believe readily that you did not want the office, but the office wanted you
Laffon de Ladebat to Albert Pike [i]
PASSAGE OF YEARS can sometimes elevate a historical figure into a legend. This
is not always beneficial when a study of the individual is desired. A historical
figure can be examined and their actions understood from a human perspective. A
legend, however, can take on near supernatural qualities and the whole of their
activities are sometimes not expected to be understood, explained or completely
recounted. Such is, at times, the case with Albert Pike. It is often difficult
to imagine Albert Pike as a player ( rather than as the player) in American
Scottish Rite events of the 1800s. The monumental mark that Pike left on the
Southern Jurisdiction can mask the fact that his influence was not always as
profound as it was in his later years. Regardless of his many accomplishments,
there was a time when Illustrious Brother Pike was but an inexperienced, yet
promising Mason with a blank book before him upon which it was unknown exactly
what would be written.
address, the first ever given by Pike as the presiding officer of a Scottish
Rite body, gives us a rare look at the early Albert Pike. While in his later
years, Pike was viewed by many as a true Master of the Scottish Rite, this
address clearly calls into notice his immaturity in the Rite, and he asks for
"lenient judgment" upon his
"shortcomings". In his address Pike is clearly humble and sincerely
appreciative of his election. He also notes that his election to the position of
Commander in Chief was "politic" in nature and due to
"circumstances that surround us". What could have caused a political
election of the untried Albert Pike as the presiding officer of the Grand
Consistory of Louisiana? Let's look at the "circumstances".
TURMOIL THAT WAS LOUISIANA MASONRY
seven years prior to Pike's assuming the leadership of the Grand Consistory of
Louisiana, the whole of Louisiana Masonry underwent a dramatic shift in
direction, leadership, and character. The once French dominated Grand Lodge of
Louisiana became "American" in nature. This shift mirrored the
cultural changes taking place in New Orleans and other French areas of the
state. Louisiana was founded as a French colony.
Even after the territory became a state in 1812, the French influence was
the dominate force, especially in the city of New Orleans. Not only was the
Grand Lodge of Louisiana a French-speaking body, but so were the five lodges
that created it. Louisiana was the most "foreign" Grand Lodge (as well
as state) in the U.S. Over time, many did not view this as an acceptable
the 1830s, Louisiana Masonry, as well as the whole of the Louisiana culture,
began feeling intense pressure to become "more American". With many,
this was not a welcome change. Bitter disputes and unyielding divisions
developed that culminated in actual violent clashes between the
"Creoles" and "Americans" in the downtown New Orleans
streets. The Grand Lodge was not immune to these cultural divisions which often
manifested themselves in the different rites worked by the Louisiana craft
lodges. For the most part, the French interests were championed by the lodges
working the French or Modern and A.&A.S.R. Rites and the American interests
by the York Rite (American Webb) lodges. The 1844 Constitution of the Grand
Lodge of Louisiana was the last straw for many York Masons. The new
constitution officially recognized the, then, three rites working in Louisiana
and sanctioned the creation of a "chamber of Rites" to supervise the
work of the lodges. The York position was that there should be only one
recognized rite for Louisiana craft lodges (York Rite ) and that the Grand Lodge
should be made to conform to the same system as worked by the other U.S. Grand
committee of English-speaking York Rite Masons, frustrated by the lack of
accommodation they perceived in the Grand Lodge, approached the Grand Lodge of
Mississippi and submitted a letter of grievance on January 23, 1845. [ii]
They charged the Grand Lodge of Louisiana with irregularity due to its practice
and acknowledgement of various craft lodge rituals. After debate, the Grand
Lodge of Mississippi agreed with the charges, declared the jurisdiction of the
Grand Lodge of Louisiana as "open territory" and, by 1848, chartered
seven lodges in Louisiana. [iii]
On March 8, 1848 these seven lodges formed a second Grand Lodge within
Louisiana. John Gedge, who had spearheaded the "rebellion" was elected
Grand Master of the "Louisiana Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons".
While this new Grand Lodge received recognition from only the Grand Lodge of
Mississippi, its future was not nearly as bleak as it might seem.
Grand Lodge of Louisiana was created in a manner to accommodate the needs of the
lodges which organized it. The Grand Lodge was created French in nature because
this was the culture of the vast majority of those living in the area of the
Grand Lodge at that time. Over the years that followed, the Grand Lodge
continued to exist and operate in the manner in which it was created. The
majority of the membership of the lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand
Lodge, however, changed from French to American. The Grand Lodge was then
viewed, by the majority, as not accommodating their wants and needs.
Grand Lodge of Mississippi received admonitions from most U.S.
