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Title: New England and the Bavarian Illuminati
Author: Stauffer, Vernon
Language: English
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                       BY VERNON STAUFFER, A. M.

        _Dean and Professor of New Testament and Church History
                            Hiram College_



                                IN THE


                          COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

                               NEW YORK


                            COPYRIGHT, 1918


                           VERNON STAUFFER


                       J. E., R. W., AND R. F.


 INTRODUCTION                                                         9

                               CHAPTER I


 1. Rapid Disintegration of Puritanism after the Revolution          13

 2. Ominous Discontent with the Standing Order                       33

 3. Alarms due to the Spread of Religious Radicalism and Scepticism  66

                              CHAPTER II


1. The Situation prior to 1798 103

2. The Situation from 1798 to 1800 122

                              CHAPTER III


 1. The Rise and the Disappearance of the Order                     142

 2. The Legend of the Order and its Literary Communication to
     New England                                                    186

                              CHAPTER IV


 1. Morse Precipitates the Controversy                              229

 2. Inconclusive Developments of Morse’s Second Formal
      Deliverance                                                   261

 3. Morse Submits his Inept Documentary Evidence                    287

 4. Freemasonry’s Embarrassment and Protest                         321

 5. Attempts of Democrats to Fix the Countercharge of Illuminism
      upon the Federalists                                          345

 BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                       361


The obligations incurred in the preparation of the following study
are much too numerous and varied to admit of adequate notice. Special
mention must, however, be made of my indebtedness to the staffs of the
following libraries: The Boston Athenaeum, Congregational, Masonic
(Boston), American Antiquarian Society, Connecticut Historical Society,
New York Historical Society, Library of Congress, the public libraries
of the cities of Boston and New York, the library of Hiram College, and
the university libraries of Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. In addition to
the many courtesies received from these sources, I have had valuable
assistance from the following persons: Mr. Newton R. Parvin, grand
secretary of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, A. F. & A. M., Cedar Rapids,
Iowa, whose warm personal interest in my investigation has found
expression in the loan of many valuable volumes; Mr. Worthington C.
Ford, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, who besides opening
freely to me the unpublished treasures of the Society, has given me the
benefit of peculiarly stimulating suggestions; Mr. Walter C. Green,
librarian of Meadville Theological School, who has most generously met
all my drafts upon his patience and time; and Professor Guy Stanton
Ford, of the University of Minnesota, who has made it possible for
me to use his copy of Forestier’s _Les Illuminés de Bavière et la
Franc-Maçonnerie allemande_, without which in this war period, with
its partial stoppage of the inflow of European literature, my chapter
on “The European Order of the Illuminati” could scarcely have been

My greatest debt is to Professor William Walker Rockwell, of Union
Theological Seminary, who from the day that he suggested the theme not
only has followed the progress of the work with unwearied interest, but
at many points has guided my efforts and helped me to avoid numerous
pitfalls. Whatever excellencies the study contains are due to Professor
Rockwell’s stimulating criticism; the faults are altogether chargeable
to me.

There remains to acknowledge my obligation and express my best thanks
to my colleagues, Professors Ralph Hinsdale Goodale, Lee Edwin Cannon,
and John Samuel Kenyon, and to Miss Bertha Peckham, Registrar of Hiram
College, who have greatly assisted me by correcting copy, reading
proof, and otherwise helping to see the work through the press. To my
wife a special obligation is due because of the benefits derived from
her critical insight and heartening sympathy throughout the performance
of the task.

                                                         V. S.


Few if any periods in our national history have been marked by a
greater variety of clashing interests than the closing decade of
the eighteenth century. Owing in part to inexperience in grappling
with the problems of government, in part to widely belligerent
and irreconcilable elements among the people, in part to grave
international complications and concerns, and in part, confessedly,
to rumors and excitements for which, as events proved, no adequate
grounds existed, the lives of the people of New England were tossed
rudely about on rough currents and counter-currents of mingled hope and
anguish. To a dispassionate observer (if anywhere on the green earth
at the close of the eighteenth century such an individual might have
been found) it must have seemed as though the citizens of New England
were as so many bits of wood, bobbing up and down on waters excessively
choppy but otherwise motionless. The agitation, however, was not merely
superficial; issues and movements of the most profound significance
were pouring their impetuous torrents through channels freshly cut and
steadily deepened by new streams of human interest which the erection
of the national government, in particular, had started on their
tortuous ways.

The development of this thesis calls for an evaluation of the
more significant elements and forces which gave to the period the
characteristic temper of nervous excitability by which it was
stamped. The profound spirit of apprehension, amounting to positive
distress, with which for many a thoughtful religious patriot of New
England the eighteenth century closed, constitutes a phenomenon as
impressive as it is curious. To isolate that spirit, to analyze it,
to explain its genesis and its development, to take account of its
attachments and antipathies with respect to the special interest under
consideration,—this must be regarded as no inconsiderable portion of
the general task.

On the morning of May 9, 1798, in the pulpit of the New North Church
in Boston, and on the afternoon of the same day in his own pulpit
at Charlestown, the occasion being that of the national fast, the
Reverend Jedediah Morse[1] made a sensational pronouncement. He
first discussed with his hearers “the awful events” which the European
Illuminati had precipitated upon an already distracted world, and then
proceeded solemnly to affirm that the secret European association
had extended its operations to this side of the Atlantic and was now
actively engaged among the people of the United States, with a view to
the overthrow of their civil and religious institutions. In the eyes of
the distinguished clergyman, the matter was of such serious moment that
he felt moved to remark:

  I hold it a duty, my brethren, which I owe to God, to the cause of
  religion, to my country and to you, at this time, to declare to
  you, thus honestly and faithfully, these truths. My only aim is to
  awaken in you and myself a due attention, at this alarming period,
  to our dearest interests. As a faithful watchman I would give you
  warning of your present danger.[2]

Morse’s warning by no means fell upon deaf ears. The “due attention”
he claimed for the alarm which he that day sounded was promptly and
generally accorded. Soon ministers were preaching, newspaper editors
and contributors writing and clearheaded statesmen like Oliver
Wolcott, Timothy Pickering, John Adams, and even the great Washington,
inquiring, and voicing their serious concern over the secret presence
in America of those conspirators whose greatest single achievement,
a multitude had come to believe, was the enormities of the French

It is true that before two years had passed men generally began to
admit the baseless nature of the alarm that Morse had sounded. None
the less one may not dismiss the incident with the light and easy
judgment that it signified nothing more than the absurd fears of a New
England clergyman who, under the strain of deep political and religious
concern, and after a hasty reading of the latest volume of religious
and political horrors that had just arrived from Europe,[3] rushed
into his pulpit and gave utterance to preposterous statements which
his imagination for the moment led him to believe were justified. The
episode has considerably larger and more important bearings. No man
could possibly have awakened such wide-spread concern as the minister
of Charlestown succeeded in awakening if it had not been true that
significant concurrent and related circumstances gave both setting and
force to the alarm which with such stout conviction he sounded.

What previous influences and events had tended to predispose the
public mind favorably to Morse’s alarm? What was the peculiar
combination and cast of events which gave the notion of a conspiracy
against religion and government in Europe and in America a clear
semblance of truth? In what ways, and to what extent, did the alarm
affect the lives and the institutions of the people of New England?
Finally, what were the grounds, real or imaginary, upon which the
charge of an Illuminati conspiracy rested? To answering these questions
the following pages are devoted.


[1] Reverend Jedediah Morse, born at Woodstock, Connecticut, August 23,
1761, died at New Haven, June 9, 1826, was a man of note. He was the
author of the first American geography and gazetteer. His connection
with the leading public men of his times, particularly with those of
the Federalist party, was both extensive and intimate. His travels
and correspondence in the interests of his numerous geographical
compositions in part promoted this acquaintance; but his outspoken and
unflinching support of the measures of government during the Federalist
regime did even more to enhance his influence. Morse was graduated from
Yale College in 1783 and settled at Charlestown as minister of the
Congregational church in that place in 1789. His wife was Elizabeth Ann
Breese, granddaughter of Samuel Finley, president of the College of New
Jersey. Quite apart from all other claims to public recognition, the
following inscription, to be found to this day on a tablet attached to
the front of the house in Charlestown wherein his distinguished son was
born, would have rendered the name of Jedediah Morse worthy of regard:

                 “Here was born 27th of April, 1791,
                      Samuel Finley Breese Morse.
                 Inventor of the Electric Telegraph.”

W. B. Sprague’s _Annals of the American Pulpit_, vol. ii, pp.
247–256, contains interesting data concerning Morse’s activities
and personality. Sprague also wrote _The Life of Jedidiah Morse, D.
D._, New York, 1874. (Morse’s surname appears in the sources both as
“Jedediah” and “Jedidiah”). Sawyer’s _Old Charlestown, etc._, p. 299,
has an engaging account of Morse’s loyalty to the muse of Federalism,
and of the painful, though not serious physical consequences, in which
in at least one instance this involved him. _Cf._ also _Memorabilia
in the Life of Jedediah Morse, D. D._, by his son, Sidney E. Morse. A
bibliography of thirty-two titles by Morse is appended to the sketch in
F. B. Dexter, _Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College_,
vol. iv, pp. 295–304.

[2] _A Sermon, Delivered at the New North Church in Boston, in the
morning, and in the afternoon at Charlestown, May 9th, 1798, being
the day recommended by John Adams, President of the United States of
America, for solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer. By Jedidiah Morse,
D. D., Minister of the Congregational Church in Charlestown_, Boston,
1798, p. 25.

[3] Robison, _Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and
Governments of Europe, carried on in the Secret Meetings of the Free
Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies_, Edinburgh, 1797.

                               CHAPTER I



Back of the War of Independence was the less absorbing but scarcely
less harrowing contest of the French and Indian War. Thus for a
period of fully thirty years the people of New England had been
subjected to the rough and unsettling experiences of military life.
This consideration, taken in connection with the fact that a growing
declension from the standards of the Puritan fathers had been the
occasion of increasing comment and concern from the middle of the
seventeenth century on,[4] will make explicable the fact that the
average citizen of New England emerged from the Revolutionary struggle
with the edge of his conscience dulled. The secularizing spirit of the
post-Revolutionary period, when questions of national organization
and unity, of the rehabilitation of commerce and industry, and of
international relations and policies were foremost in the thought of
the day, left marks upon the human spirit over which stern and rigorous
adherents to the old order wept copiously and long. For one thing,
the lives of the men and women of New England were never again to be
as barren of diversified interests as they had been in the past. The
successful issue of the struggle for political independence had so
enlarged the mind of the common man that he of necessity entertained
considerations of private desire and of public policy which he formerly
would have rejected entirely. The avenue of retreat to the ancient
simplicity and seclusion was forever closed.

The soundness of this estimate of the rapid disintegration of
Puritanism will be apparent if the changing attitude of the people on
the subject of theatrical entertainments is considered.[5] As early as
the year 1750 the General Court of Massachusetts had found it necessary
to enact legislation to prevent stage-plays and other theatrical
entertainments.[6] That Puritan standards dominated the situation at
the time is evidenced both by the reasons advanced by the framers of
the law for its enactment and by the stringent penalties attached
to it. The justification of the measure was found in the economic
waste, the discouraging effect upon industry and frugality, and the
deleterious effect upon morality and religion which stage-plays were
believed to exercise. The penalties imposed called for a fine of twenty
pounds upon any owner of property who permitted his property to be
used for such purposes, while a fine of five pounds was to be assessed
upon any actor or spectator found in attendance upon or participating
in any such exercises where more than twenty persons were assembled
together.[7] How meekly the craving for pleasurable excitement bowed
its head in submission, there is no evidence to show; but it is
very clear that as the century drew toward its close the people of
Massachusetts began to manifest a decidedly intractable spirit with
respect to legislative control of their amusements and pleasures.

The days of the Revolution supplied thrills of their own, and the
colonists gave themselves in devotion to their great task-at-arms,
with little desire for the amenities of life. Accordingly, when
the Continental Congress, on October 16, 1778, passed a resolution
deprecating every species of public entertainment which would be likely
to divert the minds of the people from the considerations of public
defence and the safeguarding of their liberties,[8] there was nothing
singular about the episode, and we may believe readily that the people
of New England, fortified by their grim spirit of determination and
their long tradition of self-denial, in no sense fell short of the
general standard. But by the year 1790 the people living in and about
Boston had come to a very different state of mind. In that year by
petition to the General Court they sought to have the prohibitory act
of 1750 revoked.[9] The incident has importance because it registers
a determined effort to feed desires whose hunger-pains had grown

The history of this particular effort to remove legislative
restrictions in the way of harmless amusements is illuminating. The
petition referred to received scant consideration at the hands of the
legislators of Massachusetts. The following year certain gentlemen
of Boston, to the number of thirty-nine, presented a memorial to the
selectmen of that city, requesting that a vote of the citizens be taken
on the questions of permitting the erection and use of a building for
theatrical entertainments, and the issuing of instructions to Boston’s
representatives in the legislature calling for the repeal of the
obnoxious law. Apparently the plebiscite was not taken; but the general
question was debated in town meeting. A committee was appointed to
prepare instructions. The committee reported favorably concerning the
proposed instructions to Boston’s representatives in the legislature,
and these representatives later undertook the task of bringing a
majority of the members of the General Court to the more liberal point
of view; not, however, with immediate success. Meanwhile, to the
scandal of Governor John Hancock, and doubtless many another advocate
of decency and order, theatrical entertainments, “under the Stile &
Appellation of Moral Lectures,”[10] flourished openly in Boston.[11]

It was during the progress of the debate in the legislature over the
proposed repeal of the law against theatrical entertainments that John
Gardiner, one of Boston’s representatives in that body, delivered
himself of sentiments touching what he styled “the illiberal, unmanly,
and despotic act” of 1750. His speech gave evidence of how fresh and
independent the judgments of some minds had come to be. Addressing the
presiding officer, Gardiner said:

  Sir! I really and truly venerate; I would rather say, I sincerely
  and almost enthusiastically admire the many great and splendid
  virtues of our renowned puritan ancestors ... ; but still, Sir,
  they were only men; and, like all other men, were fallible; liable
  to frailties, to prejudices, and to error. Some errors, and some
  unjust prejudices, they undoubtedly had. Would to God a veil
  was drawn over all their absurd prejudices which, like spots in
  the sun, tend in some small degree to bedarken and obscure the
  otherwise truly-resplendent glories of their character. One of these
  prejudices, in my opinion, was their inveterate opposition and
  abhorrent aversion to the theatre.[12]

That Gardiner was the spokesman of a very considerable number of
citizens is demonstrated by the fact that on March 28, 1793, a bill
drawn to take the place of the older legislation against theatrical
amusements and granting specifically to the people of Boston the
right to erect a theatre and to have “stage plays performed under
certain regulations and restrictions,” was enacted by the legislature
of Massachusetts.[13] It is very evident that public sentiment had
veered round to a radically new and different view respecting the
place and function of the theatre. So much so, indeed, that some who
sought to shape the thought and determination of the times recommended
the establishment of the theatre as the only possible way of drawing
the desires and interests of the people away from grosser and more
injurious excitements toward which, it was believed, an alarming growth
of frivolity and lack of moral concern was rapidly sweeping the people
of New England.[14]

This alleged declension of morals may be more vitally viewed from the
standpoint of the subject of intemperance. Convivial habits were a
fixed part of the New England character, and the sin of drunkenness
was as old as the settlement of the country. The practice of brewing
was numbered among the employments of the first settlers.[15] Rum was
generally used by the people, and the commercial life of the colonies
was inextricably woven with its importation and exportation.[16] Cider
was the native New England beverage.[17] The importation of wine was
large from the first.[18] A general tendency in the direction of
increased habits of drinking was to be expected.[19]

The period of the Revolution made its own special contribution to the
gravity of the case. The soldiers of the Continental armies received
regular rations of liquor,[20] and at the expiration of the war carried
back to their respective communities the habits of intemperance which
in many cases their army life had strengthened. Rum was more and more
coming to be regarded as one of the necessities of life;[21] and with
the revival of industry and commerce after the war the business of
distilling mounted rapidly to amazing proportions.[22]

A growing uneasiness over the social and economic consequences
involved in the spread of alcoholism is apparent. Under the date of
July 29, 1789, the Reverend Jeremy Belknap, minister of the church
in Long Lane, Boston, is found writing thus to Dr. Benjamin Rush,
Philadelphia’s celebrated physician and early apostle of temperance

  With respect to spirituous liquors I believe some good has been
  done, but much more remains to be done. The distilleries here are
  so ready a source of gain, that, till the _auri sacra fames_ shall
  cease to be a ruling passion, I fear there will no end be put to
  them. The demand from abroad I am told increases, particularly from
  the north of Europe, & while the stills are kept going there will
  be a large home consumption. In an excursion of about 80 miles into
  the country a few weeks since, I met many loads of pot & pearl
  ashes coming down, & on my return the teams which I met were loaded
  with dry fish, hogsheads of salt, & barrels of rum. The thirst for
  spirits in the back country is so ardent, that in the fall & winter
  they will sell their wheat for this sort of pay, & then in the
  spring and summer following go 40 or 50 miles after bread. However,
  we do what we can by way of precept & example, & we do not intend
  to be discouraged.[23]

The correspondence which the Reverend Bulkley Olcott, minister of the
church in Charlestown, New Hampshire, had with Belknap is of like
import.[24] He had tried to obtain accurate statistical information
from the Excise Master as to the quantity of spirituous liquors
consumed in his county, and had not succeeded. However, it is a
matter of his personal knowledge that many good estates have been
squandered through drinking, and much time, labor, and health, and many
lives destroyed in the same way. He recognizes that many concurring
circumstances come to the aid of spirituous liquors in working fatal
results; still the general abuse of drink is declared to be one of the
heaviest and most threatening evils under which the country groans.

The taverns of the day on all public occasions,[25] and frequently
in the ordinary course of their business, were filled with gambling,
carousing, drinking crowds. The extent to which the great occasions of
state were seized upon as opportunities for open and shameless drinking
had become a scandal. The custom of granting a certain allowance of
rum per day to laborers was honored in at least some sections of the
country.[26] Accidental deaths due to drunkenness, and cases of suicide
and insanity traceable to the same cause, were frequently reported.[27]
All classes of society, young and old, rich and poor, men and women,
fell victims to the great scourge. The colleges were not immune. At
Yale, wine and liquors were kept in the rooms of many of the students
and intemperance was one of the commonest of student faults.[28]
Clergymen, though generally restraining themselves from gross
indulgence, were accustomed to feel that the spirit of conviviality
and the discussion of the affairs of church and state went hand in
hand;[29] and now and then the bounds of propriety were overstepped.

Other unfavorable aspects of the situation may be found in the habits
of card-playing and gambling which everywhere prevailed, and in the
frequent allusions to instances of social vice and illegitimacy with
which the pages of the diary of such a careful observer as the Reverend
William Bentley were laden.[30]

The opinion that the social life of the period was desperately unsound
was accepted without question by many a so-called interpreter of the
times. The observations which President Timothy Dwight, of Yale, made
in his Century Sermon[31] expressed the views of many minds. Dating
“the first considerable change in the religious character of the people
of this country” with the beginning of the French and Indian War,[32]
he continued:

  The officers and soldiers of the British armies, then employed
  in this country, although probably as little corrupted as those
  of most armies, were yet loose patterns of opinion and conduct,
  and were unhappily copied by considerable numbers of our own
  countrymen, united with them in military life. These, on their
  return, spread the infection through those around them. Looser
  habits of thinking began then to be adopted, and were followed,
  as they always are, by looser conduct. The American war increased
  these evils. Peace had not, at the commencement of this war,
  restored the purity of life which existed before the preceding
  war. To the depravation still remaining was added a long train of
  immoral doctrines and practices, which spread into every corner
  of the country. The profanation of the Sabbath, before unusual,
  profaneness of language, drunkenness, gambling, and lewdness were
  exceedingly increased; and, what is less commonly remarked, but is
  perhaps not less mischievous than any of them, a light, vain method
  of thinking concerning sacred things and a cold, contemptuous
  indifference toward every moral and religious subject.[33]

But this sweeping judgment of Yale’s president, together with the
specific explanation of the situation which he offered, are to be
checked up by other and less pessimistic considerations. That there was
much pertaining to the customs and manners of the times to be deplored,
is not to be denied. On the other hand, that society in New England,
as the eighteenth century drew toward its close, was actually lapsing
from soundness and virtue to the extent that its fundamental views and
habits were being altered, is far from clear. Observers who spoke to
the contrary listened chiefly to the murmurs of the shallows and were
unresponsive to the deeps.

The fact is, new ideals and new forces were working upward in the
common life of the age. The new sense of freedom which the War of
Independence ushered in, the steadily growing prosperity of the people,
the development of social intimacies as the population of the country
increased, the intrusion and growing influence of foreign ideas and
customs, the steadily diminishing domination of the clergy—these all
tended to inaugurate a new order which clashed more or less violently
with the old. The memories of the old Puritan régime were still
sufficiently vivid to make every lapse from liberty into license appear
ominous in the extreme.

A general relaxing of social customs expressed itself in manifold ways
over all those areas where actual stagnation had not come to pass; but
this loosening was by no means characterized by deep-seated coarseness
or general immorality.[34] The people had begun to claim for themselves
some relaxation, and hence to amuse and satisfy themselves in the
light of their enlarged conceptions of the freedom and privileges
of life. On the whole, their enjoyments and amusements were such
as characterize a state of healthy-mindedness at a time of marked

In the main, the condition of the people was deplorable for what
they lacked in the way of incitements to pleasurable and helpful
social and cultural employments rather than because of what they
possessed.[35] When it is recalled how considerable was the dearth of
material for mental occupation; how undeveloped, for example, were
music and painting;[36] how the newspapers and magazines of the day
supplied little or nothing of a constructive or inspiring character;
how science was almost totally undeveloped,[37] libraries few in
number and destitute of stimulating material, the colleges for the
most part mooning the years away over insipid and useless abstractions
and dogmatic formulations, the wonder is that the rebound against
Puritanism, in this period of intense political excitement and the
growing secularization of thought, was not tenfold more violent and
subversive than it was.[38]

The impression communicated by this view is heightened when it is
recalled that the struggle for political independence not only had
affected profoundly the status of the people of New England with
respect to both their internal and their external relations; it had
also made substantial and significant modifications in the very
constitution of society itself. When the reorganization of affairs
after the Revolutionary struggle was over, it became increasingly
apparent that the control of the forces and institutions of society
in New England was in the hands of new leaders and arbiters. The
aristocracy of unquestioned conservatism which had all society under
its thumb before the Revolution, had been swept away generally in the
flood of that epochal event. Up from the small towns and villages
of the country to the great centers, to Boston particularly, came a
small army, made up largely of squires and gentry,[39] to establish a
new but less secure sovereignty, to assume control of the social and
political forces of the day, and, more or less unaware of the precise
significance of the turn of events, to measure its strength against
those new forces of democracy which in New England, as no place else
in the nation, were to find themselves compelled to fight a long and
stubborn battle to secure their emancipation.

Assuming without question the direction of affairs, this new
aristocracy, after the fashion of the old leaders who were gone,
addressed itself to the task of social, political, and religious
control.[40] Manifestly the situation was big with possibilities with
respect to the effect to be produced upon the thought and habits of the
people. There they dwelt in their spacious houses,[41] these modern
aristocrats and autocrats of fashion and custom, by no means rolling in
luxury and idleness, yet claiming and enjoying a degree of relaxation
and social pleasure vastly more lavish than that accorded to their
plebeian neighbors, occupying themselves with their parties, their
weddings and dances,[42] their refinements of dress[43] and behavior,
but with little or no disposition to abandon themselves to scandalous

The constant challenge of the political necessities of the times,
it may be urged, was altogether too compelling to admit of any such
looseness. Still, one cannot scan the newspapers of the period, or
read the story of the social commerce of the times as it pieces itself
together out of the private records and correspondence of the day,
or listen even to the pulpit’s copious flood of denunciations,[44]
without a feeling of mingled admiration and astonishment that in an age
everywhere characterized by upheaval and ferment there was really as
little of shameless and wanton conduct in New England as the records of
the period reveal. It cannot but be viewed as a notable tribute to the
essential soundness and nobility of that type of moral and religious
culture which Puritanism had supplied from the first that the New
England character should be able to pass through a period of profound
social readjustment, of the discarding of old value judgments and the
adoption of new, such as came near the close of the eighteenth century,
and this without serious loss of moral power and prestige. Manifestly,
whatever hollowness and insincerity Puritanism may have developed in
other lands and times, it did not so cramp and fetter the human spirit
in New England as to render it incapable of self-guidance when the old
restraints and limitations were no more.[45]

Now that its controlling spirit of gravity and provincialism was being
replaced by a general temper of comparative light-heartedness and
open-mindedness, of unaffected enjoyment of the good things of life,
of the acceptance of standards far more natural than those of the
earlier day, the transition was accomplished with a relative absence of
accompanying instances of moral lapse and disaster nothing less than
remarkable. A considerable amount of the boisterousness and heat of
the day over which clerical Jeremiahs and others of like conservative
leanings ceased not to pour out their complaints,[46] is explicable on
the ground of the growing habit of the mass of the people to exercise
the rights of citizenship through direct participation in the affairs
of the day. For far more significant than any evidence of moral
blindness and perversity on the part of the people in general is the
fact that a great, crowding, hungry democracy was knocking at the gates
of the old aristocratic régime and insistently urging the consideration
of its rights.


[4] An early and yet typical example of this unfavorable view of the
moral and religious life of the people after the first generation of
the Puritans was gone, may be found in _The Result of 1679_,—a document
prepared by the Synod in response to directions from the Massachusetts
General Court, calling for answers to the following questions: “What
are the euills that haue provoked the Lord to bring his judgments on
New England? What is to be donn that so those euills may be reformed?”.
The following brief excerpt from _The Result_ supplies the point of
View: “Our Fathers neither sought for, nor thought of great things
for themselves, but did seek first the kingdom of God, and his
righteousness, and all these things were added to them. They came not
into the wilderness to see a man cloathed in soft raiment. But that we
have in too many respects, been forgetting the Errand upon which the
Lord sent us hither; all the world is witness: And therefore we may not
wonder that God hath changed the tenour of his Dispensations towards
us, turning to doe us hurt, and consuming us after that he hath done us
good. If we had continued to be as once we were, the Lord would have
continued to doe for us, as once he did.” The entire document, together
with much valuable explanatory comment, may be found in Walker, _Creeds
and Platforms of Congregationalism_, pp. 421–437. Backus, _History of
New England_, vol i, pp. 457–461, contains a group of similar laments.

[5] Snow, _A History of Boston_, p. 333.

[6] Weeden, _Economic and Social History of New England_, vol. ii, p.

[7] _Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of
Massachusetts Bay_, vol. iii, pp. 500 _et seq._ The Preamble of this
Act is highly interesting: “For preventing and avoiding the many and
great mischiefs which arise from publick stage-plays, interludes and
other theatrical entertainments, which not only occasion great and
unnecessary expenses, and discourage industry and frugality, but
likewise tend generally to increase immorality, impiety and a contempt
for religion,—Be it enacted”, _etc._

[8] Seilhamer, _History of the American Theatre_, vol. ii, pp. 51 _et
seq._; Winsor, _The Memorial History of Boston_, vol. iv, ch. v: “The
Drama in Boston,” by William W. Clapp, pp. 358 _et seq._

[9] Seilhamer, _op. cit._, vol. iii, p. 13; Dunlap, _History of the
American Theatre_, vol. i, p. 244; Snow, _History of Boston_, pp. 333
_et seq._

[10] _Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts_, 1792–3, pp.
686 _et seq._

[11] The public discussion and legislative phase of the situation,
together with the disorders occasioned by the determination of the
supporters of the theatre to serve their enterprise at any cost,
are well covered by Clapp in the chapter already cited in Winsor’s
_Memorial History of Boston_. _Cf._ also Seilhamer, vol. iii, pp. 14
_et seq._; Dunlap, vol. i, pp. 242 _et seq._; Willard, _Memories of
Youth and Manhood_, vol. i, pp. 324, 325; Bentley, _Diary_, vol. i. pp
340, 379, 380, 414, 415, 418, _etc._

[12] _The Speech of John Gardiner, Esquire, Delivered in the House
of Representatives. On Thursday, the 26th of January, 1792_, Boston,
1792, p. 18. Another publication of the same year, _The Rights of the
Drama: or, An Inquiry into the Origin, Principles, and Consequences
of Theatrical Entertainments. By Philo Dramatis_ (pseud.), discussed
the subject in different vein, but with the same object in view.
In the final chapter on “The Outlines of a Theatre, it’s Necessary
Appendages, a Plan of Regulation, Calculation of Expenses, Profits,
&c.”, doubtless by way of turning the balance of public judgment in
favor of the establishment of a local theatre, the author suggests that
the following ends may be served: the development of native genius,
and thus the elevation of America to a high rank in the republic of
letters; the reservation of a certain portion of the revenues of the
theatre by the Commonwealth, for the care of the poor of Boston, or
of the state, and for the support of the University at Cambridge
(Harvard), thus easing the burden of taxation. The closing words of
this pamphlet, stripped of their bombast, are not unworthy to stand
with Gardiner’s: “Whenever I consider this subject, and contemplate the
formation of a Theatre, I cannot help feeling a kind of enthusiasm ...
I anticipate the time when the Garricks and Siddons of America shall
adorn the Stage, and melt the soul to pity. But here let me pause.—Let
the most rigid Stoic, or the greatest fanatic in religion, or the most
notorious dupe to prejudice, once hearken to the tale of the tragic
muse, whose office it is to soften, and to subdue the violent passions
of the mind, by painting the real misfortunes and distresses, which
accompany our journey through life; or attend to the laughable follies,
and vain inconsistencies, which daily mark the character of the human
species—the deformity of vice—the excellence of virtue—, and, from the
representation of the lively Comedy, ‘catch the manners living as they
rise,’ and then say, if he can, that lessons of instruction are unknown
to the Drama. If these have no effect, let him listen, with mute
attention, to the occasional symphonies, which burst from a thousand
strings, and accompany, and give life and animation to the Comic
scene—and then, if sunk below the brute creation, let him be fortified
against the impressions of sensibility. The stoicism of man must
surpass our comprehension, if the dramatic scene can be contemplated
without emotion; more especially when the representation of life and
manners is intended to correct and to enlarge the heart....”

[13] _Cf._ (Boston) _Independent Chronicle and Universal Advertiser_,
Thursday, March 28, 1793.

[14] _Pseud._: _Effects of the Stage on the Manners of a People: and
the Propriety of Encouraging and Establishing a Virtuous Theatre. By a
Bostonian_, Boston, 1792. The author is insipid enough; none the less
the pamphlet is by no means void of a certain practical-mindedness
and good sense as the author argues for the frank acceptance of the
theatre as an institution in the city’s life. The following constitute
his chief contentions: The theatre, in some form or other, is bound
to come, because of the fact that the people generally are interested
in the subject of amusement; the tastes and appetites of the people
already give painful evidence of serious debasement and corruption; the
acceptance of a “Virtuous Theatre” is the only possible expedient if
the people are to be saved from worse debauchment.

The view taken by the Reverend William Bentley, Salem’s well-known
minister, was less specious, though tinged with a mildly pessimistic
view of popular tastes. Under date of July 31, 1792, he wrote: “So much
talk has been in the Country about Theatrical entertainments that they
have become the pride even of the smallest children in our schools.
The fact puts in mind of the effect from the Rope flyers, who visited
N. England, after whose feats the children of seven were sliding down
the fences & wounding themselves in every quarter.” _Diary_, vol. i,
p. 384. Later, he wrote: “The Theatre opened for the first time [in
Salem] is now the subject. The enlightened who have not determined upon
its utter abolition have yet generally agreed that it is too early
introduced into our country.” _Ibid._, vol. ii, p. 81. _Cf. ibid._, pp.
258, _et seq._, 299, 322. It is clear that Bentley was apprehensive.

[15] Weeden, _Economic and Social History of New England_, vol. i, pp.
188, 195; Bishop, _History of American Manufactures_, vol. i, pp. 245
_et seq._

[16] _Ibid._, p. 250; vol. ii, pp. 501, 502. See also Clark, _History
of Manufactures in the United States_, p. 480.

[17] _Ibid._ Bishop notes the fact that in 1721 a small village of
forty houses, near Boston, made 3000 barrels of cider.

[18] _Ibid._, p. 269; Weeden, _op. cit._, vol. i, pp. 144, 148 _et seq._

[19] The impression that this decline toward a general state of
drunkenness set in early will appear from the following excerpt taken
from the Synod’s report on “The Necessity of Reformation”, presented
to the General Court of Massachusetts in 1679: “VIII. There is much
Intemperance. The heathenish and Idolatrous practice of Health-drinking
is become too general a Provocation. Dayes of Training, and other
publick Solemnityes, have been abused in this respect: and not only
English but Indians have been debauched, by those that call themselves
Christians, who have put their bottles to them, and made them drunk
also. This is a crying Sin, and the more aggravated in that the first
Planters of this Colony did (as in the Patent expressed) come into this
Land with a design to Convert the Heathen unto Christ.... There are
more Temptations and occasions unto _That Sin_, publickly allowed of,
than any necessity doth require; the proper end of Taverns, &c. being
to that end only, a far less number would suffice: But it is a common
practice for Town dwellers, yea and Church-members, to frequent publick
Houses, and there to misspend precious Time, unto the dishonour of
the Gospel, and the scandalizing of others, who are by such examples
induced to sin against God.” _Cf._ Walker, _Creeds and Platforms of
Congregationalism_, p. 430.

[20] Hatch, _The Administration of the American Revolutionary Army_,
pp. 89 _et seq._ The supplies of beer, cider, and rum furnished the
armies were not always held to be adequate. After the battle of
Brandywine, Congress ordered thirty hogsheads of rum distributed among
the soldiers as a tribute to their gallant conduct in that battle.
_Cf._ _One Hundred Years of Temperance_, New York, 1886, article by
Daniel Dorchester on “The Inception of the Temperance Reformation”, p.
113, for comments on the effects of the return of drunken soldiers to
the ranks of citizenship.

[21] Weeden, _op. cit._, vol. ii, p. 883, supplies the following
concerning the character of the coasting and river trade, which the
exigencies of the war greatly stimulated: “A cargo from Boston to Great
Barrington and Williamstown contained 11 hdds. and 6 tierces of rum, 3
bbls. of wine, 2 do. of brandy, 1/2 bale of cotton, and 1 small cask of
indigo. The proportion of ‘wet goods’ to the small quantity of cotton
and indigo is significant, and indicates the prevailing appetites”.

[22] In 1783 Massachusetts had no fewer than sixty-three distilleries.
In 1783 this state distilled 1,475,509 gallons of spirits from foreign,
and 11,490 gallons from domestic materials. From 1790 to 1800 in the
United States, 23,148,404 gallons of spirits were distilled from
molasses; of this 6,322,640 gallons were exported, leaving a quantity
for home consumption so large as to supply its own comment. Low grain
prices, together with the difficulty of gaining access to the molasses
markets, hastened a transition to grain distilling near the end of
the eighteenth century, with the result that in 1810 Mr. Gallatin,
Secretary of the Treasury, reported not less than 9,000,000 gallons of
spirits as having been distilled from grain and fruit in 1801. Bishop,
_History of American Manufactures_, vol. ii, pp. 30, 65, 83, 152;
Clark, _History of Manufactures in the United States_, p. 230.

[23] _Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society_, 6th ser.,
vol. iv, Belknap Papers, pt. iii, p. 440.

[24] _Ibid._, p. 508.

[25] _Diary of William Bentley_, vol. ii, p. 92: May 31, 1794: “The
observation of holydays at Election is an abuse in this part of the
Country. Not only at our return yesterday, did we observe crowds around
the new Tavern at the entrance of the Town, but even at this day, we
saw at Perkins’ on the neck, persons of all descriptions, dancing to a
fiddle, drinking, playing with pennies, &c. It is proper such excesses
should be checked.” _Cf._ also _ibid._, pp. 58, 363, 410, 444 _et seq._
_Cf._ also Earle, Alice Morse, _Stage-coach and Tavern Days_, New York,

[26] _Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society_, 6th Series,
vol. iv, Belknap Papers, pt. iii, p. 456. Jeremiah Libbey writes of
the situation at Portsmouth, [N. H.?]: “The common allowance of rum
to labourers here is half a pint per day, which has been the rule or
custom as long as I can remember. There are several persons in this
town that are endeavouring to abolish the custom by giving them more
wages in lieu of the _allowance_, as it is call’d; but the custom is
so rooted that it is very difficult to break it. The attachment is
so great, that in general if you were to offer double the price of
the allowance in money it would not be satisfactory to the labourers,
and altho’ that is the case & it is the ruin of them and familys in
many instances ... untill a substitute of beer or some other drink is
introduced in general, it will be difficult to get over it”.

[27] _Diary of William Bentley_, vol. i, pp. 167, 175, 217, 218, 244,
247, 248, 255, 256, 281 _et seq._

[28] _Autobiography and Correspondence of Lyman Beecher_, vol. i, p. 30.

[29] _Ibid._, p. 24. The description of the meeting of the
Consociation, pp. 214 _et seq._, is unusually vivid: “ ... the
preparation for our creature comforts in the sitting-room of Mr.
Heart’s house, besides food, was a broad sideboard, covered with
decanters and bottles, and sugar, and pitchers of water. There we
found all the various kinds of liquors then in vogue. The drinking
was apparently universal. This preparation was made by the society as
a matter of course. When the Consociation arrived, they always took
something to drink round; also before public services, and always on
their return. As they could not all drink at once, they were obliged to
stand and wait, as people do when they go to mill. There was a decanter
of spirits also on the dinnertable, to help digestion, and gentlemen
partook of it through the afternoon and evening as they felt the need,
some more and some less; and the sideboard, with the spillings of
water, and sugar, and liquor, looked and smelled like the bar of a very
active grog-shop. None of the Consociation were drunk; but that there
was not, at times, a considerable amount of exhilaration, I can not
affirm.” It was Beecher’s judgment that “the tide was swelling in the
drinking habits of society.—” _Ibid._, p. 215.

[30] _Ibid._, vol. i, pp. 133, 138, 163, 255, 256, 371; vol. ii. pp.
294, 328 _et seq._

[31] _A Discourse on Some Events of the Last Century, delivered in the
Brick Church in New Haven, on Wednesday, January 7, 1801. By Timothy
Dwight, President of Yale College_, New Haven, 1801. _Cf._ this
author’s _Travels in New England and New York_, vol. iv, pp. 353 _et

[32] Dwight’s _Century Sermon_, p. 18.

[33] _Ibid._, pp. 18 _et seq._

[34] The testimony of a European traveller should prove as edifying
as that of an intimate participant in the country’s life. In 1788,
Brissot de Warville visited America. He remarked the change which had
come over the people of New England, of Boston in particular. The old
“Presbyterian austerity, which interdicted all pleasures, even that
of walking; which forbade travelling on Sunday, which persecuted men
whose opinions were different from their own” was no longer to be
encountered. Yet no evidence of the corruption of morals presented
itself to the distinguished traveller. On the contrary, he remarked the
general wholesomeness and soundness of domestic life, and the general
poise and temperance of a people which, “since the ancient puritan
austerity has disappeared”, was able to play cards without yielding
to the gambling instinct and to enjoy its clubs and parties without
offending the spirit of courtesy and good-breeding. The glow upon
the soul of Brissot as he contemplates the prosperity and unaffected
simplicity of the people of Boston is evident as he writes: “With
what pleasure did I contemplate this town, which first shook off the
English yoke! which, for a long time, resisted all the seductions, all
the menaces, all the horrors of a civil war! How I delighted to wander
up and down that long street, whose simple houses of wood border the
magnificent channel of Boston, and whose full stores offer me all the
productions of the continent which I had quitted! How I enjoyed the
activity of the merchants, the artizans, and the sailors! It was not
the noisy vortex of Paris; it was not the unquiet, eager mien of my
countrymen; it was the simple, dignified air of men, who are conscious
of liberty, and who see in all men their brothers and their equals.
Everything in this street bears the marks of a town still in its
infancy, but which, even in its infancy, enjoys a great prosperity....
Boston is just rising from the devastations of war, and its commerce is
flourishing; its manufactures, productions, arts, and sciences, offer a
number of curious and interesting observations.” (Brissot De Warville,
_New Travels in the United States of America_, pp. 70–82.) Equally
laudatory comment respecting the state of society in Connecticut is
made by Brissot (pp. 108, 109).

John Bernard, the English comedian, who was in this country at the
close of the eighteenth century, found the state of society very much
like that which he had left in his own country. “They wore the same
clothes, spoke the same language, and seemed to glow with the same
affable and hospitable feelings. In walking along the mall I could
scarcely believe I had not been whisked over to St. James’s Park; and
in their houses the last modes of London were observable in nearly
every article of ornament or utility. Other parts of the state were,
however, very different.” (Bernard, _Retrospections of America,
1797–1811_, p. 29.) Bernard found in New England abundant evidences of
progress such as he had not been accustomed to in England, and splendid
stamina of character (p. 30). Nothing, apparently, suggested to him
that the people were not virile and sound.

[35] Bentley, _Diary_, vol. i, pp. 253 _et seq._, discusses at length
“the Puerile Sports usual in these parts of New England”. Weeden,
_Economic and Social History of New England_, vol. ii, p. 696, comments
on the dearth of public amusement. _Cf._ also _ibid._, p. 864. The
changed attitude of the public toward dancing, as reported by Weeden,
pp. 696 and 864, doubtless finds its explanation in the growing
consciousness that the resources in the way of entertainment deserve to
be increased. At the close of the century, however, dancing was still
frowned upon. Bentley, _Diary_, vol. ii, pp. 17, 232, 233, 296, 322,

[36] Brissot, _New Travels in the United States of America_, p. 72:
“Music, which their teachers formerly prescribed as a diabolic art,
begins to make part of their education. In some houses you hear the
forte-piano. This art, it is true, is still in its infancy; but the
young novices who exercise it, are so gentle, so complaisant, and so
modest, that the proud perfection of art gives no pleasure equal to
what they afford.” _Cf._ also Bentley, _Diary_, vol. ii, pp. 247 _et
seq._, 292.

[37] Brissot, _New Travels in the United States of America_, pp. 86 _et
seq._ Brissot generously explains this fact upon the ground that in a
country so new, whose immediate concerns were so compelling, and where,
also, wealth is not centered in a few hands, the cultivation of the
arts and sciences is not to be expected. On the side of invention the
situation was far from being as bad as a reading of Brissot might seem
to imply. Weeden, _Economic and Social History of New England_, vol.
ii, pp. 847–858.

[38] Goddard, _Studies in New England Transcendentalism_, p. 18.
While the passage cited deals with an earlier situation, the general
observation made concerning the well-poised character of the New
England type of mind is as valid for the close of the eighteenth
century as for the corresponding period of the preceding century; and
the failure of New England to take a “plunge ... from the moral heights
of Puritanism” is all the more impressive in the later period in view
of the variety and character of the new incitements and impulses which
the people of New England generally felt in the period following the

[39] Conspicuous in this group was the new merchant class. In the wake
of the Revolution came an industrial and commercial revival which
profoundly affected the life of New England. While the period of the
Confederation, on account of its political disorganization and the
chaotic state of public finance and the currency, was characterized
by extreme economic depression, on the other hand, the adoption of
the Constitution communicated to the centers of industry and commerce
a feeling of optimism. The sense that a federal government had been
formed, equal to the task of guaranteeing to its citizens the rights
and privileges of trade, gave early evidence that the economic
impulses of the country had been quickened notably. Such evidence is
too abundant and too well known either to permit or to require full
statement here, but the following is suggestive: The fisheries of New
England, which had been nearly destroyed during the Revolution, had
so far revived by 1789 that a total of 480 vessels, representing a
tonnage of 27,000, were employed in the industry. At least 32,000 tons
of shipping were built in the United States, a very large part of this
in New England, in 1791. Before the war the largest amount built in any
one year was 26,544 tons. But the record of 1791 was modest. From 1789
to 1810, American shipping increased from 202,000 to 1,425,000 tons.
Because of the federal government’s proclamation of strict neutrality
with regard to the wars abroad, the carrying trade of the world came
largely into the hands of shipowners and seamen of the United States,
with the result that the dockyards and wharves of New England fairly
hummed with activity. The exports of 1793 amounted to $33,026,233.
By 1799 they had mounted to $78,665,522, of which $33,142,522 was
the growth, produce, or manufacture of the Union. Within a very few
years after the adoption of the Constitution, American merchants had
become the warehousers and distributors of merchandise to all parts
of the world. The wharves of New England were covered with goods from
Europe, the Orient, the West Indies, and from the looms, shops, and
distilleries of the nation. Directed by resourceful and far-sighted
men who had the instinct for commercial expansion, ships sailed from
New England ports for Batavia, Canton, Calcutta, St. Petersburg,
Port Louis. They carried with them coffee, fish, flour, provisions,
tobacco, rum, iron, cattle, horses; they brought back molasses, sugar,
wine, indigo, pepper, salt, muslins, calicoes, silks, hemp, duck. The
situation is dealt with in detail by Bishop, _History of American
Manufactures_, vol. ii, pp. 13–82; Clark, _History of Manufactures in
the United States_, pp. 227 _et seq._; Weeden, _Economic and Social
History of New England_, vol. ii, pp. 816–857.

[40] Winsor, _The Memorial History of Boston_, vol. iii, pp. 191, 203;
Morse, _The Federalist Party in Massachusetts_, pp. 37, 38; _Harvard
Theological Review_, January, 1916, p. 104.

[41] Weeden, _Early Life in Rhode Island_, pp. 357 _et seq._, calls
attention to the spacious and elegant houses which were built at
Providence about 1790, and to the new group of merchants which the
expansion of trans-oceanic commerce called into existence there.
Weeden, _Economic and Social History of New England_, pp. 821 _et
seq._, deals with the situation in a larger way.

[42] Parker, _History of the Second Church of Christ in Hartford_,
p. 172. The passage contains a vivid picture of the state of polite
society in an important Connecticut center. Love, _The Colonial
History of Hartford_, pp. 244 _et seq._, deals with the transformation
of social life with particular reference to the disintegration of

[43] An outcry against the excesses of fashion began to make itself
heard. “An Old Farmer,” writing to the _Massachusetts Spy_, March 27,
1799, complains on account of the consequent drain upon the purses of
husbands and fathers: “I am a plain farmer, and therefore beg leave to
trouble you with a little plain language. By the dint of industry, and
application to agricultural concerns, I have, till lately, made out to
keep square with the world. But the late scarcity of money, together
with the extravagance of fashions have nearly ruined me.... I am by no
means tenacious of the _old way_, or of _old fashions_. I know that my
family must dress different from what I used to when I was young; yet
as I have the interest of husbands and fathers at heart, I wish there
might be some reformation in the present mode of female dress.... In
better times, six or seven yards of Calico would serve to make a gown;
but now fourteen yards are scarcely sufficient. I do not perceive that
women grow any larger now than formerly.... A few years since, my
daughters were not too proud to wear good calfskin shoes; two pair of
which would last them a year: But now none will suit them but morroco,
and these must be of the slenderest kind.... Young ladies used to be
contented with wearing nothing on their heads but what Nature gave
them.... But now they dare not appear in company, unless they have half
a bushel of gauze, and other stuff, stuck on their heads”. The letter
closes with a humorous account of the writer’s embarrassing experience
with the trains of the ladies’ dresses on the occasion of a recent
visit to church.

[44] Swift, Lindsay, _The Massachusetts Election Sermons_ (Publications
of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. i, Transactions,
1892–1894), pp. 428 _et seq._

[45] Weeden, _Economic and Social History of New England_, vol. ii, pp.
864 _et seq._

[46] Scudder, _Recollections of Samuel Breck, with Passages from His
Note-Books_, pp. 178 _et seq._ Breck visited New England about 1791. He
was impressed with the looseness of life and gross lawlessness which
he saw. A fairer judgment appears on page 182: “The severe, gloomy
puritanical spirit that had governed New England since the days of the
Pilgrim forefathers was gradually giving way in the principal towns”,


The general impression of a revolt against morality and religion in
New England near the close of the eighteenth century was deepened
by the bitterness of spirit which marked the last stages of the
long struggle waged by dissenters to cut the bond between church
and state.[47] The Congregational Church was one of the fundamental
institutions of New England, and from the first the sword of the
magistrate had been invoked to enforce conformity to its worship and
polity. Strange enough seem the terms “Establishment” and “Standing
Order”[48] in the history of a people whose forefathers came to America
in quest of religious freedom. The freedom sought, however, was to be
construed as loyalty to a new order rather than as the embodiment of
tolerance. Thus it happened that for two whole centuries the battle on
behalf of the rights of dissent had to be waged in New England.[49]
To have this struggle construed by the aggrieved representatives of
the Establishment as the crowning expression of what they had come to
regard as the deep-seated and widespread irreligion of the age, was
not the least of the bitter taunts which dissenters had to bear.

                          (a) _Massachusetts_

In Massachusetts the eighteenth century dawned with some faint
promise of a kindlier day. The Charter of 1691 granted full liberty
of conscience to all Christians except Roman Catholics.[50] The
practical effects of this apparently sweeping reform were largely
nullified, however, when in the following year the General Court made
it obligatory for each town to have a minister for whose support all
its inhabitants should be taxed.[51] With the removal of all bonds upon
conscience and of all religious restrictions upon the right of suffrage
on the one hand, but with the principle of enforced support of the
institutions of religion on the other, the hallowed union of church
and state in Massachusetts obviously stood in no immediate danger. The
slight modifications speedily made in the law of 1692 did not touch the
principle of taxation in the interests of religious worship.[52]

A measure of relief came to the Episcopalians in 1727,[53] and to the
Quakers and Baptists in 1728,[54] in the form of exemption laws. In
the case of the Baptists the exemption granted was not absolute, but
only for a limited period of years. With the expiration of this period
the struggle for relief of necessity had to be renewed.[55] The rights
of dissent had begun to receive some recognition, but the limitations
embodied in the foregoing legislation bore convincing testimony of a
grudging temper of mind which would yield no ground without strong

The spirit of excitement and controversy which characterized the
revival of religion of the third and fourth decades of the eighteenth
century (_i. e._, the Great Awakening) led to new complications and
difficulties. Stirred by the revival, itinerant preachers, some of them
of little learning and of less tact, invaded parishes of their clerical
brethren without their consent, and presumed to censure the ministers
and congregations that had not yielded to the emotional impulses of the
revival.[56] A clash of parties followed, producing new antipathies and
cleavages. Many who were in sympathy with the revival withdrew from
orthodox congregations to organize new churches, nominally Baptist,
with a view to obtaining exemption from the obligation to support
the state church. To meet this evasion in 1752 the General Court of
Massachusetts passed an act which provided

  That no person for the future shall be so esteemed an A(n)nabaptist
  as to have his poll or polls and estate exempted from paying a
  proportionable part of the taxes that shall be raised in the
  town or place where he or they belong, but such whose names shall
  be contained in the lists taken by the assessors, as in said act
  provided, or such as shall produce a certificate, under the hands
  of the minister and of two principal members of such church,
  setting forth that they conscientiously believe such person or
  persons to be of their perswasion, and that he or they usually and
  frequently attend the publick worship in such church on Lord’s

A further provision of the act denied to Baptist ministers and their
parishioners the right of furnishing the required certificates unless
three other Baptist churches previously should have certified that the
persons granting the certificates were regarded as members of that
body.[58] To make the situation more galling, if that were possible,
certificates so obtained had to be lodged annually with the town clerk
before the time to pay the rates arrived.

From every point of view this legislation was objectionable to
the Baptists. Their protest was instant and vigorous.[59] It was
decided to send one of their number as agent to England, to carry
their case before the government of the mother country.[60] A sharp
remonstrance, so plain in its language that its signers came very
near being taken into custody, was drawn up and presented to the
General Court at Boston.[61] But great as was the sense of injustice
under which the Baptists smarted, the operations of the act appear
to have been most severe in the case of those who had drawn off from
the orthodox churches on account of the disturbances created by the
Great Awakening. The position of these Separatists[62] was peculiarly
vulnerable. Baptist leaders found themselves embarrassed when called
upon to certify to the Baptist affiliations of the Separatists; such a
distasteful judgment of the motives and scruples of others was to be
avoided wherever possible.[63] On the other hand, if the Separatists
sought to set up churches and establish ministers of their own, they
were confronted by the fact that a second Congregational church could
not be formed in a parish without legislative permission, and the
orthodox party usually showed itself capable of forestalling all such
sanction on the part of the state. It was left, therefore, to the
Separatists either for conscience’ sake to bear the double burden of
taxation,[64] or to seek a permanent religious home in one of the
recognized dissenting bodies.[65]

Five years later, when the exemption law of 1752 expired and with it
the exemption laws that previously had been passed for the relief of
the Quakers, a new law was enacted governing both sects.[66] Henceforth
a Baptist who desired exemption must have his name upon a list to be
presented annually to the assessor and signed by the minister and three
principal members of the Baptist congregation to which the applicant
belonged, with the accompanying certification that the applicant was
recognized as a conscientious and faithful Baptist. Quakers were
placed under the same regulations. For thirteen years this law was in
operation, with manifold instances of distress resulting, particularly
in the case of Baptists.[67] Through difficulty in obtaining the
certificates, goods were seized, expensive and otherwise irritating
court trials were held, and not a few victims, either because of
poverty or on account of conscientious scruples, found their way to
prison. In some instances, despite the fact that the certificates were
duly obtained and presented, they were waved aside and the payment of
the tax required or the process of distraint invoked.[68] It is little
wonder that the feeling in the minds and hearts of New England Baptists
that there was a spirit of iniquity back of the oppressive measures
of the Standing Order, came to have all the significance of a settled

Further modifications in the exemption laws, made in 1770, were so
slight, leaving as they did the certificate principle practically
untouched,[70] that Baptist opposition was aroused even more deeply
and the determination struck deeper root to push the battle for
religious freedom to a decision. The times also were propitious. The
near approach of the Revolutionary struggle focused attention upon the
subject of tyranny and caused acts of oppression, whether civil or
ecclesiastical in character, to stand out in a new relief before the
eye of the public. That dissenters were quick to see the bearing of
political events will appear from the following pithy comments in the
address which the Committee of Grievances[71] drew up late in 1774 and
presented to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts:

  It seems that the two main rights which all America are contending
  for at this time, are,—Not to be taxed where they are not
  represented, and—To have their causes tried by unbiased judges. And
  the Baptist churches in this province as heartily unite with their
  countrymen in this cause, as any denomination in the land; and
  are as ready to exert all their abilities to defend it. Yet only
  because they have thought it to be their duty to claim an equal
  title to these rights with their neighbors, they have repeatedly
  been accused of evil attempts against the general welfare of the
  colony; therefore, we have thought it expedient to lay a brief
  statement of the case before this assembly.... Great complaints
  have been made about a tax which the British parliament laid upon
  paper; but you require a paper tax of us annually. That which has
  made the greatest noise, is the tax of three pence a pound upon
  tea; but your law of last June laid a tax of the same sum every
  year upon the Baptists in each parish, as they would expect to
  defend themselves against a greater one.... All America is alarmed
  at the tea tax; though, if they please, they can avoid it by
  not buying tea; but we have no such liberty. We must either pay
  the little tax, or else your people appear even in this time of
  extremity determined to lay the great one upon us. But these lines
  are to let you know, that we are determined not to pay either of
  them; not only upon your principle of not being taxed where we are
  not represented, but also because we dare not render homage to any
  earthly power, which I and many of my brethren are fully convinced
  belongs only to God. We can not give the certificates you require,
  without implicitly allowing to men that authority which we believe
  in our conscience belongs only to God. Here, therefore, we claim
  charter rights, liberty of conscience.[72]

As the event proved, the Revolutionary period brought little
legislative relief to dissenters in Massachusetts. Wherever the
distractions of the war did not interrupt the ordinary course of
ecclesiastical affairs, the state church continued to assert its
time-honored prerogatives. The new constitution of the commonwealth
which was adopted in 1780 gave conclusive proof that the Standing Order
still had the situation well in hand. That instrument contained a
bill of rights which reaffirmed the authority of the legislature to
authorize and require the various towns and parishes “to make suitable
provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public
worship of God”;[73] affirmed also that the legislature had authority
to enjoin attendance upon public worship; that towns and parishes were
to have the right to elect their ministers and make contracts with them
for their support; and that moneys, in the form of rates paid by the
people in the support of public worship, were to be applied according
to the preference of the rate-payer, “provided, there be any [minister]
on whose instructions he attends”; otherwise the minister selected by
the town or parish was to receive the benefit of the tax.[74] There is
no difficulty in discerning here the outlines of the old ideal of a
state church. The day of deliverance for dissent was not yet.[75]

What did take place during the Revolutionary period to promote the
cause of religious freedom and to hasten the day of its triumph was the
publication of various pamphlets and treatises devoted to the cause
of toleration or championing the closely allied cause of democracy in
church and state.[76] Several of these[77] were from the pen of the
indomitable Isaac Backus, whose unwearied advocacy of the rights of
the individual conscience was exceeded by none. The likeness of the
struggle which dissenters were making for freedom of conscience to
that which the colonists were making for civil liberty was a favorite
notion of this doughty penman; and such an argument presented when the
imaginations of his countrymen were stirred by the political situation,
could not fail of its appeal. Three years before the war broke out, in
his _Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty_, Backus had drawn for
the benefit of the public a sharp distinction between the spheres of
ecclesiastical and civil governments. The former was armed only with
_light_ and _truth_, and was commissioned to “pull down the strongholds
of iniquity,” to gather into Christ’s church those who were willing to
be governed by His teachings, and to exclude those who would not be so
governed; while the latter “is armed with _the sword to guard the peace
and to punish those who violate the same_.”[78] In his _Government
and Liberty Described, and Ecclesiastical Tyranny Exposed_, published
in 1778, he attacked the notion of men “assuming a power to govern
religion, instead of being governed by it,” and asserted that the
essence of true religion is a voluntary obedience to God.[79] Here was
strong meat for a people for whom the word freedom was rapidly coming
to have an enlarged signification.

The most convincing exposition of the democratic tendencies of the
age came from another quarter, and in a sense belonged to the past.
Spurred by the fact that at the beginning of the century a resolute
effort had been made, both in Massachusetts and Connecticut, to obtain
more compact and rigid ecclesiastical control,[80] the Reverend John
Wise, of Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1710 had issued a satirical tract
entitled, _The Churches’ Quarrel Espoused_, and later, in 1717, a
more serious production entitled, _A Vindication of the Government
of the New England Churches_. In 1772 a new edition of these tracts,
published by subscription, came from the Boston press.[81] The enduring
quality of the task Wise had performed is shown by the fact that, while
these two slight volumes had been conceived as a protest against the
encroachments of ecclesiastical tyranny in the first two decades of the
century, they now, a half-century later, served equally well to voice
the deep passions and impulses of a people who for the moment were
engrossed in the concerns of civil government.[82] Wise rejected the
ideals of monarchy and aristocracy for the church, and took his stand
upon the proposition that democracy alone stands the test of reason and
revelation.[83] Of all systems, democracy alone cherishes the precious
interests of man’s original liberty and equality. It alone serves
effectually to restrain the disposition to prey and embezzle, and to
keep the administration of government firmly fixed upon the main
point, “the peculiar good and benefit of the whole.” “It is as plain as
daylight, there are no species of government like a democracy to attain
this end.”[84]

Such literary assaults upon the usurpations of government, upon the
violation of individual rights, and upon obstructions erected in
the path of democracy, were frontal. As has been said, they were
also happily timed. The oppressed would have to content themselves a
little longer with a type of toleration which seemed but the shadow
of genuine freedom; but the broad dissemination of such principles as
those proclaimed by Backus and Wise had had the effect of altering
appreciably the spirit of the times.

The close of the struggle for political freedom gave early proof
that the cause of religious toleration had passed into a new stage.
Dissent had grown in numbers and influence.[85] Distant voices, too,
were being heard. Virginia’s noble example in adopting the _Act
Establishing Religious Freedom_ had given a practical demonstration
of the complete severance of church and state. The impression created
by this determination of the issue of religious freedom on the
broadest possible basis had been profound throughout the country.
When the Constitution of the United States was before the people of
Massachusetts for ratification, in the fall and winter of 1787–88,
they found in it a single provision concerning religion. Article VI
provided: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification
to any office or public trust in the United States.” So far had the
eyes of dissenters in Massachusetts been opened to dangers lurking in
legislative measures that a large proportion of the Baptist delegates
in the state constitutional convention voted against the adoption of
the instrument.[86] Besides, their hearts were set on some broad and
yet specific guarantee of religious freedom under which their liberties
would be safe. The First Amendment to the Constitution, which Congress
proposed in 1789, seemed to fulfil their desire. It provided that
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” With the adoption of this law
by the majority of the states, the principle of full liberty of mind,
conscience, and worship, had been written finally into the law of the

Yet this pronouncement of the national government could not bring to a
full end the long struggle which had been waged. Only the sphere of the
federal government was involved, and individual states were still free
to deal with the institutions of religion and the rights of individuals
as they might feel disposed, as long as the national welfare was not
involved.[87] What actually happened in Massachusetts is well expressed
by Isaac Backus: “The amendment about liberty of conscience is kept
out of sight.”[88] The goods of Baptists continued to be levied upon
to meet the ministerial tax.[89] Dissensions continued to arise in
parishes over the settlement and support of ministers, dissenting
minorities usually contesting the right of the majority to saddle upon
them clergymen for whose ministrations they had no desire.[90] The
annoyances and disabilities that dissenters and disaffected members of
the Establishment suffered were clearly not so numerous nor so severe
as they had been in the past;[91] none the less they were able to keep
alive the impression that nothing but a spirit of bigotry and obdurate
tyranny could explain the prolonged attitude and policy of the Standing

                           (b) _Connecticut_

Before directing attention to the effect which this weakening of the
forces of ecclesiastical domination had upon the minds of the leaders
of the Establishment, it will be necessary to review briefly the course
which affairs took in Connecticut.[93]

Despite the fact that the founding of Connecticut had directly resulted
from the ecclesiasticism of Massachusetts, the forces of ecclesiastical
tyranny proved to be more strongly entrenched in Connecticut than in
the parent state.[94] This was due in part to the homogeneity of the
population,[95] but more largely to the degree of oversight of the
religious life of the people, unusual even for Puritan New England,
which the General Court of Connecticut exercised from the first.[96] In
this connection it is to be observed that the impulses that lay back of
the oppression of dissenters in Connecticut were not the same as those
that shaped the situation in Massachusetts. The founders of Connecticut
were out of sympathy with the theocratic ideal that prevailed in the
mother colony; they frowned upon the harsh measures of repression which
the authorities of Massachusetts adopted.[97] They held before them the
ideal of a state wherein the maintenance of religion and the exercise
of individual freedom should not be incompatible.

Yet as the event proved, the hand of religious tyranny fell heavily
upon their posterity.[98] This happened, not because they were
disposed to exercise harsher repressive measures than their fathers in
curbing dissent, but because, in their extraordinary devotion to the
churches of their own order, in their extreme care and watchfulness to
strengthen them and to safeguard the whole range of their interests,
they came into open conflict with the interests of dissenting
bodies.[99] As early as 1669 the Congregational church was formally
adopted as the state church.[100] From that day forward an intimate
and intense paternalism characterized the attitude of the civil
government toward the Establishment. Its most serious and permanent,
as well as its lighter and occasional concerns, all were provided for
with equal constancy. Contingencies of every description were either
prudently anticipated or, arising suddenly, received the immediate and
painstaking attention of the magistrates.[101]

The following list, though far from complete, will serve to illustrate
this point. Without the consent of the General Court, churches could
not be organized,[102] nor bonds be severed between pastors and their
flocks.[103] The formation of new parishes and the fixing of their
limits,[104] the calling of new ministers,[105] the determination
of the time at which arrearages in ministers’ salaries must be paid
fully,[106] the fixing of the location of new houses of worship,[107]
the disposition of cases of discipline appealed from the decisions of
local church courts,[108] the settlement of the question as to who
were to be permitted to receive the Lord’s Supper,[109] the proffer
of counsel concerning the behavior offended members were expected to
manifest toward pastors for whom they entertained no affection nor
respect[110]—these all were regarded as part of the proper business of
the General Court.

The dangers inherent in such a system are not difficult to divine.
The churches themselves upon which such paternal legislative care was
imposed generally found their affairs taken out of their hands. Civil
authority disciplined them and their members, and made independent
ecclesiastical rule little more than a fiction. Again, the committal
of the political government to a particular type of religious polity
and worship aroused antagonisms in the minds of men who hated the
palest shadow of the principle that the religion of a prince or
government must be the religion of the people. However tolerant toward
non-conformity such a state may show itself to be—and none will
deny that Connecticut rose to comparatively high levels of justice
in this regard[111]—the favoritism of government puts dissent at a
disadvantage; and when narrow and intolerant men are at the helm of
state, disadvantage passes rapidly into positive deprivation and
injury. Once more, so close an alliance between politics and religion
as the Standing Order in Connecticut represented, invites similar
combinations on the part of men, some of whom have political and
some religious objects to serve, and who, therefore, in the presence
of a common foe gladly make common cause. All of which we shall see
illustrated later.

Another general aspect of the situation in Connecticut concerns the
development of synodical government within the Congregational church.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, out of a sense of the
decay of religion in New England, as evidenced by the loosening of
discipline and the weakening of ministerial influence,[112] the
clergy of Massachusetts attempted to buttress church government
and ministerial authority through the “Proposals of 1705.” These
provided for the grouping of ministers in Associations which were to
function in the following ways: pastors were to adopt their advice
in all difficult cases; ministerial candidates were to be examined
and licensed by them; pastorless, or “bereaved” churches were to be
urged to apply to them for candidates; they were also to exercise
a general oversight of religion, and to inquire into charges made
against the character, conduct, or faith of any of their members. The
“Proposals” also made provision for Standing Councils to be made up
of delegates from these Ministerial Associations and lay members of
the churches. These Standing Councils were “to consult, advise, and
determine all affairs that shall be proper matter for the consideration
of an ecclesiastical council within their respective limits.” Their
judgments were to be accepted as final and obedience was to be enforced
on penalty of forfeiting church-fellowship.[113] This bold step in the
direction of bringing the churches of Massachusetts under more rigorous
ecclesiastical control was not destined to succeed. Liberalizing
elements stirred up powerful opposition, the legislature failed to give
to the “Proposals” its support, and the movement fell through.[114]

A very different situation developed in Connecticut. The yearning for
the strengthening of church government in the interests of a general
improvement of religion was if anything stronger in that commonwealth;
and a propitious hour for the inauguration of such a movement came
when, in 1707, the most influential minister of the colony, Gurdon
Saltonstall, of New London, was raised to the governor’s chair. The
following May the General Court issued the call for the famous Saybrook
Synod.[115] Ministers and messengers of the churches were to assemble
in their respective county towns, “on the last Monday in June next ...
to consider and agree upon those methods and rules for the management
of ecclesiastical discipline which by them shall be judged agreeable
and conformable to the word of God.”[116] By these county councils
ministers and delegates were to be chosen to meet at Saybrook, at the
commencement of the “infant college” (_i. e._, Yale), there “to compare
the results of the ministers of the several counties, and out of them
and from them to draw a form of ecclesiastical discipline which by two
or more persons delegated by them shall be offered to this Court ... to
be considered of and confirmed by them.”[117]

The directions of the General Court were complied with. The doctrinal
results of the Saybrook Synod are no part of our concern; but this is
not so with regard to its ecclesiastical formulations. The principles
contained in the “Proposals of 1705” were accepted and worked out in
more complete detail. Churches were to be grouped in Consociations,
one or more in each county as the churches might determine. Cases of
discipline too difficult of management in local congregations were to
be heard and determined by these Consociations. Refusal to answer to
the summons of a Consociation, or to submit to its decision, incurred
excommunication, whether a church or a pastor might be the guilty
party. All matters relating to the installation, ordination, and
dismissal of ministers were to be submitted by the churches to these
Consociations. In like manner the ministers of the various counties
were to be grouped together in Associations to consult concerning
the affairs of the church, provide ministerial licensure, examine
complaints, and make recommendations to the legislature concerning the
settlement of pastors with “bereaved” churches.[118]

The result of the deliberations of the Saybrook Synod was laid duly
before the sessions of the General Court, in October, 1708, and
formally adopted by that body in the following terms:

  This Assembly do declare their great approbation of such a
  happy agreement, and do ordain that all the churches within
  this government that are or shall be thus united in doctrine,
  worship, and discipline, be, and for the future shall be owned and
  acknowledged established by law. Provided always, that nothing
  herein shall be intended and construed to hinder or prevent any
  society or church that is or shall be allowed by the laws of this
  government, who soberly differ or dissent from the united churches
  hereby established, from exercising worship and discipline in their
  own way, according to their consciences.[119]

This reëstablishment of the Congregational church in Connecticut
determined the course of events, as far as the religious interests of
the commonwealth were concerned, for a hundred years to come. By this
it is not meant that the ecclesiastical system which was thus worked
out and imposed upon the churches of the colony continued to operate
in full force for that period; the Saybrook Platform was abrogated in
1784. But the Congregational church in Connecticut, by the act of 1708,
“attained the height of its security and power,”[120] and, as one of
the chief consequences of the act, ministerial domination was accorded
a recognition and support, the tradition of which outlived by at least
a quarter of a century the system by which it had been so firmly

Thus to the paternalism of the state the authority and sense of
importance of the clergy had been added. These principles established,
it was to be expected that the religious history of Connecticut during
the eighteenth century would reveal the following characteristics
and tendencies: a disposition on the part of the state to treat the
clergy of the Establishment as the pillars of conservative thought
and custom; and a disposition on the part of the clergy to exercise a
controlling hand over all the religious activities of the people, as
well as to react violently against all radical impulses and movements
which appeared to endanger centralization of government, whether
ecclesiastical or political. Certainly these were the tendencies,
expressed in the attitude of mind and the activities of the Standing
Order, with which the forces of non-conformity and democracy had to
contend throughout the whole of the century.

We may now turn to take a brief survey of the more important events
in the course of this conflict. The concluding statement of the act
whereby the Connecticut General Court adopted the recommendations of
the Saybrook Synod,[121] gave evidence of a tender regard for the
consciences and rights of dissenters which subsequent occurrences far
from justified. The fact is, the act of reëstablishment did not stand
alone. Earlier in the same year (1708) the General Court had written
into the law of the colony another statute whose provisions were in
no way affected by the later act. For the worthy object of granting
liberty of worship to sober dissenters, a liberty which they were to
be permitted to enjoy “without let, or hindrance or molestation,” it
was provided that dissenting congregations were to qualify (_i. e._,
obtain license) under the law.[122] It was likewise provided that this
permission to qualify should in no way operate to the prejudice of the
rights and privileges of the churches of the Establishment, or “to the
excusing any person from paying any such minister or town dues, as are
now, or shall hereafter be due from them.”[123] This double burden of
obtaining license and supporting the state church was not to be borne
easily. An agitation to obtain relief promptly began.[124]

After two decades of effort the Episcopalians were the first to meet
with any measure of success. Henceforth their rate money was to be
spent in the support of their own ministers and they were no longer to
be required to help build meeting-houses for the state church.[125] Two
years later, relief was granted to Baptists and Quakers. The exemption
laws passed in their behalf, however, made necessary the presentation
of certificates vouching for the claims of the holders that they were
conscientious supporters of the principles and faithful attendants upon
the worship of one or the other of these bodies.[126]

The introduction of the custom of requiring certificates encountered
the same sense of injustice and bitter resentment that dissenters in
Massachusetts manifested. Besides, the exemption laws just referred
to failed to operate in a uniform and equitable manner. Episcopalians
and Baptists, particularly, found frequent occasion to complain of the
miscarriage of this legislation and to groan under the double burden of
taxation from which they had obtained no actual relief.[127]

But as in Massachusetts, so in Connecticut, the greatest hardships
befell the Separatists who went out from the fold of the orthodox
church. Unable to achieve within the Establishment that reformation
of doctrine, polity, and spiritual life which they deemed requisite,
they associated themselves together in churches committed to their own
convictions. Opposition confronted them at every turn. Obstructions
were thrown in the way of their efforts to obtain legal permission to
constitute their churches; the civil power persisted in treating them
as law-breakers and incorrigibles; their ministers were drastically
dealt with by Consociations which regarded them as wicked men filled
with the spirit of insubordination.[128] A group of laws as severe and
intolerant as any the statute books of Connecticut ever contained were
enacted in 1742–43 to curb and if possible to eradicate the Separatist
defection.[129] Ordained ministers were forbidden to preach outside
the bounds of their parishes unless expressly invited so to do.[130]
Ministerial Associations were restrained from licensing candidates to
preach outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Association granting
licensure.[131] Ministers of the Establishment were empowered to lodge
certificates with society clerks, attesting that men had entered
their parishes and preached therein without first having received
permission. No provision for ascertaining the facts in such cases
was contemplated by the law. Justices of the peace were forbidden to
sign a warrant authorizing the collection of a minister’s rates until
they were assured that no such certificate had been lodged against the
clergyman involved.[132] Heavy bonds were to be imposed upon ministers
from outside the colony who might venture to preach within its limits
without invitation, with the added provision that such men were to
be treated as vagrants and bundled out of the colony as speedily as
possible.[133] Ministers who had not been graduated from Yale or
Harvard, or some other Protestant college or university, were debarred
from all benefits of ministerial support as provided by law.[134]

The climax of the high-handed measures of the supporters of the
Establishment was doubtless reached in this legislation. A retrograde
movement in the cause of religious toleration set in,[135] the direct
effects of which were not quickly overcome. Henceforth dissenters were
to be annoyed and hampered as they had not been before. The necessity
of appearing in person before the General Court when seeking exemption
from ecclesiastical burdens,[136] the embarrassments and hardships that
dissenting ministers suffered in their efforts to supply religious
counsel to their people,[137] the growing aversion of the General
Court to granting permission to unorthodox and dissenting groups to
organize,[138] all serve to indicate the strength of the reaction that
had set in.

The impressions produced by this excess were even more significant than
the direct results, deplorable as the latter were.[139] In the middle
of the eighteenth century the Standing Order in Connecticut had gained
for themselves an unenviable record for bigotry and persecution from
which the events of the latter half of the century by no means cleared

For a quarter of a century following the enactment of the legislative
measures just considered, no advance step, general in its nature, was
taken. Here and there a little larger measure of freedom was doled
out to this or that aggrieved dissenting minister or church; but the
situation as a whole was not materially changed. “Restriction was
the rule, freedom the exception, and government the absolute and
irresponsible dispenser of both.”[140] Finally, in 1778 some evidence
that a change in sentiment was under way appeared in the fact that
Separatists were exempted from taxes to support the state church.
Six years later, in 1784, more satisfactory proof was forthcoming.
That year, by the passing of an act entitled, “An Act for Securing
the Rights of Conscience in Matters of Religion, to Christians of
Every Denomination in this State,”[141] the General Court tacitly
abrogated the Saybrook Platform and set the institutions of religion in
Connecticut upon a new base. The act declared

  That no Persons in this State, professing the Christian Religion,
  who soberly and conscientiously dissent from the Worship and
  Ministry by Law established in the Society wherein they dwell, and
  attend public Worship by themselves shall incur any Penalty for not
  attending the Worship and Ministry so established, on the Lord’s
  Day, or on account of their meeting together by themselves on said
  Day, for public Worship in a Way agreeable to their consciences.

It was further declared that Christians of every Protestant
denomination, “whether Episcopal Church, of those Congregationalists
called Separates, or of the people called Baptists, or Quakers, or
any other Denomination who shall have formed themselves in distinct
Churches or Congregations,” and who helped to maintain their worship,
were to be exempted from the support of any other church than their
own. Further, all such dissenting congregations were to enjoy the same
power and privileges in the support of their ministry, and in the
building and repairing of their houses of worship, as those churches
which were established by law. Such persons as did not belong to any of
these dissenting bodies were to be taxed for the support of the state

The spirit of toleration had traveled far; but that the struggle for
complete religious freedom was yet by no means won will immediately
appear from the following restrictions: (1) Protestants only were
contemplated as beneficiaries under the act; (2) the principle of
taxation for the support of the state church was retained; (3) the
obligation to support some form of Christian worship was required;
(4) the benefits of that provision of the act which guaranteed to
dissenters exemption from ecclesiastical taxation were to be available
only on the condition that a certificate, signed by an officer of a
dissenting congregation, should be deposited with the clerk of the
state church near which the dissenter lived.

A formidable number of the objectionable features of the older
legislation were thus retained. The state church was still in
existence. Taxation for the support of religion was still the law of
the commonwealth. Dissenters were still compelled to put themselves to
the trouble and humiliation of obtaining the detested certificates.
Besides, the ghost of religious persecution was not yet laid. Goods
and chattels of the religiously indifferent, or of conscientious
dissenters, continued to be seized and sold by officers of the
law, to discharge unsatisfied levies made for the support of the

The principle of requiring certificates proved to be the chief bone of
contention between the Standing Order and dissenters as the century
drew to its close. The rapid growth of dissenting bodies in the period
following the Revolution, aided as they were by a zeal for proselyting
on the part of their leaders and by a set of the public mind decidedly
favorable to their propaganda because of their democratic leanings,
was met by corresponding anxiety and sternness on the part of the
supporters of the Establishment. Confusing, as they habitually did,
the interests of the state church with the cause of religion, the
representatives of the Standing Order led themselves to believe that
a contagion of irreligion was spreading alarmingly, and therefore
restrictive religious legislation was in order.[144] In line with this
conviction, in May, 1791, the legislature enacted a law requiring
dissenters to have their certificates signed by at least one, and
preferably two, civil officers, instead of as provided in the act of
1784. This law proved peculiarly distasteful to dissenters.[145] A
powerful opposition developed; and the authorities, made aware of the
fact that they had over-reached themselves, six months later withdrew
the obnoxious act, substituting for it another which permitted each
dissenter to write and sign his own certificate, but requiring him,
as before, to file it with the clerk of the state church near which
he lived.[146] The momentary wrath of dissenters was thus mollified;
however, the retention of the certificate principle continued to gall
and to excite them. A disagreeable discussion dragged itself along,
marked by acrimony, pettiness, and personal attacks on both sides; by a
consolidation of the forces and interests of dissenters and Republicans
on the one hand, and a growing sense of injured innocence and of
concern for the fate of religion on the part of the Standing Order.[147]

                             (c) _Summary_

By way of summary, a few general comments, based upon the situation in
Massachusetts and Connecticut jointly considered, are now in order.
Looking back upon the activities of the Standing Order after the lapse
of something more than a century, we see that they were zealously
contending for an ideal which had won their whole allegiance—a body
politic safeguarded and made secure by a state church. To prevent
deterioration of the state and its people the bulwark of a religion
established by law seemed imperative.[148] The interests involved were
far too serious to put them at the mercy of a voluntary support of the
institutions of religion.[149] Moreover, an established church seemed
to this group of men no necessary enemy of non-conformity. The degree
of toleration possible under an establishment of religion was deemed
sufficient actually to favor the growth of sects, and at the same time
to make the sway of orthodoxy secure.[150]

How, then, were men of such opinions to interpret the ever-growing
agitation for a larger measure of toleration, accompanied as it
was by an ever-growing resentment toward the political influence
and activities of the Standing Order, as anything other than a
covert attack upon religion itself? These bitter complainings over
the religious measures adopted by government, these flauntings of
authority through stubborn refusal or passive resistance to the payment
of ecclesiastical rates, these unrelenting efforts to dispossess
the clergy of the Establishment of their traditional honors and
emoluments—what were they all but so many proofs of the impiety of the
age and an abominable conspiracy to drive pure religion from the land?
As the representatives of the Standing Order saw the situation, the
church was obviously in grave danger and to steady the tottering ark of
the Lord was the most imperative duty of the hour.

On the other hand, in the light of the growing liberality of the times,
it was impossible for the forces of dissent to be patient with such
men. They were men of the past, callously unresponsive to the spirit of
the new age. They were an embittered minority, exerting themselves to
keep a struggling and confident majority a little longer under their
thumb. They were mischievous meddlers in the affairs of others, using
religion as a cloak to hide their social and political self-seeking.
As for the cry, “The church is in danger!”, that was to be regarded as
the most signal proof of the hypocrisy of those who raised it.[151]


[47] Lauer, _Church and State in New England_ (Johns Hopkins University
Studies in History and Political Science. Tenth Series), pp. 95 _et

[48] The term “Standing Order” was generally employed in the speech and
literature of the period, and had reference to the alliance between the
party of the Establishment and the party of the government.

[49] The scope of inquiry prescribed by the special object of this
dissertation renders both unnecessary and unprofitable the tracing
of this struggle in detail. Valuable special studies in this field
are available. Among these the following are to be commended as
of exceptional usefulness: Burrage, _A History of the Baptists in
New England_; Greene, _The Development of Religious Liberty in
Connecticut_; Reed, _Church and State in Massachusetts, 1691–1740_;
Cobb, _The Rise of Religious Liberty in America_; Ford, _New England’s
Struggle for Religious Liberty_. Lauer’s excellent treatise has already
been cited. Of contemporaneous treatments, Backus, _A History of New
England, with Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians
called Baptists_, though deficient in literary merit, is doubtless the
most trustworthy and replete. The citations made from the latter work
refer, unless otherwise indicated, to the edition of 1871 (2 vols.).

[50] _The Charter Granted by Their Majesties King William and Queen
Mary, to the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England_,
Boston in New England, 1726, p. 9. The principle of church membership
as a qualification for voting was set aside for a property

[51] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. i, pp. 446 _et seq._ _Cf._
Reed, _Church and State in Massachusetts_, 1691–1740, pp. 23 _et seq._

[52] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. i, p. 448.

[53] _Charters and “Acts and Laws” of the Province of
Massachusetts-Bay, With Appended Acts and Laws_, Boston, 1726–1735,
p. 383. The law provided that “all persons who profess themselves to
be of the Church of England”, and who were so situated that “there is
a Person in Orders according to the Rules of the Church of England
setled [_sic_], and abiding among them and performing Divine Service
within Five Miles of the Habitation, or usual Residence of any Person
professing himself as aforesaid of the Church of England”, might have
his rate-money reserved for the support of the Episcopal church.

[54] _Charters and “Acts and Laws” of the Province of Mass._, _etc._,
p. 423. The five-mile limitation formed a part of this legislation,

[55] Burrage, _History of the Baptists in New England_, p. 105.

[56] Palfrey, _A Compendious History of New England_, vol. iv, pp. 94,

[57] _Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, etc._, vol. iii, p. 645.

[58] _Ibid._

[59] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, p. 140.

[60] _Ibid._

[61] _Ibid._

[62] Separatists or Separates were the names by which those were
commonly designated who withdrew from the orthodox churches on account
of the controversies occasioned by the Great Awakening. See Blake, S.
Leroy, _The Separates or Strict Congregationalists of New England_,
Boston, 1902, pp. 17 _et seq._

[63] Hovey, _A Memoir of the Life and Times of the Rev. Isaac Backus_,
p. 171.

[64] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, pp. 96 _et seq._ Backus
himself suffered imprisonment under this act. See _ibid._, p. 109.

