FREEMASONRY AND THE SCOTTISH RITE
The Beginnings of the Scottish Rite
BEFORE THE CHARTER: THE PRE-1813 ERA
While 2013 marked the 200th anniversary of the formal recognition of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, the history of 32° Freemasonry goes back several decades before 1813. Most outsiders—and even many Freemasons—assume that the fraternity’s name, Scottish Rite, honors the roots of the group and that the fraternity originated in Scotland. Some sources have fostered this story by suggesting that the Scottish Rite degrees were invented by Scottish supporters of the Stuarts of England in order to advance their cause. However, a closer look shows that the dates just don’t support that story.
The Scottish Rite seems to have started in Paris, France, around 1758. It was at the Grand East in Paris that Etienne (Stephen) Morin received a patent on August 27, 1761, authorizing him to establish the Rite “in all the four parts of the world.” The Constitutions and Regulations were written in 1762, and Morin, who had originally been made a Mason in Bordeaux, left France to return to San Domingo (now the Dominican Republic). In the West Indies, sometime between 1763 and 1767, Morin authorized Henry Francken to perform the degrees, and it was Francken who brought the Scottish Rite to America. On October 7, 1767, the Ineffable Lodge of Perfection was chartered and constituted in Albany, New York, making it the first body of the Rite of Perfection on the American continent. The early bodies initially offered degrees 4-25; the timing of the change to include up to 33 degrees continues to receive scholarly debate.
The Albany body was active until late 1774, when it ceased meeting. A second Lodge of Perfection was started in Philadelphia in 1782 and remained active until 1789. In 1783, a third Lodge of Perfection began meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, remaining active until about 1796. While these groups share the distinction of being the earliest to confer higher degrees in America, they were localized, and all three actively existed for relatively short periods.
On May 31, 1801, the Scottish Rite formalized its existence in the United States when Colonel John Mitchell and Reverend Dr. Frederick Dalcho met in Charleston, South Carolina, and opened a meeting of the “Supreme Council 33° of Freemasonry.” Today, the Southern Jurisdiction recognizes this date as its beginning and held its own bicentennial celebration in 2001.
As Mitchell and Dalcho continued to meet in Charleston, and initiated additional members, three men gained notice in New York City by forming their own Scottish Rite bodies. Joseph Cerneau, who received the degrees in Cuba, was made a Deputy Inspector General for the northern part of Cuba by Antoine Matthieu Du Potet in July 1806, while in the West Indies. Although Cerneau’s patent allowed him to confer the degrees up to and including the 24°, and the 25° on one candidate per year in Cuba, this does not seem to have prevented him from conferring the degrees after he moved to New York later in 1806. At the same time, Antoine Bideaud, who also became an Active Member of the Supreme Council in the French West Indies, was already in New York and initiated J.J.J. Gourgas and four other men as Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret, 32°, in August 1806. A third group, with members initiated by Abraham Jacob, who received a patent in 1790 in Jamaica, was also active in New York during the early 1800s.
BIRTH, SCHISM, AND UNION: 1813-1867
By 1813, the general organization of the higher degrees of Freemasonry in the United States was in disarray. Many prominent Masons, empowered with limited authority over dissimilar and random degrees, had established competing higher bodies in New York. These bodies can, for the most part, be recognized as belonging to three groups, each of which had very limited opinions as to whom they held allegiance or from whom they derived their authority. Something had to be done.
According to Samuel H. Baynard, “In the early summer of 1813, Emanuel De La Motta, Treasurer General of the Supreme Council at Charlestown, neither on business nor on pleasure bent, but in search of health, drifted into the vortex of this Masonic whirlpool.” Apparently, he was in New York and was able to observe the situation up close.
To ascertain what solutions may have existed, De La Motta approached each of these disparate bodies in hope of establishing its legitimacy. He first encountered the group led by Bideaud and composed of, among others, Simson, Tompkins, and Riker. Tompkins was the governor of New York at the time, and Riker was the district attorney of New York City. This group, naming itself a “Sublime Grand Consistory,” was made up of fierce personal and political rivals, headed by Cerneau, and called itself “The Grand Consistory for the United States of America.” This second group counted among its members DeWitt Clinton, the lieutenant governor and later governor of New York. Clinton was also the Grand Master of Masons in New York and, oddly enough, worked alongside Simson, who was Grand Treasurer, and Tomkins, who had served as Grand Secretary.