Grand Lodges for their actions in Louisiana, with the majority openly
condemning its activities. [iv]
With the exception of the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, no U.S. Grand Lodge
entered into relations with the new Louisiana Grand Lodge. Regardless of their
seemingly advantageous position, the Grand Lodge of Louisiana was in serious
The Scottish Rite Journal is published bimonthly by the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction, United States of America, Washington, DC.
of New Orleans, there were a few pockets where the French culture was strong,
but the majority of the state was already (or was becoming) Americanized. The
events surrounding the creation of the Louisiana Grand Lodge buckled the knees
of the Grand Lodge because most of the lodges under this new Grand Lodge were
located in the New Orleans area -perceived to be the largest stronghold of the
French culture within the state as well as the home of the Grand Lodge. The fact
that the Grand Lodge of Louisiana was overwhelmingly considered to be the
"regular" Grand Lodge in Louisiana was not sufficient to overcome the
internal problems stemming from the cultural divisions in New Orleans. By mid
1849, it was realized that the English-speaking lodges that had remained loyal
to the Grand Lodge were showing signs that continued loyalty would, most likely,
not happen. Contributing to the dilemma was divisions between the
French-speaking New Orleans Masons.
realizing that the total collapse of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana was a very
real possibility, the Grand Lodge and the Louisiana Grand Lodge, A. Y.M. entered
into discussions in 1849 designed to merge the two bodies. [v]
That merger took place in June of 1850 with the approval of a new Constitution
of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana of Free and Accepted Masons. Under the terms
of the agreement of the merger, the Louisiana Grand Lodge, A. Y.M. members
declared "irregular" would be healed by the Grand Lodge of Louisiana,F.&A.M..
All Lodges chartered by the Louisiana Grand Lodge, A. Y.M. ( or by the Grand
Lodge of Mississippi in Louisiana) would, also, pass under the jurisdiction of
the new Grand Lodge of Louisiana, F.&A.M. John Gedge, who had served as
Grand Master of the Louisiana Grand Lodge, A. Y.M., was elected Grand Master of
the new Grand Lodge of Louisiana, F.&A.M. for 1851.
this new constitution seemed to merge the two Grand Lodges, the Grand Lodge of
Louisiana was, in reality, replaced by the Louisiana Grand Lodge, A. Y.M.. All
that actually remained of the old Grand Lodge was the name, organizational date
of 1812, and the list of Past Grand Masters. The nature of the new Grand Lodge
of Louisiana, F.&A.M. changed to match the Louisiana Grand Lodge, A. Y.M..
The "Americans" were in power.
old Grand Lodge of Louisiana officially accommodated lodges working in the York
(American Webb), French, or Modern, and A.&A.S.R. craft rituals. The
French-speaking Masons believed that the two Grand Lodge merger would result in
the continued recognition oflodges working in all three rites. They were
horrified and outraged when the new Grand Lodge instructed all non-York Rite
lodges to turn in their charters so that York Rite charters could be issued. [vi]
Charges of trickery abounded. Three A.&A.S.R. craft lodges (Etoile Polaire,
Disciples of the Masonic Senate, and Los Amigos del Orden) applied to the
Supreme Council of Louisiana for relief. The Supreme Council announced that
since the Concordat of 1833 between the Grand Lodge of Louisiana and the Grand
Consistory of Louisiana (at that time the highest ranking Scottish Rite body in
the State) had been violated by the new Grand Lodge, the Supreme Council would
issue charters to these lodges and allow them to pass under its jurisdiction. [vii]
French Rite Masons did not have a Grand Body from which to seek relief. The
Grand Lodge had been the "home" of the French Rite. With no superior
body for the government of the French Rite lodges, they would, ultimately,
disappear from Louisiana Masonry as an identifiable force. [viii]
SETTING FOR MORE CHANGE
we step back and attempt to look at the situation through the eyes of the
participants, we can see that the Supreme Council of Louisiana taking
jurisdiction over the three A.&A.S.R. Craft Lodges must have been just as
jarring to the new Grand Lodge of Louisiana as the action of the Grand Lodge of
Mississippi was to the old Grand Lodge. No one could see or know the future. The
Grand Lodge of Mississippi had been a body in full fraternal relations with the
old Grand Lodge, as was the Supreme Council of Louisiana. While the Grand Lodge
of Mississippi was a sister Grand Lodge, the Supreme Council of Louisiana was
composed of members who were nearly all Grand Lodge officers, a good number of
whom were Past Grand Masters. The Supreme Council of Louisiana was not an
insignificant body. The actions of the Grand Lodge of Mississippi set into
motion a series of events that led to the downfall of the old Grand Lodge of
Louisiana. It was not unfeasible for the actions of the Supreme Council of
Louisiana to result in the same fate for the new Grand Lodge of Louisiana.
Clearly this situation needed to be addressed by the new Grand
the invitation of Grand Master John Gedge, Albert Mackey came to New Orleans in
1852 and established, for the Charleston Supreme Council, a Consistory of the 32°.
Gedge was appointed Commander in Chief of this new consistory. Obviously, the
Supreme Council of Louisiana charged that this was an outrageous invasion of
territory. Not only was it the fact that the Consistory was organized in New
Orleans, but the manner in which it was created was the subject of severe
criticism. In 1853, Charles Laffon de Ladebat wrote about the events concerning
the new Grand Lodge, the Supreme Council of Louisiana and the new Charleston
Consistory in New Orleans.