[65] Greene, _The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut_, pp.
235 _et seq._ The process of absorption referred to had much to do with
the breaking up of the Separatist movement. Few of these congregations
continued to exist until the struggle for religious freedom was fully
won. Other contributory causes in the breaking up of the movement were
the poverty of the members of these congregations, the difficulties
they experienced in securing pastoral care, and the dissensions that
arose among them in the exercise of their boasted rights of private
judgment, public exhortation, and the interpretation of the Scriptures.

[66] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, pp. 140 _et seq._

[67] Backus, _op. cit._, p. 141.

[68] _Ibid._

[69] _Cf._ _Minutes of the Warren Association for 1769_, quoted by
Burrage, _History of the Baptists in New England_, pp. 108 _et seq._
_Cf._ the following, taken from a statement and appeal to Baptists,
in the _Boston Evening Post_, Aug. 20, 1770: “To the Baptists in the
Province of Massachusetts Bay, who are, or have been, oppressed in any
way on a religious account. It would be needless to tell you that you
have long felt the effects of the laws by which the religion of the
government in which you live is established. Your purses have felt the
burden of ministerial rates; and when these would not satisfy your
enemies, your property hath been taken from you and sold for less than
half its value.... You will therefore readily hear and attend when you
are desired to collect your cases of suffering, and have them well
attested; such as, the taxes you have paid to build meeting-houses, to
settle ministers and support them, with all the time, money and labor
you have lost in waiting on courts, feeing lawyers, &c.; and bring or
send such cases to the Baptist Association to be held at Bellingham;
when measures will be resolutely adopted for obtaining redress from
another quarter than that to which repeated application hath been made
unsuccessfully. Nay, complaints, however just and grievous, hath been
treated with indifference, and scarcely, if at all credited”. (Quoted by
Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, p. 155.)

[70] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, pp. 156 _et seq._

[71] This standing committee of the Warren Association is itself a
token of the strengthened purpose of the Baptists.

[72] The address is given in full in Hovey, _A Memoir of the Life and
Times of Isaac Backus_, pp. 218–221. It drew a kindly response from the
Provincial Congress, signed by John Hancock as president, pleading the
inability of the Congress to give redress and advising the aggrieved
parties to submit their case to the General Court of Massachusetts at
its next session. This step was taken in September, 1775; but beyond
the fact that a bill, drawn to give redress, was once read in the
sessions of the Assembly, nothing came at the matter. “Such”, remarks
Backus, “is the disposition of mankind”. (_Cf._ Backus, _History of New
England_, vol. ii, pp. 202 _et seq._ _Cf._ Burrage, _History of the
Baptists in New England_, pp. 113 _et seq._)

[73] _The Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Passed from the
Year 1780, to the End of the Year 1800_, vol. i, pp. 19, 20.

[74] _Ibid._

[75] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, pp. 228 _et seq._, for
cases of persecution under the operation of the bill of rights.

[76] The contribution made by the newspapers must not be overlooked
in this connection. From about 1770 on there may be traced a growing
disposition on the part of dissenters to air their grievances in the
public journals. Supporters of the Establishment were not slow to

[77] In addition to the two specifically referred to, Backus published
the following: _Policy, as well as Honesty, Forbids the Use of Secular
Force in Religious Affairs_, Boston, 1779; _Truth is Great, and Will
Prevail_, Boston, 1781; _A Door Opened for Equal Christian Liberty,
etc._, Boston, 1783.

[78] Backus, _op. cit._, p. 13.

[79] Quoted from Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, p. 223.

[80] Walker, _History of the Congregational Churches in the United
States_, pp. 206–209.

[81] _Cf._ _A Vindication of the Government of the New-England
Churches, etc._, Boston, 1772. The first edition of 500 copies was
quickly subscribed for, and a second was published the same year.

[82] An edition of Wise’s tracts was published as late as 1860, by the
Congregational Board of Publication. From that edition the citations
are drawn. The following from the “Introductory Notice” is of interest:
“ ... some of the most glittering sentences of the immortal Declaration
of Independence are almost literal quotations from this essay of
John Wise [_i. e._, _Vindication of the Government of New-England
Churches_]. And it is a significant fact, that in 1772, only four years
before the declaration was made, a large edition of both those tracts
was published by subscription in one duodecimo volume. The presumption
which this fact alone suggests, that it was used as a political
text-book in the great struggle for freedom then opening, is fully
confirmed by the list of subscribers’ names printed at the end, with
the number of copies annexed.” Page xx _et seq._

[83] _Ibid._, pp. 48–50, 54, 56.

[84] Wise, _op. cit._, p. 56.

[85] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, pp. 391–401, furnishes
the following table of Baptist strength in New England in the year
1795: Churches, 325; ministers, 232; members, 20,902. Methodism had
emerged in New England within the last quarter of the century, and
Methodist ministers were indefatigable in their labors. By the close
of the century as generous-minded a Congregational minister as Bentley
could not altogether cover over his chagrin on account of the growth
and influence of the “sects”. _Cf._ _Diary of William Bentley_, vol.
ii, pp. 127, 409, 419.

[86] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, p. 235. _Cf._ Burrage,
_History of the Baptist in New England_, pp. 121 _et seq._

[87] Cobb, _The Rise of Religious Liberty in America_, pp. 509–511.

[88] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, p. 341.

[89] _Ibid._, pp. 351 _et seq._, 379.

[90] Backus, _op. cit._, pp. 353 _et seq._

[91] _Ibid._, p. 379.

[92] Actual disestablishment did not come in Massachusetts until 1833.

[93] Since the particular purpose of this chapter is to explain the
bitter spirit existing between the orthodox party and dissenters in
New England near the close of the eighteenth century, rather than to
re-write the history of the struggle for full religious toleration,
much that occurred in the long process of severing the bond between
church and state may be passed over. Attention will be focused upon the
character rather than the chronology of the struggle.

[94] Cobb, _The Rise of Religious Liberty in America_, p. 238; Fiske,
_The Beginnings of New England_, pp. 123 _et seq._

[95] Greene, _The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut_, p.
121; Cobb, _The Rise of Religious Liberty in America_, p. 243.

[96] Cobb, _op. cit._, pp. 244, 246.

[97] _Ibid._, pp. 240 _et seq._; Greene, _The Development of Religious
Liberty in Connecticut_, pp. 62 _et seq._, 68.

[98] It was the judgment of Isaac Backus that “oppression was greater
in Connecticut, than in other governments in New England”. (_History of
New England_, vol. ii, p. 404.)

[99] Cobb, _The Rise of Religious Liberty in America_, p. 244. Cobb’s
statement concerning the lack of harshness and ungentleness which
characterized the attitude of the supporters of the state church toward
dissent is extreme. The controlling spirit of the Standing Order was
doubtless a positive concern for the welfare of the Establishment
rather than a desire to weed out dissent; but the clash of interests
became so sharp and bitter that motives did not remain unmixed, and in
many an instance dissent in Connecticut was compelled to reckon with a
spirit of actual persecution.

[100] _The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, vol. i, p. 21.

[101] Cobb, _The Rise of Religious Liberty in America_, pp. 246 _et

[102] _The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, vol. i, p. 311.

[103] _Ibid._, pp. 356, 362; vol. ii, pp. 99, 240; vol. iii, pp. 78, 82
_et seq._

[104] _Ibid._, vol. iii, pp. 13, 18, 101, 216 _et seq._

[105] _Ibid._, vol. iv, pp. 67, 127, 136 _et seq._

[106] _Ibid._, vol. vii, p. 554.

[107] _Ibid._, pp. 334, 335.

[108] _Ibid._, vol. iii, p. 183.

[109] _Ibid._, vol. i, pp. 437 _et seq._

[110] _Ibid._, vol. iii, p. 104.

[111] Cobb, _The Rise of Religious Liberty in America_, p. 247.

[112] Walker, _The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism_, pp. 465
_et seq._

[113] Walker, _A History of the Congregational Churches in the United
States_, pp. 202 _et seq._; Greene, _The Development of Religious
Liberty in Connecticut_, pp. 133 _et seq._

[114] Walker, _The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism_, pp.

[115] _The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, vol. v, pp. 51
_et seq._

[116] _Ibid._

[117] _Ibid._

[118] Walker, _The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism_, pp.
502–506, where “The Saybrook Meeting and Articles” are printed in full.
For expositions, see Backus, _History of New England_, vol. i, pp.
470 _et seq._; Palfrey, _A History of New England_, vol. iii, p. 342;
Dexter, _The Congregationalism of the last Three Hundred Years_, pp.
489, 490.

[119] _The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, vol. v, p. 87.

[120] Greene, _The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut_, p

[121] _Cf. supra_, p. 53.

[122] _The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, vol. v, p. 50.
It seems clear that either through neglect or evasion a considerable
number of congregations failed to qualify under the law. In any event
the legislature deemed itself warranted in passing an act, May,
1721, imposing a fine of five shillings on persons convicted of not
having attended “the publick worship of God on the Lord’s day in some
congregation by law allowed.” (See _ibid._, vol. vi, p. 248.) Churches
which for doctrinal or other reasons withdrew from the Establishment
suffered serious embarrassments on account of this law respecting the
licensing of congregations.

[123] _Ibid._, vol. v, p. 50. Any infraction of this law was to be
punished by a heavy fine. Failure to pay the fine involved heavy bail
or imprisonment.

[124] Greene, _The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut_,
pp. 191 _et seq._

[125] _The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, vol. vi, p.

[126] _The Pub. Records of the Colony of Conn._, vol. vi, pp. 237, 257.
Unlike the Massachusetts exemption laws passed on behalf of these two
bodies, these were perpetual.

[127] _Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society: Talcott
Papers_, vol. v, pp. 9–13; Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii,
pp. 98 _et seq._

[128] Parker, _History of the Second Church of Christ in Hartford_,
pp. 117, 119; _Papers of the New Haven Colony Historical Society_,
vol. iv: _The Bradford Annals_, pp. 318 _et seq._; Backus, _History
of New England_, vol. ii, pp. 57 _et seq._, 79 _et seq._ For the
account of the difficulties of a particular Separatist congregation,
see Dutton, _The History of the North Church in New Haven_, pp. 25–28.
_Cf._ _The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, vol. xi, pp.
323 _et seq._; also Beardsley, _The History of the Episcopal Church in
Connecticut_, vol. i, p. 140.

[129] The bigoted and unfeeling spirit which controlled the authorities
is well expressed in the act of May, 1743. Proceeding on the assumption
that the Separatists, taking advantage of the act of May, 1708, were
responsible for the disruptive tactics and measures of the times, by
means of which “some of the parishes established by the laws of this
Colony ... have been greatly damnified, and by indirect means divided
and parted,” the General Court repealed the act in question, and put
in its place the following: “And be it further enacted, that, for the
future, if any of His Majesty’s good subjects, being protestants,
inhabitants of this Colony, that shall soberly dissent from the way
of worship and ministry established by the laws of this Colony, that
such persons may apply themselves to this Assembly for relief, where
they shall be heard. _And such persons as have any distinguishing
character, by which they may be known from the presbyterians or
congregationalists, and from the consociated churches established by
the laws of this Colony, may expect the indulgence of this Assembly_
[Italics mine.—V. S.], having first before this Assembly taken the
oaths and subscribed the declaration provided in the act of Parliament
in cases of like nature.” (_The Public Records of the Colony of
Connecticut_, vol. viii, p. 522. _Cf._ Backus, _History of New
England_, vol. ii, p. 58.)

[130] _The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut_, vol. viii, p.

[131] _Ibid._, p. 456.

[132] _The Pub. Records of the Colony of Conn._, vol. viii, p. 456.

[133] _Ibid._, p. 457.

[134] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, p. 57.

[135] Cobb, _The Rise of Religious Liberty in America_, pp. 274 _et
seq._ Greene, _The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut_,
pp. 244 _et seq._

[136] _Cf. supra_, note 1, p. 57.

[137] Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, pp. 59 _et seq._, 62,
65 _et seq._, 77 _et seq._, 81 _et seq._

[138] Greene, _The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut_,
pp. 248–262. The difficulties experienced by three congregations in New
Haven, Canterbury, and Enfield, are dealt with in detail.

[139] A revision of Connecticut laws took place in 1750. The unjust
legislation of 1742–43 and of the following years was quietly left out.

[140] _Papers of the New Haven Colony Historical Society_, vol. iii,
pp. 398 _et seq._

[141] _Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut, in America_, p. 21.

[142] _Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut, in America_, p. 21.

[143] Parker, _History of the Second Church of Hartford_, pp. 170,
171. _Cf._ Beecher, _Autobiography, Correspondence, etc._, vol. i, p.
302. The latter’s account of the situation is much softened by his
sympathies with the dominant party.

[144] By this time dissenters and Anti-Federalists had largely
consolidated their interests. The political program of the latter drew
upon the former all the suspicions and antagonisms which the Standing
Order entertained toward the foes of Federalism. The acrimonious
discussion which arose at this time over the disposition of the
Western Reserve and the funds thus derived, admirably illustrates the
cross-currents of religious and political agitation in the last decade
of the century. _Cf._ Greene, _The Development of Religious Liberty in
Connecticut_, pp. 380–392.

[145] This is readily explicable in view of the fact that most of the
magistrates were adherents of the Establishment. The comment of Backus
touches the pith of the matter, as dissenters saw it: “Thus the civil
authority in the uppermost religious party in their State, was to judge
the consciences of all men who dissented from their worship.” (_History
of New England_, vol. ii, p. 345.)

[146] _Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut_, p. 418.

[147] In September, 1818, by the adoption of the new state
constitution, the long wearisome struggle was brought to an end, and
State and Church in Connecticut were separated completely.

[148] This point of view was tersely set forth in the election sermon
preached by the Rev. Mr. Payson, at Boston, May 27, 1778: “Let the
restraints of religion once be broken down, as they infallibly would
be by leaving the subject of public worship to the humours of the
multitude, and we might well defy all human wisdom and power to support
and preserve order and government in the state.”—Quoted by Backus,
_Church History of New England, from 1620 to 1804_ (ed. of 1844,
Philadelphia), pp. 204 _et seq._

[149] The state of feelings shared by the supporters of the
Establishment at the time when the blow fell severing the bond between
the church and state in Connecticut, is vividly expressed by Beecher:
“It was a time of great depression.... It was as dark a day as ever
I saw. The injury done to the cause of Christ, as we then supposed,
was irreparable. For several days I suffered what no tongue can tell
_for the best thing that ever happened to the State of Connecticut_.”
(_Autobiography, Correspondence, etc._, vol. i, p. 304.)

[150] This was the view propounded by President Ezra Stiles, of Yale,
in his election sermon of May 3, 1783: “Through the liberty enjoyed
here, all religious sects will grow up into large and respectable
bodies. But the Congregational and Presbyterian denominations, however
hitherto despised, will, by the blessing of Heaven continue to hold
the greatest figure in America, and, notwithstanding all the fruitless
labors and exertions to proselyte us to other communions, become more
numerous than the whole collective body of our fellow protestants in
Europe.” (Quoted by Backus, _History of New England_, vol. ii, p. 312.)

To this exposition and bold forecast Backus took decided objections, on
the grounds (1) that _persecution_ and not _tolerance_ had promoted the
growth of sects in America, and (2) that the numerical increase of the
Congregationalists and Presbyterians in this country did not justify
any such prediction. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 403–407.

[151] Perhaps no man more boldly stated this interpretation of the
motives that inspired the Standing Order than Abraham Bishop, leader
of the forces of Republicanism in Connecticut and arch-enemy of
“ecclesiastical aristocrats.” “The religion of the country is made a
stalking horse for political jockies ... Thanksgiving and fasts have
been often improved for political purposes and the miserable gleanings
from half a year’s ignorance of the true interests of our country
have been palmed on the people, by the political clergy, as a pious
compliance with the governor’s very pious proclamations.... The union
of Church and State ... [is] the grand fortress of the ‘friends of
order and good government.’” (_Oration delivered at Wallingford, New
Haven_, 1801, pp. 46, 83.) That “the church is in danger” has for some
time past been one of the most frequent and frantic of all the absurd
cries heard in the land, and that New England through her clannishness
has produced “patriarchs in opinion” who assume the prerogative of
dictating the opinions of the people on all subjects, are further
trenchant comments of the same orator. (_Ibid._, pp. 13, 17.) Bishop’s
observations respecting the alleged specious and insincere character
of those public utterances by which “the friends of order and good
government” sought to preserve the _status quo_, are equally pointed.
“The sailor nailed the needle of his compass to the cardinal point
and swore that it should not be always traversing. So does the New
England friend of order: but he cautiously conceals the oppression and
imposture, which sustains these habits.... This cry of _steady habits_
has a talismanic effect on the minds of our people; but nothing can be
more hollow, vain and deceitful. Recollect for a moment that everything
valuable in our world has been at one time innovation, illuminatism,
modern philosophy, atheism.... Our steady habits have calmly assumed
domination over the rights of conscience and suffrage. Certainly the
trinitarian doctrine is established by law and the denial of it is
placed in the rank follies. Though we have ceased to transport from
town to town, quakers, new lights, and baptists; yet the dissenters
from our prevailing denomination are, even at this moment, praying
for the repeal of those laws which abridge the rights of conscience.”
(_Ibid._, pp. 14, 16.)


During the eighteenth century the progress of religious thought in New
England in the direction of liberal positions was marked. Near the
beginning of the century, in his _Ratio Disciplinae_, Cotton Mather
was able to speak confidently of the solid and compact character of
religious opinion in his generation, and felt free to dispose of
the subject with a few general statements regarding the universal
adherence of the churches of New England to the orthodox standards
of the mother country. He made the added comment: “I can not learn,
That among all the Pastors of Two Hundred Churches, there is one
Arminian: much less Arian, or a Gentilist.”[152] At the end of the
century, it is very certain that no such all-inclusive generalization,
by the widest stretch of the imagination, would have been possible.
Indeed, when a noted Philadelphia minister of the day, the Reverend
Ashbel Green, visited New England in 1791, he found an aptitude for
polemical discussion on the part of the clergy which impressed him as
most extraordinary. Through his contact with the Boston Ministerial
Association he encountered “Calvinists, Universalists, Arminians,
Arians,” and at least one “Socinian,” all participating in pleasant
social intercourse, despite their radical differences of religious
opinion. To the mind of the visiting Philadelphia clergyman the
situation was explicable only on the basis of an extreme laxness in
the matter of religious sentiments and doctrines, a judgment which
obviously requires some modification in view of the predilection for
doctrinal controversy which he himself remarked.[153]

From the days of the Great Awakening, the lines of doctrinal cleavage
had grown increasingly distinct in the religious thought of New
England. Apart from those effects of the revival which already have
been noted,[154] it may be said that the one really permanent result of
that notable wave of religious enthusiasm was the polemical controversy
which it precipitated.[155] The question concerning the “means of
grace,” around which the controversy in its initial stage raged,[156]
became larger and more complicated by virtue of the massive system of
theology which Jonathan Edwards developed upon the fundamental notion
of the utter worthlessness of man, due to his depravity and consequent

Into the metaphysical subtleties of the Edwardean system we are not
called to go; it is sufficient to observe that the reaction against
such a conception of human nature was bound to be marked in the midst
of an age generally responsive to enthusiasms born of fresh conceptions
of the essential dignity and worth of man. The virtue of humility was
destined to divest itself of much of that abject quality with which the
whole Calvinistic theology had clothed it, and to accommodate itself
to candid and unblushing convictions of human endowments, abilities,
excellencies, and prospects, because of which it would be impossible to
retain the traditional contempt for human nature.[157]

The reaction against the Edwardean theology was fruitful in the
encouragement of liberal notions along other closely related lines. The
bold necessitarianism of that system could not but produce an effect
generally favorable to the promotion of man’s confidence in himself, in
the midst of an age characterized by prodigious political initiative
and love of liberty, and by conceptions of the Deity which stressed the
very vastness of those reaches of space stretching between God and the
world. The heavy emphasis which the new theological system laid upon
the notion of the divine sovereignty, true as it was in spirit to the
traditional Puritan interest in the cause of theocracy, was doomed to
find itself belated within an age beginning to glow with humanitarian
passion and with enthusiasm for the ideal of democracy; and, positively
considered, to give impulse in the general direction just noted. The
very heat and intensity of the controversy which, from the middle
of the century on, filled New England with its din and confusion,
in itself bore witness to the degree of pressure which the more
secularized notions of human worth and destiny had begun to exert. That
a system so staggering in its assumptions, so all but invulnerable in
its logical self-consistency, and withal so inexorable in its demands
upon the human spirit for the abandonment of all thought of independent
ability and worth, having been brought to close quarters with more or
less vague and undefined, but none the less vital human interests and
passions, should tend to give rise to a variety of radical opinions and
judgments, was to be expected. And thus it operated,[158] not, to be
sure, without the assistance of significant concurrent causes.

The wash of the wave of the great deistic controversy on the other
side of the Atlantic was not without its effect upon the religious
thought of New England. The direct evidence of this is, however, much
more elusive than one might at first suppose.[159] That the reading
public was acquainted with the writings of the great English deists,
Herbert, Chubb, Shaftesbury, Tindal, Wollaston, Toland, Hume, is
clear from references to their works which appear with considerable
frequency in the private and public records of the day; but invariably
these references are made in a more or less casual manner, and, for
the most part, in connection with sweeping generalizations made by the
clergy respecting the prevailing scepticism of the age. Apart from such
allusions and the appearance of titles in the lists of booksellers
who were advertising their stocks in the newspapers, it would be
difficult to cite specific evidence, Thomas Paine’s _Age of Reason_
alone excepted, to the effect that the impact of English deism upon the
thought of New England was anything like direct.

The amount of independent literary expression which the doctrines of
deism obtained in New England was practically negligible.[160] The
quality was even less noteworthy. Ethan Allen’s _Reason the Only
Oracle of Man_,[161] published in 1784, was perhaps the only production
of native orig into which anything like general attention was accorded;
and the evident inability of this work to root itself deeply in the
thought of the people, despite the prestige due to the author’s
Revolutionary record, was demonstrated the moment Paine’s more serious
work began to circulate in this country. The crudeness of Allen’s
style, coupled with the ferocity of his onslaught on the advocates and
absurdly credulous devotees of supernaturalism, as Allen regarded the
orthodox party of his day, went far toward determining the attitude
of contempt and high-minded scorn with which his work was generally
treated, when leaders of conservative thought deigned to notice it at

But Thomas Paine’s attack upon the foundations of supernaturalism
was by no means taken lightly. From the time of its arrival in this
country, the _Age of Reason_ produced an amount of excited comment
which gave to its appearance and circulation all the elements of a
sensation.[163] The natural interest of the public in the appearance of
the production was admittedly great; but at least a partial explanation
of the attention which the book received is to be found in the fact
that its author was able to effect plans to have the work published
cheaply abroad and extensively circulated in this country.[164] In any
event, whatever may have been the precise influences which promoted
the distribution and perusal of the book, the _Age of Reason_ aroused
an immediate public interest, chiefly antagonistic, the like of which
probably had been accorded to no other volume circulated in America
before its day. The bumptious and militant nature of its deism, as
well as its raw and unceremonious ridicule of much that passed in the
thought of the times for essential orthodoxy, drew popular attention
from the worthier and more exalted passages in the volume,[165] and
irritated the opposition beyond control. A vociferous chorus of
hostile criticism arose.[166] Clergymen poured out the vials of
their wrath and execration, despite their evident desire to appear
undisturbed; newspaper editors and contributors gave voluminous
expression to their sense of chagrin and pained disappointment that so
scandalous and impious a publication should be in circulation;[167]
observers of and participants in the college life of the day felt
called upon to lament the extent to which unsettling opinions of the
nature of those expressed by Paine had laid hold of the imaginations
and altered the convictions of youthful minds.[168] The impression that
Paine had aided and abetted the cause of impiety and irreligion was

It was not the doctrinal controversies of the period, however, nor
yet the intrusion of the principles of natural religion, by which
the unsettling tendencies of the times were believed to be promoted
most directly and powerfully. In the judgment of practically every
leader of conservative thought in New England, and of all America for
that matter, that unholy preëminence belonged to the effect produced
upon the public mind in this country by the French Revolution, and
more especially the impious principles of infidelity and atheism by
which, they concluded, that colossal overturning of institutions was
stimulated and guided. No single phenomenon of our national history
stands out in sharper relief than the impression which the great
European convulsion made, first upon the imaginations and later upon
the political and religious ideals of the citizens of this young
republic in the West, who followed the earlier fortunes of the French
Revolutionary cause with breathless interest and concern. The memory
of the recent struggle of the American colonists for independence, for
the happy issue of which France had made such timely and substantial
contributions, in itself supplied a pledge of profound sympathy for
that country. That the spark of revolution had been communicated
originally by America to France was, moreover, one of the favorite
conceits of the day. Gratitude, the bonds of political friendship
and alliance, the supposed similarity of popular enthusiasms and
passions—all the essential factors requisite for the development of a
spirit of tender and affectionate regard were clearly present.

Thus it happened that from the hour when the first rumblings of the
impending European revolution were heard on this side of the Atlantic,
the citizens of these states evinced an earnest and sympathetic
concern;[170] and as the revolutionary drama unfolded through its
earlier scenes the enthusiasm and lively sympathy of the people grew
apace. The atmosphere was electric. Anticipations of citizens ran high.
Liberty was again in travail.[171] The institutions of freedom were
about to descend upon another nation. The shackles of political and
ecclesiastical tyranny were being torn from the limbs of twenty-five
millions of slaves.[172] Having revolutionized France, America’s ideals
might be expected to leaven the whole of Europe.[173] The millennium
could not be far away. Admiration for the French cause and devotion
to it swept all before them. So much so that when, in the autumn and
winter of 1792–93, the thrilling news of the successes achieved by the
French armies in repelling the invaders of the new republic began to
arrive in America, a wave of irresistible and uncontrolled enthusiasm
swept over the land.[174] The “French Frenzy,” with its maudlin
outbursts of professed attachment for the great watchwords of the
Revolution—Liberty, Equality, Fraternity—with its pageants and civic
feasts, its cockades and liberty caps, its ribald singing of republican
songs and dramatic intertwinings of the standards of the two sister
republics, deserves a place altogether by itself as an extraordinary
expression of the public mind.

To this wild riot of tumultuous and spectacular enthusiasm an
effectual check was soon to be given. With the execution of Louis XVI,
in January, 1793, the admiration of the more thoughtful observers of
the Revolution, who had accustomed themselves to pass soberly but
apologetically over the earlier excesses of the revolutionists as
unavoidable concomitants of a struggle necessarily desperate in its
character,[175] received a rude shock.[176] The brutal death of a
monarch whose personal services on behalf of their own cause during the
days of deep necessity had been considerable, brought home to American
citizens their first clear conviction respecting the excessively bloody
and relentless spirit of the forces in control of the Revolution. The
day of disillusionment had dawned. Leaders of thought made no effort
to conceal their sense of mingled horror and regret. The amount of
popular sympathy for the cause of the Revolution was still too great to
allow anything approaching a general condemnation; but none the less a
decided chill was felt.[177]

The murder of the king soon enough appeared to Americans a mere
incident in a wild orgy of unbridled violence and blood-letting. A
stream of information concerning the swift march of events in France,
mostly having to do with enormities and excesses which gave all too
patent proof of the fury of the currents of passion upon which the
participants in the Revolution were being tossed, began to pour its
waters through the channels of public utterance and discussion in
America. The atrocities of the Reign of Terror brought fully home
to the American public, to the conservative-minded particularly,
the conviction that the Revolution had become diverted from its
original principles and aims, and had descended to the plane of brutal
despotism, reprehensible both in principle and practice above anything
the eyes of men had ever beheld.[178] The leaders of the Revolution
clearly were not the high-minded patriots and emancipators their
admirers on this side of the ocean had adjudged them to be. The terms
“assassin,” “savage,” “monster,” “regicide,” began to be employed as
the only fit terms whereby to characterize the leading figures in an
awful spectacle of butchery and rapine.[179]

But not until the religious aspects of the French Revolution are
considered, is the deep revulsion of feeling which took place in New
England completely laid bare. This feature of the situation had been
regarded with deep solicitude from the beginning;[180] and as time went
on through the cloud of confusion raised by the dust and smoke of the
political developments of the Revolution, it became increasingly clear
to the conservative class in New England that an alliance between
the forces of anarchy and impiety had been effected. What else could
explain the rapid development of a fierce reforming spirit, which in
turn, within the space of not more than two or three years at the
most, stood forth as a spirit of overt persecution in the handling of
all ecclesiastical affairs? The vociferous affirmation of deistical
and atheistical principles on the part of Revolutionary leaders in
the councils of clubs and in sessions of the National Assembly, the
reiteration and growing boldness of the demand for the elimination
of the ancient system of religious faith, the successive efforts to
supplant that system, first with the cult of Reason and later with
the cult of the Supreme Being,—how were these to be construed other
than as the expressions and performances of men who were bent upon
the utter abolition of the Christian faith? There was wanting in New
England, of course, intimate knowledge of the true state of French
religious affairs and of the reactionary spirit displayed by the higher
clergy and their devotion to the cause of monarchy. Little was known
of the growing sense of resentment felt by a people who had begun
to contemplate frankly the burdens which had been imposed upon them
under the ancient régime, the multiplication of religious offices and
establishments, the absorption of the land into vast ecclesiastical
estates, and the indifference of the spiritual guides of the nation
to private and public distress. It was hardly to be expected that
spectators as far removed from the scene as the shores of New England
would be able to interpret correctly the essential spirit of a people
who had grown weary of the abuses of a religious system in whose
principles and purer forms they still believed, despite the momentary
violence of their leaders.[181]

By the year 1794 the belief that the revolutionists in France had
added atheism to their program of anarchy was well established in New
England. The difficulty of weighing this opinion exactly is greatly
enhanced on account of the political handling which the situation
received. Over the question of foreign alliances the Federalists and
Republicans had split violently in 1793. The war which had broken out
between England and France, regarded from any point of view, was of
vast consequence in the eyes of the citizens of this young nation, just
beginning to cope with the problems of diplomacy and international
relations. The outbreak of hostilities between the two European nations
with which the United States had had and must continue to have its
most intimate and important intercourse forced an alignment among
its citizens so sharp and decisive as to constitute the outstanding
political feature of the country for years to come.[182] For reasons
which we shall not now pause to consider, Federalists championed the
cause of England in the European conflict, and Republicans the cause
of France. Seizing upon the issue of “French infidelity,” Federalist
editors were disposed to see in it the gravest peril by which the
American people were threatened. The anti-religious spirit of the
French Revolutionary leaders represented a danger-point of infection
against which every citizen must needs be warned. On the other hand,
Republican editors felt it incumbent upon them to do their utmost to
minimize the genuineness and importance of all such damaging views of
the case.[183]

But considerations of party advantage fall far short of furnishing
a full explanation of the general sense of alarm the people of New
England experienced on account of the open hostility to religion
which they saw manifest in France. Out of France came a series of
reports which taken together were calculated to raise their fears to
the highest pitch. The confiscation of the property of the church,
the abolition of religious vows, the promulgation of the “Civil
Constitution of the Clergy,”[184] the banishment of non-juror priests,
the infamy of the Goddess of Reason, the abolition of the Christian
Sabbath, the secularization of festivals[185]—here were evidences of
impiety as shameless as they were shocking.[186] Such principles and
measures appeared as so many deadly thrusts at the Christian faith. It
was difficult, if not impossible, for the most sympathetic admirers of
France to find a way to explain this ominous cast of events.[187]

How thoroughly the fear of “French infidelity” had gripped the
imaginations of men in New England will appear more clearly if the
following considerations are weighed. The presumption that the intimate
relations which Americans had been having with the people of France
had produced a serious blight of morals and religion among the former,
seemed to find its justification in the currents of skepticism and
irreverence which, by common consent, had set in among the youth of the
land. This phase of the situation as reflected in conditions within the
colleges was held to be particularly deplorable. It was the settled
conviction of President Dwight of Yale that “the infidelity of Voltaire
and his coadjutors” had a special attractiveness for youth, for reasons
which do not impress one as being highly charitable, to say the least:

  Youths particularly, who had been liberally educated, and who with
  strong passions, and feeble principles, were votaries of sensuality
  and ambition, delighted with the prospect of unrestrained
  gratification, and panting to be enrolled with men of fashion and
  splendour, became enamored of these new doctrines. The tenour of
  opinion, and even of conversation, was to a considerable extent
  changed at once. Striplings, scarcely fledged, suddenly found that
  the world had been involved in a general darkness, through the long
  succession of the preceding ages; and that the light of wisdom had
  just begun to dawn upon the human race. All the science, all the
  information, which had been acquired before the commencement of the
  last thirty or forty years, stood in their view for nothing....
  Religion they discovered on the one hand to be a vision of dotards
  and nurses, and on the other a system of fraud and trick, imposed
  by priestcraft for base purposes upon the ignorant multitude.
  Revelation they found was without authority, or evidence; and
  moral obligation a cobweb, which might indeed entangle flies,
  but by which creatures of a stronger wing nobly disdained to be

This somewhat theoretical view of the case was not unsupported by
tangible evidence. The students of Yale were sceptical.[189] In the
religious discussions of the lecture-rooms the cause of infidelity
stood high in student favor.[190] Of seventy-six members of the class
that graduated in 1802 only one was a professed Christian at the time
of matriculation.[191] At the time President Dwight entered upon
the leadership of the college, the college church was practically
extinct.[192] Altogether the situation was highly alarming to the
friends of Christianity.[193]

The condition of affairs at Harvard showed little if any improvement.
When William Ellery Channing matriculated in that institution in 1794
he found the thought and principles of the students on a lower level
than they ever before had reached.[194] The French Revolution, which
generally throughout the country had shown itself to be contaminating,
already had left its marks deep upon the life of the college. The old
loyalties were shaken; conversation had become bold and daring in tone;
the foundations upon which morals and religion had been built in the
past were now believed to be seriously undermined.[195]

On the part of men who held themselves responsible for the education
of youth, everywhere the feeling prevailed that a popular mood of
skepticism had developed for which the precepts and example of the
French were chiefly responsible.

With the clergy—and in their state of mind we are interested
especially—this feeling was hardly less than an obsession. The special
conservators of the moral and religious health of the people, they
had long been concerned over the possible effects of radical French
political and religious notions; and when they seemed to see the
triumph of those notions in the excesses of the French Revolution,
their sense of alarm was intense. It was, of course, the exhibition
of violent hostility to organized Christianity in France which the
Revolutionists were making, over which their hands were flung high in

The clergy of New England, like the majority of their
fellow-countrymen, in the beginning had not adopted an attitude of
hostility toward the French upheaval. There was that in the earlier
struggles of the French people to tear the yoke of despotism from
their necks which appealed mightily to the sympathies of the clerical
heart. It was not without some travail of spirit that clergymen arrived
at the conclusion that their sympathy and enthusiasm for the French
Revolution had been misplaced.[196] Two factors contributed to this
result. In the first place, the changed complexion of the Revolution;
in the second place, the new party alignments at home which brought the
orthodox clergy, almost to a man, into the Federalist camp.

Which of these two factors was the more decisive in its power of
control over the clerical mind, it would be difficult to say.
As a matter of fact, the two influences were interrelated to an
extraordinary degree. Political alignments, as we have seen, were
interwoven closely with the question of foreign alliances. Conversely,
the status of foreign affairs was bound to react strongly upon the
judgments of clergymen with whom patriotic concerns were second in
importance only to the interests of religion. Be that as it may, the
years 1793 and 1794 saw the Federalist clergy in New England rapidly
veering round to the fixed position of vehement antagonism to French
principles. The following is a brief account of the course they pursued.

On the occasion of the annual fast in Massachusetts, April 11, 1793,
the Reverend David Tappan, professor of divinity in Harvard College,
preached a sermon that indicated the trend of a clerical mind.[197] In
language not unmarked by vagueness, he called upon his hearers to bear
witness to the present corrupted state of religion, due to the bold
advance and rapid diffusion of “sceptical, deistical, and other loose
and pernicious sentiments.” Waxing more confident, he continued: “May
I not add that a species of atheistical philosophy, which has of late
triumphantly reared its head in Europe, and which affects to be the
offspring and the nurse of sound reason, science, and liberty, seems
in danger of infecting some of the more sprightly and free-thinking
geniuses of America.”[198]

Something more than a year later, a pulpit deliverance was made
at Medford, Massachusetts, on the occasion of the annual state
Thanksgiving, which supplied ample evidence that clerical fears were
rapidly gathering force. Medford’s minister, the Reverend David
Osgood,[199] was heard in a vigorous discussion of the leading
political and religious concerns of the day.[200] First taking
occasion to eulogize the Federal government by way of atonement for
the failure of Governor Samuel Adams to make reference to the same
in his Thanksgiving proclamation, the reverend gentleman thereupon
launched into a vehement denunciation of the Democratic Societies,[201]
because of their subservience to foreign emissaries, and because
of the outrageous activities of Minister Genet. Not content with
this, he proceeded to lay heavy emphasis upon the ferocious zeal and
desperate fury which the French were manifesting in their attacks upon
the institutions of religion, the far-reaching import of which, he
declared, was already apparent in the fact that, under the power of
their blind devotion to the French cause, not a few American citizens
were casting off their allegiance to the Christian religion.[202]

The notes of warning sounded by Osgood in this sermon were both clear
and loud. They fell on numerous sympathetic and responsive ears.
Committed promptly to type, the sermon passed rapidly through six
editions, a sufficient proof of the extent of the sensation which it
produced. Its author’s reputation was established; but beyond this,
and what is more to the point, the shibboleths of future clerical
pronouncements had been uttered. Henceforth the public utterances of
the Federal clergy were to be characterized by a violent antagonism
to the French Revolution and the spread of French influence in

The chorus of clerical complaint on account of the dangers that
threatened the cause of religion, either because of the progress of
the Revolution abroad or the overt and secret diffusion of infidel
principles at home, grew steadily in volume. One or two added instances
of this type of pulpit utterance will suffice.

Tappan was again heard from, in February, 1795, on the day set for
the observance of the national thanksgiving.[204] He dealt with
the political situation at length, and emphasized particularly
the destructive effects of French influence. Before his sermon was
committed to the hands of the printer, Tappan was made acquainted with
the fact that the minister of Rowley, the Reverend Ebenezer Bradford,
had made certain apologetic comments, on the occasion of the national
thanksgiving, respecting the importance of French success to the peace
and tranquility of America, and the propriety of seeking the reason for
the recent insurrection in western Pennsylvania in “impolitic laws”
rather than in French influence exerted through Democratic Clubs,[205]
as Federalists had made bold to claim.[206] To these observations
Tappan made the following sharp retort:

  The destructive effects of them [_i. e._, secret political clubs]
  in France have been noticed in the preceding discourse. Their
  unhappy influence in this country is sufficiently exemplified in
  that spirit of falsehood, of party and faction, which some of them,
  at least, assiduously and too successfully promote, and especially
  in the late dangerous and expensive western insurrection, which
  may be evidently traced, in a great degree, to the inflammatory
  representations and proceedings of these clubs, their abettors and

Medford’s minister acquitted himself with something more than his
customary fiery earnestness on the occasion of this same national
festival. Mounting his pulpit, he pictured to his hearers “the reign
of a ferocious and atheistical anarchy in France,” whose authors had
“formed the design of bringing other nations to fraternize with them
in their infernal principles and conduct.”[208] Their emissaries,
Osgood argued, have spread themselves abroad and entered into every
country open to them. In Geneva these abandoned creatures have been
“horribly successful in overthrowing a free government but lately
established, and in bringing on, in imitation of what had happened in
their own country, one revolution after another.” The same identical
agents have found their way into the United States and have begun here
their poisonous fraternizing system.[209] The sermon as a whole could
scarcely have been more violent in tone. It is very clear that Osgood
had resolved to do what he could to rouse the country.

As a direct result of this kind of pulpit utterance—a result that
doubtless had much to do with persuading the clergy that an alarming
decline of religion was under way in New England—the charge of
“political preaching” rapidly developed into one of the standing
accusations of the day. The bitterness of party strife grew apace.
Opposition to Federalist measures of government, such as Jay’s Treaty
and the handling of diplomatic relations with France, mounted steadily
higher. In consequence, the Federal clergy found themselves drawn
farther and farther into the maelstrom of political discussion. Out of
this developed the sentiments entertained by the opposition that the
clergy were the tools of the Federalists, and that public occasions
were eagerly pounced upon by them and used to promote the cause of
party advantage.

This shaft struck home; and yet not so much in the nature of a personal
affront as an added proof that a state of deep impiety had settled down
upon the land. Well might the clergy lament, not that they had been
so foully slandered, but that they were called upon to reckon with
a people who had drifted out so far upon the sea of irreverence and
disrespect. To illustrate: The Reverend Jeremy Belknap was before the
convention of the clergy of Massachusetts, in May, 1796, to preach the
convention sermon. His mind turned to this new burden which had lately
fallen on the already heavily-laden shoulders of the ministry. Thus he
sought to mollify the wounded feelings of his brethren:

  Another of the afflictions to which we are exposed, is the
  resentment of pretended patriots, when we oppose their views in
  endeavoring to serve our country. There is a monopolizing spirit in
  some politicians, which would exclude clergymen from all attention
  to matters of state and government; which would prohibit us from
  bringing political subjects into the pulpit, and even threaten us
  with the loss of our livings if we move at all in the political
  Sphere. But, my brethren, I consider politics as intimately
  connected with morality, and both with religion.... How liberal are
  some tongues, some pens, and some presses, with their abuse, when
  we appear warm and zealous in the cause of our country! When we
  speak or write in support of its liberties, its constitution, its
  peace and its honor, we are stigmatized as busy-bodies, as tools of
  a party, as meddling with what does not belong to us, and usurping
  authority over our brethren.[210]

A couple of years later another staunch clerical supporter of
Federalist policies, the Reverend John Thornton Kirkland, minister of
the New South Church in Boston, came somewhat closer to the main point.
The spirit of the times, he urged, had greatly changed, and that for
the worse. Clergymen now were being severely censured for what only a
few years earlier they had been warmly commended for as constituting a
peculiar merit. The leaders of the American Revolution, for example,
had praised the clergy for throwing the weight of their influence
into the political scale, recognizing that there exists a moral and
religious as well as a civil obligation on the part of ministers
to warn the people of the dangers which threaten their liberty and
happiness. But now, however, at a time when the dearest interests of
religion and patriotism, of church and state, are fiercely assailed and
imperiled, the clergy are met with calumny and insult when they venture
to speak out. Only the debasement of morals and piety could explain so
lamentable a transformation.[211]

A growing sensitiveness to the objections of Republican partisans that
they were stepping aside from the legitimate responsibilities of their
calling and prostituting the functions of their sacred office to
unworthy ends, is apparent on the part of the clergy;[212] but when the
very slander and abuse which they suffered supplied added evidence, if
that were needed, that the institutions of religion and of government
were being rapidly undermined, there could be no damping of their
spirit nor turning back from the performance of a service, however
unappreciated, to which by tradition and by present necessity they
believed themselves bound.

Thus matters stood with the clergy of the Standing Order in New England
at the close of the eighteenth century. Whether they were mistaken
or not, a state of general irreligion seemed to them to have been
ushered in. On all sides the positions of traditional orthodoxy were
being called in question. The cause of revealed religion had found
new enemies, and the cause of natural religion new agencies for its
promotion. The French Revolution had given a terrifying exhibition
of what might be expected to happen to a nation in which radical and
sceptical opinions were allowed to have complete expression. As for the
progress of impiety at home, the youth of the land were contaminated,
the state of public morals was unsound, opposition to measures of
government was increasing in power and virulence, the institutions of
religion were commanding less and less respect, the clergy were treated
with a coldness and criticalness of spirit they had never faced before.
Seeking for the causes of this baneful condition of affairs, the
clergy believed they were to be found mainly in the dissemination of
revolutionary opinions issuing from France, but in part also in native
tendencies to exalt reason and throw off the restraints of government
in church and state.

Before taking leave of the subject, a few final illustrations may be
considered by way of fixing upon the mind the strength of this general
impression which the New England clergy entertained.

On the occasion of the general fast, May 4, 1797, at West Springfield,
Massachusetts, the Reverend Joseph Lathrop preached a sermon to which
he gave the expressive title, _God’s Challenge to Infidels to Defend
Their Cause_.[213] The inspiration of the discourse was drawn from the
conviction that “this is a day when infidelity appears with unusual
boldness, and advances with threatening progress, to the hazard of
our national freedom and happiness, as well as to the danger of our
future salvation.”[214] According to this interpreter of the signs of
the times, the dissemination of infidelity was to be regarded as the
outstanding fact in the life of America, as well as in the life of the

An unusually lugubrious view of the situation was that taken by the
Reverend Nathan Strong, in the sermon which he preached, April 6, 1798,
on the occasion of the Connecticut state fast. In the eyes of this
modern Jeremiah, the situation was desperate almost beyond remedy:

  There are dark and ominous appearances. I do not mean the wrath
  and threatening of any foreign nations whatever, for if we please
  God and procure him on our side, we may bless his providence,
  and hear human threatenings without emotion. But the dark omens
  are to be found at home. In our hearts, in our homes, in our
  practice, and in a licentious spirit disposed to break down civil
  and religious order. In affecting to depend on reason in the
  things of religion, more than the word of God; so as to reject
  all evangelical holiness, faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
  and the ministrations of the spirit in the heart. In substituting
  anarchy and licentiousness, in the room of rational and just
  liberty. In supposing that freedom consists in men’s doing what
  is right in their own eyes; even though their eyes look through
  the mist of wicked ambition and lust. Here is our real danger, and
  these are the omens that augur ill to us.[215]

Far less subjective in its analysis was the sermon which the now
celebrated minister of Medford, the Reverend David Osgood, preached
not many days later, on the occasion of the national fast.[216] Once
more the eyes of his hearers were invited to contemplate the horrible
spectacle abroad. It had now become certain that the legislators of
France had abolished the Christian religion. Preposterous indeed was
the idea of those who supposed that they were engaged in anything so
beneficent as “stripping the whore of Babylon, pulling down the man of
sin, destroying popery,”[217] and making way for the introduction of
the millennium. That which they had set their hearts upon was to bring
it to pass that Christ and His religion should no longer be remembered
upon the earth. The French republicans were so many infernals who had
broken loose from the pit below.[218] Their profession of principles
of liberty and philanthropy were deceptive in the highest degree.
They sought to fraternize with other nations merely to seduce them.
Their emissaries employed the arts of intrigue and corruption, they
were charged to stir up factions, seditions, rebellions, so as to
disorganize established governments and make them more readily the prey
of the infamous French government.[219]

That these were not the pulpit utterances of men of peculiarly morbid
dispositions, who stood apart from the main currents of thought and
life in their day, would seem to be proved by the following instances
of formal declarations issued by associations of churches.

On the 17th of May, 1798, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church in the United States, then in session in the city of
Philadelphia, issued an address to the members of its various
congregations scattered throughout the country, urging attention to the
extraordinarily gloomy aspect of affairs. The situation was interpreted
as follows:

   The aspect of divine providence, and the extraordinary situation
  of the world, at the present time, indicate that a solemn
  admonition, by the ministers of religion and other church officers
  in General Assembly convened, has become our indispensable duty.
  When formidable innovations and convulsions in Europe threaten
  destruction to morals and religion; when scenes of devastation
  and bloodshed, unexampled in the history of modern nations, have
  convulsed the world; and when our own country is threatened with
  similar calamities, insensibility in us would be stupidity; silence
  would be criminal. The watchmen on Zion’s walls are bound by their
  commission to sound a general alarm, at the approach of danger. We
  therefore desire to direct your awakened attention, towards that
  bursting stream, which threatens to sweep before it the religious
  principles, institutions, and morals of our people. We are filled
  with a deep concern and an awful dread, whilst we announce it as
  our real conviction, that the eternal God has a controversy with
  our nation, and is about to visit us in his sore displeasure. A
  solemn crisis has arrived, in which we are called to the most
  serious contemplation of the moral causes which have produced it,
  and the measures which it becomes us to pursue.[220]

As to the “moral causes” referred to, the address proceeds to define
them as “a general defection from God and corruption of the public
principles and morals,” the evidences whereof are such as a general
dereliction of religious principle and practice, a departure from
the faith and simple purity of manners for which the fathers were
remarkable, a visible and prevailing impiety, contempt for the laws and
institutions of religion, and “an abounding infidelity.”[221]

The same year, on May 31, the Congregational clergy of Massachusetts,
assembled in annual convention, “without a dissenting vote” adopted
an address to their churches, wherein they expressed their deep
sorrow and concern on account of “those atheistical, licentious
and disorganizing principles which have been avowed and zealously
propagated by the philosophers and politicians of France; which have
produced the greatest crimes and miseries in that unhappy country, and
like a mortal pestilence are diffusing their baneful influence even
to distant nations.”[222] A year later the same body of clergy, again
assembled in their annual convention, formulated and later published
an address similar in tone, but strongly emphasizing the American
aspects of the case. The growing disbelief and contempt of the Gospel
are loudly lamented; the lack of exemplary piety and morality even
among the members of churches, and the dissipation, irreligion, and
licentiousness prevalent among the youth of the day, are accounted to
be of so much weight as to constitute a national apostasy. “The voice
of God to us in these events,” continues the address, “is emphatically
this: Come out of the infidel, antichristian world, my people; that
ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her

To a very considerable number of earnest lovers of religion in
New England and elsewhere throughout the nation, the century’s sun
seemed to be setting amid black and sullen clouds of the most ominous


[152] Quoted by Walker, in his _History of the Congregational Churches
in the United States_, p. 216.

[153] Green, _Life_, pp. 224, 225.

[154] _Cf. supra_, pp. 36 and 37 _et seq._

[155] See Walker, _Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism_, p. 287.

[156] The lowest point of religious decline in the history of New
England was reached in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. The
absence of vital piety was generally remarked. The prevailing type of
religious experience was unemotional and formal. The adoption of the
Half-Way Covenant in the third quarter of the previous century helped
to precipitate a state of things wherein the ordinary distinctions
between the converted and the unconverted were largely obscured.
Emphasis came to be laid heavily upon the cultivation of morality as a
means of promoting spiritual life. Prayer, the reading of the Bible,
and church attendance were other “means”. In other words, man’s part
in the acquisition of religious experience came prominently into
view. The promoters of the revival attacked these notions, asserting
that repentance and faith were still fundamentally necessary and
that the experience of conversion, _i. e._, the conscious sense of
a change in one’s relation to God, was the prime test of one’s hope
of salvation. Charles Chauncy, minister of the First Church, Boston,
in his _Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in New England_
(1743), championed the former position; the great Edwards came to the
defence of the latter.

[157] Channing, _Memoirs_, vol. i. pp. 287–290, 387. _Cf._ also
Goddard, _Studies in New England Transcendentalism_, pp. 13 _et seq._

[158] Riley, _American Philosophy_, p. 192. Note: It is not here
maintained that radical religious ideas in New England had their
earliest roots, or found their sole stimulus, in the controversy
which the theological formulations incident to the Great Awakening
provoked. Incipient religious liberalism is distinguishable as far
back as the publication of Cotton Mather’s _Reasonable Religion_,
in 1713. In his erudite essay on “The Beginnings of Arminianism in
New England,” F. A. Christie adopts the position that prior to the
Great Awakening there were rumor and alarm over the mere arrival of
Arminian doctrines in this country; but that after 1742 the heresy
spread rapidly, chiefly due to the growth of the Episcopal church, with
its marked leanings to the Arminian theology. _Cf._ _Papers of the
American Society of Church History, Second Series_, vol. iii, pp. 168
_et seq._ But however that may be, the cause of Arminianism during the
eighteenth century was promoted by men in New England who drew at least
a part of their inspiration from the writings of leaders of thought
in the mother country whose theological positions inclined strongly
toward rationalism. _Cf._ Cooke, _Unitarianism in America_, pp. 39,
44 _et seq._, 79. Harvard College, from the close of the seventeenth
century on, was increasingly recognized as a center of liberalizing
tendencies, although none will dispute that the kernel of intellectual
independence was found, all too frequently, well hidden within the
tough shell of traditional conceits. _Cf._ Quincy, _The History of
Harvard University_, vol. i, pp. 44–57, 199 _et seq._ Independent
impulses were largely responsible for the following events which mark
the definite emergence of Unitarianism in America: the organization
of the first New England Unitarian congregation at Gloucester, Mass.,
in 1779; the publication in this country, five years later, of the
London edition of Dr. Charles Chauncy’s _Salvation for All Men_; and
the defection from Trinitarian standards of King’s Chapel, Boston, in
1785–87. Still it must be maintained that the controversies which raged
around the doctrines of the New Calvinism beyond all other factors
stiffened the inclinations and tendencies of the century toward liberal
thinking. Such terms as “Arminianism”, “Pelagianism”, “Socinianism”,
“Arianism”, _etc._, which occur with ever-increasing frequency from
the fourth decade of the century on, are in themselves suggestive of
the divergencies in religious opinion which the doctrinal discussion
incident to the Great Awakening provoked. _Cf._ Fiske, _A Century of
Science and Other Essays_: “The Origins of Liberal Thought in America”,
pp. 148 _et seq._

[159] As a typical illustration the comment of Lyman Beecher may be
cited: “The Deistic controversy was an existing thing, and the battle
was hot, the crisis exciting.” (_Autobiography, Correspondence,
etc._ vol. i, p. 52.) The date is about 1798. In the same connection
President Dwight of Yale is referred to as “the great stirrer-up of
that [_i. e._, the deistic] controversy on this side the Atlantic.”
(_Ibid._) It is certain that Dwight had some acquaintance with the
works of the leading English deists, and that he opposed their views.
_Cf._ _Travels in New England and New York_, vol. iv, p. 362; but his
main target was infidelity of the French school. Beecher fails to
distinguish between the two.

[160] One discovers no convincing evidence that the deistical views
of Benjamin Franklin produced any direct effect upon the thought of
New England. As respects Thomas Jefferson the case was different. But
New England Federalists were so successful in keeping public attention
fixed on Jefferson’s fondness for French political and religious
philosophy, that his alleged “French infidelity” rather than his
opinions concerning natural religion became and continued to be the
bone of contention. That he was regarded as a deist is, however, not to
be questioned. Bentley, _Diary_, vol. iii, p. 20.

[161] Allen’s book of some 477 pages bore the following pretentious
and rambling title: _Reason the only Oracle of Man, or a Compendius
System of Natural Religion. Alternately Adorned with Confutations of a
Variety of Doctrines incompatible to it; Deduced from the Most Exalted
Ideas which we are able to form of the Divine and Human Characters,
and from the Universe in General_. _By Ethan Allen, Esq. Bennington,
State of Vermont._ The Preface is dated July 2, 1782. Evans records
the fact that the entire edition, except about thirty copies, was
destroyed by fire, said to have been caused by lightning, an event
which the orthodox construed as a judgment from heaven on account of
the nature of the book. _Cf._ _American Bibliography_, vol. vi, p.
266. The author’s aim has been interpreted as an effort “to build up
a system of natural religion on the basis of a deity expressed in the
external universe, as interpreted by the reason of man, in which the
author includes the moral consciousness.” (Moncure D. Conway in _Open
Court_ [magazine], January 28, 1892, article: “Ethan Allen’s Oracles of
Reason,” p. 3119.)

[162] _The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles_, vol. iii, p. 345. The
comment of Yale’s president is fairly representative: “And the 13th
Inst died in Vermont the profane & impious Deist Gen Ethan Allen,
Author of the Oracles of Reason, a Book replete with scurrilous
Reflexions on Revelation. ‘And in Hell he lift up his Eyes being in
Torments.’” (_Ibid._) In 1787, at Litchfield, Connecticut, where
Allen’s home had once been, there was published an anonymous sermon,
from the text: “And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks
which the swine did eat.” (Luke 15: 16.) The sermon was planned to
counteract the effect produced by the “prophane, prayerless, graceless
infidel,” Allen, through the publication of the book in question.
The author, “Common Sense” (apparently Josiah Sherman), adopts for
his sermon the caption, “_A Sermon to Swine_,” and explains in the
Advertisement the temper of his mood: “By way of apology, I hope Gen.
Allen will pardon any reproach that may be supposable, in comparing
him to the Prodigal Son, sent by the Citizen into his fields to feed
Swine with husks, when he considers, what an infinitely greater
reproach he casts upon the holy oracles of God, and upon his Prophets,
Apostles and Ministers, and upon the Lord of life and glory himself;
at whose tribunal we must all shortly appear; when he represents Him
as an impostor and cheat, and all the blessed doctrines of the gospel
as falsehood and lies.” (_A Sermon to Swine: From Luke xv: 16 ...
Containing a concise, but sufficient answer to General Allen’s Oracles
of Reason._ By Common Sense, A. M., Litchfield, 1787.)

An amusing albeit suggestive episode is recorded by William Bentley
in his _Diary_, in connection with certain reflections on the dangers
involved in the loaning of books: “Allen’s _oracles of reason_ ... was
lent to Col. C. under solemn promise of secrecy, but by him sent to a
Mr. Grafton, who was reported to have died a Confirmed Infidel.... The
book was found at his death in his chamber, examined with horror by
his female relations. By them conveyed to a Mr. Williams ... & there
examined—reported to be mine from the initials W. B., viewed as an
awful curiosity by hundreds, connected with a report that I encouraged
infidelity in Grafton by my prayers with him in his dying hour, & upon
the whole a terrible opposition to me fixed in the minds of the devout
& ignorant multitude.” (_Ibid._, vol. i, p. 82.)

The following extract from Timothy Dwight’s poem on _The Triumph of
Infidelity_ supplies another interesting contemporaneous estimate of
Allen’s assault upon revelation:

        “In vain thro realms of nonsense ran
        The great Clodhopping oracle of man.
        Yet faithful were his toils: What could he more?
        In Satan’s cause he bustled, bruised and swore;
        And what the due reward, from me shall know,
        For gentlemen of equal worth below.”

A foot-note explains the point in the last two lines: “In A——n’s
Journal, the writer observes, he presumes he shall be treated in the
future world as well as other gentlemen of equal merit are treated:
A sentiment in which all his countrymen will join.” (_The Triumph of
Infidelity: A Poem._ [Anonymous], 1788, pp. 23 _et seq._ The copy
referred to is dedicated by the author “To Mons. de Voltaire.”)

[163] _The Age of Reason: Part I_, appeared in America in 1794. _Cf._
_The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine_, edited by Moncure Daniel Conway,
New York, 1901, p. vii; also advertisements of its offer for sale,
_Massachusetts Spy_ (Worcester), Nov. 19, 1794. The _Connecticut
Courant_ (Hartford), Jan. 19, and Feb. 9, 1795, contains examples of
pained newspaper comment. _Walcott Papers_, vol. viii, 7.

[164] At least fifteen thousand copies of the second part of the
book arrived in America in the spring of 1796, despatched from Paris
by Paine, consigned to his Philadelphia friend, Mr. Franklin Bache,
Republican printer, editor, and ardent servant of radicalism generally.
It was clearly Paine’s purpose to influence as many minds in America as
possible. _Cf._ Conway, _The Writings of Thomas Paine_, vol. iv, p. 15;
Paine’s letter to Col. Fellows, in New York, explaining the forwarding
of the books. This effort to obtain a general circulation of the _Age
of Reason_ did not escape the attention of men who were disturbed
over the prevailing evidences of irreligion. In a fast day sermon,
delivered in April, 1799, the Reverend Daniel Dana, of Newburyport,
Massachusetts, called attention to the matter in the following fashion:
“ ... let me mention a fact which ought to excite universal alarm
and horror. The well-known and detestable pamphlet of Thomas Paine,
written with a professed design to revile the Christian religion, and
to diffuse the poison of infidelity, was composed in France, was there
printed in English, and an edition containing many thousand of copies,
conveyed at a single time into our country, in order to be sold at
a cheap rate, or given away, as might best ensure its circulation.
What baneful success has attended this vile and insidious effort, you
need not be told. That infidelity has had, for several years past, a
rapid increase among us, seems a truth generally acknowledged.” (_Two
Sermons, delivered April 25, 1799: the day recommended by the President
of the United States for National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer._ By
Daniel Dana, A. M., pastor of a church in Newburyport, 1799, p. 45).
_Cf._ also _ibid._, p. 20.

[165] _The Age of Reason_ was written from the standpoint of a man
who believed that the disassociation of religion from political
institutions, and the elimination from it of fiction and fable, would
bring in the true religion of humanity. The following excerpt sets
out the author’s approach and aim: “Soon after I had published the
pamphlet, ‘Common Sense’, in America I saw the exceeding probability
that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by
a revolution in the system of religion. The adulterous connection
of church and state, wherever it had taken place, whether Jewish,
Christian, or Turkish, had so effectually prohibited by pains and
penalties every discussion upon established creeds, and upon first
principles of religion, that until the system of government should be
changed those subjects could not be brought fairly and openly before
the world; but that whenever this should be done a revolution in the
system of religion would follow. Human inventions and priestcraft
would be detected; and man would return to the pure, unmixed, and
unadulterated belief of one God and no more.” (_The Writings of Thomas
Paine_, vol. ii, pp. 22 _et seq._) Paine’s exposition of the tenets
of natural religion was far from scholarly, and as soon as the public
became aware of the eccentric and uneven character of the book, the
storm of criticism speedily blew itself out. The recoil of Paine’s ugly
attack upon Washington, in the same year in which the _Age of Reason_
was extensively circulated in this country, materially helped to
discredit the book.

[166] A partial list of the books and pamphlets, separate discourses
not included, which were published in this country immediately
following the appearance of the _Age of Reason_ will serve to emphasize
the depth of the impression which Paine’s book made: (1) Priestley,
Joseph, _An Answer to Mr. Paine’s Age of Reason; being a Continuation
of Letters to the Philosophers and Politicians of France, on the
Subject of Religion; and of the Letters of a Philosophical Unbeliever_.
Second Edition. Northumberlandtown, America, 1794; (2) Williams,
Thomas, _The Age of Infidelity: an Answer to Thomas Paine’s Age of
Reason_. By a Layman (pseud.). Third Edition, Worcester, Mass., 1794;
(3) Stilwell, Samuel, _A Guide to Reason, or an Examination of Thomas
Paine’s Age of Reason, and Investigation of the True and Fabulous
Theology_, New York, 1794; (4) Winchester, Elhanan, _Ten Letters
Addressed to Mr. Paine, in Answer to His Pamphlet, entitled The Age of
Reason_, Second Edition, New York, 1795; (5) Ogden, Uzal, _Antidote to
Deism. The Deist Unmasked; or an Ample Refutation of all the Objections
of Thomas Paine, Against the Christian Religion; as Contained in a
Pamphlet, intitled (sic), The Age of Reason, etc._, Two volumes,
Newark, 1795; (6) Broaddus, Andrew, _The Age of Reason and Revelation;
or Animadversions on Mr. Thomas Paine’s late piece, intitled “The Age
of Reason”, etc._ ... Richmond, 1795; (7) Muir, James, _An Examination
of the Principles Contained in the Age of Reason. In Ten Discourses_,
Baltimore, 1795; (8) Belknap, Jeremy, _Dissertations on the Character,
Death & Resurrection of Jesus Christ ... with remarks on some
sentiments advanced in a book intitled “The Age of Reason,”_ Boston,
1795; (9) Humphreys, Daniel, _The Bible Needs no Apology; or Watson’s
System of Religion Refuted; and the Advocate Proved an Unreliable One,
by the Bible Itself: of which a short view is given, and which itself
gives a short answer to Paine: in Four Letters, on Watson’s Apology for
the Bible, and Paine’s Age of Reason_, Part the Second, Portsmouth,
1796; (10) Tytler, James, _Paine’s Second Part of the Age of Reason
Answered_, Salem, 1796; (11) Fowler, James, _The Truth of the Bible
Fairly Put to the Test, by Confronting the Evidences of Its Own Facts_,
Alexandria, 1797; (12) Levy, David, _A Defence of the Old Testament,
in a Series of Letters, addressed to Thomas Paine, Author of a Book
entitled, The Age of Reason, Part Second, etc._ ... New York, 1797;
(13) Williams, Thomas, _Christianity Vindicated in the admirable speech
of the Hon. Theo. Erskine, in the Trial of J. Williams, for Publishing
Paine’s Age of Reason_, Philadelphia, 1797; (14) Snyder, G., _The Age
of Reason Unreasonable; or the Folly of Rejecting Revealed Religion_,
Philadelphia, 1798; (15) Nelson, D., _An Investigation of that False,
Fabulous and Blasphemous Misrepresentation of Truth, set forth by
Thomas Paine, in his two volumes, entitled The Age of Reason, etc._
(This volume appears to have been published pseudonymously. Advertised
in Lancaster, Pa., Intelligencer and Advertiser, October, 1800); (16)
Boudinot, Elias, _The Age of Revelation, Or, The Age of Reason shewn to
be an Age of Infidelity_, Philadelphia, 1801.

[167] _Cf._ Morse, _The Federalist Party in Massachusetts_, Appendix
I, pp. 217 _et seq._, for a detailed and fairly satisfactory statement
of the character and extent of the discussion which Paine’s book
precipitated in New England.

[168] Channing, _Memoirs_, vol. i, pp. 60, 61. On the latter page
it is asserted that in order to counteract such fatal principles as
those expressed in the _Age of Reason_, the patrons and governors
of Harvard College had Watson’s _Apology for the Bible_ published
and furnished to the students at the expense of the corporation.
This was in 1796. Beecher’s _Autobiography, Correspondence, etc._,
vol. i, pp. 30, 35, 52, touches upon the situation at Yale. _Cf._
Dwight, _Theology: Explained and Defended_, vol. i, pp. xxv, xxvi. The
extensive prevalence of infidelity among Yale students is commented
upon and the statement made that a considerable proportion of the class
which President Dwight first taught (1795–96) “had assumed the names of
principal English and French Infidels; and were more familiarly known
by them than by their own.” (_Ibid._) _Cf._ Dorchester, _Christianity
in the United States_, p. 319.

[169] The impression lingered on after the stir caused by the
appearance of the _Age of Reason_. In 1803 Paine was in southern New
England. His presence was disturbing, as the following comment of
William Bentley will show: “Reports are circulated that Thomas Paine
intends to visit New England. The name is enough. Every person has
ideas of him. Some respect his genius and dread the man. Some reverence
his political, while they hate his religious, opinions. Some love the
man, but not his private manners. Indeed he has done nothing which has
not extremes in it. He never appears but we love and hate him. He is as
great a paradox as ever appeared in human nature.” (_Diary_, vol. iii.
p. 37. _Cf. ibid._, vol. ii. pp. 102, 107, 145.)

[170] Hazen, _Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolution_,
pp. 141 _et seq._

[171] _Ibid._, p. 143.

[172] Dwight, _Travels_, vol. iv, p. 361.

[173] _Writings of Thomas Jefferson_, vol. v, pp. 154, 274;
_Massachusetts Historical Collections, Sixth Series_, vol. iv, _Belknap
Papers_, p. 503.

[174] The entire episode is treated with great fullness and equal
vividness by Hazen, _Contemporary American Opinion of the French
Revolution_, pp. 164–188.

[175] _Writings of Thomas Jefferson_, vol. vi, pp. 153 _et seq._

[176] From the first, devotion to the French cause had not been quite
unanimous. Here and there, scattered through the country, a man might
be found who from the beginning of the Revolution had cherished
misgivings as to the essential soundness of the principles of the
French in the conflict they were waging with despotism. Occasionally a
man had ventured to speak out, voicing apprehension and doubt, although
usually preferring to adopt the device of pseudonymity. Conspicuous
in this by no means large group were the elder and the younger Adams,
the former declaring himself in his “Discourses on Davila” (_Cf._ _The
Life and Works of John Adams_, vol. vi, pp. 223–403), and the latter
in the “Publicola” letters, written in 1791, in response to Paine’s
treatise on “The Rights of Man”. Morse, _John Quincy Adams_, p. 18. But
_events_, much more than political treatises, were to break the spell
which the Revolution in its earlier stages cast over the people of

[177] No better testimony concerning the unfavorable impression created
by the execution of the French king could be had than that supplied
by the comment of Salem’s republican minister, the Reverend William
Bentley. Under date of March 25, 1793, he wrote: “The melancholy news
of the beheading of the Roi de France is confirmed in the public
opinion, & the event is regretted most sincerely by all thinking
people. The french lose much of their influence upon the hearts of
the Americans by this event.” (_Diary_, vol. ii, p. 13. _Cf._ Hazen,
_Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolution_, pp. 254
_et seq._) This thrill of public horror also found expression in the
following lines taken from a broadside of the day:

        “When _Mobs_ triumphant seize the rheins,
            And guide the _Car_ of _State_,
        Monarchs will feel the galling chains,
            And meet the worst of fate:
        For instance, view the _Gallic_ shore,
            A nation, _once_ polite
        See what confusion hovers o’er,
            A _Star_, that shone so bright.
        Then from the scene recoil with dread,
            For LOUIS is no more,
        The barb’rous _Mob_ cut off his head,
            And drank the spouting gore.
        Shall we, the _Sons_ of FREEDOM dare
            Against so _vile_ a _Race_?
        Unless we mean ourselves to _bare_ (_sic_)
            The _palm_ of their disgrace.
        No! God forbid, the man who feels
            The force of _pity’s_ call,
        To join those _Brutes_, whose _sentence_ seals,
            Whose hearts are made of gall.”

(_The Tragedy of Louis Capet, and Printed next the venerable Stump of
Liberty Tree, for J. Plumer, Jun., Trader, of Newbury-port._) (In Vol.
21 of Broadsides, Library of Congress.)

[178] Webster, _The Revolution in France considered in Respect to
its Progress and Effects_, New York, 1794. Webster’s discriminating
pamphlet is one of the most suggestive of all American contemporaneous
documents. _Cf._ Hazen, _Contemporary American Opinion of the French
Revolution_, p. 259.

[179] For characteristic outbursts of this nature, _cf._ Adams, _Life
and Works_, vol. ii, p. 160; Gibbs, _Memoirs of the Administrations of
Washington and John Adams_, vol. i, p. 90. Typical newspaper comment
similar in vein may be found in the _Western Star_ (Stockbridge,
Mass.), March 11, 1794, and the _Gazette of the United States_
(Philadelphia), April 13, 1793.

[180] As early as 1790 John Adams had spoken of the French nation as
a “republic of atheists.” (_Works_, vol. ix, p. 563.) Other leaders
responded to similar sentiments. (Hazen, _Contemporary American
Opinion of the French Revolution_, p. 266.) Familiarity with French
philosophical and religious opinions before the French Revolution had
supplied a basis for this concern.

[181] Aulard, _Le culte de la Raison et de l’Être suprême_, pp. 17 _et
seq._ _Cf._ Sloane, _The French Revolution and Religious Reform_, pp.
53, 79, 97. The effort to dechristianize the institutions of religion
in France is admitted by both writers, but the superficial occasion of
this hostile effort is made clear.

[182] _Cf. infra_, pp. 103 _et seq._

[183] The practice of looking to the religious situation in France for
ammunition to serve the artillery of political parties in America,
is well illustrated in the following instances: _The Western Star_
of March 25, 1794, dwelt at length upon the depravity of French
irreligion, and asserted that the lack of public alarm in this country
must be accepted as convincing evidence that the American public
has already yielded itself to the seductive influence and power of
atheistical opinions. On the other hand, the _Independent Chronicle_,
issues of March 6 and July 24, 1794, pounces upon Robespierre’s
scheme for the rehabilitation of religion under the guise of the
cult of the Supreme Being, and with great gusto asserts that here is
the positive and sufficient proof that the charge of atheism which
has been lodged against the Revolutionists is as baseless as it is
wicked. An examination of the newspaper comment of the day supplies
abundant warrant that this crying up and crying down of the charge of
French infidelity went far in the direction of investing the political
situation in New England with those characteristics of bitter and
extravagant crimination and recrimination with which all political
discussion in that section, as in fact throughout the entire country,
near the close of the eighteenth century, was so deeply marked.

[184] By the adoption of this measure the Catholic clergy in France
were turned into state officials. The relation of the Pope to the
French clergy became that of a spiritual guide and counsellor only.
The principle of territorial limitation on the part of ecclesiastics
was also abolished. _Cf._ Sloane, _The French Revolution and Religious
Reform_, pp. 121 _et seq._

[185] Aulard, _The French Revolution_, vol. iii, pp. 152–191, gives an
excellent résumé of the dechristianizing movement.

[186] The conservative press of America saw to it that this information
did not escape the attention of its readers. _Cf._ Hazen, _Contemporary
American Opinion of the French Revolution_, pp. 267 _et seq._ _Cf._
Morse, _The Federalist Party in Massachusetts_, pp. 80–87, 98 _et seq._

[187] Hazen, _Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolution_,
pp. 269 _et seq._

[188] Dwight, _Travels_, vol. iv, p. 362.

[189] Beecher, _Autobiography, Correspondence, etc._, vol. i, p. 30.

[190] Baldwin, _Annals of Yale College ... From its Foundation to the
Year 1831_, New Haven, 1831, p. 146.

[191] Field, _Brief Memoirs of the Members of the Class Graduated at
Yale College in September, 1802_. (_Printed for private distribution_),
p. 9.

[192] Beecher, _Autobiography, Correspondence, etc._, vol. i, p. 30.

[193] Sprague, _Annals of the American Pulpit_, vol. ii, pp. 164, 165.
_Cf._ _Sketches of Yale College, with Numerous Anecdotes_ ... New York,
1843, p. 136.

[194] _Memoir of William Ellery Channing_, vol. i, p. 60.

[195] _Ibid._ Sidney Willard, in his _Memories of Youth and Manhood_,
vol. ii, p. 101, tones down the picture appreciably.

[196] Morse, _The Federalist Party in Massachusetts_, pp. 88 _et seq._

[197] _A Sermon Delivered to the First Congregation in Cambridge, and
the Religious Society in Charlestown, April 11, 1793._ By David Tappan,
A. M., Professor of Divinity in Harvard College, Boston, 1793.

[198] _Ibid._, p. 16.

[199] David Osgood (1747–1822) was one of the best known New England
clergymen of his day. Possessing a fondness for unusual public
occasions, such as state and church festivals, he acquired the habit of
turning them to account by way of airing his political and religious
ideas, a custom which drew to him the cordial support of the Federal
school to which he belonged, and the no less cordial contempt of the
Republicans. _Cf._ Sprague, _Annals of the American Pulpit_, vol. ii,
pp. 75, 76.

[200] The predilection of the New England clergy for political
preaching requires a word. The clergy emerged from the period of the
American Revolution with their reputation considerably enhanced. The
cause of the struggling colonists they had supported with resolution
and ability and their moral force had shown itself remarkably
effective. It is also to be noted that from the settlement of the
country, the clergy had been extraordinarily influential in the
direction of public affairs. They were the intimates and advisers of
public officials as well as the trusted counsellors of the people.
After the setting up of the government most of the questions which
agitated the public mind had definite moral and religious aspects.
The New England clergy would have regarded themselves as seriously
remiss and therefore culpable had they not spoken out upon the burning
questions of the day. With the intrusion of foreign affairs into the
sphere of American politics the impulse in the direction of political
preaching was decidedly strengthened. Definite issues regarding
morality and religion were thus raised, and the passions of patriotism
and religious devotion became inextricably woven together. Love,
_The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England_, p. 363; Swift, _The
Massachusetts Election Sermons: Publications of the Colonial Society of
Massachusetts_, vol. i: _Transactions_, 1892–1894, pp. 422 _et seq._

[201] The Democratic Societies (or Clubs), to which fuller attention
is given on pp. 104 _et seq._, instantly assumed a position of first
importance in the minds of many clergyman of New England. Coupled as
their emergence was with the amazing performances of Genet, they had
the effect of suggesting to the clerical mind the fatal thrust at
religion which might, and probably would result, on account of their
subterranean operations. This idea of a secret combination against the
institutions of religion in America, which proved to have a powerful
attraction for many clerical minds, was definitely related to the spasm
of anxiety and fear which swept the country when the presence of these
secret clubs became generally known.

[202] _Cf._ [Osgood, David], _The Wonderful Works of God are to be
Remembered. A Sermon delivered on the day of the Annual Thanksgiving,
November 20, 1794_, Boston, 1794. pp. 21 _et seq._

[203] On account of the virulence of party feeling, it was not to be
expected that Osgood would succeed in stating the case in a manner
acceptable to all. Popular opinion respecting the wisdom and fairness
of Osgood’s performance was far from unanimous. An opposition, inspired
by political interests, quickly developed, to which Republican
newspapers willingly enough gave voice. _The Independent Chronicle_
of Dec. 11, 1794, contains typical expressions of adverse comment.
An exceptionally forceful counter-attack was made in the guise of an
anonymous “sermon”, entitled: “_The Altar of Baal Thrown Down: or, The
French Nation Defended, Against the Pulpit Slander of David Osgood,
A. M., Pastor of the Church in Medford. Par Citoyen de Novion._” The
author of this pamphlet, who, as time demonstrated, was none other
than James Sullivan, later governor of Massachusetts, right valiantly
took up the cudgel in defence of the French. The French, he argues,
are to be regarded as a mighty nation by whom our own nation has
been preserved from destruction. Their excesses are most charitably
and fairly explained in the light of the frightful oppressions which
they had long suffered. Their attitude toward religion should not be
regarded as hostile. The French strike only at a clergy who have linked
their power with that of the nobility, and who together have made the
people’s lot intolerable. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 12 _et seq._ The entire
sermon abounds in caustic criticism of Osgood for having stepped “out
of ... line to gratify a party.”

[204] _Christian Thankfulness Explained and Enforced. A Sermon,
delivered at Charlestown, in the afternoon of February 19, 1795. The
day of general thanksgiving through the United States._ By David
Tappan, D. D., Hollisian Professor of Divinity in Harvard College,
Boston, 1795.

[205] _The Nature and Manner of Giving Thanks to God, Illustrated. A
sermon, delivered on the day of the national thanksgiving, February
19, 1795._ By Ebenezer Bradford, A. M., pastor of the First Church in
Rowley, Boston, 1795.

[206] The so-called “Whiskey Rebellion” came in for a considerable
amount of hostile comment on the part of the Federalist clergy at
this time. Generally speaking, the New England clergy felt sure of
their ground respecting the alleged causal relation between the
Democratic Clubs and the Pennsylvania uprising. Hence it happened that
the tone of clerical condemnation with respect to everything which
had the semblance of a secret propaganda was appreciably heightened.
The moralizing tendencies of the clergy with respect to the secret
combinations which were believed to be back of the “Whiskey Rebellion”
is well illustrated in the following: _A Sermon, delivered February
19, 1795, being a day of general thanksgiving throughout the United
States of America_. By Joseph Dana, A. M., pastor of the South Church
in Ipswich. Newburyport, 1795. _Cf._ also, _Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii,

[207] Tappan’s _Sermon_, p. 36.

[208] _A Discourse, delivered February 19, 1795. The day set apart by
the President for a general thanksgiving throughout the United States._
By David Osgood, A. M., pastor of the church in Medford, Boston, 1795,
p. 18.

[209] _Ibid._, pp. 18, 19.

[210] _A Sermon, delivered before the Convention of the Clergy of
Massachusetts, in Boston, May 26, 1796._ By Jeremy Belknap, minister of
the church in Federal-Street, Boston. Boston, 1796, pp. 15 _et seq._
A similar note was struck by Tappan in the convention of the following
year. _Cf._ _Sermon, delivered before the Annual Convention of the
Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts, in Boston, June 1, 1797_,
Boston, 1797, p. 26.

[211] _A Sermon, delivered on the 9th of May, 1798. Being the day of
a National Fast, Recommended by the President of the United States._
By John Thornton Kirkland, minister of the New South Church, Boston.
Boston, 1798, pp. 18 _et seq._

[212] Complaints of the nature indicated, and justifications of
ministerial conduct in continuing the practice of “political preaching”
increase in number from about 1796 on. The following examples are
picked almost at random: _The sermon preached by John Eliot at the
ordination of Joseph M’Kean, Milton, Mass., November 1, 1797_, Boston,
1797, p. 33; James Abercrombie’s _Fast Day Sermon, May 9, 1798,
Philadelphia_, Philadelphia, (n. d.); Eliphalet Porter’s _Fast Day
Sermon_ of the same date, at Roxbury, Boston, 1798, p. 22; Samuel
Miller’s _Fast Day Sermon_, also of the same date, at New York, New
York, 1798.

[213] _God’s Challenge to Infidels to Defend Their Cause, Illustrated
and Applied in a Sermon, delivered in West Springfield, May 4, 1797,
being the day of the General Fast._ By Joseph Lathrop, minister ...
Second Ed., Cambridge, 1803.

[214] _Ibid._, p. 4.

[215] _A Sermon, preached on the State Fast, April 6th, 1798._ ... By
Nathan Strong, pastor of the North Presbyterian Church in Hartford.
Hartford, 1798, pp. 14 _et seq._

[216] _Some Facts evincive of the Atheistical, Anarchical, and in other
respects, Immoral Principles of the French Republicans, Stated in a
sermon delivered on the 9th of May, 1798._ ... By David Osgood ...
Boston, 1798.

[217] One of the curious results of the reflection of the American
clergy on the significance of the French Revolution was a marked
disposition to treat the Roman Catholic Church with unwonted sympathy
and respect. Osgood’s implied apology not infrequently received an
unblushingly frank statement. _Cf._ for example, Nathan Strong’s
_Connecticut Fast Day Sermon_, cited above.

[218] This estimate of the case appealed to Osgood’s mind and satisfied
his fancy. A year later he was heard on the following subject: _The
Devil Let Loose; or The Wo occasioned to the Inhabitants of the
Earth by His Wrathful Appearance among Them_. For lurid rhetoric
Osgood outdid himself on this occasion. “Not in France only, but in
various other countries, is the devil let loose; iniquity abounds;
unclean spirits, like frogs in the houses and kneading-troughs of the
Egyptians, have gone forth to the kings and rulers of the earth, ...
the armies of Gog and Magog are gathered together in open hostility
against all unrighteousness, truth and goodness.” (_The Devil Let
Loose, etc. Illustrated in a Discourse, delivered on the Day of the
National Fast, April 25, 1799_, Boston, 1799, pp. 13 _et seq._)

[219] _Some Facts Evincive, etc._, pp. 13, 16 _et seq._

[220] _Acts and Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church in the United States of America, May 17, 1798_, pp. 11 _et seq._

[221] _Ibid._

[222] The _Massachusetts Mercury_ (Boston), June 19, 1798, contains the
address in full.

[223] This address may be found in the _Independent Chronicle_ of July
4, 1799, and the _Newburyport Herald_ of June 28, 1799. A further
comment, of more than average significance, on the unparalleled
degeneracy of the times may be found in the sermon preached by the
Reverend William Harris, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, before the
annual convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, held in Boston,
May 28, 1799. _Cf._ _A Sermon delivered at Trinity Church, in Boston._
... By William Harris, rector of St. Michael’s Church, Marblehead,
Boston, 1799. A decade and a half later Lyman Beecher preached his
famous sermon on “Building Waste Places.” The impression which
lingered in his mind concerning the period under survey is worthy
of consideration. After having discussed the unhappy condition of
religious life in the churches of New England during the first half
of the eighteenth century, he said: “A later cause of decline and
desolation has been the insidious influence of infidel philosophy. The
mystery of iniquity had in Europe been operating for a long time. The
unclean spirits had commenced their mission to the kings of the earth
to gather them together to the battle of the great day of God Almighty.
But when that mighty convulsion [Foot-note: The French Revolution] took
place, that a second-time burst open the bottomless pit, and spread
darkness and dismay over Europe, every gale brought to our shores
contagion and death. Thousands at once breathed the tainted air and
felt the fever kindle in the brain. A paroxysm of moral madness and
terrific innovation ensued. In the frenzy of perverted vision every foe
appeared a friend, and every friend a foe. No maxims were deemed too
wise to be abandoned, none too horrid to be adopted; no foundations
too deep laid to be torn up, and no superstructure too venerable to
be torn down, that another, such as in Europe they were building with
bones and blood, might be built.... The polluted page of infidelity
everywhere met the eye while its sneers and blasphemies assailed the
ear.... The result was a brood of infidels, heretics, and profligates—a
generation prepared to be carried about, as they have been, by every
wind of doctrine, and to assail, as they have done, our most sacred
institutions.” _Cf._ Beecher, _Autobiography, Correspondence, etc._,
vol. i, pp. 239, 240.

