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Of the Republican Anti-masonic Members of the Legislature of New York, to
their Constituents. FELLOW CITIZENS,
It is the proud boast and consoling reflection of Americans, that the free institutions of their country have triumphed over all the dangers that have beset them. Whatever have been the perils that have threatened their existence, the virtue and inherent energy of the people have been adequate to every exigency.
Recently the people have been awakened to an alarming internal danger, of the existence of which they were unconscious. The abduction and murder of a free citizen, without crime, with the attrocities that attended and followed it, have excited their inquiries, and revealed the fearful fact that there is in the midst of a confiding community an institution, the existence of which is incompatible with liberty. When the outrage first became public, the efforts of the neighboring in habitants were directed to the enforcement of the laws, the detection and punishment of the guilty offenders. In the simplicity of their hearts, they expected universal co-operation. In the prosecution of objects so just and patriotic, for purposes so high, holy, and humane, they, with entire confidence, expected the powerful aid of the Press, and the united exertions of their fellow citizens. Far from them was the thought of arraying a party for any purpose whatever. Their astonishment was greater even than at the perpetration of the outrage, when they discovered the appalling truth, that it was the work of a conspiracy, embracing large numbers of conspicuous citizens; that the PRESS was silent as the house of death, or spoke only to defame and mislead ; that a whole fraternity, claiming irresistible power, regarded the outrage with cold indifference, or engaged in active efforts to screen from punishment the guilty perpetrators.
When they met opposition at every step of their progress; when they found their objects belied, and their motives impeached ; all their acts subjected to misrepresentation, and their characters consigned to obloquy and
vituperation ; when they perceived that the perpetrators of the outrage and their abettors were men of peaceful lives, elevated and unsuspected characters, bound to the performance of their social duties by all the ties that exist in civil society, the unwelcome conclusion was forced upon them that the deeds they had done were not perpetrated as the acts of individuals, but as members of their fraternity; and that it was the institution that had sinned through their instrumentality. When the people, excited by the Morgan outrage, perceived that all efforts to vindicate the majesty of the laws, by the punishment of the atrocious violators, were resisted and rendered abortive; when they saw that the fraternity possessed the power to silence or pervert the Press; to stop the mouths, destroy the memories, or extract the consciences of witnesses; to extend its baneful influence into courts, and poison the fountains of justice ; union became indispensable to the further prosecution of their righteous objects. The Republican Anti-masonic party arose from necessity, and not from design. Opposition caused its formation, and opposition by assisting to develope the true character of the masonic institution, is constantly increasing its numbers, and will finally insure its triumph. Believing it to be in accordance with your wishes, we have acted together as a party, upon every befiting occasion.
The attention of the legislature was called, by the executive, to the Morgan outrage, as a subject of legislative inquiry. The reports made to the senate and assembly, contain the material facts comprising the history of that transaction. Other "matters" " embracing" information of a graver character, “exist, which could not in the opinion of a high judicial officer, with propriety be made public,” as they would tend very much" to prejudge the guilt of persons indicted.” After the reports were made, additional evidence of the extent of the conspiracy was obtained, but it was eemed unnecessary to make a further report, as no attempt was made to controvert the statements of those presented to the legislature, and as the whole subject is in a train of thorough judicial investigation. A gentleman was then appointed to conduct the prosecutions, at our unanimous recommendation,
and we look with anxiety and confidence to the result of his indefatigable and able exertions.
Although the excitement caused by the Morgan outrage is universally applauded, with sincerity or affectation, the objects of those who obey its impulse are opposed and misrepresented. The objects of the Republican anti-masonic party are plain and freely avowed. They are to bring to merited punishment, the perpetrators of an outrage which has no parallel in a civilized community; to annihilate the institution that has filled the land with crime, and thus to vindicate the laws, purify the fountains of justice, and rescue liberty from the dangers that beset it. The people, constrained by unwonted opposition, rushed together by a spontaneous impulse, to give concert and strength to their efforts. This party, thus obviously and necessarily formed, seems recently to have excited fearful alarm.' Conspicuous individuals, “in power and out of power,” have labored “in season and out of season," to defame its character, and impede its rapid progress. It is manifest that political men have taken advantage of the existence of this party to impress upon honest and unsuspicious republicans, an apprehension of danger ; and that designs are in a train of execution to render the “excitement justly caused" by the Morgan outrage, "subservient to political and party purposes," by making it contribute to the sustentation of an existing political party, the leaders of which have never manifested any peculiar abhorrence of the Morgan outrage.