The third group, led by Abraham Jacobs, had formed a “Sublime Grand Lodge of Perfection” and a “Council of Princes of Jerusalem,” both of which had already been condemned by Cerneau as irregular. De La Motta very quickly reasoned that these conditions were unacceptable. Writing to the Sovereign Grand Commander, Mitchell, and the Lieutenant Grand Commander, Dalcho, he was given the authority to rectify the situation according to his best judgment. Upon calling on each body to justify its actions, he was met with resistance by the Cerneau group, who refused to cooperate. Upon his own investigations, De La Motta ruled that not only was the Cerneau group irregular, but also that the Jacobs group was without the warrants to establish its organizations. Having fully complied with all requests, the Bideaud group was found to be the only body worthy of recognition. Thus, on August 5, 1813, De La Motta, under the authority of the Supreme Council, 33°, in Charleston, issued the proclamation and charter granting sovereignty to the Bideaud group as the “Grand and Supreme Council of the Most Puissant Sovereigns, Grand Inspectors General of the 33° for the Northern District and Jurisdiction of the United States of America.”
Tompkins, who was then the governor of New York, and later vice president of the United States, was named as the first Sovereign Grand Commander, and J.J.J. Gourgas was named the first Grand Secretary General. The prosperity of the new Supreme Council was short lived, however.
In the wake of the Morgan Affair in 1826, Freemasonry in America, and particularly the Northeast, came to an abrupt standstill. The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction was most fortunate, nevertheless, to have Gourgas as its Grand Secretary General, for his organizational abilities and attention to detail were to serve as the sole deciding factor in the preservation of the Scottish Rite. The records and rituals of the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction were lost in a fire that destroyed their headquarters in 1819.
Gourgas came to the rescue and restored all that was needed for continued operation. Although publicly, Masonry seemed to all but vanish, Gourgas maintained records and correspondence, and even effected a territorial agreement with the Southern Jurisdiction in 1827 regarding the sovereignty of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction over the then 14 states situated east of the Mississippi and north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Wisconsin was not yet a state, but part of Michigan. During this time, Gourgas would guide the jurisdiction through the passing of its first two Grand Commanders, Tompkins and Simson, until becoming Sovereign Grand Commander himself in 1832. Urged by his ardent cohort, Giles F. Yates, Gourgas resumed the active business of the Supreme Council in 1843, and, over the next eight years, the Scottish Rite once again began to flourish. In 1846, the Supreme Council (NMJ) established the Ancient and Accepted Rite in England by chartering that country’s first Supreme Council under the leadership of founder Illustrious Robert Thomas Crucefix, 33° as the first Sovereign Grand Commander.
In 1851, after almost 50 years at the helm of the Supreme Council, Grand Commander Gourgas resigned at the age of 74. He named Illustrious Giles F. Yates, 33°, as his successor, who, though only 53 years old, resigned in a matter of days. His inaugural address was also to be his farewell address, and in it, he stated clearly why he was not accepting office. Among the reasons he stated were his many years of service, that he did not wish to obstruct the advancement of others, that he wished to serve as an example of how to let go of power, and his inability to reside near the jurisdiction’s headquarters. During that very brief tenure, the Grand East was moved from New York to Boston, with records kept at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts building. To succeed him as Grand Commander, Yates appointed Illustrious Edward Asa Raymond, 33°, a past Grand Master of Massachusetts and Grand Treasurer of the Supreme Council. Raymond was considered to be a most worthy successor, with a Masonic resumé that few Masons, if any, have ever equaled, and for the next 10 years, harmony reigned in the Supreme Council.
All of that changed at the meeting of the Supreme Council in August 1860, and to this day, much of what transpired is still cause for speculation. What is clear from reading the minutes of the meeting is that Grand Commander Raymond felt that he was being usurped and closed the meeting. Much the same action was taken at the meeting the following day, with Raymond closing the session sine die (without day). Following the meeting, the remaining members of the council appointed themselves a committee to visit Past Grand Commander Gourgas, who was visiting nearby, to seek his advice. On Saturday, August 25, 1860, those remaining members of the Supreme Council reconvened, occupied the chairs, opened the Supreme Council, elected themselves, installed themselves into office, and proceeded to make some 200 pages of changes to the laws, statutes, and regulations of the Scottish Rite. For the next year, Killian H. Van Rensselaer would govern the council as its Lieutenant Commander, until being elected as Sovereign Grand Commander in 1862.
