By D. C. Miller. Batavia, Friday, Sep. 22, 1826. Vol. 15 No. 763
Never during our humble labors, were we called to make such a statement as at the present time to our friends and Patrons. Glorying in the privileges we enjoyed as American citizens, we basked under the sunshine of liberty, proud in our independence, and thankful for its blessings; acting under the protection of the laws of our country, we felt we stood as a strong wall, invulnerable to the attack of any enemy that dare attempt our repose. Whilst, as citizens of a free country, we give due honor to the Press, the mighty engine, in the moral machinery, and would cling to it as one of the last stays on which our hopes, as freemen, could be placed, we must raise our voice with every honorable mind against those through whose instrumentality these privileges are sacrificed.
To destroy our usefulness, and undermine our reputation, we have been assailed with every missile, in the shape of calumny and abuse, by a paper in this village, conducted by a crew of as lying and dastardly cowards as ever ministered to the corruption of the public. There was no slander too base, no tale too villainous, to find admission into the columns of the common vehicle of defamation. For some past time it has been a reservoir into which the accumulated filth and pollution of the whole neighborhood rolled in various offensive streams -- Limping verse, and uncouth prose -- profane parodies and descriptions of drunken orgies, in turgid bombast were held out as diversified specimens of this motley tribe! Cast-off Judges, turncoat politicians, dishonored pettifoggers, and menial quill drivers found this paper the recipient of all the billious matter which they could eject. So long as these men merely threw out their squibs and puffs, and vain boasting, conscious of the superiority of our intellect, and the rectitude of our intentions, clad, as it were, with a panoply of steel, we let their venom go out in froth, to fall harmless at our feet -- We have whipped them before, and so can we yet.
The essence of the journal to which we allude is prejudice; and dreading the poison and stings it carried, so long as we kept our front to its conductors, we cared not for its slang and abuse. In open day-light and before the gaze of the world, we are prepared for the murderer and assassin, but in the clouds of night or forgetfulness of sleep, as may be pushed out of existence. When the nauseating calumnies of the People's Press, springing from the most odious origin, and disfigured by the vilest accompaniments, founded on a malice at which hell rejoices, and deformed by falsehoods at which perjury would shudder, had failed, and were flung back with indignation to its polluted source, other means, however, more villainous and more effectual, have been used to accomplish our destruction. Before the sirocco of their breath, we withered not nor died, -- nor even shuddered, till the incendiary's torch was applied to the combustible materials placed under our buildings, and which, but for the overruling of an inscrutible Providence, would have accomplished the intended ruin. Although Johns has been overheard to say, "we did not intend eventually to burn, and were prepared, at the proper time, to get the fire under;" yet, had it not been that two men were living in Barre, were in the street, at the fatal hour, no alarm could or would have been given in season to save these buildings; and probably a considerable portion of the village must also have fallen a sacrifice. They saw the incendiary who applied the torch; he made a hasty retreat, and dropped his dark lanthorn containing the fatal torch. Yet, under all these damning circumstances, does the polluted Press attempt to quibble and prevaricate.
From the scandalous publications in a neighboring print, the public must have formed a tolerably correct idea that I was engaged in the publication of a work, that many felt an interest in having suppressed, or of crushing before it should be prepared to be presented to the world: -- This, when known, constituted a signal, around which hovered the malignant and mischievous spirits far and near. I had to compete with the engines of the law, with perjury and with scandal. Waxing warm, the storm raged finally in fire communicated to my establishment by the hand of an incendiary, and lastly in personal violence, committed by a lawless band collected by a Canadian, aided by individuals who had forgotten themselves, their country, and its laws.
The People's Press was the grand pioneer to these outrages, for which I shall hold Messrs. Chandler, Scott and Coates responsible, agreeable to a statement made in that paper sometime since in which they assumed this responsibility. -- That the two latter gentlemen were not sensible at the time of the extent of their amenability, I am fully satisfied; but when they consent to furnish the [abhorrent?] material they must be answerable for the mischieviousness of the torch-bearer. It was through this medium that the life or liberty of another citizen was assailed. Its is to this torch that Capt. Morgan owes the loss of one or the other, or both; and in whom if living, or to his country if dead, they must owe a sad accountability.
