Convention Flashback: Anti-Masons Initiate Two Campaign Traditions

Looking back at the first presidential nominating convention.


Soooooo, I sweep them in my sack/Yes, yes, yes, it's my Anti-Masonic Almanac
Anti-Masonic Almanac

As the Romney coronation gets underway today, spare a thought for the first political party to pick its presidential candidate at a convention. On September 25, 1831, the Anti-Masonic Party assembled in Baltimore to choose the man who would face Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay in the following year's election.

The Anti-Masons, as you may have guessed from their name, were devoted to fighting Freemasonry. Their party had formed in the wake of the apparent murder of William Morgan, an itinerant stonemason and former Freemason who had declared his plans to expose the order's secrets. Following this announcement, Morgan was abducted and never seen again. In the uproar that ensued, many Americans became convinced that Masonic vigilantes had murdered Morgan, that many Masons had perjured themselves to protect the assassins, and that highly placed Masons had abused their power in an attempt to cover up the crime. The movement attracted some big names, including former president John Quincy Adams, who commented privately in the early stages of the 1832 campaign that the "dissolution of the Masonic institution in the United States" was "really more important to us and our posterity than the question whether Mr. Clay or General Jackson shall be the president."

William Wirt (artist's rendition)

Being the first political party to hold a nominating convention is a footnote. The Anti-Masons' more substantial contribution to the American political tradition came a few days later, when they gave us the first nominating convention to sell out its party's principles. The candidate selected, former U.S. attorney general William Wirt, was a former Freemason. I don't mean he was an ex-Mason who had turned his back on the secret society; I mean he was an ex-Mason who didn't really find the order objectionable at all. In a letter to the convention, Wirt denounced Morgan's murder, but he attributed it to the acts of "a few ignorant and ferocious desperadoes." In "the quarter of the Union with which I am acquainted," Wirt insisted, Masonry included many "intelligent men of high and honourable character" who would never privilege their oaths to the order over "their duties to their God and their country." The Anti-Masons had nominated a defender of Freemasonry.

Well, at least he didn't tout RomneyCare as an alternative to ObamaCare. The Anti-Masons fell in behind Wirt, who went on to claim about 8 percent of the national vote, carrying Vermont. The Masons, of course, went on to assassinate Michael Jackson and fake the Moon landing, or so I hear.

NEXT: Dead Men Don't Vote. Well, Not Usually, Anyways. And Only in Important Elections. So Maybe It's a Good Thing.

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  1. “Who controls the British crown?
    Who keeps the metric system down?”

  2. Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?

    1. Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?

      100 billion-billion metric tons of hydrogen couldn’t make Steve Guttenberg a star.

      1. Uh, have you seen Police Academy, Short Circuit, Cocoon? That filmography begs to differ with you.

        1. Three Men and a Little Lady

          You left out his crowning achievement!

        2. Oh…are we judging him based on the crap he’s done or the crap he is currently doing? Because I’m pretty sure that Kristen asked what “makes” him a star not what “made” him one. He clearly isn’t anymore.

          1. As for why he at one time had a thriving film career, I’m pretty sure it had something to to with his oral skills.

            1. Are you saying Heidi 4 Paws isn’t legitimate work?!?

              1. Holy crap, did you look at the cast of Shannon’s Rainbow? That would have been like the biggest movie of all time, if it had come out in 1986.

                1. Lou Gossett Jr? George Lopez? It’s like a cornucopia of fame!

                  It does have Claire Forlani, though.

                  1. Don’t forget about Eric Roberts.

              2. No, I’m saying I think he had to get on all fours to land that role.

            2. I was going to do a witty retort, but then I learned that the latest film he was in was a Turkish comedy released in 2010.

              Now I’m just sad.

              THANKS A LOT RD.

              1. My sincerest apologies. Truly. I had high hopes and great respect for the man after Police Academy and Short Circuit, but I think all the sequels killed his career. Hopefully he invested his earnings well and is living high on the hog, but somehow, I doubt it.

                1. Oh come on, he was smart enough to bail on Police Academy after PA:4 Citizens on Patrol. Which frankly is when the franchise started to go downhill. Just a little.

              2. IMDB sez he’s got steady, if sub-par, work.

          2. Who. Who makes him a star. The Stonecutters is who.

            (squirrels are fucking with me today)

            1. And I’m saying he hasn’t been a star in more than 2 decades. Perhaps he’s fallen out of grace with the Masons.

              1. Stonecutters, not Masons. Sheesh!

                1. Forgive my ignorance, I spend my day throwing them not building with them.

          3. Kristen asked what “makes” him a star not what “made” him one. He clearly isn’t anymore.

            The quote comes from the Simpsons which is perpetually set in a time warp of the year 1990.

            So in the context of a 1990 time warp he is still a star.