                              CHAPTER II


                    1. THE SITUATION PRIOR TO 1798

Party history in New England, as elsewhere throughout the Union,
began with the inauguration of the new government in 1789.[224] Such
differences of opinion concerning matters of public policy as had
previously existed were confined to unorganized groups whose leaders
depended chiefly on the devotion of their personal following to
mould popular opinion. But the setting up of the Federal government
and the fixing of national standards brought to light issues which
challenged fundamental conceptions and interests, and a definite rift
in public sentiment was not long in appearing. By 1793 the main line
of political cleavage was plainly visible. The Federalists, who stood
for the importance of a strong central government, found themselves
confronted with an organized opposition to which in time the terms
Anti-Federalists, Republicans, and Democrats were applied.[225]

In 1793 the war between England and France came into American
politics, providing issues for party controversy for years to come.
The sympathies of the Federalists, who numbered in their ranks the
conservative and aristocratic elements in the population, inclined
strongly toward England; whereas the sympathies of Republicans, who
attracted to their standard the radicals of the country concerned in
the democratization of government, were disposed with equal warmth
toward France.

The promulgation of the Neutrality Proclamation[226] of President
Washington, April 22, 1793, seemed to settle the question of foreign
alliances before the matter had become acute. On the whole, the
response which New England gave to the President’s proclamation was
gratifying. Messages of cordial approval came pouring in from many
quarters.[227] The majority of the people rejoiced in the course of
prudence and foresight which the national government had been led to

Still New England was not wholly satisfied. The sentiments of
all her people had not been served. An opposition of respectable
proportions developed. The columns of the public press carried numerous
articles[228] voicing various degrees of hostility to the President’s
cause of neutrality and affording ample evidence that instead of
solidifying the sentiments of the people on the subject of foreign
alliances, the proclamation had the effect of widening the breach
between the political forces of the country.

This aspect of the case was much aggravated by two important
circumstances, one of which developed simultaneously with the
publication of the proclamation of neutrality, and the other came to
light soon after. These two circumstances were the coming of Genet and
the rise of the Democratic Societies.

In no part of the country was the news of the arrival of the French
minister received with less suspicion than in New England.[229]
Republican newspapers were, of course, loud in their exclamations of
satisfaction over the word that came out of the south concerning the
arrival and subsequent activities of the amazing French diplomat, so
young, so ardent, so eloquent, and so absurd. Editors of Federalist
journals, while in no mood to be swept off their feet by the latest
excitement of the hour, yet showed no disposition to cavil or express

Such, however, were the exceptional performances of this altogether
exceptional diplomat, who insisted on comporting himself more like a
ruler of the people of this nation than an accredited representative to
their government, that the day of revulsion and deep resentment could
not long be postponed.[230]

The stir created by the activities of Genet, great as it was, soon
was swallowed up in the excitement produced by the sudden emergence
of a new factor in American politics; _viz._, indigenous political
organizations that were secret. Coincident with the arrival of Genet,
and with a view to capitalizing the state of public feeling that
his arrival and reception brought to a head, there sprang up in
various parts of the country a group of organizations devoted to the
propagation of ultra-democratic ideals. These Democratic Societies,
or Clubs, were destined to exert a degree of baneful influence upon
political feeling out of all proportion to their actual number and
weight.[231] Needless to say, the excited state of public feeling,
together with the total unfamiliarity of American citizens with
political agencies of a secret character, were responsible for
this result. The embarrassments under which the French cause in
America momentarily suffered on account of reports concerning the
multiplied atrocities of the Reign of Terror and the swelling tide of
popular resentment because of the indiscretions of Minister Genet,
might induce the judgment that the times were unpropitious for the
development of organizations whose sympathy for the principles of the
French Revolution was notorious.[232] But there was another side to
the situation. The heated public discussions provoked by Madison’s
Commercial Resolutions, Clark’s Non-Intercourse Resolution, and the
appointment of John Jay as Minister Extraordinary to Great Britain,
set free such a torrent of anti-British feeling that the spirit of
republicanism lifted its head with renewed vigor and stimulated a
public sentiment decidedly favorable to the rapid formation and spread
of the new organizations. From the day that the first of these sinister
Societies was established, and its statement of principles blazoned
forth in a multitude of newspapers throughout the country,[233] the
public mind found itself wrought upon by a new species of excitement,
by suggestions of tricks and plots, by appeals to passion and
unreasoning fear, all conspiring to inject into the national spirit an
element of haunting suspicion from which it was not soon to be cleared.

The fact that at least five of these Democratic Societies were located
in New England strongly suggests the immediate concern which the
people of that section were bound to have because of these unexpected
and ominous secret political associations.[234] The creation of the
Boston Society became at once the occasion of virulent opposition and
infuriated comment. Organized in the late fall of 1793[235] under the
innocent title, the Constitutional Club, the principles and alliances
of the organization became quickly known, with the result that the
already agitated waters of local party feeling were disturbed beyond
all previous experience. Citizens whose sympathies were fully with the
conduct of affairs under the Federalist régime were quick to believe
that henceforth they might expect to be threatened, brow-beaten,
and checkmated in a ruthless and scandalous fashion because of the
activities of this pernicious Club.[236] They anticipated an amount of
secret and dastardly political interference on the part of the Club,
because of which the lives of their public officials would be filled
with distraction and the minds of decent men aspiring to public office
would be thrown into a state of disinclination and repugnance.

Nor in this did they prove to be false prophets. Newspaper innuendoes,
sharp and poisonous as deadly arrows, were let fly with abandon;
town meetings were disturbed and the opponents of democracy and
French republicanism put to rout; the public mind was so altered that
Democrats who sought to deprive Federalists of their hold upon the
“Boston Seat” in the legislature were completely successful in their
efforts. In these and similar ways the citizens of Boston were given
tangible proofs of how effective an instrument of political action such
an organization as the Constitutional Club could be.[237]

The address which President Washington delivered before both
houses of Congress, November 19, 1794, wherein he traced a causal
connection between the Democratic Societies and the Whiskey Rebellion,
characterizing the former as “self-created societies” which had
“assumed a tone of condemnation” of measures adopted by the government,
being actuated by “a belief that, by a more formal concert” they would
be able to defeat those measures,[238] proved to be a mortal blow to
these secret organizations, and in New England, as elsewhere throughout
the country, had consequences beyond the disappearance of the Clubs.
Eagerly and with unconcealed joy, Federalist editors and orators seized
upon the President’s denunciation and turned it to immediate political
account.[239] A flood of condemnation and answering vituperation was
instantly released. The champions of Federalism were at pains to
secure publication of the discussions which took place in the national
congress respecting the precise character of the response to be made to
the President’s address, with special reference to his condemnation of
the Democratic Clubs.[240] They were at equal pains, also, to lay hold
of the President’s pregnant phrase, “self-created societies,” and turn
it to account: that phrase should be regarded as a designation equally
applicable to the odious Jacobin Clubs of France.[241] Henceforth
the whole democratic faction might reasonably be expected to work
under cover “to unhinge the whole order of government, and introduce
confusion, so that union, the constitution, the laws, public order and
private right would be all the sport of violence or chance.”[242]

Mortified and discomfited Republican editors made such response as
they could. The members of the Clubs were declared to be independent
citizens who were acting within their rights in so banding together.
They were “proceeding in the paths of patriotic virtue with a composure
and dignity which become men engaged in such important and timely
services”;[243] whereas their opponents were men who hungered for the
loaves and fishes of the government and who shared the secret fear that
they would be discovered or have their plans deranged.[244]

The continual harping of the Federalist press on the phrase
“self-created societies” particularly touched the raw. Was not the
Society of the Cincinnati self-created? And are not many of the members
of that organization war-worn soldiers of the American Republic? In a
state of society in which we see such veterans toiling for their daily
sustenance, while other men, enjoying the hard-earned property of the
former, riot in all the luxuries of life, how can one but exclaim, _O
Tempora! O Mores!_[245] The national congress, moreover, might well be
expected to be engaged in much more serious and timely business than
to be burdening its sessions with discussions respecting the affairs of
private societies.[246]

The hostile attitude that the Federalist clergy took toward the
Democratic Societies gave special irritation to the editors of the
_Independent Chronicle_. Because he ventured in his thanksgiving sermon
of November 20 (1794) to denounce all Constitutional Societies, the
rector of the Episcopal congregation in Boston was held up to ridicule
in the columns of the _Chronicle_ as a “_ci-devant_ lawyer” and “a
certain Episcopalian ‘thumper of the pulpit drum,’” whose pastoral
care many of his substantial members had already renounced because of
his injection of political discussion into the sacred sphere of the
pulpit; while others had given evidence of their disposition to follow
the example of the more courageous members of the flock, “if virulence
is to take the place of religion.”[247] But the Reverend David Osgood,
Medford’s “monk,” on account of his more extended and violent treatment
of the Democratic Societies in his thanksgiving day sermon,[248]
gave much deeper offence. That he should have represented these
organizations as controlled by the same principles as the incendiary
French Jacobin Clubs, and as set to watch the Federal government and
plot its overthrow through the support of pernicious and inveterate
faction, was more than ardent democratic patriots could endure. “A
Friend to the Clergy and an Enemy to Ecclesiastical Presumption,”
together with “A Friend of Decency and Free Inquiry,” sought entrance
to the willing columns of the _Chronicle_ in order to express their
contempt for “a Rev. gentleman” who could lend himself to the peddling
of such illiberal sentiments and could show himself capable of acting
in a manner unbecoming the character of a Christian and a gentleman,
and also in order to draw conclusions derogatory to his reputation as
a scholar.[249] The castigations of “Stentor” were not less caustic.
The red-hot anathemas of the Reverend Parson Osgood, whining preacher
of politics that he was, had no other effect than to singe and sear
the reputation of their author. “On the Constitutional Society their
influence has been as small as though they had been issued in the form
of a BULL from the Chancery of the Pope.”[250]

Thus were protracted for a time the frantic efforts of Democratic
editors and scribblers to repair the damage which “the clownish Bishop
of Medford”[251] and his clerical confederates were supposed to have
effected.[252] But the main injury had by no means come from that
quarter. Such was the veneration for the name and person of the great
Washington throughout New England that few men had the hardihood to
launch their resentment and abuse against him; yet it was his hand,
and none other, that wrote the word _Ichabod_ across the brow of
these secret political associations. From the day that his address
reproaching them was made, their doom was sealed. That doom might
tarry for a season, but it could not long be averted. The apologists
and defenders of these organizations which the presidential censure
had made odious, might fiercely exert themselves to show how innocent
they were of the offences charged and how unimpaired in usefulness they
remained after the thrust had been made. This was but whistling to keep
up their courage. The prestige of the Societies had been effectually
destroyed by the President’s denunciation; in a surprisingly short time
these ambitious and troublemaking organizations sank into desuetude and
were lost to view.

The deep impression they had made upon the public mind was, however,
much less readily effaced. That impression resolved itself into a
memory most unpleasant and disturbing. For us the significance of
these organizations is found chiefly in the fact that, appearing at a
time when the two great opposing political parties were developing,
and having vehemently espoused the cause of France in a rabidly
democratic spirit, they consequently added enormously to the passion
and the suspicion of the day. To the Federalists they were dangerous
intruders, groups of unprincipled demagogues organized for unpatriotic
purposes, working in the dark, ashamed to stoop at nothing in the way
of duplicity and subterfuge, of deception and intrigue, if by any means
the vicious designs of their hearts could be furthered. Thus they not
only helped to make the strife of parties vituperative and bitter; in
addition they made familiar to the thought of a great body of citizens
in America the idea that the intrigues of secret organizations must
needs be reckoned with as one of the constant perils of the times.
Henceforth it would be easier to fill the public mind with uneasiness
and gloomy forebodings on account of the supposed presence of hidden
hostile forces working beneath the surface of the nation’s life. Should
inexperienced and unsuspecting souls profess their incredulity, the
appeal to the example of the Democratic Societies might be expected to
go far toward dissolving all indifference and trusting unconcern.[253]

To trace in detail the increasingly bitter party strife in New England
would not only call for the canvassing of material already well
known, but would lead us far afield from the special object of this
investigation. Only the main features of the case need to be noted.

The temporary check the Democrats suffered on account of the
suppression of the secret political clubs was soon removed by the wave
of anti-British sentiment that swept the country upon the publication
of the treaty which John Jay negotiated between Great Britain and the
United States, late in the autumn of 1794.[254]

The truth is, nothing less than a howl of rage went up from the throats
of the people of the United States, and the voices of the men of New
England were by no means lost in the chorus.[255] Nothing that could
have been said to inflame the blind and passionate anger of the people
was omitted. The United States, it was asserted, had been resolved back
into the colonies of Great Britain.[256] The Senate had bargained away
the blood-bought privileges of the people for less than the proverbial
mess of pottage. It had signed the death-warrant of the country’s
trade and entailed beggary on its inhabitants and their posterity
forever.[257] The people’s cause had been most perfidiously betrayed.
The trading class, whose pecuniary interests would be jeopardized if
England were to be left free to prey upon our commerce, especially if
the way should remain open for the two countries to drift into actual
war, might show itself disposed to make a choice of the lesser of two
evils and accept the treaty; but the great mass of the people were
indignantly hostile, it must be added, to the point of unreason.[258]

The promulgation of the treaty by Washington, February 29, 1796, as
the law of the land, had the effect of bringing to a close a period of
agitation which deeply affected the national life.[259] For one thing,
the violence of party spirit had been so augmented that henceforth
there were to be no limits to which men would not go in the expression
of their antipathies and prejudices. Even the great Washington had
not been able to escape the venom of the tongue of the partisan in
the controversy which had raged over the treaty.[260] A condition of
the public mind which not only permitted but supported the burning in
effigy of its public servants; which consented to brutal campaigns of
newspaper calumniation, so unrestrained and indecent that the reader
looks back upon them with shame; to the circulation of incendiary
handbills and scurrilous pamphlets; to participation in lawless
gatherings in which riotous utterances of the most violent character
were freely made and disgraceful actions taken[261]—this could not
possibly make for a wholesome discipline of the passions of the

For another thing, the spirit of devotion to the cause of France
had been greatly refreshed and quickened by the agitation over the
treaty. From the moment that information concerning the nature of the
treaty began to circulate, the cry of “British faction” was taken up
by the Democrats and used with telling effect. That the treaty was
an infamous instrument arranged for no other purpose than to injure
the French cause was generally believed.[263] From beginning to end,
Democrats could find nothing in the treaty which had not been directly
inspired by hostility to France. Apart from the damage that would
ensue to American commerce, the treaty would work for the elevation of
monarchical and the undoing of republican principles.[264] Once again
George the Third had become the master of the citizens of America, and
thus the great accomplishments of the American Revolution had been
made to count for nought. British gold had succeeded in effecting the
betrayal of the republican cause in this country, and thus had worked
itself into a strategic position where it could more easily strangle
the life out of the spirit of republicanism in Europe, now so sorely
beset in France.[265]

One other by-product of the agitation that arose over the treaty
has been dwelt upon at length in another connection, but it should
be adverted to briefly here. It was inevitable that a discussion so
vital, so heated, and so protracted as that of which we have just been
taking account, should draw into it those guardians of morals and
mentors of public spirit in New England, the Federalist clergy.[266]
The disturbance of the public mind over the treaty had been marked
by two features full of grave import in the clerical view: vicious
attacks upon the officers and measures of the existing government, and
a reinvigorated crying-up of French political and religious notions.

The offices of government were all, or nearly all, in the hands of
Federalists. This being the case, their occupants were doomed to be the
chief targets of resentment and villification by men who found such a
measure of government as Jay’s Treaty obnoxious in the extreme. But if
officers of government were to be pilloried in the stocks of public
slander and abuse, how then was the government itself to command the
respect and obedience of its citizens? The Federalist clergy of New
England saw the pathway of duty shining clear: they must hold up the
hands of government at any hazard. Hence it happened that the outcry
against “political preaching” grew rapidly in volume from 1795 on.[267]

As for the renewed zeal of the Democrats in the interests of French
revolutionary ideals, that found a special point of interest and
concern for the Federalist clergy in the prominence which the rapid
growth of republicanism secured for Thomas Jefferson. An ardent
friend of the French Revolution, a lover of French philosophy, the
enemy of religious intolerance, in personal faith a deist—were not
these sufficient to damn the man as an unbeliever and an atheist in
the eyes of New England clergymen, to whom the faintest breath of
rationalism was abhorrent and the very notion of toleration suspect?
Accordingly the New England clergy launched a fierce attack upon him as
the arch-apostle of the cause of irreligion and free-thought.[268] In
language carefully guarded, his name usually being omitted, Jefferson
was pointed out as the leader of the hosts of infidelity whose
object was the extermination of the institutions of religion and the
inauguration of an era wherein every man should think and do that which
was right in his own eyes.[269]


[224] Robinson, _Jeffersonian Democracy in New England_, p. i;
Channing, _History of the United States_, vol. iv, p. 150.

[225] The term “Anti-Federalist” was born out of the struggle which
developed over the adoption of the national constitution. The term
“Republican” was one of the by-products of the discussion which arose
in this country, from 1792 on, over French revolutionary ideals. _Cf._
Johnston, _American Political History_, pt. i, p. 207.

[226] _American State Papers: Foreign Relations_, vol. i, p. 140.

[227] The issues of the _Columbian Centinel_ for 1793 abound in
addresses of this character.

[228] _Cf._ for example, the issues of the _Connecticut Courant_ for
July 29, Aug. 5 and 26, 1793, and of the _Independent Chronicle_ for
May 7, 16 and 23, 1793. _Cf._ Channing, _History of the United States_,
vol. iv, p. 128.

[229] The _Connecticut Courant_ of May 13, 1793, contains the first
announcements of Genet’s arrival which that paper made. Subsequent
issues are fairly well occupied with accounts of Genet’s arrival in
Philadelphia, the unconfirmed expressions of cordiality and heated
enthusiasm which he encountered there, the congratulatory address which
the citizens of that place presented him, Genet’s response, _etc._ In
the issue of August 12 mention is made of the Frenchman’s arrival in
New York. Thus far not the slightest trace of a suspecting attitude of
mind is discoverable.

[230] The issues of the _Connecticut Courant_ for August 19 and 26,
and November 11, 1793, contain articles that admirably illustrate the
rising temper of the New England Federalists as they contemplated
Genet’s absurdities and improprieties.

[231] Luetscher, in his _Early Political Machinery in the United
States_, p. 33, asserts that not more than twenty-four separate
organizations of this character were formed within the two years which
followed their first appearance. These were fairly well distributed
throughout the Union. One was in Maine, one in Massachusetts (Boston),
three in Vermont, two in New York, one in New Jersey, five in
Pennsylvania, one in Delaware, one in Maryland, two in Virginia, one in
North Carolina, four in South Carolina, and two in Kentucky.

[232] McMaster, _A History of the People of the United States_, vol.
ii, pp. 175 _et seq._

[233] Hazen, _Contemporary American Opinion of the French Revolution_,
pp. 189 _et seq._

[234] Robinson, _Jeffersonian Democracy in New England_, p. 10,
for significant comments upon the effect of the establishment of
the Democratic Societies on general political interest. The vote
was appreciably increased and elections were more hotly contested
on account of the emergence of the Clubs. _Cf._ also _New England
Magazine_, January, 1890, p. 488.

[235] Morse, _The Federalist Party in Massachusetts_, p. 75; _Wolcott
Papers_, vol. vii, 5, letter of Jedediah Morse to Oliver Wolcott.
The _Independent Chronicle_ of Jan. 16, 1794, contains the Rules and
Regulations and the Declaration of this Society.

[236] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Nov. 29, 1793. _Cf._ _Works of Fisher
Ames_, vol. ii, pp. 146 _et seq._

[237] Jedediah Morse did not fail to observe the appearance of the
Boston organization nor to divine its character and general scope of
action. In a letter to Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, and
Morse’s intimate friend, a letter written close to the date of the
organization of the Constitutional Club, Morse wrote optimistically but
seriously of the situation:

                                       “Charlestown, Dec. 16th, 1793

  ... The body of the people repose great confidence in the Wisdom of
  the President—of Congress, & of the heads of Departments. May they
  have Wisdom to direct them! The President’s speech meets with much
  approbation—It is worthy of himself—We have some _grumbletonians_
  among us—who, when the French are victorious, speak loud &
  saucy—but when they meet with a check—sing small.—They form a
  sort of political Thermometer, by whh we can pretty accurately
  determine, what is, _in their opinion_, the state of French
  politics.—The French _cause_ has no enemies here,—their conduct
  has many.—There are some who undistinguishly [_sic_] & unboundedly
  approve both—& most bitterly denounce, as _Aristocrats_, all who
  do not think as they do.—This party, whh is not numerous—nor as
  respectable as it is numerous—are about forming a Democratic
  Club—whh I think they call “the Massts. Constitutional Society”—I
  don’t know their design, but suppose they consider themselves as
  _guardians_ of the _Rights of Man_—& overseers of the President,
  Congress, & you gentlemen in the several principal departments of
  State—to see that you don’t infringe upon the Constitution.—They
  don’t like, nor see through your borrowing so much money of
  Holland—They are very suspicious about all money matters....

                                                 Your friend,
                                                      Jed^h Morse.”
_Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 5.

[238] _Annals of Congress_, vol. iv, p. 787.

[239] The President’s address was printed in full in leading New
England journals. _Cf._ for example, _Columbian Centinel_, Nov. 29,
1794; _Independent Chronicle_, Dec. 1, 1794; _Connecticut Courant_,
Dec. 1, 1794.

[240] _Columbian Centinel_, Dec. 6, 10, 1794; _Connecticut Courant_,
Dec. 8, 24, 1794.

[241] _Columbian Centinel_, Dec. 13, 1794.

[242] _Ibid._, Dec. 20, 1794.

[243] _Independent Chronicle_, Sept. 18, 1794. _Cf._ also issues of
this paper for Sept. 1, 4, 8, and 15, Dec. 4, 8, and 15, 1794.

[244] _Ibid._, Aug. 25, 1794.

[245] _Ibid._, Dec. 8, 1794.

[246] _Independent Chronicle_, Dec. 11, 1794.

[247] _Ibid._, Nov. 27, 1794.

[248] _Cf. supra_, pp. 89 _et seq._

[249] _Cf._ _Independent Chronicle_, Dec. 22, 25, and 29, 1794; Jan. 8
and 15, 1795.

[250] _Ibid._, Jan. 12, 1795.

[251] _Ibid._, Jan. 15, 1795.

[252] A more detached and better balanced judgment of the importance
of the part played by the clergy in the suppression of the Democratic
Societies is that recorded by William Bentley: “When I consider the
rash zeal with which the clergy have embarked in the controversy
respecting Constitution & Clubs, I could not help thinking of a place
in this Town, called Curtis’ folly. The good man attempting to descend
a steep place, thought it best to take off one pair of his oxen &
tackle them behind. But while the other cattle drove down hill, they
drew the others down hill backwards & broke their necks. Had the French
clergy continued with the people & meliorated their tempers they would
have served them & the nobility.” (_Diary_, vol. ii, p. 130.)

[253] That a certain depth of impression was made upon the mind of
Jedediah Morse by the agitation that developed over these secret
organizations will appear from the following letter which he wrote to
Oliver Wolcott, late in 1794. It is quite true that the letter shows no
trace of apprehension as respects the future; but the man’s interest
had been keenly solicited and the future was to have suggestions and
appeals of its own.

                                        “Charlestown, Dec. 17th, 1794

  My dear Sir:

  I take the liberty to enclose you Mr. Osgood’s Thanksgiving sermon,
  with whh I think you will be pleased. It will evince that the
  sentiments of the clergy this way (for so far as I am acquainted
  he (Mr. Osgood) speaks the sentiments of nine out of ten of the
  clergy) agree with those of the President, Senate, & house of
  Representatives, in respect to the Self-created Societies. The
  Thanksgiving sermons in Boston & its vicinity, with only two or
  three exceptions, all breathed the same spirit—though their manner
  was not so particular & pointed as Mr. Osgood’s. His sermon is now
  the general topic of conversation—it has grievously offended the
  Jacobins.—Poor fellows! they seem to be attacked on all sides. They
  must I think feel it to be a truth—that “there is no peace for
  the wicked.”—They still make a noise—but it is like the groans of

  I could wish, if you think it proper, that the sermon might,
  in a suitable way, be put into the hands of our _most worthy
  President_, with this remark accompanying it, that the clergy in
  this Commonwealth generally approve of the same sentiments. I wish
  it because it may possibly add to his satisfaction—& will certainly
  to our honor in his view....

                                                   Your friend,
                                                          Jed^h Morse.

  To Oliver Wolcott, Comptroller of the U. S. Treas^y.
              Philadelphia, Pa.”

_Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 9. The explicit proof that the mind of
this man, whose personality is of large importance for the purpose
in hand, received permanent impressions from the activities of the
Democratic Societies, on account of which he found it not difficult to
conceive of like secret combinations a few years later, is found in
his references to the political clubs in his Fast Day sermon of May 9,
1798, p. 24. _Cf._ also “Note F,” p. 67, of his _Thanksgiving Sermon_
of Nov. 29, 1798.

[254] An interesting coincidence appears in this connection. The treaty
was actually concluded on the very day that President Washington made
his address dealing with the uprising in western Pennsylvania (November
19, 1794). It was not submitted to the Senate, however, until June 8 of
the following year. On June 24, 1795, it was recommended by that body
for ratification, with a special reservation as to the twelfth article.
_Cf._ Macdonald, _Documentary Source Book of American History_, p.
244. The promulgation of the treaty came later, as will appear. For
comment on the popular resentment which the public announcement of
the provisions of the treaty stirred up, _cf._ McMaster, _A History
of the People of the United States_, vol. ii, pp. 212 _et seq._ For
contemporary newspaper reports of the situation, _cf._ the _Independent
Chronicle_, July 9, 13, 16, 23 and 27, 1795. For pertinent observations
by Jedediah Morse regarding the apprehensions which the vehement
popular disapproval of the treaty awakened in his mind, _cf._ _Wolcott
Papers_, vol. viii, 11.

[255] William Bentley, whose Democratic leanings must not be
overlooked, delivered himself in characteristic fashion: “The public
indignation is roused, & the papers begin to talk of lost liberties....
The Secrecy under which this business has been covered has served to
exasperate the public mind, upon the discovery.... The bells tolled
on the 4 of July instead of ringing, & a mournful silence prevailed
through the City. In this Town the men who hold securities under the
government are sufficiently influential against the disquiets & angry
expressions of more dependent people.” (_Diary_, vol. ii, p. 146.)

[256] _Independent Chronicle_, July 16, 1795.

[257] _Cf._ reprint of the handbill circulated at Portsmouth, New
Hampshire, in the _Independent Chronicle_ of July 20, 1795.

[258] _Cf._ extracts from the speech of Fisher Ames in the House of
Representatives, April 28, 1796. Quoted by Channing, _History of the
United States_, vol. iv, pp. 145 _et seq._

[259] As a matter of fact, as far as Congress was concerned, the
discussion over the treaty was continued for some time to come, because
of the measures that were necessary to be taken to put the treaty into
effect. _Cf._ Bassett, _The Federalist System_, p. 134. The country,
however, showed a disposition to accept the treaty as inevitable when
the President’s signature was finally affixed.

[260] McMaster, _A History of the People of the United States_, vol.
ii, pp. 248 _et seq._ _Cf._ _Works of Fisher Ames_, vol. i, p. 161.

[261] Morse, _The Federalist Party in Massachusetts_, pp. 153 _et seq._

[262] Travelers from abroad who were in the country at this time
remarked the extreme virulence of public and private discussion. De La
Rochefoucault-Liancourt, _Travels through the United States of North
America_, vol. ii, pp. 231 _et seq._ _Cf. ibid._, pp. 75 _et seq._,
256, 359, 381; vol. iii, pp. 23, 33 _et seq._, 74 _et seq._, 156, 163
_et seq._, 250, 274, 366 _et seq._ _Cf._ Weld, _Travels through the
States of North America ... during the years 1795, 1796, and 1797_,
p. 62. Writing specifically of the excited state of the public mind
in February, 1796, the latter observer of our national life said: “It
is scarcely possible for a dozen Americans to sit together without
quarrelling about politics, and the British treaty, which had just been
ratified, now gave rise to a long and acrimonious debate. The farmers
were of one opinion, and gabbled away for a long time; the lawyers
and the judge were of another, and in turns they rose to answer their
opponents with all the power of rhetoric they possessed. Neither party
could say anything to change the sentiments of the other one; the noisy
contest lasted till late at night, when getting heartily tired they
withdrew, not to their respective chambers, but to the general one
that held five or six beds, and in which they laid down in pairs. Here
the conversation was again revived, and pursued with as much noise as
below, till at last sleep closed their eyes, and happily their mouths
at the same time....” (_Ibid._, pp. 58 _et seq._) Such unfavorable
reflections are not to be dismissed as representing prejudiced views of
the case. A habit of intolerance toward political opponents and of all
men who shared contrary opinions, had become one of the characteristics
of the times. The agitation over the treaty went far toward fixing
this habit. The Alien and Sedition Acts, which came a little later,
were the result of an unrestrained freedom of discussion scarcely more
perceptible when they were passed in 1798 than at the time of the heat
produced by the treaty.

[263] Gibbs, _Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and
John Adams_, vol. i, p. 226, Oliver Ellsworth’s letter to Oliver
Wolcott. Ellsworth reports that the “argument and explanation [of the
treaty], that ‘’tis a damned thing made to plague the French,’ has by
repetition, lost its power.” This could have been true only in a local

[264] _Cf._ McMaster, _A History of the People of the United States_,
vol. ii, pp. 227 _et seq._, for an ample discussion of this view of the

[265] That this fierce indictment of “British faction” and appeal to
republican sentiment was by no means without practical effect, is shown
in the result of the general election of 1796. The outcome of that
election gave ground for great encouragement to the Democrats; for
while their hero and idol, Thomas Jefferson, was not summoned to the
presidency, none the less, to the deep chagrin of the Federalists, his
opponent, John Adams, received his commission to succeed Washington
on the basis of a majority in the electoral college of only three
votes. There could be no question that a spirit of confident and
undaunted republicanism was abroad in the land, and the good ship
Federalism was destined to encounter foul weather. The state contest
held in Massachusetts that same year was even more ominous. After a
campaign marked by great vigor on the part of the Federalists, in an
effort to rally popular support to their candidate, Increase Sumner,
it developed that Samuel Adams, whose enemies had stressed the charge
that he desired to enjoy a life tenure of the gubernatorial office,
was reelected by a handsome Democratic majority of 5,000 votes. _Cf._
Morse, _The Federalist Party in Massachusetts_, p. 161. Jedediah Morse
showed himself to be a fairly astute prognosticator in connection with
this election. He is found writing Wolcott, in October, 1795, to the
effect that he is conscious of the fact that a severe storm is brewing.
It is his conviction that the storm has been gathering for some time
and is now about to burst forth. “Disorganizers” have been behind the
opposition to the treaty. They have worked subterraneanly, trying to
keep opposition alive. _Cf._ _Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 14.

[266] _Cf. supra_, p. 93.

[267] As early as the winter of 1795 William Bentley made the disgusted
comment: “The Clergy are now the Tools of the Federalists.” _Diary_,
vol. ii, p. 129. Commencing with the participation of the clergy in the
discussion over the treaty, Democrat newspapers like the _Independent
Chronicle_ began to administer mild rebukes to the clergy for the
unwisdom of their conduct in favoring the British. _Cf._ the issue of
the _Chronicle_ for July 20, 1795, for one of the earliest utterances
of this sort. The spirit of resentment grew apace. Three years later
this spirit of moderation had been fully discarded, and the clergy
were being lashed unmercifully for their folly. For typical outbursts
of this character, _cf._ the _Independent Chronicle_ of Dec. 3, 1798.
Jedediah Morse paid tribute to the political concern and service of the
clergy in a letter to Wolcott, written Dec. 23, 1796: “Very few of ye
Clergy of my acquaintance seem disposed to pray for the success of the
French, since they have so insidiously and wickedly interferred in the
management of our political affairs, & I apprehend the complexion of
the thanksgiving sermons throughout N Engd. this year, are different
from those of the last, in respect to this particular. I can speak of
more than one with authority.” (_Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 20.)

[268] Morse, _The Federalist Party in Massachusetts_, p. 121.

[269] Pamphleteers and newspaper writers were much more explicit.
_The Pretensions of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency Examined: and
the Charges against John Adams Refuted_, was one of the well known
political pamphlets of the day. According to Gibbs, in his _Memoirs
of the Administrations of Washington and John Adams_, vol. i, p. 379,
it was prepared by Oliver Wolcott and William Smith, the latter of
South Carolina. It marshalled the reasons why Jefferson should not
be elected to the presidency. Among these “reasons” the charge of
a close alliance between Jefferson and the men of the country who
were notoriously interested in the cause of irreligion was boldly
affirmed. _Cf._ page 36 _et seq._ This pamphlet was published in
1796. Later the charge of impiety was lodged against Jefferson with
great frequency. Typical utterances of this nature may be found in
the _Library of American Literature_, vol. iv, pp. 249–251: “The
Imported French Philosophy” (from “The Lay Preacher” of Joseph Dennie).
This disquisition was much quoted in the newspapers of the day. From
the position that the leaders of the Democrats were irreligious, it
was easy for the Federalists to glide over to the position that the
spirit of infidelity, believed to be spreading far and wide through
the country, was consciously and deliberately backed by the restless
and unscrupulous elements which, in the view of the Federalists,
formed the opposition. _The Connecticut Courant_ of January 19, 1795,
reflects this attitude. “The French”, it is asserted, “are mad in
their pursuit of every phantom which disordered intellects can image.
Having set themselves free from all human control, they would gladly
scale the ramparts of heaven, and dethrone ALMIGHTY JEHOVAH. Our own
Democrats would do just so, _if they dare_.” _Cf._ also the issue of
the _Courant_ for January 5, the same year, for a characterization
of the program of the Democrats as “a crazy system of Anti-Christian
politics.” The offence given to the Democrats by such accusations was
great. No man, perhaps, stated the stinging resentment which they felt
better than Benjamin Franklin Bache in his _Aurora_ of August 15, 1798:
“No part of the perfidy of the faction, the insidious monarchical
faction, which dishonors our country, and endangers our future peace,
is so bare faced as their perpetual railing about a party acting in
concert with France—a party of _democrats_ and _Jacobins_—a party of
_disorganizers_ and _atheists_—a party inimical to our independence!
What is the plain intent of these impudent and ignorant railings? It is
to impose upon the ignorant, to collect and concentre in our focus all
the _vice_, _pride_, _superstition_, _avarice_, and _ambition_ in the
United States, in order to weigh down by the union of such a phalanx
of iniquity, all that is virtuous and free in the nation.” Abraham
Bishop, whose repudiation of the Federalist charge that Jefferson was
to be the High Priest of Infidelity was particularly vehement, saw in
this cry that an alliance had been made between the forces of democracy
and the forces of infidelity, the evidences of a shameless hypocrisy
that stripped its makers of all right to be styled Christians. The
cry that infidelity abounded meant nothing more nor less than that
new electioneering methods were being employed. _Oration Delivered in
Wallingford on the 11th of March, 1801_ ... by Abraham Bishop, pp. 36,

                  2. THE SITUATION FROM 1798 TO 1800

Very few of the events in our national affairs which link together the
history of the last decade of the eighteenth century are significant
for our purpose. Having sought to discover the chief occasions for the
apprehension and distress which weighed upon the minds of the citizens
of New England, we may now proceed to focus attention exclusively
upon the last three years of the century, within which developed that
special disturbance of the public mind with which we are primarily

And first let it be said, we are approaching a period of as intense
strain and nervous excitability as this nation in all its history has
known. When Thomas Jefferson, in November, 1796, wrote Edward Rutledge
of his deep personal satisfaction that he had escaped the presidency,
he may have been influenced by unworthy but certainly not by imaginary
constraints. “The newspapers,” so his letter runs, “will permit me to
plant my corn, peas, &c., in hills or drills as I please ... while our
Eastern friend will be struggling with the storm which is gathering
over us; perhaps be shipwrecked in it. This is certainly not a moment
to covet the helm.”[270] Never has a defeated candidate for the
presidency had more solid grounds for the justification of his fears,
or shall we say, his hopes? The severe strain of domestic strife was
about to be enormously augmented by a series of untoward and alarming
events in the field of foreign relations, certain of which must receive
our particular attention.

The complete change in the character of the relations between the
United States and France is for us a matter of the first importance.
The publication of the treaty negotiated between the United States
and Great Britain by Jay produced definitive results as respects the
attitude of France. With some reason that instrument was interpreted
as inimical to the interests of the latter country, and the government
and people of this nation were not long left in doubt of the fact.[271]
By the employment toward her former ally of a policy of coercion,
of which two chief instruments were the destruction of American
commerce upon the high seas and the overbearing and insolent conduct
of diplomatic negotiations, France speedily addressed herself to the
task of attempting to gain by pressure what she conceived she had lost
in the way of prestige and material advantage. The result was, to
the discomfiture and disgrace of the Democrats in particular and to
the alarm of the country in general, that the United States was made
aware of the fact that its government was being driven into a corner
from which, as far as a human mind could foresee, the only avenue of
honorable escape would be recourse to arms.

The damage which American commerce sustained at the hands of French
privateers is rendered appreciable when the following circumstances are
taken into account. Within the year following the publication of the
extraordinary decrees against the commerce of neutral nations, which
the French Directory promulgated, beginning with June, 1796, something
over three hundred American vessels had been captured. The crippling
blow to American commerce was by no means the sole consideration in the
case. In numerous instances the crews of captured vessels were treated
in such an outrageous and brutal manner as to inflame and gall the
American spirit beyond endurance. On account of abuses which American
shipping and commerce had suffered previously, by virtue of methods
adopted by England and France to gain control of the seas, the strain
imposed upon the nation had been severe; but now that a sweeping and
utterly ruthless policy of commerce-destruction had been inaugurated by
the French, forbearance was no longer possible. In his maiden speech in
the national congress, Harrison Gray Otis, Massachusetts’ gifted young
representative, put the case with dramatic eloquence:

  If any man doubted of the pernicious measures of the French
  nation, and of the actual state of our commerce, let him inquire
  of the ruined and unfortunate merchant, harassed with prosecutions
  on account of revenue, which he so long and patiently toiled to
  support. If any doubted of its effects upon agriculture, let him
  inquire of the farmer whose produce is falling and will be exposed
  to perish in his barns. Where ... are your sailors? Listen to the
  passing gale of the ocean, and you will hear their groans issuing
  from French prison-ships.[272]

It was not to be expected that a deeply injured people, to whose just
sense of wrong and indignation the youthful Federalist orator had given
such exact expression, could long be restrained from acts of reprisal
and war.

To the sense of injustice was added the burden of fear. The idea began
to take possession of the minds of leaders of thought in America that
France had darker and more terrible purposes in her councils than the
blighting of American commerce in retaliation for the treaty-alliance
which had recently been concluded with Great Britain; she sought _war_,
war which would supply to her the opportunity to visit upon this nation
the same overwhelming disasters which her armies had heaped upon the
nations of Europe. The French, it was believed, were busy with schemes
for employing the world in their favor and were drunk with the vision
of universal dominion.[273] The true explanation of French violence
and arrogance was to be sought in her aims at universal empire.[274]
Her ravenous appetite could not be satisfied; she had resolved to
make of the United States another mouthful.[275] What reason had the
citizens of this country to claim exemption from the general deluge?
Having fastened the chains of slavery upon nation after nation in
Europe, the generals of France were now planning fresh triumphs; with
our armies of the Mississippi and Ohio, of the Chesapeake and Delaware,
her forces would contest the field on American soil.[276] Had not her
geographers already partitioned the country according to the new system
of government which would here be imposed?[277] Did not her agents
and spies fill the land, constantly exerting themselves to thwart
the purposes of the American government and to render fruitless its
policies of administration?[278]

Such fears may not be brushed aside as silly and chimerical, in view
of the steady stream of information which came across the Atlantic,
announcing the downfall of one nation after another as the result of
French intrigue and the prowess of French arms.[279] Besides, there was
probably not a solitary Federalist leader in the United States who did
not believe that French ministers and agents were in secret league
with influential representatives of the Democratic party.

The bullying treatment which the French Directory accorded the
ministers and envoys of this nation added much to the heat as well as
to the dark suspicions which characterized public feeling in America.
A government which boldly assumed to treat with impudent indifference
and coldness one accredited minister of the United States, while at the
same time it lavished the most extravagant expressions of friendship
upon another whose disappointed executive had reluctantly summoned him
home,[280] was obviously pursuing a course so high-handed and insolent
as to stir the last dormant impulse of national honor. But the hot
flame of public indignation which burst forth in this country when it
became known that its Minister Plenipotentiary, Charles Cotesworth
Pinckney, after months of painful embarrassment and hazard, marked by
neglect, evasions, and threats of arrest, was returning home, defeated
in purpose, was as nothing to the lava-like stream of infuriated anger
which swept through the land when it became known how treacherously the
three envoys of the national government, Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry,
had been used.

By common consent the publication of the X.Y.Z. despatches, early
in April, 1798, put the top sheaf upon a long series of intolerable
actions which this nation had suffered at the hands of the government
of France. Like a flash it was made clear that not mere whimsicality
and offended hauteur were at the bottom of the unsatisfactory
dealings which our ministers had had with the French: we had sent
our ambassadors to negotiate with men who knew how to add bribery
to threats. Though the government of France might seek to save its
face on the pretext that the mysterious French emissaries had acted
without proper warrant, yet back of the negotiators was Talleyrand,
and back of Talleyrand the Directory. The revulsion of feeling in the
United States was complete. All innocent delusions were shattered;
all veils torn away. What the French government desired in its
negotiations was not political sympathy, not commercial cooperation,
not a fraternal alliance between two sister republics in order that the
flame of liberty might not perish from the earth; what it desired was
_money_—money for the pockets of the Directory and its tools, “for the
purpose of making the customary distribution in diplomatic affairs,”
money for the public treasury that the Directory might find itself in a
position to give a “softening turn” to certain irritating statements of
which President Adams had delivered himself in his message to the Fifth

The passion for war with France became the one passion of the hour.
Only abandoned men, men whose desire for “disorganization” was the one
yearning of their hearts, were unresponsive to the spirit of militant
patriotism which swayed the people’s will:[282] such at least was the
confident and boastful view of Federalist leaders, and for once they
were able to gauge accurately the depth and power of the currents of
popular sympathy. That hour had passed when men could say, as Jefferson
had but a brief day before President Adams turned over to Congress the
astounding despatches, “The scales of peace & war are very nearly in
equilibrio.”[283] The heavy weight of the despatches had sent the bowl
of war to the bottom with a resounding thud.

So it seemed at the moment; and yet, though there has seldom been an
hour in our national history when all purely factional counsels were
more effectually hushed and when the war fever mounted higher, an
amazing period of uncertainty and of conflicting impulses and passions
immediately set in.

Addresses and memorials to the President came pouring in, pledging
to the government the full confidence of its citizens and unswerving
loyalty and support. Volunteer military companies sprang into existence
in every quarter over night. War vessels were purchased, or their
construction provided for, by public subscription and presented to the
government. The white cockade, new emblem of an aroused public spirit,
generally appeared. The fierce slogan, “Millions for defence, but not
one cent for tribute!” and the tuneful strains of “Hail Columbia” and
“Adams and Liberty” went ringing through the land. Within a brief
period of little more than three months, Congress passed no less than
twenty acts for the strengthening of the national defence.[284]

This was one side of the matter; there was another, as events soon
made clear. The President, it appeared, was not at one with the more
ardent leaders in his own political camp, whose resolution for war
was unbounded; he exhibited an attitude of indifference to the whole
notion of open war with France that became increasingly manifest as the
weeks went by. The President would temporize; he would try to avoid the
crisis by sending new commissioners to France to reestablish friendly
relations. Against such a policy many of his advisers protested
furiously. Besides, the problem of supplying the army with leaders
who should serve with Washington had resulted in an unseemly struggle
as to whether this or that patriot should stand next to the great
hero of Mount Vernon. The President’s policy of conciliation took on
the appearance of shameless procrastination;[285] the imbroglios of
the Federalist leaders aroused public suspicion, and invited to the
garnished hearth the spirits of confusion and clamor.

Those evil spirits, however, which most effectively coöperated to
make the last state worse than the first came as the result of the
extraordinarily stupid and blundering measures which the Federalists
adopted to curb the activities of resident aliens and the abuse of free
speech. Beginning with the Naturalization Act of June 18, 1798, there
followed in quick succession three other repressive measures, the Act
Concerning Aliens of June 25, the Act Respecting Alien Enemies of July
6, and the Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United
States (the Sedition Act) of July 14.[286] The purpose of these famous
acts has already been indicated; the impulse out of which they grew
is not so easily determined. Was it that the heads of the national
government really anticipated danger on account of the presence of a
multitude of foreigners and the unlicensed freedom of action and public
utterance which thus far had been allowed?[287] Was it that the memory
of more than four years of biting satire and vicious calumny which
the opposition had visited upon the heads of Federalist leaders had
filled the latter with longings for revenge? Or was it that, conscious
of their undisputed control of national affairs and carried away by
the sense of their power, the Federalist leaders proposed to show how
strong and effective a centralized government could become? No single
alternative, doubtless, suggests the full truth. No matter; the effect
which these measures produced is, with us, the main point, and to that
we turn.

No milder word than _maddening_ will adequately describe the effect of
these measures. All the old wounds were opened, all the old antipathies
aggravated. Editors and pamphleteers, statesmen and demagogues, tore at
each others’ throats as they had never done before and have never done
since. A veritable “reign of terror” filled the land.[288] Insult and
violence were everywhere. Mobs tore down liberty-poles which Federalist
hands had erected and put in their place other poles bearing symbols of
defiance to “British faction” and tyrannous Federal government; or the
action was reversed, with Federalist mobs tearing down the standards
of the opposition. White cockades were snatched from the hats of men
who supported the government, and once more the black cockade blossomed
forth. Toasts were drunk over tavern bars and on public occasions to
the confusion of the British Eagle or the Gallic Cock; to the health
and prosperity of the Federal government or to the downfall of tyrants;
to the alien and sedition laws, with the fervent wish that “like the
sword of Eden [they] may point everywhere to guard our country against
intrigue from without and faction from within”;[289] or to “freedom of
speech, trial by jury, and liberty of the press,”[290] according as the
adherents of one faction or the other were assembled for patriotic or
convivial purposes. Raucous and ribald outbreaks of party feeling burst
out in the theaters to the interruption of performances, the confusion
of performers, and the breaking of not a few heads. Such was the
lighter and more ludicrous aspect of affairs.

But beneath this effervescence honest and whole-hearted antagonism to
the odious legislation surged in countless breasts. In the power of an
anger which scorned all frivolous and tawdry action, men declared their
deep and irrevocable opposition to such measures of government. That
respectable and well-meaning aliens, from lack either of inclination or
opportunity to become citizens, should be expelled from the country, or
remaining here should become the targets of suspicion and the victims
of political oppression; that opposition to government must henceforth
wear a muzzle, with a heavy bludgeon meanwhile held menacingly over its
head; that the damage done by favored partisan scribblers was not to be
repaired by answering opponents; and all this under the guise of laws
which, whatever their intention, operated to the enormous disadvantage
of one of the two great political bodies of the day—these were things
not to be endured by men to whom liberty was the very breath of life.

The actual amount of personal injury inflicted by the operation of
the alien and sedition laws was not enormous, though certainly not
negligible. A considerable body of aliens fled the country, either
during the period when the alien laws were pending or immediately
after they went into effect.[291] Probably something more than a
score of individuals were arrested under the sedition law, less than
half of whom were compelled to stand trial.[292] But once again
popular judgment was based upon qualitative rather than quantitative
grounds. The popular sense of personal liberty had been outraged by
these acts.[293] The Federalist leaders by their precipitate and
inconsiderate action had very much overshot the mark and were about
to bring their house tumbling down about their heads. As for the
opposition, those of its leaders whose highest political interest
was party advantage lived to bless the day when, blinded by hysteria
or lust of power, the Federalist party made the alien and sedition
acts the law of the land. Six months after these unsavory measures
were passed, discerning Democrats were able to rejoice that this body
of legislation was operating as a powerful sedative to quiet the
inflammation which that “God-send” to the Federalists, the X.Y.Z.
despatches, had incited.[294] By their own blunder in party strategy
the Federalists had alienated the sympathies of the people and given to
the ground-swell of republican principles a tremendous impetus which
carried them to a speedy triumph.

Once again our special interest must be allowed to center upon
a secondary element in the situation, _i. e._, the over-wrought
tension of nerves because of which the most fantastic and unlikely of
happenings seemed wholly within the circle of reason and probability.
The circumstances which have just been considered were, in the main,
upon the surface. As such they were capable of being evaluated and
weighed. But who was to say that they were not attended by subterranean
influences and designs? Affairs everywhere, be it remembered, were
moving with incredible swiftness. In every quarter the beleaguered
forces of conservatism found themselves surrounded and hemmed in by
radical elements which manifested a spirit of militancy and a resolute
will to conquer. With the European situation to lend strong emphasis
to the suggestion of sinister tendencies and secret combinations, it
cannot be thought extraordinary that here in America, where traditional
opinions and institutions were as certainly being undermined, the
conviction should take root that beneath all this commotion over
foreign and domestic policies secret forces must be at work, perfecting
organizations, promoting conspiracies, and ready at any hour to leap
forth into the light to throttle government and order.

There is, of course, no desire to make it appear that apprehensions
concerning hidden designs and movements were generally shared by the
citizens of the United States. There was then, as there has always
been, a very large body of citizens whose faith in the stability and
high destiny of the nation made them immune to such fears; calm and
philosophic souls who were equally unmoved by the rant of the demagogue
or the distracted mood of the self-deceived alarmist. Their sympathy
for and their faith in the democratic tendencies of the age inhibited
every impulse to despair. But there were also other men, as has been
the case in every deeply agitated generation, who were fully persuaded
that they were able to catch deeper tones than their neighbors, to whom
the gift had been given to read the signs of the times more accurately
than their fellows. For them the conclusion was inescapable that no
postulate which did not leave room for secret combinations was adequate
to explain the peculiar cast of events in the United States at the end
of the eighteenth century. To dismiss the case of such men with the
casual judgment that they were temperamentally susceptible to such
impressions, is to rule out of account the extraordinary character of
the age to which they belonged. Apropos of this observation, the two
following items are deserving of notice.

Some time previous to the celebration of the national fast of 1798,
three anonymous letters were flung into President Adams’ house,
announcing a plot to burn the city of Philadelphia on the day of
the approaching fast. Convinced that the matter was of moment, the
President made the contents of the letters publicly known. As a
result, many people of the city packed their most valuable belongings
and prepared to make a quick departure in the event that the threats
made should come to fulfilment.[295] Was this a mere “artifice to
agitate the popular mind,” the work of “war men” who were restless and
impatient for an immediate declaration of hostilities against France?
Quite possibly. Such, at least, was the private opinion of Thomas
Jefferson.[296] But who was to _know_? The true lay of the land was not
easily to be discovered in the midst of an age when, in the language of
a contemporary, “all the passions of the human heart are in a ferment,
and every rational being from the throne to the cottage is agitated by
the picturesque circumstances of the day.”[297]

Alexander Hamilton left among his manuscripts certain comments which he
had made upon the character and import of the French Revolution. Before
we turn to consider the European Illuminati and the outcry against
its alleged presence in the United States, we may, by perusing this
document, throw a little added light upon the gnawings of anxiety and
fear which were felt at the time by very rational gentlemen in America.

  Facts, numerous and unequivocal, demonstrate that the present AERA
  is among the most extraordinary which have occurred in the history
  of human affairs. Opinions, for a long time, have been gradually
  gaining ground, which threaten the foundations of religion,
  morality and society. An attack was first made upon the Christian
  revelation, for which natural religion was offered as a substitute.
  The Gospel was to be discarded as a gross imposture, but the being
  and attributes of God, the obligations of piety, even the doctrine
  of a future state of rewards and punishments, were to be retained
  and cherished.

  In proportion as success has appeared to attend the plan, a bolder
  project has been unfolded. The very existence of a Deity has been
  questioned and in some instances denied. The duty of piety has been
  ridiculed, the perishable nature of man asserted, and his hopes
  bounded to the short span of his earthly state. DEATH has been
  proclaimed an ETERNAL SLEEP; “the dogma of the _immortality_ of the
  soul a _cheat_, invented to torment the living for the benefit
  of the dead.” Irreligion, no longer confined to the closets of
  conceited sophists, nor to the haunts of wealthy riot, has more or
  less displayed its hideous front among all classes....

  A league has at length been cemented between the apostles and
  disciples of irreligion and anarchy. Religion and government have
  both been stigmatized as abuses; as unwarrantable restraints upon
  the freedom of man; as causes of the corruption of his nature,
  intrinsically good; as sources of an artificial and false morality
  which tyrannically robs him of the enjoyments for which his
  passions fit him, and as clogs upon his progress to the perfection
  for which he is destined....

  The practical development of this pernicious system has been seen
  in France. It has served as an engine to subvert all her ancient
  institutions, civil and religious, with all the checks that served
  to mitigate the rigor of authority; it has hurried her headlong
  through a rapid succession of dreadful revolutions, which have
  laid waste property, made havoc among the arts, overthrown cities,
  desolated provinces, unpeopled regions, crimsoned her soil with
  blood, and deluged it in crime, poverty, and wretchedness; and all
  this as yet for no better purpose than to erect on the ruins of
  former things a despotism unlimited and uncontrolled; leaving to
  a deluded, an abused, a plundered, a scourged, and an oppressed
  people, not even the shadow of liberty to console them for a long
  train of substantial misfortunes, or bitter suffering.

  This horrid system seemed awhile to threaten the subversion of
  civilized society and the introduction of general disorder among
  mankind. And though the frightful evils which have been its first
  and only fruits have given a check to its progress, it is to be
  feared that the poison has spread too widely and penetrated too
  deeply to be as yet eradicated. Its activity has indeed been
  suspended, but the elements remain, concocting for new eruptions as
  occasion shall permit. It is greatly to be apprehended that mankind
  is not near the end of the misfortunes which it is calculated to
  produce, and that it still portends a long train of convulsion,
  revolution, carnage, devastation, and misery.

  Symptoms of the too great prevalence of this system in the United
  States are alarmingly visible. It was by its influence that efforts
  were made to embark this country in a common cause with France in
  the early period of the present war; to induce our government to
  sanction and promote her odious principles and views with the blood
  and treasure of our citizens. It is by its influence that every
  succeeding revolution has been approved or excused; all the horrors
  that have been committed justified or extenuated; that even the
  last usurpation, which contradicts all the ostensible principles
  of the Revolution, has been regarded with complacency, and the
  despotic constitution engendered by it slyly held up as a model not
  unworthy of our imitation.

  In the progress of this system, impiety and infidelity have
  advanced with gigantic strides. Prodigious crimes heretofore
  unknown among us are seen....[298]


[270] _The Writings of Thomas Jefferson_, vol. vii, pp. 93 _et seq._ In
similar strain, Jefferson wrote Adams a day later, offering his best
wishes for his administration, but with the thought of the impending
“storm” still well fixed in his mind. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 95 _et seq._
_Cf._ Jefferson’s letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, _ibid._, pp. 113 _et

[271] The following clause in the treaty seemed to afford ample
protection to the rights of France: “Nothing in this treaty contained
shall, however, be construed or operate contrary to former and existing
public treaties with other sovereigns or states.” (_United States
Statutes at Large_, vol. viii, p. 128: Article XXV of the treaty.) But
France was unable to blind her eyes to the practical consideration
that her European enemy, Great Britain, and an American government,
suspicious of if not positively antagonistic to French influence, were
to be the interpreters of the treaty.

[272] _Annals of Congress_, vol. vii, p. 103.

[273] Gibbs, _Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and John
Adams_, vol. i, p. 416, letter of Uriah Tracy to Oliver Wolcott.

[274] _Works of Fisher Ames_, vol. i. pp. 232 _et seq._, Ames’ letter
to Timothy Pickering.

[275] _Cf._ _The Writings of Thomas Jefferson_, vol. vii, pp. 127
_et seq._, letter of Jefferson to Thomas Pinckney. Even Jefferson’s
steadfast faith and loyalty to France was momentarily put to rout.

[276] _Cf._ Morison, _The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis_,
vol. i, p. 69, letter of Otis to Gen. William Heath. This letter was
published in full in the _Massachusetts Mercury_ of April 17, 1798.

[277] Morison, _The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis_, vol. i, p.

[278] _The Works of John Adams_, vol. viii, pp. 615, 620. President
Adams was fully persuaded that French notions of domination
“comprehended all America, both _north_ and _south_”. (_Ibid._) _Cf._
also _Annals of Congress_, vol. vii, p. 1147, speech of Otis on Foreign
Intercourse; _American Historical Association Report for 1896_, p. 807,
Higginson’s letter to Pickering.

[279] One of the pamphlets of the day, frequently referred to, much
quoted in the newspapers, and evidently much read, bore the horrific
title: _The Cannibals’ Progress; or the Dreadful Horrors of French
Invasion, as displayed by the Republican Officers and Soldiers, in
their Perfidy, rapacity, ferociousness & brutality, exercised towards
the Innocent inhabitants of Germany. Translated from the German, by
Anthony Aufrer(e), Esq._ ... _The Connecticut Courant_, in announcing a
new edition of this work as just off the press, offered the following
description of its character: “This work contains a circumstantial
account of the excesses committed by the French Army in Suabia. At the
present moment, when our country is in danger of being overrun by the
same nation, our people ought to be prepared for those things, which
they must expect, in case such an event should happen. The pamphlet
should be owned by every man, and read in every family. They will
there find, from an authentic source, that the consequences of being
conquered by France, or even subjected to their government, are more
dreadful than the heart of man can conceive. Murder, robbery, burning
of towns, and the violation of female chastity, in forms too dreadful
to relate, in instances too numerous to be counted, are among them.
Five thousand copies of this work were sold in Philadelphia in a few
days, and another edition of ten thousand is now in the press in that
city.” _Cf._ the issue of the _Courant_ for July 2, 1798. Another book
of horrors which deserves mention in this connection, although it came
to public attention in America a little later, was the following: _The
History of the Destruction of the Helvetic Union and Liberty_. By J.
Mallet Du Pan. This work was first printed in England in 1798, and
the following March was reprinted in Boston. A sentence or two taken
from the author’s preface will convey a fair notion of its nature:
“In the Helvetic History, every Government may read its own destiny,
and learn its duty. If there be yet one that flatters itself that
its existence is reconcilable with that of the French Republic, let
it study this dreadful monument of their friendship. Here every man
may see how much weight treaties, alliances, benefactions, rights
of neutrality, and even submission itself, retain in the scales of
that Directory, who hunt justice from the earth, and whose sanguinary
rapacity seeks plunder and spreads ruin alike on the Nile as on the
Rhine, in Republican Congresses as well as in the heart of Monarchies.”
Like _The Cannibals’ Progress_, this work was much quoted in the
newspapers and caught the sympathetic eye of many clergyman, Jedediah
Morse among the number. July 29, 1799, Chauncey Goodrich, of Hartford,
Connecticut, wrote Oliver Wolcott to the effect that “the facts ... in
Du Pan, Robinson, Barruel, have got into every farm house; they wont
go out, till the stories of the indian tomahawk & war dances around
their prisoners do.” (_Wolcott Papers_, vol. v, 77.) Nathaniel Ames did
not think highly of the veracity of _The Cannibals’ Progress_, yet he
paid tribute to its influence in the following fashion: “July 31, 1798.
Judge Metcalf with his cockade on came down to see Gen. Washington
expecting to get a Commission to fight the French & infatuated at
the slanders of the Progress of the Cannibals that the French skin
Americans, to make boots for their Army, &c.” (_Dedham Historical
Register_, vol. ix: Diary of Ames, p. 24.)

[280] Channing, _History of the United States_, vol. iv, pp. 176
_et seq._, gives a brief but entertaining account of the political
jockeying on the part of our government which lay back of Monroe’s
recall and the despatch of Pinckney to France.

[281] Gibbs, _Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and John
Adams_, vol. ii, pp. 15 _et seq._ _Cf._ McMaster, _History of the
People of the United States_, vol. ii, pp. 368 _et seq._

[282] _Cf._ _Works of Fisher Ames_, vol. i, p. 225, letter of Ames
to H. G. Otis. Ames’ comment on the discomfiture of the Democrats
was characteristically vigorous: “The late communications [_i. e._,
the X. Y. Z. despatches] have only smothered their rage; it is now a
coal-pit, lately it was an open fire. Thacher would say, the effect of
the despatches is only like a sermon in hell to awaken conscience in
those whose day of probation is over, to sharpen pangs which cannot be
soothed by hope.”

[283] _The Writings of Thomas Jefferson_, vol. vii, p. 228, Jefferson’s
letter to Edmund Pendleton.

[284] The elation of Jedediah Morse over the turn affairs seemed to
be taking was great. Under date of May 21, 1798, he wrote Wolcott,
dilating on “the wonderful and happy change in the public mind.
Opposition is shrinking into its proper insignificance, stripped of the
support of its deluded _honest_ friends. I now feel it is an honour to
be an American.” (_Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 23.)

[285] Jedediah Morse was far from comfortable over the unwillingness
of the President to proceed with vigor in handling affairs with
France. An ill-concealed vein of impatience is discoverable in the
following letter which he wrote to Wolcott, under date of July 13,
1798: “He [Washington] will unite all _honest_ men among us. It
gladdens the hearts of some at least, to my knowledge, of our deluded,
warm democrats. They say, ‘Washington is a good man—an American, & we
will rally round his standard!’ ... The rising & unexpected spread of
the American spirit has dispelled all gloom from my mind, respecting
our country. I rejoyce at the crisis, because I believe, the issue
will be, the _extinction of French influence among us_, & if this can
be effected, treasure & even blood, will not be spilt in vain.—The
government is strengthening every day, by the confidence and assertions
of the people.—We are waiting with almost impatience to _have war
declared agt. France_, that we may distinguish more decidedly between
friends & foes among ourselves. I believe there is energy enough in
government to silence, & if necessary _exterminate its obstinate &
dangerous enemies_.” (_Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 27.) Eleven months
later Morse expressed to Wolcott his grave fears on account of the
disposition of the national government to reciprocate the “pacific
overtures of the French govt.” (_Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 24.) It
is not French _arms_, but their “principles” which he holds in dread.
(_Cf. ibid._) Back of the fire-eating spirit of this New England
clergyman was a genuine moral and religious concern.

[286] The texts of these various acts may be found in _United States
Statutes at Large_, vol. i, pp. 566–569, 570–572, 577–578, 596–597. The
Naturalization Act extended from five to nineteen years the period of
residence necessary for aliens who wished to become naturalized; that
is to say, fourteen years of residence, to be followed by an additional
five years of residence after the declaration of intention to become a
citizen had been filed. It is obvious that this measure was intended
to defeat the process by which the Democrats had been absorbing the
foreign vote. The Act Concerning Aliens empowered the President “to
order all such aliens as he should judge dangerous to the peace and
safety of the United States, or should have reasonable grounds to
suspect were concerned in any treasonable or secret machinations
against the government thereof, to depart out of the territory of the
United States within such a time as should be expressed in such order.”
Penalties in the form of heavy imprisonment and the withdrawal of the
opportunity to become citizens were attached. The Act Respecting Alien
Enemies gave the president power when the country was in a state of war
to cause the subjects of the nation at war with the United States “to
be apprehended, restrained, secured, and removed as alien enemies.” The
Sedition Act, not only in point of time but in sinister significance
as well, stood at the apex of this body of legislation. It provided
that fines and imprisonments were to be imposed upon men who were found
guilty of unlawfully combining or conspiring for opposition to measures
of government, or for impeding the operation of any law in the United
States, or for intimidating an officer in the performance of his duty.
The penalty was to be a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and
imprisonment not exceeding five years. Penalties were also provided
for publishing false, scandalous, and malicious writings against the

[287] At the time the country numbered among its population a very
large number of aliens. French refugees from the West Indies, to the
number of perhaps 25,000, were here. _Cf._ _Report of the American
Historical Association for 1912_: “The Enforcement of the Alien and
Sedition Laws,” by F. M. Anderson, p. 116. England, also, had her quota
of citizens here, not a few of whom were fugitives from justice, and
some of whom, like William Cobbett and J. Thomson Callender (_cf._
McMaster, _History of the People of the United States_, vol. ii, p.
338), either drew the fire of the advocates of French principles
or busied themselves in the affairs of government on this side of
the ocean. The amount of scurrilous abuse, aimed at the heads of
government, which issued from the public press had become appalling.
No innuendoes were too indelicate, no personalities too coarse, no
slanders too malicious, no epithets too vile to be of service in the
general campaign of villification. The prostitution of the public press
in America has never been more abject than it was at the close of the
eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. (Duniway,
_The Development of Freedom of the Press in Massachusetts_, pp. 143,
144.) Unfortunately, Federalists compromised their position and
scandalized their cause by writing as scurrilous and libelous articles
as their enemies; but the agencies of administration were in their
hands, and, as the Democrats charged, their offences were not noticed.

[288] Morison, _The Life and Letters of Harrison Cray Otis_, vol. i,
pp. 106 _et seq._ Morison’s treatment of this tempestuous period is
characterized by keen discrimination and fine balance. It is one of
the most satisfying as well as one of the most vivid accounts of the
situation to be found.

[289] _Connecticut Courant_, July 8, 1799.

[290] _Independent Chronicle_, Dec. 3, 1798.

[291] _Report of the American Historical Association for 1912_: “The
Enforcement of the Alien and Sedition Laws,” by F. M. Anderson, pp. 115
_et seq._ _Cf._ _The Writings of Thomas Jefferson_, vol. vii, pp. 256
_et seq._, 262, letters of Monroe to Jefferson.

[292] Anderson, who appears to have made a painstaking examination
of the available records, states his conclusions thus: “I have made
a special effort to discover every possible instance and to avoid
confusing Federal and State cases. There appears to have been about
24 or 25 persons arrested. At least 15, and probably several more,
were indicted. Only 10, or possibly 11, cases came to trial. In 10 the
accused were pronounced guilty. The eleventh case may have been an
acquittal, but the report of it is entirely unconfirmed.” (_Report of
the American Historical Association for 1912_, p. 120. _Cf._ Bassett,
_The Federalist System_, p. 264.) An important phase of the judicial
aspects of the situation, as respects the forming of public opinion,
was the widespread publication in the newspapers of the charges made
to grand juries by Federal judges who exerted themselves to defend
the alien and sedition laws, and whose utterances received caustic
criticism at the hands of Democrat writers.

[293] Duniway, _The Development of Freedom of the Press in
Massachusetts_, pp. 145, 146.

[294] _The Writings of Thomas Jefferson_, vol. vii, pp. 331 _et seq._,
Jefferson’s letter to Elbridge Gerry.

[295] The report of this episode may be found in the _Connecticut
Courant_ of May 14, 1798. _Cf._ _The Writings of Thomas Jefferson_,
vol. vii, pp. 252 _et seq._, Jefferson’s letter to Madison.

[296] _Ibid._

[297] _An Answer to Alexander Hamilton’s Letter, Concerning the Public
Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., President of the United
States_, New York, 1800, p. 3. In this connection it may be noted
that as ardent and hopeful a Democrat as Nathaniel Ames seriously
contemplated the outbreak of civil war in the United States as the
result of the tense party situation near the end of 1798. _Cf._ _Dedham
Historical Register_, Diary of Ames, vol. ix, p. 63.

[298] _The Works of Alexander Hamilton_, vol. vii, pp. 374–377:
Fragment on the French Revolution. The Fragment is undated. It could
not have been written later than 1804, of course. There are some
slight traces that it was compiled at the time the excitement over the
Illuminati was prevalent in America.

                              CHAPTER III



That great European movement in the direction of the secularization
of thought to which the expressive term, the _Aufklärung_ or
Enlightenment, has been applied, and which reached its apogee in
the latter half of the eighteenth century, encountered a stubborn
opposition in southern Germany in the electorate of Bavaria. The pivot
of Bavarian politics, particularly from the beginning of the sixteenth
century, had been the alliance which had been effected between the
clerical party and the civil power. The counter reformation which
followed in the wake of the Lutheran movement was able to claim the
field in Bavaria without the necessity of a combat.

In the third quarter of the eighteenth century Bavaria was a land
where sacerdotalism reigned supreme. Religious houses flourished in
abundance; the number of priests and nuns was incredibly large.[299]
So easy were the ways of life in that fertile country that a lack of
seriousness and intensity of feeling among the masses flung open the
door for superstitious practices which made the popular religion
little better than gross fetichism. So-called “miraculous” images
were commonly paraded through the streets; innumerable statues and
sacred relics were exposed to the gaze of crowds of the faithful; the
patronage of the saints was assiduously solicited. Among the educated
there was a widespread conviction that the piety of the people was
ignorant and that their trustful attitude made them the prey of many

The degree of power to which the representatives of the Society of
Jesus had been able to attain in Bavaria was all but absolute.[300]
Members of the order were the confessors and preceptors of the
electors; hence they had a direct influence upon the policies of
government. The censorship of religion had fallen into their eager
hands, to the extent that some of the parishes even were compelled to
recognize their authority and power. To exterminate all Protestant
influence and to render the Catholic establishment complete, they had
taken possession of the instruments of public education. It was by
Jesuits that the majority of the Bavarian colleges were founded, and by
them they were controlled. By them also the secondary schools of the
country were conducted.[301]

The prevailing type of education in Bavaria had little more to commend
it than the popular type of religion.[302] The pedagogical aim of
the Jesuits was the development of the memory with scant regard for
other faculties of the mind. To learn the catechism, or in the case of
advanced pupils to receive unquestioningly the dogmatic instruction
offered by clerical pedagogues, was the ideal honored throughout the
Bavarian schools. Books which bore the slightest taint of Protestant
influence, or which in any other way gave evidence of a liberalizing
spirit, were ruthlessly banned.[303]

Such were the conditions of life under which the great mass of
the people lived. There was, however, a relatively small group of
cultivated people in Bavaria who, despite the clerical oppression
and bigotry from which they suffered, had contrived to share in the
liberalizing spirit of the larger world. The censorship exerted by the
Jesuits had found no adequate means to guard against the broadening
influences of travel or of contact with travelers from other lands, or
even to prevent the introduction of all contraband journals and books.
The effect of the former had been to create a humiliating and galling
sense of inferiority on the part of liberal-minded Bavarians,[304]
while the latter had served to stimulate a thirst for the new knowledge
which the rationalism of the age made available. To this small group of
discontented and ambitious spirits the ancient faith had ceased to be
satisfactory, and the burden of clericalism had become insufferable.

The University of Ingolstadt, established in 1472, was destined to
become a rallying point for these radical tendencies. In the middle of
the sixteenth century the Jesuits had gained control of its faculties
of philosophy and theology, and for two centuries thereafter the
university had been counted upon as the chief fortress of clericalism
in Bavaria.[305] By the middle of the eighteenth century the deadening
effect of the rigorous censorship exerted by the Jesuits had produced
its full fruitage at Ingolstadt. The university had fallen into a state
of profound decadence.[306]

With the accession of Maximilian Joseph[307] as elector, in 1745, the
breath of a new life soon stirred within its walls. For the position of
curator of the university the elector named a well-known and resolute
radical of the day, Baron Johann Adam Ickstatt, and charged him with
the responsibility of reorganizing the institution upon a more liberal
basis.[308] Measures were adopted promptly by the latter looking to the
restoration of the prestige of the university through the modernization
of its life. The ban was lifted from books whose admission to the
library had long been prohibited, chairs of public law and political
economy were established, and recruits to the faculty were sought in
other universities.[309]

It was, of course, not to be expected that the clerical party, whose
power in the university, as has been intimated, was particularly
well entrenched in the faculties of philosophy and theology, would
retire from the field without a struggle.[310] A sharp contest arose
over the introduction of non-Catholic books, into which the elector
himself was drawn, and which in addition to the substantial victory
that Ickstatt won, had the further effect of aligning the two parties
in the university squarely against each other.[311] It was only a few
years after this episode, when the Jesuits were still chafing under the
sharp setback which their policies had suffered, that the name of Adam
Weishaupt first appeared (in 1772) on the roll of the faculty of the
university as professor extraordinary of law.

Weishaupt (born February 6, 1748; died November 18, 1830) entered upon
his professional career at Ingolstadt after an educational experience
which had made him a passionate enemy of clericalism. His father
having died when the son was only seven, his godfather, none other
than Baron Ickstatt, compelled doubtless by the necessities of the
case, had turned the early training of the boy over to the Jesuits. The
cramming process through which he thus passed was destined to prove
unusually baneful in his case[312] on account of certain influences
which penetrated his life from another quarter. Accorded free range
in the private library of his godfather, the boy’s questioning spirit
was deeply impressed by the brilliant though pretentious works of
the French “philosophers” with which the shelves were plentifully
stocked.[313] Here was food for the fires of imagination just beginning
to flame up in this unsophisticated and pedantic youth. Here, also,
were ready solvents for the doubts with which his experience with
Jesuit teachers had filled his mind. The enthusiasm of the most
susceptible of neophytes seized him: he would make proselytes, he would
deliver others from their bondage to outworn beliefs, he would make it
his duty to rescue men from the errors into which the race had long
been plunged.[314] His object in life thus early determined, he threw
himself with great zeal into the study of law, economics, politics,
history, and philosophy. He devoured every book which chanced to fall
into his hands.[315]

After graduating from the University of Ingolstadt in 1768, he served
for four years in the capacity of tutor and catechist until his
elevation to the rank of assistant instructor took place. The favor he
was permitted to enjoy as the protégé of Ickstatt[316] brought him more
rapid advancement than that to which his native abilities entitled him.
In 1773 he was called to the chair of canon law, which for a period
of ninety years had been held by representatives of the Jesuits.[317]
Two years later, when he was but twenty-seven years of age, he was
made dean of the faculty of law. Such a rapid improvement in his
professional standing proved far from salutary. The young man’s vanity
was immensely flattered and his reforming resolution unduly encouraged.
His sense of personal worth as the leader of the liberal cause in the
university quite outran his merit.[318]

Meantime the Jesuits, observing with deep resentment Weishaupt’s
meteoric rise,[319] together with a growing disposition on his part to
voice unrestrained criticism of ecclesiastical intolerance and bigotry,
entered into intrigues to checkmate his influence and undermine his
position.[320] The payment of his salary was protested and the notion
that he was a dangerous free-thinker industriously disseminated.[321]
On his part, Weishaupt did not scruple to furnish Ickstatt’s successor,
Lori, with secret reports calculated to put the Jesuit professors in
the university in an unfavorable light.[322] A disagreeable squabble
resulted, marked on the one hand by clerical jealousy and pettiness and
on the other by Weishaupt’s imprudence of speech[323] and indifference
to considerations of professional honor.

The effect of this unseemly strife upon Weishaupt was to establish
firmly in his mind the conviction that as the university’s most
influential leader against the cause of ecclesiastical obscurantism
he was being made a martyr for free speech.[324] In no way disposed
to be sacrificed to the animosity of enemies whose power he greatly
over-estimated, he arrived at the conclusion that a general offensive
against the clerical party ought immediately to be undertaken.
A secret association was needed which, growing more and more
powerful through the increase of its members and their progress in
enlightenment, should be able to outwit the manœuvres of the enemies
of reason not only in Ingolstadt but throughout the world. Only by a
secret coalition of the friends of liberal thought and progress could
the forces of superstition and error be overwhelmed. Over the scheme
of such an association consecrated to the cause of truth and reason,
the self-esteem of Weishaupt kindled anew as he contemplated none other
than himself at its head.[325]

His imagination having taken heat from his reflections upon the
attractive power of the Eleusinian mysteries and the influence exerted
by the secret cult of the Pythagoreans, it was first in Weishaupt’s
thought to seek in the Masonic institutions of the day the opportunity
he coveted for the propagation of his views. From this original
intention, however, he was soon diverted, in part because of the
difficulty he experienced in commanding sufficient funds to gain
admission to a lodge of Masons, in part because his study of such
Masonic books as came into his hands persuaded him that the “mysteries”
of Freemasonry were too puerile and too readily accessible to the
general public to make them worth while.[326] He deemed it necessary,
therefore, to launch out on independent lines. He would form a model
secret organization, comprising “schools of wisdom,” concealed from
the gaze of the world behind walls of seclusion and mystery, wherein
those truths which the folly and egotism of the priests banned from
the public chairs of education might be taught with perfect freedom to
susceptible youths.[327] By the constitution of an order whose chief
function should be that of teaching, an instrument would be at hand for
attaining the goal of human progress, the perfection of morals and the
felicity of the race.[328]

On May 1, 1776, the new organization was founded, under the name of
the Order of the Illuminati,[329] with a membership of five all told.
The extremely modest beginning of the order in respect to its original
membership was more than matched by the confusion which existed in
Weishaupt’s mind as to the precise form which the organization had
best take. Only three elementary grades, or ranks, had been worked
out by him, and these only in a crude and bungling fashion, when
the enterprise was launched. A feverish regard for action had full
possession of the founder of the order; the working-out of his hazy
ideas of organization might wait for quieter days.[330]

Out of the voluminous and rambling expositions which Weishaupt at
various times made of the three primary grades, _viz._, Novice,
Minerval, and Illuminated Minerval, the following brief descriptions
are extracted.

To the grade of Novice youths of promise were to be admitted,
particularly those who were rich, eager to learn, virtuous, and docile,
though firm and persevering.[331] Such were to be enrolled only after
their imaginations and desires had been artfully aroused by suggestions
concerning the advantages to be derived from secret associations
among like-minded men, the superiority of the social state over that
of nature, the dependence of all governments upon the consent of the
governed, and the delight of knowing and directing men.[332] Once
enrolled, the instruction of each Novice was to be in the hands of
his enroller, who kept well hidden from his pupil the identity of the
rest of his superiors. Such statutes of the order as he was permitted
to read impressed upon the mind of the Novice that the particular
ends sought in his novitiate were to ameliorate and perfect his moral
character, expand his principles of humanity and sociability, and
solicit his interest in the laudable objects of thwarting the schemes
of evil men, assisting oppressed virtue, and helping men of merit to
find suitable places in the world.[333] Having had impressed upon him
the necessity of maintaining inviolable secrecy respecting the affairs
of the order, the further duties of subordinating his egoistic views
and interests and of according respectful and complete obedience to his
superiors were next enjoined. An important part of the responsibility
of the Novice consisted in the drawing-up of a detailed report (for
the archives of the order), containing complete information concerning
his family and his personal career, covering such remote items as the
titles of the books he possessed, the names of his personal enemies
and the occasion of their enmity, his own strong and weak points of
character, the dominant passions of his parents, the names of their
parents and intimates, _etc._[334] Monthly reports were also required,
covering the benefits the recruit had received from and the services
he had rendered to the order.[335] For the building-up of the order
the Novice must undertake his share in the work of recruitment, his
personal advancement to the higher grades being conditioned upon the
success of such efforts.[336] To those whom he enrolled he became in
turn a superior; and thus after a novitiate presumably two years in
length,[337] the way was open for his promotion to the next higher

The ceremony of initiation through which the Novice passed into the
grade Minerval was expected to disabuse the mind of the candidate
of any lingering suspicion that the order had as its supreme object
the subjugation of the rich and powerful, or the overthrow of civil
and ecclesiastical government.[338] It also pledged the candidate to
be useful to humanity; to maintain a silence eternal, a fidelity
inviolable, and an obedience implicit with respect to all the superiors
and rules of the order; and to sacrifice all personal interests to
those of the society.[339] Admitted to the rank of Minerval, the
candidate received into his hands the printed statutes of the order,
wherein he learned that in addition to the duties he had performed as
novice, his obligations had been extended with special reference to his
studies.[340] These were to be more highly specialized, and the fruits
of his researches from time to time turned over to the superiors. In
the prosecution of difficult labors of this character, he was to be
free to call to his assistance other Minervals in his district.[341]
He might also count upon the assistance of his superiors in the form
of letters of recommendation in case he undertook travels in the
pursuit of his studies; and should he form the resolve to publish his
material, the order pledged itself to protect him against the rapacity
of booksellers who might show themselves disposed to overcharge him
for the works he wished to consult, as well as to render assistance in
attracting the attention of the public to his work.[342]

In the assemblies of this grade the Minerval for the first time
came into contact with the members of the order. In other words,
his life within the society actually began.[343] The thirst for the
sense of secret association with men of like interests and aims,
which the members long novitiate had developed, began to find its
satisfaction.[344] Ordinary Minervals and “illuminated” Minervals
mingled together in these assemblies[345] and mutually devoted their
deliberations to the affairs of the order.

To the grade Illuminated Minerval were admitted those Minervals who in
the judgment of their superiors were worthy of advancement. Elaborate
initiatory ceremonies fixed in the candidates mind the notions that the
progressive purification of his life was to be expected as he worked
his way upward in the order,[346] and that the mastery of the art of
directing men was to be his special pursuit as long as he remained in
the new grade. To accomplish the latter, _i. e._, to become an expert
psychologist and director of men’s consciences, he must observe and
study constantly the actions, purposes, desires, faults, and virtues
of the little group of Minervals who were placed under his personal
direction and care.[347] For his guidance in this difficult task a
complicated mass of instructions was furnished him.[348]

In addition to their continued presence in the assemblies of the
Minervals, the members of this grade came together once a month by
themselves, to hear reports concerning their disciples, to discuss
methods of accomplishing the best results in their work of direction
and to solicit each other’s counsel in difficult and embarrassing
cases.[349] In these meetings the records of the assemblies of the
Minervals were reviewed and rectified and afterwards transmitted to the
superior officers of the order.