An entire volume could be written about this period in the Supreme Council’s history, but most Masonic historians tend to postulate that the schism that occurred was the result of a generational conflict. Upon the exit of Gourgas and Yates, Raymond remained as the last of the elder members of the Supreme Council, an adherent to the old rules and exclusive sensibilities of the rite. Van Rensselaer, in stark contrast, was a younger and more energetic member who had personally founded over 30 new bodies since 1848. Due to the lack of solid evidence, it is difficult to speculate which party may have been at fault. Nevertheless, it may be safe to say that both were. Raymond, perhaps through age and temperament, allowed himself to lose control, and Van Rensselaer, eager to exert his will over the growing rite, stepped out of due bounds. Regardless, Raymond and Van Rensselaer would both maintain their own Supreme Councils—Van Rensselaer’s being the duly recognized—until they merged in 1867. During the intervening years leading to the merger, much occurred behind the scenes, with Raymond allying his council with the irregular Cerneau Council that he had long opposed and Van Rensselaer assuming control and expanding the rite. In the end, Brotherly love prevailed, and after seven years, the two councils merged in 1867, since which time harmony has reigned in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.
GROWTH AND PROSPERITY: 1867-1917
Following the Union of 1867, one of Masonry’s most revered leaders, Josiah Hayden Drummond, 33º, was elected to lead the Supreme Council of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction as Sovereign Grand Commander, beginning an era of unprecedented growth and prosperity for the rite. Although membership numbered only about 4,100 in 1867, it included outstanding leaders from a broad cross section of society. The Supreme Council at this time had three distinct tasks before it: adoption of a unifying constitution, consolidating its bodies, and establishing bodies where none existed, primarily Vermont and Delaware. The constitution was finalized in 1877, with no major revisions until 1925. Bodies were successfully consolidated, numbering about 50 Valleys, with approximately 20 members per body. At that time, Consistory membership accounted for about two-thirds of the membership of the Lodge of Perfection. Though still ultraselective, membership would grow to 15,250 by 1890. The discussion of international conferences of Supreme Councils began around that time, but stalled over, among other things, the adoption of certain French Masonic bodies’ semantics of the “creative principle of God,” and would not become annual events until 1907.
It is impossible to examine this period without discussing the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction, Albert Pike, 33º. A man of significant personal accomplishment, Pike was raised in 1850 at the age of 41, joined the Scottish Rite three years later, rewrote the ritual in 1855 as a 32º Mason, and a mere nine years after joining Freemasonry, was elected Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction in 1859, an office he held until his death 32 years later in 1891. He still stands today as perhaps the single most influential Masonic scholar in Western history. As a testament, when the standardization of Scottish Rite degrees between the Northern and Southern Jurisdictions was proposed in 1960, the Southern Jurisdiction declined, stating Pike’s degrees were as close to perfection as humanly possible.
Pike instantly recognized the unified Supreme Council of 1867, and active members of both the Northern and Southern Jurisdictions proposed a union of their two councils in 1870, to no avail. These two councils, including Drummond and Pike, enjoyed great harmony until 1875 when tested by, among other issues, the Northern Jurisdiction’s claims of sovereignty over the expanded upper Mississippi states and Alaska, disputes over ritual, and Pike’s criticism of Drummond for excessively increasing membership. Rational minds prevailed, however, and the matter of jurisdiction was laid to rest forever.
After 12 years of service, Josiah Hayden Drummond retired the office of Grand Commander to his able successor, Henry Lynde Palmer, 33º. A successful legislator and business executive, Palmer most notably incorporated the Supreme Council, N.M.J. by special act of the Massachusetts legislature. After 30 years as Grand Commander, Palmer resigned in 1909 at 90 years old and died 17 days later. In that time, the Scottish Rite in his 15 states grew from 7,366 members in 1879 to an impressive 61,252 members in 1909.
