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Yet such a rebellion Freemasonry has raised. It has violated the dearest rights of nature, and the most sacred enactments of our laws, and this, in a spirit inanifestly treasonable, for it has done this, in pursuance of solemn, deliberate, and voluntary obligations to a foreign government,-I mean its own,-a government more alien to that which claims our allegiance, than any that has ever afflicted mankind. Fellow citizens, let me beseech you to look into the government of Freemasonry. Examine it fully. You can easily comprehend it. You will have to encounter no arduous labor-you will involve yourselves in no perplexing inquiries; and you will arrive at no doubtful conclusion. You will find it a monstrous compound of monarchy and hierarchy, pursuing its objects with all the badges of fraud and guilt. Its power you will justly dread, but that is not invincible. Its distinguishing characteristics, you will certainly abhor, but these you can abolish.
To faithful citizens, all that belongs to Freemasonry must be odious. Its pompous titles, they will scorn ; its ceremonies, indecent, profane or fantastic, they will contemn; its habiliments, they will deride, as the harlequin frippery of a barbarous antiquity ; its emblems and tokens, innocent when innocently used, they will regard with compassion, as very imperfect means of communication, to which honest ignorance may sometimes justifiably resort; its cipher, they will deem evidence of knavery ; its pretensions, its secrecy, its oaths, its principles, and its power, they will reprobate and oppose.
From the first machination of the recent outrages, through every stage of their criminal progress, to their murderous consummation, the proceedings of Freemasonry have afforded a practical exposition of the principles deduced from their oaths. And the distinct and full operation of every one of them may be obviously traced, by those who have been attentive to these fatal transactions. Even to this day, Freemasonry conspires against the laws, and defies their authority, in the very presence of our courts of justice. Individual members, by advisement with others, spirit away witnesses from the trial of indicted brethren,-refuse to testify because by so doing they must criminate themselves,-conceal the crimes of
their masonic coadjutors, by perjury,--supply delinquents of their order with information of their being in danger of persecution, and with counsel and pecuniary aid to escape from the penalties of law,-maliciously slander and persecute those, who in abedience to the most sacred injunctions of truth and honor, oppose them,--and prefer the interests of the fraternity to those of their country.
Notwithstanding these foul exertions and the extensive prevalence of the nefarious principles, on which they are founded, that justice, which was well nigh suffocated, has overtaken a few of the felons, and consigned them to the awards of law, and the detestation, which high crimes unrepented of, should always find. But the guilt of these convicts, the infamous punishments, to which they have been justly doomed, and the execration of honest men, which they must encounter, seem only the more strongly to have secured to them, the fellow-feeling and attachment of their unconvicted brethren.
Why is this, my countrymen ? Why have not these convicts been discarded from the sympathetic favor of the titular kings and priests of the order ? I will tell you. The reason is obvious as the sun at noonday. It is not in thewit of man, to assign but one reason for such conduct. The convicts had violated no law of Freemasonry. They are the victims of unflinching adherence to its requirements. They were unhappily sustained, in all the dark and loathsome steps of their iniquity, by an assured confidence, that they would be protected, upheld and justified, by the society. Nothing but the firmest conviction of this could have induced men of previous good standing in the community, industrious, wealthy, intelligent and influential, to violate the binding ties of domestic life, and the consecrated securities of civil blessings. This is the reason, which has effectually prevented the dignitaries of Freemasonry from expelling, or even censuring, a single individual of these convicts. It has not been because they were fearful of exercising their authority to expel or censure; for the men who have bravely and worthily revealed their crimes and secrets, for the common good, they have expelled, they have censured, they have slandered, and persecuted with a malice peculiar to their order.
What is the power of Freemasonry? One of its most
eloquent orators, in Connecticut, in the year 1825, represented it as follows: “It is powerful. It comprises men of rank, wealth, office, and talent, in power and out of power, and that, in almost every place, where power is of any importance. And it comprises, among other classes of the community to the lowest, in large numbers, active men united together, and capable of being directed by the efforts of others, so as to have the force of concert throughout the civilized world. They are distributed too with the means of knowing one another, and the means of co-operating, in the desk, in the legislative hall, on the bench, in every gathering of business, in every party of pleasure, in every domestic circle, in peace and in war, among enemies and friends, in one place as well as in another! So powerful indeed is it, at this time, it fears nothing from violence, public or private ; for it has every means to learn it in season, to counteract, defeat, and punish it. It is too late to talk of the propriety of continuing or suppressing masonry, after the time to do so has gone by. So, good or bad, the world must take it as it is. Think of it, laugh at it, hate it, or despise it; still it is not only what I have told you, but it will continue to be; and the world in arms cannot stop it.”
