Page images

ject herewith presented, to adopt farther legislative measures for the special protection of the rights and liberties of the citizens of this State, against the secret and insiduous encroachments of a self-created society, to which they have had occasion so often to allude. A declaratory and remedial law, by its terms preventing a reputed mason officiating as juryman, in any case where either party belongs to the fraternity, while the other is not a member, might do much in quieting the apprehensions of those opposed to secret societies. And although no doubt is entertained, that the principles of common law, would without alteration, exclude a mason, in such circumstances from acting as juryman, yet the difficulty of procuring, upon the urgency of the occasion, the full legal proof that the juryman proposed is actually a mason, when such is the fact; together with the further difficulty of proving, at all times, the nature and character of the masonic obligations, is so great, that the law as it now stands, affords but little relief against the evil it is intended to remedy.

That the oaths are of such a character and tendency as to require the interposition of penal laws, to prevent their future administration, is obvious from every consideration that should influence a republican legislature.

The English Stat. 37, George III., Chap. 123, contains some provisions in regard to oaths of this description and tendency, which might perhaps with great propriety be engrafted into our statute book. The 1st section, among other things provides, " that any person who administers or causes to be administered any oath, whereby another becomes obliged to obey any orders or commands of any committee or body of men, not lawfully constituted, or of any leader or commander, or other per. son, not having authority by law for that purpose; or not to inform or give evidence against any such associate, confederate or other person, or not to reveal or discover any unlawful combination, or not to reveal or discover any illegal oath or other engagement which may have been administered or tendered to, or taken by such person, or by any other person, or the import of any such an oath or engagement, shall on conviction be adjudged

guilty of felony, and may be transported for not exceeding seven years."

While the committee observe in this otherwise wholesome statute, some of those severities which mark the character of British penal legislation, and which ought always to be avoided, they cannot abstain from expressing their entire conviction, that if like so many other British statutes, which we have adopted as our law, it had been re-enacted in this State ten years since, the immolation of Morgan, with all its afflicting incidents, would never have happened, to arouse the sensibility and indignation of the people of this State.

But the committee have abstained from reporting, at this time, any bills embracing either of the objects to which they have alluded. They cannot now be apprised, from the recently deranged and morbid condition of the public press, and other causes, what is the state of information, and of opinion of gentlemen of the Senate, upon this new presentment of an unusual subject of legislation. They are not aware how the whole subject matter of the report, they have now the honor to submit, will be appreciated. They are duly sensible of the importance of the subject, and that it is one of new impression, and are therefore inclined, in this stage of their labors, to ask respectfully, the further direction of the Senate. With this view, they submit the following resolutions :

Resolved, That the select committee to whom was referred so much of the governor's message, as relates to the abduction of William Morgan, and the proceedings under the law of last session upon that subject, be instructed to report a detailed statement of the evidence they may now possess, or may hereafter obtain, confirming the leading opinions, and principal facts, contained in their report presented the 14th day of February instant.

Resolved, That said committee be provisionally instructed to report to the Senate, a bill or bills to carry into effect the objects specified in said report of the 14th day of February instant, to be acted upon, in case the facts to be reported shall, in the opinion of the Senate, be sufficiently confirmed.

M. HAYDEN, Chairman.


Delivered at Lyons, N. Y. Sept. 11th, 1829, in commemoration of the outrages commilted on that day, and subsequently, on Willium Morgan, and other citizens, by Freemasons ; exhibiting the criminal conduct of the fraternity; and containing an exposition of the true principles of Anti-masonry. By Myron Ilolley.

Fellow Citizens :- We are now assembled, to consider and commemorate facts and principles which we deem vitally hostile to the great interests of our country. These facts are of recent occurrence, and the principles have been gradually disclosed by examining into the nature, tendency, and origin of the facts. Together, they constitute an unparalleled emergency in our national experience; and while they challenge our best faculties of reflection and judgment, they should be canvassed in the spirit of universal good will, and with becoming moderation. In proportion to the weight of responsibility cast upon us, in every case, should be the impartiality and completeness of our deliberation, the singlenesss of our motive, the firmness of our decision, and the perseverance of our resolution.