In presence of such despotic, anti-masonic conduct, the Scotch BB:.
resited as men, as Masons, and formed an independent corporation under the only
M:. authority existing in Louisiana dejure et defacto. The balance remained with
the new Grand Lodge, swore obedience to her, through indifference rather than
from conviction. Soon after this, the very same Sectarian, in his restlessness,
caused Br :. Albert G. Mackey to come from Charleston, in order to establish a
Grand Consistory, exactly as if there never had existed a Supreme Council of the
Scotch Rite in Louisiana. Our sectarian, after abolishing the Scotch Rite,
wished to re-establish it in order to be at the head of it. This Consistory has
been inaugurated, you know it M:. W..., for you were admitted into it for proper
causes. The manner in which the degrees were conferred in this spurious
Consistory is and will be an eternal shame to the Br :. who has conferred them. [ix]
we can only speculate as to the events which might have caused this
"eternal shame" statement, it is evident that the creation of the
Charleston consistory in New Orleans fanned the flames of emotion and deeply
angered the already frustrated NewOrleans Scottish Rite Masons. But what could
cultural variances within New Orleans societies during the 1800s are far too
complex to be explained from onlya French and/or American viewpoint. New Orleans
was a cosmopolitan city with layers of cultures and subcultures. The lodges
under the Grand Lodge of Louisiana were not only French and English speaking,
but there were also lodges working in German, Italian, and Spanish. Like the
many New Orleans neighborhoods, Masonic lodges often reflected the culture of
the members of the lodge. Prior to 1850, the Grand Lodge maintained but a
minimal supervision of the lodges under its jurisdiction. As long as a lodge
worked within a general Masonic framework, as defined by the Grand Lodge, the
lodge was left effectively alone. For some lodges (especially in rural areas)
the only contact they had with the Grand Lodge was when they sent in their
yearly returns. Lodges were free to develop their own cultural "stamp"
on both their lodge and the ritual they used. Germania Lodge No.46 was created
as a German-speaking lodge receiving a York Rite charter from the Grand Lodge of
Louisiana in 1844. Their 1844 ritual shows that they originally worked an
eclectic ritual which may well have derived from all three rites worked in
Louisiana (as well as rituals from outside the state). [x]
It is very possible that the unknown author(s) of this ritual simply sat down
with a number of rituals and created a unique ritual to his (or their) liking.
Such independent activity was not uncommon.
freedom extended to the lodges by the Grand Lodge may have ultimately
contributed to the downfall of the French interests in Louisiana. The York Rite
English-speaking Masons were, by then, in the majority, but it was not a large
majority. The non-York Rite Masons might have been able to overturn the actions
of the new Grand Lodge, but they could not unify themselves and were split into
unyielding factions with their own goals and agendas.
of the influence the Supreme Council of Louisi'ana once had in Louisiana, the
creation of the 1852 Charleston Consistory created a split that led to the
demise of the New Orleans Supreme Council as a true Masonic power. Not only was
the New Orleans Council locked in battle with the new Grand Lodge, it was also
facing perplexing (in NewOrleans) charges of irregularity -charges that it was
not prepared to answer. The rapid fire changes involving the whole of Louisiana
Masonry left most of the French Masons flabbergasted and hopelessly divided as
to which direction to take. It was at this time that a new "solution"
was introduced that cut the divisions even deeper.
CONCORDAT OF 1855
Scottish Rite in New Orleans existed in what might be described as a
"parallel universe" with the rest of the U.S. A.&A.S.R. Given the
cultural difference between the whole of Louisiana Masonry and the rest of the
U.S., the differences and "detached" nature of the Scottish Rite in
New Orleans is understandable. With the "American invasion" of
Louisiana Masonry came a forced realization that changes would have to be made
in the nature of all Louisiana Masonic bodies. Exactly what changes would be
necessary was the subject of heated debate.
creation of the 1852 Mackey/Charleston Consistory in New Orleans triggered
intense emotion in an already explosive environment. It was during this time and
in this setting, that a plan to merge the Charleston and New Orleans Supreme
Councils was born. For those who viewed the New Orleans Supreme Council as the
only hope of preserving the French interests in New Orleans, the idea of such a
merger was wholly unacceptable. The more moderate French Masons saw such a
merger as, quite possibly, the only option left. In 1860, Charles Laffon de
Ladebat wrote to Albert Pike about the Concordat and explained his position of
My resolution of retiring from active practice is 5 years old & more.