Such, in brief, was the system of the Illuminati as it came from the
brain of Weishaupt, its founder. By means of such an organization he
proposed to effect nothing less than the redemption of the world. In
its assemblies the truths of human equality and fraternity were to be
taught and practised.[350] Its members were to be trained to labor for
the welfare of the race; to strive for a civilization, not like that of
the present, which left men savage and ferocious under its thin veneer,
but one which would so radically change their moral dispositions as
to put all their desires under the control of reason—the supreme end
of life, which neither civil nor religious institutions had been able
to secure.[351] The study of man was to be made at once so minute, so
comprehensive, and so complete[352] that two immense advantages would
result: first, the acquisition of the art of influencing favorably the
wills of one’s fellows, thus making social reformation possible; and
second, self-knowledge.[353] That is to say, the thorough scrutiny of
the instincts, passions, thoughts, and prejudices of others, which
the order imposed upon him, would react in turn upon the member’s
judgment of his own personal life. As a result his conscience would be
subjected to frequent examination, and the faults of his life might be
expected to yield to correction. From both of these advantages, working
together, a moral transformation of the whole of society would result,
thus securing the state of universal well-being.[354]

But this conception of the order as essentially an instrument of
social education requires to be balanced by another, _viz._, its
anticlericalism. Its founder professed that at the time when the idea
of the order was taking shape in his mind he was profoundly influenced
by the persecutions which honest men of unorthodox sentiments had been
compelled to suffer on account of their views.[355] Considerations
growing out of his own personal embarrassments and imagined peril on
account of his clashings with the Jesuits were also admittedly weighty
in his thought.[356] It is therefore to be regarded as a substantial
element in his purpose to forge a weapon against the Jesuits, and in a
larger sense to create a league defensive and offensive against all the
enemies of free thought.[357]

Accordingly, the expression of utterances hostile to Christian dogmas
was early heard within the assemblies of the order,[358] and only the
difficulty experienced in working out the supreme grade of the order
inhibited Weishaupt’s intention of converting it into a council of war
to circumvent and overwhelm the advocates of supernaturalism and the
enemies of reason.[359] The pure religion of Christ, which, doctrinally
conceived, had degenerated into asceticism and, from the institutional
standpoint,[360] had become a school of fanaticism and intolerance,
was pronounced a doctrine of reason, converted into a religion for
no other purpose than to make it more efficacious.[361] To love God
and one’s neighbor was to follow in the way of redemption which Jesus
of Nazareth, the grand master of the Illuminati, marked out as
constituting the sole road which leads to liberty.[362]

The objects of the order were such as to appeal to the discontented
elements in a country suffering from intellectual stagnation due to
ecclesiastical domination.[363] Despite this fact, its growth during
the first four years of its existence was anything but rapid. By that
time four centers of activity, in addition to Ingolstadt, had been
established, and a total of possibly sixty members recruited.[364]
While its visionary founder considered that a solid basis for
encouragement had been laid,[365] as a matter of fact at the
termination of the period just indicated the organization was seriously
threatened with failure. Fundamental weaknesses had developed from
within. Chief among these was the tension which existed almost from
the first between Weishaupt and the men whom he associated with him in
the supreme direction of the affairs of the order.[366] The thirst
for domination, which was native to the soul of Weishaupt, converted
the order into a despotism against which men who had been taught by
their leader that they shared with him the innermost secrets of the
organization, rebelled. The result was the constant breaking-out of
a spirit of insubordination and a series of quarrels between the
founder and his associates which rendered the future progress of the
order very precarious.[367] The extreme poverty of the organization
constituted another serious obstacle to its rapid growth. With a view
to demonstrating the genuine disinterestedness of the society, an
effort had been made from the beginning to emphasize the financial
interests of the order as little as possible.[368] The rules of the
organization were far from burdensome in this regard, and it is by no
means surprising that many of the proposed measures of the leaders
in the interests of a more extensive and effective propaganda proved
abortive for the very practical reason that funds were not available to
carry them into effect.[369]

A decidedly new turn in the wheel of fortune came some time within the
compass of the year 1780,[370] with the enrollment of Baron Adolf
Franz Friederich Knigge[371] as a member.

In the recruiting of this prominent North German diplomat Weishaupt
and his associates found the resourceful and influential ally for
which the organization had waited, a man endowed with a genius for
organization and so widely and favorably connected that the order
was able to reap an immense advantage from the prestige which his
membership bestowed upon it. Two weighty consequences promptly followed
as the result of Knigge’s advent into the order. The long-sought higher
grades were worked out, and an alliance between the Illuminati and
Freemasonry was effected.[372]

Such was the confidence which Knigge’s presence immediately inspired
in Weishaupt and his associates that they hailed with enthusiasm
his admission to the order, and gladly abandoned to him the task of
perfecting the system, their own impotence for which they had been
forced to admit.[373] Manifesting a zeal and competency which fully
justified the high regard of his brethren, Knigge threw himself into
the task of elaborating and rendering compact and coherent the childish
ideas of organization which Weishaupt had evolved.

The general plan of the order was so shaped as to throw the various
grades or ranks into three principal classes.[374] To the first class
were to belong the grades Minerval and Illuminatus Minor; to the
second,[375] (1) the usual three first grades of Masonry, Apprentice,
Fellow, and Master, (2) Illuminatus Major, and (3) Illuminatus
Dirigens, or Scottish Knight; and to the third class were reserved the
Higher Mysteries, including (a) the Lesser Mysteries, made up of the
ranks of Priest and Prince, and (b) the Greater Mysteries, comprising
the ranks of Magus and King.[376]

A detailed description of the various grades of Knigge’s system would
far outrun the reader’s interest and patience.[377] The present writer
therefore will content himself with making such comments as seem best
suited to supply a general idea of the revised system.

The grade Novice (a part of the system only in a preparatory sense)
was left unchanged by Knigge, save for the addition of a printed
communication to be put into the hands of all new recruits, advising
them that the Order of the Illuminati stands over against all other
forms of contemporary Freemasonry as the one type not degenerate, and
as such alone able to restore the craft to its ancient splendor.[378]
The grade Minerval was reproduced as respects its statutes but greatly
elaborated in its ceremonies under the influence of Masonic usages
with which Knigge was familiar.[379] The grade Illuminatus Minor was
likewise left identical with Weishaupt’s redaction, save in unimportant
particulars as to special duties and in the working-out and explanation
of its symbolism.[380]

The three symbolic grades of the second class seem to have been devised
solely for the purpose of supplying an avenue whereby members of the
various branches of the great Masonic family could pass to the higher
grades of the new order.[381] Membership in these grades was regarded
as a mere formality, the peculiar objects and secrets of the order
having, of course, to be apprehended later.

A candidate for admission to the grade of Illuminatus Major was first
to be subjected to a rigorous examination as respects his connections
with other secret organizations and his objects in seeking advancement.
His superiors being satisfied upon these points, it was provided that
he should be admitted to the grade by means of a ceremonial highly
Masonic in its coloring. His special duties were four in number: (1)
to prepare a detailed analysis of his character, according to specific
instructions furnished him; (2) to assist in the training of those
members of the order who were charged with the responsibility of
recruiting new members; (3) to put his talents and his social position
under tribute for the benefit of the order, either by himself stepping
into places of honor which were open or by nominating for such places
other members who were fitted to fill them; and (4) to coöperate with
other members of his rank in the direction of the assemblies of the

Advanced to the grade of Illuminatus Dirigens, or Scottish Knight,
the member bound himself with a written oath to withhold his support
from every other system of Masonry, or from any other secret society,
and to put all his talents and powers at the disposition of the
order.[383] His obligations in this rank were purely administrative in
their character. The inferior grades of the order were territorially
grouped together into prefectures, and upon these the authority of
the Illuminatus Dirigens was imposed. Each Illuminatus Dirigens had a
certain number of Minerval assemblies and lodges assigned to him, and
for the welfare of these he was responsible to the superiors of the
order. The members of this grade constituted the “Sacred Secret Chapter
of the Scottish Knights,” from which issued the patents of constitution
for the organization of new lodges.[384]

To the first grade of the third class, that of Priest,[385] were
admitted only such members as, in the grade Minerval, had given proof
of their zeal and advancement in the particular sciences which they
had chosen.[386] The initiatory ceremonies of the grade emphasized the
wholly unsatisfactory character of existing political and religious
systems and sounded the candidate’s readiness to serve the order in
its efforts to lead the race away from the vain inventions of civil
constitutions and religious dogmas from which it suffered.[387]
Relieved entirely of administrative responsibilities, the members of
this grade devoted themselves exclusively to the instruction of their
subordinates in the following branches of science: physics, medicine,
mathematics, natural history, political science, the arts and crafts,
and the occult sciences. In brief, the final supervision of the
teaching function of the order was in their hands, subject only to the
ultimate authority of their supreme heads.[388]

Knigge’s statutes provided that only a very small number of members
were to be admitted to the grade of Prince.[389] From this group
the highest functionaries of the order were to be drawn: National
Inspectors, Provincials,[390] Prefects, and Deans of the Priests. Over
them, in turn, at the apex of the system and as sovereign heads of the
order, ruled the Areopagites.[391]

So much for the external structure of the system which Knigge reshaped.
With respect to the aims and principles of the order the modifications
introduced by him were considerable, although scarcely as comprehensive
as in the former case.[392] In certain instances the ideas of Weishaupt
were retained and developed;[393] in others significant alterations
were made or new ideas introduced. Of the new ideas the two following
were unquestionably of greatest weight:[394] the notion of restricting
the field of recruiting solely to the young was abandoned, and this
phase of the propaganda was widened so as to include men of experience
whose wisdom and influence might be counted upon to assist in attaining
the objects of the order;[395] the policy was adopted that henceforth
the order should not occupy itself with campaigns against particular
political and religious systems, but that its energies should be
exerted against superstition, despotism, and tyranny.[396] In other
words, the battle for tolerance and enlightenment should be waged
along universal and not local lines. Accordingly, the esoteric teaching
of the order, under Knigge’s revision, was reserved to the higher

The progress of the order from 1780 on[397] was so rapid as to raise
greatly the spirits of its leaders. The new method of spreading
Illuminism by means of its affiliation with Masonic lodges promptly
demonstrated its worth. Largely because of the fine strategy of seeking
its recruits among the officers and other influential personages in
the lodges of Freemasonry, one after another of the latter in quick
succession went over to the new system.[398] New prefectures were
established, new provinces organized, and Provincials began to report
a steady and copious stream of new recruits.[399] From Bavaria into
the upper and lower Rhenish provinces the order spread into Suabia,
Franconia, Westphalia, Upper and Lower Saxony, and outside of Germany
into Austria[400] and Switzerland. Within a few months after Knigge
rescued the order from the moribund condition in which he found it, the
leaders were able to rejoice in the accession of three hundred members,
many of whom by their membership immensely enhanced the prestige of
the order. Students, merchants, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, judges,
professors in _gymnasia_ and universities, preceptors, civil officers,
pastors, priests—all were generously represented among the new
recruits.[401] Distinguished names soon appeared upon the rosters of
the lodges of the new system. Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, Duke Ernst
of Gotha, Duke Karl August of Saxe-Weimar, Prince August of Saxe-Gotha,
Prince Carl of Hesse, Baron Dalberg,[402] the philosopher Herder, the
poet Goethe,[403] the educationist Pestalozzi,[404] were among the
number enrolled. By the end of 1784 the leaders boasted of a total
enrollment of between two and three thousand members,[405] and the
establishment of the order upon a solid foundation seemed to be fully

But just at the moment when the prospects were brightest, the knell of
doom suddenly sounded.[407] Dangers from within and from without, with
bewildering celerity and concurrence, like a besom of destruction swept
from the earth the order which Adam Weishaupt, with such exaggerated
anticipations, had constituted out of a little group of obscure
students at Ingolstadt, on May Day, 1776.

The internal difficulties were of the nature of dissensions among
the chiefs. The old jealousies that existed between Weishaupt and
the Areopagites[408] before Knigge reconstructed the order were not
eradicated by the introduction of the new system, and in course of
time they flamed forth anew.[409] But ugly in temper and subversive
of discipline and order as these petty contentions were, they were
of little importance as compared with the fatal discord which arose
between Weishaupt and Knigge. The spirit of humility that the former
manifested in 1780, when in desperation he turned to Knigge for
assistance, did not long continue. Aroused by the danger of seeing
his personal control of the order set aside and himself treated as a
negligible factor, Weishaupt sought opportunities of asserting his
prerogatives, and the ambition of Knigge being scarcely less selfish
than that of Weishaupt, the two men quarreled repeatedly and long.[410]
So bitter and implacable the spirit of the two became that in the end,
exercising a discretion dictated by despair rather than generosity,
Knigge withdrew from the field, leaving Weishaupt in undisputed
possession of the coveted headship of the order.

But the fruits of his victory the latter had little chance to
enjoy.[411] On June 22, 1784, Carl Theodore[412] launched the first
of his edicts against all communities, societies, and brotherhoods in
his lands which had been established without due authorization of law
and the confirmation of the sovereign.[413] The edict, to be sure, was
general in its character, and the Bavarian Illuminati were glad to
believe that their system was not specially involved: by lying low for
a season the squall would speedily blow over and the activities of the
order might safely be resumed.[414] These anticipations, however, were
doomed to disappointment. Having surrendered himself completely to the
spirit of reaction, and spurred by reports of the covert disobedience
of the order which his _entourage_ spread before him,[415] the Bavarian
monarch, on March 2 of the following year, issued another edict that
specifically designated the Illuminati as one of the branches of
Freemasonry, all of which were severely upbraided for their failure to
yield implicit obedience to the will of the sovereign as expressed in
the previous edict, and a new ban, more definite and sweeping in its
terms than the former, was thereby proclaimed.[416]

A fixed resolution on the part of the government to give full force
to the provisions of the interdict left no room for evasion.[417]
In response to the call of its enemies, former members of the order
who, either because of scruples of conscience or for less honorable
reasons, had withdrawn from its fellowship, came forward to make
formal declarations respecting their knowledge of its affairs.[418] In
this direct manner the weapons needed for the waging of an effective
campaign against the society were put into the government’s hands.[419]
Judicial inquiries were inaugurated, beginning at Ingolstadt.[420]
Measures of government, all aimed at nothing short of the complete
suppression and annihilation of the order, followed one another in
rapid succession. Officers and soldiers in the army were required to
come forward and confess their relations with the Illuminati, under
promise of immunity if ready and hearty in their response, but under
pain of disgrace, cassation, or other punishment if refractory.[421]
Members and officers of consular boards were subjected to similar
regulations.[422] Officers of state and holders of ecclesiastical
benefices who were found to have connections with the order were
summarily dismissed from their posts.[423] Professors in universities
and teachers in the public schools suffered a like fate.[424] Students
who were recognized as adepts were dismissed, and in some cases were
banished from the country.[425]

As a system the order was shattered, but its supporters were not wholly
silenced. Weishaupt particularly, from his place of security in a
neighboring country, lifted his voice against the men who had betrayed
the order and the government which had ruined it. Taking recourse to
his pen, with incredible rapidity he struck off one pamphlet and volume
after another,[426] in a feverish effort, offensive and defensive,
to avert if possible total disaster to the cause which, despite all
his frailties, he truly loved. The one clear result of his polemical
efforts was to draw the fire of those who defended the denunciators
of the afflicted order and who supported the clerical party and the
government. A war of pamphlets developed, the noise and vehemence of
which were destined to add, if possible, to the embarrassment and pain
of those members of the order who still remained in Bavaria. Once more
the suspicions of the government were aroused; a search was made by
the police for further evidence, and in the month of October, 1786,
at Landshut, in the house of Xavier Zwack,[427] one of the order’s
most prominent leaders, decisive results were achieved. A considerable
number of books and papers were discovered,[428] the latter containing
more than two hundred letters that had passed between Weishaupt and
the Areopagites, dealing with the most intimate affairs of the order,
together with tables containing the secret symbols, calendar, and
geographical terms belonging to the system, imprints of its insignia,
a partial roster of its membership, the statutes, instruction for
recruiters, the primary ceremony of initiation, _etc._[429] Here was
the complete range of evidence the authorities had long waited for.
Out of the mouths of its friends, the accusations which its enemies
made against the order were to be substantiated. By the admissions
of its leaders, the system of the Illuminati had the appearance of
an organization devoted to the overthrow of religion and the state,
a band of poisoners and forgers, an association of men of disgusting
morals and depraved tastes. The publication of these documents amounted
to nothing less than a sensation.[430] New measures were forthwith
adopted by the government. Leading representatives of the order, whose
names appeared in the telltale documents, were placed under arrest and
formally interrogated. Some of these, like the treasurer, Hertel, met
the situation with courage and dignity, and escaped with no further
punishment than a warning to have nothing to do with the organization
in the future under fear of graver consequences.[431] Others, like
the poltroon Mändl,[432] adopted the course of making monstrous
“revelations” concerning the objects and practices of the order. Still
others, like Massenhausen, against whom the charge of poison-mixing was
specifically lodged,[433] sought safety in flight.

As a final blow against the devastated order, on August 16, 1787,
the duke of Bavaria launched his third and last edict against
the system.[434] The presentments of the former interdicts were
reëmphasized, and in addition, to give maximum force to the sovereign’s
will, criminal process, without distinction of person, dignity,
state, or quality, was ordered against any Illuminatus who should be
discovered continuing the work of recruiting. Any so charged and found
guilty were to be deprived of their lives by the sword; while those
thus recruited were to have their goods confiscated and themselves
to be condemned to perpetual banishment from the territories of the
duke.[435] Under the same penalties of confiscation and banishment,
the members of the order, no matter under what name or circumstances,
regular or irregular, they should gather, were forbidden to assemble as

The end of the order was at hand. So far as the situation within
Bavaria was concerned, the sun of the Illuminati had already set.[437]
It remained for the government to stretch forth its hand as far as
possible, to deal with those fugitives who, enjoying the protection
of other governments, might plot and contrive to rebuild the ruined
system. Accordingly, Zwack, who had sought asylum first in the
court of Zweibrücken and had later obtained official position in
the principality of Salm-Kyburg, was summoned by the duke of Bavaria
to return to that country. The summons was not accepted,[438] but
the activities of Zwack as a member of the Illuminati, as the event
proved, were over. Count (Baron) Montgelas, whose services on behalf
of the order do not appear to have been significant, but who, upon
the publication of the correspondence seized in the residence of
Zwack, had likewise sought the protection of the duke of Zweibrücken,
found the favor of that sovereign sufficient to save him from the
power of the Bavarian monarch.[439] As for Weishaupt, whose originary
relation to the order the Bavarian government had discovered in the
secret correspondence just referred to, his presence in Gotha, outside
Bavarian territory but in close proximity to the Bavarian possessions,
added greatly to the concern of Carl Theodore.[440] Efforts were made
by the latter to counteract any possible influence he might exert to
rehabilitate the Illuminati system.[441] They were as futile as they
were unnecessary. Broken in spirit, making no effort to regain the
kingdom which his vanity insisted he had lost, contenting himself with
the publication of various apologetic writings,[442] permitted for a
considerable period to enjoy the bounty of his generous patron, Duke
Ernst of Gotha, he sank slowly into obscurity.[443]

As for the fortunes of the order outside of Bavaria, the measures
adopted by the government of that country proved decisive. Here and
there, especially in the case of Bode,[444] a Saxon Illuminatus,
efforts were made to galvanize the expiring spirit of the order, but
wholly without result.

  BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: The amount of literature, chiefly polemical
  in character, which has sprung up about the subject of the European
  Illuminati is astonishingly large. Wolfstieg, _Bibliographie der
  Freimaurerischen Literatur_, vol. ii, pp. 971–979, lists ninety-six
  separate titles of principal works, not counting translations,
  new editions, _etc._ In the same volume (pp. 979–982) he lists
  the titles of one hundred and fourteen “kleinere Schriften”. In
  addition, he also lists (_ibid._, p. 982) three titles of books
  occupied with the statutes of the order, and the titles of five
  principal works devoted to the order’s ritual (_ibid._, p. 983),
  together with the titles of nine smaller works likewise occupied
  (_ibid._). No student penetrates far into the study of the general
  topic without being made aware that not only were contemporary
  apologists and hostile critics stirred to a fierce heat of literary
  expression, but that a swarm of historians, mostly of inferior
  talents, have been attracted to the subject.

  In view of the thoroughgoing work which bibliographers like
  Wolfstieg have performed, no necessity arises to repeat the task.
  For the benefit of the student who may wish to acquaint himself at
  first hand with the principal sources of information respecting
  the order, the following abbreviated list has been compiled. For
  convenience the titles are grouped in three principal divisions.

  I. Apologetic writings.

       Weishaupt, _Apologie der Illuminaten_
                       Frankfort and Leipzig, 1786.
           “      _Vollständige Geschichte der Verfolgung der
                     Illuminaten in Bayern, I_,
                       Frankfort and Leipzig,1786.
           “      _Das verbesserte System der Illuminaten mit allen
                     seinen Graden und Einrichtungen_,
                       Frankfort and Leipzig, 1787.
           “      _Kurze Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten_,
                       Frankfort and Leipzig, 1787.

           “      _Nachtrag zur Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten_,
                       Frankfort and Leipzig, 1787.

       Bassus,    _Vorstellung denen hohen Standeshäuptern der
                     Erlauchten Republik Graubünden_,
                       Nuremberg, 1788.

       Knigge,    _Philo’s endliche Erklärung and Antwort auf
                     verschiedene Anforderungen und Fragen_,
                       Hanover, 1788.

  II. Documents of the order, published by the Bavarian government or
      otherwise, and hostile polemics.

        _Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens_,
             Munich, 1787.
        _Nachtrag von weiteren Originalschriften_,
             Munich, 1787.
        _Der ächte Illuminat, oder die wahren, unverbesserten Rituale
          der Illuminaten_,
             Edessa (Frankfort-on-the-Main), 1788.
         Cosandey, Renner, and Grünberger, _Drei merkwürdige Aussagen
           die innere Einrichtung des Illuminatenordens_,
             Munich, 1786.
        Same (with Utzschneider), _Grosse Absichten des Ordens der
          Illuminaten mit Nachtrag, I, II, III_,
             Munich, 1786.
       _Der neuesten Arbeiten des Spartacus and Philo_, Munich, 1793.
         _Illuminatus Dirigens, oder Schottischer Ritter, Ein Pendant,
             Munich, 1794.

  III. Historical treatments of the precise character and
       significance of the order.

         Mounier, _De l’influence attribuée aux philosophes, aux
           franc-maçons et aux illuminés, sur la révolution de France_,
               Tübingen, 1801.
         Mounier, J. J., _On the Influence attributed to Philosophers,
           Freemasons, and to the Illuminati, on the Revolution of
           France.... Translated from the Manuscript, and corrected
           under the inspection of the author, by J. Walker_,
               London, 1801.
         Engel, _Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens_,
               Berlin, 1906.
         Forestier, _Les Illuminés de Bavière et la Franc-Maçonnerie
               Paris, 1915.


[299] Forestier, _Les Illuminés de Bavière et la Franc-Maçonnerie
allemande_, p. 103. This author, upon whose recent painstaking
researches much reliance is placed in this chapter, relates that
one traveler who was in Bavaria at this time, found 28,000 churches
and chapels, with pious foundations representing a total value of
60,000,000 florins. Munich, a city of 40,000 inhabitants, had no less
than 17 convents. When a papal bull, issued in 1798, authorized the
elector to dispose of the seventh part of the goods of the clergy,
the Bavarian government, in executing the pope’s directions, deducted
25,000,000 florins, and it was remarked that this amount did not equal
the sum which had been agreed upon. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 103 _et seq._

[300] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 108: “Dans aucun pays du monde, si l’on
excepte le Paraguay, les fils de Loyola n’avaient obtenu une victoire
plus complète, ni conquis une autorité plus grande.” _Cf._ Mounier, _De
l’influence attribuée aux Philosophes aux franc-maçons et aux illuminés
sur la révolution de France_, p. 189.

[301] _Ibid._, pp. 109, 100. Duhr, B., _Geschichte der Jesuiten in den
Ländern deutscher Zunge im 16. Jahrhundert_, Freiburg, 1907, discusses
the earlier development. The work of F. J. Lipowsky, _Geschichte der
Jesuiten in Baiern_, München, 1816, 2 vols., is antiquated and is
little more than a chronicle.

[302] Engel, _Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens_, p. 29.

[303] The suppression of the Jesuits by Pope Clement XIV, in 1773, did
not greatly diminish the influence and power of the order in Bavaria.
Refusing to accept defeat, the new intrigues to which they gave
themselves inspired in their enemies a new sense of their cohesion,
with the result that they appeared even more formidable than before
their suppression.

[304] Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 105 _et seq._

[305] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 19.

[306] _Ibid._, p. 18. _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._, pp. 19, 28, 29.

[307] In the person of Maximilian Joseph, Bavaria found an elector
whose earlier devotion to liberal policies gave promise of fundamental
reforms. Agriculture and manufactures were encouraged; judicial reforms
were undertaken; the despotism of the clergy was resisted. The founding
of the Academy of Science at Munich, in 1759, represented a definite
response to the spirit of the _Aufklärung_. However, the elector was
not at all minded to break with the Catholic faith. All efforts to
introduce Protestant ideas into the country were vigorously opposed by
the government. In the end the elector’s program of reform miscarried.
At the time of his death, in 1777 (the date given by Forestier, p.
106, is incorrect; _cf._ _Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie_, vol. xxi.
p. 30; also Brockhaus, _Konversations-Lexikon_, vol. xi. p. 683.), the
absolute power of the clergy remained unshattered.

[308] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 107.

[309] As a result of this effort, George Weishaupt, father of Adam,
came to the University of Ingolstadt as professor of imperial
institutions and criminal law.

[310] Engel, _op. cit._, pp. 19 _et seq._

[311] Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 19 _et seq._ _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._,
pp. 20 _et seq._

[312] _Ibid._, pp. 22 _et seq._

[313] Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 16 _et seq._

[314] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 18.

[315] _Ibid._

[316] Ickstatt withdrew from direct participation in the affairs of
the University of Ingolstadt in 1765, but he continued to exercise a
controlling influence over the policies of the institution for some
time to come. The son of one of his former pupils, Lori, a man of
liberal notions, was later chosen co-director of the institution,
and with him Weishaupt made common cause in his campaign against the

[317] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 21. _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._, p. 33.

[318] No clearer illustration of Weishaupt’s lack of nobility is
needed than his treatment of his protector and patron, Ickstatt. Owing
to a marriage which he had contracted in 1773, against the wishes of
Ickstatt, a decided chill came over the relations between the two
men. All considerations of gratitude were carelessly tossed aside
by Weishaupt. Later, in utter disregard of the anticlericalism of
his benefactor, Weishaupt entered into an intrigue with the Jesuit
professor Stadler, to obtain a coveted ecclesiastical position for the
latter. Ickstatt, hearing of this, renounced Weishaupt as an ingrate.
Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 22 _et seq._

[319] Engel, _op. cit._, p. 31.

[320] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 21.

[321] _Ibid._ _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._, p. 32.

[322] _Ibid._, p. 22.

[323] _Ibid._, p. 25.

[324] _Ibid._

[325] The motives which led Weishaupt to consider the formation of a
secret organization of the general character indicated were not all of
a kind. In part they were creditable, in part discreditable. That he
had a genuine interest in the cause of liberalism and progress, born
largely of the personal discomfort and injury he had experienced at the
hands of intolerance and bigotry, there can be no honest doubt. But
a thirst for power was also a fundamental element in his nature. The
despotic character of the order which he attempted to build up is in
itself a sufficient proof of this. Besides, the cast of his personal
affairs at the time the organization was launched smacks loudly of
the mans over-weening vanity and yearning for personal conquest. His
break with Ickstatt had been followed by a breach between him and
Lori on account of the constant recriminations in which Weishaupt
engaged against his enemies in the university. The secret alliance
he had formed with the Jesuit Stadler likewise soon dissolved.
His complaints because of alleged infringements of his freedom of
speech as a teacher were vehement. His interference in university
affairs outside the proper sphere of his authority was frequent and
involved him in numerous acrimonious verbal battles. (Engel seeks to
relieve Weishaupt of part of the odium of these charges by shifting
somewhat of the burden to other shoulders. (_Cf._ _Geschichte
des Illuminaten-Ordens_, pp. 29–54.) His partiality is, however,
sufficiently accounted for by the fact that at the time his work was
published, he was the head of the revived Order of the Illuminati.
_Cf. op. cit._, p. 467; _cf._ _Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart_,
vol. iii: article, “Illuminaten”). Yet none of these experiences
brought home to the mind of Weishaupt that he was to blame. As to the
matter of motive, Forestier’s comment is much to the point: “Ainsi
le hardi confesseur de la vérité se trouvait seul à lutter visière
levée contre la tourbe des bigots. Une volonté moins bien trempée
aurait laissé sombrer dans une résignation inerte ou dans la manie de
la persécution ce modeste professeur d’une Université sans prestige,
perdu dans un coin de la Bavière, mal payé, mal vu de la majorité de
ses collègues, mal noté par le Curateur, surveillé, soupçonné par tous
ceux que scandalisait le radicalisme de ses opinions. Mais l’âme de
Weishaupt disposait de deux puissants ressorts: la soif du prosélytisme
et la volonté de puissance.” (_Op. cit._, pp. 25 _et seq._) The
view adopted by Kluckhohn is not essentially different: “Rachsucht,
Ehrgeiz, Herrschbegier mischten sich in ihm mit dem Drange, grosses
zu wirken und ein Woltäter der Menschheit zu werden.” (Herzog-Plitt,
_Real-Encyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche_, 2. Aufl.,
vol. vi, Leipzig, 1880: article, “Illuminaten,” p. 699.)

[326] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 28. Weishaupt readily detected the
disparate character of current Freemasonry, and for a brief time he was
enthusiastic over the project of developing a rarified type of Masonry
to which only men of superior talents should be admitted. For the
reasons given, the idea was abandoned.

[327] _Ibid._, p. 29.

[328] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 75. The teaching function of the order
is well set out by Forestier in the following: “Faire de l’homme
actuel, resté sauvage et férocement égoïste sous le vernis d’une
civilisation apparante, un être véritablement sociable, c’est-à-dire
respectueux des droits de ses semblables et amène dans ses rapports
avec eux, enseigner à ses membres ‘l’art de réaliser le bien sans
trouver d’opposition, de corriger leurs défauts, d’ecarter les
obstacles, d’attaquer le mal à la racine, de faire en un mot ce que
jusqu’à présent l’éducation, l’enseignement de la morale, les lois
civiles et la religion même ont été incapables d’accomplir,’ leur
apprendre ‘à soumettre leurs désirs au contrôle de la raison,’ tel est
donc en dernière analyse ce que L’Ordre considère comme sa fin suprême.
Société d’enseignement par les occupations qu’il impose à ses adeptes,
il est essentiellement, par le but qu’il se propose, un institut
d’éducation sociale.” (_Op. cit._, p. 78.)

[329] It was Weishaupt’s original purpose to style the new order the
“Perfectibilists”, but this he later renounced as too bizarre and
lacking in the element of mystery.

[330] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 46: “Au moment où Weishaupt avait fondé
son Ordre, l’organisation de tout le Système était à peine ébauchée
dans son esprit. Quand il s’était subitement décidé à jeter les bases
de son édifice, il avait hâtivement rédigé des Statuts provisoires,
se promettant de les remanier et d’arrêter définitivement dans le
silence du cabinet le plan général.” _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._, p. 90:
“Die ersten Ordensstatuten, welche einen Einblick geben über das, was
Weishaupt wollte, bestanden nur kurze Zeit; sie waren recht dürftig und
unklar.” It was not until Baron Knigge came to his assistance, four
years later, that Weishaupt was able to rescue the organization of the
society from the mire of puerility into which his impractical nature
had plunged it.

[331] Engel, _op. cit._, pp. 56 _et seq._ The recruiting of women,
Jews, pagans, monks, and members of other secret organizations was
forbidden. Weishaupt preferred the enrollment of men who were between
the ages of 18 and 30.

[332] _Cf._ _Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens_, pp. 49,
50, 56.

[333] _Ibid._, p. 26.

[334] _Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens_, pp. 61–65.

[335] _Ibid._, p. 63. From time to time the Novice was required to
submit to his superiors notations he had made upon interesting portions
of books which he had read, in order that his instruction might be
properly directed. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 62, 65. In the pursuit of the art
or science that he had chosen as his principal occupation, he was
expected to keep in close touch with his enroller.

[336] _Ibid._, p. 31.

[337] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 61.

[338] _Ibid._, pp. 61–64.

[339] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 64.

[340] _Ibid._, p. 65.

[341] _Ibid._

[342] _Ibid._, p. 66. It was in the mind of Weishaupt to make a
sort of free university out of this grade. He himself declared: “In
der nächsten Klasse [_i. e._, Minervals], dächte ich also eine Art
von gelehrter Academie zu errichten: in solcher wird gearbeitet,
an Karakteren, historischen, und lebenden, Studium der Alten,
Beobachtungsgeist, Abhandlungen, Preisfragen, und in specie mache
ich darinnen jeden zum Spion des andern und aller. Darauf werden die
Fähigen zu den Mysterien herausgenommen, die in dieser Klasse etliche
Grundsätze und Grunderfordernisse zum menschlichen glückseligen Leben
sind.” (Quoted by Engel from Weishaupt’s correspondence with Zwack,
p. 76.) The grade Minerval is therefore to be regarded as designed to
supply the opportunity _par excellence_ for imparting the revolutionary
ideas of which the founder of the order boasted. Under the direction
of their superiors the Minervals were to continue the study of the
humanities which they began as Novices; they were to study the works of
the ancients, to prepare dissertations upon subjects in those fields
to which their special talents were suited, _etc._,—in a word, to show
themselves worthy of membership in an academy of savants. _Cf._ _Einige
Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens_, p. 216. _Cf._ Forestier,
_op. cit._, p. 74. Weishaupt entertained extremely ambitious notions of
a system of special libraries under the control of the order, and in
which the literary and scientific productions of the order should be
assembled and preserved. _Cf._ _Der ächte Illuminat_, p. 46.

[343] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 66.

[344] The fantastic element in Weishaupt’s mind is well illustrated
at this point. In view of the fact that he particularly sought the
recruitment of youths between the ages of 15 and 20 years (_cf._
_Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens_, p. 261), it is
difficult to see the possibility of sustained satisfaction in such
associations. We shall see later that Baron Knigge substantially
modified the character of the organization in this particular.
Weishaupt did not scruple to employ outright deception with reference
to the reputed age and power of the order to enhance in the minds
of the members the sense of the value of these secret associations.
Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 82.

[345] _Ibid._, p. 66.

[346] _Der ächte Illuminat_, p. 94. The notion that the supreme heads
of the order, whose identity of course was concealed from the members,
were individuals of exceptional purity, was kept before the minds of
the “illuminated” Minervals as an added incentive.

[347] From two to four Minervals were given to each Illuminated
Minerval, to receive his instructions in the principles and objects
of the order. The selection of these pupils in a given instance was
supposed to be based upon their openness to the influence of their
particular instructor. _Cf._ Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 70 _et seq._

[348] _Ibid._, p. 71. The principle of espionage was an important
element in the administration of the order. Weishaupt acknowledged
his indebtedness to the ideal of organization which the Society of
Jesus had set before him (_Cf._ _Endliche Erklärungen_, pp. 60 _et
seq._ _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 97–99), and the principle of one member
spying upon another was apparently borrowed from that source. It
was Weishaupt’s theory that dissimulation and hypocrisy could best
be eradicated by proving to the members of the organization the
inutility of such courses of life in view of the incessant surveillance
under which all the members lived. (_Cf._ _Der ächte Illuminat_, p.
102.) Accordingly the Novice was left to surmise just how many eyes
of unknown superiors might be upon him. The duty imposed upon the
Illuminated Minerval of informing upon his disciples has been noted
above. Weishaupt seems never to have surmised that this policy of
espionage would tend to kill mutual confidence and fraternal regard at
the roots.

[349] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 71.

[350] Weishaupt’s conception of the content of these terms left room
for a recognition of the benefits to be derived from society, but
denied the value of the state. Man had moved forward, not backward,
from his primitive condition. The satisfaction of his needs had
supplied the motive force to his progress. In the state of nature,
it is quite true, man enjoyed the two sovereign goods, equality
and liberty. However, his disposition and desires were such that a
continuance in the state of nature was impossible. The condition of
misery into which he came resulted from his failure to acquire the
art of controlling his faculties and curbing his passions, and from
the injustice which he suffered the state to impose upon him. With
the erection of the state had come the notions of the subjection of
some men to the power and authority of others, the consequent loss of
the unity of the race, and the replacement of the love of humanity
with nationalism, or patriotism. But political revolutions were not
needed to accomplish the emancipation of the race; such revolutions
had always proved sterile because they touched nothing deeper than
the constitutions of states. Man’s nature needed to be reconstituted.
To bring life under the control of reason would enable men again to
possess themselves of equality and liberty. A return to man’s primitive
state is both impossible and undesirable. Social life is a blessing.
Only let men learn to govern themselves by the light of reason, and
civil authority, having been found utterly useless, will quickly
disappear. Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 311–316.

[351] _Der ächte Illuminat_, pp. 110, 123.

[352] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 78.

[353] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 80.

[354] In view of the connections which the enemies of the order later
made between the Illuminati and the French Revolution, it is worthy of
particular emphasis that Weishaupt eschewed the principle of effecting
reform by political revolution, and definitely committed himself to
the ideal of moral and intellectual reformation. The slow process of
ameliorating the unhappy condition of humanity through the leavening
influence of the ideas propagated in the order, _i. e._, by reshaping
private and public opinion, was the pathway which Weishaupt chose. _Der
ächte Illuminat_, pp. 10, 205. Such, at least, was the theory in the
case. In practise the order abandoned the policy of non-intervention
and sought to influence government by putting its members in important
civil positions. Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 329 _et seq._

[355] _Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens_, p. 339.

[356] _Ibid._, p. 279.

[357] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 88. The anticlerical spirit of the
order did not receive an official emphasis commensurate with its
importance and weight, doubtless because of Weishaupt’s desire to work
under cover against his enemies as completely as possible. Forestier’s
comment seems thoroughly just: “Il ne faut pas oublier que Weishaupt en
fondant sa Societé n’avait pas songé seulement à faire le bonheur de
l’humanité, mais qu’il avait cherché aussi à trouver des alliés dans la
lutte qu’il soutenait à Ingolstadt contre le parti des ex-Jésuites. A
côté du but officiellement proclamé, l’Ordre avait un autre but, auquel
on pensait d’autant plus qu’on en parlait moins.” (_Op. cit._, 87. _Cf.
ibid._, pp. 92, 110.)

[358] _Ibid._, p. 90.

[359] _Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens_, p. 216.
The order was to be used in the circulation of anticlerical and
antireligious books and pamphlets, and the work of the priests and the
monks was to be held in mind as constituting the chief obstacle to
intellectual and moral progress. Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 91, 92.

[360] _Ibid._, p. 317.

[361] _Ibid._, p. 318.

[362] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 318. This was treated as the esoteric
doctrine of Christ, coming to the surface here and there in His
teachings and acts, and revealed in the _disciplina arcani_ of the
early church. It is only when this secret teaching is grasped that
the coherence of Jesus’ utterances and the significance of the true
doctrines of man’s fall and his resurrection can be understood. It was
because man abandoned the state of nature that he lost his dignity
and his liberty. In other words, he fell because he ceased to fight
against his sensual desires, surrendering himself to the rule of his
passions. His work of redemption will be accomplished when he learns to
moderate his passions and to limit his desires. The kingdom of grace is
therefore a kingdom wherein men live in reason’s light.

[363] “Par ses divers caractères avoués ou secrets, l’Ordre des
Illuminés était l’expression d’une époque et d’un milieu. Le Système né
dans le cerveau de Weishaupt avait trouvé des adeptes en Bavière parce
qu’il répondait aux aspirations et satisfaisait les haines de la classe
cultivée dans ce pays.” (_Ibid._, p. 99.)

[364] These new centers were Munich, Regensburg, Freising, and
Eichstätt. For data concerning the early enrollment of recruits, _cf.
ibid._, pp. 30 _et seq._

[365] _Ibid._, p. 45.

[366] The term _Areopagite_ was applied to the men who shared with
Weishaupt the supreme direction of the order. Each was assigned a
pseudonym. With one exception, Xavier Zwack (Danaus), they seem to have
been men of very ordinary ability. Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 232.

[367] _Ibid._, pp. 231 _et seq._, 112 _et seq._

[368] Weishaupt’s original plan had been to leave the matter
of financial support to the discretion of the members. _Einige
Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens_, p. 16. Time, however, proved
the imprudence of this arrangement, and hence fixed dues, very modest
in their character, were imposed. Forestier, pp. 130 _et seq._

[369] _Ibid._, pp. 132 _et seq._

[370] Engel gives the date of the admission of Knigge as July, 1780.
_Cf._ _Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens_, p. 114. Forestier is less
specific. _Les Illuminés de Bavière, &c._, p. 217.

[371] Baron Knigge (born near Hannover, October 16, 1752; died at
Bremen, May 6, 1796) was a man of considerable distinction in his
day. He had studied law at Göttingen, and later had been attached
to the courts of Hesse-Cassel and Weimar. Retiring subsequently to
private life, he made his home successively at Frankfort-on-the-Main,
Heidelberg, Hannover, and Bremen. He was an author of note, a writer
of romance, popular philosophy, and dramatic poetry. His best known
work, _Ueber den Umgang mit Menschen_ (Hannover, 1788), a volume
filled with a discussion of practical principles and maxims of life
and characterized by a narrow and egoistical outlook, enjoyed a
considerable notoriety in its time. (Knigge’s complete works were
assembled and published in twelve volumes at Hannover, 1804–1806). He
had a decided bias for secret societies, and at the earliest moment
that his age permitted had joined a lodge of the Strict Observance,
one of the Masonic branches of the period. The Strict Observance
was particularly devoted to the reform of Masonry, with special
reference to the elimination of the occult sciences which at the
time were widely practised in the lodges, and the establishment of
cohesion and homogeneity in Masonry through the enforcement of strict
discipline, the regulation of functions, _etc._ (Later, the leaders
of the Strict Observance found themselves compelled to yield to the
popular clamor for the occult sciences which were all but universal in
European Freemasonry, and adopted them. Their presence and practice
had been influential in attracting Knigge to the Masonic system. _Cf._
Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 207.) Knigge’s Masonic career proved to be
of such a nature as to leave him restless and unsatisfied. Because he
was not permitted to enjoy the advancement in the order of the Strict
Observance that he coveted, he temporarily lost his interest in Masonry
only to have it revived a little later by being chosen to assist in the
establishment of a new Masonic lodge at Hanau. Meantime his interest in
the subjects of theosophy, magic, and particularly alchemy, grew apace.
On this account he was led to make an effort to affiliate himself with
the Rosicrucians, a branch of Freemasonry notorious for the absurdity
of its pretensions and its shameless pandering to the popular desire
for occultism. Knigge’s advance did not happen to be received with
favor; and the result was that, finding himself compelled for the
moment to be content with his membership in the Strict Observance, he
renounced his interest in alchemy and devoted his reflections to the
development of a form of Masonry which should teach men rules of life
by the observance of which they might gradually regain that perfection
from which their original parents fell. It was at the moment when
Knigge’s mind was occupied with this project that his membership in
the Order of the Illuminati was solicited. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 214
_et seq._ As to the personality of the man, the following estimate
by Forestier is excellent: “ ... gentilhomme democrate, dilettante
par temperament, homme de lettres par necessité, ecrivain abondant et
mediocre, publiciste, moraliste, romancier sentimental et satirique,
... un personnage interessant moins encore en lui-meme que comme
representant d’une caste en dissolution.” (_Op. cit._, p. 202.)

[372] Weishaupt himself, overcoming his earlier antipathy to
Freemasonry, had joined the Masons at Munich, in 1777, influenced
particularly by his desire to find suggestions for the working out
of the higher grades of his order. Out of this connection, and under
the persuasion of Zwack, the plan of forming an alliance between the
Illuminati and Freemasonry had occurred to Weishaupt’s mind before
Knigge joined the order. One Masonic lodge, that of Theodore of Good
Counsel, located at Munich, had, by the middle of 1779, come so
completely under the influence of members of the Illuminati that it had
come to be regarded as a part of the order. _Cf._ Forestier, p. 200.
But here again the situation waited upon the energetic leadership of

[373] _Ibid._, pp. 133 _et seq._ _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._, pp. 114 _et
seq._ Soon after Knigge was admitted to the order, Weishaupt found
himself driven to make to the former a most humiliating confession.
Knigge hesitated for some time before becoming a member, and to bring
him to a decision Weishaupt painted the objects and character of the
order before him in flaming colors. The Illuminati represented the
greatest advancements in science, the most marvelous speculative
philosophy, and a truly wonderful system to carry its purposes into
effect. Having joined the order, Knigge’s suspicions were aroused on
account of the feeble and trifling character of its organization; and
Weishaupt, upon being repeatedly pressed for an explanation concerning
the nature of the so-called higher grades, had finally to confess to
Knigge that they did not exist. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 218–226. Knigge’s
resolution was staggered, but his courage was finally rallied because
of the confidence which Weishaupt and the other leaders reposed in him.
_Cf. ibid._, pp. 228 _et seq._

[374] _Nachtrag von weiteren Originalschriften_, vol. i, p. 108. _Cf._
Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 250; Engel, _op. cit._, p. 117.

[375] The ligament to bind the Illuminati and Freemasonry together was
supplied by Knigge in the grades of the second class. _Cf._ Engel, _op.
cit._, p. 115.

[376] Apparently these grades were never worked out. See Forestier, p.

[377] Forestier devotes more than forty well-packed pages to a
discussion of this phase of the subject. _Ibid._, pp. 251–294.

[378] _Der ächte Illuminat_, p. 14. Pages 17–37, _ibid._, contains the
description of this grade as revised by Knigge.

[379] _Ibid._, pp. 39–78.

[380] _Ibid._, pp. 82–138.

[381] Knigge had, of course, to provide a new ritual and code for these
grades. These have not been preserved. They were doubtless similar
to those of other Masonic systems, in their Blue Lodge features.
“La Franc-Maçonnerie bleue étant le sol commun où poussaient les
végétations luxuriantes et diverses des hauts grades et le terrain où
tous les Franc-Maçons pouvaient se rencontrer, les différents Systèmes,
préoccupés d’établir leur authenticité et aussi pour ne pas dérouter
les transfuges des autres sectes, avaient soin de respecter les formes
et les usages traditionnels. La Franc-Maçonnerie Illuminée obéit
vraisemblablement aux mêmes considérations.” (Forestier, _op. cit._, p.

[382] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 272. _Der ächte Illuminat_, pp.
139–212, contains the ritual and statutes of this grade.

[383] The initiatory rites of this grade were followed by a banquet,
which in turn was concluded by a ceremony fashioned after the pattern
of the Christian Eucharist. Bread and wine were given to the members,
and an effort was made to throw an atmosphere of great solemnity about
the observance. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 278 _et seq._ Christian enemies of
the order took special umbrage at this ceremony.

[384] The Chapter was placed under obligation to see that Blue Lodges,
not to exceed thirty all told, were established in all the important
centers of its district. They had also to see that the Order of the
Illuminati secretly obtained a preponderating influence in the lodges
of other systems, to reform them if possible, or, failing in this, to
ruin them. A Prefect, or Local Superior, who furnished regular reports
to his superiors, presided over the Chapter. _Cf._ Forestier, pp.

[385] The members of this class were usually referred to as Epopts,
and their immediate superiors as Hierophants. These superiors were
technically known as Deans. _Ibid._, pp. 287, 281.

[386] Their admission to the rank was further conditioned upon their
advancement in Masonry and the effectiveness of their service in the
lower grades of the Illuminati. _Cf. ibid._, p. 281.

[387] The rites of initiation into this grade expressed a growing
tendency in the direction of sacerdotal pomp. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 283–286.

[388] “Comme toutes les demandes de renseignements leur étaient
transmises, ils devaient s’efforcer de satisfaire leurs gens et
d’établir des théories solidement construites en faisant étudier et
élucider par leurs subordonnés les points restés obscurs.” (_Ibid._, p.
288.) Free _entrée_ to all the assemblies of the inferior grades of the
order was accorded the Priests, but only in the ceremony of reception
into the grade of Scottish Knight did they appear in costume. On other
occasions they were not obliged to make their official character known.

[389] The prefectures were grouped together into provinces, of which
there seem to have been twelve, to each of which, as to the prefectures
and their capitals, pseudonymous names were given. For the geographical
divisions of the Illuminati system, _cf._ Forestier, pp. 295 _et seq._

[390] The title of Regent was also used in this connection.

[391] Provincials, as the term suggests, had control over the various

[392] An important modification in the government of the order was made
by Knigge with respect to its general form. Knigge found the order a
despotism, and this he regarded as a fundamental weakness and error.
The Areopagites, who chafed excessively under Weishaupt’s immoderate
zeal to command, and between whom and their leader constant and
perilous divisions arose, eagerly sided with Knigge in his efforts to
distribute authority. At the latter’s suggestion a congress was called
at Munich, in October, 1780, at which the position and authority of
the Areopagites were definitively settled. The territory, present and
prospective, of the order was divided into twelve provinces, each of
which was to be governed by a Provincial. The posts of Provincials were
thereupon distributed among the Areopagites. Each Provincial was to be
left free to administer his province without direct interference on the
part of Weishaupt, who remained the supreme head. _Cf._ Forestier, pp.
231–234; _cf. ibid._, p. 244. Knigge was thus permitted to take pride
in the fact that whereas he found the order a monarchy, he left it
under “une espèce de gouvernement républicain.” (_Cf. ibid._, p. 305.)

[393] To illustrate: The teaching function of the order was fully
worked out and made effective by centering its direction in the grade
of Priests. Forestier also notes Knigge’s retention of the founder’s
insistence upon the knowledge of man as “la science par excellence.”
The principle of espionage was likewise retained. _Cf._ Forestier, pp.

[394] The remodeling of the order in order to graft it on to the stem
of Freemasonry has already been indicated. No practical result of
Knigge’s work exceeded this.

[395] Certainly at this point Knigge’s feet were planted more solidly
upon the earth than those of his fanciful predecessor. _Cf._ Forestier,
pp. 240 _et seq._

[396] The practical considerations which impelled Knigge to adopt this
position were dictated by diplomatic rather than by conscientious
reasons, although the latter were not wholly wanting. Knigge was well
aware of the conditions in Catholic countries like Bavaria which gave
rise to the violent anticlerical sentiments that the leaders of the
Illuminati echoed. Nor was he out of sympathy with the men of his time
who protested against religious intolerance and bigotry. But a spirit
of anticlericalism readily enough becomes transmuted into a spirit
essentially anti-religious, and Knigge saw that any manifestation of
this sort would seriously embarrass the propaganda of the order in
Protestant as well as in Catholic lands. Knigge’s personal religious
views appear to have been liberal rather than ultra radical. For a full
and lucid discussion of the whole topic, _cf._ Forestier, pp. 238 _et

[397] Knigge’s proposed modifications of the organization and
principles of the order were adopted by the Areopagites, July 9, 1781.
_Cf._ Forestier, p. 240. This action amounted to a virtual defeat for
Weishaupt and a corresponding triumph for Knigge. In other words, a
new epoch had begun. Engel’s observations on the significance of the
new policies and the respective services rendered by the two men is
characteristically biased: “Weishaupt war tatsächlich der einzige
im Orden, der streng darauf achtete, sein System der Notwendigkeit
unterzuordnen, wohl wissend, dass dadurch allein der Bestand des Ordens
gesichert würde. Phantastische Grade entwerfen, ohne eine Spur der
Notwendigkeit, dass durch diese der Zweck der Vereinigung sicherer
erreicht werde, dann die Mitglieder in die Aeusserlichkeit dieser
Form einpressen und einschnüren, ist leider ein vielfach noch jetzt
angewandtes, unbrauchbares Rezept, dem auch Knigge huldigte. Letzterem
war es ebenso wie vielen Areopagiten nur darum zu tun, viele Mitglieder
zu haben, um dadurch Eindruck zu erzielen, die geistige Qualität stand
in zweiter Linie.” (_Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens_, pp. 123 _et
seq._) Knigge brought more than organizing skill to the languishing
order. His accomplishments as a winner of recruits materially helped
to fan the smouldering fires of enthusiasm among the earlier leaders.
As early as November, 1780, he had begun to enroll adepts (the term
commonly applied to members of the order, new and old), and some of
these turned out to be most effective propagandists. _Cf._ Forestier,
pp. 343 _et seq._

[398] Forestier is disposed to explain the power of appeal which
the new system had for the members of rival Masonic systems on the
following grounds: (1) it at least pretended to take more seriously
the doctrines of equality and liberty; (2) it emphasized the period of
adolescence as the best of all ages for the winning of recruits; (3) it
made appreciably less of financial considerations; and (4) it tended
to turn attention away from such chimeras as the philosopher’s stone,
magic, and knight-templar chivalry, which filled with weak heads and
visionary spirits the high grades of most of the other systems. _Cf.
ibid._, p. 340. German Freemasonry was far from being in a wholesome
and promising condition when the order of the Illuminati emerged.
From its introduction into that country sometime within the second
quarter of the eighteenth century, it had developed two general types;
_viz._, English Freemasonry and the French high grades. The former was
generally disposed to be content with simple organizations. Its lodges
were little more than secret clubs whose members had their signs of
recognition and their simple rituals, and whose ideals were represented
by the terms fraternity and cooperation. The latter developed an
excess of ceremonies and “mysteries”, and thus opened the door for the
introduction of impostures of every sort. Visionaries and charlatans
flocked to the French lodges, and alchemy and thaumaturgy found in
their secret quarters a veritable hot-house for their culture. It is
Forestier’s opinion that this activity and influence of dreamers and
mountebanks within the Masonic lodges is to be regarded as a reaction
from the dreariness and sterility of current rationalism. _Cf. ibid._,
p. 146. However that may be, in the third quarter of the eighteenth
century German Freemasonry generally was catering to a popular thirst
for mystery, and the Order of the Illuminati was able to draw advantage
from that fact. Certainly the very novelty of the new system had much
to do with its attractiveness.

[399] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 344.

[400] Engel’s treatment of the situation would seem to be inadequate
and lacking in accuracy. _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._, p. 352. Forestier
submits ample proofs of the expansion of the order to include Austria
and Switzerland, notably the former. _Cf._ Forestier, _op. cit._, pp.
346 _et seq._, 398 _et seq._

[401] _Ibid._, pp. 349 _et seq._

[402] Engel identifies Dalberg as the last elector of Mainz, and,
in the time of Napoleon I, grand duke of Frankfort. See _ibid._, p.
354. Forestier extends the list of civil notables to include Count
Metternich, imperial ambassador at Coblenz; Count Brigido, governor of
Galicia; Count Leopold Kolowrat, chancellor of Bohemia; Baron Kressel,
vice-chancellor of Bohemia; Count Poelffy, chancellor of Hungary; Count
Banffy, governor of Transylvania; Count Stadion, ambassador at London;
and Baron Van Swieten, minister of public instruction. (The last seven
were members of the lodge established at Vienna.) _Cf. ibid._, pp. 400
_et seq._

[403] Goethe’s connection with the order is fully established by both
Engel (_cf. ibid._, pp. 355 _et seq._) and Forestier (_cf. ibid._,
pp. 396 _et seq._). The question whether Schiller belonged to the
Illuminati is answered in the negative by Engel. _Cf. ibid._, p. 356.

[404] “Un pédagogue célèbre, Pestalozzi, figurait parmi les membres de
l’Église Minervale de Lautern.” (Forestier, p. 349.)

[405] _Ibid._, p. 399.

[406] In its efforts to obtain a decisive triumph over rival systems of
Freemasonry, substantial progress had been made. At Munich, the Secret
Chapter of the dominant Masonic fraternity in that city capitulated
to the new system. At Vienna, Masons eagerly enrolled as Illuminati
with a view to blocking the attempt of the Rosicrucians to extend the
hegemony of that branch. The important general congress of Freemasons,
held at Wilhelmsbad, in July, 1782, for the purpose of arriving at
some conclusion concerning the claims of rival systems, yielded to
the Illuminati a double advantage: the pretensions of the Order of
the Strict Observance, its most dangerous rival, were disallowed and
the opportunity which the congress offered in the form of a field
for winning new recruits was adroitly seized by representatives of
the Illuminati, with the result that its emissaries retired from the
congress completely satisfied. Further, the Order of the Illuminati
had apparently put itself on the high road to a complete victory in
the Masonic world by securing the enlistment of the two most important
personages in German Freemasonry, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick and
Prince Carl of Hesse. The full extent of the order’s conquests among
the various branches of Masonry is impossible of full and accurate
statement, for the principal reason which Engel gives: “Nur wenige
Dokumente existieren als Nachweis, denn es ist natürlich, dass
solche in der Verfolgungszeit in Bayern vernichtet wurden, um nicht
verdächtigt zu werden und äussere Verbindungen ziemlich schroff
abgebrochen wurden, als sich die Skandalsucht erhob und dem Orden
und deren Leiter all erdenlichen Schlechtigkeiten andichtete. Im
Laufe der Zeit sind dann die betreffenden Schriften von den Logen als
minderwertig missachtet und beseitigt worden, so dass eine Aufklärung
heute ungemein erschwert ist.” (_Op. cit._, pp. 349 _et seq._) Still,
Forestier, in his chapter on “L’Action sur les Loges Allemandes” (pp.
343–388), from which the foregoing isolated facts are drawn, gathers
together a very considerable body of evidence, all tending to show
that Illuminated Freemasonry was permitted to enjoy a very gratifying,
though brief, period of prosperity.

[407] Writing of the condition of the order at the hour of its apogee,
in 1784, Forestier says: “La situation de l’Ordre à cette époque paraît
donc des plus prospères. Solidement établi en Bavière, il s’étend sur
toute l’Europe Centrale, du Rhin à la Vistule et des Alpes à la mer du
Nord et à la Baltique. Il compte au nombre de ses membres des jeunes
gens qui appliqueront plus tard les principes qu’il leur a inculqués,
des fonctionnaires de tout ordre qui mettent leur influence à son
service, des membres du clergé auxquels il enseigne la tolérance, des
princes dont il peut invoquer la protection et qu’il espère diriger. Il
semble que le Grand Architecte de l’Univers ait spécialement veillé sur
lui....” (_Op. cit._, p. 401.)

[408] The term was no longer in official use, but the men remained. In
other words, Weishaupt’s Areopagites were Knigge’s Provincials.

[409] Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 411–413.

[410] Engel asserts that the chief apple of discord was the grade of
Priest. Weishaupt believed that Knigge had injected into the ritual
of the order at that point expressions of radical religious sentiment
which, if once discovered to the public, would be found extremely
injurious to the order. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 133 _et seq._ _Cf._ Forestier
_op. cit._, p. 415. But this was only one of many bones of contention.
At bottom the two men were inordinately jealous, both as to their
positions in the order and the systems which they had worked out.

[411] Knigge withdrew from the order April 20, 1784. In July of the
same year he put his name to an agreement, pledging himself to restore
such papers of the order as he possessed and to maintain silence
concerning what he knew of the order’s affairs. _Cf._ Forestier, p.
428. Freed from his responsibilities to the order, Knigge resumed
his work as a writer, by which he managed to maintain himself very
indifferently in funds. He was finally accorded a government post,
as inspector of schools, at Bremen, where he died. _Cf. ibid._, pp.

[412] Carl Theodore, successor to Maximilian Joseph, as Elector
Palatinate had been ruler of the provinces of the Rhine since 1742.
When he became duke of Upper and Lower Bavaria in 1777, he had
established a reputation as a liberal-minded sovereign. The first two
years of his rule in Bavaria gave promise of a tolerant reign; but
reactionaries, in the persons of his confessor, the ex-Jesuit Frank, a
certain Baron Lippert, who was devoted to the cause of ultramontanism,
and the duchess dowager of Bavaria and sister of the duke, Maria
Anna, worked upon his spirit and easily persuaded the well-meaning
but weak-willed monarch to reverse his former policy and come to the
defence of the cause of clericalism. See the comments of Professor
August Kluckhohn, quoted by Engel, p. 4.

[413] _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._, p. 161, where the edict in full may be
found. _Cf._ Forestier, p. 453. The Bavarian monarch’s bold and, at
first blush, precipitate action is explained by the following facts:
Flushed with a sense of their growing influence and power, the Bavarian
Illuminati for some time past had been guilty of extremely imprudent
utterances which had excited the public mind. To certain of their
critics, notably the priest Frank and the canon Dantzer, director
of the schools of Bavaria, they had not deigned to make a specific
reply. (Dantzer, not wholly unfairly, charged the members of the
order with interference in the affairs of the public school system of
the country). A lofty tone of assumed indifference characterized the
leaders; but a spirit of boasting which led the members to profess the
exercise of a controlling influence in civil affairs, together with
less guarded expressions respecting the extreme religious and political
ideals of the order, served to arouse public suspicion. To this extent
the Bavarian Illuminati had themselves to blame for the ruin of the
order. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 430–438. On the part of the government,
the situation in its main outlines developed somewhat as follows:
Early in October, 1783, the duchess dowager, Maria Anna, was made the
recipient of a document that contained detailed accusations against
the Illuminati of Bavaria, charging them with holding such vicious
moral and religious sentiments as that life should be controlled by
passion rather than reason, that suicide is justifiable, that one may
poison one’s enemies, and that religion should be regarded as nonsense
and patriotism as puerility. Finally, and much more seriously from
the particular point of view of the duchess, the Bavarian Illuminati
were accused of being in the service of the government of Austria,
whose efforts at the time to extend its hegemony over Bavaria had
created considerable tension in the latter country. For a copy in full
of the famous letter, _cf._ Engel, pp. 183–187. _Cf._ Forestier, pp.
440 _et seq._ The author, or at least the inspirer of the document
seems to have been one Joseph Utzschneider (Engel disallows this;
see _op. cit._, pp. 187 _et seq._) who, discontented on account of
his slow advancement and enraged by exactions imposed upon him to
prove his loyalty, had withdrawn from the Order of the Illuminati, in
August, 1783. Later, Utzschneider persuaded several other members,
among them Grünberger and Cosandey, fellow professors with him in the
Academy of Santa Maria, to follow him in the course he had taken.
Obtaining from his associates the ritual of the higher grades of the
order, he prepared and despatched his presentment to the duchess.
_Cf._ Forestier, pp. 444 _et seq._ The latter, greatly alarmed by the
document, carried the accusations, particularly the charge of intrigues
in the interests of Austria, to the duke, who thus far had manifested
an attitude of indifference to the suspicions that had been engendered
concerning the order. His fear being awakened by the considerations of
danger to his person and throne that were urged, the duke resolved to
bring matters to an immediate crisis. _Cf. ibid._, p. 452.

[414] Engel, _op. cit._, p. 161. The leaders of the order in Bavaria
exerted themselves to disarm the suspicions of the government with
reference to any lack of loyal submission to the interdict. Circular
letters containing copies of the edict and commanding the lodges
to suspend their labors were addressed to the brethren. A lack of
sincerity showed itself, however, in the efforts of the leaders to
convey the impression to their subordinates that the sudden tempest
would soon pass and that care therefore must be observed to preserve
the cohesion of the order. In one important particular this effort to
allay suspicion over-reached itself. In July, 1784, certain members of
the order inserted an article in a Bavarian journal, the _Realzeitung_
of Erlangen, of the nature of a counter-attack upon the Jesuits,
and claiming that the latter, in defiance of the government, were
continuing their secret associations. To this a recriminating answer
was promptly made, and a war of newspaper articles and pamphlets was
soon on. All of this tended, of course, to lend color to the suspicion
that the operations of the order continued unabated. _Cf._ Forestier,
pp. 454 _et seq._ _Cf._ Engel, pp. 240 _et seq._ The duchess, Maria
Anna, moreover, continued her efforts to strengthen the purpose of the
duke. _Cf._ Forestier, p. 467.

[415] The precise occasion, if any existed, for the launching of the
second edict remains wholly in doubt. In a final effort to clear
the order from the suspicions and calumniations raised against it,
an appeal was made to Carl Theodore, in February, 1785, to permit
representatives of the order to appear before him and furnish proofs
of its innocence. This last desperate device failed. _Cf._ Engel, pp.
283–290, for a copy of this letter. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 465 _et seq._

[416] Engel, as in the former instance, copies the second edict in
full. _Cf. op. cit._, pp. 161–164. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 468, 469. The
terms of the second interdict provided that, in view of the alleged
degenerate character of the Order of the Illuminati, as well as of
the disorders it had occasioned, all its financial resources should
be confiscated, half to be given to the poor and half to the informer
against the order, “wenn er gleich selbst ein Mitglied wäre ... und
solcher keineswegs geoffenbart, sondern in Geheim gehalten werden
solle.” (Engel, p. 164.)

[417] Forestier’s comment is trenchant: “Par une ironie du sort, le
gouvernement, si indifferent ou si tolerant jusqu’alors, ne commença
à servir que lorsque le danger était passé et, après avoir respecté
si longtemps l’organisme vivant, il s’acharna sur le cadavre.” (_Op.
cit._, p. 469.)

[418] Cosandey and Renner (the latter also a professor associated with
Cosandey on the faculty of the Academy of Santa Maria) were two of
the men who supplied important information in this manner. Engel, pp.
291–304, prints their declarations. In this way, also, lists of names
of members of the order came into possession of the government. _Cf._
Engel, pp. 303 _et seq._

[419] A considerable amount of the most valuable papers of the order
were either carefully concealed or devoted to the flames immediately
after the launching of the second edict. _Cf._ Forestier, p. 469.
Later, the government obtained important assistance in its campaign by
coming into possession of a considerable portion of those that were
spared. _Cf._ Engel, pp. 259 _et seq._, 276 _et seq._

[420] _Cf._ Forestier, p. 475. Weishaupt was well out of harm’s way
when the inquiry began in his home city. He brought lasting discredit
upon himself by resorting to precipitate flight two weeks before
the proclamation of the second ban. It is evident that he saw the
storm gathering, and was resolved to put himself beyond personal
danger, whatever might happen to his associates. The excuse he seems
to have trumped up to justify his early flight had reference to a
difficulty that arose between him and the librarian of the University
of Ingolstadt over the latter’s failure to purchase two books which
Weishaupt held he needed for his classes. He fled across the border to
Regensburg, and finally settled at Gotha.

[421] _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._, p. 305, for a copy of the order. This
measure seemed to be rendered necessary by the fact that the lists of
Illuminati which Cosandey and Renner furnished the government contained
the names of several officers and other military personages. A later
decree called upon ex-members of the order in the army to furnish
information concerning the teachings and membership of the order,
and to present such papers and insignia as might be at hand. _Cf._
Forestier, p. 481.

[422] Those who made a frank acknowledgment of their membership in
the order were to be pardoned, while those who hesitated or showed
themselves contumacious were not only to lose their positions but to
suffer other penalties. _Cf._ Forestier, p. 478.

[423] _Ibid._

[424] _Ibid._

[425] _Ibid._, p. 475.

[426] Forestier gives the title of nine such productions that came
from Weishaupt’s pen within the space of a few months. _Cf. op. cit._,
p. 484. The most notable of these were: _Apologie der Illuminaten_,
Frankfort and Leipzig, 1786, and _Vollständige Geschichte der
Verfolgung der Illuminaten in Bayern_, Frankfort and Leipzig, 1786. The
latter was planned to consist of two volumes, but only one appeared.

[427] Zwack’s name had been on the list of members which Renner had put
into the hands of the government. He was at the time a councillor of
state. A short time before his house was invaded by the police and his
papers seized, he had been deposed from his position on account of his
relations with the Illuminati. At the time of the seizure he was living
at Landshut in circumstances of disgrace and suspicion. _Cf._ Engel, p.
303; Forestier, pp. 480, 498.

[428] These documents were published by the Bavarian government, under
the title: _Einige Originalschriften des Illuminaten Ordens_, Munich,
1787. Engel, pp. 259–262, publishes the list compiled by the government.

[429] Among these papers were found two smaller packets which gave
a foundation for the most inveterate hostility to the order. These
contained intimations of the order’s right to exercise the law of life
and death over its members, a brief dissertation entitled, _Gedanken
über den Selbstmord_, wherein Zwack, its author, had recorded his
defence of suicide (_cf._ Engel, p. 262), a eulogy of atheism, a
proposal to establish a branch of the order for women, the description
of an infernal machine for safeguarding secret papers, and receipts for
procuring abortion, counterfeiting seals, making poisonous perfumes,
secret ink, _etc._ (_Cf._ Forestier, pp. 499 _et seq._) The receipts
for procuring abortion were destined to have a very ugly personal
association in the public mind. Weishaupt, while still a resident of
Ingolstadt, had stained his private life because of a liaison with
his sister-in-law. On the 8 of February, 1780, his first wife had
died. Her sister, who was his house-keeper at the time, continued in
the household, and during the time that Weishaupt was waiting for a
papal dispensation, permitting his marriage with her, she was found
to be with child. Thrown into a panic on account of the failure of
the dispensation to arrive (as a matter of fact it did not reach
Ingolstadt until three years after it was first applied for), Weishaupt
contemplated recourse to the method of procuring an abortion, in
order to extricate himself from his painfully embarrassed position.
In August, 1783, he wrote Hertel, one of the prominent members of the
order, admitting the facts just stated. This letter fell into the hands
of the authorities and was published by them in the volume entitled,
_Nachtrag von weiteren Originalschriften_, Munich, 1787, vol. i, p. 14.
The stigma of a new disgrace was thus attached to the order. Weishaupt
made a pitifully weak effort to suggest extenuating circumstances for
his conduct, in his volume, _Kurze Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten_,
1787, pp. 13 _et seq._ Taken in connection with the objectionable
papers referred to above, this private scandal of the head of the order
made the accusation of gross immorality on the part of the Illuminati
difficult to evade. A spirit of intense revulsion penetrated the public

[430] Other secret documents of the order were seized by the police
in a search of the quarters of Baron Bassus, whose membership in the
order on account of his close friendship with Zwack, brought him under
the government’s suspicion. The police visitation referred to yielded
no very important result, apart from establishing more solidly the
government’s claim that the order had not obeyed the first edict.
The papers seized in this instance were published by the government
under the title, _Nachtrag von weiteren Originalschriften ... Zwei
Abtheilungen_, Munich, 1787.

[431] Forestier, pp. 504 _et seq._

[432] Mändl, in the most cowardly fashion, charged the order with
unmentionable practices. He seems to have been the Judas in the order’s
inner circle. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 505 _et seq._ _Cf._ Engel, pp. 331
_et seq._

[433] Massenhausen was Ajax in the order. The papers seized by the
police identified him as one of Weishaupt’s intimates.

[434] The “revelations” of Mändl appear to have been immediately
responsible for the edict. _Cf._ Forestier, p. 507.

[435] Engel, _op. cit._, p. 280.

[436] “Unter der nemlichen confiscations—und relegations Straf werden
die illuminaten Logen, sie mögen gleich auf diesen oder anderen Namen
umgetauft seyn, ebenfalls verbothen, worauf man auch allenthalben gute
Spehr’ [Späher] bestellen, und die Gesellschaften, welche entweder
in Wirth—oder Privathäusern mit versperrten Thüren oder sonst auf
verdächtige Weise gehalten werden, als wahre Logen behandeln lassen,
und die so leer als gewöhnliche Ausrede, das es nur ehrliche Compagnien
von guten Freunden sind, zumal von jenen, welche sich des Illuminatismi
und der Freygeisterei vorhin schon suspect gemacht haben, nicht
annehmen wird....” Quoted by Engel, p. 280.

[437] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 509.

[438] Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 511 _et seq._ _Cf._ Engel, _op. cit._,
pp. 378 _et seq._

[439] _Ibid._, p. 369. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 511 _et seq._

[440] _Ibid._, p. 512.

[441] _Ibid._, pp. 512 _et seq._ An effort to secure the extradition of
Weishaupt was defeated by an appeal to Duke Ernst. _Cf._ Engel, pp. 231
_et seq._

[442] The most significant of these were the following: _Einleitung zu
meiner Apologie_, 1787; _Bemerkungen über einige Originalschriften_,
published soon after the former; _Das verbesserte System der
Illuminaten mit allen seinen Graden Einrichtungen_, also soon after the
first mentioned work; _Kurze Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten_, 1787;
_Nachtrag zur Rechtfertigung meiner Absichten_, 1787.

[443] A sympathetic and moving account of the last years of Weishaupt’s
life appears in Engel, _op. cit._, pp. 380–402.

[444] Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 543 _et seq._


Although the Order of the Illuminati was dead, the world had yet to
reckon with its specter. So intense and widespread was the fear which
the order engendered, so clearly did the traditionalists of the age
see in its clientele the welding together into a secret machine of
war of the most mischievous and dangerous of those elements which
were discontented with the prevailing establishments of religion and
civil government, that it was impossible that its shadow should pass

The emergence of the order had attracted public attention so abruptly
and sharply, and its downfall had been so violent and so swift, that
public opinion lacked time to adjust itself to the facts in the case.
In Bavaria, particularly, the enemies of the order were unable to
persuade themselves that the machinations of the Illuminati could
safely be regarded as wholly of the past.[446] The documents of the
order were appealed to, to supply proof that its leaders had made
deliberate calculations against the day of possible opposition and
temporary disaster and with satanic cunning had made their preparations
to wring victory out of apparent defeat.[447] Besides, the depth of the
governments suspicions and hostility was such that additional, though
needless measures of state[448] kept very much alive in that country
the haunting fear of the continued existence of the order.

Outside of Bavaria numerous factors contributed to create the same
general impression in the public mind. Among these were the efforts
of the Rosicrucians to play upon the fears that the Illuminati had
awakened, the mistaken connections which, in the Protestant world,
were commonly made between the members of the Order of the Illuminati
and the representatives and promoters of the _Aufklärung_, and the
emergence of the German Union. To each of these in turn a word must be

Following the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, members of that
order in considerable numbers, attracted by the rapid growth and
the pretentious occultism of the Rosicrucians,[449] had united with
the latter system.[450] The result was the infusion of a definite
strain of clericalism into the order of the Rosicrucians and, in
consequence, a renewal of the attack upon the Illuminati. In Prussia,
where the Rosicrucians had firmly established themselves in Berlin,
King Frederick William II was under the influence of Wöllner, one of
his ministers and a leading figure in the Rosicrucian system.[451]
Through the latter’s relations with Frank, who at the time stood at
the head of the Rosicrucian order in Bavaria, the Prussian monarch was
easily persuaded that the operations of the Illuminati had not only
been extended to his own territories, but throughout all Germany.[452]
Encouraged by Wöllner, Frederick William took it upon himself to warn
neighboring monarchs respecting the peril which he believed threatened,
a course which bore at least one definite result in the measures taken
by the elector of Saxony to investigate the situation at Leipzig
where, according to the king of Prussia, a meeting of the chiefs of
the Illuminati had been effected.[453] Thus the notion that the order
of the Illuminati was still in existence was accorded the sanction of
influential monarchs.

The disposition of orthodox Protestants to confuse the advocates of
rationalism with the membership of the Illuminati finds its suggestion
of plausibility at a glance and stands in little need of specific
historical proof. The general effect of the undermining of traditional
faiths, for which the dominating influences of the period of the
_Aufklärung_ were responsible, was to create the impression among
the more simple-minded and credulous elements in the Protestant world
that a vast combination of forces was at work, all hostile to the
Christian religion and all striving to supplant faith by reason. So
vast and significant a movement of thought naturally enough tended to
engender various suspicions, and among these is to be numbered the
naïve conviction that the order which the Bavarian government had felt
compelled to stamp out, on account of its alleged impiety and its
immoral and anarchical principles, was but a local expression of the
prevailing opposition to the established systems and orthodox doctrines
of the age.[454]

The excitement occasioned by the appearance of the German Union (_Die
Deutsche Union_), on account of its definite connections with one of
the former leaders[455] of Weishaupt’s system and the unsavory private
character and avowed unscrupulous designs of its originator, gave
still more specific force to the Illuminati legend. Charles Frederick
Bahrdt,[456] a disreputable doctor of theology, in 1787, at Halle,
proposed to reap advantage from the ruin of Weishaupt’s system and
to recruit among its former members the supporters of a new league,
organized to accomplish the enlightenment of the people principally
by means of forming in every city secret associations of men[457] who
were to keep in correspondence with similar groups of their brethren
and who, by the employment of reading-rooms, were to familiarize the
people with those writings which were specially calculated to remove
popular prejudices and superstitions, and to break the force of appeals
to tradition. Further, these associations were to supply financial
assistance to writers who enlisted in the Union’s campaign, and to fill
the palms of booksellers who for the sake of a bribe showed themselves
willing to prevent the sale of the works of authors who withheld their

As an organization the German Union scarcely emerged from the stage of
inception; but the absurd policy of publicity pursued by its founder
gave to the project a wide airing and provoked hostile writings[459]
that added immensely to the importance of the matter. The new system
was boldly denounced as continuing the operations of the odious order
dissolved in Bavaria, with a shrewd change of tactics which substituted
“innocent” reading-rooms for the novitiate of Weishaupt’s organization,
and thus, it was urged, the way was opened for the exertion of a really
powerful influence upon the thought of the German people.[460]

By such means, and in such widely diverse and irrational ways, the
popular belief in the survival of the defunct Order of the Illuminati
was kept alive and supplied with definite points of attachment; but it
remained for the French Revolution, in all the rapidity and vastness of
its developments and in the terrifying effects which its more frightful
aspects exercised upon its observers, to offer the most exciting
suggestions and to stimulate to the freest play the imaginations of
those who were already persuaded that the secret associations that
plagued Bavaria still lived to trouble the earth.[461]

The supposed points of connection between the Order of the Illuminati
and the French Revolution were partly tangible, though decidedly
elusive,[462] but much more largely of the nature of theories framed
to meet the necessities of a case which in the judgment of dilettante
historians positively _required_ the hypothesis of a diabolical
conspiracy against thrones and altars (_i. e._, the civil power and the
church), though the labors of Hercules might have to be exceeded in
putting the same to paper.

Of the exiguous resources of interpreters of the Revolution who made
serious efforts to trace its impious and anarchical principles and its
savage enormities to their lair in the lodges of the Illuminati, the
following are perhaps the only ones worthy of note.

The public discussion of the affairs and principles of Weishaupt’s
organization, to which attention has already been called in various
connections, continued with unabated zeal even beyond the close of
the eighteenth century. At the very hour when the Revolution was
shocking the world by its lapse from its original self-control into
its horrible massacres, execution of monarchs, guillotine-lust, and
ferocious struggles between parties, new pamphlets and reviews bearing
on the demolished order’s constitution and objects found their way
into the channels of public communication. Conspicuous among these
were the following: _Die neuesten Arbeiten des Spartacus und Philo
in dem Illuminaten Orden, jetzt zum ersten Mal gedruckt und zur
Beherzigung bei gegenwärtigen Zeitläuften herausgegeben_,[463] and
_Illuminatus Dirigens oder Schottischer Ritter_,[464] announced as a
continuation of the former. These works, published at the instigation
of the authorities at Munich, attracted public attention anew to the
most extreme religious and social doctrines[465] of the order. Thus
the revolutionary character of Illuminism received heavy emphasis[466]
synchronously with contemporary events of the utmost significance to
the imperilled cause of political and religious conservatism.

In Austria an independent literary assault upon Illuminism developed.
At Vienna, Leopold Hoffman,[467] editor of the _Wiener Zeitschrift_,
fully convinced that the Order of the Illuminati had exercised a
baneful effect upon Freemasonry, to which he was devoted, abandoned his
chair of language and German literature at the University of Vienna to
dedicate his talents and his journal to the overthrow of Illuminated
Freemasonry.[468] Finding a zealous collaborator in a certain Dr.
Zimmerman, a physician of Hannover, a radical turned an extreme
conservative by the developments of the French Revolution, the two
labored energetically to stigmatize the Illuminati as the secret cause
of the political explosion in France.

The discontinuance of the _Wiener Zeitschrift_ in 1793 by no means
marked the end of the campaign. A deluge of pamphlets[469] had been
precipitated, all based upon the assumption that the order Weishaupt
had founded had subsided only in appearance. Declamation did not wait
upon evidence. It was alleged that the lower grades of the Illuminati
had been dissolved, but the superior grades were still practised. Under
cover of correspondence, recruits of the system were now being sought.
Freemasonry was being subjugated by Illuminism only that it might be
forced to serve the ends of its conqueror. Journalists partial to the
interests of the _Aufklärung_ had been enlisted for the same purpose.
The German Union was thus only one of the enterprises fostered by the
Illuminati to further their designs. The dogmas of the order had been
spread secretly in France by means of the clubs of that country, and
the effectiveness of the propaganda was being vividly demonstrated in
the horrors of the Revolution. Unless German princes should promptly
adopt rigorous measures against the various agents and enterprises of
the order in their territories, they might confidently expect similar
results to follow.[470]

Much more of like character was foisted upon the reading public. As
for contemporary historians who searched for specific evidence of an
alliance between the Illuminati of Germany and the Revolutionists in
France, their energies were chiefly employed in the development of a
clue which had as its kernel the supposed introduction of Illuminism
into France at the hands of the French revolutionary leader, Mirabeau,
and the German savant, Bode.[471] Unfolded, this view of the case may
be stated briefly as follows: Mirabeau, during his residence at Berlin,
in the years 1786 and 1787, came into touch with the Illuminati of that
city and was received as an adept into the order. Upon his return to
Paris he made the attempt to introduce Illuminism into that particular
branch of Masonry of which he was also a member, the _Philalèthes_
or _Amis Réunis_.[472] To give force to his purpose, he called upon
the Illuminati in Berlin to send to his assistance two talented
and influential representatives of the order. The men chosen by the
Illuminati-circle in Berlin, Bode and von dem Busche,[473] arrived
in Paris in the early summer of 1787. To conceal their purpose from
prying eyes, they spread the report that they had come from Germany to
investigate the subjects of magnetism and the extent of the influence
exerted by the Jesuits upon the secret societies of the age. Meantime,
the lodges of the _Philalèthes_, and through them the French Masonic
lodges in general, were inoculated with the principles of Illuminism.
French Freemasonry thus became committed to the project of forcing
the overthrow of thrones and altars. So transformed, these lodges
created secret committees who busied themselves with plans for the
precipitation of a great revolutionary movement. To these committees
belonged the subsequent leaders and heroes of the French Revolution—de
Rochefoucauld, Condorcet, Pétion, the Duke of Orléans (Grand Master
of French Masonry), Camille-Desmoulins, Danton, Lafayette, de Leutre,
Fauchet, _et al._ Through these and their associates the connection
between the lodges of Illuminated French Freemasonry and the powerful
political clubs of the country was effected. Thus Illuminism was
able to inspire Jacobinism. Finally, on the 14 of July, 1789, the
revolutionary mine was sprung, and the great secret of the Illuminati
became the possession of the world.[474]

At every point this fantastic exposition suffered the fatal defect
of a lack of historical proof. Even the specific assertions of
its inventors which were most necessary to their hypothesis were
disproved by the facts brought to light by more cautious and unbiased
investigators who followed. _E. g._, the idea of Mirabeau’s intimate
connection with the program of the Order of the Illuminati and his
profound faith in it as the best of all instruments for the work of
social amelioration is rendered untenable the moment the rash and
unrepublican temper of his spirit is called seriously to mind.[475]
Again, the real object of Bode’s visit to Paris, a matter of vital
importance in the Illuminati-French Revolution hypothesis, was not
to communicate Illuminism to French Freemasons, but to attend an
assembly of representatives of the _Philalèthes_, called to consider
the results of an inquiry previously undertaken, respecting the occult
interests and tendencies of that order. Convinced that that branch of
French Masonry was yielding to an inordinate passion for the occult
sciences, Bode had been prevailed upon by German Masons, von dem
Busche[476] among the number, to make a journey to Paris to warn his
French brethren of their mistake. A subsidiary personal interest in the
newly-discovered “science” of animal magnetism[477] helped to form his
decision to make the trip.[478]

The much more important contention that the Illuminati were
instrumental in starting the French Revolution, shows a lack of
historical perspective that either leaves out of account or obscures
the importance of the economic, social, political, and religious
causes, tangible and overt, though complex, that rendered the
Revolution inevitable.

