amazon affiliate link below to get a copy and support this site at no additional cost to you.
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