[Square & Compasses]

The Morgan Affair


Article: 68 of alt.freemasonry
Path: senator-bedfellow.mit.edu!athena.mit.edu!dryfoo
From: dryfoo@athena.mit.edu (Gary L. Dryfoos)
Newsgroups: alt.freemasonry
Subject: Re: That guy
Date: 28 Jul 1994 19:00:05 GMT
Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Distribution: world
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References: <30pqm9$qdo@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
<1994Jul26.140404.1@eagle.wesleyan.edu>
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In article <1994Jul26.140404.1@eagle.wesleyan.edu>, ckylin@eagle.wesleyan.edu writes:



|} In article <30pqm9$qdo@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>,
|} travis@athena.mit.edu (Richard T Atkins) writes:
|} > Who was the guy running for public office who made the freemason
|} texts public and
|} > then mysteriously died (c.1850-1900)
|} 
|} 	The best guess I have of what you mean is William Morgan, who
|} either was (Whig) an honest, upright citizen of western New York, or
|} (Democrat) a drunk, who was publishing seven Masonic degrees when he
|} was escorted off the face of New York State to either a) Canada or
|} b) the hereafter. This was in 1826.*

Actually, I think you've gotten a couple of guys conflated. Morgan was a variety of things, but not a politician. But there was a politician who was closely associated with the "Morgan Affair".

After the public became alarmed about the "Morgan Affair" (essentially correct as related above -- pick your favorite option), a bunch of politicians jumped on the outrage bandwagon. The most notorious was a character from the Albany, NY political machine named (and I am not making this up) Thurlow Weed.

Mr. Weed drove this anti-Masonic feeling to a fury, and rode it to his own political heights. When the body of a drowned fisherman or somesuch was found, and was widely proclaimed to be the body of the late Mr. Morgan, Weed opined that the body might not be Morgan's, but that it would certainly be a good enough Morgan for his purposes.

The anti-Masons did quite well in elections throughout the northeast US for years, and even ran a candidate for President.

[Side-note: Most people, even informed Masons, don't know that Morgan never actually published his own expose of the rituals. His plates were seized from the printers (by a bunch of irate Masons) and are believed destroyed. But there was already a lot of advance publicity about Morgan's upcoming book, so he and his publisher selected an older expose (there were a lot of them around), prepended an introduction by Morgan, and published that as Morgan's own.]

The Masons involved claimed to have delivered Morgan into the hands of Canadian Masons, along with a substantial sum of money for him to make a new life, out of the limelight. (Kind of an involuntary "witness protection program.") He was to have found a place to live and then sent for his wife and kids, but he disappeared instead. Once he vanished, and the story came out, no one believed them, and all hell broke loose. Some believe that he just took the money and deserted his family. Some think that the NY Masons did him in, probably in a ritualistic way. Others think that the Canadians really did accept him from the NYers, but that then they killed him. By now, there's probably no one that really knows.

Masons widely consider the whole affair ironic and unfortunate. If they'd have ignored Morgan, he and his book would have sunk into the obscurity that quickly swallowed most other Masonic exposures. The affair did tremendous damage to Masonry throughout the country for a long while after.

There are many books on the subject, of course. I personally think it would make a great Broadway musical.

-- dr foo



Article: 104 of alt.freemasonry
Path: senator-bedfellow.mit.edu!athena.mit.edu!dryfoo
From: dryfoo@athena.mit.edu (Gary L. Dryfoos)
Newsgroups: alt.freemasonry
Subject: Re: That guy
Date: 30 Jul 1994 19:48:31 GMT
Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Distribution: world
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<1994Jul26.140404.1@eagle.wesleyan.edu>
<318v7l$3vj@senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>
<31bm1i$4d6@s.ms.uky.edu>
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In article <31bm1i$4d6@s.ms.uky.edu>, schennbe@ms.uky.edu (Richard Schennberg) writes:

|} What kind of rituals involve killing someone?

Sorry. I should have been more specific. Nowhere in Masonic ritual do we kill any candidate or member. Nowhere in our ritual do we call for anyone to be hurt or killed. I'm sure I can talk about the following because I have seen it in the papers, and it has been widely discussed in England, at least, receiving a lot of publicity:

Before receiving the secrets or symbolic teachings of any degree, the candidate repeats an obligation, in which he basically promises not to reveal those secrets to anyone, and to be a good brother to his fellow Masons.

In the old days, all of those obligations contained a symbolic penalty, with the candidate saying that he would rather meet some particularly gruesome, horrible death or another than ever be untrue to his obligation.

[NOTE: He was not saying that he would be subject to such a penalty. He was not giving his assent to ever having it done to him if he broke his word. He was just saying that he agreed so strongly to uphold the oath that he would prefer death to breaking it. I hope the difference is clear to all. Further, nowhere in ritual or practice do Masons ever talk about inflicting such penalties on an oath-breaker.]

Anyway, those horrible fates are called "ancient" or "symbolic" penalties, and in many jurisdictions they have been eliminated over the last few years, replaced with a affirmation by the candidate that all we can do, if he won't keep our secrets and play by our rules, is not let him play with us anymore. That's right, the horrible deadly Masonic penalties are that we won't give him a dues card anymore, or let him come to meetings. Pretty severe, huh?

[I have my own opinions about the replacement of the ancient penalties, but this is not the place to discuss that.]

So, finally, many people have always misunderstood the nature of the symbolic penalties, and when William Morgan disappeared (remember Morgan? -- this started out as a question about Morgan) various people with a distrust of the Masons quoted the symbolic penalties, and said that was how Morgan was killed.

Okay?

-- dr foo


More about the Morgan Affair:

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