The People are aroused, and well they may be. -- An enquiry has gone forth, which will not cease, until Capt. William Morgan or his remains have been discovered. The question is not who or what is [he]? Where from, what his business or standing? or is he a useful member of society -- a Patriot to his country, or a useless drone? But the alarm is circulated! a citizen of these United States, free born, under the protection of laws, emanating from free and liberal institutions, has been stolen, kidnapped, and plundered from his family, and smuggled, by ruffian hands, to some place unknown, or murdered by members belonging to a band, who assume to be above the laws. A notice will be seen in this paper calling a meeting on this subject on Monday next: -- It will be full, and attended by many members belonging to an absurd order, who are desirous of making manifest to the world that they discountenance violence and are anxious of wiping off the stain fastened upon their society by some of its unworthy members.
Some, who are deeply implicated in late criminal transactions, attempt a flimsey cover to their misdeeds: 1st by asserting, that we had threatened Mrs. Morgan's life if she did not deliver, to us certain papers; 2d. That Capt. Morgan had been taken away at his own request -- that he had written letters to that effect to his friends in Canandaigua, who came on accordingly, and took him off. -- What shameful subterfuge will not villainy resort to!
No enquiry that has yet been made, has resulted in a knowledge of the final disposition of Capt. Morgan. Chandler, who evidently went to Canandaigua on Wednesday last on this business, has returned; and to enquiries made, merely answered what he learned while there, that he (Morgan) had been disposed of as follows: -- that a rope was fastened to the top of a tree, and turned up by the roots by the force of oxen -- his body placed under it, and then let back, where he will be found buried! Is this the way that Daniel H. Chandler calculates to appease an alarmed community? Is this the manner he contemplates to satisfy an enquiring world of the manner a kidnapped citizen has been disposed of? or does he and others think, that the hints and whisperings that Morgan's person is safe in some Canadian gaol will allay public feeling? If he is thus incarcerated, by whom and what violence was he taken there? Who caused him to be a prisoner in a foreign, if not an enemy's country? -- These are questions that must be answered by a few worthless members of a useless institution, made to bend to the purposes of the abandoned and unprincipled.
The following is an extract of a letter from a gentleman at Canandaigua, to his correspondent in this place:
"I do not know how far you may be concerned with Mr. Morgan. I observe the Freemasons are alive to something. I do not belong to that society; but as a friend I advise you to be on your guard, as well as a man by the name of Babcock. Last night they took Morgan by force and carried him the Lord knows where."
The following was printed in a hand bill form, and published on Monday and Tuesday last.
Captain Morgan was taken by violence from Batavia on Monday morning (11th.) and carried to Canandaigua, delivered to the Gaol of that village; on Tuesday evening he was released, and at the dead and silent hour of night carried off by a powerful party; since which time he has not been heard of.
There is reason to fear that Captain Morgan has been Assassinated.
I feel that it has almost amounted to a criminal delinquency in not apprising the Public before this that a free born citizen of the United States, and a peaceable resident of the town of Batavia in Genesee co. was arrested Monday morning last, by virtue, as was said, of a criminal process, issued by some Magistrate in Canandaigua, and thrust with unusual violence into a carriage, and driven off with full speed, guarded by an uncommon and imposing force. The manner of this, in connection with the persons who were engaged in so singular a transaction, created at the time considerable sensation among our citizens; but pains were taken to allay the feeling, which was growing rather too intense to suit the views of some. Assurances were given that the prisoner would not only be well treated, but would fare sumptuously; & to carry conviction at once to the doubting, the character and standing of the gentlemen who arrested him were appealed to. These assurances, if they did not fully convince, at least soothed for the time: But to Tuesday was reserved the grand finale of breaking asunder and scattering all doubts upon this head! This was effected through the agency of Messrs. Sheriff Thompson, Nathan Follett, and a person from Rochester by the name of George Ketchum. They pledged themselves to Mrs. Morgan that on condition she would deliver up certain papers, her husband should be restored to her; she did so; and was immediately conveyed, by the man from Rochester, on her way to Canandaigua.