Yet the legend of Illuminism as the responsible author of the French
Revolution found numerous vindicators and interpreters,[479] to the
efforts of two of which, because of their intimate relation to the
interests of the investigation in hand, our attention in the remainder
of this chapter is to be confined.

In the year 1797 there appeared at Edinburgh, Scotland, a volume
bearing the following title: _Proofs of a Conspiracy against All the
Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on in the Secret Meetings
of the Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies_.[480] Its
author, John Robison,[481] an English savant and Freemason, whose
position in the academic world entitled his statements to respect, had
had his curiosity regarding the character and effects of continental
Freemasonry greatly stimulated by a stray volume of the German
periodical, _Religions Begebenheiten_,[482] which came under his
notice in 1795, and in which he found expositions of Masonic systems
and schisms so numerous and so seriously maintained by their advocates
as to create deep wonderment in his mind.[483] Bent upon discovering
both the occasion and the significance of this tangled mass, Robison
obtained possession of other volumes of the periodical mentioned[484]
and set himself the task of elucidating the problem presented by
Masonry’s luxuriant growth and its power of popular appeal.

The conclusions Robison came to are best stated in his own words:

  I have found that the covert of a Mason Lodge had been employed in
  every country for venting and propagating sentiments in religion
  and politics, that could not have circulated in public without
  exposing the author to great danger. I found, that this impunity
  had gradually encouraged men of licentious principles to become
  more bold, and to teach doctrines subversive of all our notions
  of morality—of all our confidence in the moral government of the
  universe—of all our hopes of improvement in a future state of
  existence—and of all satisfaction and contentment with our present
  life, so long as we live in a state of civil subordination. I
  have been able to trace these attempts, made, through a course
  of fifty years, under the specious pretext of enlightening the
  world by the torch of philosophy, and of dispelling the clouds
  of civil and religious superstition which keep the nations of
  Europe in darkness and slavery. I have observed these doctrines
  gradually diffusing and mixing with all the different systems of
  Free Masonry; till, at last, AN ASSOCIATION HAS BEEN FORMED for the
  this Association exerting itself zealously and systematically,
  till it has become almost irresistible: And I have seen that the
  most active leaders in the French Revolution were members of this
  Association, and conducted their first movements according to
  its principles, and by means of its instructions and assistance,
  _formally requested and obtained_: And, lastly, I have seen that
  this Association still exists, still works in secret, and that not
  only several appearances among ourselves show that its emissaries
  are endeavouring to propagate their detestable doctrines, but that
  the Association has Lodges in Britain corresponding with the mother
  Lodge at Munich ever since 1784.... The Association of which I have
  been speaking is the order of ILLUMINATI, founded, in 1775 [_sic_],
  by Dr. Adam Weishaupt, professor of Canon-law in the University of
  Ingolstadt, and abolished in 1786 by the Elector of Bavaria, but
  revived immediately after, under another name, and in a different
  form, all over Germany. It was again detected, and seemingly
  broken up; but it had by this time taken so deep root that it
  still subsists without being detected, and has spread into all the
  countries of Europe.[485]

The “proofs” to which Robison appealed to support these conclusions
betrayed the same lack of critical mind[486] with which all the
advocates of the Illuminati-French Revolution hypothesis are to be
charged. Only the more significant elements are here brought under

That inclination for a multiplication of the degrees and an elaboration
of the ceremonies of simple English Freemasonry which Robison found
operative among French Freemasons from the beginning of the eighteenth
century on,[488] had resulted in making the lodges attractive to those
elements in France whose discontent over civil and ecclesiastical
oppressions had grown great.[489] Under the pressure imposed upon
private and public discussion by the state and by the church, men of
letters, _avocats au parlement_, unbeneficed abbés, impecunious youths,
and self-styled philosophers thronged the halls of the lodges, eager
to take advantage of the opportunity their secret assemblies afforded
to discuss the most intimate concerns of politics and religion.[490]
Despite the wide contrariety of minor views thus represented, one
general idea and language, that of “cosmopolitanism,” was made
familiar to a multitude of minds. Worse still, the popular interest
of the period in mysticism, theosophy, cabala, and genuine science
was appealed to, in order to provide a more numerous clientele among
whom might be disseminated the doctrines of atheism, materialism, and
discontent with civil subordination.[491] Thus the Masonic lodges in
France were made the “hot-beds, where the seeds were sown, and tenderly
reared, of all the pernicious doctrines which soon after choaked every
moral or religious cultivation, and have made ... Society worse than a

The introduction of French Freemasonry into Germany, according to
Robison, was followed by similar results.[493] Thither, as to France,
simple English Freemasonry had first gone, and because of its exclusive
emphasis upon the principle of brotherly love the Germans had welcomed
it and treated it with deep seriousness;[494] but the sense of mystery
and the taste for ritualistic embellishments which the advent of
French Masonry promoted, speedily changed the temper of the German
brethren.[495] A reckless tendency to innovation set in. The love
of stars and ribbons,[496] and the desire to learn of ghost-raising,
exorcism, and alchemy,[497] became the order of the day. Rosicrucianism
flourished,[498] rival systems appeared, and questions of precedency
split German Freemasonry into numerous fiercely hostile camps.[499]

Meantime, on account of the propaganda carried on by the
Enlighteners,[500] a revolution of the public mind took place in
Germany, marked by a great increase of scepticism, infidelity, and
irreligion, not only among the wealthy and luxurious but among the
profligate elements in the lower classes as well.[501] Rationalistic
theologians, aided and abetted by booksellers and publishers and by
educational theorists,[502] coöperated to make the ideas of orthodox
Christianity distasteful to the general public.[503] To give effect
to this campaign of seduction, the lodges of Freemasonry were invaded
and their secret assemblies employed to spread free-thinking
and cosmopolitical ideas.[504] Thus German Freemasonry became
impregnated with the impious and revolutionary tendencies of French

At such an hour, according to Robison, Weishaupt founded his Order of
the Illuminati.[506] Employing the opportunities afforded him by his
connections with the Masons,[507] he exerted himself to make disciples
and to lay the foundations of an “Association ... which, in time,
should govern the world,”[508] the express aim of which “was to abolish
Christianity and overturn all civil government.”[509]

To accomplish this end a most insinuating pedagogy was adopted,[510]
the members were trained to spy upon one another,[511] and hypocrisy
which did not stop short of positive villainy was practised.[512] As a
fitting climax to a program that involved the complete subversion of
existing moral standards, women were to be admitted to the lodges.[513]

Following an analysis of the grades of the order,[514] lifted little
if any above the general plane of ineptitude upon which the author
moved, Robison incorporated into his history of the Bavarian Illuminati
a table of the lodges that had been established prior to 1786.[515]
Drawing professedly upon the private papers of the order as published
by the Bavarian government, he worked out a list which included five
lodges in Strassburg; four in Bonn; fourteen in Austria; “many” in each
of the following states, Livonia, Courland, Alsace, Hesse, Poland,
Switzerland, and Holland; eight in England; two in Scotland; and
“several” in America.[516]

The suppression of the Illuminati by the Bavarian government was
regarded by Robison as merely “formal” in its nature:[517] the evil
genius of the banned order speedily reappeared in the guise of the
German Union.[518] Into the discussion of the German Union Robison
read the “proofs” of an enterprise truly gigantic both as to its
proportions and its baneful influence. The _illuminated_ lodges of
Freemasonry were declared to have given way to _reading societies_
wherein the initiated, _i. e._, the members of the Union, actively
employed themselves, apparently to accomplish the noble ends of
enlightening mankind and securing the dethronement of superstition
and fanaticism,[519] but actually to secure the destruction of every
sentiment of religion, morality and loyalty.[520] The higher mysteries
of Bahrdt’s silly and abortive project were declared to be identical
with those of Weishaupt’s order: natural religion and atheism were
to be substituted for Christianity, and political principles equally
anarchical with those of the Illuminati were fostered.[521]

Although Robison confessed himself driven to pronounce Bahrdt’s
enterprise “coarse, and palpably mean,”[522] and although the archives
and officers of the Union were held to be “contemptible,”[523] none
the less an elaborate though most disjointed tale was unfolded by
him. This involved the organization of the German literati and the
control of the book trade, with a view to forming taste and directing
public opinion;[524] and the establishment of reading societies to
the number of eight hundred or more,[525] among whose members were
to be circulated such books as were calculated to fortify the mind
against all disposition to be startled on account of the appearance
of “doctrines and maxims which are singular, or perhaps opposite
to those which are current in ordinary societies.”[526] Thus it
would be possible “to work in silence upon all courts, families,
and individuals in every quarter, and acquire an influence in the
appointment of court-officers, stewards, secretaries, parish-priests,
public teachers, or private tutors.”[527]

Robison was unable to present anything beyond the most tenuous “proofs”
that a direct relation existed between Weishaupt’s system and Bahrdt’s
enterprise;[528] still he did not hesitate to affirm that, on account
of the emergence of the latter, it had been made clear that the
suppression of the Illuminati had been futile.[529] “Weishaupt and his
agents were still busy and successful.”[530]

Arriving finally at the subject of the French Revolution, Robison
devoted something more than sixty pages to an effort to connect the
system of Weishaupt with the great European debacle. Approaching the
matter with unconcealed dubiety,[531] he found his confidence and
boldness growing as he proceeded. Relying chiefly upon such uncritical
and promiscuous sources as the _Religions Begebenheiten_, the _Wiener
Zeitschrift_, and the _Magazin des Literatur et Kunst_ (_sic_), and
a work entitled _Mémoires Posthumes de Custine_, he sought a point of
direct contact between the Illuminati and the French revolutionary
movement by stressing the enlistment of Mirabeau,[532] the mission of
Bode and von Busche,[533] and the instructions which, he alleged, were
given by the latter to the _Amis Réunis_ and the _Philalèthes_ through
their chief lodges at Paris.[534]

The mission of Bode and von Busche, according to Robison, had been
undertaken at the request of Mirabeau and the Abbé Perigord[535]
(Talleyrand). When Weishaupt’s plan was thus communicated to the two
French lodges mentioned, “they saw at once its importance, in all
its branches, such as the use of the Masonic Lodges, to fish for
Minervals—the rituals and ranks to entice the young, and to lead them
by degrees to opinions and measures which, at first sight, would have
shocked them.”[536] By the beginning of 1789 the lodges of the _Grand
Orient_[537] had received the secrets of the Illuminati.[538] The Duke
of Orléans, who had been “illuminated” by Mirabeau,[539] and whose
personal political ambitions were strongly stressed by Robison,[540]
gave hearty support to the enterprise; and thus in a very short time
the Masonic lodges of France were converted into a set of secret
affiliated societies, all corresponding with the mother lodges of
Paris, and ready to rise instantly and overturn the government as
soon as the signal should be given.[541] The political committees
organized in each of these “illuminated” lodges familiarized not
only their brethren but, through them, the country in general, with
the secret revolutionary program.[542] Thus it happened that the
“stupid Bavarians” became the instructors of the French “in the art
of overturning the world”;[543] and thus, also, it happened that “the
whole nation changed, and changed again, and again, as if by beat of

Such in its main outlines and in its “principal links” of evidence is
the _Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments
of Europe_. Yet to obtain a just appraisal of the book it must not
be overlooked that its author wrote an additional one hundred and
fifty pages, not of “proofs” but of argument, partly to defend errors
of judgment he may have committed in his treatment of the subject,
but chiefly to persuade his fellow countrymen that the principles of
Illuminism were false and to urge them to turn a deaf ear to these

We turn now to consider another and much more elaborate exposition
of the Illuminati-French Revolution legend. Almost at the moment of
the appearance of Robison’s book, there appeared in French, at London
and Hamburg, a far more finished production, devoted to the same
thesis and bearing the title, _Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du
Jacobinisme_.[545] Its author, the Abbé Barruel,[546] who had been
trained as a Jesuit, enjoying literary talents much superior to those
of Robison and relying upon documentary evidence more copious if not
more convincing, defined his purpose in the following manner:

  We shall show that with which it is incumbent on all nations
  and their chiefs to be acquainted: we shall demonstrate that,
  even to the most horrid deeds perpetrated during the French
  Revolution, everything was foreseen and resolved on, was combined
  and premeditated: that they were the offspring of deep-thought
  villainy, since they had been prepared and were produced by
  men, who alone held the clue of those plots and conspiracies,
  lurking in the secret meetings where they had been conceived,
  and only watching the favorable moment of bursting forth. Though
  the events of each day may not appear to have been combined,
  there nevertheless existed a secret agent and a secret cause,
  giving rise to each event, and turning each circumstance to
  the long-sought-for end. Though circumstances may often have
  afforded the pretense of the occasion, yet the grand cause of
  the revolution, its leading features, its atrocious crimes, will
  still remain one continued chain of deep-laid and premeditated

The amazing breadth of Barruel’s canvass, as well as the naiveté of
the artist, are immediately disclosed in his foreword respecting the
“triple conspiracy” which he proposes to lay bare.[548] To present
this “triple conspiracy” in his own words will do more than define the
abbé’s conception of his task: its transparent incoordination will make
it apparent that much of the work of examination that might otherwise
seem to be called for is futile.

  1st. Many years before the French Revolution, men who styled
  themselves Philosophers conspired against the God of the Gospel,
  against Christianity, without distinction of worship, whether
  Protestant or Catholic, Anglican or Presbyterian. The grand object
  of this conspiracy was to overturn every altar where Christ was
  adored. It was the conspiracy of the _Sophisters[549] of Impiety_,

  2dly. This school of impiety soon formed the _Sophisters of
  Rebellion_: these latter, combining their conspiracy against
  kings with that of the Sophisters of Impiety, coalesce with that
  ancient sect whose tenets constituted the whole secret of the
  _Occult-Lodges_ of Free-Masonry, which long since, imposing on the
  credulity of its most distinguished adepts, only initiated the
  chosen of the elect into the secret of their unrelenting hatred for
  Christ and kings.

  3dly. From the Sophisters of Impiety and Rebellion arose
  _Sophisters of Impiety and Anarchy_. These latter conspire not
  only against Christ and his altars, but against every religion
  natural or revealed: not only against kings, but against every
  government, against all civil society, even against all property

  This third sect, known by the name of Illumines, coalesced with
  the Sophisters conspiring against Christ, coalesced with the
  Sophisters who, with the Occult Masons, conspired against both
  Christ and kings. It was the coalition of the adepts of _impiety_,
  of the adepts of _rebellion_, and the adepts of _anarchy_, which
  formed the _CLUB of the JACOBINS_.... Such was the origin, such
  the progress of that sect, since become so dreadfully famous under
  the name JACOBIN. In the present Memoirs each of these three
  conspiracies shall be treated separately; their authors unmasked,
  the object, means, coalition and progress of the adepts shall be
  laid open.[550]

The sole proposition which Barruel proposed to maintain is thus
made clear enough. _All_ the developments of the French Revolution
were to be explained on the basis of the following postulate: The
Encyclopedists, Freemasons, and Bavarian Illuminati, working together,
not unconsciously but with well-planned coördination, produced the
Jacobins, and the Jacobins in turn produced the Revolution. Over all,
embracing all, the word “conspiracy” must needs be written large.

The first volume of the Memoirs was devoted to the conspiracy of the
philosophers. Voltaire, D’Alembert, Frederick II, and Diderot—“Voltaire
the chief, D’Alembert the most subtle agent, Frederick the protector
and often the adviser, Diderot the forlorn hope”[551]—these were the
men who originally leagued themselves together “in the most inveterate
hatred of Christianity.”[552] Bringing out into bold relief the most
malignant and brutal of the anticlerical and anti-Christian utterances
of Voltaire and his friends,[553] as well as all available evidence of
a crafty strategy on the part of the conspirators to avoid detection
of their plan,[554] Barruel was emboldened to affirm a desperate plan
to overturn every altar where Christ was adored, whether in London,
Geneva, Stockholm, Petersburg, Paris, Madrid, Vienna, or Rome, whether
Protestant or Catholic.[555]

The first definite step in this campaign of the philosophers is
declared to have been the publication of _L’Encyclopédie_;[556] the
second, the suppression of the Jesuits and the widespread elimination
of religious houses;[557] and the third, the capture of the French
Academy by the philosophers and the diversion of its honors to impious

The foregoing were measures which primarily concerned “the chiefs,”
or “better sort.”[559] Efforts to extend the conspiracy to the hovel
and the cottage were also made. Accordingly, appeals to toleration,
reason, and humanity became the order of the day.[560] These were
intended to impress the populace and, by a show of sympathy with
those who complained of their condition, prepare the way for the days
of rebellion, violence, and murder which were yet to come.[561] Free
schools were established, directed by men who, privy to the great
conspiracy, became zealous corrupters of youth.[562] All was carefully
calculated and planned to render possible the full fruitage of the
designs of the conspirators when the harvest day should come.

Having thus dealt with the conspiracy against altars, Barruel turned
in his second volume to consider the plot against thrones. The
great inspirers of this covert attack upon monarchy were Voltaire,
Montesquieu, and Rousseau. Voltaire, though by nature a friend of
kings, whose favor and caresses were his delight, yet, since he found
them standing in the way of his efforts to extirpate Christianity, was
led to oppose them, and to substitute the doctrines of equality of
rights and liberty of reason for his earlier emphasis upon loyalty to
sovereigns.[563] Unwittingly, through his _Spirit of Laws_, Montesquieu
had helped on the anti-monarchical resolution by his heavy emphasis
upon the essential differences between monarchies and democracies, thus
for the first time suggesting to the French people that they lived
under a despotic government and helping to alienate them from their
king.[564] As for Rousseau, in his _Social Contract_ he had widened the
path which Montesquieu had opened.[565] His doctrines had the effect of
placing monarchy in an abhorrent light. They filled the minds of the
people with a passion for Liberty and Equality.

The systems of Montesquieu and Rousseau, particularly, induced
the Sophisters of Impiety to combine the task of overthrowing
monarchy with the task of overthrowing religion.[566] A sweeping
attempt to popularize the leveling principles embodied in those two
systems immediately developed. A flood of antimonarchical writings
appeared,[567] governments were sharply criticized, despotism was
roundly denounced, the minds of the people were agitated and inflamed,
and the notion of revolution was rendered familiar both by precept and

Some powerful secret agency was needed, however, to promote this
vast conspiracy. The lodges of Freemasonry suggested a tempting
possibility. The members of the craft gave ample evidence that they
were susceptible.[569] The occult lodges,[570] moreover, already had
traveled far toward the goal of revolution. All their protests to the
contrary, their _one_ secret was: “Equality and Liberty; all men are
equals and brothers; all men are free.”[571] Surely it would not be
difficult for the enemies of thrones and altars to reach the ears
of men who cherished such a secret, and to convert their lodges into
council-chambers and forums for the propagation of the doctrines of
impiety and rebellion.

An alliance was speedily consummated,[572] and a fresh torrent of
declamation and calumnies, all directed against the altar and the
throne, began to pour through these newly discovered subterranean
channels.[573] The _Grand Orient_ constituted a central committee which
as early as 1776 instructed the deputies of the lodges throughout
France to prepare the brethren for insurrection.[574] Condorcet and
Sieyès placed themselves at the head of another lodge, to which the
Propaganda was to be traced.[575] In addition, a secret association
bearing the title _Amis des Noirs_ created a _regulating committee_,
composed of such men as Condorcet, the elder Mirabeau, Sieyès,
Brissot, Carra, the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Clavière, Lepelletier de
Saint-Fargeau, Valade, La Fayette, and Bergasse.[576] This _regulating
committee_ was also in intimate correspondence with the French lodges
of Freemasonry. Thus a powerful secret organization was at hand,
composed of not less than six hundred thousand members all told, at
least five hundred thousand of whom could be fully counted upon to do
the bidding of the conspirators, “all zealous for the Revolution, all
ready to rise at the first signal and to impart the shock to all other
classes of the people.”[577]

However, all these machinations might have come to naught had it not
been for the encouragement and direction supplied by the Illuminati.
In the latter Barruel saw the apotheosis of infamy and corruption.[578]
With diabolical ingenuity the chiefs of the Illuminati succeeded in
evolving an organization which put into the hands of the conspirators,
_i. e._, the philosophers and Freemasons, the very instrument they
needed to give full effect to their plans. The superiority of that
organization was to be seen in its principles of general subordination
and the gradation of superiors, in the minute instructions given to
adepts and officers covering every conceivable responsibility and
suggesting infinite opportunities to promote the order’s welfare,
and in the absolute power of its _general_.[579] Thus was built
up a hierarchy of savants, an association held under a most rigid
discipline, a formidable machine capable of employing its maximum power
as its governing hand might direct.[580] With the close of the third
volume Barruel considers that he has been able to present a “complete
academy of Conspirators.”[581]

Barruel’s last volume, the most formidable of all, was devoted by its
author to the forging of the final link in his chain: the coalescence
of the conspiring philosophers, Freemasons, and Illuminati into the
Jacobins. To establish a connection between the “illuminated” Masons
and the immediate “authors and abettors of the French Revolution,”[582]
_i. e._, the Jacobins, Barruel had recourse to the familiar
inventions of the reappearance of the Bavarian Illuminati after its
suppression,[583] the rise and corrupting influence of the German
Union,[584] that treacherous “modification of Weishaupt’s _Minerval_
schools,”[585] and, particularly, the pretended mission of Bode and von
Busche to Paris.[586]

With respect to this last invention, no more worthy of our comment
than the others except for the fact that it was supposed to supply
the direct point of contact between the conspirators and the French
Revolution, Barruel was obliged to admit that he was unable to
place before his readers evidence of the precise character of the
negotiations that took place between the deputation from Berlin and
the French lodges:[587] “facts” would have to be permitted to speak
for themselves.[588] These “facts” were such as the following: the
lodges of Paris were rapidly converted into clubs, with _regulating
committees_ and _political committees_;[589] the resolutions of the
_regulating committees_ were communicated through the committee of
correspondence of the _Grand Orient_ to the heads of the Masonic lodges
scattered throughout France;[590] the day of general insurrection was
thus fixed for July 14, 1789;[591] on the fatal day the lodges were
dissolved, and the Jacobins, suddenly throwing off their garments of
secrecy and hypocrisy, stood forth in the clear light of day.[592]

His last two hundred pages were devoted by Barruel to arguments shaped
chiefly to show that the principles of the Revolutionary leaders were
identical with the principles of the illuminated lodges;[593] that
the successes of the Revolutionary armies, of Custine beyond the
Rhine,[594] of Dumouriez in Belgium,[595] of Pichegru in Holland,[596]
and of Bonaparte in Italy, in Malta, and in Egypt,[597] were explicable
only on the ground of treacherous intrigues carried on by the agents
of Illuminism; and that no country, moreover, need flatter itself it
would escape the seductions and plots of the conspirators. The dragon’s
teeth of revolution were already sown in Switzerland, in Sweden, in
Russia, in Poland, in Austria, in Prussia, _and in America_.[598] With
Barruel’s comment upon America,[599] our discussion of the _Memoirs of
Jacobinism_ may well come to a close.

  As the plague flies on the wings of the wind, so do their
  triumphant legions infect America. Their apostles have infused
  their principles into the submissive and laborious negroes; and
  St. Domingo and Guadaloupe have been converted into vast charnel
  houses for their inhabitants. So numerous were the brethren in
  North America, that Philadelphia and Boston trembled, lest _their
  rising constitution should be obliged to make way for that of
  the great club_; and if for a time the brotherhood has been
  obliged to shrink back into their hiding places, they are still
  sufficiently numerous to raise collections and transmit them to
  the insurgents of Ireland;[600] thus contributing toward that
  species of revolution which is the object of their ardent wishes
  in America.[601] God grant that the United States may not learn to
  their cost, that Republics are equally menaced with Monarchies; and
  that the immensity of the ocean is but a feeble barrier against the
  universal conspiracy of the Sect!

NOTE: The literary relationship between the works of Robison and
Barruel is of sufficient interest and significance to warrant some
comment. Robison’s volume was published before its author saw Barruel’s
composition in its French text.[602] Later, Robison was moved to
rejoice that Barruel had confirmed his main positions and contentions.
A few things in the _Memoirs of Jacobinism_, however, impress him
as startling. He confesses that he had never before heard the claim
seriously made that “irreligion and unqualified Liberty and Equality
are the genuine and original Secrets of Free Masonry, and the ultimatum
of a regular progress through all its degrees.”[603] He is driven to
assert that _this_ is not the secret of Masonry as he has learned it
from other sources. Robison also recognizes differences in the two
works respecting the exposition of certain Masonic degrees. For his
part he is not willing to admit that his sources are unreliable.[604]

Barruel, on the other hand, did not get sight of Robison’s volume until
just as his third volume was going to press.[605] He comments in part
as follows: “Without knowing it, we have fought for the same cause with
the same arms, and pursued the same course; but the Public are on the
eve of seeing our respective quotations, and will observe a remarkable
difference between them.”[606] That difference Barruel attempts to
explain on the ground that Robison had adopted the method of combining
and condensing his quotations from his sources. Besides, he thinks
his zealous confederate “in some passages ... has even adopted as
truth certain assertions which the correspondence of the Illuminées
evidently demonstrate to have been invented by them against their
adversaries, and which,” he continues, “in my Historical Volume I shall
be obliged to treat in an opposite sense.”[607] Barruel also differs
with Robison respecting the time of the origin of Masonry.[608] But all
such matters are of slight consequence; all suggestions of opposition
and disagreement between Robison and Barruel are brushed aside by him
in the following summary fashion: “ ... It will be perceived that we
are not to be put in competition with each other; Mr. Robison taking a
general view while I have attempted to descend into particulars: as to
the substance we agree.”[609]

It was one of the most confident boasts of the supporters of the idea
of a “conspiracy against thrones and altars” that these two writers,
Robison and Barruel, had worked at the same problem without the
knowledge of each other’s effort, and thus following independent lines
of investigation, had reached the same conclusion. The merit of the
claim may safely be left to the reader’s judgment.


[445] “Es muss die Furcht vor dem verschrieenen Illuminatismus geradezu
wie ein Druck in der Luft gehangen haben, denn der Orden selbst
existierte in seiner festeren Organisation schon lange nicht mehr,
als sich die Gespensterfurcht vor ihm in so allgemeiner Weise breit
machte.” (Engel, _op. cit._, p. 425.)

[446] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 613.

[447] _Ibid._, pp. 613 _et seq._

[448] As late as November 15, 1790, incited thereto by the priest
Frank, the duke of Bavaria proclaimed a new interdict against the
order. The threat of death as a punishment for membership in the order
or activity on its behalf was again imposed. _Cf._ Engel, p. 371;
Forestier, pp. 614 _et seq._ The following year the police of the city
of Munich compiled a list of ninety-one names (Forestier gives the
number as ninety-two, _cf. ibid._, p. 615), of members of the order who
were supposed to be still active, and proceeded to apply the policy of
banishing those who were held to be most dangerous. A number suffered
in this way. _Cf._ Engel, pp. 371 _et seq._ _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 615
_et seq._ A spirit of reckless denunciation ruled in Munich, because of
which no suspected man’s person was safe. Not until the death of Carl
Theodore, in 1799, did this period of hostility to the order on the
part of the Bavarian government finally come to an end.

[449] A reorganization of the Rosicrucian system had taken place in
1767, which stressed the antiquity, sanctity, and superior character
of the order in its relations to the rest of the Masonic fraternity.
According to their claims, the Rosicrucians alone were able to explain
the hieroglyphics, symbols, and allegories of Freemasonry. The
structure of the order was greatly elaborated at the time indicated,
and thus supplementing its traditional appeal to the thirst for alchemy
and magic, the order grew rapidly. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 187–191. _Cf._
Engel, p. 240.

[450] Vehse, in his _Geschichte des Preussischen Hofes_, vol. ii, p.
35, puts the matter thus: “In den Ländern nun, wo sie aufgehoben waren,
brauchten die Exjesuiten das Mittel in den geheimen Gesellschaften
Aufnahme zu suchen. Sie bildeten hier eine schleichende und deshalb
um so sichere Opposition gegen alle Aufklärungstendenzen. In dem
Freimaurerorden stifteten sie die sogenannten ‘inneren Systeme.’ Hier
waren sie als Proselytenmacher ganz in der Stille tätig und arbeiteten
mit Macht darauf hin, das obscurante Pfaffentum und die despotische
Hierarchie in beiden Konfessionen, im Protestantismus sowohl als
Katholizismus wieder herzustellen.” (Quoted by Engel, pp. 241 _et seq._)

[451] Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 191. Engel, _op. cit._, p. 242.

[452] _Ibid._, p. 242.

[453] _Ibid._, pp. 247 _et seq._ Forestier brings into connection with
this effort of the king of Prussia to check the supposed operations of
the Illuminati, a further reproach which came upon the order on account
of the course pursued by the Rosicrucians in spreading the report in
the Masonic world that the Eclectic Alliance, an ill-fated effort to
unite and dominate German Freemasonry, launched in 1783, was a survival
of the Order of the Illuminati. The unpopularity and suspicion which
the Eclectic Alliance incurred were due in part to its attempts to
eliminate the high grades of Masonry, but more especially to the
charges made against it by representatives of rival Masonic systems
that it had at heart the undermining of the Christian religion. _Cf.
ibid._, pp. 617 _et seq._, 383–388. The Illuminati had had affiliations
with the Eclectic Alliance, and hence a certain justification had been
given for the accusations which were transferred from the former to the

[454] The loose use of the term “Illuminati” involved in these
statements is only partially illustrated in the following comment of
Mounier: “On a donné par dérision la qualité d’_Illuminés_ à tous
les charlatans mystiques de ce siècle, à tous ceux qui s’occupent
d’alchimie, de magie et de cabale, de revenans, de relations avec des
esprits intermédiaires, tels que les Saint-Germain, les Cagliostro,
les Swedenborg, les Rose-croix et les Martinistes: mais il a existé
une autre espèce d’illuminés en Allemagne” (_i. e._, Weishaupt’s
system). (_De l’influence attribuée aux philosophes, aux franc-maçons
et aux illuminés, sur la révolution de France_, p. 169.) Not these
systems alone, but the representatives of the diffused forces of the
Enlightenment were appointed to share the mantle of the ambiguous term.

[455] Baron Knigge. In responding to Bahrdt’s appeal to assist him in
working out the system of the German Union, Knigge violated the pledge
he had made to the Bavarian government not to concern himself again
with secret organizations. For his indiscretion he paid the penalty of
an unpleasant notoriety. _Cf._ Forestier, p. 629.

[456] Bahrdt’s career was objectionable from almost every point of
view. He had been first a pastor, and later a professor of sacred
philology at the University of Leipzig. Here, as at Erfurt, the place
of his next professional labors, his dissolute conduct involved
him in public scandals which lost him his post. In 1771 he went to
Giessen as preacher and professor of theology. Later, after numerous
changes of location and in the character of his educational activity,
he took refuge at Halle, where he conducted courses in rhetoric,
eloquence, declamation, and ethics. A man of low tastes, his life was
without dignity and solid convictions. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 624 _et
seq._; Mounier, pp. 201 _et seq._; P. Tschackert, in Herzog-Hauck,
_Realencyklopädie_, 3. Aufl., ii, (1897), pp. 357–359.

[457] These associations were to be divided into six grades:
Adolescent, Man, Elder, Mesopolite, Diocesan, and Superior. A ritual
was provided and the low initiation fee of one _thaler_ imposed. The
system, never fully developed, conveys the impression of crudeness and

[458] Mounier, pp. 201 _et seq._ Forestier makes the added suggestion
that Bahrdt saw in the formation of the Union a chance to further his
own literary ambitions and pecuniary interests. _Cf._ Forestier, p. 627.

[459] _Ibid._, pp. 629, 630.

[460] _Ibid._

[461] Mounier, p. 186.

[462] “Die merkwürdigste, aber auch gleichzeitig groteskeste
Beschuldigung, die jemals dem Illuminatenorden nachgesagt worden ist,
war die, dass er die französische Revolution zur Explosion gebracht
habe. Es gehörte recht viel Kombinationsvermögen und Taschenspielerei
in der Logik dazu, um den Beweis für diese wundersame Behauptung
zusammenzuleimen, aber in jener Zeit wurde tatsächlich alles geglaubt,
sobald es sich darum handelte, dem Illuminatismus eine neue Schurkerei
aufzuhalsen.” (Engel, pp. 402, 404. _Cf._ Mounier, pp. 124, 215 _et

[463] Published anonymously at Munich, in 1794.

[464] Title in full: _Illuminatus Dirigens oder Schottischer Ritter.
Ein Pendant zu der nicht unwichtigen Schrift: Die neuesten Arbeiten,
etc._, Munich, 1794.

[465] The grades of Priest and Regent were reproduced in the first of
these two works. The most objectionable principles of the order were
reserved to these two grades.

[466] Forestier brings into connection with the publication of these
pamphlets the appearance of certain brochures of Knigge’s, wherein he
espoused with great ardor the cause of the French Revolutionists. The
special import of this requires no comment. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 636 _et

[467] Hoffman had himself been a member of the Illuminati, at Vienna.
_Cf._ Forestier, _op. cit._, p. 646.

[468] The date was early in 1792 (!). _Cf. ibid._, p. 646.

[469] Forestier, whose treatment at this point is characteristically
thorough, gives the titles, or otherwise refers to not less than
fourteen pamphlets or brochures, in addition to numerous magazine
articles. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 649–658.

[470] Forestier, _op. cit._, pp. 649–658.

[471] Johann Joachim Christoph Bode (1730–1793), by no means a
distinguished representative of the German literati of his period,
occupied a fairly important rôle in the history of the Order of the
Illuminati. After Weishaupt’s flight to Ingolstadt he was the most
active leader in the ranks of the persecuted order. _Cf._ Forestier,
pp. 543 _et seq._ He was profoundly interested in Masonry. In 1790 he
projected a plan for the union of all the German lodges of Masonry. The
effort proved futile.

[472] The _Philalèthes_ were conspicuous among French Freemasons for
their unequalled devotion to alchemy and theurgy. The order was founded
about 1773.

[473] Staack, in his _Der Triumph der Philosophie im 18. Jahrhundert_
(1803), vol. ii, p. 276, represents von dem Busche as a military
official in the service of the Dutch government, and as a member
of Weishaupt’s order. Mounier (p. 212) refers to him as a major in
the service of the landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt. His figure is of
no historical importance apart from its chance connection with the
Illuminati legend.

[474] This bizarre and preposterous explanation of the genesis of the
French Revolution was a favorite with contemporary German and French
writers of the special-pleader type. It was used, as we shall see
later, by both Robison and Barruel in their discussions of the rôle
played by the Illuminati in the great French political and social
debacle. Its classic statement was made a few years later by Staack, in
his _Der Triumph der Philosophie im 18. Jahrhundert_, vol. ii, pp. 348
_et seq._

A more silly exposition of the relation of the Illuminati to the French
Revolution is that found in the fabulous tale related by the notorious
Sicilian impostor, Giuseppe Balsamo (“Count” Alessandro Cagliostro),
who, in 1790, having been arrested at Rome and interrogated by
officials respecting his revolutionary principles, attempted to
divert suspicion by recounting experiences he claimed to have had
with two chiefs of the Illuminati, at Mitau, near Frankfort, Germany.
Revelations had been made to him at that time (1780), he alleged,
to the effect that the Order of the Illuminati was able to number
20,000 lodges, scattered through Europe and America; that its agents
were industriously operating in all European courts, particularly,
being lavishly financed with funds drawn from the immense treasures
of the order; and that the next great blow of the order was to be
delivered against the government of France. _Cf._ Sierke, _Schwärmer
und Schwindler zu Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts_, pp. 407 _et seq._ Both
Engel (pp. 420 _et seq._) and Forestier (pp. 658 _et seq._) devote an
unnecessary amount of space to Cagliostro’s foolish “revelations”. It
is sufficient for our purpose to remark in passing that, in any case,
Cagliostro was not discussing the affairs of Weishaupt’s order, but the
affairs of the Strict Observance whose growing credulity and occultism
caused the term “Illuminati” sometimes to be applied to them.

[475] “Ses principes étaient directement contraires à ceux des
illuminés; il n’était pas homme à placer ses espérances dans un
intervalle de mille ans. Il n’a jamais pensé qu’un peuple pût devenir
assez vertueux pour se passer de lois et de magistrats. Il a soutenu
la vraie théorie de la balance des pouvoirs, et combattu le despotisme
populaire, toutes les fois que l’amour de la célébrité et l’intérêt de
son ambition ne le faisaient pas agir contre sa propre doctrine, et les
illuminés n’auraient été capables, ni d’ajouter à ses lumières, ni de
changer sa théorie, ni de corriger ses vices.” (Mounier, pp. 216 _et
seq._) This judgment of a sensible and impartial critic of the French
Revolution, first submitted to the public in 1801, is as valid now as

[476] Without citing his authority, Forestier makes the statement that
von dem Busche’s interest in the reform of the debased order of the
_Philalèthes_ led him not only to accompany Bode but to offer to pay
his expenses. _Cf._ Forestier, p. 666.

[477] The theories and _séances_ of the empiric, Mesmer, were greatly
agitating Paris at the time and attracting attention throughout Europe.

[478] Mounier, pp. 212 _et seq._ _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 664 _et seq._
While Bode was in Paris he kept in close correspondence with his German
friend, Frau Hess, of Hirschberg. Engel, who made an examination of
this correspondence in the Royal Library at Dresden, was unable to
discover the slightest intimation that Bode’s mind, while he was in
Paris, was occupied with anything more revolutionary than the turning
of the _Philalèthes_ away from their craze for alchemy, cabala,
theosophy, and theurgy, or in Mesmer’s theories. _Cf._ Engel, pp.
409–415. When Bode returned to Germany it is undeniable that he carried
with him an unfavorable opinion of French Masonry. _Cf._ Forestier, p.

[479] In addition to the two elaborated upon in the remainder of this
chapter, the following are most worthy of note: Staack, _Der Triumph
der Philosophie im 18. Jahrhundert_, vols. i, ii, 1803 (already noted);
Proyard, _Louis XVI et ses vertus aux prises avec la perversité du
siècle_, Paris, 1808 (4 vols.); De Malet, _Recherches politiques et
historiques qui prouvent l’existence d’une secte révolutionnaire,
son antique origine, ses moyens, ainsi que son but, et dévoilent
entièrement l’unique cause de la Révolution Française_, Paris, 1817; De
Langres, _Des Sociétés Secrètes en Allemagne et dans d’autres contrées,
de la Secte des Illuminés, du Tribunal Secret, de l’assassinat de
Kotzebue_, 1819; Le Couteulx, _Les Sectes et Sociétés politiques et
religieuses_, Paris, 1863; Deschamps, _Les Sociétés Secrètes et la
Société_, vols. i, ii, iii, Avignon, 1874–1876. As late as 1906, in
an article in the _Edinburgh Review_ of July of that year, Una Birch
traversed much of the ground covered thus far in this and the preceding
chapter and, on the theory that an event as spontaneous (?) as the
French Revolution _must_ have originated in a definite coördination of
ideas and doctrines, reaffirmed the general notion that the Masonic
lodges of France, having been inoculated with the doctrines of the
Illuminati, became the principal points of associative agitation for,
and thus the direct cause of, the French Revolution. This essay may
also be found in the volume of essays entitled, _Secret Societies and
the French Revolution_ (London and New York, 1911), by the same author.

[480] Later editions of this work, which in their number and
geographical extent strongly suggest the degree of interest the
subject had for the reading public, appeared as follows: second
edition, London, 1797; third edition, London, 1798; fourth edition,
London and New York, 1798; a French translation, London, 1798–99 (2
vols.); a German translation, Königslutter and Hamburg, 1800; a Dutch
translation, Dordrecht (n. d.). See Wolfstieg, _Bibliographie der
Freimaurerischen Literatur_, vol. i, pp. 192, 193.

[481] Robison was a mathematician, scientific writer, and lecturer
in the field of natural philosophy, of considerable ability and
distinction. The son of a Glasgow merchant, he was born in Scotland in
1739. He received the benefits of a thorough education, graduating from
Glasgow University in 1756. The connections he enjoyed throughout his
life were of the best. Subsequent to his graduation he became tutor
to the son of Sir Charles Knowles, the English admiral, and later
was appointed by the government to service in the testing out at sea
of the newly completed chronometer of John Harrison, the horologist.
Still later he went to Russia as private secretary to Sir Charles.
While in Russia he was called to the chair of mathematics established
in connection with the imperial sea-cadet corps of nobles. Abandoning
this post, he returned to Scotland, and in 1773 became professor of
natural philosophy in Edinburgh University, lecturing on such subjects
as hydro-dynamics, astronomy, optics, electricity, and magnetism. His
distinction in this general field seems clearly demonstrated by the
fact that he was called upon to contribute to the third edition of
the _Encyclopaedia Britannica_ articles on seamanship, the telescope,
optics, waterworks, resistance to fluids, electricity, magnetism,
music, _etc._, as well as by the fact that when the Royal Society
of Edinburgh was organized under royal charter in 1783, Robison was
elected general secretary of that distinguished organization, an
office he continued to hold until within a few years of his death.
The versatility of the man is further evidenced by the fact that he
was deeply interested in music, attaining the mastery of several
instruments, and in the writing of verse. His reputation was not
confined to Great Britain. In 1790 the College of New Jersey (Princeton
University) conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. (_Cf._ _General
Catalogue of the College of New Jersey_, 1746–1896, p. 177. _The
Dictionary of National Biography_, vol. xlix, p. 58, incorrectly gives
the date for the bestowal of this degree as 1798.) Later, his alma
mater, Glasgow University, bestowed upon him a like honor.

In addition to his encyclopaedia articles and his book on the
Illuminati, Robison edited and published the lectures of Dr. Black, the
chemist, and the following scientific works, the product of his own
intellectual activity: _Outlines of a Course of Lectures on Mechanical
Philosophy_, Edinburgh, 1797, and _Elements of Mechanical Philosophy_,
Edinburgh, 1804. The latter was intended to be the initial volume of
a series, but its successors were not forthcoming. A posthumous work
of four volumes entitled, _A System of Mechanical Philosophy, with
Notes by David Brewster, LL.D._, was published at Edinburgh in 1822.
The death of Robison occurred in 1805. (For the material incorporated
in the foregoing the writer is chiefly indebted to the _Dictionary of
National Biography_, vol. xlix, pp. 57, 58, and to casual references in
the _Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh_, vols. i–v.)

[482] “Die Neuesten Religionsbegebenheiten mit unpartheyischen
Anmerkungen mit Beihülfe mehrerer von H. M. G. Köster, Professor in
Giessen, herausgegeben Jg. 1–20 Giessen, 1778–97 verfolgten gleichfalls
den Zweck, von den wichtigsten Vorfällen aus der Religionsgeschichte
der Gegenwart eine deutliche, gründliche und nützliche Beschreibung zu
liefern, doch beschränkten sie sich dabei vornehmlich auf Deutschland
und richteten sich in erster Linie an Laien und Nichttheologen”
(Herzog-Hauck, _Realencyklopädie_, 3rd ed., vol. xxiv, Leipzig, 1913,
p. 673).

[483] Though a Mason, Robison was by no means an ardent supporter of
Freemasonry. The English Masonic lodges with which he was acquainted
impressed him as having no higher function than that of supplying “a
pretext for passing an hour or two in a sort of decent conviviality,
not altogether void of some rational occupation.” He found the lodges
on the continent, however, “matters of serious concern and debate.”
_Cf._ _Proofs of a Conspiracy, etc._, pp. 1 _et seq._ (The edition of
Robison’s book here as elsewhere referred to is the third [London]
edition of 1798.) Robison professed to have visited lodges at Liège,
Valenciennes, Brussels, Aix-la-Chapelle, Berlin, Königsberg, and St.
Petersburg. Everywhere he found an elaboration of ritual, joined with
a spirit of grave interest in the affairs of Freemasonry, which filled
him with astonishment and seemed to call for explanation. _Cf. ibid._,
pp. 2 _et seq._

[484] Robison, _op. cit._, p. 7. Robison also made use of several of
the works which the disturbances occasioned by the Bavarian Illuminati
called forth on the continent. Conspicuous among these were the
documents of the order published by the Bavarian government. _Cf.
ibid._, pp. 133, 185, 186, 205, _etc._ He also made use of Hoffman’s
violently hostile sheet, the _Wiener Zeitschrift_. _Cf. ibid._, pp.
358, 393. Robison’s knowledge of the German language was, however,
far from perfect, as he himself freely admitted (_Cf. ibid._, pp. 14,
499), so that his handling of his sources must be viewed as neither
capable nor complete. The meagerness of his resources is perhaps
best illustrated in his treatment of the conspiracy which he assumed
underlay the French Revolution. Such “proofs” as he made use of in this
connection amounted to little more than the political manifestoes of
certain secret lodges and clubs, fugitive revolutionary documents which
chanced to blow across his path, current historical conjecture and
gossip, _etc._ The whole was pieced together in the spirit of one who
ventured to hope that his “scattered facts” might be of some service to
his generation. (_Cf. ibid._, pp. 493–496.)

[485] Robison, _op. cit._, pp. 10, 11, 15.

[486] An illustration of the carelessness with which Robison handled
his dates is found on pages 15 and 133 (_cf._ p. 103) of the _Proofs
of a Conspiracy, etc._, in the matter of the date of the founding
of the Order of the Illuminati. Far more serious in its reflection
on the author’s lack of accuracy and insight is such looseness and
general unsoundness of treatment as permitted him to represent
the Jesuits as frequenters of English and French Masonic lodges,
while at the same time indicting the latter as fully committed to a
free-thinking propaganda which sought nothing less than the eradication
of _religion_, not to speak of its institutions. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 22
_et seq._ Robison’s superficial explanation of the anticlericalism of
Weishaupt might be cited as another illustration of the blundering
method pursued in the book. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 101, 103 _et seq._ His
weak and practically pointless digression in order to find opportunity
to comment on the educational projects of Basedow will serve to
illustrate the discursive quality in his work. _Cf. ibid._, 85 _et seq._

[487] Robison’s exposition of the elements of uncontrolled curiosity
and conjecture as elements in his purpose in writing the book is not
without significance: “I must entreat that it be remembered that these
sheets are not the work of an author determined to write a book. They
were for the most part notes, which I took from books I had borrowed,
that I might occasionally have recourse to them when occupied with Free
Masonry, the first object of my curiosity. My curiosity was diverted
to many other things as I went along, and when the Illuminati came in
my way, I regretted the time I had thrown away on Free Masonry. (But,
observing their connection, I thought that I perceived the progress of
one and the same design. This made me eager to find out any remains of
Weishaupt’s Association. I was not surprised when I saw marks of its
interference in the French Revolution.) In hunting for clearer proofs
I found out the German Union—and, in fine, the whole appeared to be
one great and wicked project, fermenting and working over all Europe.”
(_Ibid._, pp. 493 _et seq._) Encouraged by his friends, Robison “set
about collecting my [his] scattered facts.” (_Ibid._, p. 494.)

[488] _Ibid._, pp. 28 _et seq._

[489] Robison does not wholly miss the true point in his survey of
the backgrounds of the French Revolution. He points out numerous
“cooperating causes” which served to make the Revolution inevitable.
“Perhaps there never was a nation where all these cooperating causes
had acquired greater strength than in France. Oppressions of all
kinds were at a height. The luxuries of life were enjoyed exclusively
by the upper classes, and this in the highest degree of refinement;
so that the desires of the rest were whetted to the utmost. Even
religion appeared in an unwelcome form, and seemed chiefly calculated
for procuring establishments for the younger sons of insolent and
useless nobility. For numbers of men of letters were excluded, by
their birth, from all hopes of advancement to the higher stations in
the church. These men frequently vented their discontents by secretly
joining the laics in their bitter satires on such in the higher orders
of the clergy, as had scandalously departed from the purity and
simplicity of manners which Christianity enjoins. Such examples were
not unfrequent, and none was spared in those bitter invectives....
The faith of the nation was shaken; and when, in a few instances, a
worthy Curé uttered the small still voice of true religion, it was not
heard amidst the general noise of satire and reproach. The misconduct
of administration, and the abuse of the public treasures, were every
day growing more impudent and glaring, and exposed the government to
continual criticism.” (Robison, pp. 60 _et seq._ _Cf. ibid._, pp. 362
_et seq._) These “cooperating causes” receive little emphasis, however,
in Robison’s zealous effort to trace the revolutionary spirit to its
lair in the Masonic lodges of France.

[490] _Ibid._, pp. 40 _et seq._

[491] Robison, _op. cit._, pp. 43 _et seq._

[492] _Ibid._, p. 51. Robison’s account of this phase of the situation
has little to commend it. Upon his own unsupported assertions many
of the Revolutionary leaders, as, for example, Mirabeau, Sieyès,
Despremenil, Bailly, Fauchet, Maury, Mounier, and Talleyrand, are
brought into direct connection with one or another of the French
Masonic systems. _Cf._ Robison, pp. 49 _et seq._ Similarly, it is
maintained, it was among Masonic lodges that the ideas contained in
such books as Robinet’s _La Nature, ou l’Homme moral et physique_,
Condorcet’s _Le Progrès de l’Esprit humain_, Lequinio’s _Les préjugés
vaincus par la raison_, and the book _Des Erreurs et de la Vérité_,
were first disseminated. Indeed, some of these books are said to have
sprung out of the very bosom of the lodges. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 43 _et

[493] _Ibid._, pp. 67 _et seq._ Comparison with Forestier, pp. 141 _et
seq._, will make clear the paucity of the data upon which Robison drew
in attempting to write the earlier chapters of the history of German

[494] Robison, _op. cit._, p. 64.

[495] Robison’s language is absurdly strong. “In half a year Free
Masonry underwent a complete revolution all over Germany.” (_Ibid._, p.

[496] The sheer puerility of the treatment is indicated by the
following: “A Mr. Rosa, a French commissary, brought from Paris a
complete wagon-load of Masonic ornaments, which were all distributed
before it had reached Berlin, and he was obliged to order another,
to furnish the Lodges of that city. It became for a while the most
profitable business to many French officers and commissaries dispersed
over Germany, having little else to do.” (Robison, _op. cit._, pp. 69
_et seq._)

[497] _Ibid._, p. 73.

[498] _Ibid._, pp. 65 _et seq._

[499] _Ibid._, pp. 78, 79. Robison read into this situation a
deliberate effort on the part of the leaders of French Freemasonry to
extend the hegemony of the latter. He surmised that political uses and
benefits were thus aimed at. _Cf. ibid._

[500] Robison’s term for the representatives of the _Aufklärung_. _Cf._
Robison, p. 81.

[501] _Ibid._, p. 80. This declension of faith and morals Robison,
more wisely than he was aware, traced in part to the clash between the
Roman Catholic and Protestant systems in Germany and the spirit of free
inquiry which was thus promoted. See Robison, pp. 80 _et seqq._

[502] It is in this connection that Basedow is brought into relations
with Robison’s devious exposition. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 85 _et seq._

[503] _Ibid._, pp. 82 _et seq._

[504] Robison, _op. cit._, pp. 92 _et seq._ “ ... Germany has
experienced the same gradual progress, from Religion to Atheism, from
decency to dissoluteness, and from loyalty to rebellion, which has had
its course in France. And I must now add, that this progress has been
effected in the same manner, and by the same means; and that one of
the chief means of seduction has been the Lodges of the Free Masons.
The French, along with their numerous chevaleries [_sic_], and stars,
and ribands, had brought in the custom of haranguing in the Lodges,
and as human nature has a considerable uniformity everywhere, the same
topics became favorite subjects of declamation that had tickled the ear
in France; there were the same corruptions of sentiments and manners
among the luxurious or profligate, and the same incitements to the
utterance of these sentiments, wherever it could be done with safety;
and I may say, that the zealots in all these tracts of free-thinking
were more serious, more grave, and fanatical. These are assertions
_a priori_. I can produce proofs.” (_Ibid._, pp. 91 _et seq._) The
“proofs” here referred to concern the Masonic career of Baron Knigge,
whose antagonism to orthodox Christianity Robison distorts both as to
its temper and its effect.

[505] _Ibid._, pp. 126 _et seq._

[506] _Ibid._, pp. 100 _et seq._

[507] _Ibid._, pp. 101 _et seq._ These connections Robison almost
wholly misconceived. _Cf. supra_, pp. 150, 163 _et seq._

[508] Robison, _op. cit._, p. 103.

[509] _Ibid._, p. 105. The ulterior object of the order is later
stated by Robison in the following manner: “Their first and immediate
aim is to get possession of riches, power, and influence, without
industry; and, to accomplish this, they want to abolish Christianity;
and then dissolute manners and universal profligacy will procure
them the adherence of all the wicked, and enable them to overturn
all the civil governments of Europe; after which they will think of
further conquests, and extend their operations to the other quarters
of the globe, till they have reduced mankind to a state of one
indistinguishable chaotic mass.” Robison, pp. 209 _et seq._

[510] _Ibid._, p. 126.

[511] _Ibid._, p. 212.

[512] Robison omitted nothing in his effort to fasten the stigma of
moral obliquity upon the order. The published papers of the order
were appealed to show that crimes of bribery, theft, and libertinism
were not uncommon on the part of the leaders. See Robison, pp. 144
_et seq._ The unsavory documents of the order referred to on page 181
of this dissertation likewise received Robison’s zealous attention.
_Cf. ibid._, pp. 138 _et seq._ Weishaupt’s personal immorality in
his relations with his sister-in-law is made to do full duty as “a
brilliant specimen of the ethics which illuminated” the leaders. _Cf.
ibid._, pp. 164 _et seq._ (If a particular illustration of Robison’s
bungling way of handling his German sources were needed, that might be
found in the fact that our author identified the victim of Weishaupt’s
lust as the sister-in-law of Zwack. _Cf. ibid._, p. 167.)

[513] To Robison’s mind this constituted the crowning infamy of the
order. “There is nothing in the whole constitution of the Illuminati
that strikes me with more horror than the proposals of Hercules and
Minos to enlist women in this shocking warfare with all that ‘is good,
and pure, and lovely, and of good report’.... Are not the accursed
fruits of Illumination to be seen in the present humiliating condition
of women in France? ... In their present state of national moderation
(as they call it) and security, see Madame Tallien come into the public
theatre, accompanied by other _beautiful_ women, (I was about to
have misnamed them Ladies), laying aside all modesty, and presenting
themselves to the public view, with bared limbs, _à la Sauvage_, as the
alluring objects of desire.... Was not their abominable farce in the
church of Notre Dame a bait of the same kind, in the true spirit of
Weishaupt’s _Eroterion_?” (Robison, pp. 243, 251, 252.)

[514] Robison, _op. cit._, pp. 110–200.

[515] _Ibid._, pp. 201 _et seq._

[516] _Ibid._ Although offered to the public with every show of
confidence, Robison’s list was largely chimerical. He had depended
upon isolated references in the papers of the order, many of which he
must have misread. Doubtless in numerous cases he took the _hopes_ of
the ambitious leaders of the order as sober statements of fact. The
importance of the reference to America will, of course, appear later.

[517] _Ibid._, p. 272.

[518] _Ibid._, p. 286.

[519] _Ibid._, p. 290.

[520] Robison, _op. cit._, pp. 315 _et seq._

[521] _Ibid._, p. 322.

[522] _Ibid._, p. 321.

[523] _Ibid._, p. 317. “All the Archives that were found were the plans
and lists of the members, and a parcel of letters of correspondence.
The correspondence and other business was managed by an old man in some
inferior office or judicatory, who lived at bed and board in Bahrdt’s
house for about six shillings a week, having a chest of papers and a
writing-desk in the corner of the common room of the house.” (_Ibid._)

[524] _Ibid._, pp. 291, 296, 297.

[525] _Ibid._, p. 299. Bahrdt’s fantastical program called for the
division of these societies into Provinces or Dioceses, each directed
by its Diocesan, and subordinate to a central organization. _Cf.
ibid._, p. 292

[526] _Ibid._, p. 294.

[527] Robison, _op, cit._, p. 297.

[528] _Ibid._, pp. 322 _et seq._ “ ... although I cannot consider the
German Union as a formal revival of the Order under another name, I
must hold those _United_, and the members of those Reading Societies,
as _Illuminati_ and _Minervals_. I must even consider the Union as a
part of Spartacus’s work.” (_Ibid._)

[529] _Ibid._, pp. 355 _et seq._ “Thus I think it clearly appears,
that the suppression of the Illuminati in Bavaria and of the Union in
Brandenburgh were insufficient.... The habit of plotting had formed
itself into a regular system. Societies now acted everywhere in
secret, in correspondence with similar societies in distant places.
And thus a mode of cooperation was furnished to the discontented, the
restless, and the unprincipled in all places, without even the trouble
of formal initiations, and without any external appearances by which
the existence and occupations of the members could be distinguished.”

[530] _Ibid._, p. 355. _Cf. ibid._, p. 286.

[531] _Ibid._, p. 358.

[532] Robison, _op. cit._, p. 371.

[533] _Ibid._, pp. 393 _et seq._

[534] _Ibid._, pp. 397 _et seq._

[535] _Ibid._, p. 374.

[536] _Ibid._, p. 398.

[537] The Grand Orient, according to Robison, represented the
association of all the _improved_ Masonic lodges of France. Its Grand
Master was the Duke of Orléans. _Cf. ibid._, p. 381.

[538] _Ibid._, pp. 400 _et seq._

[539] _Ibid._, p. 376.

[540] _Ibid._, pp. 376 _et seq._

[541] Robison, _op. cit._, p. 405.

[542] _Ibid._, p. 402. Robison regarded the famous Jacobin Club
in Paris as “just one of those Lodges.” (Robison, p. 406. _Cf.
ibid._, p. 402.) He allowed his statement to stand, however, without
making any effort to substantiate it. Further, he held that the
political committees in these “illuminated” lodges of France were in
correspondence with similar committees in Germany, Holland, Austria,
and Switzerland. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 406 _et seq._, 414 _et seq._,
420. The contradictory character of his “evidence” is perhaps best
illustrated by the fact that he treats the Masonic lodges of Paris as
trying to seduce the lodges of German Freemasons. _Cf. Ibid._, p. 418.

[543] _Ibid._, p. 402.

[544] _Ibid._, p. 405.

[545] The London edition of 1797–8 (4 vols.) was reprinted in five
volumes at Hamburg, Augsburg and Braunschweig; and a new edition,
revised and corrected by the author, was issued at Lyons in 1818.
Barruel himself put forth an English translation at London in 1798; and
this was reprinted at Hartford, Conn., New York, and Elizabeth-town,
N. J., the following year. Continental allies of the ex-Jesuit
must have been responsible for translations into Polish, Dutch and
Portuguese, which enjoyed but one printing apiece, as well as for the
three editions of the Spanish translation, and for two of the three
Italian editions. During the anti-Masonic campaign of the swindler Leo
Taxil (1887), the Italian translation was reprinted at Rome by the
_Tipografia de Propaganda Fide_.

Abridgements and excerpts were also circulated in several languages,
including English. In this connection the following titles may also
be noted: _Application of Barruel’s Memoirs of Jacobinism to the
Secret Societies of Ireland and Great Britain_, London, 1798; _The
Anti-Christian and Antisocial Conspiracy. An extract from the French of
Barruel, to which is prefixed “Jachin and Boaz,”_ Lancaster, (U. S.),

_Cf._ Sommervogel, C., _Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus_, i,
Bruxelles, 1890, coll. 938–941; also Wolfstieg, _Bibliographie der
Freimaurerischen Literatur_, vol. i, pp. 324, 325.

[546] Augustin Barruel (1741–1820) was a French controversialist
and publicist, whose zeal was aroused in the defence of traditional
ecclesiastical institutions and doctrines, in opposition to
rationalistic tendencies manifest in the eighteenth century. Barruel
entered the Society of Jesus in 1756 and was later driven from France
when that order was suppressed by the French government in 1773.
Permitted the next year to terminate his exile, he gave himself to
literary pursuits. As might be expected, the turbulent condition of
public affairs in France drew him into the currents of political
discussion. His loyalty to the interests of the church would brook no
silence. The civil oath demanded of ecclesiastics and the promulgation
of the civil constitution in the earlier period of the Revolution
specially roused his spirit, and led to the publication of a number
of pamphlets from his pen. His ecclesiastical loyalties and political
antagonisms were such that when the full fury of the revolutionary
storm broke, Barruel became an _emigré_ and sought asylum in England.
There he continued his literary employments, and published in 1794
his well-known _Histoire du clergé de France, pendant la révolution
française_. In that same year he brought out an English translation at
London. This work Barruel dedicated to the English people in grateful
recognition of the hospitable treatment which they accorded the
persecuted ecclesiastics of his own land. Later, and while still in
England, he wrote his _Memoirs of Jacobinism_. The number of editions
through which this work passed is in itself a gauge of its claim upon
popular interest. After the fall of the Directory, and after he had
given his pledge of fidelity to the new government, Barruel again was
permitted to return to France. With a view to healing the schism in
the French church which the Revolution had produced, he championed the
cause of the government in a work entitled, _Du Pape et ses droits
religieux_, 1803. As the Napoleonic regime drew towards its close,
Barruel came to be regarded as an _emigré_ priest, and suffered arrest
at the hands of the government. In August, 1816, Barruel was allowed
to make his profession in the Society of Jesus. Shortly before this he
wrote to its General: “Je m’étais toujours regardé comme lié par mes
voeux, sans cesser d’être vraiment Jésuite, ce qui heureusement a fait
pour moi une douce illusion dans laquelle je remercie Dieu de m’avoir
laissé vivre jusqu’ au moment où vous vous prêtez avec tant de bonté à
la demande que j’ai faite pour ma profession.” (_La Compagnie de Jésus
en France, Histoire d’un siècle, 1814–1914_, Par Joseph Burnichon,
S.J., Tome 1^{er}, Paris, 1914, pp. 74 _et seq._) The last years of
Barruel’s life were spent in retirement. A list of his writings may be
found in Quérard’s _La France Littéraire_, Tome Premier, pp. 196, 197,
and a more elaborate one, in Sommervogel, _op. cit._ i, coll. 930–945.

[547] Barruel, _op. cit._, pp. i, vi.

[548] _Ibid._, pp. xiii _et seq._

[549] Barruel’s term was _Sophistes_.

[550] Barruel, _op. cit._, pp. xiv, xv.

[551] _Ibid._, p. 2.

[552] _Ibid._, p. 1.

[553] Barruel’s main reliance is the correspondence of Voltaire, as
published in the edition of Kehl.

[554] Barruel, _op. cit._, vol. i, pp. 25 _et seq._

[555] _Ibid._, pp. 26, 27, 33.

[556] _Ibid._, pp. 54 _et seq._ Barruel represents the Encyclopedists
as arguing that force could not be employed until there had first been
a revolution in all religious ideas; hence _L’Encyclopédie_, with
all its insinuating doubts, its artful cross-references, its veiled
impiety, was planned to give the first great impulse in that direction.
Thus the old forms of thought would perish “as it were, by inanition;”
later, the laying of the axe to the altar would not be hazardous.

[557] _Ibid._, pp. 75 _et seq._

[558] _Ibid._, pp. 127 _et seq._

[559] _Ibid._, pp. 163 _et seq._ According to Barruel, the conspirators
numbered among their adepts the following: Joseph II of Germany,
Catherine II of Russia, Christian VII of Denmark, Gustave III of
Sweden, Poniatowski, king of Poland, and the landgrave Frederick of

[560] _Ibid._, p. 154.

[561] Barruel, _op. cit._, p. 157.

[562] _Ibid._, pp. 321 _et seq._

[563] _Ibid._, vol. ii, pp. 9, 10, 13 _et seq._, 21.

[564] _Ibid._, pp. 52 _et seq._, 66, 76. Barruel labors hard to save
himself from the cruel necessity of including Montesquieu in the list
of conspirators. He finds it “painful to apply such a reproach to this
celebrated writer.” (_Ibid._, p. 76.) With some cleverness he remarks:
“He [Montesquieu] did not conspire by setting up his systems, but his
systems formed conspirators.” (_Ibid._, p. 98.)

[565] _Ibid._, p. 101.

[566] Barruel, _op. cit._, pp. 130, 131, 157 _et seq._

[567] _Ibid._, pp. 159 _et seq._

[568] Barruel contended that the popular uprisings of the period in
Geneva, Bohemia, Transylvania, and even among the negroes of St.
Domingo, were all directly due to the conspiracy. _Cf._ Barruel, pp.
205 _et seq._, 255 _et seq._, 260 _et seq._, 271.

[569] Barruel’s estimate of Freemasonry was appreciably lower than
that of Robison. Its mysteries were to be traced to Manes, and to the
introduction of Manichaeism into Europe in the period of Frederich II
(1221–1250). Condorcet was appealed to for proof in this connection.
_Cf._ Barruel, pp. 399 _et seq._ The general idea that the Freemasons
were responsible for the campaign against monarchy and the Catholic
religion which, many believed, characterized the greater part of the
eighteenth century, had already been made familiar to the French by the
ecclesiastics Larudan and Lefranc. _Cf._ Forestier, pp. 684 _et seq._

[570] By the occult lodges Barruel meant those whose members had
received the higher mysteries and degrees. _Cf._ Barruel, vol. ii, p.

[571] _Ibid._, pp. 276, 277, 278, 279.

[572] _Ibid._, pp. 436 _et seq._

[573] _Ibid._, p. 436.

[574] _Ibid._, p. 438.

[575] _Ibid._, pp. 444 _et seq._

[576] _Ibid._, pp. 455 _et seq._

[577] _Ibid._, pp. 471 _et seq._ _Cf. ibid._, p. 437.

[578] “Under the name of ILLUMINES a band of Conspirators had coalesced
with the Encyclopedists and Masons, far more dangerous in their
tenets, more artful in their plots, and more extensive in their plans
of devastation. They more silently prepared the explosions of the
Revolutionary volcano, not merely swearing hatred to the Altar of
Christ and the Throne of Kings, but swearing at once hatred to every
God, to every Law, to every Government, to all society and social
compact; and in order to destroy every plea and every foundation
of social contract, they proscribed the terms MINE _and_ THINE,
acknowledging neither Equality nor Liberty but in the _entire, absolute
and universal overthrow of all_ PROPERTY _whatever_.” (Barruel. _op.
cit._, p. 478. _Cf._ vol. iii, pp. 17, 22 _et seq._)

[579] Barruel attributed little or no success to the efforts which
Weishaupt’s associates made to strip him of much of his despotic power.
_Cf._ Barruel, ch. xviii.

[580] The discussion of the character of the order fills the entire
third volume of the _Memoirs_. It is not too much to say that Barruel’s
analysis of the organization is characterized by no little soundness
of judgment as well as by literary skill. The documents upon which
he draws are not only those published by the Bavarian government,
but also the apologetic writings of Weishaupt and Knigge, as well
as a considerable part of the polemical literature which developed
after the suppression of the order. Yet it need scarcely be said, the
author’s bias is nowhere obscured. On page after page he conveys the
impression that he is dealing with the sum of all villainies. His
judgment of Weishaupt was, of course, severe: “An odious phenomenon in
nature, an Atheist void of remorse, a profound hypocrite, destitute
of those superior talents which lead to the vindication of truth, he
is possessed of all that energy and ardor in vice which generates
conspirators for impiety and anarchy. Shunning, like the ill-boding
owl, the genial rays of the sun, he wraps around him the mantle of
darkness; and history shall record of him, as of the evil spirit, only
the black deeds which he planned or executed.... Scarcely have the
magistrates cast their eyes upon him when they find him at the head of
a conspiracy which, when compared with those of the clubs of Voltaire
and D’Alembert, or with the secret committees of D’Orléans [_sic_],
make these latter appear like the faint imitations of puerility, and
show the Sophister and the Brigand as mere novices in the arts of
revolution.” (Barruel, _op. cit._, pp. 2, 3, 7.)

[581] _Ibid._, p. 293. _Cf. ibid._, p. 413: “Will not hell vomit forth
its legions to applaud this last Spartacus, to contemplate in amazement
this work of the Illuminizing Code? Will not Satan exclaim, ‘Here then
are men as I wished them’”.

[582] _Ibid._, vol. iv, p. 379. _Cf. ibid._, p. 387: “ ... in this
den of conspirators ... we find every thing in perfect union with
the Occult Lodges, to which it only succeeds. Adepts, object,
principles, all are the same; whether we turn our eyes towards the
adepts of impiety, of rebellion, or of anarchy, they are now but one
conspiring Sect, under the disastrous name of Jacobin. We have hitherto
denominated some by the name of _Sophisters_, others by that of _Occult
Masons_, and, lastly, we have described those men styled _Illuminées_.
Their very names will now disappear; they will in future all be duly
described by the name of Jacobin.”

[583] Barruel, _op. cit._, ch. ix.

[584] _Ibid._, ch. x.

[585] _Ibid._, p. 326.

[586] _Ibid._, ch. xi.

[587] _Ibid._, p. 370.

[588] _Ibid._, pp. 370 _et seq._

[589] _Ibid._, pp. 375 _et seq._

[590] _Ibid._, p. 376.

[591] _Ibid._, p. 377.

[592] _Ibid._, p. 379.

[593] Barruel, _op. cit., passim_.

[594] _Ibid._, pp. 468 _et seq._

[595] _Ibid._, pp. 472 _et seq._

[596] _Ibid._, pp. 476 _et seq._

[597] _Ibid._, pp. 482 _et seq._

[598] _Ibid._, pp. 493–551. Barruel found no difficulty in making
the conspiracy broad enough in Prussia to take in Immanuel Kant.
_Cf. ibid._, pp. 523 _et seq._ The _Professor of Königsberg_ and the
_Professor of Ingolstadt_ developed systems which ultimately lead to
the same end (!). _Cf. ibid._, p. 526.

[599] _Ibid._, pp. 493 _et seq._

[600] The reference is to the United Irishmen, an organization whose
affairs got somewhat mixed with the discussion of the Illuminati in
America. _Cf. infra_, pp. 271 _et seq._

[601] A foot-note connects the French minister, Adet, with the
Illuminati campaign in North America. _Cf. ibid._, p. 494.

[602] Robison, _op. cit._, p. 535.

[603] _Ibid._, p. 537.

[604] _Ibid._, p. 538.

[605] Barruel, _op. cit._, vol. iii, p. xiv.

[606] Barruel, _op. cit._, vol. iii, p. xiv.

[607] _Ibid._, p. xv.

[608] _Ibid._, pp. xv, xvi.

[609] _Ibid._, p. xviii.

                              CHAPTER IV



The fast day proclamation of President John Adams, issued March 23,
1798, expressed unusual solemnity and concern. Therein the United
States was represented as “at present placed in a hazardous and
afflictive position.”[610] The necessity of sounding a loud call to
repentance and reformation was declared to be imperative, and the
people were fervently urged to implore Heaven’s mercy and benediction
on the imperiled nation.

On the day appointed, the 9th of May, among the multitude of pastors
who appeared before their assembled flocks and addressed them on topics
of national and personal self-examination, was the Reverend Jedediah
Morse. The deliverance which he made to his people[611] was destined to
have far more than a passing interest and effect. He took for his text
fragments of the language that King Hezekiah addressed to the prophet
Isaiah, as found in II Kings 19: 3, 4: “This is a day of trouble,
and of rebuke (or reviling), and blasphemy.... Wherefore lift up thy
prayer for the remnant that is left.” Then the well-known minister of
Charlestown proceeded to suggest a parallel between the desperate state
of affairs within the little kingdom of Judah when the Assyrians, fresh
from their triumph over the armies of Egypt, renewed their insolent
and terrifying campaign against the city of Jerusalem, and the unhappy
and perilous condition of affairs within the United States.[612]

From this general observation Morse proceeded to take specific account
of the circumstances that made the period through which the nation was
passing “_a day of trouble_, of _reviling and blasphemy_.” The main
source from which the _day of trouble_ had arisen, as the President’s
fast day proclamation had indicated, was the very serious aspect of our
relations with France, owing to the unfriendly disposition and conduct
of that nation. Here, and not elsewhere, was to be found the occasion
of the unhappy divisions that existed among the citizens of the United
States, disturbing their peace, and threatening the overthrow of the
government itself.[613] The settled policy of the French government,
that of attempting the subjugation of other countries by injecting
discord and division among their citizens before having recourse to
arms, had been faithfully adhered to with respect to America.

  Their too great influence among us has been exerted vigorously,
  and in conformity to a deep-laid plan, in cherishing party spirit,
  in vilifying the men we have, by our free suffrages, elected to
  administer our Constitution; and have thus endeavoured to destroy
  the confidence of the people in the constituted authorities, and
  divide them from the government.[614] They have abused our honest
  friendship for their nation, our gratitude for their assistance in
  our revolution and our confidence in the uprightness and sincerity
  of their professions of regard for us; and, by their artifices and
  intrigues, have made these amiable dispositions in the unsuspecting
  American people, the vehicles of their poison.[615]

Emboldened by its knowledge of the power which the French party in
America has acquired, Morse continued, the government of France has
shown itself disposed to adopt an increasingly insolent tone toward
the government of this nation. The insurrections which the government
of France has fomented here, its efforts to plunge the United States
into a ruinous war, its spoliation of our commerce upon the high seas,
its insufferable treatment of our ministers and commissioners as shown
in the lately published state papers[616]—these all tend to show how
resolute and confident in its determination to triumph over us the
French government has become.[617]

If, said Morse, a contributory cause for the present “hazardous and
afflictive position” of the country is sought, it will readily be
found in “the astonishing increase of irreligion.”[618] The evidence
of this, in turn, is to be found, not only in the prevailing atheism
and materialism of the day, and all the vicious fruits which such
impious sentiments have borne, but as well in the slanders with which
newspapers are filled and the personal invective and abuse with which
private discussion is laden, all directed against the representatives
of government, against men, many of whom have grown gray in their
country’s service and whose integrity has been proved incorruptible.
It is likewise to be discovered in the reviling and abuse which,
coming from the same quarter, has been directed against the clergy,
who, according to their influence and ability, have done what they
could to support and vindicate the government. Nothing that the clergy
has done has been of such a character as to provoke this treatment.
And how “can _they_ be your friends who are continually declaiming
against the Clergy, and endeavouring by all means—by falsehood and
misrepresentation, to asperse their characters, and to bring them and
their profession into disrepute?”[619]

When the question is raised respecting the design and tendency of
these things, their inherent and appalling impiety is immediately
disclosed. They give “reason to suspect that there is some secret plan
in operation, hostile to true liberty and religion, which requires
to be aided by these vile slanders.”[620] They cannot be regarded as
mere excrescences of the life of the times; they are not detached
happenings; they go straight down to the roots of things; they are
deadly attacks upon the civil and religious institutions whose
foundations were laid by our venerable forefathers. They mean that all
those principles and habits which were formed under those institutions
are to be brought into contempt and eventually swept aside, in order to
give a clear field “for the spread of those disorganizing opinions, and
that atheistical philosophy, which are deluging the Old World in misery
and blood.”[621]

That this preparatory work has begun, that progress in the direction
of its fatal completion has been made, that what is now going on in
America is part of the same deep-laid and extensive plan which has
been in operation in Europe for many years—these, Morse continued,
are reasonable and just fears in the light of the disclosures made
“in a work written by a gentleman of literary eminence in Scotland,
within the last year, and just reprinted in this country, entitled,
‘Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments
of Europe’.”[622] The following facts are brought to the light of
day in this volume: For more than twenty years past a society called
THE ILLUMINATED has been in existence in Germany; its express aim
is “to root out and abolish Christianity, and overthrow all civil
government”;[623] it approves of such atrocious principles as the
right to commit self-murder and the promiscuous intercourse of the
sexes, while it condemns the principles of patriotism and the right to
accumulate private property;[624] in the prosecution of its infamous
propaganda it aims to enlist the discontented, to get control of all
such cultural agencies as the schools, literary societies, newspapers,
writers, booksellers, and postmasters;[625] it is bent upon insinuating
its members into all positions of distinction and influence, whether
literary, civil, or religious.[626]

Practically all of the civil and ecclesiastical establishments of
Europe have already been shaken to their foundations by this terrible
organization; the French Revolution itself is doubtless to be traced
to its machinations; the successes of the French armies are to be
explained on the same ground.[627] The Jacobins are nothing more
nor less than the open manifestation of the hidden system of the
Illuminati.[628] The order has its branches established and its
emissaries at work in America.[629] Doubtless the “Age of Reason”
and the other works of that unprincipled author are to be regarded
as part of the general plan to accomplish universal demoralization:
the fact that Paine’s infamous works have been so industriously and
extensively circulated in this country would seem to justify fully
this conclusion.[630] The affiliated Jacobin Societies in America have
doubtless had as the object of their establishment the propagation of
“the principles of the illuminated mother club in France.”[631]

Before making room for the admonitions which Morse based upon this
exposition of the underlying significance of “this ... day of trouble,
... rebuke ... and blasphemy,” his treatment of the Masonic bearings
of the subject should be noticed. As delivered by Morse, the fast
day sermon of May 9, 1798, contained no reference to the relations
alleged to exist between the Order of the Illuminati and the lodges
of Freemasonry. The Charlestown pastor’s silence upon this important
phase of the matter is best explained in the light of the pains which
he took, when the sermon was committed to type, to handle this delicate
and embarrassing aspect of the case.[632]

Extended foot notes dealing with the omitted topic and expressive
of great reserve and caution comprise a substantial part of the
printed sermon. In these Morse repeated the charge which Robison had
made before him that the Order of the Illuminati had had its origin
among the Freemasons, but hastened to add that this was because of
corruptions which had crept into Freemasonry, so that Illuminism must
be viewed as “a vile and pestiferous _scion_ grafted on the stock of
simple Masonry.”[633] As if further to ward off the blows of incensed
and resentful members of the craft, Morse proceeded to dilate upon the
artifice which men of wicked purpose commonly resort to in attempting
“to pervert and bend into a subserviency to their designs ancient and
respectable institutions.”[634] The Illuminati, it is suggested, may
thus have taken advantage of the schisms and corruptions with which
European Masonry has been cursed, and have employed many members of the
lodges to serve as “secret conductors of their poisonous principles”:
the high estimation in which the order of Masonry is generally held may
be construed as making such a presumption probable.[635] And in this
country, if one may base his judgment upon the considerations that the
immortal Washington stands at the head of the Masonic fraternity in
America and that the Masons of New England “have ever shown themselves
firm and decided supporters of civil and religious order,” then it may
safely be assumed that the leaven of Illuminism has not found its way
into the American lodges, at least not into the lodges of the Eastern
States.[636] If it _should_ be found true that some of the branches
of Masonry have been corrupted and perverted from their original
design, need _that_ circumstance occasion more serious humiliation and
embarrassment than Christians face as they contemplate the apostasies
of which certain churches in Christendom have been guilty?[637]
Finally, the readers are urged to keep in mind that Robison’s book has
been commended, not because of its animadversions upon Freemasonry,
but for the reason that “it unveils the dark conspiracies of the
_Illuminati_ against civil government and Christianity, ... and
because it is well calculated to excite in this country a just alarm
for the safety and welfare of our civil and religious privileges,
by discovering to us the machinations which are deployed to subvert

Thus having canvassed the situation abroad and at home, the sermon drew
toward its close in the following manner:

  By these awful events—this tremendous shaking among the nations
  of the earth, God is doubtless accomplishing his promises, and
  fulfilling the prophecies. This wrath and violence of men against
  all government and religion, shall be made ultimately, in some
  way or other, to praise God. All corruptions, in religion and
  government, as dross must, sooner or later, be burnt up. The
  dreadful fire of _Illuminatism_ may be permitted to rage and
  spread for this purpose.... But while we contemplate these awful
  events in this point of view, let us beware, in our expressions
  of approbation, of blending the _end_ with the _means_. Because
  atheism and licentiousness are employed as _instruments_, by divine
  providence, to subvert and overthrow popery and despotism, it does
  not follow that atheism and licentiousness are in themselves good
  things, and worthy of our approbation. While the storm rages, with
  dreadful havoc in Europe, let us be comforted in the thought,
  that God directeth it, and that he will, by his power and wisdom,
  so manage it, as to make it accomplish his own gracious designs.
  While we behold these scenes acting abroad and at a distance from
  us, let us be concerned for our own welfare.... We have reason to
  tremble for the safety of our political, as well as our religious
  ark. Attempts are making, and are openly, as well as secretly,
  conducted, to undermine the foundations of both. In this situation
  of things, our duty is plain, and lies within a short compass.[639]

With one heart, as citizens to cleave to the national government and as
Christians to be alert to the open and secret dangers which threaten
the church, these, according to the last word of the preacher, were the
paramount concerns of the hour.

Such was Jedediah Morse’s fast day sermon of May 9, 1798. Such at least
it was when it came from the press; surely not even by the widest
stretch of the imagination an epoch-making sermon; not even notable,
except when viewed from a single angle. Nothing could be clearer than
that the sermon moved, for the most part, well within the circle of
conventional ideas to which on state occasions the minds of the clergy
of New England generally made response. But for the introduction of one
element it is safe to say the deliverance of Charlestown’s minister
would have passed for one of the ordinary “political sermons” of the
day, and so have accomplished nothing perhaps beyond helping to swell
the chorus of protests from disgusted Democrats against “political
preaching.” That element, needless to say, was _Illuminism_.

The public sanction which Morse gave to the charge that the Illuminati
were responsible for the afflictions of both the Old World and the
New was a new note on this side of the Atlantic. Sounded in New
England at a time when Europe was in convulsion and when the shift
from traditional social, political, and religious positions in America
was extremely rapid in its movement, this new alarm could not fail
to arrest attention. We have seen that the air of New England was
already surcharged with notions of implacable hostility to the forces
in control of church and state,[640] and with gloomy forebodings born
of surmises of intrigue and conspiracy.[641] The hour was electric.
The hard-pressed forces of religious and political conservatism were
bound to receive the new Shibboleth with unquestioning and eager
joy. Henceforth their arsenal would be enlarged to include a new
weapon. They would be able to point to the villainies, impieties, and
blood-lettings in Europe, to the flauntings, contumelies, and crafty
counter-manœuverings which the clergy and the heads of government had
to suffer in America, and assert that back of all these and binding
all together into a single vicious whole was a conspiracy whose object
was nothing less than the complete overthrow of civil government and
orthodox Christianity. To be able to brand political and religious
radicalism with a word as detestable as this new word “Illuminism”
which had just come across the Atlantic, should indeed prove sufficient
to damn that cause.

The immediate effect produced by the sermon fell considerably short of
a sensation. For one thing the subject of the Illuminati was new and
unfamiliar in New England. Much more significant, however, is the fact
that at the time the sermon came to public attention, the long-expected
X. Y. Z. despatches were passing through the newspaper presses of the
country and inflaming the national spirit to an incredible degree.
In view of the fact that innumerable public assemblies were being
held and innumerable patriotic addresses drawn up and presented to
the President, all inspired by the prospect of and the demand for
an immediate rupture with France, it is not surprising that the
minister of Charlestown did not succeed in creating a more instant and
widespread alarm than he did.

