November is a month where we take a day to pay tribute to the men and women who served our country to protect the many freedoms we hold dear. We also take a day to give thanks for the many blessing we have. It is also the month where we elect the leaders who will guide our great country for the next several years.
Traditionally, our country has had a two political party system, however, on occasion, a third party will arise. The first single issue third party in the United States appeared in the 1820’s known as the Anti-Masonic Party. Developing shortly around the time of Daniel Morgan’s disappearance in upstate New York, a wave of anti-masonic emerged throughout our nation. (Morgan had written a book supposedly exposing the secrets of the fraternity and disappeared prior to its publication) The Anti-Masonic Party was particularly strong in the Northeast part of the country with members being elected as Governors in Vermont and Pennsylvania. The growth of the party was fueled by the publication of various party-affiliated newspapers (the internet of their time).
In 1932, the Party held the first ever presidential nominating convention, nominating William Wirt as their candidate for President of the United States. Mr. William Wirt was a former Attorney General of the
The United States for 12 years under Presidents’ Monroe and Adams, and was supposedly a Fellowcraft Mason. What is interesting is that he never campaigned for President, nor spoke publicly about Masonry during the campaign and in fact spoke highly of Masonry in his speech at the convention. Never the less, we got 7% of the total vote and carry the state of Vermont and its 7 electoral votes.
The Anti-Masonic Party eventually faded away during the 1830’s unable to nominate a candidate for President in 1836 with many members eventually joining the Whig party. However, the effect of this movement was devastating to U.S. Masonry overall. It is estimated the number of U.S. masons dropped 60% with several Grand Lodges not meeting during this time.
This clearly was a down period for our fraternity, and there were other underlining factors, in addition to the Morgan disappearance, that lead to this movement. There have been other down periods in our fraternity’s history, but it is my belief that the underlined principal of our fraternity, brotherly love, relief, and truth, is what sustained our fraternity during these times and continues to support our fraternity today. (FYI – Chris Hodapp recently wrote about the Anti-Masonic Party in his blog “Freemasonry for Dummies”)
Thank you to all our members who have served in our armed forces.
See you in lodge.
Daniel E. O’Brien