Monday, Mar. 29, 2010

The Anti-Masons

The first of America's long line of third parties wasn't founded out of concern about the environment or immigration or taxes. It was based on distrust and dislike of the secretive Freemasons. Outrage reached a fever pitch in the late 1820s and early 1830s, fueled by the 1826 disappearance of William Morgan, a bricklayer who had written a book about the society's alleged secrets. The Masons were rumored to have murdered him. In 1831 the Anti-Masonic party became the first to select its presidential nominee at a national convention, and the first to issue a party platform. Anti-Masonic candidate William Wirt carried Vermont in 1832 but could not even come close to ousting Andrew Jackson from the presidency. The party soon died out, and many members became Whigs.