However, he had no reason to be disappointed. The spark which he had
communicated to the tinder might seem to smoulder for a season,[642]
but in due course it was bound to burst into flame. That Morse was
himself well content with the degree of interest which the public
manifested in his disclosure of the “conspiracy” is evident from
the following letter that he addressed to Oliver Wolcott, within a
fortnight of the date of the national fast:

                                            Charlestown, May 21, 1798.
  _Dear Sir_,

  I enclose for your acceptance my Fast Sermon, & one on the death of
  my worthy friend Judge Russell, both whh. together with one other
  occasional discourse, besides two common sermons, I was obliged to
  compose after my return from Phila., and under the disadvantage
  of general fatigue.—I owe you and myself this apology.—The fast
  discourse was received with very unexpected approbation—& with no
  opposition even in Charlestown, whose citizens many of them have
  been the most violently opposed to the measures of Govt. & the most
  enthusiastic in favor of France.—This same discourse delivered
  two months ago would have excited such a flame, as would in all
  probability have rendered my situation extremely unpleasant, if not
  unsafe.—I hope it has done some good, & that it may have a chance
  of doing more, however small, I have permitted its publication....
  The fast was celebrated in this quarter with unexpected solemnity
  & unanimity. Its effects, I hope & believe will be great both as
  respects our civil & religious interests.... Your friend, JED^H

          Comptroller of the Treasury.

Here and there Morse’s sermon promptly became the occasion of public
comment. To illustrate: The Reverend John Thayer, beloved and trusted
shepherd of the Catholic flock in Boston, following the patriotic
example of the Protestant clergy, preached a sermon on the occasion
of the national fast appropriate to the solemnity of the day.[644]
In the published text of this sermon Thayer took occasion to commend
Morse “for his interesting abridgement of the infernal society of the
Illuminati.”[645] For the most part, however, the comment of the clergy
was reserved for subsequent occasions when the clerical mind should
have had opportunity to inform itself more fully concerning the matter.

As for the newspapers, they began to pay their respects to Morse’s
sensational utterance soon after the latter’s fast day sermon came from
the press. Thus “An American” contributed an article of generous length
and of somewhat hostile tone to the _Independent Chronicle_ of May 24
(1798), calling upon Morse to substantiate more fully the charge he had
made. This pseudonymous contributor professed to have experienced great
astonishment upon reading Morse’s sermon and finding that Robison’s
_Proofs_ alone had been relied upon as a source of information and
authority. So serious a matter seemed to demand fuller evidence.
Thinking that perhaps Dr. Morse had been imposed upon and that the work
in question was possibly apocryphal, the writer had been constrained
to search through foreign literary journals with a view to discovering
how the “performance” attributed to Robison was regarded abroad. Thus
employed he had come across an article in _The Critical Review, or
Annals of Literature_, London, 1797, wherein he found severe strictures
upon Robison’s volume. In view of this, “since the _Doctors_ of Europe
and America differ so widely in their estimation of its importance,”
but a single course of honor and obligation would seem to be open
to Dr. Morse. Having stood sponsor for the authenticity of such an
extraordinary publication, he should now submit to the public decided
proofs of the authority and correctness of the book in question.[646]

To this sharp challenge of “An American,” Morse was not indifferent.
Replying to his critic in a subsequent issue of the _Chronicle_,[647]
he expressed the hope that the public would not form its judgment
respecting Robison’s volume before reading the same, or at least
not until it shall have heard further from its “humble servant,
Jedidiah Morse.” Meantime, if his readers shall be pleased to peruse
the observations clipped from the _New York Spectator_ by which his
(Morse’s) letter to the _Chronicle_ is accompanied they will learn that
“there is at least _one_ other person in the United States who has
_read this_ work, [and] whose opinion of it accords with” his own.[648]

A few days later, through the columns of the same paper,[649] Morse
replied at greater length to the criticisms which “An American” had
brought to public attention. That he had not “too hastily recommended
Professor Robison’s late work” Morse regards as sufficiently
demonstrated by the fact that he had had a copy of the book in his
possession since the middle of the previous April. This he had
examined with care, and he had satisfied himself that it was entitled
to the recommendation he had given it in his fast day sermon. So far
as the hostile criticism of the authors of _The Critical Review_ is
concerned, he has no doubt that their _caricature_ of Robison’s book
is to be construed as expressive of their determination to destroy
its reputation and thus prevent its circulation, since it probably
exposed and thwarted their favorite schemes. Besides, over against the
contemptuous estimate that the authors of _The Critical Review_ had
seen fit to place upon Robison’s volume, Morse was able to oppose a
very different judgment. _The London Review_ of January, 1798, extracts
from which he was glad to be permitted to offer in evidence,[650]
placed an estimate upon Robison’s book which was both accurate and
just. From this “An American” will be able to gather that “‘the
Doctors in Europe and America’” do not “differ so widely in their
estimation” of the importance of Robison’s volume as had been asserted.
The observations that Morse is now offering to the public, it is his
expectation, will serve to effect his personal justification; but if
doubts still remain in the minds of any, he can only recommend as the
best and perhaps the only sure means of dissolving them that such
persons read _Proofs of a Conspiracy_ for themselves.[651]

With respect to the inception of the Illuminati agitation in New
England, the utterances of two other clergymen require attention.
One of these, the Reverend David Tappan, professor of divinity at
Harvard, in a discourse[652] delivered before the senior class of
that institution on the 19th of June, 1798, cautioned the young
people before him who were about to quit the life of the college to
guard against the dangers of speculative principles, the pleasures
of idleness and vicious indulgence, the degrading tendency of
selfish sentiments, _and_ “a more recent system, which ... has for
BLISSFUL ENJOYMENT OF EQUAL LIBERTY.” This “more recent system,” Tappan
explained, was the philosophy of the Order of the Illuminati.[653]

Drawing, as he professed, upon Morse’s fast day discourse and upon
President Dwight’s sermons on _infidel philosophy_,[654] Tappan
essayed a sketch of the objects and operations of the Illuminati, from
the time of the founding of the order by Weishaupt to its supposed
connections with the French Revolution, and the successes which it
had enabled the French armies to accomplish through its intrigues “in
various and distant parts of the world.” The conspiracy, it is true,
might not be as extensive in its scope as had been claimed; but even
so, the _undoubted_ aspects of the situation were sufficient to afford
ground for most grave apprehension. “If these and similar facts,” the
clergyman continued, “do not evince so early and broad a system of
wickedness as this writer[655] supposes (the truth of which in _all_
its extent the speaker is not prepared to support), yet they indicate a
real and most alarming plan of hostility against the dearest interests
of man.”[656]

The question of the general credibility of the claims which Robison had
made, as well as the implication of the Masons in the “conspiracy,”
came in for special consideration by Tappan when his sermon was
prepared for publication.[657] Concerning the former, the observation
is made that the ridicule and incredulity which have opposed themselves
to the report of a scheme so novel, extravagant, and diabolical,
were to have been expected. At any rate, much of the opposition has
come from men whose wishes and opinions have been offended, or from
those who have shown themselves to be ardent friends of political
and religious innovation. And with regard to the Masons, it is urged
that the displeasure which certain worthy members of that fraternity
have expressed against Robison ought not to be permitted to become
so violent as to render impossible a candid and thorough examination
of the proofs he has submitted. Robison’s _opinion_ respecting the
universal frivolity or mischievous tendency of the assemblies of the
European Masons may be incorrect and injurious, and at the same time
the leading facts upon which he founds that opinion may be true. To
manifest a willingness to investigate with candor the proofs that
have been presented, while continuing to hold in esteem “the approved
characters of the principal Masons in this country, especially in the
Eastern States,” this, Tappan advises, represents the middle course
that his readers should attempt to steer.[658]

Thus it will appear that Tappan became an echo of Morse. As for Timothy
Dwight, the contribution he made to the awakening of public interest
in the subject of Illuminism requires somewhat stronger statement. In
the person of the president of Yale this new idea of a definite and
deep-laid conspiracy against religion and civil government encountered
a highly sensitized mind. Upon the subjects of infidelity and the
general irreligious tendencies of the times, Dwight had been speaking
frequently and for years from his lecture-desk in the classroom and
from his pulpit in the church. It is safe to say that among all the
men of New England no man’s spirit was more persistently haunted by
the fear that the forces of irreligion were in league to work general
ruin to the institutions of society than his. When, therefore, on
the occasion of the Fourth of July, 1798, the people of New Haven
assembled to do honor to the day in listening to a sermon by the
honored president of their college, it was to be expected that if the
latter had any new information to impart or any new pronouncement to
make respecting malign efforts that were making to plunge the world
into irremediable scepticism and anarchy, he would seize the occasion
that the day offered to arouse in his hearers a sense of the new perils
which threatened. And President Dwight _had_ new information and a new
pronouncement to offer.

The subject which he chose to discuss on that Independence Day, and
the text upon the elucidation of which he relied for the illumination
of the subject, were in themselves calculated to excite concern. These
“Behold I come as a thief: Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth
his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Revelation
xvi: 16.)[659] Having first explained the setting of the text,
President Dwight then proceeded to define the thesis of his sermon in
the following manner: “From this explanation it is manifest that the
prediction consists of two great and distinct parts: _the preparation
for the overthrow of the Antichristian empire; and the embarkation of
men in a professed and unusual opposition to God, and to his kingdom,
accomplished by means of false doctrines, and impious teachers_.”[660]

The first of these predictions, it was asserted, had been fulfilled
in the repressive and secularizing measures that during the century
had operated to weaken greatly the Catholic hierarchy and its chief
political supports among the states of Europe.[661] The second was
experiencing a fulfilment not less remarkable in the open and
professed war against God and his kingdom, in which Voltaire, Frederick
II, the Encyclopedists, and the Societies of the Illuminati had

This systematical design to destroy Christianity, which Voltaire and
his accomplices formed, found its first expressions in the compilation
of the _Encyclopédie_, the formation of a new sect of philosophers to
engineer the assaults upon the church, the prostitution of the French
Academy to the purposes of this sect, and the dissemination of infidel
books and other publications, all of which were so prepared “as to
catch the feelings, and steal upon the approbation, of every class
of men.”[663] Eventually the labors of this group of men and their
disciples were widened so as to include not only religion but morality
and civil government as well, with the object in view of unhinging
“gradually the minds of men, and destroying their reverence for
everything heretofore esteemed sacred.”[664]

Simultaneously the Masonic Societies of France and Germany had been
drawn away from the pursuit of the objects of friendly and convivial
intercourse for which they were originally instituted, to the
employment of their secret assemblies in the discussion of “every
novel, licentious, and alarming opinion”[665] that innovators and other
restless spirits might choose to advance. Thus,

  Minds already tinged with philosophism were here speedily blackened
  with a deep and deadly die; and those which came fresh and innocent
  to the scene of contamination became early and irremediably
  corrupted.... In these hot beds were sown the seeds of that
  astonishing Revolution, and all its dreadful appendages, which now
  spreads dismay and horror throughout half the globe.[666]

The Society of the Illuminati, springing up at this time and
professing itself to be a higher order of Freemasonry, availed itself
of the secrecy, solemnity, and mysticism of Masonry, of its system
of correspondence, to teach and propagate doctrines calculated to
undermine and destroy all human happiness and virtue. Thus God’s being
was derided, while government was pronounced a curse, civil society an
apostasy of the race, the possession of private property a robbery,
chastity and natural affection groundless prejudices, and adultery,
assassination, poisoning and other infernal crimes not only lawful but
even virtuous.[667] To crown all, the principle that the end justifies
the means was made to define the sphere of action for the members of
the order.

The triumphs of this system of falsehood and horror, Dwight continued,
have already been momentous. In Germany “the public faith and morals
have been unhinged; and the political and religious affairs of that
empire have assumed an aspect which forebodes its total ruin.”[668]
In France the affairs of the people have been controlled by the
representatives of this hellish society. Not only this, but by means
of the establishment of the order in those countries which France
has opposed, the French government has been able to triumph in its
military campaigns and to overthrow religion and governments in the
countries which have been attacked. Neither England nor Scotland have
escaped the foul contagion; and private papers of the order, seized
in Germany, testify to the fact that several such societies had been
erected in America prior to the year 1786.[669]

When the preacher passed to the head of _improvement_, it was therefore
natural that he should prescribe as one of the “duties” that especially
needed to be observed, the breaking off all connection with such
enemies as had been mentioned. The language in which this particular
duty was enforced certainly did not lack boldness and vigor.

  The sins of these enemies of Christ, and Christians, are of numbers
  and degrees which mock account and description. All that the malice
  and atheism of the Dragon, the cruelty and rapacity of the Beast,
  and the fraud and deceit of the false Prophet, can generate or
  accomplish, swell the list. No personal or national interest of man
  has been uninvaded; no impious sentiment, or action, against God
  has been spared; no malignant hostility against Christ, and his
  religion, has been unattempted. Justice, truth, kindness, piety,
  and moral obligation universally have been, not merely trodden
  under foot, ... but ridiculed, spurned, and insulted, as the
  childish bugbears of drivelling idiocy. Chastity and decency have
  been alike turned out of doors; and shame and pollution called out
  of their dens to the hall of distinction and the chair of state....
  For what end shall we be connected with men of whom this is the
  character and conduct? Is it that we may assume the same character,
  and pursue the same conduct? Is it that our churches may become
  temples of reason, our Sabbath a decade, and our psalms of praise
  Marsellois [_sic_] hymns? ... Is it that we may see the Bible
  cast into a bonfire, the vessels of the sacramental supper borne
  by an ass in public procession, and our children, either wheedled
  or terrified, uniting in the mob, chanting mockeries against
  God, and hailing in the sounds of _Ca ira_ the ruin of their
  religion, and the loss of their souls? ... Shall we, my brethren,
  become partakers of these sins? Shall we introduce them into our
  government, our schools, our families? Shall our sons become the
  disciples of Voltaire, and the dragoons of Marat; or our daughters
  the concubines of the Illuminati?[670]

With equally fiery speech, all doubting Thomases are urged to

  ... look for conviction to Belgium; sunk into the dust of
  insignificance and meanness, plundered, insulted, forgotten, never
  to rise more. See Batavia wallowing in the same dust; the butt of
  fraud, rapacity, and derision, struggling in the last stages of
  life, and searching anxiously to find a quiet grave. See Venice
  sold in the shambles, and made the small change of a political
  bargain. Turn your eyes to Switzerland, and behold its happiness
  and its hopes, cut off at a single stroke, happiness erected with
  the labour and the wisdom of three centuries; hopes that not long
  since hailed the blessings of centuries yet to come. What have they
  spread but crimes and miseries; where have they trodden but to
  waste, to pollute, and to destroy?[671]

From these excerpts and this extended survey of President Dwight’s
sermon it will readily appear that his espousal of the notion that the
Illuminati were immediately responsible for the riotous overturnings
and bitter woes of the age was as unequivocal as it was vigorous. To
this view of things he boldly committed himself, and that on a great
national anniversary occasion when public interest was bound to be
peculiarly alert. Moreover, the crisis through which his country
was passing had seemed to him to require that his countrymen should
especially be put on their guard respecting this new peril which
threatened. Though he had been silent respecting personal observations
and evidence of his own bearing on the operations of this infamous
organization in the United States, nevertheless he had given his
hearers to understand that he accepted at its face value Robison’s
statement regarding the existence of the Order of the Illuminati
in this country. Here, then, was a man high in the councils of the
church,[672] of education, and the state, lending the full weight of
his personality and his office to this fresh and startling explanation
of the true cause of the agitations and disorders of the day.[673] The
undoubted effect was to give more solid standing to the sensational
charge that Jedediah Morse had made.

But preachers were not the only public characters who early caught up
and echoed the new alarm. Orators, too, lent the aid of their voices in
an effort to persuade the people that their liberties and institutions
were in danger of a deadly thrust from this new quarter. A number of
these, on the Fourth of July just referred to, delivered themselves of
sentiments similar to those which President Dwight expressed. Thus at
Sharon, Connecticut, the orator of the day, a certain John C. Smith,
supplied a new thrill to his patriotic address by informing his hearers
that the French Revolution was the result

  chiefly of _a combination long since founded in Europe, by Infidels
  and Atheists, to root out and effectually destroy Religion and
  Civil Government_,—not this or that creed of religion,—not this or
  that form of government,—in this or that particular country,—but
  all religion,—all government,—and that through the world.[674]

At Hartford, Theodore Dwight, brother to Yale’s president, publicly
averred it was a fact well ascertained that the French Revolution
“was planned by a set of men whose avowed object was the overthrow
of Altars and Thrones, that is, the destruction of all Religion and
Government.”[675] At the midnight orgies of the “modern Illuminati”
the plan had been conceived and nourished. For six years past, the
orator declared, the government of France has been directed by men who
have been schooled in that society of demons.[676] In the same city,
and on the same occasion, another voice was raised to declaim against
the reckless impiety of French partisans in the United States.[677]
These conspiring men, so this orator somewhat vaguely declared, are
said to have substituted the wild dogmas of infidel philosophy for the
benevolent principles of Christianity. They have adopted “a philosophy
originating in wickedness, founded in error, and subversive of the
peace and happiness of society.”[678]

From this early handling of the subject by clergymen and orators,
we are now called away to consider a significant exposition of the
matter in the columns of a Boston newspaper. To the issue of the
_Massachusetts Mercury_ of July 27, 1798, “Censor” contributed an
article that was destined to have important bearings on the course
of public discussion. Professing a spirit of reasonable moderation,
“Censor” offered the practical suggestion that the time had come
to inquire what evidence Professor Robison possessed respecting
the authenticity of his sources. “At this distance,” he urged, “it
is impossible to decide on the truth of his assertions, or the
respectability of his testimonies.” Yet the writer had had his
attention drawn to certain evidences of prejudice, misrepresentation,
and unrestrained imagination on the part of Robison which tended to
destroy confidence in his judgment. Dr. Morse, too, he continued,
on the unsupported assertion of an individual three thousand miles
distant, to the effect that several lodges of the Illuminati had been
established in America prior to ’86, in his fast sermon had seen fit to
declare that the Illuminati were here, that they had made considerable
progress among us, and that to them were to be traced the torrent of
irreligion and the abuse of everything good and praiseworthy which
threatens to overwhelm the world. For all these assertions, “Censor”
inquired, where were the evidences?[679]

The tone of “Censor’s” article was decidedly hostile. The spirit of
cynicism and distrust had lifted its head, not apologetically but
boldly. The evidence in the case was called for. To Jedediah Morse,
original and chief sponsor for the outcry against the Illuminati,
it must have seemed clear that the obligation of meeting the issue
thus joined rested squarely upon his own shoulders. Nor was he minded
to evade responsibility. And thus it happened that the columns of
the _Massachusetts Mercury_, for some weeks to come,[680] carried a
succession of articles over Morse’s signature, all laboring to prove
that the judgment their author had passed upon Robison’s volume had
not been hasty, but was well grounded in reason. To these articles,
rambling and inconclusive as they were, we must now devote attention.

Expressing first his gratitude that Professor Robison’s _Proofs of a
Conspiracy_ had attracted the attention of so large and respectable
a portion of the community, Morse thereupon professed surprise that
his own commendation of that work in his late fast day sermon should
have exposed him to the necessity of vindicating both the author of
the _Proofs_ and his own composition.[681] He had assumed that every
reader of Robison’s production would be impressed as he had been with
the evidence of the author’s talents, views, candor, and integrity. The
sensitiveness and irritation which members of the Masonic fraternity
had shown had also astonished him. His hope had been that the notes
by which his published fast day sermon had been accompanied would
forestall censure from that quarter. However the necessity to vindicate
Professor Robison and his book had been imposed upon him, and that he
would proceed to do. He would first introduce extracts from his fast
day sermon to show that he had recommended Robison’s book, not because
of any observations unfavorable to the Masons which it contained,
but for the sole reason that it exposed the dark conspiracies of the
Illuminati against civil government and Christianity.[682]

The vindication of Professor Robison’s character and reputation as
a man and writer was next undertaken. These points Morse considered
to be fully established by the positions that Robison occupied as
Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Professor of Natural
Philosophy in one of the best universities of the world. If further
proof should be required, the contributions that Robison had made to
the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ certainly vouched for his respectability
and prominence. Beyond this Morse could go no further than to add
that private advices which had come to him from one of his foreign
correspondents, the Reverend Dr. Erskine, of Edinburgh, fully confirmed
the reputation of the Scotch professor.[683]

But since it was likely to be remarked in this instance that “great men
are not always wise,” Morse proposed to deal next with the marks of the
book’s credibility. As to _external_ marks, the approbation and support
of the book by very respectable men in England and Scotland, and its
approval and recommendation by clergymen and laymen of discernment
and ability in America, he argued, were to be weighed as impressive
considerations.[684] If by way of rejoinder it should be urged that
the English reviewers were not of one mind respecting the merits of
the book, then his reply would be that having read on both sides of
the controversy that had been waged in the English journals, he had
been forced to the conclusion that “the balance of _candor_ and _truth_
are [_sic_] clearly on the side of those who are in favor of Professor
Robison, and give credit to his work.”[685]

Respecting the favorable reception which the book had been accorded
in America, he was glad to be privileged to point to the sentiments
of Professor Tappan,[686] President Dwight,[687] and Theodore Dwight,
Esq.[688] It is true that in America the book had excited warm, even
virulent opposition; but certainly it had received respectable support,
“such as ought to exempt any person from the charge of _weakness_ or
_credulity_ who believes it authentic.”[689]

An effort to marshal the _internal_ evidence of the book’s credibility
is next promised by Morse.[690] This anticipation remained a promise,
however, for the disingenuous reason that Morse offered that a book
which has met such a flattering reception as Robison’s _Proofs_
absolves its friends and supporters of the necessity of defending its
contents as well as the authenticity of the documents from which it has
been drawn. The burden of proof rests upon those who have nothing to
offer against the work in question but bold assertions, contemptuous
sneers, and vilifying epithets.[691] Professor Robison’s critics have
failed to take sufficient account of the fact that he was engaged in a
delicate and arduous undertaking. He was attempting to unveil a deep
and dark conspiracy.[692] It is not pretended that all the links in
the chain of evidence have been discovered; nor is it claimed that
there has been an entire absence of confusion, disconnection, and
imperfection in the work of ferreting out the conspiracy. But certainly
enough has been accomplished to merit confidence in the effort, and
to justify serious alarm on the part of the friends of the civil and
religious interests of the country.[693]

This, it need scarcely be said, did not amount to a satisfactory
handling of the case. In truth, from the standpoint of the main issue
involved, _viz._, the reliability of Robison’s “proofs,” it was little
more than so much dust thrown into the air. Evidence had been asked
for. In its place arguments, and it must be confessed very inconclusive
arguments at that, were submitted. The vital questions in the case
had scarcely been touched. Were the Illuminati still in existence?
If so, did they actually aim at the universal overthrow of religion
and civil government? Was the French Revolution the result of their
machinations? More momentous still to the interests of Americans, had
the net of conspiracy been thrown over this country, with the result
that nefarious secret organizations were at work among her people,
corrupting them and plotting the downfall of their institutions? No
definite, independent word had yet been spoken in America in answer
to these questions. Thus far the issue was joined over the merits or
demerits of a _book_,[694]—a book that had recently come across the
Atlantic and whose readers in America, according as they were credulous
or incredulous, boldly asserted or as vehemently denied that the
questions which have just been propounded should be answered in the

Thus matters stood in the early fall of 1798. The newspapers generally
had begun to take hold of the subject, and the volume of public
discussion steadily increased. But as to progress in the clarifying of
the fundamental questions at issue, no advance was made. No additional
facts were forthcoming; no new light was shed. The alarm that Morse
and his allies had raised may be said to have been something like a
ship which has been able to make its way out as far as the harbor
mouth, but lingers there becalmed, waiting for a favoring gale to
speed it on its way. Or was it that the winds were ample, but wholly
unfavorable? In the late summer and the fall of 1798 practically every
other public interest in New England was eclipsed by two surpassingly
important concerns: the bitter agitation over the Alien and Sedition
Acts, and the distress and terror of the people over the ravages of an
epidemic of yellow fever which was sweeping the towns and cities of the
Atlantic seaboard, extending well up along the New England coast.


[610] _The Works of John Adams_, vol. ix, pp. 169 _et seq._

[611] _Cf. supra_, p. 10.

[612] _A Sermon, Delivered at the New North Church in Boston, in the
morning, and in the afternoon at Charlestown, May 9th, 1798, being
the day recommended by John Adams, President of the United States of
America, for solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer._ By Jedidiah
Morse, D. D., minister of the congregation in Charlestown, Boston,
1798, pp. 5–12.

[613] _Ibid._, p. 13.

[614] Morse was one of those New England clergymen whose earlier
enthusiasm for the French Revolution had been pronounced. In a sermon
preached on the occasion of the national thanksgiving of 1795, he
confessed his profound interest in the French cause, on account of
what that people had accomplished in breaking the chains of civil and
ecclesiastical tyranny. At the same time he voiced his concern because
a spirit of _vandalism_ had lately arisen in France, by which all the
salutary results of the Revolution were gravely imperiled. Still, his
hopes for the recovery of the nation’s self-control were strong. _Cf._
_The Present Situation of Other Nations of the World, Contrasted with
our Own. A Sermon, delivered at Charlestown, in the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, February 19, 1795; being the day recommended by George
Washington, President of the United States of America, for Publick
Thanksgiving and Prayer._ By Jedidiah Morse, D. D., minister of the
congregation in Charlestown, Boston, 1795, pp. 10–16. _Cf._ also the
Preface to Morse’s _Fast Day Sermon_ of April 25, 1799.

[615] Morse, _Sermon on the National Fast_, May 9, 1798, p. 13.

[616] The X. Y. Z. despatches.

[617] Morse, _Sermon on the National Fast_, May 9, 1798, pp. 14 _et

[618] Morse, _op. cit._, p. 17.

[619] _Ibid._, p. 19.

[620] _Ibid._, p. 20.

[621] Morse, _op. cit._, p. 20.

[622] Morse’s first acquaintance with Robison’s volume is thus
explained by him: “The first copies which were sent to America,
arrived at Philadelphia and New York, at both which places the
re-printing of it was immediately undertaken, and the Philadelphia
edition was completed ready for sale in the short space of 3 _weeks_.
This was about the middle of April. Happening at this time to be in
Philadelphia, and hearing the work spoken of in terms of the highest
respect by men of judgment, one of them went so far as to pronounce
it the most interesting work that the present century had produced;
I was induced to procure a copy, which I brought home with me....”
(_Independent Chronicle_, June 14, 1798.) In Sprague’s _Life of
Jedediah Morse_, pp. 233 _et seq._, it is affirmed that Dr. Erskine,
one of Morse’s Scottish correspondents, wrote Morse in January, 1797,
informing him of the alarm which had sprung up in Europe with respect
to the “conspiracy”, and calling attention to Robison’s volume which
was then being prepared for the press.

[623] Morse, _Sermon on the National Fast_, May 9, 1798, p. 21.

[624] _Ibid._

[625] _Ibid._, pp. 22 _et seq._

[626] _Ibid._, p. 23.

[627] _Ibid._

[628] _Ibid._, p. 24.

[629] Robison’s reference to the “several” societies established in
America previous to 1786 (_cf. supra_, p. 210) is specifically referred
to. _Cf._ _Sermon on the National Fast_, May 9, 1798, p. 23.

[630] _Ibid._, p. 24.

[631] Morse, _op. cit._, p. 24.

[632] Morse had been at pains in his sermon to recommend Robison’s
volume as throwing a flood of light upon “the causes which have brought
the world into its present disorganized state.” (_Ibid._, pp. 24 _et
seq._) Later it must have occurred to him that the silence he had
maintained in the pulpit respecting Masonry’s part in the conspiracy
was bound to be noticed by all who upon his recommendation read
Robison’s volume.

[633] _Ibid._, p. 21.

[634] Morse, _op. cit._, p. 21.

[635] _Ibid._, p. 22.

[636] _Ibid._, pp. 21, 22. For the time being Morse was content to
follow the example of Robison. The latter, in his discussion of English
Freemasonry, made a fairly sharp distinction between the English
system and the Masonic systems of the continent. That distinction, on
the whole, was decidedly favorable to English Freemasonry. By every
consideration of precedent and prudence Morse must have felt strongly
impelled to pursue the same course.

[637] _Ibid._, p. 22.

[638] Morse, _op. cit._, p. 25.

[639] _Ibid._, pp. 25 _et seq._

[640] _Cf. supra_, ch. i, 2.

[641] _Cf. supra_, pp. 125 _et seq._

[642] The editor of as loyal and resourceful a Federalist sheet as
the _Columbian Centinel_, for example, insisted upon treating as a
whole the performances of the clergy on the occasion of the national
fast, and refused to make discriminations with respect to the special
import or merit of any particular minister’s performance: “Wednesday
last was observed throughout the United States as a day of Fasting
and Prayer. (Within the sphere of our information we can say, that on
no occasion were there ever exhibited more moral patriotism, and more
ardent devotion.) The Clergy on this occasion came forward with a zeal
which added greatly to the high character they have long enjoyed, as
Patriots. We could instance numerous traits of Federalism, which would
do them honour; but when all of them are entitled to praise, it would
be invidious to make distinctions.” (_Columbian Centinel_, May 12,

[643] _Wolcott Papers_, viii, 23.

[644] _A Discourse, Delivered at the Roman Catholic Church in Boston
on the 9th of May, 1798._ ... By the Reverend John Thayer, Catholic
Missioner, Boston, 1798.

[645] _Ibid._, p. 23.

[646] _Op. cit._

[647] _Independent Chronicle_, May 31, 1798.

[648] _Ibid._ The “observations” referred to really threw no new light
upon the situation. They amounted to nothing more than proof of the
fact that the editor of the _New York Spectator_ had accepted the idea
of the Illuminati conspiracy. This being the case he was anxious to
warn his readers that if they would escape from the designs of the
French government they must make their choice, and that speedily,

[649] _Independent Chronicle_, June 14, 1798.

[650] The extracts in question boldly championed Robison’s cause,
and while admitting that all the tenets and secret manoeuvers of the
Illuminati could not be said to have been fully brought to light, Morse
did not hesitate to draw the following summary conclusion: “There
is however sufficient known to call forth the indignation of every
person who professes to be a friend to religion or virtue, and to put
every one on their guard who knows and respects the rights of private
property, and of good government.” (_Ibid._)

[651] _Ibid._

[652] _A Discourse delivered in the Chapel of Harvard College, June 19,
1798, Occasioned by the Approaching Departure of the Senior Class from
the University._ By David Tappan, D. D., Hollis Professor of Divinity
in said College, Boston, 1798.

[653] _Ibid._, pp. 4–13.

[654] As far as the present writer has been able to discover, President
Dwight did not deal publicly with the Illuminati charge until a little
later. Tappan’s reference must therefore be to general discussions of
infidelity, a favorite topic with Yale’s president, as we have seen.

[655] The reference is to Robison. Whether or not Tappan had personally
read Robison’s volume at this time is not altogether clear. The general
impression created by his sermon is that he had.

[656] _Cf._ Tappan’s _Sermon_, p. 19.

[657] _Ibid._, pp. 15 _et seq._ (foot note).

[658] _Cf._ Tappan’s _Sermon_, pp. 15 _et seq._ (foot note).

a Discourse, Preached on the Fourth of July, 1798_; by the Reverend
Timothy Dwight, D. D., President of Yale-College; at the request of the
citizens of New-Haven. New-Haven, 1798.

[660] _Ibid._, p. 8.

[661] The elaboration of this point necessarily led to some emphasis
upon the spirit of irreligion and savage persecution that had thus
manifested itself, and this in turn necessitated an effort to find a
way out of the embarrassment of seeming to approve this persecution.
The following ingenious foot note appended to the text of the published
sermon admirably illustrates the inventive resourcefulness of many
a New England clergyman of the day who found it necessary to rescue
himself from such an _impasse_ as Dwight’s method of exegesis produced:
“In the mention of all these evils brought on the Romish Hierarchy, I
beg it may be remembered, that I am far from justifying the iniquitous
conduct of their persecutors. I know not that any person holds it, and
all other persecutions, more in abhorrence. Neither have I a doubt of
the integrity and piety of multitudes of the unhappy sufferers. In my
view they claim, and I trust will receive, the commiseration, and, as
occasion offers, the kind offices of all men possessed even of common
humanity.” (_Ibid._, p. 9.) The truth is that in some cases Protestant
clergymen in New England, out of their concern for Christianity in
general, went so far as to deprecate the persecutions which Roman
Catholicism suffered.

[662] Dwight offered as his sources of authority Robison’s _Proofs_ and
an article on Barruel’s _Memoirs of Jacobinism_ which he had discovered
in the _British Critic_.

[663] _Cf._ Dwight’s _Sermon_, p. 11.

[664] _Ibid._

[665] _Ibid._

[666] _Cf._ Dwight’s _Sermon_, pp. 11, 12.

[667] _Ibid._, p. 12.

[668] _Ibid._, p. 13.

[669] _Cf._ Dwight’s _Sermon_, p. 15.

[670] _Cf._ Dwight’s _Sermon_, pp. 20, 21.

[671] _Ibid._, p. 22.

[672] The commanding position that Dwight occupied in the Standing
Order, as well as the unenviable distinction which in the eyes of the
opposition belonged to him, is certified to by the fact that he was
commonly referred to as “Pope Dwight.” _Cf._ Beecher, _Autobiography,
Correspondence, etc._, vol. i, p. 289. _Cf._ Stiles, _Diary_, vol. ii,
p. 531.

[673] The _Connecticut Journal_ of July 11, 1798, comments as follows
upon New Haven’s celebration of the previous Fourth: “The exercises
of the day at the Meeting-house were a Sermon by President Dwight,
from the 16th chapter of Revelations, 15th verse, accompanied with
prayers. An Oration by Noah Webster, jun., Esq., and sundry pieces
of excellent music. We forbare [_sic_] to remark particularly on the
Sermon and Oration, as the public eye will be speedily gratified in
perusing them.... We shall only say that an enlightened audience,
composed of the citizens of New-Haven, the members of our university,
and many clergymen, civilians, and other respectable inhabitants from
the adjacent towns, listened with profound attention while Doct. Dwight
and Mr. Webster exposed to their view, in a feeling manner, those
principles of modern philosophy which desolate Europe, and threaten the
universe with mighty evils.”

[674] _An Oration, pronounced at Sharon, on the Anniversary of American
Independence, 4th of July, 1798._ By John C. Smith, Litchfield, (n.
d.), pp. 6 _et seq._ _Cf. ibid._, pp. 7 _et seq._

[675] _Theodore Dwight: An Oration spoken at Hartford, in the State of
Connecticut, on the Anniversary of American Independence, July 4th,
1798._ Hartford, 1798, p. 23.

[676] _Ibid._ On a later page, in commenting upon Robison’s reference
in his _Proofs of a Conspiracy_ to the lodges of the Illuminati which
had been established in America, Dwight said: “I know not who belonged
to that society in this country; but if I were about to make proselytes
to illuminatism in the United States, I should in the first place apply
to Thomas Jefferson, Albert Gallatin, and their political associates.”
(_Ibid._, p. 30.) This early use of the outcry against the Illuminati
for political purposes was prophetic.

[677] _An Oration on Party Spirit, Pronounced before the Connecticut
Society of Cincinnati, convened at Hartford, for the celebration of
American Independence, on the 4th of July, 1798._ By Thomas Day, (n.
d.), p. 15.

[678] _Ibid._

[679] That “Censor’s” tone of moderation was assumed and not genuine
is further evinced by his assertion of contempt for Robison’s _absurd_
supposition that the Illuminati had kindled the French Revolution and
for his “unjustifiable attacks upon certain worthy characters.” If
the Illuminati had never existed the Revolution would have occurred
on account of the arbitrary and excessive despotism of the old
French government, the insupportable weight of taxation, the luxury
and dissipation of the nobility and clergy, the prohibition of free
religious and political discussion, and the dissemination of liberal
sentiments during the previous fifty years. That Robison, without
sufficient warrant, should have attacked such characters as “the worthy
La Fayette,” “the venerable Duke de Rochefoucault,” Dr. Priestley,
_et al._, caused his book to appear as one born of “incorrigible
prejudices, acting upon an inflamed imagination.” As for the author of
the fast day sermon, he may judge for himself whether he was too hasty
in recommending such a book to the public. The times may be full of
peril, but surely this does not justify those who terrify their fellow
citizens by means of groundless alarms. One’s fellow citizens also need
to be put on their guard against the danger of becoming “the dupes of
every foolish tale which the prejudices or ignorance of Europeans may
fabricate.” Such were further comments by “Censor.” _Cf._ Day, _op.

[680] These articles began in the issue of the _Mercury_ for August 3,
and were continued through the issues of August 10, 14, 17, 21, 28,
and 31. Because of an effort which the Reverend Josiah Bartlett made
to absolve the Masons of this country of the suspicion that had been
cast upon them, they found a certain continuation in the issues of the
_Mercury_ for September 7, 14, 18, 21; but these are reserved for the
special treatment of the Masonic aspects of the case. _Cf. infra_, pp.
330 _et seq._

[681] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Aug. 3, 1798.

[682] _Ibid._

[683] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Aug. 3, 1798.

[684] _Ibid._, Aug. 10.

[685] _Ibid._ In this connection Morse seeks to extract comfort from
the fact that the editors of the _British Critic_, having compared
Robison’s _Proofs_ and Barruel’s _Memoirs of Jacobinism_, have recorded
their verdict that the two works are highly confirmatory of each other,
“barring certain unimportant particulars.” He likewise observes that
the marks of precipitation and certain faults of style and expression
which some of the impartial English reviewers have been able to point
out, have yet not been allowed to alter their judgment that the book
as a whole is a credit to its author, and contains much valuable
information. The clamor that has arisen against the book, Morse
insists, is to be traced to the hostility of men who have been incensed
because their secrets have been exposed. At this point it may be said
in passing that Morse allowed himself to be drawn into the expression
of a sentiment, gratuitous in its nature, which served to precipitate
the very thing he had been anxious to avoid, _viz._, a break with the
Masons. Irritated by his critics, he wrote: “The Free Masons can not be
angry with him [Robison].... If therefore any are really angry here, it
must be because he has touched and exposed their secret friends.”

[686] The reference is to Professor Tappan’s sermon before the senior
class of Harvard. _Cf. supra_, pp. 244 _et seq._

[687] In this instance the reference is not to President Dwight’s
Fourth of July sermon: that sermon had not yet been seen by Morse; but
to an allusion made by Dwight to Robison’s book in a note appended to
the following pamphlet: _The Nature and Danger of Infidel Philosophy.
Two Discourses, to the Candidates for the Baccalaureate, in Yale
College, September 9, 1797_.... New-Haven, 1798. _Cf._ _Massachusetts
Mercury_, Aug. 17, 1798.

[688] Theodore Dwight’s Fourth of July oration is referred to. _Cf.
supra_, pp. 246 _et seq._

[689] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Aug. 17, 1798.

[690] _Ibid._, Aug. 21, 1798.

[691] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Aug. 21, 1798. Morse’s article in this
issue of the _Mercury_, perhaps more discursive and less convincing
than anything he had previously written on the general subject, at
various points descends to the level of abuse, in which Robison’s
hostile English reviewers, the Reverend William Bentley (for reasons
that will appear later), and “Censor” are made to share.

[692] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Aug. 28, 1798. In explanation of the
delicacy and difficulty of such a task as Robison’s, Morse offered to
his readers the following: “The schemes and views of Conspirators are
often veiled in language and signs intelligible only to themselves;
they correspond under fictitious names; their papers are sparingly
multiplied, artfully detached, and most cautiously concealed.”
(_Ibid._) The apologetic motive is evident.

[693] _Ibid._ With a “summary account” of the documents upon which
Robison had relied in the composition of his book and of which Morse
had no first-hand knowledge, and with an examination of the alleged
differences between the accounts of the “conspiracy” by Robison and
Barruel (_cf. ibid._, Aug. 31, 1798), Morse’s prolix discussion of
the subject came to a close. During the time that his articles were
in process of publication, “Censor” contributed a fresh article to
the _Mercury_, admitting that his faith in the existence of the
European Illuminati was growing, but still protesting that Robison
was to be regarded as extremely blameworthy on account of the false
and calumnious attacks that he had made on worthy private characters
in his _Proofs_. _Cf._ the _Massachusetts Mercury_ of August 28 for
this article by “Censor.” What degree of unmixed comfort this may have
afforded Morse, we may guess.

[694] As yet Barruel’s _Memoirs of Jacobinism_ was known to Americans
only in the literature of English reviews.


With the approach of the anniversary thanksgiving in Massachusetts,
late in November, 1798, public discussion of the Illuminati broke
out afresh. Once more the columns of the _Massachusetts Mercury_
became the chief medium of communication. Stirred, it appears, by the
announcement from abroad that the first three volumes of the Abbé
Barruel’s _Memoirs of Jacobinism_ had been translated into English, a
contributor to the _Mercury_ took occasion to comment at length on the
marvelous corroboratory evidence which that work was about to supply
to the English reading public with respect to the great and terrible
conspiracy which Professor Robison had laid bare.[695]

This advance commendation of Barruel’s composition was not destined to
be received with unanimous approval. “A Friend to Truth” was unable to
restrain the impulse to exclaim:

  The paper signed “A Customer” could find but one man contemptible
  enough to write it. It has his ignominy and his guilt.... No excuse
  can be made for the late publication. If Barruel’s work be not yet
  in America, why not wait till it comes?... The public are cautioned
  against all anonymous defamers, from whom our Country has suffered
  its greatest evils.[696]

Time and space were claimed by this writer to call attention also to
alleged discrepancies of a serious nature between Robison’s account of
the rise of the Illuminati and its early relations with Freemasonry and
the account of the same matters by Barruel, as reflected in English
reviews of the latter’s work. Quite incidentally “A Friend to Truth”
threw out the suggestion that Robison was not always in command of his

Such an indecisive passage at arms obviously called for further
hostilities. The aspersion upon Robison’s sanity must immediately be
branded as infamous, and the charge that Barruel had contradicted
Robison boldly pronounced a lie.[698] “Trepidus” felt drawn to enter
the combat at this juncture, with satire as his principal weapon. He
knew of nothing so amazing and so wonderful as the discoveries which
Mr. Robison and his commentators had made respecting the achievements
of the Illuminati in America.[699] Surely there was nothing half so
dreadful about the Catalinarian conspiracy, the Sicilian Vespers, the
massacre of St. Bartholomew, or the Gunpowder Plot. But he, too, had
a mysterious cabal to expose. The people who were vulgarly called
“Quakers,” but who had assumed the suspicious name of “Friends,” were
they not conspirators?

  The Illuminati esteem all ecclesiastical establishments profane,
  irreligious, and tyrannical; so do the Quakers. They hold also
  the obligations of brotherly love and universal benevolence.
  The Quakers not only profess these Atheistical principles, but
  actually reduce them to practice. The Illuminati hold the enormous
  doctrine of the Equality of mankind. So do these Quakers. They,
  like the Illuminati, have a general correspondence through all
  their meetings, delegates constantly moving, and one day, at every
  quarterly meeting, set apart for _private business_; and I engage
  to prove at the bar of any tribunal in the United States, that
  these Friends, these men so horribly distinguished for benevolence
  and philanthropy, (Ah! philanthropy!) have held, and do still hold
  a constant correspondence with their nefarious accomplices in
  Europe.... _Awake, arise, or be forever fallen!_[700]

These, however, were the sentiments of mere scribblers. Such were
able to handle the subject seriously or lightly according as their
sympathies or their prejudices were most appealed to. It was evident
that in either case such men charged themselves with no personal
responsibility to get at the precise facts. What was needed was the
testimony and counsel of one who, recognizing the gravity of the
interests involved and having accumulated and weighed the evidence,
should be able to speak the language of enlightened conviction, backed
by the force of a position among his fellow citizens which would
entitle his words to respect. An attempt to meet that need was about to
be made, how successfully we shall soon be in a position to judge.

On the day of the anniversary thanksgiving referred to in the
beginning of this chapter, the Reverend Jedediah Morse was again
before his people in his Charlestown pulpit, to speak to them under
the inspiration of another high occasion in the commonwealth’s life.
Of what would he speak? The day had, of course, its own definite
suggestions. Governor Increase Sumner, in appointing it, apparently
had felt that Massachusetts’ measure of providential mercies had been
well filled.[701] The earth had yielded a sufficient supply for the
wants of the people, and the efforts of industrious husbandmen had
been well rewarded. The state’s fisheries had been prospered, and its
commerce, although much interrupted by the violence and rapacity of
unreasonable men, had been generally attended with success. Order and
tranquillity had continued to reign in the commonwealth, and although a
mortal contagious disease had been permitted for a time to afflict the
city of Boston, yet Providence had been pleased to set bounds to the
progress of the plague, and once more the voice of health and plenty
was generally heard. The constitutions of civil government were still
enjoyed; the life and usefulness of the nation’s chief magistrate had
been spared and continued; and despite the past impenitence of the
people, they were still indulged with the Christian religion.[702]

Would these considerations engage the thought of the minister
of Charlestown and inspire his tongue to speak the language of
thanksgiving and praise? Only in part.[703] Morse’s mind was occupied,
not so much with the thought of mercies bestowed as with that of perils
to be faced. Passing lightly over the more favorable and reassuring
aspects of the state of public affairs, he seized upon various items in
the governor’s proclamation to point out those untoward elements in the
situation which seemed to him to supply ample warrant for alarm.

The proclamation of the governor had referred to the uninterrupted
order and tranquillity of the state. True; this was a mercy with which,
under the favor of Providence, the people of Massachusetts had been
blessed. Yet, unhappily, serious differences in political and religious
opinions had been permitted to exist. Men might call these differences
a mere war of words; but words are often calculated to bring on a
more serious conflict. Such party zeal and animosities as had been
raging would now somewhat abate, let it be hoped, and thus the heat of
battle would be found to be past. But undeniably the crisis had been

The “Constitutions of Civil Government” were still enjoyed; but they
had been, and still were seriously threatened. The main sources from
which such dangers issue deserved to be pointed out. The vices and
demoralizing principles of the people generally, their selfish spirit
as conspicuously expressed in their insatiable ardor to become rich,
the spread of infidel and atheistical principles in all parts of the
country, the increase of luxury, extravagance, and dissipation, the
spirit of insubordination to civil authority,—these constituted the
perils against which the most powerful precautions must be taken.[705]
The people of the United States were not sufficiently aroused to a
sense of the high importance of the experiment of free government
which they were making before the eyes of the world. Unless prompt
reformation took place, they must make their choice between a voluntary
increase in the power of government on the one hand, and revolution,
anarchy, and military despotism on the other.[706]

The real nub of the matter, however, was yet to be considered.
“The blessings of good government have been most imminently and
immediately endangered by _foreign intrigue_.”[707] Enlarging upon
this proposition, Morse argued that for twenty years and more foreign
intrigue had been the bane of the country’s independence, peace, and
prosperity. By it, insidious efforts had been made to diminish the
nation’s limits, its importance, and its resources. By it, national
prejudices had been kept alive. By it, efforts had been made to render
efficient government impossible.[708] This spirit, which in other
nations had brought about their downfall and left them, like the
republics of Europe, prostrate at the feet of France,[709] had thus far
been thwarted here only by means of the administration of government,
wise, firm, dignified, and “supported by the enlightened and ardent
patriotism of the people, seasonably manifested, with great unanimity,
from all quarters of the Union, in patriotic addresses, in a voluntary
tender of military services, and liberal means of naval defence.”[710]

As to the country’s continued indulgence with the Christian
religion,[711] it should be said that this blessing was regularly
recognized in the governor’s proclamation, and always called
for loudest praise. However, at that particular hour there were
extraordinary reasons why the praise of citizens should be unusually
fervent; for were not those times

  ... when secret and systematic means have been adopted and pursued,
  with zeal and activity, by wicked and artful men, in foreign
  countries, to undermine the foundations of this Religion, and to
  overthrow its Altars, and thus to deprive the world of its benign
  influence on society, and believers of their solid consolations
  and animating hopes; when we know that these impious conspirators
  and philanthropists have completely effected their purposes in a
  large portion of Europe, and boast of their means of accomplishing
  their plan in all parts of Christendom, glory in the certainty of
  their success, and set opposition at defiance; when we can mark
  the progress of these enemies of human happiness among ourselves,
  in the corruption of the principles and morals of our youth; the
  contempt thrown on Religion, its ordinances and ministers; in the
  increase and boldness of infidelity, and even of Atheism?[712]

The foregoing abstract takes account of all the important points in
the text of Morse’s anniversary thanksgiving sermon. The reader will
not need instruction as to the commonplace character of Morse’s pulpit
performance. The distinguishing character of the production, however,
is not to be sought in the sermon proper, but in the astonishing array
of supplementary material by which it was accompanied when it appeared
in its printed form. This material consisted of numerous foot notes
and a bulky appendix of some fifty pages. The foot notes frequently
commented upon passages in the works of Robison and Barruel. Since they
throw no light upon the fundamental questions at issue, we may pass
them by. One, however, was unique; and because of its suggestiveness
for the future trend of public discussion respecting the Illuminati, it
must be cited in full.

  The probable existence of Illuminism in this country was asserted
  in my Fast Discourse of May last. The following fact, related by a
  very respectable divine, while it confirms what is above asserted,
  shews that my apprehensions were not without foundation. “In the
  northern parts of this state [Massachusetts] as I am well informed,
  there has lately appeared, and still exists under a licentious
  leader, a company of beings who discard the principles of religion,
  and the obligations of morality, trample on the bonds of matrimony,
  the separate rights of property, and the laws of civil society,
  spend the sabbath in labour and divertion, as fancy dictates; and
  the nights in riotous excess and promiscuous concubinage, as lust
  impels. Their number consists of about forty, some of whom are
  persons of reputable abilities, and once, of decent characters.
  That a society of this description, which would disgrace the
  natives of Caffraria, should be formed in this land of civilization
  and Gospel light, is an evidence that the devil is at this time
  gone forth, having great influence, as well as great wrath.” _Cf._
  a Sermon on “the Dangers of the times, especially from a lately
  discovered Conspiracy against Religion and Government. By Rev.
  Joseph Lathrop, D. D., of West Springfield.”[713]

This foot note speaks for itself. The Appendix, or supplement of
Morse’s sermon, was made up of a curious mixture of heterogeneous
documents, such as an original survey of the history of the United
States from the time that the Federal government was established,
extracts from the confidential correspondence which passed between
French agents in this country and the French government,[714] and
extracts from the correspondence of various public characters in the
United States, all tending to enforce the point that from the beginning
of the relations between our government and that of France, the
controlling aim and spirit of the latter had been to work despicable
and ruinous intrigue.[715]

All of this, it may be said, was fairly typical of the pabulum which
Federalist leaders were regularly serving up to the people in 1798,
and signified little or nothing concerning the existence of French
conspirators wearing the Illuminati brand who may, or may not, have
been at work in America at the time.

One section of the Appendix, however, supplied some evidence of a
definite effort to leave generalities and deal intimately with the
point at issue. In this section[716] Morse sought to connect the
Illuminati with “the Jacobin Clubs instituted by Genet.”[717] Like
their sister organizations in France they had been constituted after
the manner and with the principles of the European Illuminati. The fact
that the members of these American organizations have been the leading
disseminators of the _principles_ of Illuminism in this country, as
well as the circulators of all those publications, like Paine’s _Age
of Reason_, whose object is to discredit and throw contempt upon
the Christian religion, clearly fixes their status as “the apostles
of Illuminism.”[718] Frowned upon by the Federal government, these
American organizations have ceased to act openly; “but, like their
parent society in Bavaria which, when suppressed under one form, was
soon revived again under the name of the German Union,”[719] so their
offspring in the United States now hypocritically mask themselves under
the name of The American Society of United Irishmen.[720]

Taken by itself, it would be impossible to state how favorably
this presentation of the case against Illuminism impressed the
public mind.[721] But as a matter of fact, on the occasion of the
Massachusetts anniversary thanksgiving referred to, Morse was by no
means compelled to bear his testimony alone. By the time that occasion
came round, the subject of Illuminism had solicited the attention
and concern of the Federalist clergy generally; on which account
it happened that a considerable amount of clerical artillery was
unlimbered and trained upon the new foe.

At Haverhill, the Reverend Abiel Abbott, in language emphatic, if
somewhat high-flown, voiced his alarm:

  Upon the authority of a respectable writer in Europe and of
  corroboratory testimonies, it is now generally believed that the
  present day is unfolding a design the most extensive, flagitious,
  and diabolical, that human art and malice have ever invented. Its
  object is the total destruction of all religion and civil order.
  If accomplished, the earth can be nothing better than a sink
  of impurities, a theatre of violence and murder, and a hell of
  miseries. Its origination was in Germany; its hot-bed now is Paris.
  Its nursing fathers are the French Government; its apostles are
  their generals and armies. Its fruits have been seen in France;
  Christianity expelled; its priesthood seized and murdered, or
  hunted down in neutral countries and demanded of their hospitable
  protectors at the peril of war and ruin.—And now, were our first
  magistrate an Illuminatus, a conspirator in league with the horde
  in Europe, the grand master of the demoralizers in America,
  how soon might the American republic have been degraded to the
  deplorable state of the French?[722]

At Deerfield, the Reverend John Taylor dwelt upon “the good effect ...
produced upon the public mind by the fortunate discovery of a secret
conspiracy in Europe, against all the religions and governments on
earth.”[723] One of the evidences of this salutary impression, he
said, was to be found in the fact that even the confirmed infidels
in America had been shocked.[724] At Andover, the Reverend Jonathan
French did not consider his full duty discharged when he had uttered
a general warning against men of treachery, slander, and falsehood in
the nation, men who have spared no pains in fomenting difficulties and
divisions.[725] He believed it to be incumbent upon him to strike out
at that “envenomed serpent in the grass,” France, whose tools, said he,
were here, according to two writers of eminence and credit, Professor
Robison and the Abbé Barruel.[726] The works of these two authors,
French’s hearers were informed, “ought to rouse the attention, awaken
the vigilance, and excite the endeavors of every friend to religion, to
develop the dark designs, and to guard against the baneful influence
of all such dangerous secret machinations.”[727] Through the pulpit
ministrations of the Reverend Joseph Eckley, auditors at the Old South
Church in Boston had their attention drawn to the same topic, although
the language employed by this clergyman was somewhat less specific than
that which has just been noted.[728]

Other pastors, while refraining from definite reference to the
Illuminati, took occasion to exploit the subject of French intrigue,
with a view to awakening in their hearers a keen sense of instant
alarm. Of such, the efforts of the Reverend Nathan Strong, pastor of
the North Presbyterian Church in Hartford,[729] and the Reverend Henry
Cumings, pastor of the church in Billerica, deserve mention. Strong
contended that foreign influence, if not promptly checked, would work
here the same havoc it had wrought in France, _i. e._, the demoralizing
principles of infidelity and political engagements and alliances would
chain the people of the United States to “a burning pile”;[730] and
Cumings developed the idea that the war impending between this country
and France possibly amounted to an act of intervention on the part of
God to rescue the United States as a brand from the burning.[731] By
the breaking out of war a providential check would be put

  ... to that alarming inundation of impiety and infidelity, which,
  having overwhelmed a great part of Europe, has lately rolled
  its swelling waves across the Atlantic ... threatening our
  happy country with an universal devastation of every religious
  sentiment, moral principle, and rational enjoyment, together with
  the consequent introduction of that wretched unhallowed philosophy
  which degrades a man to a level with the beasts that perish,”[732]

On the whole, the idea of secret and systematic plottings against
the liberties and institutions of the people of the United States was
extensively promoted by clerical agency during the autumn and winter of
1798–99. For it is not to be lost sight of that such pulpit utterances
as have just been noticed were considerably more than _mere_ pulpit
pronouncements. Issued from the presses of New England, these sermons
were scattered widely through the country[733] and, no doubt, were
widely read. Some representatives of the clergy, as we have seen, spoke
out with distinctness regarding the Illuminati, asserting that this
organization would have to be reckoned with by their fellow citizens.
Others committed themselves no farther than to emphasize foreign
intrigue of the French stripe, and to characterize it as a vital thrust
at the country’s peace and prosperity. The total effect was to invite
a general airing of the issue which Jedediah Morse had raised in his
fast day sermon of May 9, 1798, and to render imperative a sifting of

The part played by the newspapers is less easily interpreted, since
it calls for the survey of a much less solid body of opinion. Some
journals adopted an attitude of discreet silence, apparently waiting
for the mists which enveloped the subject to clear. Others opened their
columns impartially to champions and antagonists, willing to be used to
let light in upon a dark and perplexing matter. The policy (the word
seems strangely out of place in connection with the average New England
newspaper of the period) of several of these journals can best be
stated in terms of their own behavior.

The course pursued by the _Columbian Centinel_[734] left nothing to be
desired as respects impartiality. As early as August 11, 1798, there
appeared in this paper the following sarcastic “epistles”:

Epistle from Professor Robison, in Scotland, to Professor Morse, in

    “_Dear Brother_,
              Will you scratch my back?
                               Yours affectionately,
                                               J. ROBISON.”

Another Epistle, from Professor Morse, in America, to Professor
Robison, in Scotland:

    “_Dear Brother_,
        I’ll scratch your back, if you will scratch my elbow.
                           Yours affectionately,
                                                   JED. MORSE.”

A few weeks later there appeared in the same paper an article whose
author professed that having read “The Cannibals’ Progress, the
Freemason’s illuminati, and some other documents of the French nation,”
he had been brought round to the conclusion that the depravity of the
human race was astounding. He could no longer doubt that the conspiracy
against religions and governments was not only deeply laid, but was
likewise spreading far and wide. He was convinced that the proofs of
its existence in America were to be observed generally throughout
the country, “in every society where there is the least prospect
of success, in misleading and dividing our citizens.”[735] To this
another contributor was given opportunity to respond with an expression
of sentiments intended to sweep the views of the former aside as
inordinately nonsensical and silly.[736]

After the autumn crop of thanksgiving sermons had revived interest
in the subject of the Illuminati, the _Centinel_ published one
article which really shed a modicum of light upon the subject. This
consisted of a letter which had originally been received in England
from Germany, together with certain observations from the pen of the
anonymous contributor who offered it in evidence.[737] The letter
bore the signature of one Augustus Böttiger, who identified himself
as “Counsellor of the Upper Consistory, and Provost of the College
of Weimar.”[738] It concerned itself with the amused astonishment
with which, according to its author, Professor Robison’s _Proofs
of a Conspiracy_ had been received in Germany, in view of the fact
that from 1790 on every interest in the Illuminati had ceased in
that country. The Freemasons of Germany, Böttiger asserted, had had
absolutely nothing to do with Illuminism from the date mentioned. In
the observations which accompanied this letter the information was
advanced that in England all public interest in Illuminism had likewise
died out, owing to the contemptuous estimate which the people of that
country had come to place upon the works of Robison and Barruel.[739]

In the heat which had arisen over the subject of Illuminism it was
impossible that this bit of evidence should pass without being sharply
challenged. A rough and scurrilous rejoinder to these productions
appeared in the _Centinel_ of January 19, 1799. Questions were boldly
raised concerning the identity of the addressee of the Böttiger letter;
how the letter had chanced to find its way to America; where it had
been translated; what were the religious and political sentiments of
the author; who was the person that penned the remarks by which it
had been accompanied in the _Centinel_; how the latter had come into
possession of his pretentious stock of information respecting the state
of public opinion in England, _et cetera, et cetera_. Neither the
writer nor his friends were favorably impressed. “The naked declaration
of an unknown paragraphist, probably enough an emigrant illuminatist,
will not be sufficient with enlightened Americans to convict Professor
Robison or Abbé Barruel of criminality or even of error in their

Another newspaper that sought to hold to a noncommittal course was
the _Massachusetts Mercury_, as might have been anticipated in view
of circumstances already related. After the generous hearing which
this journal, in the summer and fall of 1798, accorded to both sides
in the controversy, a marked diminution of its interest for a season
is noticeable. A search through its files for the winter of 1798–99
discloses nothing more than an occasional article bearing on the
subject. One of these came to light in the issue of December 7.[741]
“Anti-Illuminism” solicited the public ear that he might testify to the
change that had taken place in his personal convictions. An examination
of Robison’s volume and reflection upon the amount of abuse which
that author had been compelled to suffer had persuaded him that there
was positive truth in the charge of conspiracy that had been made. He
was now certain that the Masons were not the harmless persons he had
formerly believed them to be. The vociferous attempt which had been
made to vindicate American Freemasonry impressed him as decidedly
premature. It was clear to him that _all_ secret societies were

It might have been expected that a Democratic sheet as violent and
aggressive as the _Independent Chronicle_ would range itself squarely
against the alarmists, and seek, if not by argument at least by
unlicensed vituperation, to distract the public interest. But as a
matter of fact, the _Chronicle_ elected to adopt a very different
attitude.[742] Morse and his associates in the special cause which
he and they were pleading should be treated with contemptuous
indifference. The _bête noire_ of the editors of the _Chronicle_ was
“political preaching.” This new agitation over Illuminism, for which
the clergy were chiefly responsible, was but one other proof of their
incorrigible impertinence in turning aside from their legitimate
functions. In displaying “his over-heated zeal ... in silly tales about
the ‘illuminati’,”[743] Morse was but holding true to type.[744]

At Hartford, next to Boston the main center of the Illuminati agitation
in New England, two papers, the _American Mercury_ and the _Connecticut
Courant_, assisted materially in giving publicity to the controversy.
The former at first gave some evidence of a disposition to treat
Morse’s presentation of the case with respect. Extracts from the
latter’s fast day sermon of May 9, 1798, were given to this journal’s
readers;[745] and the annual poem which at the beginning of the new
year (1799) it furnished to its patrons, testified to the widespread
interest that the general public in Connecticut had come to have in the
subject of the Illuminati.[746] It was not long after this, however,
that Elisha Babcock, editor of the _Mercury_, found reason to become
rabidly hostile to Morse and his agitation.[747]

As for the _Connecticut Courant_, its behavior was precisely what one
should expect from a journal breathing always a spirit of arrogant
and unreasoning Federalism. Quick to take advantage of any new issue
which gave promise of offering discomfiture to the Democrats, and
all too often impatient to the point of exasperation over so slight
a question as the essential soundness of the facts involved, from
the first day that it was made aware of the agitation against the
Illuminati, the _Courant_ gave every encouragement to the men who were
trying to awaken the people of the country to a sense of the gravity
of the peril that threatened. The books, pamphlets, sermons, orations,
and leading newspaper contributions that appeared upon the subject,
these the _Courant_ urged upon the attention of its readers, and gave
such assistance as it was able in the exposition of their respective

The political possibilities in the situation supplied the chief, if
not the only animus for this playing-up of the case by the _Courant_.
On this point little room for doubt is left. One contributor who heard
Theodore Dwight’s Fourth of July oration asserted that not till then
had his eyes been opened to see in Mr. Jefferson “anything more than
the foe of certain men, who were in possession of places to which he
might think himself entitled;” but Dwight convinced him that Jefferson
“is the _real Jacobin_, the very child of _modern illumination_, the
foe of man, and the enemy of his country.”[749] Another argued that
the zeal of the Democrats for office was to be treated as a part of
the scheme of Illuminatism in America “to worm its votaries into all
offices of trust, and importance, that the weapon of government,
upon signal given, may be turned against itself.”[750] Still another
contended that the one concern of the Democrats of Connecticut was to
dispense “to the people of this state the _precious doctrines_ of the

The contributions to the agitation made by two newspapers that were
published outside of New England but which were extensively circulated
and much quoted in that region, are entitled to consideration at
this point. These were _Porcupine’s Gazette_ and the _Aurora General
Advertiser_, both Philadelphia publications and, it may be remarked in
passing, both tremendously influential throughout the entire country.

William Cobbett, the editor of the former, participated in the
publication of the first American edition of Robison’s _Proofs of
a Conspiracy_. As soon as the book was ready for distribution he
announced the fact in his paper, accompanying the advertisement with
flattering testimonials gleaned from the _London Review_.[752] Later,
he gave to his readers his personal estimate of the merits of Robison’s
production.[753] In his judgment the _Proofs_ was of such great value
that it deserved to be read by every living man. For one thing, “it
unravels everything that appears mysterious in the progress of the
French Revolution.”[754]

In the issue of _Porcupine’s Gazette_ for August 9, 1798, Cobbett
expressed his deep interest in the reports which had come to him
respecting Morse’s fast day sermon and the “Vindication” with which, he
understood, Morse had followed his sermon. He would be grateful to any
gentleman who would send him a copy of the “Vindication,” since there
could be no doubt as to its great public utility. Very promptly his
desire was gratified, and Morse’s articles in vindication of Robison,
which in the summer of that year he contributed to the _Massachusetts
Mercury_, began to be spread before the readers of _Porcupine’s

Following their publication, other matters appear to have held the
restless attention of Cobbett for a time and no further reference of an
extended character to the affairs of the Illuminati appeared in this
paper until February of the following year.

Upon the receipt of a copy of Morse’s thanksgiving sermon, Cobbett
communicated to his readers the joy he experienced in being able to put
them in possession of extracts from it.[756] Morse’s sermon, in his
judgment, was an extraordinary performance. Of its Appendix he wrote:

“This Appendix is one of the most valuable political tracts that ever
appeared in America, whether we view it as a collection of facts, or
as an address to the reason and feelings of the people.”[757] Of the
sermon as a whole he wrote:

  It has gone through two editions, and a third is about to be
  commenced. Doctor Morse has long been regarded as a benefactor
  to his country; but notwithstanding his former labours have been
  of great utility, this last work, I have no hesitation to say,
  surpasses them all in this respect; and it must, if there be any
  such thing as _national gratitude_ in America, render the author
  the object of universal esteem. He has brought to light facts which
  people in general never before dreamed of, and however deaf the
  middle and southern states may be to his warning voice, New-England
  will listen to it.[758]

This was very strong language, providing the personality of William
Cobbett is left out of account! How soothingly it fell upon the ears
of a certain clergyman in New England, which ears, it may be remarked,
were growing accustomed to much less kindly comment, we may leave to

As for Benjamin Franklin Bache, the editor of the _Aurora_[759] and
as militant an advocate of Democratic principles as this country
contained, all such views of the case were so much puerile _fol de
rol_. Robison’s _Proofs_ was a blending of “a most absurd collection
of stories respecting the mystical societies in Germany with some
fragments of histories of French Free Masonry, ... [an] inconsistent
Farrago.”[760] Weak indeed must be the cause of despotism “when its
Satellites can imagine a dissemination of such contemptible mummery
would calumniate the friends of Liberty or paralize their efforts to
explore the _divinity of kings_, or the _dogma of priests_.”[761] The
explanation of Morse’s faith in Robison’s book is to be sought in the
fact that the minister of Charlestown received his doctor’s degree from
the University of Glasgow; and therefore on the principle, “Tickle me
and I’ll scratch you,” the Glasgow professor’s production was entitled
to credit.[762]


[695] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Nov. 3, 1798: article by “A Customer.”

[696] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Nov. 13, 1798.

[697] _Ibid._

[698] _Ibid._, Nov. 16, 1798. Extracts from Barruel’s _Memoirs_,
garnered from English reviews, were offered in evidence by this writer.
The charge of _contradiction_ was hotly commanded by him to give place
to the darker charge of _designed perversion_ on the part of Robison’s

[699] _Ibid._, Nov. 30, 1798.

[700] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Nov. 30, 1798.

[701] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Oct. 26, 1798.

[702] _Ibid._

[703] _A Sermon, Preached at Charlestown, November 29, 1798, on the
Anniversary Thanksgiving in Massachusetts. With an Appendix, designed
to illustrate some parts of the Discourse; exhibiting proofs of the
early existence, progress, and deleterious effects of French intrigue
and influence in the United States._ By Jedediah Morse, D. D., pastor
of the church in Charlestown.... Boston, December, 1798. Two reprints
of the sermon were issued early in the next year.

[704] Morse, _op. cit._, p. 9.

[705] _Ibid._, pp. 10–14.

[706] Morse, _op. cit._, p. 15.

[707] _Ibid._

[708] _Ibid._

[709] _Ibid._, p. 16.

[710] _Ibid._, p. 18.

[711] The sermon was preached in two parts, morning and afternoon,
and concerning Morse’s discussion of the Christian religion this
explanatory mote appears in the printed report: “The last article,
respecting the _Christian Religion_, which constituted the whole of the
forenoon sermon, being a _common_, though always _interesting_ subject,
has been considerably abridged.” (_Ibid._, p. 4.) This is only one of
many marks of the great care Morse took to get the printed report of
the sermon before the public in the most impressive form possible. He
was fully conscious of the fact that he had an allegation to defend as
well as a demurrer to oppose.

[712] Morse, _op. cit._, pp. 20–22.

[713] Morse’s _Anniversary Thanksgiving Sermon_, pp. 22 _et seq._
The sermon of Lathrop referred to bears the following title: _A
Sermon, on the Dangers of the Times, from Infidelity and Immorality;
and especially from a lately discovered Conspiracy against Religion
and Government, delivered at West-Springfield and afterward at
Springfield_. By Joseph Lathrop, D. D., Springfield, September, 1798.
The statement that Morse quotes appears on page 14 of Lathrop’s
sermon. _Cf._ Cunningham, Abner, _Practical Infidelity Portrayed and
the Judgments of God Made Manifest_, (3rd. edition), New York, 1836,
pp. 42–46, where a somewhat similar situation in Orange County, New
York, is referred to, and with suggestions of secret revolutionary
designs not unlike those made by Lathrop. The situation referred to
by Cunningham is also dealt with by F. M. Ruttenber, in his _History
of the County of Orange, with a History of the Town and City of
Newburgh ..._. Newburgh, N. Y., 1875, pp. 164 _et seq._ Woodbridge
Riley’s article on _Early Free-Thinking Societies in America_ (Harvard
Theological Review, July, 1918, pp. 247–284) came to the attention of
the author of this study when the entire dissertation was in page proof.

[714] Some of these dated as far back as 1782, and none of them need
have been disturbing to a calm mind.

[715] The following letter, written by Morse to Timothy Pickering,
throws considerable light upon the sources from which the most of these
documents were derived and the manner and spirit in which they were

                                      “Charlestown, Jan. 22^d, 1799.
_Dear Sir_,

I take the liberty to enclose for your acceptance a copy of my
Thanksgiving Discourse. The Appendix contains some documents not before
published. I hope the publication of them, in the manner I have done,
will not be deemed premature. I did it by the advice of some of the
wisest & best informed men in this vicinity.

I think it my duty, confidentially to make known to you the sources
from which I obtained my information, that you may better know how to
appreciate its authenticity. It will rest with you, Sir, to make what
use of it you may think expedient. I wish it may be communicated to the

Mr. J. Jackson, Supervisor, favored me with Mr. Marbois’ Letter, & the
Letter p. 41 whh is from Mr. Adams.—I should not have published the
latter, had it not before appeared in print in a political pamphlet
printed in Phila lately. The member of Congress from whom I derived the
documents contained between pages 43 & 52, is Mr. S. Higginson, who
also wrote the Letters whh follow to page 56. Note E, p. 66 & G, p. 69
& H, p. 70 were furnished (at least the information they contain) by
Mr. G. Cabot. The Letters under Note H, from a diplomatic character
in Europe, are from Mr. K—g—. [Rufus King?] The Emigrant mentioned p.
69—was the Duke de Liancourt, whose name I see in Porcupine’s Gazette
of January 11, as about to revisit this Country. The American was Mr.
G. C. above mentioned. The note concerning Volney, p. 21 was furnished
by Genl. K—x [General Henry Knox?] & Mr. G. C. The fact mentioned p. 68
relative to Paine’s Age of Reason, 15,000 copies of which are asserted
to have been poured into this Country at one time from France, rests
chiefly on the authority of a well written piece published last summer
in Porcupine’s Gazette. I wish, Sir, if you are knowing to the fact, or
can ascertain the truth, you would do me the favor to furnish me with
the evidence. I know not that it will be controverted, but should it be
it is well to have it in my power to substantiate it. I feel prepared
to substantiate all other of my assertions.

I am persuaded, Sir, you will properly appreciate my motives in making
the above communication, as also in publishing the Sermon & Appendix.
I live among a people many of whom err in Sentiment & Conduct through
their want of information. It was especially for their benefit that the
Appendix was compiled. With great and very sincere respect,

               I am, Sir, your most Obd. Servt,
                                                   JED^H MORSE.”
 _Pickering Papers_, vol. xxiv, 29.

[716] Morse’s _Thanksgiving Sermon_, “Note F,” pp. 67 _et seq._

[717] Morse’s _Thanksgiving Sermon_, p. 67. The reference is, of
course, to the Democratic Clubs.

[718] Morse’s _Thanksgiving Sermon_, pp. 68 _et seq._

[719] _Ibid._, p. 67.

[720] _Ibid._ This secret organization referred to by Morse was founded
in Ireland about 1791. It was in part the outgrowth of republican
sentiments which the French Revolution inspired in the Irish people, in
part of similar sentiments earlier received. _Cf._ Madden, _The United
Irishmen_, vol. i, pp. 3–44. The object of the organization was to
obtain complete emancipation for both Catholics and Dissenters, and to
reform the Irish parliament. The group manifested a bold revolutionary
spirit. When the English government resorted to strong repressive
measures, many of its members came to America. The Irish Rebellion
of 1798 sent other Irish political exiles here; with the result that
by many in this country the situation was adjudged to be alarming.
William Cobbett (“Peter Porcupine”) was one of the most aggressive
opponents of the movement in America. _The Proceedings of the Society
of the United Irishmen of Dublin_ was published at Philadelphia
in 1795. The same year Cobbett published _A Bone to Gnaw, for the
Democrats; or Observations on a Pamphlet entitled “The Political
Progress of Britain.”_ Part ii of Cobbett’s pamphlet was devoted to the
_Proceedings_ just mentioned. Cobbett’s paper, _Porcupine’s Gazette_,
to a considerable extent was devoted to the raising of an alarm against
the United Irishmen. Cobbett urged that the United Irishmen represented
a conspiracy on the part of France to ruin the United States. See
_Porcupine’s Gazette_, May 8, 10, 1798. Since Cobbett was one of the
men in America deeply interested in Robison’s _Proofs of a Conspiracy_
(_cf._ particularly _Porcupine’s Gazette_ for May 18, July 14, and
Aug. 13, 1798), and since Cobbett printed in his paper much that
Morse published on the subject of the Illuminati (see, for example,
_Porcupine’s Gazette_ for Aug. 9 and 13, 1798; Feb. 25, 26, and June
3, 1799), it is at least believable that Morse took from Cobbett the
suggestion about the identification of the Illuminati with the United
Irishmen. _The Commercial Advertiser_ of New York was another newspaper
that gave attention to the subject of the United Irishmen. The issue of
that paper for Nov. 1, 1798, carried an extended article copied from
the _Gazette of the United States_, calling upon the citizens of this
country to be on their guard against the United Irishmen. The author
of this article identified the United Irishmen and the French party in
the United States as one. _Cf._ also the _Commercial Advertiser_ for
Nov. 5, 1798. Thus Morse had abundant warrant in precedent if not in
fact for the suggestion he made at this point in the Appendix to his
thanksgiving sermon.

[721] One may be sure that the following caustic comment of the editor
of the _Independent Chronicle_ is to be set down to instinctive
repugnance and hostility, and is thus representative only of rabid
partisanship: “Actions speak louder than words. If the parish observe
the Minister busy about many things; if they find him more anxious
about the _geographical_ description of the City of Washington or the
Georgia Lands, than the _New-Jerusalem_ or the _Land of Canaan_; if
they find him neglect his parish on a Sunday and employ himself during
the week, to collect ridiculous fables to swell an appendix to a
political publication. If he will do these things, he must expect that
his Flock will not increase, and that at the year’s end, while he is
exploring the territory of the United States, and hunting up Robinson’s
[_sic_] straggling Illuminati, he must not be surprised if some of his
_own sheep_ have strayed across the river, and become the care of a
more attentive shepherd.” (_Ibid._, Jan. 7, 1799.)

[722] _A Memorial of Divine Benefits. In a Sermon, delivered at
Exeter, on the 15th, and at Haverhill, on the 29th of November, 1798,
days of Public Thanksgiving, in New-Hampshire and Massachusetts._
By Abiel Abbot, pastor of the First Church in Haverhill. Haverhill,
Massachusetts, 1798, pp. 18 _et seq._

[723] _A Sermon, delivered on the day of Public Thanksgiving, at
Deerfield; Nov. 29, ’98._ By John Taylor. A. M., pastor of the church
at Deerfield. Greenfield (n. d.), p. 13.

[724] Taylor’s _Thanksgiving Sermon_, p. 13.

[725] _A Sermon, delivered on the Anniversary Thanksgiving, November
29, 1798, with some additions in the historical part._ By Jonathan
French, A. M., pastor of the South Church in Andover. Andover, 1799. p.

[726] _Ibid._, pp. 23 _et seq._

[727] _Ibid._

[728] _A Discourse, delivered on the Public Thanksgiving Day, November
29, 1798._ By Joseph Eckley, D. D., minister of the Old South Church,
Boston. Boston, 1798, pp. 9, 15, 18.

[729] Connecticut kept a state thanksgiving at the same time as

[730] _Political Instruction from the Prophecies of God’s Word,—a
Sermon, preached on the State Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, 1798._ By
Nathan Strong, pastor of the North Presbyterian Church in Hartford,
Connecticut. Hartford, 1798. This sermon is characterized by an
ingenious effort to remove the stigma “mother of harlots” from the
Catholic hierarchy and attach it to the Revolutionary leaders in
France. “It is the Talleyrands and their associates,” said Strong,
“whom I conceive to be the most properly designated by the mother of
harlots, in the present period of the great apostacy.” (_Ibid._, p. 17.)

[731] _A Sermon preached at Billerica, November 29, 1798, being the
day of the Anniversary Thanksgiving throughout the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts._ By Henry Cumings, A. M., pastor of the church in said
town. Boston. 1798, p. 22.

[732] _Ibid._

[733] The following excerpt from a letter of Jedediah Morse to Timothy
Pickering, under date of Feb. 11, 1799, is significant in this
connection: “An editn. of 450 of my Sermon and Appendix is nearly
gone—& a second of 800 is in the press. A number of gentlemen in Boston
have thought it might be useful to send a copy to every clergyman in
the commonwealth, & have agreed with the printer to furnish them, &
they will be distributed when the members of the Legislature return
home.” (_Pickering Papers_, vol. xxiv, 71.)

[734] The full title of this journal was _The Columbian Centinel and
Massachusetts Federalist_. Here was an instance in which Masonic
affiliations quite overrode ardent Federalist loyalty. To this the
following letter of editor Benjamin Russell to William Bentley

                                            “Boston, Aug. 9, 1798.

... As to Morse, I think him meddling in an affair which but little
concerns him, and of which he has less knowledge. It would be better
to let him flounder on, and he will speedily blow himself out. He
cannot hurt the craft,—and his wit is as pointless, as his holy zeal is
unchangeable. Although I wish not to engage in a controversy, which has
no politick in its ingredients, I should nevertheless have published
your communication had I received it.—As it is it may be best that the
controversy should be carried on in one paper. You will see by this
day’s Mercury, that M. is still floundering.—I intend to barb him a
little at the Installation at Reading, if he is present. If not he
shall _hear_ of a toast or two.” (_William Bentley Correspondence_,
vol. iv, 117).

[735] _Columbian Centinel_, Sept. 8, 1798.

[736] _Ibid._, Sept. 12, 1798.

[737] _Ibid._, Jan. 5, 1799.

[738] _Ibid._

[739] _Columbian Centinel_, Jan. 5, 1799. This communication including
the Böttiger letter, was promptly copied by the _Massachusetts
Mercury_, and thus given a wider publicity. _Cf._ the _Mercury_ of Jan.
11, 1799.

[740] _Op. Cit._

[741] Somewhat later the _Mercury_ offered to its readers relevant
passages from Lathrop’s sermon of the preceding September and from
French’s thanksgiving sermon. _Cf._ the _Mercury_ for Jan. 11 and Feb.
26, 1799.

[742] The attention of Thomas and Abijah Adams, editors of the
_Independent Chronicle_, during the fall and winter of 1798–99 was
mostly occupied with very pressing personal considerations. In October,
1798, Thomas Adams was arrested under the Sedition Act. While his
trial was in progress objectionable comments on the state and federal
governments continued to appear in the _Chronicle_, with the result
that his clerk and acting editor, Abijah Adams, was likewise arrested
and put on trial. Thomas Adams died before his case was concluded; but
Abijah Adams was later convicted and had the sentence of the court
imposed upon him. Duniway, _The Development of Freedom of the Press in
Massachusetts_, pp. 144 _et seq._ These facts supply a new angle from
which to view the relative silence of the _Independent Chronicle_ with
regard to the Illuminati controversy.

[743] _Independent Chronicle_, April 15, 1799. _Cf. ibid._, Jan. 7,

[744] Outside of Boston the newspapers of Massachusetts appear to have
been generally content to furnish their readers an occasional article
bearing on the controversy, copied in most cases from the columns of
Boston or Hartford journals, or from papers which entered New England
from without, particularly from New York and Philadelphia. Some of
these Massachusetts newspapers are to be noticed later in connection
with the effort that the Masons made to clear themselves of guilt.

[745] _American Mercury_, Aug. 16, 1798.

[746] The following quotation bears upon the topic, and does full
justice to the abilities of the rhymster, although offering only slight
suggestion respecting the variety of subjects which the poem, after the
manner of its kind, touched upon:

               “Of late the pulpits roar’d like thunder
                 To bring the Whore of Bab’lon under;
                But now she’s down, the tone is turn’d,
                  And the old Whore is sadly mourn’d.
                   This brings us on to Politicks,—
                For fruitful argument,—(sweet chicks!)

                    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

                   The Jacobin’s head-end we’ve had,
                To see his _tail_, most would be glad.
                   Of late, Old England was a moon,
                 To bay and snarl at, night and noon:
                 That’s over:—now her Queenship seems
                  A splendid Sun with _golden_ beams.
                But pauvre Sanscolotte [_sic_] is given
                  A diff’rent lot, by will of heaven.

                    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

                   From _Anno Lucis_ till our time,
                    Masonic Treason’s been a crime:
                   Now _Robison’s_ in every pocket,
                And up he’s own to fame, like rocket.”

_Cf._ _American Mercury_, Jan. 3, 1799: “Ode on Ends; or, The Boy’s
Address, who carries the _American Mercury_.”

[747] Babcock’s adverse attitude is dealt with on pp. 313 _et seq._ of
this dissertation.

[748] _Cf._ issues of the _Courant_ for July 2, 30, Aug. 6, 13, Sept.
17, 1798; and for May 27, June 10, 17, 24, July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Aug.
5, 12, 19, 26, Sept. 2, 9, 16, 23, Oct. 7, Dec. 16, 1799.

[749] _Ibid._, Aug. 6, 1798.

[750] _Ibid._, Aug. 13, 1798.

[751] _Ibid._, Sept. 3, 1798. This view that the _Courant_ sought
to turn the agitation over the Illuminati to political account is
confirmed by the following extract from “Guillotina,” the new year’s
poem that the editors of the _Courant_ presented to their patrons early
in 1799.

                 “O thou who spurn’d monarchial sway,
                     E’er nature sprang to birth;
                     Lord of each Jacobinic fray,
                       In ev’ry clime on earth.

                 “Tho’ plung’d from thy once high estate,
                      For turning _Order’s_ foe;
                  We joy that thou a Prince so great,
                      Dost rule the world below.

                 “We joy that when like falling star,
                     Thy footsteps downward drove;
                   The _Democratic Cause_, from far,
                       Came cow’ring from above.

                 “That _France_ has caught the livid flame,
                       Affords supreme delight;
                  And that Genet has spread the same,
                        To our admiring sight.

                    .    .    .    .    .    .    .

