Henry Ford Receiving the 33rd Degree in 1940
March 04, 2014
At the Annual Meeting of the Supreme Council for the Scottish Rite's Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, held in September 1940 in Cincinnati, Ohio, George E. Bushnell, Deputy for the state of Michigan,
"presented the name of Henry Ford, of Dearborn, Michigan, to receive the degrees of the Rite from the Fourth to the Thirty-second, inclusive, and thereafter, the Thirty-third Degree, and asked for unanimous consent to ballot upon this nomination...The request was granted and the ballot spread and, it proving to be clear, Henry Ford was declared to be elected to receive the degrees of the Rite from the Fourth to the Thirty-second, inclusive, in some Valley of the Jurisdiction in which the degrees were being worked under the direction of the Sovereign Grand Commander, and the Thirty Third Degree after he has been duly created a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret [i.e. 32nd degree]."
At the time that the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's Supreme Council conferred the Thirty-Third degree on him at age 77, Henry Ford (1863-1947) had been a Mason for 46 years, having been raised in Detroit's Palestine Lodge No. 357 in 1894 at age 31.
On the evening of December 6, 1940, the Supreme Council opened a special meeting to confer the 33° on Henry Ford at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan. The meeting opened at 9pm and was over at 11:45pm. Among those present were the men pictured in the photo above: Ohio Governor John W. Bricker, 33°; Sovereign Grand Commander for Canada’s Supreme Council John A. Rowland, 33°; Sovereign Grand Commander for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction Melvin M. Johnson, 33°; and Deputy for Michigan (and future Sovereign Grand Commander) George E. Bushnell, 33°.
While Ford was unquestionably the most well-known person in the room that evening, two other men pictured in the photo above were not only well-known within Scottish Rite Freemasonry, but were, at the same time, luminaries in the legal field. At the time of the conferral, George E. Bushnell was Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court and Melvin Johnson was Dean of the Boston University Law School. John Bricker, then Governor of Ohio, was also in the legal field, having served as Attorney General for Ohio from 1933-37 before becoming governor, and returning to law practice after his twelve years (1947-1952) as a U.S. Senator from Ohio.
The photo above, which is in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, appears in the new book, A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.
(Left to right): John W. Bricker, John A. Rowland, Henry Ford, Melvin M. Johnson, and George E. Bushnell on the day Ford received the 33°, 1940. Detroit, Michigan. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 154.
Abstract of the Proceedings of the Supreme Council...Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. [Boston: Supreme Council, NMJ, 1940), 20.
Abstract of the Proceedings of the Supreme Council...Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. [Boston: Supreme Council, NMJ, 1941), pp. 4-6.