The Apocryphal Rite or the history of the
Ancient and Machiavellian Scottish Rite, S.J.
George F. Moore past Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, USA, said that the “History of the Scottish Rite had not been written,” and that statement is still true.
THAT FIRST SCOTTISH RITE MASON?
Often Scottish Rite members get things twisted as to facts and dates, on the origins an founding members of their organization. It is surely fun to read that "Morin was commissioned by the Grand Orient of France to carry the Rite of Perfection to North America," whereas his commission bore date of Aug. 27th, 1761, that is, ten years before the Grand Orient of France came into existence. As his commission has been printed so often, I am at a loss to know how any one could have fallen into such an error.
Some writers say that Morin was commissioned by the "Council of Emperors," others by the Grand Lodge of France, and that his commission was signed by eight persons and by Daubantin, "by order of the Grand Lodge." But no one can pretend that it was authorized by the Grand Orient before that body existed. Nor is it correct to say that Morin was a Scottish Rite Mason.
Both as to the Commission of Morin not being authorized by the Grand Orient of France, and as to the error, all too common, of calling Morin a Scottish Rite Mason; and we are grateful to him for calling attention to the facts. Morin was never a Scottish Rite Mason nor was Francken, nor was Hays. They all belonged to the Rite of Perfection, which consisted of twenty-five degrees, and not to the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, which consists of thirty-three degrees. Even Masonic historians are continually falling into this error, and thereby making confusion worse conformed.
The Body at Albany, created in 1767, belonged to the Rite of Perfection, as did the Bodies at Charleston, created in 1783. We had no Scottish Rite on this Continent until Col. John Mitchell and Dr. Frederick Dalcho established the Supreme Council for the United States on the 31st day of May, 1801. By the kindness of a Brother of the Rite, we have this testimony of Hon. Giles Fonda Yates Grand Commander of the Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, in an address delivered by him on Sept. 5th, 1851, to the Northern Supreme Colmcil.
In the course of his address Brother Yates said that, after having revived the Lodge at Albany, New York, which was founded by Francken, one of the deputies of Morin, "Having been made aware of the new Constitution of the Thirty Third Degree, ratified on the 1st of May, 1786, conferring the Supreme Power over our Rite on Councils of nine Brethren, I hastened to place myself in correspondence with Moses Holbrook, M. D., at the time Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council at Charleston, and with my esteemed friends, Joseph McCosh, Grand Secretary of the last named Council, and Brother Gourgas, at that time Gr. Sec. Gen. of the H. E. for this Northern Jurisdiction.
Lodges of Perfection in the Counties of Montgomery, Onondage, Saratoga and Monroe in the State of New York, were successively organized, and placed agreeably to the Constitutions under the superintendence of the Grand Council before named. The establishment of this last named Body was confirmed, and all our proceedings in 'Sublime Freemasonry' were legalized and sanctioned by the only lawful authorities in the United States, the aforesaid Supreme Councils."
THE CONSTITUTIONS OF FREDERICK THE GREAT
AND THE INFLUENCE OF SEA WATER ON ITS REGULARITY
The Scottish Rite masons claim that Frederick Dalcho was one of the founders of the Supreme Council, being in possession of the Grand Constitution formulated by Frederick the Great of Prussia.
This is a myth and the reality is that no one has ever seen this “document”. One can say that the Constitutions of the AASR are fictional and a fraud.
Albert Pike in his Historical Inquiry in Regard to the Grand Constitutions of 1786 published in 1782, and reprinted by the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction of the U.S.A. in 1883, definitely states that he had seen the original document, but that the signature of Frederick had been completely effaced by the action of sea water to which it had been unfortunately exposed, and that still more unfortunately this precious document had after that been completely lost. It is very convenient indeed that after a century this document that obviously never existed suddenly appears in the desk of Albert Pike as if some one has sent it by FedEx next day delivery.
In Mackey's History (Revised Edition, p. 1829) there is a note which quotes from the preface of the above work the following very guarded statement:
I do not assert, and our Supreme Council does not assert, that they [the Constitutions] are, as a known, proven and established fact, genuine, but I do say that they have long been reputed to be so: that there is sufficient evidence to make their authenticity probable, that there is nothing in the grounds on which they have been impeached, and it is not shown that they are not authentic, nor that they ought to be suspected and doubted.
In this quotation Mackey’s gives a clear admission that the AASR Constitutions are not authentic, which is sufficiently damaging, though the following expression of opinion seems to be an attempt to nullify its effect.
The same note quotes Begemann, a most careful and accurate scholar, as definitely saying "that the so-called Constitutions of May 1, 1786, cannot be genuine." Brother Albert Lantoine in his recent "History of French Freemasonry" discusses the matter at some length and reaches the same conclusion. He not only points out the fact that in the only definite statement from one who claimed to have seen the original, that of Albert Pike, the latter admits that he never saw the signature.
He then goes on to consider the witnesses, whose names were legible, Denina, Stark, Woellner, Willelm, and d'Esterno, and points out that the first, Denina, wrote an essay on the life and reign of Frederick in which he mentions in a few words the latter's initiation into Freemasonry, a "society well known today, which was then commencing to make some noise in the world," and later states that Frederick did not especially favour the Freemasons though he had joined them two years before coming to the throne, but that he tolerated the existence of the lodges.
Secondly, that in 1787 Stark confesses in his Justification to having taken little part in Masonic work, and more that he had lost interest in it. Thirdly, a careful search in the papers left by Woellner who was in 1786 Maitre Ecossaise Supreme gives not the least hint of his knowledge of such an important event.
And finally Brother Lantoine adduces the fact that Frederick died in August, 1786, and that the Constitutions are supposed to have been revised in May of the same year, three months and a half before his death. Although he was ill for eleven months before this and suffered "without interruption" during that time. It would seem, then, that however Pike may have arrived at his opinion that there is "sufficient evidence to make their authenticity probable, and nothing in the grounds on which they have been impeached," it is hardly possible to agree with him.
It may be added that these claims have been examined and rejected by Lenning, Clavel, Ragon, Rebold, Findel and Gould, and that we do not know of a single Masonic scholar today whose opinion carries any real weight outside his own immediate circle who would support them. Even Bro. J. S. M. Ward whose works are widely known, and whom we might suspect of a desire to believe it if he were able to, can only say (Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods, p. 226): "This degree [the thirty-third] is stated to have been organized by King Frederick in 1786, but there is little reliable evidence of this."
( TO BE CONTINUED)
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