Hear what I wrote to Mackey January 31,1855: "When the work will be
accomplished, when every thing will be in proper order & well understood,
will retire willingly & leave the management of all to more competent, but
not more devoted hands". We know that the foreign influence will & must
be superseded by the American element. Now the time has come & I believe
that, even in Masonry, Americans must rule in America. I, a frenchman, must
retire -in due time. [xi]
all of the French Masons were willing to turn over what they viewed as their
"possession" to others with different ideas, plans, and goals. When
the merger between the two councils seemed to be inevitable, the officers and
nearly half of the Active Members of the New Orleans Supreme Council resigned
rather than take part in the Concordat. On January 7, 1854, the remaining
Members of the council elected Charles Claiborne as the new Grand Commander,
Claude Pierre Samory as Lt. Grand Commander, and Charles Laffon de Ladebat was
appointed Grand Secretary. The Concordat merging the Charleston and New Orleans
Supreme Councils was signed in New Orleans on February 16, 1855. The New Orleans
Supreme Council ceased to exist as a Supreme Council and the Grand Consistory of
Louisiana merged with the 1852 "Mackey" Consistory.
the Concordat of 1855, the elimination of the French control of Louisiana
Masonry was complete. The unrest, dissatisfaction, and ill feelings, however,
continued to fester. James Foulhouze was the Grand Commander of the Supreme
Council of Louisiana who, along with the other officers, resigned from the
council rather than participate in the Concordat. Claude Samory and AlbertMackey
approached Foulhouze in the summer of 1856 to enlist his aid in healing the old
wounds and to, hopefully, rebuild the A.&A.S.R. in New Orleans. Foulhouze
was offered the office of Commander in Chief of the Grand Consistory of
Louisiana and Active Membership in the Charleston Supreme Council if he would
join in the rebuilding. Foulhouze declined the offers and began his efforts to
reorganize the New Orleans Supreme Council with its former officers.[xii]
James Foulhouze out of consideration, a new leader for the troubled New Orleans
Scottish Rite had to be found. The choice would prove to be inspired.
Pike was an attorney by profession and a Mason of only five years when he moved
his law practice to New Orleans in 1855.[xiii]
Thro years earlier, Pike received the Scottish Rite degrees up to the 32° from
Albert Mackey in Charleston. Mackey saw a unique quality in Pike and recruited
him to be on the ritual committee of the Charleston Supreme Council. Mackey lent
Pike a collection of Scottish Rite rituals for his review and study. It was
through the examination and transcription of these rituals that Pike received
his first understanding of the A.&A.S.R. Busy with setting up his law
practice and studying the rituals lent to him by Mackey, Pike did not concern
himself with the momentous developments taking place in New Orleans at the time
of his arrival.
of Pike's earliest Masonic acquaintances in New Orleans was Charles Laffon de
Ladebat. Over the years ( even after Pike became Grand Commander) these two
would maintain a "love/hate" relationship that was founded on a basic
respect for each other. Ladebat was made a 33° by James Foulhouze in the New
Orleans Supreme Council on February 11, 1852, and served as its Grand Secretary
at the time of the Concordat of 1855. Ladebat would later be elected an Active
Member of the Charleston Supreme Council in 1859. Pike's time in New Orleans put
him in close contact with many competent New Orleans 33rds who were quite
capable of completing Pike's education and understanding of the A.&A.S.R.
Ladebat was, clearly, one of Pike's early mentors.
as he had done with Albert Mackey, Pike greatly impressed the New Orleans
Scottish Rite Masons. Pike's talent and raw abilities clearly made him a
candidate for any Masonic office. The fact that Pike played no part whatsoever
in the Concordat of 1855 may have made Pike even more attractive and a prime
candidate for leading the Grand Consistory of Louisiana. Pike did not carry
"baggage" with him from the Louisiana Masonic turmoil. While he was
under the jurisdiction of the Charleston Supreme Council at the time of the
concordat, he was not an Active Member and played no part in any of the
decisions concerning the Concordat. No one could "blame" Pike for any
of the events. Albert Pike was the only serious candidate for leading the Grand
Consistory who could be seen as potentially objective as well as extraordinarily
promising. Next to James Foulhouze, no one had a better chance of appeasing the
French Masons and unifying all the factions. Once the New Orleans Supreme
Council was re-organized, Pike's value to the "Charleston cause" was
even more evident.
address, given by Pike only four days after he received the 33°, [xiv]
is valuable to all Scottish Rite researchers not only because it is an extremely
rare piece of early Pike literature, but also because of significant information
provided in it. From this address we not only get abetter feel of the early
Albert Pike, but also have the opportunity to develop a more detailed
understanding of the momentous events that were taking place at the time Albert
Pike arrived on the Scottish Rite stage. Within just two years from the time of
this address, Pike would be elected an Active Member of the Southern
Jurisdiction (over the possible objections of the Grand Commander and Lt. Grand
Commander) [xv] and then on January 2,
1859, with the very first S.J. election of officers, be elected to the position
of Sovereign Grand Commander.
address was ordered to be recorded in the handwritten Minutes of the Grand
Consistory of Louisiana. A typed transcript of this address was made by an
unknown Brother sometime between the 1940s and 1950s and a copy of this
transcript acquired by this writer. The accuracy of the transcript was verified
by this writer by a comparison of the transcript with the original Minutes
located in the Scottish Rite Bodies of New Orleans. This address was published
in a very limited edition in 1995 by Michael Poll Publishing.
