Scottish, known formally by many of us as the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, is actually of Franco Prussian origin. While it is true that no one could definitely establish or trace the original roots of Ecossais (Scottish) Masonry, yet world-renowned writers and historians had made valuable researchers and had formulated theories about it only to find out that Scottish Masonry had emitted to the horizon in some form at various times and places. In their writings, however, it could be sensed that lesser degrees of the Scottish Rite Freemasonry first took place at Bordeaux, France, where the Rite of Perfection already had existed. Bordeaux is said to have been the oldest provincial Masonic center in Europe. As early as 1932, fifty lodges had already been established and the famous Lodge of La Francaise Elu Ecossaise was created on December 13, 1740. Stephen Morin presides over lodge Parfaite Harmonio, which was an affiliate of La Francaise Elu Ecossaise, was the very first to confer degrees as high Perfection. The conferring of additional degrees was not referred to the Grand Lodge of France, mainly because none of the Bordeaux lodges was relatively a part of that Grand Body. Stephen Morin, therefore, continued his ritualistic activities in the Sovereign Grand Consistory of the Princes of the Royal Secret (Twenty-fifth degree).
As a traveler and because of the nature of Morin’s livelihood, he made several trips to the French West Indies or the Western Hemisphere. In his relentless effort to uphold Freemasonry, the Grand and Sovereign Lodge of Saint John of Jerusalem, in conduction of the Council of the Emperors of the East and West, issued to Morin a celebrated Patent with broad discretionary powers. This was during his departure to the West Indies in 1761 and carried with him the title of Grand Inspector General with the powers of propagating Bodies and Lodges and designating deputies, exercising full authority to confer the degrees of the Rite of Perfection. From this productive Patent, Morin exercised his prerogative with inspirational zeal and venture and passed the Rite along by patents similar to his own. In Jamaica, Morin made Henry Andrew Francken his first deputy, with the title of Deputy Grand Inspector General. Eventually, Francken, went to North America and promoted Scottish Rite in New York and Albany, communicating the degrees to Moses H. Hayes in 1767. Then by a special dispensation of Francken, Lt. Augustin Prevost of the 60th Royal American Regiment was initiated into the Rite of Perfection at Albany on January 2, 1768. Appointed as Deputy Grand Inspector General, Prevost appointed new Deputies and spread the same Rite to Scotland and England.
In 1781 at Charleston, South Carolina degrees were communicated to Barend M. Spitzer of Georgia. From the many Deputies now holding the same powers and patents, making the Rite and readily available a meeting of all Deputy Grand Inspectors General was held in Philadelphia in 1794 for a Sublime Council. From this Council Meeting developed more communication and initiation into the Rite and it was in 1795 that the Rite was conferred to Moses Cohan, and to others that were given the same patents and powers to propagate Scottish Rite Freemasonry, such patentees as Hyman L. Long, Comte August de Grasse-Tilly and Jean Delahogue. It was in 1797 in Charleston, South Carolina, that de Grasse and Delahogue helped form a Council of Princes of the Royal Secret.
The Rite being conducted under the French Constitution of 1762 naming only 25 degrees is still uncertain, yet later historians were confounded to the additional Constitution of 1786 which was approved at Charleston, naming 33 degrees and signifying to be issued by the authority of Frederick the Great. Communication into the Rite continuously flourished that on April 2, 1795, B.M. Spitzer, was appointed as Deputy Grand Inspector General. Similarly, John Mitchell on May 25, 1801 granted the same patent and title to Frederick Dalcho. It was during this time that Mitchell and Dalcho labored relentlessly to fully organize the activities of the Rite. On May 31, 1801, therefore, Mitchell and Dalcho opened a “Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the 33rd and Last Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the United States of America”.
At Charleston, on the date was established the first and Mother Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and that on December 4, 1802 this Supreme Council issued a “Circular” and gave the Grand Constitution of 1786 as the law of its existence and the source of its power. From this were derived all regular and recognized Supreme Councils of the world. Other Supreme Councils were established like the Supreme Council of the French West India Islands in 1802, the Supreme Council of the Winward and Leeward Islands in 1803. at Port-au-Prince, and then the Supreme Council of France in 1804, of Italy in 1805, of Spain in 1809, and of Belgium in 1817. All these were established through the zealous endeavors of de Grasse who was granted a Patent by the Charleston Supreme Council on February 21, 1802.
From the foregoing, the development and expansion of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry were the products of the labor, leadership and promotional activities of the two eminent patrons of Freemasonry – Morin and Francken, indeed both truly deserving of lasting tribute and recognition. From the beginning, therefore, it could be acclaimed that the continuity in the expansion of degrees, attributed to the works of Morin and Francken, came about out of the Bordeaux Rite of Perfection, out of Paris aristocratic Chapter of Clamout that the Chevalier de Bonneville founded at the College of Jesuits in 1754, out of the Councils of the East and West and out of several other tributary systems of congregations.
Scottish Rite thus founded and organized, Albert Pike, lawyer and creative writer, was admitted into the Rite in 1853. He was elected Grand Commander in 1859, holding the office until his death in 1891. From a condition of disorder and confusion, Albert Pike, a classical scholar at that, edited and rewrote the rituals for our degrees for universal acceptance, use and conformity. The compilation of the Morals and Dogma was his great achievement. He had worked hard, gathering valuable data and information culled from ancient religious, philosophies, mysteries, and societies, out of which he had produced the fine structure of the doctrine, ceremonies and symbolism of the Rite. This great achievement, which was some ten years in the making, earned him the title of “Forerunner of Freemasonry.”
We have the Northern and Southern Councils as jurisdictions which history reveals came into serious conflict, a condition where one clamed jurisdiction over the other over the Craft Degrees. In 1806, Antoine Bidaud and Joseph Cernau came to New York City to disseminate Scottish Masonry. Antoine Bidaud was a member of the Grasse-Tilly Supreme Council in Sto. Domingo. He, however had no authority to propagate Scottish Masonry in the United States. Joseph Cernau, likewise, had authority only to operate in Cuba, yet possessing only the 25 degrees of Perfection. Aware of his limitations and powers, Cernau proceeded to open a Consistory of the 32nd Degree in New York in 1807, and in 1813, he had successfully organized a Supreme Council in New Orleans. It was in this milieu that controversies arose between the Bidaud and Cernau Bodies, claiming jurisdiction over the craft degrees. To end this serious conflict, Inspector General de la Motta of Charleston Council was forced to make a very crucial investigation – De la Motta recognized the Bidaud Council and denounced the Cernau Council as illegitimate and fictitious. Gravely embarrassed, Ceranu proceeded to establish a Council of Princes of Jerusalem at Charleston. And since his departure for France in 1827, Cernau had become a legendary mystery and was no longer heard of. His works on lodges, Chapters and Councils in America however continued to exist and resulted in dissension until the reconciliation of 1867. It was not until after the Civil War that a condition of harmony and stability was realized. From then on, and up to the present, the Northern Jurisdiction took exclusive jurisdiction over the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michagan, and Wisconsin. The Southern Jurisdiction, with present headquarters at Washington, D.C. has jurisdiction over the rest of the world, except so far as it has surrendered it to Supreme Councils in various countries.
As we can now see as the Rite stems from the French Rite of Perfection, founded in 1758, the development and expansion of our present degrees were the accomplishments of the past and the outstanding achievements we now enjoy were truly launched by the most dynamic key men who made us heirs of their own endeavors. With this inherited venture we must, as Freemasons, be encouraged to do better for equally greater achievements for tomorrow’s Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.
Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite
A Brief History