In the summer and fall of 1826, a train of events transpired, in this community, oppressive, criminal, and alarming-involving the most atrocious violation of private and public right. Of these events it is impossible to give a minute detail in this address. That can never be done fully and adequately, till a festering consciousness of grievous wrong, and a brave devotion to truth, shall untie the tongue of Freemasonry. The events alluded to are known to have included successful abuse of the forms of law, treachery to earnest professions of friendship, cruel slander, conspiracy, robbery, arson, kidnapping and murder. And, shocking as these outrages were, to the moral sense of an enlightened people, they would, probably, have been punished, lamented, and forgotten, like many other enormous offences, had it not been for the very extraordinary circumstances following their commission, and attending all attempts lawfully to investigate them.

No sooner had the feeble cry of those, who suffered from them and yet lived, begun to reach the general ear, than intelligent and respected men, were found adroitly

engaged in practising the arts best calculated to disguise their character, and, as far as possible, to conceal them. The victims were represented as infamous, and unworthy of sympathy, if they did suffer. But their sufferings were denied, and the rumors of crime, which it was found impossible to hush, were imputed to them as fraudulent inventions which they had originated and imposed upon the public, for pecuniary objects.

These arts were partially successful. The whole community, for awhile, yielded to them. Many individuals are still under the delusions, which they produced. But all are not. The sagacity and habitual inquisitiveness of some of our fellow citizens soon enabled them to discover irresistible evidence, that foul deeds had been committed. And entertaining the generous sympathies of freemen, with an enlightened conviction, that the safety of all depends upon the protection of each, they called public meetings, in several places, at which committees of inquiry were raised to aid the operation of our legal authorities, in detecting the criminals.

With the exertions of these committees, patriotic and public spirited as they were, commenced those disclosures, which have justly filled our country with alarm. The crimes had been committed by Freemasons. Freemasons were endeavoring to conceal them. Forgetting all the obligations of self respect, of civil duty, of social benevolence, of morality, of religion, Freemasons of extensive information, wealth, and reputation-men, who had possessed largely the honors and confidence of their unsuspecting country, were found to have been consulted on the subject of these crimes before they were committed, and individually and collectively to have sanctioned them; and this, not casually, ignorantly, or inadvertently, but after months of deliberation and frequent counsel. Considering the nature of these enormities, the means employed, and the restraints which were broken through, in their perpetration, such dangerous outrages upon the principles of liberty, were never attempted before, since the commencement of regulated associations. No human ingenuity could array before you all their evil consequences.

We have a government to which we cannot be too strongly attached. The privilege of establishing it was

obtained through trials, sufferings and achievements, which have secured to our sage and heroic fathers, imperishable renown. Its principles have been combined with the most considerate wisdom. And if its administration has not been perfect, it has been conducted with unequalled virtue and success. Under its benignant influence, religious and civil freedom, were multiplying, extending, and securing all their benefits. Its power to withstand the seduction and defeat the assaults of foreign governments, has been severely, but triumphantly exemplified. Its reputation abroad is honorable ; and its example every year becoming more attractive. It is rapidly preparing the public opinion of the world, for the general introduction and enjoyment of freedom.

Why is our government so effective for good? Why does it attract the grateful regard of all our enlightened fellow citizens, and the admiration of every independent mind? Because it was instituted by the whole people, and not by a part of them only; for the protection of the rights of all, and not for the protection of the rights of a. part merely. Because, while it presents no impediment to the useful exertions of any, it encourages the honest and strenuous efforts of all, by offering its rewards to merit and to merit only. Because it intends to secure the safety of all, by enforcing, universally, and without partiality, its penalties, upon all offenders—and because its agents are responsible, its proceedings are public, and it is free. Religion, knowledge, charity, are its open friends, the pillars of its strength, the objects of its veneration. It delights in every exercise of benevolence, in every discovery of science, in all the advances of piety. It is impossible to name any attainable good, the pursuit of which, it would not cherish and honor. But this government is eminently a government of law. All its benefits result from the adoption, administration and enforcement of its laws. Humility before God, and before the laws of such a government, are kindred and exalted virtues. With what a proud homage should the laws be obeyed! Where their dominion is universal and supreme, what a cheap defence do they set up, around the great treasure-house of human rights! And how detestable is rebellion against them!

« PreviousContinue »