Succeeding Palmer as Grand Commander in 1909 was Masonic luminary Samuel Crocker Lawrence, 33º. Like his predecessors, Lawrence’s personal accomplishments were numerous, including retiring from the Massachusetts 5th Regiment at the end of the Civil War as a brigadier general and serving as the first mayor of Medford, Massachusetts. Like Palmer, Lawrence was a product of the Hays-Raymond Supreme Council, and is given profound credit for orchestrating the Union of 1867. When he assumed office, Lawrence was one of only three living Active Members from the Union of 1867. He served as Grand Commander for about 18 months, a formality in his eyes, to hold the chair until a suitable replacement for Palmer could be found, but in that short period, membership increased an astounding 7.66% to reach 65,947.
Barton Smith, 33º assumed the post of Sovereign Grand Commander in 1910. He had been a close friend and student of Lawrence, who would in turn train his own replacement. Barton was to enjoy quite arguably the most prosperous reign of any Grand Commander despite his term occurring during World War I. Along with other highlights, an International Conference of Supreme Councils was held in 1912, and one week later, at the second meeting of the Supreme Council with Barton as Grand Commander, he entertained President and Mason-on-sight William H. Taft at a gala that has rarely ever been rivaled. In 1913, he presided over the Supreme Council’s centennial celebration. In 1917, he also conducted the jubilee celebration of the Union of 1867. In his eleven-year term as Sovereign Grand Commander, Smith would see the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction grow to 94 Valleys, numbering 213,518 members, a 31% increase in membership. Whereas there had been no permanent fund at the beginning of the Union and it wasn’t established until 1872, by the end of Smith’s term as Sovereign Grand Commander in 1921, it had grown to a robust $1,326,429.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: 1917-1974
After leading the rite through its greatest period of growth, Barton Smith duly transmitted the office of Sovereign Grand Commander to his handpicked successor, Leon M. Abbott, in 1921. Abbott was an exceedingly well-qualified leader who had already served as Grand Lieutenant Commander for 11 years, and the state of the craft nationally had never been stronger. The treasuries of Masonic organizations were bursting at the seams. Lodge rooms and Scottish Rite Temples were no longer able to adequately serve the influx of membership. New buildings were constructed and were ornately decorated. Regrettably, no one could have anticipated the effects that the looming stock market crash of October 1929 would have on the fraternity. Buildings and bodies went into default. Many Masonic organizations closed their doors. The growth in membership not only subsided, but, beginning in 1930, the fraternity began to lose 10,000 members a year by suspension or demit until having lost nearly 100,000 by 1941. This predicament was just one of many to confront the rite over the next fifty years.
The archives of the Supreme Council had been stored at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in Boston since 1851. In 1927, Grand Commander Abbott had the offices moved to the Statler Building in Boston, a space they would occupy until 1968.
Sovereign Grand Commander Abbott was a particularly religious and tolerant man who entered into among the first of many sensitive negotiations concerning the recognition of the Scottish Rite of Prince Hall affiliation. Around this time, the Ku Klux Klan was again attempting to revive itself nationally. Grand Commander Abbott addressed this issue in his 1924 allocution, garnering the attention of the Boston Globe, which used the headline “S.R. Mason hits at Ku Kluxers.” Grand Commander Abbott, though never mentioning the KKK by name in the address, made it abundantly clear to which organization he was referring and that he would not allow the disharmony of intolerance to infect the Scottish Rite.
In his will, Grand Commander Abbott left two important gifts to the Supreme Council. The first gift of $50,000 established what has come to be known as the Abbott scholarships. The second was a gift of $50,000 for “charitable, benevolent, or educational uses.” To this day, the Abbott scholarships benefit the qualified children of Scottish Rite members.
When Abbott unexpectedly passed away due to a heart attack in October 1932, he was temporarily succeeded by Frederic Beckwith Stevens, with whom he had been elected to Active Membership in 1909. Upon Abbott’s death, Stevens refused to be nominated for Sovereign Grand Commander, but instead agreed to act as such until a new Grand Commander could be elected. When, after 11 months, Melvin Maynard Johnson was elected as the new Grand Commander, the Supreme Council paid Stevens the homage of electing him as its first Honorary Past Sovereign Grand Commander.
