The Grand Lodge of California's Henry Wilson Coil Library & Museum of Freemasonry has a new online exhibit available on its website, in conjunction with the upcoming California Masonic Symposium on June 25th.
The Legacy of the American Anti-Masonic Period, 1826-1838
On September 11, 1826, William Morgan of Batavia, New York published an exposé on the rituals of Freemasonry.
Shortly thereafter, he was arrested for an unpaid debt, and released upon the receipt of payment from an acquaintance he knew from the local lodge. A few hours later, Morgan was re-arrested for yet another debt and taken to the jail in Canandaigua. That evening a person claiming to be his friend paid the debt and Morgan was released into this individual’s care, and boarded a carriage waiting for him outside the jail. Thence, he was driven to Ft. Niagara and was never seen again. Legend has it that he was murdered by Masons in retaliation for his revelation of their rituals. Of course, the details are far more complex and often the accounts by those who followed the case are conflicting or fabricated. Not that the Masons of Batavia handled it any better: the court’s jury and the judge that presided over the ensuing trial of those accused for abducting Morgan were Masons, thus causing widespread suspicion and fueling the conspiracy theories and fears of secret societies and Freemasonry that already existed.