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Albert Pike, Grand Commander of the Supreme Council

33°. A. A. S. R., Southern Jurisdiction. U. S. A. 1858-1891

Knowing well that statues of marble and bronze fall to the earth, are swallowed by it, perish, and are forgotten, while the works of genius alone survive, Brother Pike erected his monument in his poems, in his scholarly writings, and in books containing his profound Masonic and philosophical investigations which are as yet known only to the few. Like the great Roman he desired no other monument save that which is found in his works. The Supreme Council, over which he presided for so many years, has erected to his memory the bronze statue, the work of the great Italian Sculptor, Trentanove, which was unveiled at the celebration of the Centennial Anniversary.

No brief sketch such as must be given in this work can do justice to the life and work of Albert Pike.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 29th day of December, 1809, he was educated at Newburyport and Framingham. Compelled to teach in order to earn money to pay his board and tuition, he fitted himself to enter the junior class at Harvard College, but finding that to enter that class he would have to pay the fees of the Sophomore and Freshman classes before entering he declined to do so, and thus, as he said, "was deprived of the advantages of a collegiate education." Afterwards, while teaching, he educated himself by taking substantially the college courses.

In 1834 he removed to Arkansas. A soldier in the war with Mexico he commanded a company in Colonel Archibald Yell's Regiment He was Reporter of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Arkansas, a Judge of that Court, and was regarded as the leading lawyer of the State. Having studied the Civil Law he removed to New Orleans in 1853 and engaged in practice there during that year. He was the first person who proposed to hold a convention for the purpose of considering the building of a railroad to the Pacific Ocean. Entering the Confederate Army he served for a time as a Brigadier-General. His estate was confiscated and was retained by the United States until after his death, when part of it was returned to his children. He removed to Washington and practiced law in that city until 1880, when he gave up the practice. Of his poems the great English critic, "Kit North" (Wilson), said, "they entitle their author to take his place in the highest order of his country's poets." He was versed in many languages, including the Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Sanskrit, French, Spanish, Italian, &c, and there remain as specimens of his work in the Library of the Supreme Council his manuscript translations of the Veda and the Zend-Avesta.

His labors for the Fraternity were the result of the conviction that he could render humanity greater service in that field than in any other, altho he could have achieved great distinction in political life or in the line of his profession. He was prominent and held numerous offices in the York Rite. He was made a Mason in Little Rock in July, 1850, a Royal Arch Mason November 29, 1850, a Knight Templar February, 1853. He received the degrees of the Scottish Rite from Albert G. Mackey on March 20, 1853, at Charleston, and received the thirty-third degree honorary on April 25, 1857, at New Orleans. He was crowned an active member of the Supreme Council March 20, 1858, at Charleston. He was Honorary Grand Commander of the Supreme Councils of Brazil, Egypt, and Tunis, Provincial Past Grand Prior of the Grand Priory of Canada, and was an honorary member of the Supreme Councils of Mexico, Colon, Hungary, New Granada, Italy, the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States, England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Canada, and Greece. His ability, learning, and character, were thus recognized and honored throughout the world.

By reason of his long residence in this city and his active interest in York as well as Scottish Rite Masonry, he was well known, respected, and loved by the entire local Fraternity, and his death, which occurred in this city April 2, 1891, was felt to be an irreparable loss to the jurisdiction.

In Memory of the Late Albert Pike

In mystic glory with song and story
The coming ages shall prolong thy fame,
And o'er the ocean with deep devotion
The true and faithful shall revere thy name.

While streams are flowing and winds are blowing
Along the boundless prairies of the West,
Thy manly bearing and dashing daring
Shall shine in honor with the brave and blest

The good you brought us, the truth you taught us,
Shall linger down the billowy tides of time
In templed tower with pride and power
In every heart and soul, and land and clime.

You taught us beauty and love and duty,
And Truth, the great foundation stone of all,
That never falters and never alters,
But reigns triumphant over home and hall.

Masonic pages through unborn ages
Shall paint the picture of thy lofty mien,
And tell to others that brave mystic brothers
Shall keep thy memory in immortal green!

John A. Joyce. Washington, D. C, October 25, 1899

 

AHGP District of Columbia

Source: History of the Grand Lodge and Freemasonry in the District of Columbia, compiled by W. Brother Kenton N. Harper, 1911.

 
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