BEFORE THE GRAND CONSISTORY OF LOUISIANA
:. Ill:. Bros :. and Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret:
PRAY YOU TO ACCEPT MY MOST SINCERE THANKS and profoundest gratitude for the
great and unexpected honor which you conferred upon me, when, in my absence, you
selected me to fill the most honorable and very responsible station of Grand
Commander of this Grand Consistory and for your present ratification of that
choice. I will earnestly endeavor to have myself not wholly undeserving of your
good opinion; so that, although it must now be said that when elected I was not
worthy either by service or qualification, it may not hereafter be said that
when I cease to serve, you repented of your selection.
can bring to your service, Princes, little more than good intentions, kind
feelings, and a zealous devotion to the interest of Masonry of all Rites -when
you find me deficient (and wherein shall I not, alas, be found, Bro :. ? ) I
entreat of you in advance lenient judgment upon my short-comings, and that you
will kindly aid me with your sympathy, support and advice. For I must be ever
embarrassed by the reflection that I have been by your too favorable judgment
preferred to many eminent and distinguished Brethren, whose longer service and
greater familiarity with the work gave them far higher claims than any I could
have preferred to the post of honor and command. If I supposed that personal
consideration or a belief in my superior fitness and capacity had led you to
this choice, I should sink under a sense of my feebleness, not ever have
succeeded in overcoming my repugnance to accept a post where so much was to be
expected. But, amass that there were other reasons, which acted upon you, and
made your selection seem politic and for the interest of Masonry in this Valley,
reasons not personal to me, but growing out of the conditions of things and the
circumstances that surrounded us. I am encouraged to hope that I may in some
degree aid in attaining the result which you all desire, and that your just
expectations may not be disappointed.
have accordingly accepted tile post which you have tendered me, and will
endeavor to perform its duties. Most important private business will compel my
absence for some months. I shall return as soon as practicable, and remain
thereafter permanently in the city. [xvi]
the interest of the Order at any time be likely to suffer by my temporary
absence, I shall be prepared at once to surrender up my office, faintly
imitating the lofty magnanimity, of which so beautiful an example has been set
me by an Ill:. Bro:. whose genius and labors have done so much to restore the
splendors of the Ancient and Accepted Rite [xvii]
in this Valley, and whose name will not be forgotten among us, while the order
of Knights Rose Croix continues to exist, or the Kadosh to war against tyranny
I shall most sensibly feel how great will be the contrast between myself, with
my slender experience, and the Th:. Ill:. Prince and Sovereign whose place I
come to take, but not fil.[xviii]
Eminent in Masonic learning and more illustrious by long and faithful service
than even by his high rank and lofty station, the new and supreme dignity
recently conferred upon him was a most just and appropriate acknowledgment of
his worth. This Consistory must most sensibly feel its loss, as he, Ill:. Gr :.
Commander, crowned and laurelled with the highest honor, and with the grateful
thanks and recollections of his brethren, most gracefully retires from this
distinguished post, to yield it of his own choice to another. I beseech him not
to withdraw from me his counsel and advice, and I pray him and our Ill:. Bro:.
and the other eminent brethren who surround me, to aid me, to advise me, to
support me in my inexperience, that, guided by them I may not despair of
rendering some little service to the cause of humanity, to the cause of truth,
of liberty, of philosophy, and of Masonic progress.
brethren, I see around me the representatives of more than one race, [xx]
and the disciples of more than one Masonic Rite -I rejoice at this reunion, and
it gives me happy augury of the prosperity, health, and continuance of Masonry
in this Valley. I am especially glad that here and in other bodies of this Rite,
I see by the side of the children of the first generous and gallant settlers of
Louisiana, many of another land, and who not long since for the first time
passed beyond the boundaries of the York Rite.
are all aware, my brethren, how little among Masons of the latter Rite is known
of the Ancient & Accepted Rite, and how great and general a prejudice has
obtained those against it. It has been imagined that there was antagonism
between the two: Scottish Masonry has been deemed almost spurious, and its
degrees, at the best, no more than mere side degrees; and the York Mason who has
entered into our sanctuaries has been regarded in the estimation of many, as
untrue to his allegiance and disloyal.
of you, my brethren, who lately have known only the York Rite, are already aware
how unfounded is this prejudice, how erroneous this opinion, how chimerical
these apprehensions and alarms. It shall be my study to make you more fully to
know this hereafter.