Melvin Maynard Johnson has been and still is considered by most Masonic scholars to have been the greatest American Mason of the 20th century. He led the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts through World War I as its Grand Master, and the Scottish Rite through the Great Depression and World War II. When he assumed office, he wasted no time in tackling the most difficult issues of the day. He established the Supreme Council’s charitable efforts in the field of mental health through the funding of schizophrenia research, aided by Dr. Richard A. Kern—who would later become the Supreme Council’s second Honorary Past Sovereign Grand Commander—and the Supreme Council Benevolent Foundation. Johnson also continued the fight toward the recognition of Prince Hall Freemasonry, both on the Supreme Council level and in the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, though he did not live to see its harmonious resolution. Johnson also established the conferral of the Gourgas Medal, whose first recipient was Illustrious Harry S. Truman, 33°. In 1946, the Supreme Council succeeded in electing Johnson as the second recipient. Johnson also presided over the adoption of the Meritorious Service Award in 1939.
In 1933, Grand Commander Johnson resolved that an authoritative chronicle of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction needed to be written to preserve the history of our esteemed institution. For this task, he chose Samuel H. Baynard, an Active Member of the Supreme Council from Delaware, and later the General Grand Secretary. His resulting History of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America, and Its Antecedents is, as Grand Commander Newbury would later write in his own history, “brilliantly conceived and extremely well written.” It remains as the definitive narrative of our organization’s history from its beginning until 1938. Following the publishing of this history, Grand Commander Johnson still felt it important that the Supreme Council continue its historical research, and in 1949, he appointed a special Committee on History that would continue its work until it was dissolved for various reasons by Johnson’s successor, George Edward Bushnell.
Unknown to most Scottish Rite Masons of our modern era is that Grand Commander Johnson rewrote the 33°. The degree that had been used by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction was one adopted from the Pike rituals written for the Southern Jurisdiction between 1850 and 1860. However, in the time that lapsed during those 100 years, the 33° gained a reputation among the Brethren of being antiquated and forgettable. Grand Commander Johnson took it upon himself to rectify this opinion, and seeking the wisdom of a small number of advisors—including Masonic luminary Roscoe Pound—virtually rewrote the degree. It is still used by the Supreme Council, and, as one might conclude, it differs greatly from those conferred by other Supreme Councils around the world.
The scope of Grand Commander Johnson’s influence and authority is immeasurable. Particularly of note are his famous 1942 address to the Conference of Grand Masters, his relationship with Grand Commander Cowles of the Southern Jurisdiction, and the controversy over territorial jurisdiction. Membership, when he assumed office, numbered 279,312, only to drop to 208,393 and then rebound to 422,051 by the time he retired in 1953. His successor, George Edward Bushnell, had previously been appointed by Johnson as Grand Lieutenant Commander upon the death of Delmar D. Darrah in 1945. When Johnson retired, the Supreme Council found itself led by a man well prepared for the task before him.
George Bushnell was an accomplished attorney and judge from Michigan who had previously served on many presidential emergency boards under President Truman and had been elected a justice of the Supreme Court of Michigan. As the fraternity flourished in the wake of World War II, Grand Commander Bushnell came to the realization that the demands of the fraternity would require that he too lay down the reins of his professional life that he might better serve such a large membership. Though the records and archives of the Supreme Council would remain in Massachusetts, Grand Commander Bushnell established his office in the Masonic building in Detroit and set about managing the many issues demanded of him. He confronted the issue of universality in the 18°, appeared as an expert witness on behalf of Prince Hall Masonry in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, tackled issues of clandestine Masonry in Pennsylvania, worked to resolve anti-Masonic attacks by Lutheran and Catholic organizations, admonished Valleys not to become involved in the 1960 presidential race, and worked to reconcile the relationship that had deteriorated between the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction and the Southern Jurisdiction during the leadership of both Grand Commander Johnson and Grand Commander Cowles.
At midnight following the Supreme Council session held in Cleveland in 1965, Grand Commander Bushnell died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 77. Grand Lieutenant Commander George Adelbert Newbury, who had already memorized all of the ritual of the Sovereign Grand Commander, stepped in and presided over the remaining Executive and General Sessions of the Supreme Council. He was a man who, despite adversity, had accomplished much in his life, and he brought that experience to the office of the Sovereign Grand Commander. He was involved with and, in some cases, presided over the boards of the Blue Cross, the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army, and the Boy Scouts, and sat on the boards of several colleges. His Masonic resume is vast. He is responsible for the current location of the Supreme Council headquarters in Lexington, Massachusetts and the building of the National Heritage Museum, now named the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. He began a program of informational films about the Scottish Rite. Beginning in 1970, he brought about the birth of The Northern Light, the magazine published for the members of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction and distributed worldwide. He thoroughly rewrote the Grand Constitutions.
