The Age of Unreason
The Age of Unreason is a 21st century investigation into the contradictions, deceit, and hysteria surrounding the scandal that almost destroyed American Freemasonry.
In contrast to many past writings about the Morgan Affair, The Age of Unreason puts the writings, events, and circumstances of the era in factual context, bringing to light of the motives of many who were involved on both sides of the scandal leading to much of the hysteria surrounding it for more than a decade.
The book reappraises the hasty actions, injudicious reactions, politics, deceit, incautious behavior, loss of trust and reputation, and the lasting effects of the Morgan Affair on American Freemasonry. In Batavia, New York, the few people who knew for sure where William Morgan was on the morning of September 12, 1826 were all Freemasons. The previous night Morgan had been abducted. His abductors were Freemasons. Months prior to his abduction, Morgan was writing an exposé of Freemasonry. Despite his disappearance, the book was still published. Twenty grand juries were empaneled from 1827-183I returning indictments on 54 Freemasons, of which 39 were brought to trial resulting in 10 convictions for the abduction Sentences ranged from 1-28 months. Under New York law, kidnapping was not made a felony offense until April 1827. Still, when all the trials were over, the only people who knew for sure what happened to William Morgan following his abduction were the Freemasons involved in holding Morgan in confinement. Their accounts were conflicted and unconvincing, with only indirect evidence of the circumstances supporting them since Morgan’s body was never found. No one was indicted for murder, which was the real crime many people believed the Masons were guilty of committing.
The abduction and disappearance of Morgan fueled the flame of anti-Masonic sentiments of the era, creating a firestorm and scandal that tarnished and has haunted American Freemasonry for almost two centuries. That firestorm and its aftermath, at least for a brief period, also put an end to one of the reasons the event occurred in the first place: the unbridled rapid expansion of members and lodges that resulted in the fraternity losing sight of what historically the Institution of Freemasonry was designed to be. Likewise, as a result, unworthy candidates were admitted.
The excitement surrounding this chapter of American history was a momentous catalyst changing the course of Freemasonry in the United States and led to the creation of a short-lived third national political party.