The First Scottish Rite Organization Among African Americans
The United Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Northern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., Inc. was created from the sizeable efforts of a number of dedicated Brothers to unite all “colored” Freemasons.
Our story begins, in earnest, in the mid-1800s. In 1850 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Count de Saint-Laurent—Patron of the Prince Hall Scottish Rite—conferred the degrees of the Scottish Rite, including the Thirty-third and Last Degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, upon David Leary, a prominent Philadelphia Freemason.
By December 1854, Illustrious Leary received his patent of authority from the Supreme Council of France investing him with the privileges and prerogatives of a Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Active grade. In January 1856, King David (Darius) Supreme Council was created with a full complement of elective and appointive officers.
Between 1856 and 1879 four (4) more Supreme Councils were created populated predominantly by colored men:
- Supreme Council of the United States (New York)—1864;
- Supreme Council, Southern and Western Jurisdiction (Washington)—1869;
- Supreme Council of the Southern States (Star of Bethlehem) (Baltimore)—1871; and
- King Fredrick Supreme Council (Philadelphia)—1879
We believe in giving a voice to the voiceless. Our communities are often excluded from the political, economic and social institutions that provide services for the nourishment and enrichment of our people with dignity and respect. We are guided by a vision that includes economic empowerment, political awareness, social justice and service to the community. For more than a century, our mission has been to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, and advance human achievement from the cradle to college, in support of our active and retired military, and our aging populations.
Our goal is to empower individuals and groups to share in the knowledge, wealth, and resources of this world, in hopes of reaching their full potential. Our Foundation is built on your donations and gives 100% of your donations to charitable and philanthropic causes. Your tax-exempt donations can be made in a multitude of ways; please consult your financial planner for more information. We thank you for considering us as part of your estate planning, and your legacy of giving.
Five Supreme Councils
Five Supreme Councils in close proximity to each other eventually required a course correction. Through a series of meetings in New York City of all five (5) Supreme Councils in late 1880/early 1881, a framework for a union in the spirit of the Grand Constitution of 1786 was agreed upon.
On April 9, 1881, the United Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Thirty Third Degree of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America (our name at that time), commanded by Illustrious William H. Cooper 33°, was formed from the amalgamation of both the Philadelphia bodies and the New York body. Immediately upon the completion of the organization of our United Supreme Council, a resolution was passed recognizing Illustrious Leary as a past Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander of this Council newly formed.
As with any new venture, our United Supreme Council began in a fledging manner, but in the years that followed we quickly got under speed.
The following is a very small sampling of the accomplishments we have enjoyed since our inception.
- In 1883, we exchanged the Orient of Kentucky for the Orient of Delaware
- In 1898, we incorporated ourselves.
- In 1908, in conjunction with our sister United Supreme Council in the Southern Jurisdiction, issued a Joint Bulletin proclaiming the legitimacy of “colored” Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
- In 1914, the Order of the Golden Circle was established in the Northern Jurisdiction after first receiving permission from Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander Robert L. Pendleton 33° who created the body in the Southern Jurisdiction in 1907.
- In 1928, the building of the Cathedral was completed.
- In 1974 the Cathedral underwent a modernization. The iconic stairs were razed and six additional offices were built in their place.
- In 1985, the Scottish Rite House was completed.
- In 1995, we were afforded official recognition and visitation with the Supreme Council, 33°, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction—USA.
- In 1996, the Scottish Rite Tower was completed.
- In 2013, we were afforded official recognition and visitation with the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A.
Other Successes & Highlights
The United Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Northern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., Inc. is composed of 24 Orients comprised of 29 states generally north of the Mason-Dixon line as far north and west as Alaska; as far east as Maine and as far south as Kansas; (1) territory (Guam); three (3) countries (The Bahamas, Barbados, and the Philippines) and a presence in seven (7) other countries (Bahrain, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Kuwait).
Our membership is composed of many Consistories and Assemblies ACTIVELY working in their communities and spreading the positive spirit of Scottish Rite freemasonry.
Beginning in April 1881 with Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander William H. Cooper 33° extending to the baton being passed to the current incumbent of the office, Sovereign Grand Commander S.G.I.G. Melvin J. Bazemore 33°, 20 men have possessed the audacity to lead this United Supreme Council.
Now, almost 139 years later, this United Supreme Council stands firmly entrenched in the pantheon of Scottish Rite masonry the world over. We are more than Prince Hall Scottish Rite freemasonry; we are Scottish Rite freemasonry.