Saturday, March 31, 2007

Another Anti-Mason

In my last post, I identified William Seward as probably the most famous politician who launched his career as an Anti-Mason. It's worth noting that another famous politician re-launched his career as an Anti-Mason.

In 1830, former president John Quincy Adams ran for and was elected to a seat in Congress from Massachusetts "at the urging of his fellow National Republicans and with the support of a burgeoning Anti-Mason movement."
Thereafter, propelled in part by political calculation, in part by his liberal piety, and in part by his dislike of Henry Clay -- whom he now regarded as imperious and untrustworthy -- Adams became, in his own words, a "zealous Antimason."

Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2005) at 470.

Wilentz also does a good job giving a feel as to why antimasonry, so strange to us, swept New England and upstate New York in the late 1820s:

[N]ew forms of privilege and exclusiveness now seemed to threaten the land. Insidiously, the threat had wormed its way into the very heart of the commercializing countryside, proclaiming its ethical and intellectual superiority, all the while plotting secret power grabs and protecting kidnappers and murderers. Masonry may once have included such great men as Washington and Franklin, but that legacy had been corrupted by a new class of power-hungry, virtueless men -- a brotherhood of sharpsters sworn to aid each other, in business and in politics, to the exclusion of the democratic majority. The fate of the republic hung in the balance, emboldening Anti-Masons to fight for what they called "a Second Independence," to "hand down to posterity unimpaired the republic we inherited from our forefathers."

Id. at 279.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails