“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by earth, neighter by any other oath; but let your yeay be yea; and your nay, nay; let you fall into condemnation.” – James 5:12


William Morgan was kidnapped and carried away from the village of Batavia on September 11, 1826.  The alleged agents in the abduction of William Morgan in retribution for the intended publication of Masonry secrets were put on trial between January 1827 and 1830, and several were convicted and sentenced, some pleading guilty to save examination as to conspiracy.


In 1848, one of the murders of Morgan made a full confession. Being near death from illness, Henry L. Valance, confessed the crime to clear his conscience that had been extremely troubled since his participation in the murder of Morgan. Henry L. Valance’s confession was recorded by Dr. John L. Emery of Racine County, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1848.

In 1869, the Rev. Charles G. Finney, the great American revival preacher and president of Oberlin College published a book called, The Character, Claims and Practical Workings of Freemasonry. In his book Rev. Finney reproduced an earlier account of the confession of Henry L. Valance. It is from the book by Rev. Finney that I will now quote to show the heartless premeditated cruelty of this murder.

This ‘Confession’ was taken down as related by Henry L. Valance, who acknowledges himself to have been one of the three who were selected to make a final disposition of the illfated victim of masonic vengeance……….

My last hour is approaching; and as the things of this world fade from my mental sight, I feel the necessity of making, as far as in my power lies, that atonement which every violator of the great law of right owes to his fellow men’…’I allude to the abduction and murder of the ill-fated William Morgan.’

Mr. Valance told how the murderers were selected:

‘Eight pieces of paper were procured, five of which were to remain blank, while the letter ‘D’ was written on the others. These pieces of paper were placed in a large box, from which each man was to draw one at the same moment. After drawing we were all to separate, without looking at the paper that each held in his hand. So soon as we had arrived at certain distances from the place of rendezvous, the tickets were to be examined, and those who held blanks were to return instantly to their homes; and those who should hold marked tickets were to proceed to the fort at midnight, and there put Morgan to death, in such a manner as should seem themselves most fitting.’

Valance spoke of the concern that Morgan had for his family as he neared his execution:

‘He commenced wringing his hands, and talking of his wife and children, the recollections of whom, in that awful hour, terribly affected him. His wife, he said was young and inexperienced, and his children were but infants; what would become of them were he cut off, and they even ignorant of his fate.?’

Valance then tells of the actual murder:

‘A short time,’… ‘brought us to the boat, and we all entered it-Morgan being placed in the bow with myself, along side of him. My comrades took the oars, and the boat was rapidly forced out into the river. The night was pitch dark, we could scarcely see a yard before us, and therefore was the time admirably adapted to our hellish purpose.’

Now weights were ready to be fastened to Morgan with a cord:

‘This cord……. I took in my hand …. and fastened it around the body of Morgan, just above his hips, using all my skill to make it fast, so that it would hold.

Then, in a whisper, I bade the unhappy man to stand up, and after a momentary hesitation he complied with my order. He stood close to the head of the boat, and there was just length enough of rope from his person to the weights to prevent any strain, while he was standing. I then requested one of my associates to assist me in lifting the weights from the bottom to the side of the boat, while the others steadied her from the stern. This was done, and, as Morgan was standing with his back toward me, I approached him, and gave him a strong push with both my hands, which were placed on the middle of his back. He fell forward, carrying the weights with him, and the waters closed over the mass.’

Thus died Captain William Morgan the first Masonic martyr.

When the death of Morgan was made public, the people in America were outraged, and several state legislatures began investigations of the Mason Lodge.

The following is from a report of the New York State Senate committee that was published in 1829:

It comprises men of rank, wealth, office and talents in power-and that almost in every place where power is of any importance-it comprises, among the other classes of the community, to the lowest, in large numbers, and capable of being directed by the efforts of others so as to have the force of concert through the civilized world!

They are distributed too, with the means of knowing each other, and the means of keeping secret, and the means of cooperating, in the desk, in the legislative hall, on every party of pleasure, in every enterprise of government, on the bench, and in every gathering of men of business, in every party of pleasure, in every enterprise of government, in every domestic circle, in peace and in war, among its enemies and friends, in one place as well as another. So powerful, indeed, is it at this time, that it fears nothing from violence, either public or private, for it has every means to learn it in season, to counteract, defeat and punish it…….

The New York state report also told how the Masonic Lodge was able to influence the press to keep the truth about the order from becoming known.

The public press, that mighty engine for good or for evil, has been, with a few honorable exceptions, silent as the grave. This self proclaimed sentinel of freedom, has felt the force of Masonic influence, or has been smitten with the rod of its power.


Five years later a joint committee of the legislature in the State of Massachusetts conducted an investigation of the Lodge. Their report said that the Masons were:

a distinct independent government within our own government, and beyond the control of the laws of the land by means of its secrecy, and the oaths and regulations which its subjects are bound to obey, under penalties of death.”…”in no Masonic oath presented to the committee, is there any reservation made of the constitution and the laws of the land.”

The Joint Committee of the Massachusetts House found Freemasonry to be a, moral evil”, a “pecuniary evil) and a “political evil.”

Because of the Morgan incident and the resulting furor, it is reported that,

out of a little more than fifty thousand Masons in the United States at that time, forty five thousand turned their backs upon the lodge to enter the lodge no more.

The public exposure of the evils of Freemasonry led to the establishment of the Anti-Masonic Party in 1827. The Anti-Masonic sentiment was so high that the party received 128,000 votes in 1830 and,..15 Anti-Masonic candidates were elected to the New York Assembly in 1827,” and, “The Anti-Masonic Party won a large number of Congressional seats in 1832,”.

Millard Fillmore, who later became President of the United States was a member of the Anti-Masonic Party. In our day, historical accounts of the Morgan incident are rarely given and when they are references are made to the, apparent’ murder of Morgan and little or nothing is said of the fact that the revelation of these events almost eradicated the blight of Freemasonry from America.