On her arrival in that village Mr. Morgan was not to be found; but in his place she received the following appalling relation: -- That he had been thrust into Canandaigua jail on a debt for about two dollars; where having remained a few hours, a friend, or a pretended friend came and paid the sum and liberated him, and advised him to repair to the inn situated in the upper end of the village (formerly kept by a person by the name of Bates) at which he remained but a short time, when a carriage was brought to the door and her husband thrust into it, and driven off at full speed under an escort of 15 or 20 armed men. This reaction she obtained from the wife of the Innkeeper, who is a Royal Arch Mason -- and who also further informed her that however unpleasant the task, yet she considered it her duty to inform her of what she had too much reason to fear was the case, that she would never see Mr. Morgan again, and the only consolation she could give her on so heart-rending a subject was to assure her that the Masons would see that she and her family would be provided for. -- Since he return to Batavia, which was on the afternoon of Thursday, Mr. Thompson has named the same thing to her, and proposed that she & her family should change her present boarding house for that of Mr. Danold's; the expenses of which would be defrayed as before stated.
During her stay at Canandaigua her chief if not her only intercourse was with Masons: from them she received a silent reserve with respect to Mr. Morgan's fate, with the exception of Mr. Ketchum who told her with some feeling, on parting with her, "that he considered it his duty to inform her that she must never, he feared, expect to see her husband again." Mrs. M. was also informed on her way to Canandaigua that the writer of this article, who was then held in durance by the violence of a mob, that his family need not expect soon to see him. And it was repeatedly mentioned in her presence by Masons at that place, that not only the writer of this but others that least expected it, would share the fate of Morgan; they had the names of all who had any agency in exposing Masonry, and had the power as well as the will to punish. A striking evidence of this POWER and this WILL was exhibited in this village on Tuesday afternoon, in the shape of a numerous and powerful mob, armed with bludgeons collected from various parts of the country, by a Canadian Spy of the name of Daniel Johns and headed by a citizen of Le Roy, who must ever bid adieu to the character of a Legislator after having headed such a lawless assemblage, who openly avowed their intention of destroying my printing establishment; and which would have been done, is admitted by Masons in this village, but for Mrs. Morgan's having delivered up certain papers on that day.
Every legal effort is making by the citizens of this place to arrest these lawless and alarming transactions, and to punish the daring delinquents. The public spirit on this occasion has risen to blood-heat -- an alarm has gone abroad among the people; and wo, wo is pronounced. Has it come to this that a Canadian, a stranger to our land and our institutions, can carry fire and sword into the heart of our country, and that too by the aid and consent of its citizens? -- That the liberty, life and property of its peaceable inhabitants are to be assailed when he pronounces the fiat? Shame, shame on that association, by whatever name it may be called, however ancient and honorable may have been its order when its members so far forget themselves, individual and public rights, as to be induced, by whatever motive, or headed by whatever chief, to engage in scenes that scandalize our well balanced institutions -- but shame puts on a double suffusion when these outrages are committed at the beck of a foreign renegade.
Fellow-Citizens -- When I conjure you to protect me and others who are not only threatened but assailed with lawless violence, I appeal to a principle intimately connected with your own preservation. Suffer one; even one citizen to be thus dealt with impunity and you thereby invite, and assuredly will be rewarded by similar outrages -- Suffer even the members of a society, however imposing in members, and however powerful by combination, to arrest from the laws what belongs to the laws and you inevitably seal the destruction of your liberty -- your social compact becomes barbarised, and you re led to toil and slaughter at the will of merciless task-masters and tyrants.