    2. Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?

      Young Steve Guttenberg was a man with a nice smile, curly hair, dimpled chin and a hard set jawline that would pass the discriminating taste of even the most iridite* Aryan. Hollywood producers meant him to be a appreciative gift to the goyim, not an insult rubbing their noses into a salted wound.

      * yes, that is the word I intended based upon its definition: A chemical film (typically clear or yellow in color) which provides a barrier medium to prevent corrosion on aluminum surfaces. Sheesh.

  3. So the Masons even got to the Anti-Masons, eh? This only proves their power!

    1. “Yes, well, of course, this is just the sort blinkered philistine pig ignorance I’ve come to expect from you non-creative garbage. You sit there on your loathsome, spotty behinds squeezing blackheads, not caring a tinker’s cuss about the struggling artist. You excrement! You lousy hypocritical whining toadies with your lousy colour TV sets and your Tony Jacklin golf clubs and your bleeding masonic handshakes! You wouldn’t let me join, would you, you blackballing bastards. Well I wouldn’t become a freemason now if you went down on your lousy, stinking, purulent knees and begged me!”

      1. But if any of you could put in a word for me I’d love to be a mason. Masonry opens doors. I’d be very quiet, I was a bit on edge just now but if I were a mason I’d sit at the back and not get in anyone’s way.

    2. That’s an interesting ring.

  4. …when they gave us the first nominating convention to sell out its party’s principles.

    LOL. Oh, please tell me that’s NOT a typo.

  5. no need for an anti skull n bones nominee this election

  6. The Anti-Masons, as you may have guessed from their name, were devoted to fighting Freemasonry.

    I see you bought into their propaganda. The Anti-Masons were a false flag operation run BY the Masons. Their goal was to get Jackson the presidency since one of the FM factions was at war with Clay’s faction. They had some other goals too, like statehood for Antarctica, making the coral snake the national bird, and enforcing concealed carry permits for opera glasses. But mainly it was the whole Jackson thing.

  7. For the record, that’s not a picture of a Freemason. I don’t know why Stonecutters are often mistaken for Freemasons. They’re clearly an original creation, like Ricky Rouse or Monald Muck.

    1. For some reason, I can’t even see the second picture. When I right-click and try to “view image” I just get a dark screen with a white dot in the middle.

      1. Apparently that’s only happening in Firefox, though.

  8. It’s too late for Antartica, teh Rothschilds already got it!!

  9. It’s interesting that for an example of a current candidate selling out you go to the lazy dig against Romney’s past not being purely conservative, rather than the dude currently in the WH who actually did sell his party’s antiwar and civil liberties principles down the river.

    1. his party’s antiwar and civil liberties principles

      The Democratic Party has antiwar and civil liberties principles?

      1. Only when a Republican is in office and less principles, more rhetorical bullshit.

      2. Well, of course, Jesse. I mean, they say they do, right? How dare you look at their actual actions!

        1. We all know that it’s intentions that count, not results.

        2. He must be some kinda racist.

        3. You’re a mason aren’t you? In fact. you’re masoning right now!

      3. Rhetorically speaking, yes. Did you not watch the campaign in 2008?

        The fact that the GOP has never demonstrated its anti-spending and anti-regulation principles in action didn’t stop you from taking a dig at Romney for violating them.

        1. less principles, more rhetorical bullshit

          Not even much of that, frankly. Even Obama called for increased intervention elsewhere in the world while he denounced the war in Iraq. And Democratic candidates usually prefer finding ways to sound tough over finding ways to defend the Bill of Rights.

          Still, I have to confess that Cenotaph is onto something. I didn’t point to Romney rather than Obama because the Republicans are actually campaigning against ObamaCare this year while the Democrats are not campaigning on even 2008’s halfassed gestures toward a peace and civil liberties platform. Nor does it have anything to do with the fact that I’m writing this during the Republican convention and wanted to call back to my reference to Romney in the lede. It’s all a Democratic plot. I didn’t even write the post — Joe Biden dictated it to me via Skype. I apologize for betraying your trust.

          1. Joe Biden dictated it to me via Skype

            Caught in another lie, Jesse. Joe Biden doesn’t think coherently, much less write coherently.

          2. There’s a nervousness to your laughter, Jesse Walker. You recognize that the powerful can deflect much dissent with humor but no man’s power is forever.

          3. No, Obama is running a campaign about helping the middle class, while in reality he is, and has been, selling them down the river to his buds in the public sector unions and bib business. You wouldn’t know that from reading Jesse Walker, though.

            1. You wouldn’t know that from reading Jesse Walker, though.

              This must be what happens when your brain bottoms out and you’re left running only on ideology.

