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William Leete Stone Sr. is Born

Today in Masonic History William Leete Stone Sr. is born in 1792.

William Leete Stone Sr. was an American writer and journalist.

Stone was born on April 20th, 1792 in New Paltz, New York. At the age of 16 he moved to Sodus, New York where he worked with his father on a farm. At the time the country was still mostly wilderness and Stone cultivated many ideas for future stories.

In 1809, Stone went to work at the Cooperstown Federalist as a printer. This was the beginning of Stone working for a string of papers in a variety of capacities, mostly as editor and in one case part owner. He became editor at the Herkimer American, the Northern Whig in Hudson, New York, the Albany Daily Advertiser and the Hartford Mirror. While in Hartford, Stone and four other men alternated in editing a literary magazine called The Knights of the Round Table. While in Hudson, New York he also edited The Lounger, a literary periodical which was noted for its pleasantry and wit.

In 1821, Stone was in New York City where he was editor and part owner of the Commercial Advertiser. As part owner of the paper he was a defendant in a case against the paper brought by James Fenimore Cooper for criticisms about two of Cooper's books.

Stone also used the Commercial Advertiser to put forth his views on slavery. Stone was an abolitionist and advocated for the abolition of slavery by Congress. At the time there were largely two groups operating. One was the American Colonization Society which was made up of abolitionists and slave owners. The other was American Anti-Slavery Society which was started by a free African-American and an escaped slave. Stone was squarely in the American Colonization Society and was the President of the New York chapter. Where the American Anti-Slavery Society sought the immediate abolition of slavery, the American Colonization Society advocated a more gradual phasing out of slavery. Slave owners in the group wanted to see free African-Americans sent to Liberia, a colony the Colonization Society helped to found. Slave owners felt seeing free African-Americans could lead to a slave revolt.

Stone's most notable contribution to the History of Freemasonry was immediately following the Morgan Affair. Stone wrote a series of letters to John Quincy Adams who was very interested in the Anti-Masonic movement. Largely Stone told Adams it taught important moral lessons. In the letters Stone also indicated the fraternity should be abandoned because, in his words, "it had lost it's usefulness."

Stone passed away on August 15th, 1844 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Stone was a member of Hudson Lodge No. 7 in Hudson, New York. He was also a member of Washington Commandery No. 1 Knights Templar.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.