What can be more alarming to the well-being of social order, than to have the bonds which are destined to restrain the thoughtless and the ignorant rended asunder by the more knowing ones, stating "that whatever may be your violence in a particular case, you will be protected -- that the constituted authorities will protect you -- that the Governor of the state has written on, in any and every event, cost what it may, even to bloodshed, to suppress a certain thing -- by no means to suffer it to come to the world!" -- How little do those, who give the least color to such impositions, consider over what a volcano they are treading -- how many honest fathers and mothers may have to weep over the crimes committed by their misguided sons! and how soon the lawless mine they have devoted for the destruction of others may hurl themselves to that sad doom. -- It is rapidly approaching to this, unless the lawless fire, enkindled by those whose duty it is to suppress its first dawning, exert all their powers to put down what has been suffered to become too deeply enfixed. And I here call upon Benjamin Blodgett, as the publisher of a public journal, and upon Daniel E. Chandler, as a magistrate of the land, instead of quibbling about the character or qualities of a certain book, or of those engaged in it, or who are or who are not incendiaries, to lend a vigorous hand to the suppression of insubordination and bloodshed. I also call upon William R. Thompson, Sheriff of Genesee, possessing, as he does, the civil and military power of the county, to keep the public peace -- to suppress all riots or attempts at riots. He is one of the conservators of the laws, and he will have to answer for a fearful responsibility in any neglect of duty; which it is hoped and trusted no occasion may bring to his charge. I call upon the constituted authorities generally for aid and protection -- to suppress all efforts at violence, in their incipient state, and to punish outrages already committed, or those which may hereafter be attempted. -- I call upon the Governor, clothed with the power of the State, to suppress a rebel band, who have put at defiance the laws of the land, and assumed a right, not recognized by constitutional or statute law, to punish agreeably to the caprice or whim of their own will -- And I call upon the best efforts of all good citizens, whether in or out of authority, to be aiding in the premises. -- The rest I leave to the will of Heaven; invoking a steady nerve and a steady purpose in defending my rights,
To soon have the prophetic remarks of Capt. Morgan been verified. His fate he anticipated. "My best exertions," he often said, "have ever been devoted to my country and its free institutions. Man I have loved and do love, and I wish him unenthralled. My life is the property of my country, and my countrymen have a claim upon my utmost faculties for the preservation of all that is dear to intelligent freemen. The bane of our evil institutions is to be found in an order powerful and numerous, and becoming daily more so. It cankers and corrodes to the core the foundation on which Justice is based; and is destined, unless timely checked, to become the leveler, not of proud distinctions, but of social order. That, which, in its origin, it promoted, bringing form from uncomliness, is sadly reversed; -- and thieves and motley changers have entered the sacred Temple. -- Well, continued he, may the Virgin be presented weeping over the fallen column. This is no ideal picture, or the suggestion of a disordered fancy -- look about you -- within the precincts of your daily walks and daily avocations you will see injustice sanctioned, and crime sainted by the myrmidons of an absurd institution. With its power and corruptions, individuals not only may be sacrificed, but, in time, the State. If my life must be forfeit, I owe to my country an exposure of its dangers; not that there are not good men in the society, but that there are many evil ones." This is a mere point in comparison to the compass of his remarks. If ever man had honest views, I venture to aver that such were his; yet it is to be feared that he has fallen a martyr to truth and to the good of his fellow men. At the elbow of the immortal Jackson, braving death on the plains of Orleans, and successfully defending "Beauty ad Booty" from the ravishment of unrestrained lust and love of plunder, he may have been destined to die by the hands of the worthless and the useless.
The late outrageous acts committed by some of the fraternity, conclusively prove that the institution is dangerous; because there is not a sufficient influencing or restraining power exerted to preserve subordination; because it is not in the power of those who would do justly and act uprightly to all men, so enforce this salutary principal; because many of its real moral orniments have ceased, and are daily ceasing to hold a communion with its more active and interested members; because they can associate at divers places, at the secret hour of midnight, concert their plans, meet and execute them at any given point or time; and because the society is claiming and attempting to enforce exclusive privileges, and are becoming as dangerous to individual rights and social liberty as the Spanish Inquisition ever was in the zenith of its baleful power.
D. C. MILLER.
Batavia, Sept. 18, 1826.
P. S. Since writing the above I have been credibly informed that Johns, despairing of a desperate force in this quarter to "storm the castle," has repaired to Canada, to enlist a myrmidos corps; which may be expected on every hour. This may prove not to be the fact, but every information we have as yet received. from the source that we obtained this, has proved too true. -- Let the conservators of the public peace beware!
TO THE PUBLIC.
The inhabitants of the County of Genesee, who do not approve of the [vile?] transactions in the village of Batavia, to wit: the attempt to set fire to the buildings in said village, the forcibly taking away and secreting from his wife and children, a man not known to be guilty of any crime; and the abuse of legal process towards several of our citizens, together with other unwarrantable acts, are requested to meet at the Court House, on Monday next, the 25th inst., at 12 o'clock at noon, for the purpose of concerting and adopting such measures as may be deemed proper for investigating them, and, if possible, preventing the recurrence of similar attacks upon their persons and property, with which they have been openly threatened.
Batavia, September 21, 1826.
To my personal friends, and to the friends of civil and social liberty, and to the Rights of man, I owe an acknowledgment of grateful thanks, which I tender warm from the heart; assuring them, at the same time, that every avenue is guarded -- that every nook and corner from which a lawless corps might issue by day or night, is watched by vigilant sentinels. In return for this kindness, my life and my best exertions are at the command of civil, religious and political philanthropists.
D. C. MILLER.