                 “May thy Iluminati then
                    In ev’ry clime be found;
                 All busy as a clucking hen,
                   That peeping chicks surround.”

_Connecticut Courant_, Jan. 7, 1799: “Guillotina, for the year 1799,
addressed to the Reader’s of the Connecticut Courant.”

[752] _Porcupine’s Gazette_, April 12, 13, 1798.

[753] _Ibid._, July 14, 1798.

[754] _Porcupine’s Gazette_, July 14, 1798. An illustration of the
dearth of vital data bearing on the existence of the Illuminati,
as well as of the absurd way in which those who sought to prove
their existence grasped at straws, is to be found in this issue of
_Porcupine’s Gazette_. Cobbett published a letter which he had recently
received from a certain William Smith, of Norwalk, Connecticut, who
claimed that the chaplain of the ship of a French Admiral had made
statements in his presence that corroborated Robison’s contentions.
This letter speedily found its way into several New England newspapers,
and passed for evidence in the case. _Cf._ for example, the _Salem
Gazette_, Aug. 7, 1798.

[755] _Ibid._, Aug. 13, 23, 24, 30, 1798.

[756] _Porcupine’s Gazette_, Feb. 25, 1799.

[757] _Porcupine’s Gazette_, Feb. 25, 1799.

[758] _Ibid._, Feb. 26, 1799.

[759] By this abbreviated title Bache’s paper was generally referred to.

[760] _Aurora_, Aug. 3, 1798.

[761] _Aurora_, Aug. 3, 1798.

[762] _Ibid._, Aug. 10, 1798. Bache’s death occurred in September.


The national skies had by no means cleared of threatening clouds when,
in the early spring of 1799, the time arrived for President Adams to
issue his annual fast day proclamation. In the view of the nations
chief executive the questions of the hour were still of great urgency
and it was a season of imminent danger.[763] Accordingly, in appointing
Thursday, April 25, as the day for the people of the nation to perform
acts of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer, he justified in part
the issuance of the proclamation on the following grounds:

  The most precious interests of the people of the United States are
  still held in jeopardy by the hostile designs and insidious acts
  of a foreign nation, as well as by the dissemination among them of
  those principles, subversive of the foundations of all religious,
  moral, and social obligations, that have produced incalculable
  mischief and misery in other countries.[764]

Seldom, if ever, has a presidential proclamation breathed deeper
concern for the moral and religious interests of the people.[765]
Its challenge to citizens who were already of fearful heart was

To the observance of this fast day the Reverend Jedediah Morse must
have turned in no ordinary frame of mind. A spirit of exultation
possessed him. It is impossible to read the sermon which on that
occasion he delivered before his people in the Charlestown meeting
house and avoid the impression that to Morse personally the day had
been anticipated as one of triumph rather than of humiliation.[766]
Not that in any sense he was out of sympathy with the objects for
which the day had been set apart, or with the President’s extremely
solemn language in proclaiming the fast; but it was given him, as he
believed, to make before his people a pronouncement of such a startling
and convincing character as would perform for the country at large
that great and needed service which for months he had been eager to
accomplish. Incidentally, the scoffers who had sought to cry down
the alarm which a year before he had sounded should be put to rout.
Timid apologists for the outcry against the Illuminati were about to
see their case tremendously strengthened. Honest doubters, by the
overwhelming weight of the evidence which was about to be spread before
them, would be forced to acknowledge the folly of their distrust.

The text that Morse employed for the occasion directly echoed a
sentiment in the President’s proclamation, and besides was well
suited to the purpose in view. From the Hebrew Psalms he selected
the following passage: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can
the righteous do?”—Psalm xi:3. With this text he proposed to make an
effective appeal. The Psalm from which it was taken was composed by
David while he was in great peril and distress from the persecuting
hand of Saul; while, too, he was hard pressed to find a way of escape
out of the destructive snares set by his enemies, whose _secret_
machinations involved both his character and his life, and not only
this, but the _foundations_ of his country.[767] What word would better
fit the circumstances of the present hour? Have not the enemies of
David, of Christ his Antitype, and of the Church ... ever possessed
similar _dispositions_, ... had in view similar _designs_, and in like
circumstances, ... adopted and pursued the same means of gratifying the
_former_, and of accomplishing the _latter_?”[768] Might it not be
said that “the present situation is uncommonly critical and perilous?”
Do not all persons of reflection agree upon that judgment, even though
their opinions regarding the sources and degrees of the dangers may
vary greatly?[769]

The “foundations” alluded to in the text were, of course, the
foundations of religion and government.[770] This exegesis paved the
way for the following statement:

  With all the frankness and plainness becoming an honest and
  faithful watchman, I intend, my brethren, to lay before you what
  I humbly conceive to be our real and most alarming dangers; those
  which have a malign aspect, both on our religious and our political
  welfare. Believing, as I firmly do, that the foundations of all
  our _most precious interests_ are formidably assailed, and that
  the subtil and secret assailants are increasing in number, and are
  multiplying, varying, and arranging their means of attack, it would
  be criminal in me to be silent. I am compelled to sound the alarm,
  and I will do it, so far as God shall enable me, with fidelity.[771]

Having thus prepared the minds of his auditors for the portentous
revelation, Morse quickly descended to particulars.

It may as well be said plainly, he continued, that the passage in the
President’s fast day proclamation respecting the hostile designs,
insidious arts, and demoralizing principles of a certain foreign
nation, referred to France.[772] Did any one ask for proofs that
the President’s statement was true? The proofs were so abundant and
so evident that the difficulty was to know where to begin. The war
upon the defenceless commerce of the United States; the inhuman and
savage treatment of those citizens of this country who have been so
unfortunate as to fall into the hands of France’s minions by whom
they have been so grossly insulted, beaten, wounded and thrust into
loathsome prisons and dungeons, even murdered; the recent plot of the
French Directory to invade the southern states from St. Domingo, using
an army of blacks to effect an invasion, and by these attempting to
excite to insurrection the blacks of this country;[773] here, surely,
were ample proofs of the hostile and detestable designs of the French
government against our own.[774]

But there was another matter. The disclosure that had recently been
made regarding the secret machinations of the French on the Island
of St. Domingo, focused attention upon a matter of the most serious
moment. The most vigorous, active, and united measures must immediately
be adopted to arouse from their slumber the citizens of this country,
that they may give due attention to a particular aspect of the
insidious and seductive activities of the French in the United States,
of which, Morse averred, he stood prepared to speak with the utmost
definiteness.[775] Continuing:

  It has long been suspected that secret societies, under the
  influence and direction of France, holding principles subversive
  of our religion and government, existed somewhere in this
  country. This suspicion was cautiously suggested from this desk,
  on the day of the late National Fast, with the view to excite a
  just alarm, and to put you on your guard against their secret
  artifices. Evidence that this suspicion was well founded has
  since been accumulating, and I have now in my possession complete
  and indubitable proof that such societies do exist, and have for
  many years existed, in the United States. I have, my brethren,
  an official, authenticated list of the names, ages, places of
  nativity, professions, &c. of the officers and members of a
  Society of _Illuminati_ (or as they are now more generally and
  properly styled _Illuminees_) consisting of _one hundred_ members,
  instituted in Virginia, by the _Grand Orient_ of FRANCE. This
  society has a deputy, whose name is on the list, who resides at the
  Mother Society in France, to communicate from thence all needful
  information and instruction. The date of their institution is
  1786, before which period, it appears from the private papers of
  the European Societies already published, (according to Professor
  Robison), that several societies had been established in America.
  The seal and motto of this society correspond with their detestable
  principles and designs. The members are chiefly Emigrants from
  France and St. Domingo, with the addition of a few Americans, and
  some from almost all the nations of Europe. A letter which enclosed
  this list, an authentic copy of which I also possess, contains
  evidence of a society of like nature, and probably of more ancient
  date, at _New-York_, out of which have sprung _fourteen_ others,
  scattered we know not where over the United States. Two societies
  of the same kind, but of an inferior order, have been instituted
  by the society first mentioned, one in Virginia, the other at St.
  Domingo. How many of equal rank they have established among us I am
  not informed.

  You will perceive, my brethren, from this concise statement of
  facts, that we have in truth secret enemies, not a few scattered
  through our country; how many and, except in three or four
  instances, in what places we know not; enemies whose professed
  design is to subvert and overturn our holy religion and our free
  and excellent government. And the pernicious fruits of their
  insidious and secret efforts, must be visible to every eye not
  obstinately closed or blinded by prejudice. Among these fruits may
  be reckoned our unhappy and threatening political divisions; the
  increasing abuse of our wise and faithful rulers; the virulent
  opposition to some of the laws of our country, and the measures
  of the Supreme Executive; the Pennsylvania insurrection; the
  industrious circulation of baneful and corrupting books, and
  the consequent wonderful spread of infidelity, impiety, and
  immorality; the arts made use of to revive ancient prejudices,
  and cherish party spirit, by concealing or disguising the truth,
  and propagating falsehoods; and lastly, the apparent systematic
  endeavours made to destroy, not only the influence and support, but
  the official existence of the Clergy.[776]

The remainder of the sermon is void of originality and interest. Its
utterances pale into insignificance alongside of the sensational and
emphatic statements just recorded.[777]

When the sermon came from the printer’s hands it contained the
“complete and indubitable proof” that Morse had proudly told his
hearers was in his possession. This “proof” was in the form of
documents, conspicuous among which was the following letter:

     A L’Ot∴ de Portsmouth, En Virginie le 17.
     du 5e. m. en L’an de la V∴ L∴ 5798.⁄:

     La R∴ L∴ Pte∴ Fse∴ réguliérement constitué sous
     le titre distinctif de la Sagesse No. 2660, par le G∴

     La T∴ R∴ L∴ L’union-française No. 14. constituée
     par le G∴ Ot∴ de New-York.

                     S∴ F∴ V∴
                 TT∴ CC∴ & RR∴ FF∴

 La Planche dont vous nous avez favorisés en date du 16e. du 2e. mois
 de la presénte année Mque∴, ne nous est parvenuë que depuis peu de
 jours; Elle a été mise sous les yeux de notre R∴ L∴ en sa séance
 extraordinaire du 14e. du présent.

 Nous vous félicitons TT∴ CC∴ FF∴ des nouvelles Constitutions que vous
 avez obténuës du G∴ Ot∴ de New-York. Nous avons ferons en consequénce
 un plaisir & un devoir d’entretenir avec votre R∴ L∴ la correspondence
 la plus fraternelle, comme avec toutes les LL∴ réguliére qui voudront
 bien vous favoriser de la leur.

 C’est a ce titre que nous croyons devoir vous donner Connoissance de
 l’éstablissement de deux nouveaux attellieres maçoniques réguliérement
 constitués et installés au rite français par notre R∴ L∴ provincialle,
 L’un depuis plus d’un an sous le titre de _L’amitiê_ à L’Ot∴ de
 Petersburg, en Virginie; l’autre, plus récent, sous le titre de la
 _Parfaite-Egalité_ à L’Ot∴ du Port de Paix isle St. Domingue.

 Nous vous remettons cy-joint quelques exemplaires de notre Tableau de
 cette année que notre L∴ vous prie d’agréer en retour de ceux qu’elle
 a reçu de la votre avec reconnoissance.

 Puisse la G∴ A∴ de l’U∴ bénir vos travaux et les couronner de toutes
 sortes de succés! C’est dans ces sentiments que nous avons la faveur

                     P∴ L∴ N∴ M∴ Q∴ V∴ S∴ C∴
                      TT∴ CC∴ et TT∴ RR∴ FF∴
                         Votre très affectionés F∴
                         Par Mandement de la T∴
                         R∴ L∴ Pte∴ de la Sagesse.

Following this letter and its translation appeared a list of the
officers and members, resident and non-resident, of Wisdom Lodge,
Portsmouth, Virginia, with explanatory data in each instance, covering
such points as age, place of birth, profession, _etc._, the whole
concluding with a representation of the seal of Wisdom Lodge and the
following motto: _Amplius Homines oculis quam auribus credunt. Iter
longum est per precepta, breve et efficax per exempla._[779]

Upon these documents Morse saw fit to make and publish certain
“Explanatory Remarks,”[780] of which the following is the gist.

The Lodge Wisdom in Portsmouth, Virginia, is seen to be a branch of the
_Grand Orient_ of France. Its members consist chiefly of foreigners,
that is to say, Frenchmen,—Frenchmen who come either from France or
from the West India possessions of that country. From the seal it
appears that Wisdom Lodge was established as early as 1786. It is
also, as its number shows, “the TWO THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTIETH
branch from the original stock.”[781] It further appears that there is
a sister lodge in the city of New York, styled the _Grand Orient_ of
New York. The latter, from the name and number of the lodges it has
instituted, is quite likely the first and principal branch that the
Mother Club in France has established in America. This New York lodge
has established the French lodge, Union, to which the letter from the
lodge Wisdom was addressed. As to the other thirteen branches from
the parent stock, for the present there could be nothing more than
conjecture as to their location.[782]

The documents also show that an intimate correspondence is maintained
between the lodges in America and those in St. Domingo; also between
the American lodges and the _Grand Orient_ in France. It further
appears that Wisdom Lodge has a regular deputy in the membership of the
_Grand Orient_ of France. Lists of names are exchanged between the two
societies, so that their members may be fully known to each other.[783]

Masons to whom these documents issuing from Wisdom Lodge have been
shown declare that the organization is not truly Masonic. The titles of
its officers, its seal and motto, they affirm, are not regular. Thus
the lodge in Portsmouth has been pronounced spurious by well-informed

Wisdom Lodge, it appears, has one hundred members. Counting all the
others referred to in the documents, there are seventeen lodges in all.
Assuming that these have an equal number of members, it may be said
that there are at least seventeen hundred Illuminati in the United
States, all bound together by oath and intimate correspondence.[785]
Beyond these there are to be considered, of course, the many thousands
of Frenchmen scattered through the United States, all perhaps “combined
and organized (with other foreigners and some disaffected and
unprincipled Americans) in these societies, ... regularly instructed
and directed by their masters in France, and ... systematically
conducting the plan of revolutionizing this country.”[786]

The principles and objects of this organization may be partly deduced
from the motto and seal of Wisdom Lodge. The literal rendering of the
former is not so significant as its spirit, which is best expressed in
the following liberal translation: “Men more readily believe what they
_see_ than what they _hear_. They are taught slowly by _precept_, but
the effect of _example_ is sudden and powerful.”[787] From this it may
be inferred that the organization was formed, “not for _speculation_,
but for activity.” Precepts are scorned; actions are accepted as
the only quick method of teaching mankind and of producing a change
in their opinions. The change in opinions which the organization
contemplates must have to do with government and religion. It cannot
have to do with the minds of its members, for the society is _secret_
and designs to work secretly. “The changes which they can produce by
_secret influence and intrigue_, the novel arts which they can thus
exhibit before the eyes of men, are doubtless to be the _efficaceous_
means of teaching men the new system of philosophy, which sets at
defiance, and contemns all old and settled opinions, by which the
government of nations and the conduct of individuals have heretofore
been directed.”[788]

As to the organization’s seal, no description can do it justice.[789]
A view of its square and compass, pillars, and _skull and cross-bones_
best indicates its horrid nature.[790]

Fortified by these documents, and flanked by the testimonies of
Robison and Barruel,[791] Morse concluded his presentment in the
following energetic manner:

  That there are branches and considerably numerous too, of this
  infernal association in this country we have now full proof. That
  they hold and propagate similar doctrines and maxims of conduct
  is abundantly evident from what is passing continually before our
  eyes. They even boast that their plans are deeply and extensively
  laid, and cannot be defeated, that success is certain. If then,
  Americans, we do not speedily take for our motto, _Vigilance, Union
  and Activity_, and act accordingly, we must expect soon to fall
  victims to the _arts and the arms_ of that nation, “on the title
  page of whose laws, as well as on its standards, is written the
  emphatic and descriptive motto


Here, at last, was something reasonably concrete. After a full year,
devoted mostly to the reiteration of vague suspicions and generalities,
of reckless affirmations and denials, here was something which had the
value of a definite point at which a rational investigation of the
subject could begin, should any course so practical as this be thought
of. The hour for the introduction of something tangible in the way of
evidence had fully come, in any event. This was evidenced by the fact
that in connection with the celebration of the national fast other
clergymen, for the most part, had held back, apparently unwilling
to commit themselves further on the subject of the Illuminati until
clearer proof should be at hand.[793] This did not signify that public
interest in the subject had abated; it was rather in suspense.[794]

With the appearance of Morse’s third and last sermon dealing with
the Illuminati,[795] the public discussion of the subject became
immediately possessed of a new energy. In a letter to Wolcott, bearing
date of June 5, 1799, Morse observed to his friend, “I expect that
I have disturbed a hornet’s nest.”[796] There can be no doubt that,
diction conceded, this was an apt estimate of the situation. In view of
the experiences which were ahead of him, it was well that Morse found
his serenity of mind such as to enable him to complete the remark just
recorded, by adding, “Happily, I am fearless of their stings.”[797]

The breaking-out of a heated newspaper discussion supplied the
principal evidence that Morse’s fast day sermon of 1799 inaugurated a
new stage in the Illuminati agitation.

The _Independent Chronicle_, aware of the fact that something tangible
was now before the public, something which might perhaps seriously
influence the popular judgment, promptly abandoned its contemptuous
and indiscriminative policy[798] and violently assailed Morse for his
latest performance. The author of the fast sermon was sharply taken
to task for handling the Illuminati matter as he did. If, in his
judgment, there was substantial justification for the charges he had
made, why then did he not submit the evidence to President Adams, or
lay it before some other proper official of the government, instead
of retailing “the alarming narrative in a nine-penny sermon?”[799] If
it was true that there was a society plotting the overthrow of our
government and Morse could throw any light whatever on the persons
involved, what sense was there in treating the subject “in so loose a
manner as to render it only subservient to a second or third edition
of a political fulmination?”[800] Morse could have only political
ends in view. His “plot” was another Federalist scheme. He wished
to excite jealousies against a certain class of citizens,[801] _i.
e._, the Democrats. Or, was it to be inferred from the way he handled
“the trifling story of the Illuminati,” that he desired to incense
and greatly anger the people of this country against France?[802]
This suspicion would seem to be justified by the fact that Morse had
preached and published a number of sermons, in all of which he had
anathematized the French nation as the authors of the diabolical system
of Illuminatism.[803] But whatever were the motives which animated him,
his statements were not to be trusted. He had forfeited the right to be
taken seriously.[804]

During the two or three months that followed the celebration of the
national fast, a copious flood of contributed articles poured through
the columns of the _Chronicle_.[805] “A Friend to a Real Clergyman,
and an Enemy to Bigotry,” “Bunker Hill,” “Credulity,” “Daniel,” _et
al._, all made their offerings to the airing of what the opposition
unanimously agreed should be styled “the preposterous documents of
Morse.” If a friend and supporter of the Charlestown pastor ventured to
express his respect for the arguments of that gentleman, he had little
to hope for in the face of the withering fire of sarcasm, ridicule,
denial, and defiance that the opposition steadily maintained. Thus,
for example, when “Senex,” an old contributor to the _Chronicle_, made
public profession of the fact that Morse’s evidence had seriously
shaken his earlier distrust of the “Illuminati conspiracy,”[806]
“Credulity” hastened to “pooh-pooh” such anxious fears, and to insist
that they were unworthy of a sensible man. Morse’s declarations on
the subject of Illuminism deserved only to be laughed at. They were
certainly utterly out of reason.[807]

The _American Mercury_ was another newspaper that rallied to the
effort to break down any favorable impressions which Morse’s latest
deliverance upon the subject of Illuminism may have made upon the
public mind. The respectfully attentive and receptive attitude of this
journal during the earlier stages of the agitation has already been
noted.[808] The appearance of the fast day sermon converted this into
a spirit of violent antagonism. Morse’s latest sermon was pronounced
absurd. “His history of the _Lodge of Wisdom_ is equally fabulous
with his story of the ship Ocean,”[809] was the judgment of Editor
Babcock.[810] A few weeks later the _Mercury_ gave to its readers
an article that had first seen the light in the _Farmer’s Weekly
Museum_,[811] a New Hampshire publication. How roughly Morse and the
documentary proofs which he had recently laid before the public were
handled in this article, the following excerpts will suggest:

   Every person who had an opportunity of perusing the sermons
  which have been published by Dr. Morse, within the space of two
  years past, must be sensible how great have been his efforts and
  exertions, to sound an alarm amongst the people, and to create in
  the public mind the highest degree of astonishment.... From the
  assurance with which the Dr. speaks of his discovery and the great
  utility which must result from it to mankind, one would imagine
  that his name would be enrolled among the _worthies_ of his day,
  as the greatest ornament of our country, and the glory of human
  nature.... He will undoubtedly do more honour to himself and his
  profession, to return again to his old business, “of writing
  geography,” and not thus attempt to agitate the public mind, with
  such alarming discoveries of Illuminatism.

          For trifles, light as air, are to the suspicious,
          Strong as proofs of holy writ.[812]

Meanwhile the supporters of Morse were not idle, although it must be
admitted that as far as the press was concerned the amount of sympathy
and support that Morse received from that quarter was by no means
commensurate to the weight of criticism with which his opponents
sought to crush him. Extracts from his recent fast sermon appeared
in such papers as the _Massachusetts Mercury_[813] and the _Salem
Gazette_;[814] and with characteristic loyalty to every interest
which in any way might be able to serve the cause of Federalism, the
_Connecticut Courant_ proclaimed its complete satisfaction with Morse’s
production in the following reckless fashion:

  This sermon is worthy the attention of every inhabitant in the
  United States on every account, as it contains an authentic
  letter from the Grand Lodge of Illuminated Free Masons in France,
  to the Grand Lodge of the Illuminated Free Masons in the United
  States, together with a list of about one hundred members—their
  names—birthplace—age—places of residence, and occupation. Every
  person who does not wish to be blind to his own destruction,
  will undoubtedly furnish himself with this document; since it
  establishes beyond a doubt the existence of that infernal club in
  the very heart of our country.[815]

A larger measure of support of Morse and his cause came from the public
declaimers, who, on the occasion of the Fourth of July following,
regaled their audiences with discursive observations on the state of
national affairs. All over New England citizens were solemnly urged to
take serious account of the conspiracy that recently had been partially
dragged into the light.

At Ridgefield, Connecticut, the declaration was made that America
had been caught in the meshes of the net which the Illuminati had
attempted to cast over all the nations.[816] At New Haven it was
asserted that the societies of Illuminism, having wrought fearful
havoc and ruin in Europe, were now known to be extensively engaged in
communicating infection and death to the citizens and institutions of
this nation.[817] At Hartford the society of the Illuminati and the
occult lodges of Freemasonry were represented as having “exhausted the
powers of the human mind, in inventing and combining a series of dread
mysteries, unhallowed machinations, and disastrous plots,” with the
dissemination of the principles of Voltaire and his school as the main
objective in view.[818] At Boston direct connections were made between
the secret affiliated societies which the virtuous frown of Washington
drove into their lurking-places and the newly discovered organizations
which had just been found to be “busily engaged in sapping the
foundations of society, and may ere long spring a mine, which shall
blow up our Constitution and Liberties.”[819] At Portland, Maine, the
unwilling prostitution of the Masonic lodges in Europe to the purposes
of the Illuminati was pointed out as amounting to a threat against
the institutions of America.[820] At Byfield[821] and Roxbury,[822]
Massachusetts, similar warnings were heard.

To a certain extent, the general employment of this anniversary of
national independence to arouse the country against the machinations of
the Illuminati was due to an event, long anticipated, that had occurred
shortly before. Less than a month prior to July 4, 1799, Barruel’s
_Memoirs of Jacobinism_ made its first appearance in New England.[823]
The hopes of the supporters of the agitation were immediately raised.

Before the publication of the documents which Morse gave to the
world in his fast sermon of 1799, Robison’s _Proofs of a Conspiracy_
constituted the chief if not the sole resource of the friends of the
agitation. Barruel had been appealed to, but only in the form of such
scanty excerpts from his writings as percolated to America through the
fingers of his English reviewers and, as we have seen, in settings
which provided ammunition for both sides in the controversy. Now the
hour had come when the supporters of the Illuminati alarm in New
England were to be privileged to make a full and free appeal to their
second great ally from abroad.[824]

The facts regarding the nature of the reception accorded Barruel’s
composition in New England are meagre in the extreme. In this very
circumstance, one may suppose, is found the best of all evidences that
the book failed to fulfil the hopes of its friends. It is true that
within seven weeks after the public announcement of the fact that the
_Memoirs of Jacobinism_ were ready for distribution at Hartford, one
of Morse’s correspondents at that place was able to assure him that
“the facts ... in Du Pan, Robison, and Barruel have got into every farm
house” in that section of the country.[825] It is also true that in
order to insure a wide reading of what were supposed to be the more
significant portions of Barruel’s voluminous work, an abridgment of it
was undertaken and published in the columns of such leading papers as
the _Connecticut Courant_[826] and the _Massachusetts Mercury_.[827]
Nevertheless, the inference is unavoidable that at the most the cause
of the agitators received only a momentary quickening from this
quarter. If anything, the very flatness of the reception accorded
Barruel’s work served to quiet the public mind in New England on the
subject of Illuminism. The precious conceit which the supporters of the
charge of an American conspiracy of the Illuminati had imported from
abroad, _viz._, that the two “great” European writers on the subject
of Illuminism, Robison and Barruel, while working independently had
unearthed the same set of facts and arrived at the same conclusion as
to their import, fell quickly enough to the ground. Whatever the facts
might be regarding the situation in Europe, it speedily became clear
that Barruel had no clear and steady light to throw upon the situation
in America, and even those who hoped most from the publication of the
_Memoirs of Jacobinism_ were soon forced to admit that the American
reading public had little taste for the prolix romancings of the
French abbé.[828]

Early in the fall of 1799 a new twist was given to the controversy.
This developed out of an episode that for the time at least seriously
embarrassed the personal integrity of Morse, and enveloped the issue
generally in such a cloud of pettiness and disagreeable suspicions that
the entire subject of Illuminism assumed an unsavory aspect, with the
result that the public was all the more easily persuaded to turn to
other and more fruitful topics. Compressed as much as the interests of
clarity will allow, the facts were as follows.

The _American Mercury_ of September 26, 1799, published an article
asserting that in his efforts to substantiate his charges against
the Illuminati, Morse had addressed a letter of inquiry to Professor
Ebeling[829] of Hamburg, Germany, to which the latter made response
that Robison’s _Proofs of a Conspiracy_ had no standing in Europe; that
it was regarded there as a farrago of falsehoods, written by its author
to obtain bread rather than in the hope that it would be believed.[830]
It was further asserted that Ebeling’s letter to Morse gave Robison
an unsavory character; he was said to have lived too fast for his
income, to be in trouble with the civil authorities in his native
country, and to have been expelled from a Masonic lodge in Edinburgh on
account of unworthy conduct.[831] This being the true state of affairs,
why, it was urged, ought not “the terrible subject of illumination”
to be dismissed forthwith as a wretched mass of absurdities? Let
Morse publish the letter that he had received from Ebeling and the
public would express itself quickly enough as to the silliness of the
Illuminati conspiracy.[832]

Morse’s rejoinder was spirited. He demanded the name of the author
of the article in the _Mercury_ and vigorously protested that the
Ebeling letter referred to was a fabrication.[833] Denied the comfort
of immediate attention and satisfaction,[834] he addressed the editor
again and with even greater vehemence, insisting that the editor
publicly brand the article referred to as “without foundation and a
tissue of the most vile and calumnious falsehoods.” But for the one
consideration that the letter which he had actually received from
Professor Ebeling was private, he averred that he stood ready to spread
it before the public gaze.[835] As a guarantee of its character,
however, he stood prepared to furnish the affidavits of Professors
David Tappan and Eliphalet Pearson of Harvard, to whom he had submitted
the letter of Ebeling for their inspection, and who were ready to
depose that it was in no sense like the letter whose contents had been
given to the public by the _American Mercury_.[836]

By the time these noisy verbal hostilities had taken place, the leading
newspaper partisans on both sides of the controversy had accepted the
responsibility of advising the public regarding the new issue. The
_Connecticut Courant_ roundly denounced the unprincipled editor of the
_American Mercury_ for having printed such a monstrous fabrication as
its account of the Ebeling-Morse letter,[837] and later, on Morse’s
behalf, undertook to say that while the communication which Morse had
received from Ebeling contained denials of the authenticity of many
of the facts alleged in the _Proofs of a Conspiracy_, at the same
time it was destitute of even the most distant suggestion of moral
or other delinquencies on the part of Robison.[838] The _Columbian
Centinel_ regarded itself in duty bound to spread before its readers
the indignant communication that Morse had sent to the editor of the
_American Mercury_, for the reason that it believed Morse had been
most shamefully treated in the matter.[839] As for the _Massachusetts
Mercury_, one of its contributors felt moved to observe that the
account of the Ebeling-Morse letter which the _American Mercury_ had
published was nothing less than a consummate piece of pure villainy,
intended to ruin Mr. Robison’s character; certainly no candid American
would pay the slightest attention to it until the person who was
responsible for the publication came forward and gave the public his

On the other side, such rampant Democratic journals as the _Bee_ and
the _Aurora_ came ardently to the support of the _American Mercury_ and
directed a searching cross-fire against Morse and his friends. Since
the days of Salem witchcraft, the former observed, no subject had so
much affected the minds of a certain class of people in New England as
this pretended Illuminati conspiracy.[841] Because of the way in which
preachers, orators, essayists, and newsmongers generally had declaimed
upon the subject, a mist had overspread the public mind. Ebeling’s
letter to Morse, however, had given a fatal blow to the strife. It was
now to be expected that the impressions made upon the minds of numerous
over-credulous citizens by an insidious and designing set of men would
be fully eradicated.[842] To give full force to these observations, the
_Bee_ published the text of the letter which, it averred, Morse had
received from Ebeling.[843] This characterized Robison’s _Proofs of a
Conspiracy_ as ridiculous and filled with statements many of which were
faulty and others totally erroneous. Its author had composed the book
in the interests of party and with a special animus against all men who
asserted the use of reason in the sphere of theology. The authorities
to which Robison appealed were declared to be questionable, and
Robison’s own standing as a historian was pronounced to be such that it
was impossible to take his work seriously.[844]

The _Aurora_ steered a similar course. Drawing upon the _Bee_, the
text of the alleged Ebeling-Morse letter was printed[845] and the
accompanying comment made that this effectually disposed of the
Illuminati.[846] It was now fully apparent that Morse had seized upon
the idea of a conspiracy against religion and the state in order to
further selfish and partisan ends. He and Dr. Dwight, who were at
the head of the clerical systems in Massachusetts and Connecticut
respectively, were exhausting all the means in their power to exalt
Federalism and to obtain a religious establishment which would deliver
the consciences and purses of the nation into the hands of their
party.[847] The rancor that these two men had recently stirred up
against the respectable fraternity of Freemasons was due solely to
their bigotry.[848]

Meantime a certain shrewd and none too scrupulous Democratic clergyman
in Massachusetts was deriving such satisfaction as he could out of
Morse’s discomfiture and bitter resentment. The letter that the _Bee_
and the _Aurora_ published as a letter from Ebeling to Morse was in
fact a letter from Ebeling to William Bentley,[849] inveterate hater of

Ebeling, it appears, had written the letters to Bentley and to Morse
at about the same time.[851] A little after the receipt of his letter,
Bentley had learned from Ebeling that Doctors Pearson, Tappan, and
Morse all were inquiring of Ebeling concerning Robison’s standing as
a historian, and that the Hamburg professor had addressed Morse at
length upon the subject.[852] Further, he received clear hints from
Ebeling as to the precise nature of the communications to Morse.[853]
Bentley, therefore, had substantial reasons for believing that he was
in full possession of the information that Ebeling had furnished Morse
regarding the subsidence of the Illuminati craze in Europe and the
unfavorable opinions of Robison that were entertained on the other side
of the Atlantic. It certainly was not to his credit, however, that he
should permit a letter which he himself had received from Ebeling to be
published as a communication from Ebeling to Morse.[854]

Under the circumstances, Morse was placed in a position of
embarrassment and humiliation from which he found it impossible wholly
to extricate himself.[855] What is more to the point, the cause which
in his misguided zeal he had been promoting was thus made to suffer an
irreparable blow. With his personal integrity under grave suspicion
and his main European ally held up to public ridicule and scorn,
even Morse’s obdurate spirit must have foreseen that the collapse of
the agitation which he had fostered could not long be deferred. Even
without this tumble into the slough of suspicion and contempt, time
must soon have brushed aside as groundless the alarm that Morse had
sounded. It is not difficult to imagine, however, that time might have
found ways less vindictive and scurvy to dispose of the excited clamor
of Morse.

Driven to undertake some further effort at self-justification,[856]
the belated idea came to Morse to investigate the lodge Wisdom at
Portsmouth, Virginia. Accordingly he addressed a letter to Josiah
Parker, member of Congress for Virginia, soliciting information from
Parker respecting the Portsmouth lodge. Parker responded to the effect
that he had lived in Portsmouth until he went to Congress in 1789;
that the lodge Wisdom was regarded in that city as a reputable Masonic
society, made up of a few worthy people, mostly French; that some
of its members were personally known to the writer to be men warmly
attached to the cause of the government; that a good many Frenchmen
had been admitted to the lodge about the time of the insurrection on
the island of St. Domingo, but that the most of these were not now in
America; that some of the Frenchmen whose names Morse had incorporated
in his fast sermon of April 25, 1799, as members of Wisdom Lodge, were
known to Parker to be honest and industrious men; in a word, that
he, Parker, considered the lodge in question as entirely harmless as
far as fomenting hostility to the institutions of the country was

The receipt of Parker’s letter left Morse without further resource.
Promptly he wrote his friend and adviser, Oliver Wolcott, soliciting
his counsel as to whether it would be better for him to remain silent
and let matters take their course or whether he would better offer to
the public such explanations and observations as he could.[858] The
nature of Wolcott’s counsel is unknown; but Morse, in any event, came
to the conclusion that there was no further action he could take in the
case, and his advocacy of the idea of an Illuminati conspiracy against
religion and the government ceased. Henceforth, the reverberations of
the controversy, with a single exception, were to be of the nature of
jibes and flings on the part of irritated and disgusted Democrats who
adopted the position that the controversy over the Illuminati had been
introduced into American politics to serve purely partisan ends.

In 1802, the Reverend Seth Payson,[859] minister of the Congregational
church at Rindge, New Hampshire, made an effort to revive the
agitation. In a volume[860] characterized by dismal mediocrity Payson
fulminated against the public stupor that, he admitted, had taken
the place of the sense of alarm that the discovery of the Illuminati
conspiracy had originally caused.[861] Payson’s book was nothing more
than a revamping of the earlier literature, European and American, on
the subject. There is no evidence that it made the slightest impression
on the country.


[763] _The Life and Works of John Adams_, vol. ix, p. 172.

[764] _Ibid._, pp. 172 _et seq._

[765] Reverend Ashbel Green, who was chaplain of Congress at the
time, accounts for the presence of this quality in the proclamation
in the following manner. The President requested Green to assist him
by preparing a draft of such a proclamation as the latter deemed
suitable for the purpose. Aware of the complaints that had been made
respecting previous proclamations, on the ground that while they
called the people to the religious duties of thanksgiving and fasting,
they were yet somewhat lacking in the manifestation of “a decidedly
Christian spirit,” Green resolved to prepare for the President’s
benefit a proclamation of such a thoroughgoing evangelical character
that no such objection could possibly be lodged against it. This he
endeavored to do. The President adopted Greens draft and published it,
“with only the alteration of two or three words out of all affecting
the religious character of my [his] production.” (_The Life of Ashbel
Green_, pp. 260 _et seq._) The “decidedly Christian spirit” of the
proclamation did not make the instrument immune from criticism. “An Old
Ecclesiastic” contributed a highly censorious article to the _Aurora_,
sharply rebuking the President for proclaiming the fast, objecting also
to his “very improper and impolitic ... language ... when speaking of
the French nation,” and questioning his right to direct the people
as to what they should pray for. _Cf._ _Aurora_, April 4, 1799. This
article was copied by the _Independent Chronicle_ for the benefit of
New England readers, and drew from “A Real Ecclesiastic” a valiant
defence of the President’s action and language. In the eyes of this
writer, “the observations ... by an Old Ecclesiastic ... are so
artfully fitted to excite groundless suspicions and prejudices against
that GREAT AND GOOD MAN [President Adams], and especially to prepossess
unwary readers against the approaching Fast recommended by him, that
it seems important to defeat the writer’s manifest intention by a few
seasonable remarks.” The nation was a _Christian_ nation, and therefore
the President had a right to _recommend_ the observance of a day of
_Christian_ humiliation and prayer. _Cf._ _Massachusetts Mercury_,
April 16, 1799.

[766] _A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers, and Consequent
Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America. Delivered at
Charlestown, April 25, 1799, the day of the National Fast._ By Jedediah
Morse, D. D., pastor of the church in Charlestown. Charlestown, 1799.

[767] Morse, _op. cit._, p. 5.

[768] Morse, _op. cit._

[769] _Ibid._, p. 9.

[770] _Ibid._, p. 7.

[771] _Ibid._, p. 9.

[772] _Ibid._, p. 12.

[773] Morse, _op. cit._, pp. 13 _et seq._ Morse gave as his authority
in this instance Robert Goodloe Harper’s “Sketch of the Principal Acts
of Congress during the session which closed the 3d. of March”. See Note
A, p. 33, of Morse’s _Sermon_. Reference to Benton’s _Abridgement of
the Debates of Congress_, vol. ii, pp. 339, 343, discloses the fact
that sentiments embodying this apprehension were expressed in the Third
Congress. The struggle which France and England waged for the control
of the island of St. Domingo, a struggle that had as its principal
development the insurrection of the blacks of the island under the
leadership of Toussaint Louverture, properly enough was full of deep
interest for Americans. _Cf._ Hildreth, _The History of the United
States of America_, vol. v, pp. 269 _et seq._ For a recent discussion
of American policy with respect to St. Domingo and the state of affairs
within the island, see Treudley, Mary, _The United States and Santo
Domingo, 1789–1866_ (doctoral dissertation, Clark University), pp.

[774] _Cf._ Morse’s _Sermon_, pp. 12–14.

[775] _Cf._ Morse’s _Sermon_, p. 15.

[776] _Cf._ Morse’s _Sermon_, pp. 15–17. The allusion to a hostile
attitude towards the clergy, with which the extract closes, led Morse
to dwell at length upon the anticlerical spirit of the whole French
system. _Cf. ibid._, pp. 17 _et seq._ Wherever that system operates,
there, Morse asserts, the clergy are the first to feel its power and to
become the victims of its sanguinary revolutionizing spirit. Here in
the United States this same malignant spirit is visibly at work. And
all that the clergy have done to provoke this deadly hostility may be
summed up in the phrase, “they have preached politics.” (_Ibid._, p.
18). They are now “censured and abused, and represented as an expense,
useless, nay even, noxious body of men” for doing what “only twenty
years ago they were called upon to perform as a _duty_.” (_Ibid._,
p. 19). No clergyman of the Standing Order could possibly have felt
keener resentment on account of the growing antagonism to that group
of men than Jedediah Morse. His state of mind is a bit more clearly
revealed by the contents of the following note by which the printed
sermon was accompanied. This note, it should first be explained, was
called out by the fact that a bill had been presented in a recent
session of the Massachusetts legislature, providing for the suspension
of the obligation to support the clergy of the Standing Order in all
cases where it was possible for individuals to produce certificates,
showing that they were otherwise contributing to the support of public
worship. “Had this Bill passed into a law, it is easy to see that it
would have justified and protected (as was no doubt the intention of
the Bill, though by no means of all who may have voted for it) the
disaffected, the irreligious, and the despisers of public worship and
of the Christian Sabbath, in every town and parish, in withdrawing that
support of the Christian ministry which the laws now oblige them to
give.” (Note D, p. 49 of the _Fast Sermon_).

[777] The concluding sections of the sermon were devoted to (a) a
depiction of the awful calamities which would come upon America if
ever French armies were permitted to work their remorseless ravages
here, and (b) an analysis of the duties which arose out of the dangers
that had been presented. The duties named required one (1) to stand
by one’s post of duty, despite the gloomy but not utterly hopeless
aspect of affairs; (2) to avoid all political connections with those
nations which seem devoted by Providence to destruction, and to make
a zealous effort “to watch their movements, and detect and expose the
machinations of their numerous emissaries among us; to reject, as
we would the most deadly poison, their atheistical and destructive
principles in whatever way or shape they may be insinuated among us;”
and, _especially_, (3) to promote the election to offices of trust of
only such men as have “good principles and morals, who respect religion
and love their country, who will be a terror to evil doers, and will
encourage such as do well.”

[778] _Ibid._, p. 34. For the benefit of his readers, Morse supplied
the following translation:

              “At the East of the Lodge of Portsmouth in
               Virginia, the 17th of the 5th month, in the
               ear of (V∴ L∴) True Light 5798./:

               The (R∴ L∴ Pte∴ Fse∴) respectable French
               Provincial Lodge, regularly appointed under the
               distinctive title of WISDOM, No. 2660 by the
               GRAND ORIENT OF FRANCE.
              The (T∴ R∴ L∴) very respectable French Lodge,
              The Union, No. 14, constituted by the _Grand
              Orient_ of New-York.

                               S∴ F∴ V∴
                          TT∴ CC∴ and RR∴ FF∴

The plate or opening (_la planche_) with which you have favoured us in
date of the 16th of the 2nd month of the current year (Mque∴) Masonic,
came to us but a few days since. It was laid before our (R∴ L∴)
respectable Lodge, at its extraordinary session on the 14th inst.

We congratulate you TT∴ CC∴ FF∴ upon the new Constitutions or
Regulations which you have obtained from the Grand Orient of New York.
We will therefore make it our pleasure and duty to maintain the most
fraternal or intimate Correspondence with your (R∴ L∴) respectable
Lodge; as also with all the regular Lodges who are willing to favour us
with theirs.

It is on this ground (_a ce titre_) that we think it our duty to inform
you of the establishment of two new Masonic workshops (_attellieres_)
regularly constituted and installed according to the French ritual,
by our Provincial (R∴ L∴) respectable Lodge; one, more than a year
since, under the title of Friendship in the East side of Petersburg in
Virginia; the other more recent, under the title of PERFECT EQUALITY,
in the East of Port de Paix in the Island of St. Domingo.

We herewith transmit to you some copies of our List (_Tableau_) for
this year, which our Lodge prays you to accept in return for those
which it hath received from your Lodge with thankfulness.

May the Grand Architect of the Universe bless your labours, and crown
them with all manner of success. With these sentiments we have the
favour to be,

                   P∴ L∴ N∴ M∴ Q∴ V∴ S∴ C∴
                   TT∴ CC∴ and TT∴ RR∴ FF∴
                     Your very affectionate FF∴
                        By order of the very respectable
                        Provincial Lodge of Wisdom,
Morse’s _Sermon_, p. 35.

[779] These documents may be found on pp. 36–45 of Morse’s _Sermon_.
For the motto Morse supplied the following translation: “_Men believe
their eyes farther than their ears. The way by precept is long, but
short and efficaceous by example._” (_Ibid._, pp. 46 _et seq._)

[780] _Ibid._, pp. 46 _et seq._

[781] _Ibid._, p. 46.

[782] Morse’s _Sermon_, p. 46.

[783] _Ibid._

[784] _Ibid._

[785] _Ibid._

[786] Morse’s _Sermon_, p. 46.

[787] _Ibid._, pp. 46 _et seq._

[788] _Ibid._, p. 47.

[789] _Ibid._

[790] _Ibid._

[791] Naturally, Morse had not failed to make use of his European
authorities in preparing his sermon for the eyes of the general public.
There was, of course, no new evidence to be derived from this source.

[792] Morse’s _Sermon_, p. 48. The immediate source from which Morse
obtained the documents of which he made such large and confident use
in this sermon, constitutes an interesting subject of inquiry. Happily
that source is fully disclosed in the following extract from a letter
which Morse addressed to Wolcott, Dec. 6, 1799:

  ... I wish all the evidence whh can be procured to substantiate the
  truth of what I have published. As the documents came through your
  hands, I have thought it proper to apply to you on the subject,
  as well as for evidence as for your advice as to the manner of
  exhibiting it.—I wish only to be assisted in defending myself to
  the satisfaction of candid & good men.” (_Wolcott Papers_, vol.
  viii, 30.)

The canniness of Oliver Wolcott’s Federalism is quite as much
illuminated by this letter as is Jedediah Morse’s caution and
generosity in assuming responsibility for the publication of the
documents referred to. That Wolcott had been instrumental in furnishing
Morse’s quiver with the arrows which Morse discharged from his bow
on the occasion of the 1799 fast, was soon suspected in Democratic
circles. _Cf._ _Aurora_, Feb. 14, 1800. (In this connection it may be
remarked that Wolcott was not the only New England Federalist who came
into possession of portions of the correspondence of Wisdom Lodge. The
_Pickering MSS._, vol. xlii, 37, presents a copy of another letter
which in this instance was sent by the Portsmouth lodge to the lodge
Verity and Union, in Philadelphia. The letter bears date of April 12,
1798. Its value for the purposes of this investigation is _nil_. How it
came to be in Pickering’s possession is not known. The implication is
strong that the Federalists were eager to exploit the documents to the

[793] As far as the records show, no other minister in New England may
be said to have spoken emphatically upon the subject on the occasion of
the fast. It was Morse alone who galvanized the issue into new life.
The general tenor of the utterances of the clergy on the day of the
fast may be judged from the following typical examples. At Concord,
the Reverend Hezekiah Packard, who made it known that he had read Dr.
Morse’s thanksgiving sermon and its appendix, descanted on the dangers
to be apprehended from the existence of foreign intrigue among the
citizens of this country. His language was general, though certainly
expressive of profound concern. _Cf._ _Federal Republicanism, Displayed
in Two Discourses, preached on the day of the State Fast at Chelmsford,
and on the day of the National Fast at Concord, in April, 1799._ By
Hezekiah Packard, pastor of the church in Chelmsford. Boston, 1799. At
Franklin, Mass., the Reverend Nathaniel Emmons discoursed in similar
vein. The French were pointed out as a nation which had corrupted every
people whom they had subjugated. Further, Emmons asserted that things
were happening in the United States which made it certain “some men
[were] behind the curtain ... pushing on the populace to open sedition
and rebellion.” No direct reference to the Illuminati was made,
however. _Cf._ _A Discourse, delivered on the National Fast, April 25,
1799._ By Nathaniel Emmons, D. D., pastor of the church in Franklin.
Wrentham, Mass., 1799, p. 23. The pastor of the church in Braintree
had also been reading Morse’s thanksgiving sermon. However, he had no
definite word to speak on the subject of the Illuminati. France, he
said, had her secret friends here, and the real truth of her designs
were hidden from the American people. _Cf._ _A Discourse, delivered
April 25, 1799; being the day of Fasting and Prayer throughout the
United States of America._ By Ezra Weld, A. M., pastor of the church
in Braintree. Boston, 1799. At Newburyport, the Reverend Daniel Dana
saw an exceedingly dark and ominous situation confronting him and his
hearers. He spoke of a “deep-laid infernal scheme to hunt Christianity
from the globe.” It was his firm belief that all the foundations of
religion and morality were frightfully imperiled. But he gave no clear
intimation that he was thinking of the Illuminati. _Two Sermons,
delivered April 25, 1799; the day recommended by the President of the
United States for National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer._ By Daniel
Dana, A. M., pastor of a church in Newburyport. Newburyport, 1799, p.
45. In addition to Morse there was at least one other exception to the
general reticence. A congregation at Sullivan, N. H.(?), heard a sermon
full of wild and hysterical utterances, containing frequent references
to the Illuminati, to Robison and Barruel, with much stress laid upon
the lugubrious idea that the church in America was about to drink a cup
of persecution exceedingly bitter. This sermon, however, was much too
irrational to be of special significance. _The Present Times Perilous.
A Sermon, preached at Sullivan, on the National Fast, April 25, 1799._
By Abraham Cummings, A. M., (n. d.). It would not be altogether
incorrect to observe that the New England clergy, on the occasion of
the national fast of 1799, took their cue direct from the President’s
proclamation rather than from the literature which had previously been
published on the subject of Illuminism.

[794] This is certainly a reasonable inference from the fact that the
interest of the public in Morse’s sermon made necessary four different
issues of it during the year in which it appeared. One of these was
printed at Charlestown, another at Boston, a third at Hartford, and a
fourth at New York.

[795] Here it may be noted that when Morse’s sermon appeared in print,
it was accompanied by a note setting forth the author’s account of
the progress of his thought regarding the Illuminati. In part the
note ran as follows: “In my Discourse on the National Fast, May 9th.,
1798, after giving some account of Robison’s _Proofs of a Conspiracy,
etc._, a work which had just arrived in America, I said, ‘There are too
many evidences that this order [the Illuminati] has had its branches
established, in some form or other, and its emissaries secretly at work
in this country, for several years past.’

“Being often publicly called upon for evidence to support this
insinuation, I engaged, when my health and leisure would permit, to lay
it before the public. This engagement was in part fulfilled, in the
Appendix to my Thanksgiving _Sermon_ of Nov. 29, 1798, Note (F), p. 73,
to which I refer the reader.

“Since this I have received a letter from President Dwight, confirming
the fact which he had asserted in a note to his Discourse of the 4th
of July, 1798, viz, that ‘Illuminatism exists in this country; and the
impious mockery of the Sacramental Supper described by Mr. Robison has
been enacted here.’ ...

“But if all this evidence, added to that which arises _prima facie_
from the existing state of things; from the wonderful and alarming
change which has been suddenly and imperceptibly produced too generally
in the principles and morals of the American people, be insufficient to
convince and satisfy candid minds of the actual existence, and secret
and extensive operation, of Illuminatism in this country, the following
documents which were received through a most respectable channel, and
for the authenticity of which I pledge myself, must, I conceive, remove
every doubt remaining in the minds of reasonable men. If any branches
of this Society are established in this part of the United States, the
members no doubt will feel irritated at this disclosure, and will use
all their secret arts, and open endeavours, to diminish the importance
of these documents and the reputation of him who makes them public.”
(Note B, pp. 33 _et seq._) The note concludes with a solemn statement
by its author to the effect that he stands prepared to sacrifice all,
even his life if necessary, for the cause of religion and his country.
See also the preface of the sermon.

[796] _Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 26.

[797] _Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 26.

[798] On the very day of the national fast the editor of the
_Chronicle_ busied himself at his familiar task of rebuking the clergy
on account of their practice of indulging in “political preaching”. The
latter were again admonished to confine their attention to the divine
book of Revelation and to abandon their interest in the reveries of
Robison. This, however, was only such a jibe as had intermittently
issued from this source.

[799] _Independent Chronicle_, May 9, 1799.

[800] _Ibid._

[801] _Independent Chronicle_, May 30, 1799.

[802] _Ibid._

[803] _Ibid._

[804] _Ibid._, June 10, 1799.

[805] _Cf._ especially the _Independent Chronicle_ of May 9, 13, 16,
20, 27, 30, and June 3, 6, 10, 13, 1799.

[806] _Ibid._, May 13, 1799.

[807] _Independent Chronicle_, May 20, 1799.

[808] _Cf. supra_, pp. 281 _et seq._

[809] The ship Ocean was a vessel of the United States concerning
which, in the spring of 1799, the statement got into circulation that
it had been captured by the French and every soul on board foully
murdered. No such massacre actually took place. Morse, however, heard
the story, believed it, and made reference to it in his fast sermon of
April 25, 1799. Later, and not unnaturally, he became disturbed over
the part he had played in giving publicity to the story. His integrity,
he believed, was involved; likewise the faith of the public in other
pronouncements he had made, _e. g._ with regard to the Illuminati. See
_Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 27. And this was the view of the case that
his enemies took. _Cf._ for instance, the _Aurora_, June 6, 1799.

[810] _American Mercury_, June 6, 1799.

[811] Printed at Walpole, N. H.

[812] _American Mercury_, Aug. 29, 1799. _Cf._ also _The Bee_ (New
Haven), Aug. 21, 1799.

[813] _Cf._ issue of May 7, 1799.

[814] _Cf._ issue of May 10, 1799.

[815] _Connecticut Courant_, May 27, 1799.

[816] _An Oration delivered at Ridgefield on the Fourth of July, 1799,
before a large concourse of people, assembled to commemorate their
National Independence._ By David Edmond. Danbury ... MDCCXCIX, p. 10.

[817] _An Oration, on the Apparent and the Real Political Situation of
the United States, pronounced before the Connecticut Society of the
Cincinnati, assembled at New-Haven ... July 4th, 1799._ By Zechariah
Lewis, ... New-Haven, 1799, p. 16.

[818] _An Oration spoken at Hartford ... on the Anniversary of American
Independence, July 4th, A. D., 1799._ By William Brown. Hartford ...
1799, pp. 6 _et seqq._

[819] _An Oration, pronounced July 4th, 1799, at the request of the
Inhabitants of the Town of Boston, in Commemoration of the Anniversary
of American Independence._ By John Lowell, Junior. Boston, 1799, p. 21.

[820] _An Oration, delivered before the citizens of Portland ... on the
Fourth of July, 1799_ ... By A. Stoddard. Portland, 1799, pp. 10, 11,
13, 29 _et seq._

[821] _An Oration delivered at Byfield, July 4, 1799._ By Rev. Elijah
Parish, A. M. Newburyport (n. d.).

[822] _An Oration, delivered at Roxbury, July 4, 1799. In Commemoration
of American Independence._ By Thomas Beedé. Boston, 1799.

[823] The _Connecticut Courant_ of June 10, 1799, carried to its
readers the announcement that “the IIIrd volume of the History of
Jacobinism” had just been received by Messrs. Hudson & Goodwin, the
editors, and, along with volumes i and ii, was on sale.

[824] Jedediah Morse was certainly one of those who hoped for much
from the appearance of Barruel’s work in America. On October 3, 1799,
he wrote to the American publishers of the _Memoirs of Jacobinism_,
expressing his gratification over the receipt of six copies of volumes
i and ii (bound in one) of the same, and arranging to have the
remaining volumes forwarded to him at the earliest possible date. _Cf._
Morse’s letter to Messrs. Hudson & Goodwin, in the _Ford Collection_,
New York Public Library. Morse’s urgency in the case is partly
explained by the fact that at this time he was being drawn deeply into
the Ebeling-Huntington-Babcock-Bentley-Morse controversy, to be noticed

[825] _Wolcott Papers_, vol. v, 77. _Cf._ _Salem Gazette_, Aug. 13,

[826] _Cf._ the issues of the _Courant_ for June 24, July 1, 8, 15,
29, Aug. 5, 12, 19, 26, Sept. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Oct. 7, 1799. The
partisan object in view in making and publishing this abridgment of
Barruel is thinly veiled in the following statement of the editors: “We
have not, indeed, much to apprehend from external invasion, but our
greatest dangers arise from a disorganizing party among ourselves, who
will recognize no government, except in bacchanalian curses, and the
sanguinary notions of a blind, seditious, and corrupted crowd—who will
be guided by no laws except what are conceived in the womb of crime,
the weakness and absurdity of which will be calculated to establish the
reign of licentiousness, and consolidate the empire of sedition and
conspiracy.” (_Connecticut Courant_, July 8, 1798.)

[827] _Cf._ the issues of the _Mercury_ for July 30, Aug. 9, 13, 16,
20, 27, Sept. 3, 6, 17, 24, Oct. 1, 8, 22, 29, 1799. Other papers,
the _Columbian Centinel_, for example, began the publication of the
Abridgement, but discontinued the series before the end was reached.

[828] The entire indifference to the Abridgement which many New England
editors manifested was the occasion of no little disappointment and
chagrin on the part of those who had hoped for material assistance
and comfort from this source. _Cf._ _Connecticut Courant_, July 22,
1799. With regard to the general impression which the _Memoirs of
Jacobinism_ made in this country, the comments of Thomas Jefferson are
of interest. Though based upon an imperfect acquaintance with Barruel’s
work, considerable sound criticism is expressed. “I have lately by
accident got sight of a single volume (the 3d.) of the Abbé Barruel’s
‘Antisocial Conspiracy’, which gives me the first idea I have ever had
of what is meant by the Illuminatism against which ‘Illuminate Morse’,
as he is now called, and his ecclesiastical and monarchical associates
have been making such a hue and cry. Barruel’s own parts of the book
are perfectly the ravings of a Bedlamite. But he quotes largely from
Wishaupt [_sic_] whom he considers the founder of what he calls the
order ... Wishaupt seems to be an enthusiastic philanthropist. He is
among those (as you know the excellent Price and Priestley also are)
who believe in the infinite perfectibility of man. He thinks he may in
time be rendered so perfect that he will be able to govern himself in
every circumstance, so as to injure none, to do all the good he can, to
leave government no occasion to exercise their powers over him, and,
of course, to render political government useless. This, you know, is
Godwin’s doctrine, and this is what Robison, Barruel, and Morse have
called a conspiracy against all government.... The means he proposes
to effect this improvement of human nature are ‘to enlighten men, to
correct their morals and inspire them with benevolence’. As Wishaupt
lived under the tyranny of a despot and priests, he knew that caution
was necessary even in spreading information, and the principles of pure
morality. He proposed, therefore, to lead the Free Masons to adopt
this object.... This has given an air of mystery to his views, was the
foundation of his banishment, the subversion of the Masonic Order,
and is the color for the ravings against him of Robison, Barruel, and
Morse, whose _real fears are that the craft_ would be endangered by the
spreading of information, reason, and natural morality among men....
I believe you will think with me that if Wishaupt had written here,
where no secrecy is necessary in our endeavours to render men wise and
virtuous, he would not have thought of any secret machinery for that
purpose ... ”. (_The Writings of Thomas Jefferson_, vol. vii, p. 419:
Letter to Bishop James Madison.)

[829] Christopher D. Ebeling (1741–1817) was a German geographer and
historian who was greatly interested in everything relating to America.
In 1794 he was elected a corresponding member of the Massachusetts
Historical Society. He was in correspondence with such public
characters in America as Morse, Dr. Jeremy Belknap, President Stiles,
and Thomas Jefferson. After his death, Ebeling’s large and valuable
library became the property of Harvard University.

[830] _Cf. op. cit._

[831] _Ibid._

[832] _American Mercury_, Sept. 26, 1799. The entire article was well
calculated to nettle the feelings of Morse. He was referred to therein
as “a celebrated calumniator of Masonry” and “an eagle-eyed detector of
Illuminatism.” The concluding statement was peculiarly humiliating and
irritating: “Many people wonder why the Rev. Granny, who has officiated
at the birth of so many _mice_ (when Mountains have travailed), had not
published the letter he has lately received from Professor Ebeling:
many others suppose he will publish it as an Appendix to his next
Fast-Day Sermon.” In addition to the _American Mercury_, the _Bee_ and
the _Aurora_ both published this account of the Ebeling-Morse letter.
_Cf._ the edition of the former for Oct. 9, 1799, and of the latter for
Nov. 25, Dec. 6, 9, 1799. Thus wide publicity was given to the matter,
on account of which Morse was justly aroused.

[833] _American Mercury_, Nov. 7, 1799 _Cf._ _Columbian Centinel_, Nov.
23, 1799.

[834] Morse’s letter to Babcock, editor of the _American Mercury_, bore
date of October 4, 1799. It drew no further response from Babcock than
a private epistle, calling upon Morse to refute the statements which
had appeared in the Mercury, and promising that then the editor’s “man”
would be produced. _Cf._ _American Mercury_, Nov. 7, 1799.

[835] _American Mercury_, Nov. 14, 1799. _Cf._ _Columbian Centinel_,
Nov. 23, 1799.

[836] _American Mercury_, Nov. 14, 1799. The affidavits of Tappan and
Pearson were actually offered in evidence later. _Cf._ _Connecticut
Courant_, May 19, 1800; _Massachusetts Mercury_, May 23, 1800.

[837] _Cf._ the issue of this paper for Sept. 30, 1799.

[838] _Ibid._, Nov. 4, 1799.

[839] _Cf._ article by “Candidus” in the issue of this paper for Nov.
23, 1799.

[840] _Cf._ the issue of this paper for Dec. 27, 1799.

[841] _Cf._ _Bee_, Nov. 20, 1799.

[842] _Ibid._

[843] _Ibid._, Nov. 20, 27, 1799.

[844] _Ibid._, Nov. 20, 1799.

[845] _Cf._ _Aurora_, Nov. 16, 25, Dec. 6, 9, 1799.

[846] _Ibid._, Nov. 16, 1799.

[847] _Ibid._

[848] _Ibid._

[849] This fact was acknowledged by Ebeling. _Cf. Ebeling MSS._:
Ebeling’s letters to Bentley, July 28, 1800; July 1, 1801.

[850] From 1798 on, Bentley’s _Diary_ is replete with ill-tempered and
abusive references to Morse. _Cf._ for example, vol. ii, pp. 278, 291,
296, 302, 329, 334, 384, 391; vol. iii. pp. 9, 32, 141, 149, 217, 218,
342, 357 _et seq._, 431; vol. iv, pp. 209, 241. Bentley’s enthusiastic
devotion to Freemasonry and his rancorous republicanism were largely
responsible for his personal feeling towards Morse; but there also
appears to have been a disagreeable and petty personal element in the
situation. Bentley was peevish and spiteful towards Morse because
he believed that the latter had stirred up one of the creditors of
the elder Bentley to attempt to collect a debt from the son. _Cf._
Bentley, _Diary_, vol. iv, pp. 241 _et seq._ Even before the Illuminati
agitation broke out in New England, Bentley found it impossible to
repress his low opinion of Morse as a geographer and as a man. _Cf.
ibid._, vol. ii, pp. 64, 70.

[851] _Cf._ _Ebeling MSS._: Ebeling’s letter to Bentley, March 13, 1799.

[852] _Ibid._: Ebeling’s letter to Bentley, March 23, 1799.

[853] _Ibid._

[854] In view of the fact that Ebeling had instructed Bentley that his
letter was not to be given to the public, and that if by any chance it
should find its way into print, it was to be expurgated and presented
to the public only in part, he felt aggrieved at Bentley for paying
attention to none of his instructions. Ebeling’s great fear seems to
have been that his mention of living personages in European politics
would be likely to create serious embarrassments. Nevertheless, he
assured Bentley that he was not disposed to be deeply hurt over the
appearance of the letter in the American press. _Cf. ibid._: Ebeling’s
letters to Bentley, July 28, 1800, July 1, 1801.

[855] Morse had ample justification for thinking himself thoroughly
ill-used in this situation. The embarrassment that he experienced over
the appearance of the letter in the _Aurora_ and the _Bee_ was enhanced
by the fact that the account of the Ebeling-Morse letter published in
the _American Mercury_, which tallied with the _Aurora-Bee_ letter, was
due to a confidence that Morse had given to a man whom he supposed to
be friendly to his cause. A certain Samuel Huntington had visited him,
to whom Morse read the letter he had received from Ebeling. Trusting to
his memory, Huntington afterwards sent a communication to the _American
Mercury_, purporting to contain a true account of the epistle that
Morse had read to him. _Cf._ _Bentley Correspondence_, vol. i, 40:
J. Eliot’s letter to Bentley, July 26, 1802. _Cf._ _The Mercury and
New-England Palladium_ [successor to the _Massachusetts Mercury_],
April 28, 1801.

[856] The agitation against Morse became highly abusive and
threatening. He was made the recipient of scurrilous and intimidating
epistles, which did not stop short of promising physical chastisement.
_Cf._ _Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 32, for a specimen of such
documents. _Cf. ibid._, 30: Morse’s letter to Wolcott, Dec. 6, 1799.

[857] _Wolcott Papers_, 31. _Cf._ _National Magazine, or a Political,
Historical, Biographical, and Literary Repository_, vol. ii, pp. 26
_et seq._: article by _Philalethes_. Parker’s observations are fully
corroborated by this pseudonymous writer. That Wisdom Lodge was a
regular Masonic lodge, organized under the _Grand Orient_ of France, is
further testified to by Mackey, _The History of Free Masonry_, vol, v,
p. 1420. Treudley, _The United States and Santa Domingo, 1789–1866_,
pp. 111–125, adequately presents the essential facts bearing on the
presence of the French refugees in the United States.

[858] _Wolcott Papers_, vol. viii, 31.

[859] Payson (1753–1820) was a Harvard graduate, who located at Rindge
in 1782, and continued in the pastorate at that place until death
removed him, forty-eight years later.

[860] _Proofs of the Real Existence, and Dangerous Tendency, of
Illuminism. Containing an abstract of the most interesting parts of
what Dr. Robison and the Abbe Barruel have published on this subject;
with collateral proofs and general observations._ By Seth Payson, A.
M., Charlestown, 1802.

[861] _Ibid._, pp. iii, 217 _et seq._, 245 _et seq._


Freemasonry in New England, as throughout the United States in general,
was very far from being in a favorable condition when the Illuminati
controversy broke out. Like every other institution in the country,
it had suffered greatly on account of the American Revolution. The
membership of its lodges was depleted, and its affairs generally left
in a chaotic condition. In the period of reconstruction which followed
the Revolution, Masonry experienced the same difficulty in rebuilding
its organizations and investing them with a fair degree of importance
in the public eye as other social institutions of the times. To no
little extent, this was due to internal dissensions and disintegrating
tendencies generally. In the main these dissensions developed out
of efforts which were made to create grand lodges of native origin,
endowed with powers of sovereignty, to take the place in the system of
American Masonry that formerly had been accorded to the grand lodges of
England and Scotland. The spirit of independence communicated by the
revolutionary struggle had to be reckoned with by Masonic leaders in
their efforts to give unity and solidity to the system.[862]

But other concerns than those of organization engaged the attention
of those who sought the rehabilitation of the institution. In the
literature of the times appears more than one stinging reference to
the reproach under which Freemasonry rested on account of the low
standards of conduct by which the private lives of its members and its
assemblies were marked. Coarseness, profligacy, boisterousness, and
conviviality, which in the latter case did not stop short of drunken
revels, were common indictments brought against the lodges by friend
and foe alike.[863] It cannot be doubted that a considerable amount of
the kind of rude and unlicensed behavior that displayed itself about
many a New England tavern of the period was likewise to be observed in
connection with the private and public performances of the craft.

To this must be added another and, from our special point of view, more
serious criticism. The spirit of democracy, it should not be forgotten,
was working itself out in the common life of the times in manifold
ways. The idea of human equality had become the very touchstone of
life. New applications of this conception were constantly being
made. In such a day it was inevitable that the secret and exclusive
character of the assemblies and practices of Freemasonry should make
that institution widely suspected. Members of the fraternity were
freely accused of supporting an institution that failed to respond to
the spirit of the times.[864] As a result of the stir occasioned by
Washington’s bold denunciation of “self-created societies,” in 1794,
this charge of dangerous and unjustifiable secrecy became a more
powerful weapon in the hands of Freemasonry’s enemies, whose blows were
by no means easy to avoid.

That a retrograde movement was on in the ranks of American Masonry at
the time the Illuminati controversy broke out is, however, by no means
to be inferred. In most particulars, the faults and weaknesses which
have been noted represented common faults and weaknesses of the times.
On the whole, as the eighteenth century drew to its close, Freemasonry
in this country appeared to be slowly working its way up out of the
state of disorganization and weakness by which its progress had been
retarded during the two decades that followed the Revolutionary War.
It was in a day characterized by earnest and worthy striving, though
not without its tokens of popular suspicion, that the accusation of an
alliance with the odious Illuminati fell as a black shadow across its

The response which Massachusetts Masonry made to the aspersions of
Robison and his supporters[865] on this side of the ocean was promptly
forthcoming. On June 11, 1798, the Grand Lodge of that state drew up an
address to President Adams, from which the following generous extract
is taken:


  Flattery, and a discussion of political opinions, are inconsistent
  with the principles of this ancient Fraternity; but while we are
  bound to cultivate benevolence, and extend the arm of charity to
  our brethren of every clime, we feel the strongest obligations
  to support the civil authority which protects us. And when the
  illiberal attacks of a foreign enthusiast, aided by the unfounded
  prejudices of his followers, are tending to embarrass the public
  mind with respect to the real views of our society, we think it
  our duty to join in full concert with our fellow-citizens, in
  expressing gratitude to the Supreme Architect of the Universe, for
  endowing you with the wisdom, patriotic firmness and integrity,
  which has characterized your public conduct.

  While the Independence of our country and the operation of just
  and equal laws have contributed to enlarge the sphere of social
  happiness, we rejoice that our Masonic brethren, throughout the
  United States, have discovered by their conduct a zeal to promote
  the public welfare, and that many of them have been conspicuous for
  their talents and unwearied exertions. Among these your venerable
  successor is the most illustrious example; and the memory of our
  beloved Warren,[866] who from the chair of this Grand Lodge,
  has often urged the members to the exercise of patriotism and
  philanthropy, and who sealed his principles with his blood; shall
  ever animate us to a laudable imitation of his virtues.[867]

In addition to this formal action taken by the Grand Lodge, prominent
Massachusetts Masons began at once to employ such public occasions as
the calendar and special events of the order supplied, to refute the
charge that Masonry was in league with Illuminism. Preëminent among
these apologists were the Reverend William Bentley and the Reverend
Thaddeus Mason Harris.[868]

On the occasion of the Masonic festival of St. John the Baptist, June
25, 1798, Bentley delivered a charge before Morning Star Lodge, at
Worcester, Massachusetts.[869] The clergy, he maintained,—not all
the clergy, to be sure, but particularly those representatives of
the clergy “who ply the shuttle-cock of faith, with the dexterity of
expert gamesters, and have the art of making the multitude fly with its
feathers,”—are responsible for this new out-cry against the order.[870]
It is the state of affairs in Europe that has caused general attention
to be drawn to the order. During the century Masonry has flourished
there in a remarkable way. In the midst of an age full of apprehension
respecting everything that suggests political association, this rapid
progress of Freemasonry, the character of its members, the coincidence
of its designs, and its secrecy, have quite naturally conspired to give
some appearance of danger. Yet no discoveries have been made which can
fairly impeach the fraternity.[871] As for the principles and work of
Weishaupt, these ought not to be condemned outright, solely on the
testimony of Robison.[872] “We must leave Robison to an inquisitive
public,” Bentley concluded, and “forgive a worthy divine who has
noticed the book, and has made our order ridiculous.”[873]

Somewhat later in the year Harris delivered a number of addresses, in
connection with the consecration of various lodges, in which he paid
sufficient attention to the new issue that had been raised to make it
clear that Masonic circles were greatly disturbed.[874] To Harris, this
last assault upon the good name of Masonry was a most unreasonable
performance; yet all he felt prepared to do was to enter a general
denial, couched in a bombastic, windy style of utterance, of which the
following is typical:

  How much ... are we surprised to find opposers to an association
  whose law is peace, and whose whole disposition is love; which is
  known to discourage by an express prohibition the introduction and
  discussion of political or religious topics in its assemblies; and
  which forbids in the most positive and solemn manner all plots,
  conspiracies, and rebellions. But, notwithstanding the ignorant
  mistake, and the prejudiced censure the society, we are persuaded
  that its _real_ character is too well known, and its credit is
  too well supported, to be injured by their misrepresentations,
  or destroyed by their invectives. When they charge us with
  demoralizing principles, we will tell them that some of the most
  orthodox and respectable _Clergymen_ are of our order; and when
  they impute to us disorganizing attempts, we will remind them that
  Washington is our patron and friend.[875]

Much more of like character issued from this source.[876] We shall see,
however, that the keen invective and unrestrained sarcasm of Bentley,
rather than the platitudes of the amiable Harris, were needed to put
Masonry’s case before the public in an effective manner.

On the same occasion that the “Author of the Worcester Charge”[877]
made his first formal answer to Robison and Morse, at least two other
addresses were delivered, each of which require a word. One of these,
_mirabile dictu!_ was by Jedediah Morse.[878] Morse’s “sermon” was
dull and insipid enough. There was much talk about the cultivation and
diffusion of the love of country, the duty of essaying the rôle of the
peacemaker, and the wickedness of spreading base slanders and exciting
unreasonable prejudices among one’s fellows; but no discussion of the
subject of Illuminism was attempted. All that was said was in entire
good spirit, and but one consideration entitles Morse’s performance
to mention: the fact that its setting as well as its substance gave
evidence of its author’s earnest desire not to see the gulf widen
between him and his Masonic neighbors.

The other address was different. Masonic Brother Charles Jackson,
addressing the members and friends of St. Peter’s Lodge, Newburyport,
Massachusetts, showed no disposition to mince words with respect to
the detractors of Freemasonry.[879] Robison was reprobated by him
for launching “illiberal sarcasms” against the fraternity,[880] and
particularly for making out the Masonic lodges to be “hot-beds of
sedition and impiety,” which the orator indignantly averred they
were not.[881] It was granted that certain profligate and abandoned
characters, as Robison claimed, had assumed the cloak of Masonry,
with a view of shrouding their infernal plans under pretences of
philanthropy and benevolence; but these men soon threw off this cloak,
and there was no reason why Masonry should be sacrificed on their
account.[882] The charges of atheism and unpatriotic spirit among the
members of the fraternity were repelled with equal warmth by Jackson.
As with Harris, these calumnies were countered, the charge of atheism
by the fact that many of the clergy were members of the order, and
the charge of unpatriotic spirit by the fact that Washington was the
“illustrious brother” of American Masons.[883]

To a very limited extent the press was resorted to, in order that
New England Masonry might have a chance to square itself before the
public. The call for specific evidence that was made upon Morse, as
voiced in the _Massachusetts Mercury_ of July 27, 1798, and Morse’s
prolix but ineffective effort to meet the situation this created, have
already been noticed.[884] In the course of the newspaper discussion
referred to, the name of another prominent Mason of Massachusetts,
the Reverend Josiah Bartlett, was drawn into the controversy.[885] To
Morse’s somewhat unmanly plaint that “by necessary implication” he
had been accused by the Massachusetts Masons before the President as
being under the influence of unfounded prejudices, Bartlett made the
conciliatory, though artful, response that the address of the Grand
Lodge, to which Morse referred, was designed merely as a manly avowal
of the true principles of Freemasonry. It was not necessary to believe,
he continued, that they were influenced by irritation or resentment in
making the _Address_, nor that Dr. Morse had hostile designs in the
delivery and publication of his fast sermon.[886]

Such language, however, was much too mild and unduly exonerative for
the “Author of the Worcester Charge.” His aroused spirit required that
censure should be imposed. Morse had been guilty of a base injustice;
it was right that this fact should frankly be published to the world.
Accordingly, the _Massachusetts Mercury_ of August 10, 1798, contained
a vigorous statement of the case of Masonry against Morse, from
Bentley’s pen. The following will suffice to indicate the author’s

  The notice taken of the American Geographer in the late
  Charge,[887] was on account of his zeal, in his public character,
  to give authority to a wicked and mischievous Book. That he did not
  understand the Charge he has proved in his attempt to apply it,
  and that he should not understand it, is easy to be conceived from
  the Strictures already published upon his Compilations, and from
  opinions of him, both at home and abroad. On a proper occasion,
  these opinions may be collected and published.[888]

Still refusing to depart from the pathway of amiability and clerical
courtesy, Bartlett returned to the discussion of the subject of
Illuminism in its relation to American Freemasonry, in the _Mercury_
of September 7, 1798. In cumbrous sentences the appearance of
Robison’s book in this country was reviewed; the best of motives were
imputed to its author and his supporters in America; but stress, very
_gentle_ stress, to be sure, was laid upon the question whether the
Illuminati, in any form or other, had branches in this country. “If,”
Bartlett urged, “there is any citizen in the United States who can
prove this, it is a duty which he really owes to God and his country,
to come forward, ‘as a faithful watchman,’ with his documents.” As
for himself, he was fully persuaded that if the Masonic institution
could be implicated fairly in the conspiracy, then the doors of every
lodge ought to be flung wide open, and Masonry henceforth held in just
derision and contempt.[889]

This seemed to open the way for such a polite and harmless handling
of the subject as Morse coveted. In like spirit he replied to the
foregoing.[890] He rejoiced in the candid utterances of his worthy
friend. Bartlett’s acceptance of the existence of the Illuminati
persuaded him to hope that opposition to Robison would now soon
cease. Had the latter’s work not been opposed in the first place,
he entertained no doubt that Freemasonry in the United States would
not have been injured. While disclaiming all intention of pursuing a
controversial course, he would, however, undertake an investigation to
determine whether or not there were societies of the Illuminati in this

A belated promise, to say the least, and one that found a certain
belated fulfilment in Morse’s fast sermon of the following spring.[892]
Before turning to consider the effect of that sermon on Masonic
thought, one other Masonic disclaimer of 1798 requires attention.

On October 23, the Grand Lodge of Vermont drew up an address to the
President somewhat similar to the one which earlier in the year
their Massachusetts brethren had presented.[893] Beginning with the
familiar observation that Masonic principles forbade the introduction
of political subjects into the discussions of the order, but that the
serious cast of national affairs was such as to justify the present
action, the address proceeded to notice the “slanders” that were in
circulation respecting the order and to profess the ardent attachment
of Vermont Masons to the cause of the government. The idea that Masons
were capable of faction was repudiated with energy. An individual
Mason here and there might possibly sell his birthright for a mess
of pottage, or betray his country for paltry pelf; but as a body the
Masonic fraternity stood committed to support the government. _All_
should be risked in its maintenance and defence.[894]

The language of the address could hardly have been warmer. On the other
hand, the President’s response was cold, or, if not that, at least
puzzling.[895] Asserting first that he had ever esteemed the societies
of Freemasons in this country as not only innocent of base designs but
actually useful, he seemed to dispel all the comfort which the reading
of that assurance was calculated to impart by adding the following:

  The principle, not to introduce politics in your private
  assemblies, and the other principle, to be willing subjects to
  the government, would, if observed, preserve such societies from
  suspicion. But it seems to be agreed, that the society of Masons
  have discovered a science of government, or art of ruling society,
  peculiar to themselves, and unknown to all the other legislators
  and philosophers of the world; I mean not only the skill to know
  each other by marks or signs that no other persons can divine,
  but the wonderful power of enabling and compelling all men, and
  I suppose all women, at all hours, to keep a secret. If this art
  can be applied, to set aside the ordinary maxims of society, and
  introduce politics and disobedience to government, and still
  keep the secret, it must be obvious that such science and such
  societies may be perverted to all the ill purposes which have been
  suspected. The characters which compose the lodges in America are
  such as forbid every apprehension from them, and they will best
  know whether any dangers are possible in other countries as well as
  in this.... I say cordially with you—let not the tongue of slander
  say, that Masons in America are capable of faction. I am very
  confident it can not be said by any one with truth of the Masons of

Was the President ironical or frank? He had intimated that the Masons
were _capable_ of corruption: did he, or did he not think they were
guiltless of the charge of conspiracy that had recently been lodged
against them? One could not be absolutely sure from what he had
written. What the Masons of Vermont may have felt when the ambiguous
response of the President was before them, we have no means of knowing;
but there was one Mason in Massachusetts who read the response of the
President to the address of the Vermont Masons, and who was displeased.
In the view of William Bentley, the President had done anything but
assist the cause of Masonry in the hour of its embarrassment. He has
left us the record of his impressions in the following form:

  The address to General Washington,[897] as brother, must have
  the best effect, because he gives his own testimony, that he is
  a stranger to any ill designs of our institution.[898] But the
  replies of President Adams, such as he was indeed obliged to offer,
  have only left us where he found us, if in so happy a condition.
  His answers are candid, but he could know nothing. His answer to
  Massachusetts Grand Lodge insinuates his hopes. To Maryland, he
  seems to express even his fears.[899] To Vermont, he says, he
  believes the institution has been useful But while he expressed a
  confidence in the American lodges, he consents to hold our lodges
  capable of corruption. His words are, “Masons will best know
  whether any dangers are possible in other countries, as well as in

We have seen that the most appreciable and positive of all the evidence
that the champions of the charge of Illuminism brought against the
Masons was that which Morse embodied in his fast sermon in the spring
of 1799. For once the tiresome reiterations of the theorist and the
reporter of other men’s suspicions were laid aside. For once a straight
thrust was made at a definite point in the armor of American Masonry.
The effect which Morse’s sermon produced on the minds of New England
Masons naturally stimulates inquiry.

Contrary to what might very properly be supposed, the literature of
contemporary New England Freemasonry fails to yield full and convincing
evidence as to the precise character of this reaction. A few formal
public statements were made on the part of representatives of the
craft, or in one or two instances by men who were sufficiently close
to the institution to be used on occasions when Masonry threw wide its
doors of seclusion that the profane might draw near. Some of these must
be noticed.

Far removed from the chief centers of the agitation, at Portland,
Maine, Masonic Brother Amos Stoddard addressed the craft, on the
occasion of the festival of St. John the Baptist, June 24, 1799.[901]
Stoddard did not balk at the admission that the fraternity “have,
unfortunately, tolerated the Illuminati.”[902] But there was this to
be said by way of exculpation: the Illuminati were not legitimate
Masons.[903] “To propagate their revolutionary poison, and to protract
the period of detection” (_sic_), they attached themselves to
Freemasonry and called themselves by its name. In this way the world
had been deceived. But the main citadel of Masonry had not capitulated;
only a section of the fraternity had been taken by treachery.[904] A
temporary wound, undeniably, had been inflicted; but no lasting hurt
would come to the craft.[905]

At Reading, Massachusetts, on the same occasion, Caleb Prentiss, a
non-Mason, told the members and friends of Mt. Moriah Lodge that the
lodges were under suspicion as they had never been before.[906] The
eyes of the _world_ were now turned upon Masonry. The suspicion that
nefarious conspiracies had been formed or countenanced within the
lodges was well fixed in the public mind. Masons would need to walk
with more than ordinary circumspection. They must sedulously keep
themselves spotless from the imputation of such designs, that the craft
be not blamed. By striving to show themselves to be lovers of God and
mankind, friends of religion, friends of their country, and firm and
study supporters of the latter’s civil constitution, government, and
laws, they would be able to vindicate the principles, professions, and
constitutions of true ancient Masonry.[907]

At Ashby, New Hampshire, on the same festival day, an assembly of
Masons and their friends listened to a discourse which by way of
concessions to the opponents of Masonry outstripped anything that
went before or followed after.[908] The Reverend Seth Payson, that
fatuous aspirant to literary fame who elected to be a tardy echo of the
speculations of Robison, Barruel, and Morse,[909] informed his auditors
that while Masonry in its essential principles and constitution had
shown itself to be useful to society, unhappily its name, veil of
secrecy, symbols, and associative principles had been seized by a
body of men in Europe, in order to mask their hellish purposes of
eradicating from the human mind “all belief of a God, of a governing
providence, of the immortality of the soul, and a future state,—to
extinguish every principle of natural and revealed religion and moral
sentiments, and to demolish every government but its own.”[910] In all
its horrid appendages, the French Revolution was the result of this
conspiracy. This “vine of Sodom” was transplanted to the United States:
witness the opposition which in this country developed against those
“eminent benefactors to mankind in general,” Drs. Robison, Morse, _et
al._[911] Without the faithful researches of Morse, in particular, a
very much more serious infection of the Masonic body assuredly would
have occurred.[912]

Such isolated and generally indefinite utterances, it may be urged, are
scarcely to be trusted as offering an accurate reflection of the state
of the Masonic mind. They do not, however, stand altogether alone. From
various and perhaps more solid sources, the evidence is forthcoming
that the year 1799 was a year of deep anxiety and concern on the part
of the Masons of New England.

