Killian H. Van Rensselaer

A Freemason Strives for Reconciliation as a Supreme Council Splinters

While much attention has been given to Edward A. Raymond, Killian H. Van Rensselaer, and their roles in the Schism of 1860, this document from the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library brings attention to a lesser-known figure: William Blackstone Hubbard, 33°, a Freemason from Ohio, who had served as the Grand Master of Ohio and for a year (May 1861 to May 1862) as the Sovereign Grand Commander Elect of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.

A2019_158_059DS1List of officers, members, and Sovereign Grand Inspectors Generals, 1862 February 5.

 

As readers may know, Edward A. Raymond’s tenure as Sovereign Grand Commander abruptly ended on August 24, 1860, when Raymond, accompanied by Grand Treasurer General Simon W. Robinson, abruptly closed the Supreme Council’s special meeting sine die, or with no appointed date for resumption. The ensuing chaos led to the formation of three competing Supreme Councils: the newly-formed Raymond Council; the Van Rensselaer Council led by Lieutenant Sovereign Grand Commander Van Rensselaer; and the Cerneau-inspired Atwood Council.

For nearly ten months, from August 25, 1860, through May 14, 1861, the Raymond and Van Rensselaer Supreme Councils traded barbs as both Councils claimed to be the legitimate governing body of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. And while the maneuverings of both Supreme Councils are too complicated to outline fully in this online forum, the proceedings

for both Supreme Councils agree that William Blackstone Hubbard was one of the few, if not the only, men pushing for reconciliation. As Lieutenant Sovereign Grand Commander Van Rensselaer stated in his 1862 Annual Address,

 

The members of the Supreme Council and Sovereign Consistory, are all aware of the efforts made by our Ill. Brother William B. Hubbard, and the Princes of the Royal Secret, at our last session, May, 1861, to induce the late Commander and Treasurer to meet with the Council, resume their seats, and aid in the work. The sittings of the Council were continued for several days, in the hope that the exertions of our Illustrious Brethren would meet with success, and that peace and harmony would be restored. (1862 Proceedings, p. 588-589)

 

Hubbard’s sole intention was to broker peace between his Brothers, and only after his efforts during 1861’s Annual Session were exhausted did Hubbard leave before its closure. As Raymond reported to his Sovereign Grand Consistory on May 22, “On leaving, he [Hubbard] addressed a note to me regretting his disappointment, and declaring that he did not expect ever again to meet any of his brethren in Supreme Council on earth…” (1861 Raymond Proceedings, p. 31)

On the day after Hubbard had left Annual Session, on May 20, 1861, the five members of the Van Rensselaer Supreme Council who were present unanimously voted to depose Sovereign Grand Commander Edward A. Raymond, and elected William B. Hubbard in his place. “The reason for their doing this is plain,” Raymond stated.

 

…[T]hey felt the need of the condition to their cause of the capital which the publication of such an election might possibly bring, and therefore they elected him after he had gone, and consequently, could not decline while they were in session. (1861 Raymond Proceedings, p. 31)

 

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William Blackstone Hubbard

William Blackstone Hubbard would never serve as Sovereign Grand Commander. During the following year’s Annual Session, Hubbard offered “his well wishes to the Supreme Council” but declined “any official honors.” In the years following, Hubbard distanced himself from the Supreme Council, which in the 1865 Proceedings declared his seat as an Active Member vacant, citing his ill health.

William Blackstone Hubbard, 33°, died the following year on January 5, 1866. He never lived to see the unification of the two previously competing Supreme Councils in 1867.

 

 

 


Captions

List of officers, members, and Sovereign Grand Inspectors Generals, 1862 February 5. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, SC 300.002.


1863 Charter for Boston Council, Princes of Jerusalem

1.14 SC038DP1DB_webThis charter, one of many in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, created the Boston Council, Princes of Jerusalem, on March 11, 1863. While the Boston Council was successful, it existed for less than a decade. Why is that?

In 1871, just eight years after they were founded, the Boston Council united with the Giles F. Yates Council, also of Boston. Members of the Boston Council were received as full members and the charter seen here was surrendered. The years immediately following the "Union of 1867" - which united two previously competing Supreme Councils in the Northeast, and forming the present-day Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction - saw the consolidation of a number of subordinate bodies as the harmony that came with the union also brought with it the existence of multiple subordinate bodies in close proximity. This was especially true in cities such as Boston, where both previously competing Scottish Rite organizations flourished.

The charter is signed by both Winslow Lewis (1799-1875), in his capacity of Secretary General for the Supreme Council, and Killian H. Van Rensselaer (1800–1881), in his capacity as Sovereign Grand Commander.

Among the founding members listed on the charter is Nathaniel B. Shurtleff (1810-1874), who served as Mayor of Boston from 1868-1870, and who was an early trustee of Boston Public Library.

1.14 SC038DP1DB_seal_detailThe charter contains a vibrant, red wax seal (at right - click on the image for greater detail), which reads Supreme Council XXXIII - Deus Meumque Jus [a Latin phrase which is the motto of the Scottish Rite's 33rd degree and which translates to "God and My Right"]. In the center is the familiar image of the double-headed eagle, below which is the latitude coordinate 42° 21' 22", which refers to the Van Rensselaer-led Supreme Council's "Grand East" being in Boston, Massachusetts.

Caption:

Charter, Boston Council, Princes of Jerusalem, 1863. Signed by Killian H. van Rensselaer, Boston, Massachusetts. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 038. Photograph by David Bohl.