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In ascertaining the meaning of this paragraph, the committee have not deemed it proper or expedient 10 gó beyond the plain and obvious import of its terms. Any different sense, arising from a different sort of construction, would be gladly avoided, inasmuch as its adoption by the committee, would at once put them in the attitude of entire disagreement with His Excellency, and render it doubtful whether the message in this part of it, manifested that high regard for dignity of station, which is due from every officer of the government.
Nothing is more proper than that all republican legislation should be characterized by the highest degree of frankness and simplicity; and under the guidance of this spirit, we take the liberty to re-assure the Senate, that the committee entirely concur in the opinion expressed by His Excellency, in the paragraph quoted above. The political movements at the west, to which His Excellency no doubt alludes, have been characterized thus far, and we trust that they will be hereafter, by a great devotion to principle, and activity and firmness in the pursuit of the objects they have proposed. They have proceeded so immediately from the bosom of the people, that the ordinary restraints of parties and their discipline, together with the efforts of those politicians, who have heretofore influenced public opinion, have been laid aside and regarded with utter indifference. Satisfied beyond all question, that the evils inflicted on the State and country, by secret, self created societies, were a thousand fold greater than any that for many years past had been conjured up by the devices of cunning politicians, the people have sought with wonderful unity of design, of principle, and of effort, to destroy, by the peaceful exercise of their rights at the polls, the existence of the masonic, as well as all other secret associations.
The wisest and best men among them, who have neither held nor desired office, have not been able to discover any better, or indeed any other, mode of effecting this most interesting object. This peaceful mode of overthrowing an institution of such amazing power, by withholding political support from all its members indiscrimi. nately, until they shall sunder their obligations to that institution, and to each other, and return with us upon
equal footing into the social compact, furnishes, perhaps, one of the highest illustrations of the inherent energy and excellence of our republican form of government, that has ever been presented. The Autocrat of all the Russias has exerted the force of his edicts against masonry, but without having been able to extirpate it from his dominions. Its existence is suffered in Great Britain, but a member of the Royal family is always at the head of the institution, ready to repress any attempt affecting the government. In France, no lodges are allowed to sit, without an agent of the government to watch their proceedings; and in Spain, the meeting of the members of a lodge to admit, and actually admitting a new member, is made felony of death. But in this free country, to effect similar objects, no cruel punishments, no governmental force, no state surveillance, is at all necessary. Here, every citizen exercises a portion of the state and national sovereignty, and if this is done with a faithful regard to his own interest and that of his posterity, by withholding that, which no one has a right to demand, the great object will be effected. Legislation therefore, brought to bear immediately and directly upon the existence of the institution, if such could be exerted in conformity with the spirit of the constitution, as expounded by a majority, might, nevertheless, be considered as a measure of doubtful expediency; but that legislative enactments, of somewhat different character, and more prospective in their operation, ought to be adopted, seems evident from the fearful relation in which the masonic institution stands, in reference to the rest of the community.
There are now in this State, as appears by a late, and it is believed accurate, enumeration, more than 500 lodges of Freemasons, and about one hundred chapters. These lodges and chapters have a probable average of 60 members. The whole number of masons then, cannot be less than 30,000; and these are scattered, in pretty nearly equal portions, throughout the whole population of the State.
The efficiency of such a body, and so located, none will doubt. Controlling as it does common funds, and possessing the advantages of secrecy and activity almost unexampled; using the language of signs, and a charac
ter for a written language ; its members bound by the most solemn obligations to God and their brethren, they can surmount all difficulties. These men can effect every thing within the compass of human effort. If the order were to exert itself in aid of charitable objects, not an individual in the State could be either hungry or naked; want would be a stranger in our borders ; and vast funds would still remain unexpended. If their zeal and industry were turned to the occult sciences, to which they have professed a devotion, the driest and most abstruse problems of the geometricians, the algebraists and the astronomers, would, long before this, have been as familiar to us all, as the road to market. But if unmindful of charitable objects, and neglecting the pursuit of the arts and sciences, which they have professed as their leading measures, they should like the rest of mankind, be tempted by the allurements of power, to make an effort to acquire it; all will confess, they must be irresistible, so long as the people remained ignorant of their secret designs. Nothing but a belief or knowledge of those designs, and public opinion brought to bear upon them at the ballot boxes, in countervailing measures, would at all check this otherwise resistless power.
