Mark Schmeller, associate professor of history at Syracuse University, presents a talk about the infamous 1826 kidnapping and (likely) murder of William Morgan during the first lecture of 2018 at the Erie Canal Museum in downtown Syracuse. Morgan, a laborer in Batavia, New York, had threatened to reveal the secrets of the Freemasons, the most powerful fraternal order in the nation. His abduction and possible murder lit a firestorm of popular outrage that nearly destroyed the Freemason order, and led to the formation of the Anti-Masonic Party, the first significant third party in American political history. The Morgan controversy vividly illustrates a number of developments crucial to understanding the “Jacksonian” era in American history, which was marked by a new tone of evangelical moralism that would profoundly shape antebellum politics and culture.
Dr. Schmeller’s talk is the first in a series of bimonthly lectures at the Museum, and it includes time for questions and answers. Admission is free for members and just $5 for non-members (available online here). Free parking is available in Museum-designated spots across the street under routes 81 and 690. We hope you’ll join us!