              1. You’re being awfully hard on Jesse Walker.

            2. You’re asking for a map that shows every pebble.

            3. Who knew the bib business was so powerful?

            4. And reading an article about Obama won’t tell you about Romney either. I wonder why?

          4. This blog post – you didn’t write that.

      4. Not that I can find in their platform from ’08. But maybe this year, they’ll include some.

        1. $40M in Gitmo upgrades. If you can’t close it, supersize it.

          1. If you’re antiwar and you vote for Obama, you’re pro-war.

    2. Why is it that every time a writer criticizes Romney without criticizing Obama, someone has to bitch about how they’re being unfair to Romney and being pro-Obama?

      1. It goes both ways: if there’s an article criticizing Obama, oftentimes someone complains that Reason supports Romney. I guess some people can’t don’t realize Reason can different articles for each issue?

  10. What nonsense that the Mason’s faked the Moon landings. The Moon landings were done on the behalf of the Masons and led later to the construction of their intersolar HQ on the Moon, finished in late 1972.

  11. OT, and I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned, but Judicial Watch has posted emails concerning the Osama bin Laden movie that they obtained through a FOIA. It’s really pretty disgusting.

    1. James P Hogan works for the DOD now?


    2. James P Hogan works for the DOD now?


      1. James P Hogan works for the DOD now?


          1. The DOD is building a zombie army!?!?


            1. I’d be surprised if they weren’t.

  12. How many electrons in an anti-mason?

    1. None. Everyone knows electrons are all filthy papists.

    2. Sub-atomic particles wouldn’t contain electrons (unless that sub-atomic particle was an electron (or a positron, sort of)).

      Should have said, what’s the spin of an anti-mason?


      1. Can’t even make a lousy pun around here without getting schooled…

      2. Should have said, what’s the spin of an anti-mason?

        Apparently, that the Masons aren’t all that bad.

        1. The correct answer is that they have a single quantum state, and thus have no spin.

  13. There’s a Scottish Rite Masonic Center near my home in Tampa. Nice big piece of property with a large brick building. The parking lot is always empty except for maybe one weekend a month when I see signs for “such and such’s” wedding reception or “so and so’s” quinceanera. They are obviously still a menace to society.

    1. They obviously have cloaking technology to hide the comings and goings from your unsanctioned eyes.

      And secret underground entrances, too. Can’t have a respectable villain lair without some tunnels.

      1. Wait, the Masons are Romulans?!? This explains so much!

        1. The Vulcan theory is just full of holes. Mason is the only believable explanation, but you know what Gene Roddenberry was…

    2. The Masons have the best sledding hill in Alexandria, VA. CONSPIRACY!!!

      1. Do you mean Shuter’s or Shooters Hill?

        1. The GW Masonic Memorial on King St.

          1. Yup, that’s on Shuter’s Hill. It does look pretty good for sledding. Do you think they shoot trespassers?

            1. Nope – the grounds are open to the public, as far as I know. Lots of people sled there, at least in the recent past (i.e. when we last had snow a year and a 1/2 ago)

              I didn’t make it there during the awesome 2010-2011 winter because Metro was closed and the walk was too much of a slog with most of the sidewalks covered. Would love to give it a try, though.

              There’s also a great hill right next to Howard University Law School in the Van Ness area of DC (forget which street exactly).

  14. Maybe we need an anti-Scientology Party.

    1. What we really need is a party that’s opposed to either the Democrats or the Republicans.

      1. Is such a thing physically possible?

        1. Top scientists have investigated the sources of their grant funding and determined that no, it’s not possible. Democrats and Republicans cover the entire possible range of political opinion.

          1. We can always choose which hand our sex-monitoring chip is aw fuck it.

          2. Look, Hugh, the adults are talking. You know, the people who have zero principles, sell out their supposed positions the instant it gains them the slightest advantage, and define themselves solely by who they are opposed to.

            You know, those adults.

  15. The Anti-Masons fell in behind Wirt, who went on to claim about 8 percent of the national vote, carrying Vermont.

    Which makes the Anti-Masons about eight times more successful than Gary Johnson will be this year.

  16. I never got American anti-Freemasonry, considering Masons, you know, built the damn country.

    1. Secret societies are not inherently different from royalty in the way they are portrayed, especially in early 19th century literature, ie, a cabal of privileged people who the average man cannot be a part of running the entire country.

  17. Um, can’t believe nobody’s mentioned this yet, but there’s a long history of people accusing the Mormons as being founded on the Masons. That Mormonism has basically took secret Masonry and made it public.


    According to think, Mormonism has ties to both Masonry and anti-Masonry, which might make President Romney both a Masonic plot and an anti-Masonic plot.

    1. Are you trying to bait Randian into an anti-masonic screed?

  18. She has an asshole the size of a mason jar!

  19. What we really need is a party that’s opposed to either the Democrats or the Republicans.

    I am that party!

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