The opposers of masonry at the west, entertain no doubt that this institution was originally intended, and is now kept up, for the sole purpose of securing to its members, unjust advantages over their fellow citizens, in the various concerns of life, but chiefly with the view of facilitating their acquisition of political power. To change this opinion of our western population, is utterly impossible. It is fortified by their own observation. Their masonic neighbors confirm it, by talking with freedom of their principles and practices, until they become as familiar to them, as the highway act, or the act regulating common schools. But if they still doubted, they have only to call to mind that when they undertook the great work of reform, three-fourths of all the offices in the country, were filled with members of that institution. The operating causes, in producing the success or defeat of a particular candidate, are not always of easy discovery. But when for a long series of years a large proportion of political and public employment, is in the hands
of any given order of men, it is natural that suspicions should be entertained, that every thing is not right; and when the disproportion of offices held by the members of that order, becomes extravagant and enormous, and continued through a long period of time, notwithstanding the revolutions of political power, then suspicion yields to the moral certainty, that there is a principle of evil in operation of fearful and dangerous import.
At the annual election last fall, 270,000 votes were given in this State. If the computation that we have 30,000 masons is correct, they will amount to one-ninth part of our voting population, and are of course entitled upon the principle of numbers, to one-ninth part of all offices. If it should be granted, that the members of the order, have double the talent, and fitness, in proportion to their numbers, they even then, would not be entitled to one-fourth of the power of the State, and yet they have held for years, three-fourths, or very near it. Supposing them to possess on the average no higher qualifications than the rest of the community, which is presumed to be correct, with the exception of that practised talent and facility in business, arising from the actual possession of so great a share of official power, it then becomes a mathematical certainty, that if they hold only two-thirds of all places of power and trust, in the State, their proportion is precisely six times greater than it ought to be, upon the just principle of equality. The state of things here presented, astonishing, and conclusive, as it may appear to some, is, after all, not surprising when the obligation of the higher order of masons to each other is properly considered and understood. One of their oaths explains the whole matter, and renders the existence of masonic political action, not only certain, but proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, that such action is obligatory on all those masons, who give to the oath a binding force.
To all these high charges, tending so strongly to inculpate and disgrace the masonic institution, no defence has been offered, at all satisfactory to the undertaking. It is true the question is sometimes asked, and with much plausibility, is it possible, if the institution is as corrupt and wicked as has been represented, that distinguished and meritorious men, and many such are admitted to be
members, would continue parties to such a nefarious compact ? To this it is answered, that masonry, in the day of its power, allowed none of its members to recede and express their opinion of its principles and practices, without exposing themselves to punishment, more horrid and inhuman, than any known to the criminal codes of the civilized world. That there are virtuous and excellent men who belong to the institution, can be doubted by none of us, who look around upon the circle of our relatives, friends and acquaintances. How this fact is compatible with the opinion we maintain, of the character of the institution, neither time, nor the occasion, will permit us to explain. But now when masonry totters in doubtful empire; when her countenance is blanched with fear; when the rod of her power is broken, and she no longer dares inflict the punishments of her inhuman code, it is believed those men will feel that they have a duty to perform, of great moment to themselves, to posterity, and their country.
The committee have now laid before the Senate, in a plain and simple manner, some of the principal reasons which have produced a conviction upon the minds of the western population, that masonry meddles in the administration of justice, and is subversive of the republican equality, guaranteed by the constitutions of the State and Union. In doing this, they trust they have not been led beyond the limits of parliamentary usage, by discussing subjects not referred to them, or others not german to those topics, which it became their duty to consider. They have carefully abstained from examining the inAuence of masonry, whether it be deleterious or otherwise to those social and moral relations, which so vitally affect the prosperity and happiness of mankind. They have avoided also, any inquiry into the nature and amount of its influence, over the religious feelings and propensities of the members of that institution. These matters, however intensely they may interest the moralist and theologian, are beyond the reach of legislation, and therefore, are not, in the opinion of the committee, proper topics for their discussion.
The committee are sanguine in their hopes that the Senate will think it expedient, from the views of the sub