A COALITION is formed, embracing many members of the masonic fraternity and those who have been separated by inveterate political hostility, to resist the efforts of the people in the work of reformation. However revolting this unholy alliance may be to the democracy of the State, it is not of a nature to excite surprise. It displays the characteristics of the masonic institution. It illustrates the allegation that the order does possess a power by which it can bring political antipodes together, and unite them in efforts for the common fraternal object of mutual protection and preservation. It is natural that the order should extend its influence over those who are elevated to places of authority. It is lavish in its promises of "all-powerful" support.
The possessors of power are usually eager for its continued enjoyment, and readily welcome the aid of adversaries to secure it. They are invariably the foes of reform. They always find it “ difficult to believe" that abuses do exist, that corruption triumphs, or that there can be danger to liberty or the peace of society, unless it threatens their own security.
History abounds with illustrious though mournful examples of men, out of power, the bold and ardent advocates of popular rights, having the clearest visions of existing evils, and impending ruin, in possession of power, the blind and “inflexible" adherents of the system they had denounced as full of vice and danger. Democracy, in our country, has been compelled to engage in desperate struggles with the possessors of power. All its past experience banishes apprehension for the result of another conflict. If its energies must be put to new trials, certainty of victory invites to the combat. We have been reminded of the far gone days of intellectual darkness and mental perversion, when professing Christians, Catholic and Protestant and unpretending Quakers were consigned to barbarous and ignominious executions for imputed errors in religion. This has been done with the obvious intent to induce the inference that the spirit which caused such abominations was kindred to the hostility now manifested against the institution of Freemasonry. Casuists must determine whether weakness of intellect, obliquity of head, or depravity of heart, is chiefly required to trace a parallel between the relentless sacrifice of Christian Martyrs, for speculative opinions, and the infliction of legal punishment upon kidnappers, incendiaries, and murderers. It manifests a morbid sensibility for crimes, a sickly sympathy for atrocious offenders, to attempt to représs the honest efforts of patriótic zeal, for their conviction, by the hypocritical cry of persecution, and the hollow pretence, that the innocent may be confounded with the guilty. Religious persecution has affixed a deplorable stigma upon the human character and marked the ages in which it occurred for lamentation and abhor
It is an imperious duty upon this more enlightened generation not to tolerate an order that attempts a persecution more inexcusable, atrocious and vengeful.
Religious persecution was perpetrated by the sovereign authority of communities. It was in accordance with the spirit of the times, and was the act of the nation. The victims were subjected to trials according to established jurisprudence, and condemned to suffer penalties prescribed for violations of laws intended for universal operation. We have witnessed an institution possessing the power and arrogating the right to inflict the penalty of death upon a delinquent member, for the violation of no law binding upon the whole community or consistent with its safety. If former ages are doomed to reproach for persecutions according to laro, more ineffable must be the disgrace to that generation that permits or tolerates a persecution more horrid and afflicting to humanity without law and in defiance of its authority. Since the storm of public indignation has threatened destruction to the arrogant Order, it pretends that the Morgan outrage was not demanded by its requirements or in accordance with its principles. It was long before its proud spirit would subinit to the condescension of offering to an alarmed community, even that equivocal vindication which terror has finally extorted. If the allegation be true, the attempted defence is condemning; for it proves that the institution is susceptible of monstrous and dangerous perversion. It is in vain to tell of the original worthiness of object and purity of principle of the institution and of the many good men who are members of it, and of the more illustrious characters who have been, if the influence of all these combined considerations is insufficient to restrain the verfgeance of whole bodies of the fraternity, and prevent extensive and powerful combinations for the violation of the laws and the frusration of the purposes of justice. But the evidence from various sources is overwhelming to establish the fact that the outrage with all its attendant enormities was in strict conformity with the obligations and requirements of the institution. That such is the truth, is proved by the testimony of a multitude of witnesses from the fraternity, embracing many "distinguished for their piety, purity of lives and devotion to their country," and corroborated by the acts of multitudes more who still adhere to the institution. The republican anti-masonic party has been accused of perse