Ancient and Accepted Rite is, when itself fully developed and understood, when
itself what it should be and can be, a great, harmonious and connected system,
all the degrees and lessons, embody the philosophy, the history, the morality
and the essential meaning of Masonry, and are to us what the Ancient mysteries
were to the initiate of Eleusis, of Egypt, and of Samothrace.
degrees of this Rite are commentaries on the Master's Degree, which itself is
essentially the same in all Rites. They interpret instead of being at variance
with that degree. They ultimately make it known to the Initiate the true word
and the true meaning and inner sense of the True Word of a Mason. They teach the
great doctrines that God taught the Patriarchs, and which are the foundations on
which all religions repose.
do not undervalue symbolic Masonry, nor love it the less because we also love
the Ancient & Accepted Rite, we but learn justly to value the Master's
degree, by coming to understand its full meaning and to appreciate the sublime
and lofty lessons which it teaches. Masonry is one everywhere and in all its
Temples of whatever Rite; as it has been one in all times. Everywhere it teaches
the same great lessons of morality and philosophy, or should do so, if faithful
to its mission, and if its apostles are properly informed and true to the duties
which it imposes on them. If anywhere it has excluded from even the inmost
Sanctuaries of its Temples men of any faith who believe in Our Supreme God,
Creator and Preserver of all things that become, and in the immortality of the
Soul-if it has anywhere assumed the garb of religious exclusion and intolerance,
of Jesuitism, of political vengeance, of Hermetic Mysticism, there most
assuredly it has ceased to be Masonry.
would not be true to say, however, that even Scottish Masonry has adequately
fulfilled or been equal to its missions. While by the irresistible influence of
time, by innovations and by mutilations and corruptions of ignorance, the
degrees of the York Rite have long since ceased to be what they should be, and
what they were in the beginning, when they succeeded to those ancient academies
of science, philosophy and morality, the mysteries; while the practice of
confirming everything contained in them to the memory has by the silent lapse of
time caused more and more both of ceremony and substance to be forgotten, much
to be intentionally dropped, and the field of each degree to be made more and
more narrow; while the true meaning of very many of their most valuable symbols
have faded away and disappeared, and been replaced by commonplace, and the
inventions of ignorance, and the lofty science and profound teachings, of the
Ancients have too much given way to unimpressive phrases and valueless formulas,
-the Scottish Rite also has not enjoyed immunity from the ravages of the biting
tooth of time, universal destroyer of all human beings.
even here, where over the Temples of our Degrees stood perfect and complete in
all the splendor and Majesty of their beautiful and harmonious proportions, we
are like strangers from a far land who wander amid the shattered columns and
wrecked glories of Thebes and Palmyra, and union over the ruins that track the
steps of time, and over the instability of all earthly things. From many of our
degrees everything has dropped out except the signs and words, and they remain
half effaced and corrupted. From more, all is lost except these and some
unimportant formulas; in still more, useless repetition arrives at
impressiveness, but cannot renunciate us for the old science and the noble
philosophy whose place it endeavors to supply. Those huge chasms have been
created in the work, and the connections between the degrees have been broken;
so that each has become a fragment instead of being, as at first part of one
consistent, regularly progressive and harmonious whole.
it has come that of the degrees from the fourth to the thirty-second inclusive,
which we retain and apply to ourselves the sounding titles, four only are
habitually conferred, which all the residue remain in a great measure, and part
of them altogether unknown.
had become so obvious that this Rite needed reformation, and that either its
degrees should all be made worthy to be conferred and of value to be attained,
or else those which were not so ought to be abandoned and their titles disused,
that more than two years ago the Supreme Council at Charleston appointed a
Committee of five Brethren to revise the whole ritual of the degrees; on which
Committee I had the distinguished honor to be placed. While my Brother Laffon,
both before and after he was also placed there in the stead of my Brother Samory,
who to the general regret found himself compelled to decline the act. [xxi]
While my Brother Laffon labored, more particularly on the 18th Degree, but not
alone on that, I also, undertaking at first a few degrees, continued my labors
during two years, until I completed a revision of all; which that it may be
thoroughly examined and sanctioned, I have printed in a volume and submitted to
the Supreme Council. Whether that August Body will stamp it or any part of it
with its approval, is wholly unknown to me. I have endeavored to restore the
effaced or faded lineament of many of the degrees to develop and elaborate the
great leading idea of each, to correct the whole together as a regular series,
and to make of them our harmonious and systematic whole, ascending by regular
graduations to the highest moral and philosophical truth -I have endeavored to
prime away all commonplaces and puerility's, all unmeaning forms and ceremonies,
all absurd interpretations, and everything useless or injurious with which time
and ignorance had overloaded the degrees. I have endeavored so to restore, to
retouch and to supply, retaining all that was valuable and working up all the
old material, as to make every degree worth to be conferred: that there should
be no longer any empty tile, or barren honors in the Ancient & Accepted
I have attempted; but I am only too well aware that the undertaking was too
great for my furios; and that what I have done will be found full of
imperfections, as the work of the painter, the sculpture, the creator, and the
poet ever falls short of his own ideal.
