Wikipedia article on anti-Masonic party seems to suggest a combination of "accused them of disappearing a former Mason critic", and "anti-Elite sentiment, since Masons were usually prominent" as a reason for the party's goal.

This seems rather strange to me - a whole national party (a rather successful at that) doesn't seem like something that would be driven by a disappearance of one person; and anti-Elite sentiment seems belied by the fact that the party was led by pretty much the same elite (John Quincy Adams was practically royalty in US politics, Thurlow Weed was a high level political operative, and the party's Presidential nominee was Attorney General - and, as historical humourists remember, a Freemason himself).

So, what exactly was the reason (both stated officially; as well as actual) for the party's dislike of Masons?

  • Such events centred around the wrong done to an individual are not so unusual, consider the Dreyfus affair in France.
    – James K
    Oct 16, 2017 at 16:16
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    @JamesK - that was more about a structural issue, with Deryfus being just a quintessential example, no?
    – user4012
    Oct 16, 2017 at 16:38
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    From the wikipdea of the mason critic: "The allegations surrounding Morgan's disappearance and presumed death sparked a public outcry and inspired Thurlow Weed and others to harness the discontent by founding the new Anti-Masonic Party in opposition to President Andrew Jackson's Democrats." cited as books.google.com/…
    – user9389
    Oct 16, 2017 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


The Anti-Masonic political movement (based upon my knowledge of its history while working with primary sources related to the history of my undergraduate college was founded by people who belonged to it), was afraid of a secret oligarchy by a self-selected elite whose religious proclivities (cryto-Egyptian rituals and ecumenical religious tolerance that allowed deists to paticipate) were heterodox at best. This was something that raised a specter of amoral, pagan, or even Satanic influence in the minds of their fearful and often religiously affiliated opponents. The Masons were also seen as globalists who did not put American interests first.

They saw Masons as a nefarious threat to democracy and to virtuous ordinary people in general, who put the interests of people we would describe today as "one percenters" and foreign interests ahead of the interests of ordinary people.

Basically, the anti-Masons were conspiracy theorists, before conspiracy theories were cliche or objects of derision. And, they weren't entirely wrong. At the time, the Masons did have members who made up a remarkably large share of highly influential elites, and they were more religiously tolerant, more secular and more globalist in orientation than their political opponents.

Generally speaking, the Anti-Masons were deeply suspicious of all secret societies, which had become a feature of elite universities already, and not just the Masons.

For example, Anti-Masons at Oberlin College, early in its history, expelled all of the members of its baseball and football teams, which had previously been very competitive, because they had formed a secret fraternity, even though it wasn't particularly a Masonic one.

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    "The Masons were also seen as globalists who did not put American interests first." Are you quoting from modern conspiracy theories? This claim seems to contain extremely contemporary rhetoric that was not popular even a few years ago. Do you have a reputable resource that can support the claim that Free Masons were accused of being globalists in the 1820's? It is not a statement that appears on the wikipedias of either the Free Masons nor the Anti-Masonic Party.
    – John
    Apr 29, 2019 at 17:46
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    @John My sources were all dead trees with lots of primary sources almost all out of print. Obviously the terminology "globalist" was not used, but that is what we could call it today.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 29, 2019 at 18:55
  • I think this answer would be much better off without the highly disputed word "globalist".
    – pjc50
    Apr 30, 2019 at 8:35
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    @pjc50 If someone wants to provide a different answer substantiating a different position they are welcome to do so.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 30, 2019 at 21:50

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