Anti-Masonic Movement

Anti-Masonic Movement
Popular movement in the U.S. in the 1830s opposed to Freemasonry.

The movement was ignited in 1826 by the disappearance and presumed murder of a New York bricklayer and former Mason, who had supposedly intended to reveal the order's secrets. Reaction against the Masons swept through the northeastern U.S. In 1831 the Anti-Masonic Party became the first U.S. third party and the first party to hold a national convention. It condemned Freemasonry for its secrecy and undemocratic character. Its candidate won Vermont in the 1832 election. By the late 1830s the Anti-Masonic movement had been absorbed into the Whig Party.

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▪ United States history
      in the history of the United States, popular movement based on public indignation at and suspicion of the secret fraternal order known as the Masons, or Freemasons. Opponents of this society seized upon the uproar to create the Anti-Masonic Party. It was the first American third party, the first political party to hold a national nominating convention, and the first to offer the electorate a platform of party principles.

      The movement was ignited in 1826 by the mysterious disappearance of William Morgan, a bricklayer in western New York who supposedly had broken his vow of secrecy as a Freemason by preparing a book revealing the organization's secrets. When no trace of Morgan could be discovered, rumours of his murder at the hands of Masons swept through New York and then into New England and the Mid-Atlantic states.

      As Anti-Masonic candidates proved successful in state and local elections, politicians saw the issue's vote-catching possibilities. Anti-Masonic newspapers flourished in the heated political atmosphere. In September 1831, the Anti-Masonic Party held a national convention in Baltimore, Md., nominated William Wirt for president, and announced a party platform condemning Masonry for its secrecy, exclusivity, and undemocratic character.

      Wirt won only the state of Vermont (seven electoral votes) in the 1832 election, and the party went into decline after that. By the late 1830s much of its reform impulse had been taken over by antislavery agitation, and most of its politicians had joined the newly formed Whig Party.

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Universalium. 2010.

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