I have endeavored to do somewhat; and it is my desire, at some appropriate
future time, and with your consent and assistance, to confer upon some suitable
candidate such of the degrees, as I have revised them, as have not been already
revised by other and more competent hands.
congratulate you, my brethren, on the advancement and progress of the Ancient
& Accepted Rite in this Valley: The Concordat by which the Supreme
Jurisdiction of the Supreme Council at Charleston was acknowledged and under
which the two Consistories then existing became one, laid broad and deep the
strong foundations of the prosperity of our Rite. The walls of our TempIe,
solidly and squarely built, bid defiance to the storms of faction; and if we are
true to ourselves, peace will dwell within our gates.
in the Realm of Masonry, if anywhere on earth, there ought to be peace ahd quiet
and harmony. No where are schism and faction, and disunion and discontent so
lamentably out of place as here. Here there should be no lust for power and no
eagerness for rank or distinction. If discontented men should in this valley
have established, or if any shall hereafter establish, under a foreign authority
which has no jurisdiction here and act only by usurpation, any body or bodies,
claiming to administer the Ancient & Accepted Rite, we shall, I think, be
prepared to show that the Supreme Council at Charleston, to which we owe
allegiance, is the only legitimate authority in the Rite that can exist in our
country south of the River Potomac; and that the Grand Orient of France and the
Supreme Council within its bosom offered against Masonic Law and Masonic Comity
where they made another jurisdiction and erect their banners on the soil of
is time that this question should be receive the fullest consideration; and that
the authentic history of the creation of the Grand Orient itself and of that of
the Supreme Council of France, of the disputes between those two bodies and
their temporary alliance should be made known to the order in the United States.
Supplied with the emissary documents on both sides, it is every intention to
translate them and make them public, that all may judge where is the right and
where the usurpation.
time when fables would pass for history has gone by; and that has come when
criticism and investigation will deal with the history of Masonry as with other
histories, separating the truth from the error, and after reducing great
pretensions to the narrowest proportions. Let us examine the history the Ancient
& Accepted Rite and the Grand Orient in that spirit and by the rules and
canons of sound criticism, never forgetting that courtesy, moderation, and
kindness ought to inspire all Masonic discussions, hoping to find a like tone
and spirit on the other side, and that those who may array themselves against us
will, if Right and Truth be found with us, candidly admit it, and uniting with
us acknowledge the same allegiance and so cause peace ever and ever to reign in
Brethren, let me impress it upon you, that there is much to do, if we would have
Masonry adequately fulfill its mission. It is not sufficient merely to receive
three or four of the degrees, and then, imagining the rest, to live in contented
indolence, without an effort to know the high science and philosophy of the
system. The time has come when one who would be truly and really be a Scottish
Rite Mason must study and reflect. It shall be my earnest endeavor to aid you in
penetrating to the inmost heart of Masonry and in unveiling its profound
secrets, which are that light towards which all Masons at least profess to
struggle, that knowledge of the True Work which is the great remuneration of a
Mason's labor. But if I should fall short of the performance of this duty, be
not you, my brethren, disheartened nor discouraged. Masonry must be true to
itself, or it will find in numbers weakness only, and its walls will be crushed
to the ground with its own might. In this intellectual and practical age..
Masonry must it from merited disaster and dissolution.
is time for it to assume a higher ground; and here, if any where, the effort to
elevate it must be made. Here, I believe, we can commence and successfully carry
onward the indispensable work of reformation, that shall in time end the reign
of puerility's and trivialities, and make masonry what it should be. The great
teacher of moral and philosophical truth; the teacher of the primitive religion
known to the first men that lived; the defender pf the right of free thought,
free conscience and free speech; the apostle of rational and well regulated
liberty; the protector of the oppressed, the defender of the common people, the
asserterof the dignity of labor and the right of the laboring man; the enemy of
intolerance, fanaticism and uncharitable opinion, and of all idle and pernicious
theories that arraign providence for its dispensations, and endeavor to set
their notions of an abstract justice and equality above the laws by which God
chooses to rule all human affairs.
this great work I wish your co-operation, and I ask, for myself and for those
eminent brethren who are to act with me and in my place, your countenance, your
assistance, and your encouragement. I am sure my brethren that I shall not ask
this in vain; and that grateful, deeply grateful as I now am for your confidence
and kindness, I shall be far more so, and with far greater reason, when I am
allowed to surrender into your hands the trust which you have so generously
confided to me.
Charles Laffon de Ladebat to Albert Pike, Iun. 24, 1860. Archives of the
Supreme Council, 33°, S.I., Washington. Photocopy in possession of the
Report of the Committee on Foreign Correspondence of the
Louisiana Grand Lodge of York Masons (New
Orleans: Cook, Young & Co., 1949), p. 5.
George Washington, Lafayette, Warren, Marion, Crescent City, Hiram, and
Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana Report and
Exposition (New Orleans: I. L. Sollee, 1849),
James B. Scot, Outline of the Rise and Progress of Freemasonry in Louisiana
(1873; reprint, New Orleans: Michael Poll Publishing, 1995), pp. 78-80.
Charles Laffon de Ladebat, A Letter to H. R. W. Hill, Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of Louisiana, Concerning the Schism between the Scotch & York
Rites (New Orleans: J. Lamarre's Printing Office, 1853), pp. 7-8.