Grand Commander Newbury was a member of the Scottish Rite for 58 years until his death in 1984. When he resigned as Grand Commander in 1975, after 20 years in that position, he left a legacy that would name him among the greats who had served in the office of Sovereign Grand Commander, from Gourgas and Drummond to Johnson and Bushnell. Few Freemasons will ever have the distinction of contributing to the welfare of their Brethren in quite the devoted manner of George A. Newbury.
TOWARD TWO CENTURIES: 1975 TO THE PRESENT
During his tenure, Sovereign Grand Commander John Wm. McNaughton refocused 32° Freemasonry on a Mason's most fundamental obligation—caring for Brothers in need and their families. He oversaw the reinvigoration of the Grand Almoner’s Fund that has worked to help those in distress, whether it be from illness, natural disaster, or general misfortune. This vision and priority will be carried forward into the future.
Commander McNaughton called attention to the fraternity’s need for change and unveiled a plan to address three major needs of its members: inspiration, convenience, and enjoyment. While these words will guide the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction moving forward, we can see the influence they have already had when we look back over the past 35 years. Since 1975, the Scottish Rite NMJ has experienced challenges, but has also celebrated many successes.
One of the first of this era was the dedication and grand opening of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, in Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 20, 1975. Since that day, the museum has inspired countless visitors, both Masonic and non-Masonic, with its fascinating collections, exciting exhibitions, and wonderful library. The museum & library seeks to engage and inspire, through exhibits, programs, and collections, knowledge and appreciation of America’s history, heritage, culture, and traditions, with a focus on the nation’s formative years, Freemasonry, and fraternalism, by emphasizing themes of liberty, patriotism, and personal and civic virtues.
Today, it aims to become widely recognized as “the historical society of Freemasonry” by setting an example for other Masonic institutions and offering professional assistance through its staff and collections. The museum & library places a special premium on preserving the history of the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, particularly by collecting and maintaining object and archival treasures of the past 200 years, while also collecting in the present.
In 2004, the museum & library entered into a long-term loan agreement with the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts (GLMA). The GLMA’s object and archival collection of over 10,000 items came to the museum, where it receives professional care and management. In return, the museum is able to use the collection for research and in its exhibitions and publications, as well as on its website.
Throughout the past 35 years, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction has constantly worked to revise its rituals, in part to promote convenience among its members. While in some cases the rituals have been changed to help Valleys perform them more conveniently, changes have also been made to reflect modern thinking and to meet the needs of contemporary Freemasons. Most recently, a recorded version of the 4° was created to allow initiates to receive this degree in a more convenient, inspirational, and enjoyable way. A Brother becomes a Scottish Rite Mason once he has witnessed the 4° either by viewing the recorded version or as presented by a degree cast.
In 1994, the Supreme Council voted to create the Children’s Learning Centers (today known as the Children’s Dyslexia Centers) to provide much-needed assistance to children with dyslexia, helping them to learn to read and to reach their full potential. By working with Massachusetts General Hospital, the Supreme Council opened centers in almost every state in the jurisdiction. The program is free to all children who have been diagnosed as dyslexic, regardless of economic status or Masonic affiliation.
Over the past 35 years, as global communication became faster and easier, the jurisdiction has maintained ties to Supreme Councils around the world, inviting representatives to each annual meeting and sending representatives to countless foreign meetings. Additionally, in 1995, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction celebrated mutual recognition with the United Supreme Council, New Jersey, Prince Hall Affiliation.
These highlights from the past 35 years merely hint at the achievements of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction and inspire members and leaders alike to strive for continued growth.
The Northern Supreme Council holds jurisdiction over fifteen states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Southern Supreme Council has jurisdiction over the rest of the United States and in certain other areas of the world.
The Supreme Council elects from among its Active Members a Deputy for each district; as such he presides over the Council of Deliberation of his district. Council of Deliberation membership is composed of officers and past officers of subordinate bodies, recipients of the Meritorious Service Award and Supreme Council members of the district. Within the district are subordinate bodies designated as Valleys.