McAlester Scottish Rite Masonic Center


History of the Scottish Rite





The history of the Scottish Rite, as with so much of Masonry, begins in a mist of uncertainty. Although there are many Scottish Rite members of Scottish ancestry, the Scottish Rite actually originated in southern France in the early 18th century, as part of the Rite of Perfection. Its immediate predecessor, known as The Order of the Royal Secret, consisted of 25 Degrees under the Secret Constitutions of 1761 and the Constitutions of 1762. Masonic tradition maintains that Lodges of this Rite, transmitted from Bordeaux in France through the West Indies to the American mainland, were established at New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1763; at Albany New York, in 1767; at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1781-82; and at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1783.


The Grand Constitutions of 1786 provided for an extension of the Rite to thirty-three Degrees, governed in each country under a Supreme Council of the Thirty-third and Last Degree. Its provisions were cited in a Manifesto at Charleston that confirmed the first "Supreme Council of the 33° of the United States" ever opened under these Grand Constitutions, on May 31, 1801, by Brothers John Mitchell and Frederick Dalcho. All regular and recognized Supreme Councils and their Subordinate Bodies today are descended directly or collaterally from this Mother Supreme Council of the World.





In announcing its establishment to the Masonic world in that Manifesto, dated December 4, 1802, the name was given as The Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree for the United States of America. The word Scotch appeared in connection with one of the early Supreme council Degrees, and Scottish (sic) was included in the name of one of the detached Degrees conferred by The Supreme Council.


The name Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite first appeared in an 1804 agreement between the Supreme Council of France and the Grand Orient of France. Beginning with the administration of Grand Commander Albert Pike in 1859, it came into general use in the Southern Jurisdiction and elsewhere. Many Scottish Masons fled to France during political upheavals in Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries, at a time when the Degrees of the Rite were evolving in French Freemasonry. this has caused some to think mistakenly that the Rite originated in Scotland. Actually, however, a Supreme Council for Scotland was not established until 1846. With the start of the administration of Grand Commander Albert Pike in 1859, the name "Scottish Rite" came into general use in the Mother Jurisdiction and elsewhere.




The Grand Constitutions of 1786, in the earliest known text in the possession of John Mitchell and Frederick Dalcho, provided for two Supreme councils in the United States. The Supreme Council at Charleston authorized the establishment in 1813 of a Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States. The Supreme council at Charleston in 1827 ceded to the Northern Supreme Council the fifteen states north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi rivers. The southern Supreme Council retained jurisdiction over all other states and territories (at home and abroad) of the United States. Today the central headquarters of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, is located in the magnificent House of the Temple in Washington, D.C.