The Antimason Party came into existence in 1827 purportedly to reclaim government from a secret organization known as the Masons.
The Antimason Party originated in New York. It resulted from the murder of William Morgan in 1826. That year, authorities of Batavia, New York, arrested Morgan for stealing and indebtedness. He was convicted and jailed for his crimes. Soon thereafter, an unidentified group of people kidnapped Morgan from jail and eventually murdered him. Many people believed that the murderers were Freemasons and that the Masons killed Morgan because he intended to publish the organization's secrets. At this point in time, many Americans opposed secret groups like the Masons. These people believed that groups like the Masons had undue influence on the government and ruled at the expense of more-ordinary Americans. Interestingly, Andrew Jackson, president of the United States from 1829 to 1837, called for more- typical Americans to have a say in government to help him win the presidency. Jackson was a Mason and eventually faced some backlash for belonging to this organization.
The Antimason Party marked the first time in United States history that a formally-organized third political party existed. It was the first political party in American history to have a nominating convention for its candidate for the President of the United States. The party remained strongest in New York. In 1827, New York voters elected fifteen Antimasons to the state legislature. In 1831, Darius Lyman, representing the Antimason Party, ran for governor of Ohio. Robert Lucas, the Democratic Party's candidate, won easily. In 1832, the Antimason Party ran William Wirt for the presidency. He received just over 33,000 votes, 509 from Ohioans, while Jackson, the winner of the election, received more than 687,000 votes nationally and more than 81,000 from Ohioans. With such a poor showing in the presidential election, the Antimason Party fell apart by 1834. The Democratic Party and the Whig Party, the two major political parties of the 1830s and the early 1840s, absorbed the Antimason Party members.
- Goodman, Paul. Towards A Christian Republic: Antimasonry and the Great Transition in New England, 1826-1836. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1988.
- Vaughn, William Preston. The Antimasonic Party in the United States, 1826-1843. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 1983.