Scot, Outline, pp. 86-87.
An attempt was made in the late 1800s to revive the French Rite in New Orleans
through the short lived Grand Orient of Louisiana. This body was
created in 1879, but, possibly due to little support, did not last longer than
ten years. See: Proqres
Grand Orient de la Louisiane (Rite Moderne) (New Orleans: P. & E.
Marchand, 1886) . A
copy of this very rare work is in the George Longe Papers in the Amistad
Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans.
Ladebat, Letter to Hill, pp. 7-8.
Art de Hoyos, Introduction, The Liturgy of Germania Lodge No.46, R&A.M.
(New Orleans: Michael R Poll, 1993).
Ladebat to Pike, Jun. 24,1860.
See: Michael R. Poll, "James Foulhouze: Sovereign Grand Commander
of the Supreme Council of Louisiana;' Heredom, vol. 6 (1997), pp.
Pike's law office was located in downtown New Orleans in a building on the
riverside of Camp Street one block from Canal Street. The building no longer
exists. New Orleans City Directory, 1856.
After the Concordat of 1855, the Active Members of the New Orleans Supreme
Council were brought in as Honorary Members of the Charleston Supreme Council.
As with all Honorary Members of a Supreme Council, they held the 33° but not
the active office of Sovereign Grand Inspector General (S.G.I.G.). It was at
this time that theCharleston Supreme Council began elevating 32° Masons to
the 33° but not including the office ofS.G.I.G. in their elevation. Albert
Pike was one of the first 32° in the S.J. elevated to the 33° without being
invested with the office of S.G.I.G. Pike would be elected an Active Member (S.G.I.G.)
of the Charleston Supreme Council on March 20,1858.
". ..I was not the last to devise the means of placing you at the
head of the order, 1st by making you a 33rd against the will of Messrs. Furman
& Honour: 2nd by vacating my office of Deputy in your favor, &twice
you got in the S.C. & especially twice you were unanimously elected to the
Presidency, I consider myself as having done my duty, all I could do. The
lifeless council of Charleston was revived; it lives now! Only now tho!"
Ladebat to Pike, Jun. 24,1860.
The New Orleans City Directories
from 1856 unti11859 show that while Pike had opened a law office in New
Orleans, he did not have more than a temporary home in the city. The Minutes
of the Grand Consistory also reveal that he was absent for many of the
meetings of the Grand Consistory. There is no record that Pike ever moved his
family to New Orleans, and it is probable that he traveled between his home in
Little Rock and New Orleans. One of the many boarding houses in New Orleans
would have likely been his residence during his stays in the city. Despite
Pike's statement, New Orleans would never be his permanent home.
At the time of this address, the term Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite
was not in common use in the U.S. This accounts for Pike's repeated use of the
older (in the U.S.) term Ancient and Accepted Rite.
Pike refers to Claude Pierre Samory. Samory was elected an Active Member of
the Charleston Supreme Council on Nov. 20, 1856.
Charles Laffon de Ladebat.
Freemasonry in pre-Civil War New Orleans was reflective of the New Orleans
culture of the time. Pierre Roup was the son-in-law of New Orleans Mason and
Battle of New Orleans hero Dominique Youx. Roup was a member of Perseverance
Lodge No.4 and sat on the lodge's building committee. He was a black Creole.
While it is clear that there were more than a few black Creoles who were
members of New Orleans lodges, identifying them is difficult, as ones' race
was not a question asked or recorded except in notable situations. It is quite
possible that there were black Creole members of the Grand Consistory of
Louisiana present at the time of Pike's address. It is, likewise, possible
that Pike used the word "race" in reference to the French Masons who
were often considered part of the "Latin race".
On p. 249 of his History of the Supreme Council 33°, A.&A.S.R. S.J.,
U:S.A (1801- 1864) (Washington: Supreme Council, 33°, 1964) Ray Baker
Harris, 33°, reproduces a letter sent by Albert Mackey to Claude Samory dated
Mar. 21, 1855. The letter concerns the Southern Jurisdiction's Ritual
Committee and lists its members. Claude Samory is listed as the member from
New Orleans and Albert Pike the member from Little Rock. Ill. Harris writes:
"From all indications, the 'preparation of new copies' was in the hands
of Albert Pike. He was then in New Orleans, and may have conferred with Samory
in this work, but neither of them ever mentioned such a collaboration in their
numerous letters written in this period". Until this address by Pike was
rediscovered, it was assumed by most A.&A.S.R. scholars that Samory was on
this committee with Pike for a substantial period of time. Bro. Harris,
assuming that Samory remained on the committee, logically wondered about the
absence of communications between Pike and Samory concerning ritual matters.
This address brings to light the fact that Samory retired from the committee
shortly after his appointment to be replaced by Ladebat. The collaboration was
not between Pike and Samory, but between Pike and Ladebat and renders the
degrees written by the two and their ritual communications understandable.