The Anti-Masonic Party

The Anti-Masonic Party (also known as the Anti-Masonic Movement) was the first “Third party” in the United States. It strongly opposed Freemasonry and was founded as a  single-issue party aspiring to become a major party. Although lasting only a decade, it introduced important innovations to American politics, such as nominating conventions and the adoption of party platforms.  The Anti-Masonic Party was formed in upstate New York in 1828. Anti-masons were men who feared the secret power of Freemasons—believing that they were a powerful secret society that was trying to rule the country in defiance of the republican principals. These opponents came together to form a political party after the Morgan affair convinced them the Masons were murdering men who spoke out. This key episode was the mysterious disappearance, in 1826, of William Morgan (1774-1826?), a Freemason of Batavia, New York, who had become dissatisfied with his lodge and intended to publish a book detailing the secrets of the Freemasons. When his intentions became known to the lodge, an attempt was made to burn down the publishing house. In September 1826 Morgan was seized and disappeared.

The event created great excitement and led many to believe that not just the In this effort they were aided by the fact that Andrew Jackson was a high-ranking Mason and frequently spoke in praise of the Order. The alleged remark of political organizer  Thurlow Weed, that a corpse found floating in the Niagara River was "a good enough Morgan" until after the election, summarized the value of the crime for the opponents of Jackson. In the election of 1828 the new party proved unexpectedly strong, and after this year it became the main opposition party in New York. In 1829 it broadened its issues base when it became a champion of internal improvements and of the protective tariff. The party published 35 weekly newspapers in New York. Soon one became preeminent, the Albany Journal, edited by Thurlow Weed. The newspapers reveled in partisanship. One brief Albany Journal paragraph on Martin Van Buren included the words "dangerous," "demagogue," "corrupt," "degrade," "pervert," "prostitute," "debauch" and "cursed."

Opposition to Masonry was taken up by the churches as a sort of religious crusade, and it also became a local political issue in Western New York where, early in 1827, the citizens in many mass meetings resolved to support no Mason for public office.  In New York at this time the faction supporting President  John Quincy Adams, called "Adams men," or the "Anti-Jackson” faction, were a very feeble organization, and shrewd political leaders at once determined to utilize the strong anti-Masonic feeling in creating a new and vigorous party to oppose the rising Jacksonian Democracy.  

….Wikipedia