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THE BRIGHT MASON: An American Mystery by Robert Berry

THE BRIGHT MASON: An American Mystery

by Robert Berry

252 pages
William Morgan disappears while publishing Freemason secrets. Antimasonry Party emerges.

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About the Book
William Morgan was considered a “bright Mason” for his ability to recite lodge ritual and Masonic lore without prompting. Although Freemasonry was built on an oral tradition, this has always been a rare talent. After a dispute with his fraternity brothers in Western New York in 1826, Morgan openly pursued publication of all he knew, in particular the secret initiation rites of the fraternity's higher degrees.

When Morgan disappeared at the hands of Masons, the fraternity experienced conflict among its members. Moreover, Freemasonry became a symbol for the perceived threat of all secret societies and it became a lightening rod for the wrath of Evangelical Christians who asserted Freemasons are anti-democratic and anti-Christian. At first, Freemason candidates were opposed in local and county elections. With the help of many small conservative tabloids, the excitement spread across Western New York and then across state lines.

THE BRIGHT MASON is a narration of how a local protest evolved into the first national third party to nominate a Presidential candidate. It covers the period from 1822 to 1832. The progress of this political development is followed through the life of Thurlow Weed, a 30-year-old printer/politician. William Morgan became a martyr for the rule of law and journalist Thurlow Weed became one of his champions. Weed went on to become a political force in state and national politics as one of the leaders of the Antimasonry Party. However, this was not before he and others took control of the party from religious leaders and moved it away from being a one-issue crusade. The party flourished and in 1832 the Antimasonry Party nominated William Wirt for President.

Excepts from autobiographies and numerous primary source materials to tell the story. There are also references to modern academic papers on social, political, and economic ramifications. Nearly 200 years later, there are numerous websites referencing the “Morgan Excitement.” In some instances, Freemasons continue to fend off accusations they murdered William Morgan. The mystery of Morgan’s disappearance has never been solved.


This is a well-written investigation of the facts and fictions of the case. I strongly recommend it.
- James T. Tresner III, 33rd Degree, Scottish Rite Journal - July-August 2009
THE BRIGHT MASON is perhaps the most concise and yet complete a review ever presented of the events that led up to Morgan's disappearance and the aftermath that resulted. The author has performed an extremely effective unbiased analysis of the events as they unfolded in this brief but disastrous period in Masonic history.
- Thomas W. Jackson, Knight Templar Magazine September 2009



About the Author
Robert Berry is a freelance journalist with several national by-lines and, for ten years, was a correspondent for the State Journal-Register in Springfield, IL. Mr. Berry was a teacher in the Springfield, MA public schools for eight years. Mr. Berry is a York Rite Freemason.



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