The diary of William Bentley supplies some evidence to this
effect.[913] His disgust was great that the clergy continued to agitate
concerning the pernicious principles and influence of Weishaupt,
and that with equal pertinacity the press kept the affairs of that
individual and his minions before the public.[914] The equally candid
acknowledgments of other Masons are even more to the point. One
spokesman for Rhode Island Masonry made public admission that the
fraternity was suffering keenly from “a temporary odium.”[915] Another
in Massachusetts uttered the complaint that the industrious zeal
of the unprincipled defamer had involved the craft in most serious
embarrassment.[916] Some were driven to take refuge in the consolation
that the lodges of the Illuminati were bastard organizations, and
therefore Freemasonry could not justly be anathematized on their

When the skies had cleared, as we have seen they soon did, and Masons
began to take stock of the experience through which their institution
had passed, their admissions of what the agitation had cost the order
were even more significant. One confessed that Masonry had started back
affrighted at the hideous spectre of Illuminism, and that the joy that
filled the lodges because they were no longer suspected as “hot-beds of
sedition” and “nurseries of infidelity” was very great.[918] Another
likewise rejoiced in spirit that the dark period of suspicion and
calumny through which the order has been passing was now over, and that
political agitation against the institution was at an end.[919] Another
admitted that after the lapse of a half dozen years it was difficult
to plant a new lodge in one of the most cultured of New England’s
communities, on account of the influence exerted by the works of
Robison and Barruel.[920] Still another confessed that the Illuminati
controversy had cost the fraternity dearly in the matter of membership;
a serious defection had resulted, representing many desertions.[921]

The various causes that contributed to bring about a collapse of the
agitation over Illuminism have elsewhere received attention and for the
most part require no special comment in this connection. One of these,
however, was of such a nature that it has been reserved for brief
exposition at this point.

The death of Washington, while confessedly an event of national
significance, and, as such, shared as the common bereavement of all the
citizens of the country, nevertheless assumed a very special importance
in the eyes of Masons and exerted an immediate and weighty influence
upon the fortunes of the order.

One who turns the pages of the black-bordered newspapers of the day,
all sharing in the universal lamentation and doing their utmost to set
before their readers the last detail regarding the closing hours in
the great man’s life and the arrangement and disposition of affairs
in connection with his obsequies, is likely to find himself amazed
because the Masons found it possible to figure in the circumstances as
conspicuously and largely as they did. The Masons were in evidence, in
very conspicuous evidence, it must be said, in all that pertained to
the funeral rites of the nation’s first chief. Not only was this true
of the funeral ceremonies proper; in innumerable places where mourning
assemblies gathered to pay respect to the memory of Washington, Masons
claimed and were accorded the places of honor in the processions and
concourses that marked these outpourings of popular sorrow.

It cannot be doubted that American Freemasons, while sincere in their
expressions of sorrow on account of Washington’s death, none the less
found a peculiar comfort of soul in being able _at such a time_ to
point to the fallen hero as _their_ “brother.” At an hour when the
tongue of scandal and the finger of suspicion were still active they
esteemed it an opportunity not to be despised to be able to stand
before the country and proudly say, “Washington was of us.”

That this is not idle fancy the following utterances will help to
make clear. At Middletown, Connecticut, a few days after Washington’s
death, a Masonic oration was pronounced in connection with the
observance of the festival of St. John the Evangelist.[922] The
orator, who recognized the season as one of unremitting calumny of
Freemasonry,[923] sought refuge from the strife of tongues for himself
and his brethren by urging the following sentiment:

  If what Barruel has suggested of our institution is true; if it is
  among US that Jesus Christ is daily sacrificed, and all religion
  scoffed at; if our principles and doctrines, either in theory or
  practice, have a tendency to destroy the bonds of nature and of
  government; how could Washington, that _Perfect Man_, when his feet
  were stumbling upon the dark mountains of death, say, “I am ready
  to die,” until he had warned the world to beware of the Masonic
  institution and its consequences? He was a thorough investigator,
  and a faithful follower of our doctrines.[924]

To this must be added the somewhat different apologetic of a prominent
Massachusetts Mason. Speaking at Dorchester, at a Masonic service in
Washington’s memory, the Reverend Thaddeus Mason Harris acknowledged
the value of Washington’s connection with American Freemasonry in these

  The honor thus conferred upon us has been peculiarly serviceable
  at the present day, when the most unfounded prejudices have been
  harbored against Freemasonary, and the most calumnious impeachments
  brought forward to destroy it. But our opposers blushed for the
  censures when we reminded them that Washington loved and patronized
  the institution.[925]

Washington’s Masonic career, Masonry’s uncontested claim to the right
to be first among those who mourned at his burial,—these constituted
a part, and a very substantial part of the demurrer which Freemasonry
offered at the bar of public judgment in answer to its accusers. It
is very certain that after the reinstatement in public favor which
American Masonry was accorded when Washington was buried, the voice of
censure was less and less disposed to be heard.[926]

  NOTE.—The fiction of an alliance between American Freemasonry
  and the Illuminati had a curious revival in connection with the
  antimasonic excitement which swept the United States from 1826 to
  about 1832. The mysterious abduction of William Morgan had the
  effect of arousing the country to the peril of secret societies,
  the Masons particularly. The Antimasonic party for this and
  other reasons sprang into existence, and an elaborate political
  propaganda and program were attempted. See McCarthy, Charles, _The
  Antimasonic Party: a Study of Political Antimasonry in the United
  States, 1827–1840_. In Annual Report of the American Historical
  Association, 1902, vol. i, pp. 365–574. In connection with the
  Antimasonic conventions that were held in various states, efforts
  were made to establish a connection between American Masonry and
  Illuminism. Thus, in the state convention held in Massachusetts
  in 1828–1829, a committee was appointed “to inquire how far
  Freemasonry and French Illuminism are

  connected.” This committee brought in a report establishing to the
  satisfaction of the convention that there was a direct connection
  between the two systems, and resulting in the passing of the
  following resolution: “Resolved, on the report of the Committee
  appointed to inquire how far Free Masonry and French Illuminism
  are connected, That _there is evidence_ of an intimate connexion
  between the higher orders of Free Masonry and French Illuminism.”
  _Cf._ _An Abstract of the Proceedings of the Anti-Masonic State
  Convention of Massachusetts, held in Faneuil Hall, Boston, Dec. 30
  and 31, 1829, and Jan. 1, 1830._ Boston, 1830, p. 5. On the ground
  that the length of the committee’s report made it inadvisable, the
  publishing committee deemed it inexpedient to print the “evidence.”

  The Vermont Antimasonic state convention of 1830 wrestled with
  the same question. Its committee brought in a report so naively
  suggestive as to merit notice. Citing the agitation that arose on
  account of the literary efforts of “Robison and Barruel in Europe,
  and Morse, Payson, and others in America,” the committee expressed
  its judgment that those works “called Masonry in question in a
  manner which if assumed on any other topic, would have called forth
  disquisition and remark on the subject matter of these writings
  from every editor in the union; yet the spirit of inquiry, which
  these able performances were calculated to raise, was soon and
  unaccountably quelled—the press was mute as the voice of the
  strangled sentinel and the mass of the people kept in ignorance
  that an alarm on the subject of Masonry had ever been sounded, or
  even that these works had ever existed.” See _Proceedings of the
  Anti-Masonic State Convention, holden at Montpelier, June 23, 24, &
  25, 1830. Reports and Addresses._ Middlebury, 1830.

  An exploration of the literature of the Antimasonic party yields
  nothing more significant. This literature as listed by McCarthy may
  be found on pp. 560–574 of the _Report of the American Historical
  Association for 1902_, vol. i.


[862] Mackey, _Lexicon and History of Freemasonry_, pp. 183 _et seq._
One of the most active and influential New England Masons of the period
was the Reverend William Bentley. The following references in his
_Diary_ throw light upon this phase of the situation: vol. ii, pp. 6–8,
11, 12. _Cf._ also Myer’s _History of Free Masonry and Its Progress in
the United States_, p. 15.

[863] _Cf._ for example, a small volume entitled, _Eulogium and
Vindication of Masonry. Selected (and Improved) from Various Writers_,
Philadelphia, 1792. The following excerpt is fairly typical: “There
are brethren who, careless of their own reputation, disregard the
instinctive lessons of our noble science, and by yielding to vice and
intemperance, not only disgrace themselves, but reflect dishonor upon
Masonry in general. It is this unfortunate circumstance which has given
rise to those severe and unjust reflections, which the prejudiced
part of mankind have so illiberally bestowed upon us.” (_Ibid._, p.
11. _Cf. ibid._, p. 19.) This representation of the case is fully
confirmed by _The Freemason’s Monitor; or Illustrations of Masonry: in
Two Parts_. By a Royal Arch Mason ... Albany, 1797, pp. 18 _et seq._.
The following sermon, delivered by a non-Mason, is also suggestive
in this connection: _A Discourse delivered in the New Presbyterian
Church, New York: Before the Grand Lodge of the State of New York ...
June 24th, 1795_. By Samuel Miller, one of the Ministers of the United
Presbyterian Churches in the City of New York, 1795. Miller dwelt
at length upon the suspicion and prejudice that existed against the
Masons, due, as he argued, to (1) the order’s veil of secrecy, (2) the
number of men who have been admitted to membership who were known to
be the open enemies of religion and morality and a disgrace to human
nature itself, and (3) the “scenes of vanity and folly” and “the froth
of nonsense” by which too many Masonic gatherings were characterized.
_Cf. ibid._, pp. 25 _et seq._ Despite the fact that the sermon was full
of frankest criticism, Miller’s composition was ordered printed by the
Grand Lodge, doubtless for the principal reason that he had been at
pains to distinguish between _genuine_ and _spurious_ Masons. Thaddeus
Harris, a prominent Massachusetts Mason, in a sermon preached at the
consecration at a lodge at Groton, Mass., Aug. 9, 1797, took account of
the same criticism of the order. _Cf._ also, Bentley’s _Diary_, vol. i,
p. 379. Reference to such Masonic compilations as _The Vocal Companion
and Masonic Register_, Boston, 1802, and _The Maryland Ahiman Rezon
of Free and Accepted Masons_ ... Baltimore, 1797, will not leave the
reader in doubt that a good deal of the poetry and music employed in
the lodges was excessively hilarious and coarse.

[864] In addition to the sermons of Miller and Harris cited in the
foregoing note, _cf._ _A Discourse on the Origin, Progress and Design
of Free Masonry. Delivered at the Meeting-House in Charlestown, in
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the Anniversary of St. John the
Baptist, June 24, A. D. 1793._ By Josiah Bartlett, M. B., Boston,
1793. p. 17. The Rev. Ashbel Baldwin, chaplain of the grand lodge of
Connecticut, in 1797, came to the defence of Masonry against the same
charge. _Cf._ _The Records of Free Masonry in the State of Connecticut,
etc._ By E. G. Storer, Grand Secretary, New Haven, 1859, vol. i, pp. 97
_et seq._

[865] Jedediah Morse’s efforts, in his fast sermon at May 9, 1798, to
avoid giving mortal offence to the Masons of New England, have already
been noted. See _supra_, LLLpp. 235 _et seq._ As Robison had sought
to exculpate the Masons of England, so Morse sought to exculpate the
Masons of “the Eastern States.” We shall see plenty of evidence,
however, that New England Masons were not deceived. From the first
they recognized with more or less clearness that _Masonry_ itself was
involved. The good name and integrity of their entire institution were
at stake.

[866] General Joseph Warren, the Revolutionary patriot and hero, who
fell at Bunker Hill, one of the most honored leaders of American

[867] _Cf._ _Columbian Centinel_, June 30, 1798; also _Massachusetts
Mercury_, Aug. 21, 1798, for the address of the Grand Lodge in full,
together with the President’s cordial response.

[868] Harris was Past Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge and Chaplain of
the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Massachusetts.

[869] _A Charge delivered before the Morning Star Lodge, in Worcester,
Massachusetts, upon the festival of Saint John the Baptist, June 25, A.
L. 5798._ By the Rev. Brother William Bentley, of Salem, Massachusetts.
Worcester, June, A. L. 5798. (The initials A. L. in the foregoing title
stand for _Anno Lucis_, and represent a common Masonic usage). This
charge not only found independent publication, but got into the New
England newspapers generally, and did much to distinguish its author as
a bold defender of the craft.

[870] _Ibid._, p. 9.

[871] Bentley, _op. cit._, p. 16.

[872] _Ibid._, pp. 22 _et seq._

[873] _Ibid._, p. 31. Bentley rarely, if ever, made as generous a
reference to Morse from this time on. His resentment toward the chief
calumniator of Masonry, as Morse came to be regarded, grew apace.

[874] _Discourses, delivered on Public Occasions, Illustrating the
Principles, Displaying the Tendency, and Vindicating the Design of
Freemasonry._ By Thaddeus Mason Harris.... Charlestown, Anno Lucis,

[875] Harris, _op. cit._, pp. 51 _et seq._

[876] _Ibid._, _Discourses ii_, _vii_, _viii_, and _x_, particularly.

[877] This became one of the terms by which Bentley was alluded to.

[878] _A Sermon delivered before the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted
Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at a Public Installation
of Officers of Corinthian Lodge, at Concord, ... June 25, 1798._ By
Jedediah Morse, D. D., minister of the congregation in Charlestown (n.

[879] _An Oration, delivered before the Right Worshipful Master and
Brethren of St. Peter’s Lodge, at the Episcopal Church in Newburyport,
Massachusetts, on the festival of St. John the Baptist; celebrated June
25, 5798._ By Worshipful Brother Charles Jackson, P. M., Newburyport,
March, A. L. 5799.

[880] _Ibid._, p. 18.

[881] _Ibid._, p. 17.

[882] _Ibid._, pp. 19 _et seq._

[883] _Ibid._, p. 23.

[884] _Cf. supra_, pp. 254 _et seq._

[885] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Aug. 7, 1798. Bartlett was Grand Master
of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

[886] _Ibid._

[887] In his address before the Worcester Lodge, June 25, Bentley had
gone so far as to designate Morse “a madman” for accepting Robison’s
book at its face value. This led to a retort in kind on the part of
Morse. Bentley, according to Morse, was incapable of making himself
understood; one must always have a commentator in reading him.
_Massachusetts Mercury_, Aug. 3, 1798.

[888] _Ibid._, Aug. 10, 1798.

[889] _Ibid._, Sept. 7, 1798.

[890] _Massachusetts Mercury_, Sept. 18, 1798.

[891] _Ibid._

[892] The Masons appear to have paid little if any attention to the
thanksgiving sermon of November 29, 1798. There was little reason why
they should.

[893] See _Salem Gazette_, Dec. 25, 1798.

[894] _Salem Gazette_, Dec. 25, 1798.

[895] _Ibid._

[896] _Salem Gazette_, Dec. 25, 1798.

[897] Hayden, _Washington and His Masonic Compeers_, p. 176.

[898] _Ibid._, pp. 176 _et seq._

[899] The address of the Maryland Grand Lodge was presented early in
June, 1798. The President’s response followed in due course. Both
documents were freely copied in the newspapers of the day, the New
England papers not excepted. _Cf._ for example, the _Salem Gazette_,
Aug. 10, 1798.

[900] _An Address, delivered in Essex Lodge, Massachusetts, Dec.
27, 5798 (1798), on the festival of St. John the Evangelist, at the
induction of officers._ By William Bentley. Essex Lodge was located
at Salem, Bentley’s home. The address may be found in the Freemason’s
Magazine, February, 1812, pp. 333 _et seq._ Bentley’s further
reflections upon President Adams’s unsatisfactory response to the
Vermont Grand Lodge led him to make even more pointed observations.
Under date of Feb. 4, 1799, he wrote in his diary: “My address to Essex
Lodge out of press. Pres. A. talks like a boy about the danger of the
institution. Men of sense who ridicule or oppose the Institution are
surprised at his simplicity. If he affects to be afraid, he loosens
by the pretence because indifferent persons consider it as a weakness
& his judgment suffers, so that he gets neither aid nor confidence.”
(_Diary_, vol. ii, p. 296.)

[901] _An Oration, delivered in the Meeting house of the First Parish
in Portland, Monday, June 24th, 5799 ... in celebration of the
anniversary festival of St. John the Baptist._ By Brother Amos Stoddard
... Portland, 1799.

[902] _Ibid._, p. 9.

[903] _Ibid._, p. 10.

[904] _Ibid._

[905] _Ibid._

[906] _A Sermon delivered before Mount Moriah Lodge: at Reading in the
County of Middlesex; at the celebration of St. John: June 24th, A. D.
1799._ By Caleb Prentiss, A. M., pastor of the First Parish in said
town ... Leominster (Mass.) ... Anno Lucis, 5799.

[907] Prentiss, _op. cit._, pp. 12, 13.

[908] _A Sermon, at the Consecration of the Social Lodge in Ashby, and
the Installation of its Officers, June 24, A. D. 1799._ By Seth Payson,
A. M., pastor of the church in Rindge, Amherst, N. H. 1800.

[909] _Cf. supra_, p. 321.

[910] Payson’s _Sermon_, p. 8.

[911] Payson’s _Sermon_, p. 9.

[912] _Ibid._

[913] Bentley, _op. cit._, vol. ii, p. 316.

[914] _Ibid._

[915] _The Secrets of Masonry Illustrated and Explained; in a
Discourse, preached at South-Kingston, before the Grand Lodge of the
State of Rhode-Island, etc., September 3d, A. L. 5799._ By Abraham L.
Clark, A. M., rector of St. John’s Church, Providence. Providence,
1799. p. 13.

[916] _An Address, delivered December 18, 1799. Before the Brethren of
Montgomery Lodge; at their Masonic Hall in Franklin...._ By Brother
James Mann, P. M. Wrentham, 1800, p. 16.

[917] _Masonry in Its Glory: or Solomon’s Temple Illuminated._ By David
Austin, Jun.: Citizen of the World. East-Windsor, Connecticut, 1800,
p. 32. _Cf._ _An Oration, pronounced at Walpole, Newhampshire_ [_sic_]
_before the Jerusalem, Golden Rule and Olive Branch Lodges of Free and
Accepted Masons, at their celebration of the festival of St. John the
Baptist, June 24th, A. L. 5800_. By Brother Martin Field, A. B. Putney,
October, 1800.

[918] _An Oration pronounced before the Right Worshipful Master &
Brethren of St. Peter’s Lodge, at the Episcopal Church in Newburyport,
on the festival of St. John the Baptist, June 24th, 5802._ By Brother
Michael Hodge, Jun. P. M. Newburyport, ... 5802, p. 12.

[919] _An Address, delivered before the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,
on the festival of St. John the Evangelist, Dec. 27th, A. L. 5805...._
By Henry Maurice Lisle, P. M. R. A. C. and Master of Union Lodge,
Dorchester. Boston, 1805, pp. 14 _et seq._

[920] Bentley, _Diary_, vol. iii, p. 228.

[921] _An Address, delivered at the Grand Convention of the Free
Masons of the State of Maryland; held on the 10th May, 1802,—in
which the observance of secrecy is vindicated, and the principal
objections of Professor Robison against the institution, are candidly
considered._ By John Crawford, M. D., Grand Master. Baltimore, 1802,
pp. 5, 8, 9, 30.—In this connection, the following table showing the
numerical increase of certain Massachusetts lodges during the period
1794–1802, compiled from the records of these lodges as contained in
their published histories, will be of interest. In three instances,
_viz._, St. John’s, Corinthian and Columbian, both those who received
membership and those who took degrees are included.

                   _1794 1795 1796 1797 1798  1799 1800 1801 1802_

  St John’s, Boston   11   11    6   23    3     0   31   14   14
  Tyrian, Gloucester   5   11    2    3    3     3    5    3    2
  Essex, Salem         2    2    1    8    7     1    9    8    8
  Washington, Roxbury
    (constituted in 1796)            13   10    13   10    6    5
  King Solomon’s,
    Charlestown        7   14    7    7    4     5    7    4    1
  Corinthian, Concord
    (constituted in 1797)            28   27*    5   17   16   16
  Colombian, Boston
    (constituted in 1795)  10   51   25   23    19   25   52   21
  St. Andrews, Royal
    Arch, Boston       1    7    7    6   10†    3   14    3    5
                      --   --   --  ---   --    --  ---  ---   --
    Totals            26‡  55‡  74‡ 113   87    49  118  106   72

  * Only one new member admitted after May.
  † Only one new member admitted after Sept. 3.
  ‡ Incomplete.

[922] _A Masonic Oration, pronounced on the festival of St. John the
Evangelist, December 26, 1799.... In Middletown._ By Alexander Collins,
Esq. Middletown, 1800.

[923] _Ibid._, p. 5.

[924] _Ibid._, p. 15. An interesting episode in Washington’s Masonic
career may here be alluded to. In the summer of 1798, the Reverend
G. W. Snyder, a Lutheran clergyman of Frederickstown, Md., wrote
Washington, expressing his fear that Illuminism might possibly gain an
entrance into the American lodges and appealing to Washington to exert
himself to prevent such an unhappy consummation. Snyder accompanied
his letter with a copy of Robison’s _Proofs of a Conspiracy_.
Washington replied to Snyder’s letter to the effect that he had
heard much about “the nefarious and dangerous plan and doctrines
of the Illuminati,” but that he did not believe the lodges of this
country had become contaminated thereby. Later Snyder again addressed
Washington on the subject, expressing surprise that the latter was
doubtful concerning the spread of the doctrines of Illuminism in this
country. To this Washington made answer that he had not intended to
impart the impression by his former letter “that the doctrines of the
Illuminati and the principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the
United States.” On the contrary, he professed himself fully satisfied
on that point. But what he had meant to say formerly was this: he
“did not believe that the lodges of freemasons in this country had,
as societies, endeavoured to propagate the diabolical tenets of the
former, or pernicious principles of the latter.” (_Cf._ Sparks, _The
Writings of Washington_, vol. xi, pp. 314 _et seq._, 377. _Cf._ Hayden,
_Washington and His Masonic Compeers_, pp. 177–189.) A recent study of
this correspondence has appeared. _Cf._ Sachse, _Washington’s Masonic
Correspondence_, Philadelphia, 1915, pp. 117–139. The author manifests
undue eagerness to acquit Washington of serious interest in the
controversy over the Illuminati. His unnecessary emphasis upon Snyder’s
private character, his remark that Brother Washington evidently
surmised that this letter from Snyder was nothing more or less than
a scheme to entrap him” (_Ibid._, p. 124), and his characterization
of Washington’s second letter to Snyder as “sharp,” all strongly
imply that Sachse failed to view the episode in its true setting.
That Washington had a genuine interest in the controversy over the
Illuminati the following letter gives added proof:

                                  “Mount Vernon, 28th Feb^y, 1799.
  Rev. Sir,

  The letter with which you were pleased to favor me, dated the first
  instant, accompanying your thanksgiving sermon, came duly to hand.

  For the latter I pray you to accept my thanks.—I have read it,
  and the Appendix with pleasure, and wish the latter, at least,
  could meet a more general circulation than it probably will have,
  for it contains important information, as little known, out of a
  small circle as the dissemination of it would be useful, if spread
  through the community.

                                With great respect,
                                  I am,—Revd. Sir,
                                     Your most Obdt. Servant,
                                                  G^o. Washington.”
  The Rev^d. M^r. Morse

 _Washington Collection_, New York Public Library. Washington’s copy of
 Morse’s sermon may be found in the Athenaeum, Boston.

[925] _The Fraternal Tribute of Respect Paid to the Masonic Character
of Washington, in the Union League, in Dorchester, January 7th., A. L.
5800._ Charlestown, 1800, p. 11. (The address appeared anonymously.)

[926] Charlestown Masons went so far as to hold out the olive branch of
peace and good-will to Morse, in connection with the Masonic mourning
which followed Washington’s death. It is recorded that the lodge in
Charlestown presented to Morse the cloth which for a time hung under
the portrait of its “beloved Brother, George Washington.” The gift
was gratefully accepted by Morse and was made into a coat which he
afterwards wore. _Cf._ _By-Laws of King Solomon’s Lodge, Charlestown,
etc._ Boston, 1885, p. 83.


By 1798 and 1799 the alignment of political parties in New England had
arrived at such a stage that the suspicion of political jockeying to
obtain party advantage was well grounded in the minds of leaders in
both camps. This self-conscious and determined party spirit had been
greatly promoted by the employment of electioneering methods.[927]
The general public had not yet become accustomed to the precise
significance of the broadside, the political pamphlet, and the
newspaper canard; and these all, in a copious stream, had begun to
flow from the country’s presses. Party leaders, however, who knew the
purposes of their own minds if not those of the opposition, were quick
to scent anything that savored of political buncombe.

Coincident with the breaking out of the controversy over the
Illuminati, a number of tales of plots or conspiracies were foisted
upon the public.[928] One of these concerned a band of conspirators
who were alleged to be agents of the French Directory, and who, with
their secret documents concealed in the false bottom of two tubs, had
taken ship from Hamburg to work sedition in this country.[929] Another
concerned the operations of a tailor in the city of Philadelphia, of
whom the report spread that he was engaged in making immense quantities
of uniforms for French soldiers; and if for French soldiers, for whom
could they be intended but for some French army which must be planning
an invasion of the United States? A third tale had to do with the
massacre which, rumor had it, had taken place on the good American
ship Ocean, involving the brutal butchery of her entire crew by the

All these preposterous “plots” were promptly exploded, and in due
course all were traced to Federalist sources. The general effect
upon the opposition scarcely needs to be stated. Such silly tales,
said one Democrat, discredit everything that the Federalists affirm
to be true.[931] They all had been artfully concocted and employed,
said another, “to excite an indignation which might be played off for
the purposes of party.”[932] They were so many alarm-bells, a third
said,[933] rung, we may add, to frighten the people into running to
prop up the bowing walls and tottering pillars of the doomed temple of

This mood of scepticism, imbedded as it was in a more serious mood of
indignation arising from the rebuffs and discomfitures that citizens
of democratic tastes and principles had long suffered at the hands of
Federalist bigotry and intolerance, rendered it inevitable that the
charge of Illuminism should be suspect from the first. One has but to
recall that the year in which the controversy over the Illuminati
broke out has still its characterization in political annals as “the
reign of terror,” to appreciate fully the statement that has just been

Beginning with 1799 a small group of pamphlets appeared, dedicated
by their authors to an effort to convert the charge of Illuminism
into a political boomerang, to be employed as a weapon against the
Federalists. Conspicuous among these, and perhaps first in point of
time, was _A View of the New England Illuminati_,[934] an anonymous
composition, but one whose authorship was soon traced to the Reverend
John Cosens Ogden,[935] an Episcopal clergyman.

Ogden wielded the pen of a ready and discursive writer, the latter
more especially. To follow him step by step as he ranged from Barruel
and Robison to meetings of New England ministers, from meetings of New
England ministers to ecclesiastical usurpations, from ecclesiastical
usurpations to the French Revolution, from the French Revolution to
high-handed measures taken by New England college presidents, and so on
_ad infinitum_, and the while to take equal account of all he touched
upon, would be a formidable and, we may believe, largely unprofitable
exercise. And yet, through a good deal of Ogden’s pamphlet the spirit
of ecclesiastical and political dissent finds a certain earnest and
even vivid expression.

It is true, said Ogden at the outset, that New England had its
Illuminati. They were not, however, such as Robison and Barruel would
represent them to be. The New England societies of the Illuminati
were the monthly meetings of the clergy.[936] The work they did and
the influence they exerted were so like the work and influence of the
societies of which Robison and Barruel wrote that they deserved to be
styled the New England Illuminati: readers could judge for themselves
as to the appositeness of the title thus bestowed.[937] Their
confederacy had been so successful that certain opulent and leading
laymen, who supremely desired to perpetuate the union of church and
state in New England, had lent to these clerical organizations their
fostering care and support.[938] At these monthly clubs, the political
issues of the times were discussed and prayers and orations filled with
invectives against those who had not adopted the creeds and politics of
the members were delivered.[939]

That which first gave offence to these clubs was the establishment
of universal religious toleration in Canada and the petition of
the Episcopalians inhabiting the colonies—now the United States—to
their brethren in England, that a Protestant bishop might be granted
them who would live in their midst.[940] To defeat these measures,
the New England Illuminati were indefatigably busy; and when they
discovered that they were foiled in their efforts, they languished for
a season,[941] until the French Revolution stirred them to new life.

When the Revolution began in France, these New England Illuminated
Clubs redoubled their energies. They prayed, they exhorted, they wrote
and printed numerous dissertations and prophecies, all emphasizing the
import of the Revolution as signalizing the overthrow of the Church
of Rome, which was Antichrist, and of the Pope, who was the Beast of
the Apocalypse, preparatory to the fulfilment of the eternal decree
respecting the Millennium.[942] Everything that the clergy did at this
time smacked loudly of their excessive interest in French affairs. In
order more fully to influence public opinion they took the colleges
into their confederacy, and soon teachers and pupils were busy
disseminating throughout the land principles and prejudices favorable
to the Revolution in France.[943] Nothing was omitted that might have
been done to cement an attachment to the cause of the Revolution.

The fluctuating events of the European wars and the uncertain issue
of French affairs soon cooled the ardor of these clerico-political
societies.[944] For these men were not sincere in their devotion
to France. They were not genuine supporters of the rights of man.
They repudiated their former interest in French politics and turned
fiercely upon those who maintained their interest in the principles
of the Revolution. These men had but one interest. What they desired
was _power_, a millennium in which the money and liberties of all
men should be laid at the feet of the colleges and of the Illuminati

Such was the general indictment that Ogden drew. This attended to, he
proceeded to file a bill of particulars.

The clergy, who constituted the predominating element in these New
England Illuminati Clubs, from the first had occupied a position of
commanding influence in New England. But the clergy _from the first_
had steadily kept the people at a distance.[946] They courted the rich
and schemed to obtain political influence. They united to themselves a
formidable body from among the laity, who looked to them for votes and
preferments. They freely wielded the weapons of ecclesiastical censure
and discipline in efforts to coerce those who would not sell their
consciences for gold or political honors.[947] In the army and the navy
_their_ sons and favorites received promotion; and in the distribution
of college diplomas, because of the same influence, men were honored
who could not construe the Latin parchments they received.[948]

Nominations to magistracies had been handed about by the arrogant
members of these Illuminated Clubs, and good men of the opposition
had been denounced by them at the polls.[949] By the same forces the
public press had been deprived of its freedom and the channels of
public communication diverted to serve unworthy ends.[950] Missionaries
had been sent to frontier communities in the various states, not to
propagate religion, but to extend the influence and to increase the
power of the societies whose agents they were.[951] The destruction of
dissenting bodies had been aimed at and the cause of universal liberty
of conscience spurned as an odious thing.[952]

In their efforts to control the instruments of education, the
representatives of these Illuminated Clubs had manifested the same
illiberal and contracted policy. Public attention had artfully
been withdrawn from the schools of the yeomanry and centered upon
the colleges which the Illuminati controlled.[953] Some of these
institutions had shown themselves subservient in the extreme. The
clergy and corporation of Yale had been so narrow as to cause
philanthropists to turn the gifts they intended for that institution
into other channels, to Harvard particularly.[954] At Dartmouth a
spirit quite as contemptible had prevailed.[955] Fortunately the school
at Cambridge had escaped from the clutches of these bigoted men.
Columbia, too, had recently been placed upon a more liberal foundation,
but not without having incurred the hostility of the Illuminati.[956]
Everywhere, indeed, that the Edwardean theology was not permitted to
flourish unmolested, there the hostility of the New England Illuminati
was felt.[957] Venerable, learned, and experienced Catholic, Episcopal,
and Baptist clergymen were roughly thrust aside at the seats of
learning where these men had control, and dapper young parsons “with
neat gowns and bands, and degrees of Doctor of Divinity, bought and
obtained by the influence of rich merchants”[958] were permitted to
supersede them.

There was no place into which the influence of these men had gone
where contentions and persecutions had not followed.[959] But few
interruptions of the public tranquility had occurred that could not
be traced directly to their door. No hand of sympathy or conciliation
had ever been held out by them to the opposition.[960] Should some
political despot enlist these men under his banner, disaster would
overtake our religion, government, liberty, and property; anarchy and
destruction would overspread a land saved by the valor of freemen, by
the blood of the fathers.[961]

What, therefore, was to be done with such contumacious and intolerable
men? Ogden’s answer sounds surprisingly moderate, in view of the extent
to which the iron of bitterness had entered his soul:

  If the New-England Illuminati proceed unheeded and uncontrolled,
  this nation will constantly experience the pernicious effects of
  discord and popular discontent. Wars at home, tumults abroad, the
  degradation of legislatures, judges and jurors, will be our daily
  portion.... To dissolve or abolish those societies or clubs would
  not be to infringe upon the rights of conscience: to counteract
  them is to establish law and peace.[962]

Such was Ogden’s effort to brand the Standing Order of New England with
the hateful mark of the Illuminati.[963] His endeavor was supplemented
by the oratorical and literary effusions of Connecticut’s most shrewd
and impudent Democrat, Abraham Bishop, of New Haven. In the course of
a year, beginning with September, 1800, Bishop delivered, and later
expanded and printed, three orations,[964] in each of which he drew
heavily upon his by no means meagre resources of logic, wit, irony,
and boldness, to arraign Connecticut Federalism as a hideous conspiracy
against the peace of the state and the liberties of the people.

The first of these orations had something of a history, not very
extraordinary to be sure, and yet unique enough to throw some light
upon the mettle of the man and the nature of the opposition that
inflamed his passion. The Phi Beta Kappa Society of Yale College
appointed Bishop its orator for the year 1800, in connection with
the commencement exercises of the college, then held in the month
of September. Exercising the traditional right of selecting his own
subject, Bishop elected to prepare an oration on “The Extent and
Power of Political Delusion,” instead of writing on “broken glass,
dried insects, petrifactions, or any such _literary_ themes,” as he
afterwards intimated the Federalists doubtless had expected.[965] The
labor of composition completed, Bishop showed his manuscript to the
secretary of the society, only to be informed later that on account of
the political character of his effort his appointment as orator had
been rescinded by the society. Not to be routed by any such expert
generalship on the part of the enemy, Bishop rallied his Democratic
friends, procured a hall, and on the evening of the Phi Beta Kappa
exercises, held forth in the presence of an audience of very gratifying

And what had Abraham Bishop to say on “The Extent and Power of
Political Delusion” which in the view of the Phi Beta Kappas amounted
to an abuse of “the confidence of the Society, ... involving the
members in that political turmoil which disgraces our country”?[967]
Much in every way. He devoted several scores of pages to an exposition
of the delusive arts of the “friends of order,” which, being
interpreted, meant the knavery of the Federalists throughout the
country in general and in Connecticut in particular. The major portion
of his “argument” need not detain us, since Bishop ran the full gamut
of political crimination, charging upon the Federalists an amount of
deception and chicanery truly appalling. One item only is of interest
to us. Among the endless “delusions” that he cited as evidence of the
hypocrisy of the Federalists was the clergy’s habit of waiving the
sacerdotal functions, descending from their high seats made venerable
by the respect of the people for religion, and imposing upon their
auditories political sermons based upon texts drawn from Robison and
Barruel.[968] Happily, he continued, the people were able to penetrate
this stratagem, along with the rest.

  Robison and Barruel can deceive us no more. The 17 sophistical
  work-shops of Satan have never been found: not one illuminatus
  major or minor has been discovered in America, though their names
  have been published, and though their existence here is as clearly
  proved as was their existence in Europe.[969]

But Bishop’s thought upon the subject of the Illuminati had not
yet fully ripened.[970] The circumstances under which this virgin
effort of his was executed added considerably to his reputation; so
much so that when at the end of the following winter the Democrats
of Wallingford adopted the irreverent suggestion of holding a public
thanksgiving to celebrate the election of Thomas Jefferson to the
presidency, Bishop was asked to be one of the mouthpieces of their
joy on that occasion. The ground over which Bishop traveled in the
Wallingford oration was much the same as before. Again the “friends of
order” were arraigned for their impostures and their oppressions. Such
were “blind guides,” “a generation of vipers,” dispensers of hypocrisy
to children in their cradles, “arch impostors and prime movers” of
iniquitous works.[971] They were great sticklers for “steady habits”;
but what meant their cry of “steady habits” but mortal hostility to
republicanism in every form?[972]

These self-styled “friends of order,” it should not be forgotten, were
not the _people_. They were the commercial aristocrats who insisted
that ours was a blessed government because _they_ were all becoming
rich, plus the clergy, the bench, the bar, and the office-seeking
and office-holding” class in general.[973] They united church and
state, made religion play a game against civil rights, and strove
to make the object of the American Revolution appear impossible of
full realization.[974] Affecting to respect and serve the rights of
man, they imposed upon the people the funding system, the alien and
sedition acts, and the unwarranted enlargement of the navy.[975] They
stirred up the animosity of the people against the French, excited the
X. Y. Z. mania, and scattered over the country the “_arabian tales_ of
Robison and Barruel.”[976] With respect to religion, they had developed
more hypocrisy in New England than existed in any other equal portion
of the globe.[977] They had cried aloud that atheism prevailed in New
England and infidel books were plentiful; but neither atheists nor
infidel publications were actually to be found, unless in the latter
case the writings of Robison and Barruel and the sermons preached
against infidelity were to be called such.[978] The grave fault of the
clerical “friends of order” was that they had not preached the Gospel.
Instead, they had insulted the intelligence of the people by revamping
the fables of a Scotch monarchist and a Catholic abbé. They imputed
infidelity to the Democrats, while they themselves caused infidelity
to abound. They directed all their darts of “democratic infidels” and
“infidel philosophy” against one man, Thomas Jefferson, and in this way
caused their enemies to blaspheme and say, “Where is your God?”[979]

And so on through a hundred pages less one. In a tirade of such
interminable length the idea of a Federalist conspiracy against the
best interests of the people of New England was worked out in more than
ample detail. All that was needed was to apply the term “Illuminati,”
and the catalogue of incriminations would be complete. This application
Bishop proceeded to make in his third oration, which appeared sometime
within the year 1802.

Bishop’s last effort surpassed all that he had previously achieved
in the way of boldfaced and reckless assertion. Constant reiteration
and an awkward effort to fashion his composition on the form that
Robison and Barruel supplied him, gave to the pamphlet abundant
suggestions of insincerity and political rant. The union of church
and state in New England was presented as a constant, powerful, and
efficient enemy against Christianity and the government of the United
States.[980] Thus the true Illuminatists were the political clergy and
the Federalist leaders.[981] The charge of infidel conspiracy brought
against the Democrats a few years previous constituted nothing more
nor less than a specious accusation brought forward “to prostrate
the public mind.”[982] Robison and Barruel were miserable mixtures
of falsehood and folly.[983] The Federalists were well aware of this
when they launched their charge of infidel philosophy against Thomas
Jefferson and the party that supported him. The Federalists were simply
desperate. They were determined to go to any lengths to keep Jefferson
out of the presidency. All their works were saturated with sacrilege
and impiety. Their public fasts were kept for political purposes.[984]
Their cry, “The church is in danger!” was hollow and insincere.[985]
Their praise of the Federal administration had no other object than
to effect the abasement of the Democrats.[986] Their “Church and
State Union” freely sacrificed the highest interests of religion and
government to the cause of party.[987]

A more extended report of Bishop’s waspish and bitter harangue would
neither strengthen his indictment nor elucidate his “proofs.” His
pamphlet has significance only as an outburst of triumphant but still
indignant New England Democracy as it reflected upon the exasperating
obstacles which the opposition had thrust in its way as it had
pressed forward to power. Nothing could be clearer than that the word
“Illuminati” had lost all serious and exact significance and had become
a term for politicians to conjure with;[988] or if not that, to give
point to the general charge of calloused villainy which Democrats
lodged against Federalists at the turn of the eighteenth century.


[927] Robison, _Jeffersonian Democracy in New England_, pp. 26 _et
seq._ _Cf._ Bentley, _Diary_, vol. ii, pp. 289, 346, 421, 429, 458.

[928] The situation is well covered by McMaster, _History of the People
of the United States_, vol. ii, pp. 441 _et seq._

[929] On account of the supposed place of concealment of the imaginary
papers, this was commonly referred to as the “tub plot.”

[930] The public report of this story by Morse has already been noted.
_Cf. supra_, p. 306.

[931] _Independent Chronicle_, April 18, 1798. _Cf._ _Constitutional
Telegraph_ (Boston), Oct. 2, 1799.

[932] _To the Freemen of Rhode-Island, etc._, p. 4. This pamphlet
was issued anonymously and without date. Its author was Jonathan
Russell, and the date of its publication fell within the period of the
Adams-Jefferson contest for the presidency, _i. e._, 1800–1801. The
passage from which the quotation is taken is marked by not a little
dignity and comprehension. “The people have been continually agitated
by false alarms, and without even the apparition of a foe. They have
been made to believe that their government and their religion were
upon the eve of annihilation. The ridiculous fabrications of plots,
which have been crushed out of being by the weight of their own
absurdity; and the perpetration of massacres which never existed,
but in the distempered malevolence which preached them, have been
artfully employed to excite an indignation which might be played off
for the purposes of party. Tubs have arrived at Charlestown. The crews
of the Ocean and Pickering have been murdered.... No falsehood which
depravity could invent, has passed unpropagated by credulity; and no
innocence which virtue could render respectable and amiable has escaped
unassailed by federal malignity. Bigotry has cried down toleration, and
royalism everything Republican.” (_Ibid._)

[933] _Aurora_, June 5, 1799.

[934] The pamphlet’s full title follows: _A View of the New England
Illuminati: who are indefatigably engaged in Destroying the Religion
and Government of the United States; under a feigned regard for their
safety—and under an impious abuse of true religion_. The pamphlet
passed through at least two editions. The citations of this study are
from the second.

[935] Ogden (1740–1800) was rector of St. John’s Church (formerly
Queen’s Chapel), Portsmouth, N. H., from 1786 to 1793. He was a
well-meaning but an exceedingly erratic man. Perry, _The History of the
American Episcopal Church, 1587–1883_, vol. ii, p. 79. He is said to
have been the first Episcopal clergyman to be ordained in the city of
Boston. _Cf. ibid._, p. 488. His death occurred at Chestertown, Md.

[936] _A View of the New England Illuminati_, pp. 2, 3.

[937] _Ibid._, p. 3.

[938] _Ibid._

[939] _Ibid._, p. 5. Ogden’s observations in this connection are
caustic enough. “The people generally attended the public exercises
in the meeting-houses, but had no share in the deliberations of
the ministers. Dinners were prepared, by private donations, of the
most delicious food of the season, which could be procured by the
parishioners; and _a day of conviviality_ was thus observed once a
month by the clergy, to their gratification and the increase of their
association.” (_Ibid._)

[940] _Ibid._, pp. 4 _et seq._

[941] Ogden, _op. cit._, p. 5. Ogden made a delicate thrust at this
point. He professed to see an explanation of the prevalence of
sceptical and deistical notions in New England in the discussions of
the dark and obscure questions that consumed the attention of the
clergy in their monthly meetings, before they became interested in the
affairs of the French Revolution. _Cf. ibid._

[942] _Ibid._, pp. 5 _et seq._

[943] _Ibid._, p. 6.

[944] _Ibid._, p. 7.

[945] Ogden, _op. cit._, p. 7.

[946] _Ibid._, p. 8.

[947] _Ibid._, pp. 8, 18.

[948] _Ibid._, p. 18.

[949] _Ibid._, p. 9.

[950] _Ibid._

[951] Ogden, _op. cit._, pp. 9 _et seq._

[952] _Ibid._

[953] _Ibid._, pp. 11, 16.

[954] _Ibid._, p. 11. President Dwight is dubbed by Ogden “the head
of the Illuminati.” (_Ibid._) “In his sermon preached on the fourth
of July, 1798, in New-Haven, he has given us a perfect picture of the
Illuminati of Connecticut, under his control, in the representation he
has made of the Illuminati of Europe.... Birth, education, elevation,
and connections have placed Doctor Dwight at the head of the Edwardean
sect and Illuminati.... Science he forsakes, and her institutions he
prostrates, to promote party, bigotry, and error.” (_Ibid._)

[955] _Ibid._, pp. 11 _et seq._

[956] _Ibid._, p. 14.

[957] Ogden, _op. cit._, p. 19.

[958] _Ibid._, p. 12.

[959] _Ibid._, p. 19.

[960] _Ibid._, p. 15.

[961] _Ibid._, p. 20.

[962] Ogden, _op. cit._, pp. 10, 11.

[963] Ogden’s pamphlet was in high favor with the Democrats from the
first. The _Aurora_ of Feb. 14, 1800, has the following reference to
it: “This book, within a few months, has attained a very rapid and
extensive circulation, in all parts of the union. It is the ‘clue’ to
the tyrannies at the northward, which have assumed the control of our
affairs, under the sanction of federalism, or an union of church and
state, & which has associated in one focus, federalism, religion, war,
aristocracy, monarchy, and prelacy.” Ogden was responsible for two
other pamphlets, somewhat similar in tone, but less striking. One of
these bore the title: _Friendly Remarks to the People of Connecticut,
upon their College and Schools_. It was published anonymously, and
without indication of date or place of publication. The other bore the
following title and imprint: _A Short History of Late Ecclesiastical
Oppressions in New-England and Vermont. By a Citizen. In which is
exhibited a Statement of the Violation of Religious Liberties which are
ratified by the Constitution of the United States._ Richmond, ... 1799.
Neither of these is worthy of special notice.

[964] In the order of their composition and appearance these were:
(1) _Connecticut Republicanism. An Oration on the Extent and Power of
Political Delusion, delivered in New-Haven, on the evening preceding
the public commencement, September, 1800._ By Abraham Bishop.
Philadelphia, 1800; (2) _Oration delivered at Wallingford, on the 11th
of March, 1801, before the Republicans of the State of Connecticut,
and their general thanksgiving for the election of Thomas Jefferson to
the Presidency and of Aaron Burr to the Vice Presidency of the United
States of America_. By Abraham Bishop. New-Haven, 1801; (3) _Proofs of
a Conspiracy, against Christianity, and the Government of the United
States; exhibited in several views of the union of church and state in
New-England_. By Abraham Bishop. Hartford, 1802.

[965] _Oration delivered at Wallingford, on the 11th of March, 1801_,
p. 101.

[966] Plenty of bad political blood was back of the whole episode.
Bishop’s father, who was charged with holding no less than five
political offices _simultaneously_ under Jefferson, had recently had
his responsibilities extended by being appointed Collector of Customs
for the Port of New Haven. The indignation of the Federalists was
unutterable. A wrathy protest was sent to Jefferson, among whose
specifications was the claim that on account of Bishop Senior’s
advanced age (he was in his seventy-eighth year), the work would fall
to his son who was a foe to commerce and an enemy to order. _Cf._
McMaster, _History of the United States_, vol. ii, pp. 585 _et seq._
In these circumstances Abraham Bishop seems to have found an adequate
_casus belli_.

[967] _Connecticut Courant_, Sept. 15, 1800.

[968] _Connecticut Republicanism. An Oration, etc._, p. 39.

[969] _Ibid._, p. 43.

[970] The reception of Bishop’s oration by the Federalists gave strong
impulse in that direction. The pamphleteers and newspaper scribblers of
that political persuasion promptly attacked him. Noah Webster replied
to Bishop in _A Rod for the Fool’s Back_. “Connecticutensis” wrote and
published _Three Letters to Abraham Bishop_. _Cf._ _Oration delivered
at Wallingford, on the 11th of March, 1801_, pp. 103 _et seq._

[971] _Ibid._, _passim_.

[972] _Ibid._, p. 18.

[973] _Ibid._, pp. 22, 44.

[974] _Ibid._, pp. 26 _et seq._

[975] Bishop, _op. cit._, pp. 47 _et seq._

[976] _Ibid._, pp. 50, 51.

[977] _Ibid._, p. 68.

[978] _Ibid._, p. 87.

[979] _Ibid._, p. 92.

[980] _Proofs of a Conspiracy against Christianity and the Government
of the United States_, preface.

[981] _Ibid._, pp. 15, 16.

[982] _Ibid._, p. 54.

[983] _Ibid._, pp. 60 _et seq._

[984] _Ibid._, p. 64.

[985] _Ibid._, p. 59.

[986] _Ibid._, p. 64.

[987] Bishop, _op. cit._, preface.

[988] The practice was not confined to New England. In New York, for
example, the political enemies of the Clinton family employed the
term “Illuminati” to embarrass the adherents of that faction. _A
Full Exposition of the Clintonian Faction, and the Society of the
Columbian Illuminati; with an account of the writer of the narrative,
and the characters of his certificate men, as also Remarks on Warren’s
Pamphlet._ By J[ohn] W[ood]. Newark, 1802.


In addition to the principal works made use of in this investigation
and listed below, special bibliographies may be found on pages 75–76,
dealing with answers to Thomas Paine’s _Age of Reason_, and on pages
185–186, dealing with the European Illuminati. The sections devoted to
sermons, orations and addresses, and pamphlets contain only such titles
as indicate significant sources; titles of less important compositions
of this character will be found in the text or in the foot notes.

                        MANUSCRIPT COLLECTIONS

  _Bentley MSS._, American Antiquarian Society Collection.
  _Ebeling MSS._, Harvard University Collection.
  _Ford Collection_, New York Public Library.
  _Pickering Papers_, Massachusetts Historical Society Collection.
  _Wolcott Papers_, Connecticut Historical Society Collection.


  _American Mercury_, Hartford.
  _Aurora General Advertiser_, Philadelphia.
  _Columbian Centinel_, Boston.
  _Commercial Advertiser_, New York.
  _Connecticut Courant_, Hartford.
  _Connecticut Journal_, New Haven.
  _Constitutional Telegraph_, Boston.
  _Independent Chronicle_, Boston.
  _Massachusetts Mercury_, Boston.
  _Massachusetts Spy_, Worcester.
  _Newburyport Herald_, Newburyport, Mass.
  _Porcupine’s Gazette_, Philadelphia.
  _Russell’s Gazette_, Boston.
  _Salem Gazette_, Salem, Mass.
  _The Bee_, New London, Conn.
  _Western Star_, Stockbridge, Mass.

                            COLLECTED WORKS

  Adams, John, _Works ... with a life of the author, notes and
     illustrations_, (ed. by Charles Francis Adams).
     10 vols. Boston, 1850–56.
  Ames, Fisher, _Works, with a selection from his speeches and
     correspondence_, (ed. by Seth Ames).
     2 vols. Boston, 1854.
  Hamilton, Alexander, _Works_, (ed. by Henry Cabot Lodge).
     9 vols. New York and London, 1886–7.
  Jefferson, Thomas, _Writings_, (col. and ed. by Paul Leicester
     10 vols. New York and London, 1892–99.
  Paine, Thomas, _Writings_, (col. and ed. by Moncure Daniel Conway).
     4 vols. New York, 1902–8.
  Washington, George, _Writings_, (ed. by Jared Sparks).
     12 vols. Boston, 1837.


  Beecher, Lyman, _Autobiography, Correspondence, etc._, (ed. by
     Charles Beecher). 2 vols. New York, 1864–5.
  Bentley, William, _Diary_. 4 vols. Salem, 1905–11.
  Bernard, John, _Retrospections of America, 1797–1811_
     New York, 1887.
  Breck, Samuel, _Recollections, with Passages from his Note-Books,
     1771–1862_, (ed. by Horace Elisha Scudder).
     Philadelphia, 1877.
  Channing, William Ellery, _Memoir, with Extracts from his
     Correspondence and Manuscripts_. 3 vols. Boston, 1848.
  Christie, Francis A., _The Diary of an Old New England Minister_.
     In Harvard Theological Review, January, 1916, pp. 84–107.
  Conway, Moncure Daniel, _The Life of Thomas Paine_. 2 vols.
     New York and London, 1893.
  Dexter, Franklin Bowditch, _Biographical Sketches of the Graduates
     of Yale College, with Annals of the College History_.
     6 vols. New York (vol. vi, New Haven), 1885–1912.
  Field, David Dudley, _Brief Memoirs of the Members of the Class
     Graduated at Yale College in September, 1802_.
     Printed for private distribution, 1863.
  Gibbs, George, _Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and
     John Adams_. 2 vols. New York, 1846.
  Green, Ashbel, _Life_, (ed. by Joseph J. Jones). New York, 1849.
  Hovey, Alvah, _A Memoir of the Life and Times of the Rev. Isaac
     Backus_. Boston, 1858.
  Morison, Samuel Eliot, _The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis,
     Federalist_. 2 vols. Boston and New York, 1913.
  Morse, Edward Lind, _Samuel F. B. Morse: His Letters and Journals_.
     Boston and New York, 1914.
  Morse, John Torrey, _John Quincy Adams_. Boston, 1882.
  Sprague, William Buel, _Annals of the American Pulpit_. 9 vols.
     New York, 1857–69.
  Sprague, William Buel, _The Life of Jedidiah Morse_. New York, 1874.
  Stiles, Ezra, _Literary Diary_, (ed. by Franklin Bowditch Dexter).
     3 vols. New York, 1901.
  Willard, Sidney, _Memories of Youth and Manhood_. 2 vols.
     Cambridge, 1855.


  Brissot de Warville, J. P., _New Travels in the United States of
     America, performed in 1788_. Second edition, corrected.
     London, 1794.
  Dwight, Timothy, _Travels: In New-England and New-York_. 4 vols.
     New-Haven, 1821–2.
  La Rochefoucauld Liancourt, François Alexandre Frédéric, duc de,
     _Travels through the United States of North America,
     the Country of the Iroquois, and Upper Canada, in the Years 1795,
     1796, and 1797_. (Tr.) 4 vols. London, 1799.
  Weld, Isaac, Jun., _Travels through the States of North America,
     and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada,
     during the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797_. London, 1799.


                             A. _General_

  Channing, Edward, _A History of the United States_. Volumes i-iv
     published. New York, 1905–17.
  Hildreth, Richard, _The History of the United States of America_.
     6 vols. New York, 1856.
  Macdonald, William, _Documentary Source Book of American History,
     1608–1898_. New York, 1908.
  McMaster, John Bach, _A History of the People of the United
     States_. 8 vols. New York, 1883–1913.
  Palfrey, John G., _A Compendious History of New England, etc._
     4 vols. Boston, 1873.

                             B. _Special_

  Aulard, A., _Le culte de la Raison et de l’Être suprême_.
     Paris, 1904.
  Aulard, A., _The French Revolution: a Political History,
     1789–1804_. (Tr. from the French). 4 vols. New York, 1910.
  Baldwin, Ebenezer, _Annals of Yale College, in New Haven,
     Connecticut, from its foundation, to the year 1831, etc._
     New Haven, 1831.
  Bassett, John Spencer, _The Federalist System, 1789–1801_.
     New York and London, 1906.
  Bishop, James Leander, _A History of American Manufactures from
     1608 to 1860_. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1861–66.
  Byington, Ezra Hoyt, _The Puritan in England and New England_.
     Boston, 1896.
  Clark, Victor Selden, _History of Manufactures in the United
     States, 1607–1860_. Washington, 1916.
  Duhr, Bernhard, _Geschichte der Jesuiten in den Ländern deutscher
     Zunge im 16. Jahrhundert_. Freiburg, 1907.
  Duniway, Clyde Augustus, _The Development of Freedom of the Press
     in Massachusetts_. New York, 1906.
  Dunlap, William, _History of the American Theatre_. 2 vols.
     London, 1833.
  Dutton, Samuel W. S., _The History of the North Church in New
     Haven_. New Haven, 1842.
  Earl, Alice Morse, _Stage-Coach and Tavern Days_. New York, 1900.
  Engel, Leopold, _Geschichte des Illuminaten-Ordens. Ein Beitrag zur
     Geschichte Bayerns._ Berlin, 1906.
  Fiske, John, _A Century of Science and Other Essays_. Boston, 1899.
  Forestier, R. Le, _Les Illuminés de Bavière et la Franc-Maçonnerie
     allemande_. Paris, 1915.
  Hatch, Louis Clinton, _The Administration of the American
     Revolutionary Army_. New York, 1904.
  Hazen, Charles Downer, _Contemporary American Opinion of the French
     Revolution_. Baltimore, 1897.
  Johnson, Allen, _Union and Democracy_. Boston, New York, and
     Chicago, 1915.
  Johnston, Alexander, _American Political History, 1763–1876_.
     2 vols. New York and London, 1905.
  Johnston, Alexander, _Connecticut: A Study of a
     Commonwealth-Democracy_. Boston and New York, 1891.
  Lipowsky, Felix Joseph, _Geschichte der Jesuiten in Baiern_.
     2 vols. München, 1816.
  Love, William DeLoss, _The Colonial History of Hartford, gathered
     from the original records_. Hartford, 1914.
  Love, William DeLoss, _The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New
     England_. Boston and New York, 1895.
  Luetscher, George Daniel, _Early Political Machinery in the United
     States_. Philadelphia, 1903.
  Madden, Richard Robert, _The United Irishmen, Their Lives and Their
     Times_. 12 vols. New York, 1910.
  Morse, Anson Ely, _The Federalist Party in Massachusetts to the
     Year 1800_. Princeton, 1909.
  Mounier, Jean-Jacques, _De l’influence attribuée aux Philosophes,
     aux Francs-Maçons et aux Illuminés sur la Révolution Française_.
     Paris, 1822.
  _One Hundred Years of Temperance._ New York, 1886.
  Parker, Edwin Pond, _History of the Second Church of Christ in
     Hartford, 1670–1892_. Hartford, 1892.
  Quincy, Josiah, _The History of Harvard University_. 2 vols.
     Cambridge, 1840.
  Riley, Isaac Woodbridge, _American Philosophy: The Early Schools_.
     New York, 1907.
  Riley, Isaac Woodbridge, _American Thought from Puritanism to
     Pragmatism_. New York, 1915.
  Robinson, William Alexander, _Jeffersonian Democracy in New
     England_. New Haven, 1916.
  Ruttenber, E. M., _History of the County of Orange, with a History
     of the Town and City of Newburgh ..._ Newburgh, N. Y., 1875.
  Sawyer, Timothy Thompson, _Old Charlestown: Historical,
     Biographical, Reminiscent_. Boston, 1902.
  Seilhamer, George O., _History of the American Theatre_. 3 vols.
     Philadelphia, 1888–91.
  Sierke, Eug., _Schwärmer und Schwindler zu Ende des 18.
     Jahrhunderts._ Leipzig, 1874.
  _Sketches of Yale College, with numerous anecdotes ..._
     New York,   1843.
  Sloane, William Milligan, _The French Revolution and Religious
     Reform_. New York, 1901.
  Snow, Caleb H., _A History of Boston, the Metropolis of
     Massachusetts, from its origin to the present period ..._
     Boston, 1825.
  _The Proceedings of the Society of United Irishmen of Dublin._
     Philadelphia, 1795.
  Treudley, Mary, _The United States and Santo Domingo, 1789–1866_.
     (Doctoral dissertation, Clark University). Reprinted from The
     Journal of Race Development, vol. vii, No. 1, July, 1916.
  Weeden, William Babcock, _Early Rhode Island: A Social History of
     the People_. New York, 1910.
  Weeden, William Babcock, _Economic and Social History of New
     England, 1620–1789_. 2 vols. Boston and New York, 1890.
  Winsor, Justin (editor), _The Memorial History of Boston, including
     Suffolk County, Massachusetts, 1630–1880_. 4 vols.
     Boston, 1880–1.

                         C. _Ecclesiastical._

  _Acts and Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
     Church in the United States of America, May 17, 1798._
     Philadelphia, 1798.
  Backus, Isaac, _A History of New England. With Particular Reference
     to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists_.
     (2nd edition). 2 vols. Newton, Mass., 1871.
  Beardsley, Eben Edwards, _The History of the Episcopal Church in
     Connecticut_. 2 vols. New York, 1866.
  Blake, S. Leroy, _The Separates or Strict Congregationalists of New
     England_. Boston, 1902.
  Burrage, Henry Sweetser, _A History of the Baptists in New
     England_. Philadelphia, 1894.
  Buck, Edward, _Massachusetts Ecclesiastical Law_. Boston, 1866.
  Christie, Francis A., _The Beginnings of Arminianism in New
     England_. In Papers of the American Society of Church History,
     Second Series, vol. iii, New York and London, 1912, pp. 151–172.
  Cobb, Sanford Hoadley, _The Rise of Religious Liberty in America_.
     New York, 1902.
  Cooke, George Willis, _Unitarianism in America: A History of its
     Origin and Development_. Boston, 1902.
  Dexter, Henry Martyn, _The Congregationalism of the Last Three
     Hundred Years, as seen in its literature_. New York, 1880.
  Dorchester, Daniel, _Christianity in the United States from the
     First Settlement down to the Present Time_. Revised edition.
     New York, 1895.
  Ford, David Barnes, _New England’s Struggles for Religious
     Liberty_. Philadelphia, 1896.
  Foster, Frank Hugh, _A Genetic History of the New England
     Theology_. Chicago, 1907.
  Goddard, Harold Clarke, _Studies in New England Transcendentalism_.
     New York, 1908.
  Greene, Maria Louise, _The Development of Religious Liberty in
     Connecticut_. Boston and New York, 1905.
  Hayward, John, _The Religious Creeds and Statistics of Every
     Christian Denomination in the United States and British
     Provinces_. Boston, 1836.
  Herzog, J. J. and Plitt, G. L., _Real-Encyklopädie für
     protestantische Theologie und Kirche. 2. Aufl._ 18 vols.
     Leipzig, 1877–1888.
  Herzog, J. J. and Hauck, A., _Realencyklopädie für protestantische
     Theologie und Kirche. 3 Aufl._ 24 vols. Leipzig, 1896–1913.
  Lauer, Paul E., _Church and State in New England_. In Johns Hopkins
     University Studies in Historical and Political Science,
     Tenth Series, ii-iii, Baltimore, 1892, pp. 83–188.
  Reed, Susan Martha, _Church and State in Massachusetts, 1691–1740_.
     Urbana, Ill., 1914. In University of Illinois Studies in the Social
     Sciences, iii, 4.
  Swift, Lindsay, _The Massachusetts Election Sermons_. In
     Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, i,
     Transactions, 1892–94, pp. 388–451. Reprinted as Swift, Lindsay,
     _The Massachusetts Election Sermons: An Essay in Descriptive
     Bibliography_. Cambridge, 1897.
  Walker, Williston, _The Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism_.
     New York, 1893.
  Walker, Williston, _A History of the Congregational Churches in the
     United States_. New York, 1894. (American Church History Series).

                             D. _Masonic_

     (See also Masonic material listed under Sermons, Orations and
                  Addresses, and Miscellaneous Works)

  _An Abstract of the Proceedings of the Anti-masonic State
     Convention of Massachusetts, Held in Faneuil Hall, Boston,
     Dec. 30 and 31, 1829, and Jan. 1, 1830._ Boston, 1830.
  _By-Laws of King Solomon’s Lodge, Charlestown, etc._ Boston, 1885.
  _By-Laws of St. John’s Lodge, Adopted May 15, A. L. 5843._
     Boston, 1844.
  _By-Laws of Tyrian Lodge of Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons,
  Gloucester._ Salem, 1874.
  Hayden, Sidney, _Washington and His Masonic Compeers_.
     New York, 1867.
  Heard, J. A., _A Historical Account of Columbian Lodge of Free and
     Accepted Masons, of Boston, Mass._ Boston, 1856.
  _Historical Sketch and Centennial Anniversary of Washington Lodge
     A. F. & A. M., Roxbury, Mass._ Roxbury, 1896.
  Mackey, Albert Gallatin, _The History of Free Masonry_. 7 Vols.
     New York, 1898.
  McCarthy, Charles, _The Anti-Masonic Party, 1827–1840_. In Annual
     Report of the American Historical Association, 1902, pp. 365–574.
  Myers, E. M., _History of Free Masonry and Its Progress in the
     United States_. Petersburg, Va., 1887.
  _Proceedings of the Anti-masonic State Convention_ [Vermont],
     _holden At Montpelier, June 23, 24 & 25, 1830. Reports and
     Addresses._ Middlebury, 1830.
  Sachse, Julius Friederich, _Washington’s Masonic Correspondence_.
     Philadelphia, 1915.
  Storer, E. G., (Compiler), _The Records of Free Masonry in the
     State of Connecticut, etc._ 2 Vols. New Haven, 1859–61.
  Surette, L. A., _By-laws of Corinthian Lodge, of Ancient, Free, and
     Accepted Masons, of Concord, Mass._ Concord, 1859.
  Waterman, T., (Compiler), _By-Laws of St. Andrew’s Royal Arch
     Chapter, Boston_. Boston, 1859.

                       PUBLIC AND OTHER RECORDS

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     6 vols. Washington, 1832–1859.
  _Annual Reports of American Historical Association_, for 1894,
     1896, 1902, and 1912. Washington.
  _Acts and Laws of the State of Connecticut in America._
     Hartford, 1786.
  _Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts._
     13 vols. Boston, 1890–1898.
  _Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the
     Massachusetts Bay._ 5 vols. Boston, 1869–1886.
  Benton, Thomas Hart, _Abridgement of the Debates of Congress,
     from 1789_ to _1856_. 16 vols. New York, 1857–6
  _Charter Granted by Their Majesties King William and Queen Mary, to
     the Inhabitants of Massachusetts-Bay in New-England._
     Boston, 1726.
  _Charters and “Acts and Laws” of the Province of Massachusetts-Bay,
     with Appended Acts and Laws._ Boston, 1726–35.
  _Connecticut, Colonial Records of_, (ed. by C. J. Hoadly and
     J. Hammond Trumbull). 15 vols. Hartford, 1894–5.
  _Connecticut Historical Society Collections._ 8 vols. Hartford,
  _Dedham Historical Register._ 14 vols. Dedham, Mass., 1890–1902.
  _Essex Institute_ [Salem, Mass.], _Historical Collections_. 53
     vols. Salem, 1859–1917.
  _Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, from November 28th,
  1780, to February 28th, 1807, etc._ 3 vols. Boston, 1801–7.
  _Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 1792–1918._
     74 vols. Boston.
  _New Haven Colony Historical Society Papers._ 6 vols. New Haven,
  _The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States,
     etc._ (Gales and Seaton). 42 vols. Washington, 1834–56.
  _United States Statutes at Large._


  Abbot, Abiel, _A Memorial of Divine Benefits. In a sermon,
     delivered at Exeter, on the 15th, and at Haverhill, on the
     29th of November, 1798, days of public thanksgiving,
     in New-Hampshire and Massachusetts_. Haverhill,
     Massachusetts, 1798.
  Bartlett, Josiah, _A Discourse on the Origin, Progress and Design
     of Free Masonry. Delivered at the meeting-house in Charlestown,
     in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the Anniversary of
     St. John the Baptist, June 24, A. D. 1793_. Boston, 1793.
  Belknap, Jeremy, _A Sermon, delivered before the convention of the
     clergy of Massachusetts, in Boston, May 26, 1796_. Boston, 1796.
  Bradford, Ebenezer, _The Nature and Manner of Giving Thanks to
     God, Illustrated. A sermon, delivered on the day of the national
     thanksgiving, February 19, 1795_. Boston, 1795.
  Clark, Abraham L., _The Secrets of Masonry Illustrated and
     Explained; in a discourse, preached at South-Kingston, before the
     Grand Lodge of the State of Rhode-Island, etc., September 3d,
     A. L. 5799_. Providence, 1799.
  Cumings, Henry, _A Sermon preached at Billerica, November 29,
     1798, being the day of the anniversary thanksgiving throughout
     the Commonwealth of Massachusetts_. Boston, 1798.
  Cummings, Abraham, _The Present Times Perilous. A sermon, preached
     at Sullivan, on the national fast, April 25, 1799_. (n. d.).
  Dana, Daniel, _Two Sermons, delivered April 25, 1799; the day
     recommended by the President of the United States for national
     humiliation, fasting and prayer_. Newburyport, 1799.
  Dana, Joseph, _A Sermon, delivered February 19, 1795, being a day
     of general thanksgiving throughout the United States of America_.
     Newburyport, 1795.
  Dwight, Timothy, _The Duty of Americans in the Present Crisis.
     Illustrated in a discourse, preached on the Fourth of July, 1798
     ... at the request of the citizens of New-Haven._
     New-Haven, 1798.
  Dwight, Timothy, _A Discourse on some events of the last century,
     delivered in the Brick Church in New Haven, on Wednesday,
     January 7, 1801_. New Haven, 1801.
  Eckley, Joseph, _A Discourse, delivered on the public thanksgiving
     day, November 29, 1798_. Boston, 1798.
  Emmons, Nathaniel, _A Discourse, delivered on the national fast,
     April 25, 1799_. Wrentham, Mass., 1799.
  French, Jonathan, _A Sermon, delivered on the anniversary
     thanksgiving, November 29, 1798, with some additions in the
     historical part_. Andover, 1799.
  Harris, William, _A Sermon delivered at Trinity Church in Boston,
     before the annual convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church
     in Massachusetts, on Tuesday, the 28th of May, 1799_. Boston, 1799.
  Kirkland, John Thornton, _A Sermon, delivered on the 9th of
     May, 1798. Being the day of a national fast, recommended by the
     President of the United States._ Boston, 1798.
  Lathrop, Joseph, _A Sermon, on the Dangers of the Times,
     from Infidelity and Immorality; and especially from a lately
     discovered Conspiracy against Religion and Government, delivered
     at West-Springfield and afterward at Springfield_. Springfield,
     September, 1798.
  Miller, Samuel, _A Discourse delivered in the New Presbyterian
     Church, New York: before the Grand Lodge of the State of New
     York.... June 24th, 1795_. 1795.
  Morse, Jedidiah, _The Present Situation of Other Nations of the
     World, Contrasted with our Own. A sermon, delivered at
     Charlestown, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, February 19,
     1795; being the day recommended by George Washington,
     President of the United States of America,
     for publick thanksgiving and prayer._ Boston, 1795.
  Morse, Jedidiah, _A Sermon, delivered at the New North Church in
     Boston, in the morning, and in the afternoon at Charlestown,
     May 9th, 1798, being the day recommended by John Adams, President
     of   the United States of America, for solemn humiliation,
     fasting and prayer_. Boston, 1798.
  Morse, Jedediah, _A Sermon delivered before the Grand Lodge of Free
     and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at a
     public installation of the officers of Corinthian Lodge,
     at Concord ... June 25, 1798_. (n. d.)
  Morse, Jedediah, _A Sermon, preached at Charlestown, November 29,
     1798, on the anniversary thanksgiving in Massachusetts. With
     an Appendix, designed to illustrate some parts of the discourse;
     exhibiting proofs of the early existence, progress, and
     deleterious effects of French intrigue and influence in the
     United States._  Boston, 1798.
  Morse, Jedediah, _A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers, and
     Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of
     America. Delivered at Charlestown, April 25, 1799, the day of
     the national fast._ Charlestown, 1799.
  [Osgood, David], _The Wonderful Works of God are to be remembered.
     A sermon delivered on the day of the annual thanksgiving,
     November 20, 1794._ Boston, 1794.
  Osgood, David, _A Discourse, delivered February 19, 1795. The day
     set apart by the President for a general thanksgiving throughout
     the United States._ Boston, 1795.
  Osgood, David, _Some facts evincive of the atheistical, anarchical,
     and in other respects, immoral principles of the French
     republicans, stated in a sermon delivered on the 9th of May,
     1798_. Boston, 1798.
  Osgood, David, _The Devil let loose; or the Wo occasioned to the
     inhabitants of the earth by his wrathful appearance among them.
     Delivered on the day of the national fast, April 25, 1799._
     Boston, 1799.
  Packard, Hezekiah, _Federal Republicanism, displayed in two
     discourses, preached on the day of the state fast at Chelmsford,
     and on the day of the national fast at Concord, in April, 1799_.
     Boston, 1799.
  Payson, Seth, _A Sermon, at the consecration of the Social Lodge
     in Ashby, and at the installation of its officers, June 24,
     A. D. 1799_. Amherst, N. H., 1800.
  Prentiss, Caleb, _A Sermon delivered before Mount Moriah Lodge; at
     Reading in the County of Middlesex; at the celebration of
     St. John; June 24th, A. D. 1799_.
     Leominster (Mass.) ... Anno Lucis 5799.
  [Sherman, Josiah], _A Sermon to Swine: From Luke xv: 16 ...
     Containing a concise, but sufficient answer to General Allen’s
     Oracles of Reason_. Litchfield, 1787.
  Strong, Nathan, _A Sermon, preached on the state fast, April 6th,
     1798. Published at the request of the hearers._ Hartford, 1798.
  Strong, Nathan, _Political Instruction from the Prophecies of God’s
     Word,—a sermon preached on the state thanksgiving, Nov. 29,
     1798_. Hartford, 1798.
  Tappan, David, _A Sermon delivered to the first congregation in
     Cambridge, and a religious society in Charlestown,
     April 11, 1793_. Boston, 1793.
  Tappan, David, _Christian Thankfulness explained and enforced. A
     sermon delivered at Charlestown, in the afternoon of February 19,
     1795_. Boston, 1795.
  Tappan, David, _A Discourse delivered in the Chapel of Harvard
     College, June 19, 1798, occasioned by the approaching departure
     of the Senior Class from the University_. Boston, 1798.
  Taylor, John, _A Sermon, delivered on the day of public
     thanksgiving, at Deerfield; Nov. 29, ’98_. Greenfield, (n. d.).
  Thayer, John, _A Discourse, delivered at the Roman Catholic Church
     in Boston on the 9th of May, 1798, a day recommended by the
     President for humiliation and prayer throughout the United
     States_. Boston, 1798.
  Weld, Ezra, _A Discourse, delivered April 25, 1799; being the day
     of fasting and prayer throughout the United States of America_.
     Boston, 1799.

                        ORATIONS AND ADDRESSES

  Beedé, Thomas, _An Oration, delivered at Roxbury, July 4, 1799. In
     commemoration of American Independence_. Boston, 1799.
  Bentley, William, _A Charge delivered before the Morning Star
     Lodge, in Worcester, Massachusetts, upon the festival of Saint
     John the Baptist, June 25, A. L. 1798_. Worcester,
     June A. L. 1798.
  Bishop, Abraham, _Connecticut Republicanism. An Oration on the
     Extent and Power of Political Delusion. Delivered in New-Haven,
     on the evening preceding the public commencement,
     September, 1800._ Philadelphia, 1800.
  Bishop, Abraham, _Oration delivered at Wallingford, on the 11th of
     March, 1801, before the Republicans of the State of Connecticut,
     and their general thanksgiving for the election of Thomas
     Jefferson to the Presidency and of Aaron Burr to the
     Vice Presidency of the United States of America_.
     New-Haven, 1801.
  Bishop, Abraham, _Proofs of a Conspiracy, against Christianity, and
     the Government of the United States; exhibited in several views
     of the union of church and state in New-England_. Hartford, 1802.
  Brown, William, _An Oration spoken at Hartford ... on the
     anniversary of American Independence, July 4th, A. D. 1799_.
     Hartford, 1799.
  Collins, Alexander, _A Masonic Oration, pronounced on the festival
     of St. John the Evangelist, December 26, 1799.... In Middletown_.
     Middletown, 1800.
  Crawford, John, _An Address, delivered at the Grand Convention of
     the Free Masons of the State of Maryland; held on the 10th May,
     1802,—in which the observance of secrecy is vindicated, and the
     principal objections of Professor Robison against the
     institution, are candidly considered_. Baltimore, 1802.
  Dwight, Theodore, _An Oration spoken at Hartford, in the State of
     Connecticut, on the anniversary of American Independence,
     July 4th, 1798_. Hartford, 1798.
  Edmond, David, _An Oration delivered at Ridg[e]field on the Fourth
     of July, 1799, before a large concourse of people, assembled to
     commemorate their National Independence_. Danbury, MDCCXCIX.
  Gardiner, John, Esq., _The Speech of, delivered in the House of
     Representatives. On Thursday, the 26th of January, 1792_....
     Boston, 1792.
  [Harris, Thaddeus Mason], _The Fraternal Tribute of Respect paid
     to the Masonic Character of Washington, in the Union Lodge, in
     Dorchester, January 7th, A. L. 1800_. Charlestown, 1800.
  Hodge, Michael, _An Oration pronounced before the Right Worshipful
     Master & Brethren of St. Peter’s Lodge, at the Episcopal Church
     in Newburyport, on the festival of St. John the Baptist,
     June 24th, 1802_. Newburyport, ... 1802.
  Lewis, Zechariah, _An oration, on the Apparent and the Real
     Political Situation of the United States, pronounced before the
     Connecticut Society of the Cincinnati, assembled at New-Haven,
     ... July 4th, 1799_. New-Haven, 1799.
  Lisle, Henry Maurice, _An Address, delivered before the Grand Lodge
     of Massachusetts, on the festival of St. John the Evangelist,
     Dec. 27th, A. L. 1805_.... Boston, 1805.
  Jackson, Charles, _An Oration, delivered before the Right
     Worshipful Master and Brethren of St. Peter’s Lodge, at the
     Episcopal Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts, on the festival
     of St. John the Baptist; celebrated June 25, 1798_. Newburyport,
     March A. L. 1799.
  Lowell, John, Junior, _An Oration, pronounced July 4th, 1799,
     at the request of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in
     commemoration of the anniversary of American Independence_.
     Boston, 1799.
  Mann, James, _An Address, delivered December 18, 1799. Before
     the Brethren of Montgomery Lodge; at their Masonic Hall in
     Franklin_.... Wrentham, 1800.
  Parish, Elijah, _An Oration, delivered at Byfield, July 4, 1799_.
     Newburyport, (n. d.).
  Smith, John C., _An Oration, pronounced at Sharon, on the
     anniversary of American Independence, 4th of July, 1798_.
     Litchfield, (n. d.).
  Stoddard, Amos, _An Oration, delivered in the meeting house
     of the First Parish in Portland, Monday, June 24th, 1799 ...
     in celebration of the anniversary festival of St. John the
     Baptist_.... Portland, 1799.
  Stoddard, A[mos], _An Oration, delivered before the citizens of
     Portland ... on the Fourth of July, 1799_.... Portland, 1799.


  Backus, Isaac, _An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty.
     Against the Oppressions of the Present Day_. Boston, 1773.
  Backus. Isaac, _Government and Liberty Described: and
     Ecclesiastical Tyranny Exposed_. Boston, 1778.
  [Cheetham, James], _An Answer to Alexander Hamilton’s letter,
     concerning the public conduct and character of John Adams, Esq.,
     President of the United States. By a Citizen of New York._
     New York, 1800.
  Cobbett, William, _A Bone to Gnaw, for the Democrats; or
     Observations on a Pamphlet entitled “The Political Progress of
     Britain”_. Philadelphia, 1795.
  [Ogden, John Cosens], _A View of the New England Illuminati:
     who are indefatigably engaged in destroying the religion and
     government of the United States; under a feigned regard for their
     safety—and under an impious abuse of true religion_.
     (2nd edition). Philadelphia, 1799.
 _Pseud: Effects of the Stage on the Manners of a People: and the
     Propriety of Encouraging and Establishing a Virtuous Theatre.
     By a Bostonian._ Boston, 1792.
  [Russell, Jonathan], _To the Freemen of Rhode-Island, etc._ (n. d.).
  [Sullivan, James], _The Altar of Baal thrown down: or, the French
     Nation defended, against the pulpit slander of David Osgood,
     A. M., pastor of the church in Medford. Par Citoyen de Novion._
     Boston, 1795.
  _The Pretensions of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidency examined and
     the charges against John Adams refuted._ 1796.
  _The Rights of the Drama: or, an Inquiry into the Origin,
     Principles, and Consequences of Theatrical Entertainments.
     By Philo Dramatis._ 1792.
  [Wood, John], _A Full Exposition of the Clintonian Faction, and the
     Society of the Columbian Illuminati; with an account of the
     writer of the narrative, and the characters of his certificate
     men, as also remarks on Warren’s Pamphlet.
     By J—— W——._ Newark, 1802.

                          MISCELLANEOUS WORKS

  Allen, Ethan, _Reason the Only Oracle of Man, etc._ Bennington,
     State of Vermont, 1784.
  Aufrere, Anthony, _The Cannibal’s Progress; or the Dreadful Horrors
     of the French Invasion, etc._ (Tr. from the German.) Portsmouth,
     New-Hampshire, 1798.
  Barruel, Augustin, _Memoirs of Jacobinism_. 4 vols. London, 1797.
  Chauncy, Charles, _Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in
     New England_. Boston, 1743.
  Chauncy, Charles, _The Salvation of All Men the Grand Thing aimed
     at in the Scheme of God_. London, 1784.
  Cunningham, Abner, _Practical Infidelity Portrayed and the
     Judgments of God made Manifest_. (3rd edition). New York, 1836.
  Du Pan, J. Mallet, _The History of the Destruction of the Helvetic
     Union and Liberty_. Boston, 1799.
  Dwight, Timothy, _Theology: Explained and Defended_. 5 vols.
     Middletown, Conn., 1818.
 _Eulogium and Vindication of Masonry. Selected (and Improved) from
     Various Writers._ Philadelphia, 1792.
  Evans, Charles, _American Bibliography_. Vols. i-viii published.
     Chicago, 1903–15.
  Harris, Thaddeus Mason, _Discourses, delivered on public occasions,
     illustrating the principles, displaying the tendency, and
     vindicating the design of Freemasonry_. Charlestown, 1801.
  Payson, Seth, _Proofs of the Real Existence, and Dangerous
     Tendency, of Illuminism, etc._ Charlestown, 1802.
  Robison, John, _Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions
     and Governments of Europe, carried on in the Secret Meetings of
     the Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies_.
     (3rd edition). London, 1798.
  Stedman (Edmund Clarence) and Mackay (Ellen Hutchinson), _A Library
     of American Literature_. 11 vols. New York, 1888–1890.
  _The Freemason’s Monitor; or Illustrations of Masonry._ In Two
     Parts. By a Royal Arch Mason. Albany, 1797.
  _The Maryland Ahiman Rezon of Free and Accepted Masons ..._.
     Baltimore, 1797.
  _The Vocal Companion, and Masonic Register._ Boston, 1802.
  Trumbull, James Hamond, _List of Books Printed in Connecticut,
     1709–1800_. Hartford, 1904.
  Webster, Noah, _The Revolution in France considered in respect to
     its progress and effects_. New York, 1794.
  Wise, John, _A Vindication of the Government of New-England
     Churches, and The Churches Quarrel Espoused_. Boston, 1860.
  Wolfstieg, August, _Bibliographie der freimaurerischen Literatur_.
     2 vols. and Register. 1911–13.


The author was born near New London, Ohio, November 23, 1875. His early
education was obtained in the public schools of New London and North
Fairfield (O.), and in the preparatory department of Hiram College.
Upon completing an undergraduate course in the latter institution in
1901, he received the degree of A.B. Ten years were thereupon devoted
to the work of the Christian ministry, in pastorates at Cincinnati,
Ohio, and Angola, Indiana. He was in residence at Columbia University
and Union Theological Seminary for the first half of the academic
year 1907–8. In 1911 he returned to these institutions, and in 1912
received from the former the degree of A.M. He completed his residence
requirements for the doctorate in 1913. He worked in the seminars of
Professors Shotwell, Rockwell, and McGiffert, and in addition took
courses under Professors Giddings, Dewey, Robinson, and Monroe. He
was called to the position of Dean and Professor of New Testament and
Church History in Hiram College in 1913, where his professional service

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