“In 1826, a shadowy cabal kidnapped a man who had threatened to expose the rites of the secretive brotherhood. American politics were never the same again,” writes Andrew Burt, leading into an essay on Freemasonry in America at Slate:
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To this day, nobody knows the true fate of Capt. William Morgan. A failed businessman and citizen of generally low repute, Morgan was abducted from his home, in the town of Batavia, New York, in the early morning of Sept. 11, 1826. He soon found himself in a Canandaigua jail cell, about 50 miles away, imprisoned for a debt of $2.65. The whole ordeal was doubtless confusing to Morgan, a man best known for his drinking. It likely became even more confusing when a stranger paid his bail. But that man had no intention of setting him free.