Union of 1867

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)


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.





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

150th Anniversary of the Union of 1867

Proclamation of the Treaty of the Union of 1867. Gift of the Supreme Council of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, A2002/113/1.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction Supreme Council's "Union of 1867." Previous to the Union, two competing Scottish Rite Supreme Councils existed in the northeast and midwest of the United States, the territory covered by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Despite years of animosity between the two Councils, a spirit of fraternal union moved the two groups to come together. The two Supreme Councils, as they wrote, "were destined, by the power and rapid progress of the beneficent principles governing them, to lose their individuality and become merged in one Grand United Supreme Council."As they stated in the introduction to their published Proceedings of 1867, the Supreme Councils, which had each "claimed legitimacy to the discomfiture of the other," had decided to merge "as one united body with but one soul."

The merged Councils issued a proclamation, pictured here, announcing themselves to the Masonic world. In it, they declared that "all the unhappy differences previously existing among the Brethren of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in this jurisdiction, were harmoniously adjusted through a Solemn Treaty of Union."

Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, the merger of these two organizations presented logistical challenges. Multiple subordinate bodies in close geographical proximity to each other existed throughout the jurisdiction, each of which was now subordinate to the one merged Supreme Council. This led to the consolidation of a number of these subordinate bodies in the early 1870s. (You can read about one of these short-lived bodies that was consolidated in an earlier post on the topic.)

Interested in taking a closer look? You can view a high resolution image of the Treaty of Proclamation at our Digital Collections website, where we also provide access to a number of other documents related to the history of the Scottish Rite.