From the Commander of Kadosh (April 2020)

posted Mar 29, 2020, 1:12 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite

Through word of mouth and various publications, we know our Supreme Council, while located in Washington, DC has its See in Charleston, South Carolina established in 1801.  This piece is about how it came to be.


From the earliest days of Freemasonry as we know it, there were high degrees circulating.  These “hautes grades” or high degrees were unknown in the ancient Operative or modern Speculative system of Masonry.  Ramsey first devised these supplements to Craft Masonry in France.  His system had seven additional degrees which, at the time, were to be instructions of the Third Degree.  These would be higher initiations to which the initiation as a Master Mason was considered subordinate.  It was said these seven were simple as compared to those later introduced by his followers in France.


These first high degrees resulted in France being inundated by higher degrees.  The Grand Lodges of France and England remained true to the Speculative system founded on the traditions of the old Operative craft.  These Grand Lodges declared that Masonry consisted of only three degrees.  The imposing titles and brilliant decorations of the higher degrees, however, were attractive to many.


In 1761 Stephen Morin was issued a patent by Chaillon de Joinville, self-proclaimed “Chief of the High Degrees and a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret” authorizing Morin to carry the Rite of Perfection to America.  He arrived in Kingston, Jamaica and appointed a Deputy Inspector General who established a Lodge of Perfection in Albany, New York.


Our Degrees tell us that Frederick the Great of Prussia formed the Grand Constitutions on which the present Scottish Rite was formed.  This Grand Constitution in fact existed and in 1762 was ratified and proclaimed the governing laws for the Bodies of the Rite of Perfection over the two hemispheres.


The use of “Scottish” in the Scottish Rite takes its name from degrees that originated in France called the “Scots Degrees” around 1740.


Our Supreme Council was finally established in Charleston, South Carolina in 1801 and it made known to Masonry that it was the Mother of all the other Supreme Councils.  The Grand Constitution stated only one Supreme Council could in exist in each nation except for the United States.  Two could exist there however they had to be as far as possible from each other.  The Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction as established in New York in 1813 but later moved to Boston.

The primary source of information used here is from Albert Mackey’s The History of Freemasonry (1906), volume 7.  Our Supreme Council’s web site has an excellent, and easier reading, history of the Scottish Rite by Ill. Arturo de Hoyas (scottishrite/org/about/history)