Such are the claims of a permanent self-created society, which connects the aristocratic part of this community into a brotherhood, with the Princes, and Nobles, and Priests, and Generals, of every region of the globe, by cords, which no power of man, in the proud opinion of such as are encircled by them, is sufficient to sunder. And to sanction the existence and pursuits, in our coun.. try, of a power so expansive and redoubtable, and yet, though political, unknown to the government, the well meaning part of the fraternity have fondly believed, the illustrious names of Warren, Franklin, and Washington, could be adduced.
• To err is human." There has been but one name given under heaven, in which no indiscretion, or stain of sin, could be found. Many of the patriots of the revolution, especially among the officers of the army, did join the masonic society. In the number of such, were the exalted benefactors of mankind before alluded to. But little advantage can the society, in our times, derive from
this fact. Their great authority, will in no way serve to cover the accumulated folly and guilt of the higher degrees of the fraternity, nor indeed of any degree at this day. And the attempt to use it for such a purpose, it can be shown, without drawing upon them the imputation of crime against their country and the rights of man, will only serve more strikingly to illustrate the dangerous designs of the institution. For hear it, ye friends of equal rights, and of the government established by your renowned forefathers, these patriarchs of civil liberty, when they entered the fraternity, had cast off the oaths of allegiance to the tyranny under which they were born, and were battling for the great privileges of self-government. Under no bonds of established authority, in a crisis most momentous to all the cherished interests of life, and threatened with all the calamities of anarchy at home, and of the most formidable and vindictive power from abroad, an institution offering social ties, of which they were destitute,-great means of secret communication, which they needed, -and many subduing motives to obedience, indispensable to their objects, was adopted, by them, and made successfully instrumental to the overthrow of the governinent, against which they used it.
If such men, under such circumstances, in such a cause, used Freemasonry, not yet clothed with its most alarming principles and most censurable obligations, against a kingly and tyrannical government, shall their example be cited, to authorize its use against a government of their own establishment,-a government which they and their associates contrived, and set up, as the perpetual storehouse, and sanctuary of all the principles of freedom ?
Fellow citizens, you will not allow such an abuse of the inestimable inheritance of their immortal names. In your offices, in your shops, in your fields, in all your resorts of business or amusement, you have thought too reverently of the blessings of equal laws, and the rich enjoyment which their universal and unobstructed administration secures, for this. Participating all the fruits of your honest and protected industry, in the bosom of thriving and cheerful families, you have felt your hearts burn within you as you reflected upon the great founders of your na
tional family, and these reflections have turned the gentle currents of your domestic affection into the broad and swelling tide of patriotism ; but patriotism cannot rebel against freedom.
Long association in toils and dangers, produces lasting friendships. Washington found it difficult, altogether to withdraw himself from Freemasonry, at the close of the
It was natural for him to recollect, with complacency, many of the events which it had been made to assist. And its claims were frequently pressed upon him, by old companions. He did not, therefore, wholly renounce it. It had been used by him only for good, and courtesy and consistency required him, not violently and suddenly to cast it off. He did not patronize it after the objects of the war had been obtained. It fell into neglect upon the restoration of peace, and remained so until his death. He was undoubtedly opposed to its renewal. In 1794, he said to several of his confidential friends : “ The real people occasionally assembled in order to express their sentiments, on political subjects, ought never to be confounded with permanent, self-appointed societies, usurping the right to control the constituted authorities, and to dictate to public opinion.
While the former was entitled to respect, the latter was incompatible with all government, and must either sink into general disesteem, or finally overturn the established order of things.”
The greatest masonic authority* in this State, with all the honors of the institution thick upon him, about four years ago publicly declared, that masonry was sometimes abused to political objects. In our own village, before one of its most respectable magistrates, when in the exercise of his official duty, we have seen a bold attempt to use it for the purpose of procuring impunity from all the legal consequences of imputed crime. In forty counties of this State, being all from which authentic information could be obtained, it was ascertained, by the anti-masonic convention assembled last winter in Albany, that, in the year when Morgan was martyred, there were in office thirty-three masonic Sheriffs. More than half of the important public offices in the Union are filled by Freema
* De Witt Clinton.