“I swear upon the altar of God, eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man” (Thomas Jefferson).
Who is this man who lived in Rochester and Batavia, was kidnapped in Canandaigua and was last seen in Fort Niagara?
True son of the American Revolution (he named his son Thomas Jefferson Morgan!) and brightest light ever to shine on the Genesee Valley, William Morgan stands tall as a man who fought the opaque, manipulative nature of Freemasonry here in our own neighborhood (the “Burned-Over District”) during a time of feverish spiritual renewal that his generation heralded/championed! Masonry was ubiquitous in many parts of Western New York and hence, ironically, was becoming a lot like the religious institutions whose power it had been founded to check. A lot of people were frankly sick and tired of Masonry’s exclusiveness, and as often happens in a Great Awakening (such as ours today), this good old boys’ club’s status quo had become a clearly and presently unreasonable and unacceptable behavior. Something fairly had to give, and it did. Around 1826, right after the Freemasons killed Morgan’s body (as Wikipedia admits is the most likely scenario), David Cade Miller went ahead with the publication of Morgan’s tome Illustrations of Masonry, which would pave the way for Charles G. Finney’s 1869 work The Character, Claims and Practical Workings of Freemasonry! Morgan’s martyrdom also led to the founding of the Christian, Anti-Masonic Party–the first Third Party ever!–which ran a presidential candidate against Andrew Jackson in 1832.
The publishing of Illustrations of Masonry
In all fairness, it is fair to regard Morgan as a drunkard and braggart, and I don’t think we want to know what his family life was like.