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General Grand Council Formation and Reflections



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General Grand Council Formation and Reflections
By Companion David A. Grindle
Most Puissant General Grand Master

Companion David A. Grindle
Most Puissant General Grand Master


Greetings Companions and Brothers,

Well, here comes the finish line for this 47th Triennium. This will occur on Saturday, 26 September, at 12 PM Mountain Daylight Time or 6 PM Universal Time Constant (UTC) or (Greenwich Mean Time as we used to know it). During these three years, we have had to look at what and how we were doing things and rethink our methods and approaches.

This required us to look back at the origins of the General Grand Council and why it was founded.

Where, when, and why was the General Grand Council formed. In May of 1871, Illustrious Companion Josiah H. Drummond was directed by several other Illustrious Companions to organize a convention of Illustrious Companions from several Grand Councils of Royal and Select Masters. The purpose of the meeting was expressed as being to secure uniformity in the ritual, etc., of the Cryptic Rite.

The Convention was set for New York City on June 12, 1872, at 10 AM. The attendees were as follows:

R. D. Webb
John W. Simons (Proxy)
Joseph K. Wheeler
I.W. Carpenter
Fred H. Walden
W. R. Higby
Philip S. Craig
Edwin B. McGrotty
J. Edwin Mason
Jonathan J. French
Gordon R. Garden
Josiah H. Drummond
Charles H. Norris
William P. Anderson
George Tapley
S. W. Fairchild
E. A. Daniels
W. A. Prall
Allen McDowell (Proxy)
G. Fred Wiltsie (Proxy)
Thomas J. Corson
J. Sherville
J. T. Seymour
T. H. R. Redway
M. Higginbotham
G. Fred Wiltsie
Jackson H. Chase
George W. Thorne
P. O. C. Benson
Thomas B. Carr
Stillman White
E. Edmundson
G. S. Blackie
William C. Swain

There were three additional observers that weren’t accredited as delegates. They were:

Maryland Thomas A. Cunningham
Ohio William M. Cunningham
South Carolina Albert G. Mackey

If you look at this list of attendees and observers, a couple of names stand out. One observer was Albert Gallatin Mackey from South Carolina. I know he was a Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of South Carolina, and I believe that he was an Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of South Carolina. It is also noted that he was General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter 1859-1865. Why would he be interested in forming this organization? Did he know something that gave him cause for concern?

The other name is the individual that called this convention into being, Josiah Hayden Drummond of Maine. Because of his history in other bodies, it is presumed that he was a Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Maine, an Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of Maine, and a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason of the Northern Jurisdiction. In 1871, he was elected and installed as the General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Chapter and served until 1874. If you look up the history of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Brother Josiah was Sovereign Grand Commander from 1867 through 1879. So you can see that he was a very involved Royal Arch, Cryptic, and Scottish Rite Masons. Again, what had been seen caused him to form this organization.

I believe that it was said in his note that there was a concern about the uniformity of the ritual and some of the forms and paraphernalia. They worked for eight years to get the organization correct so that it would consolidate the degrees, get the forms and performances uniform throughout the Grand Councils that existed at the time. They had also seen what had occurred in Virginia when the Grand Council of Virginia closed its doors in 1841 and gave the degrees over to the Grand Chapter.

As a result of this little bit of research, we attempted to look further into other results besides the obvious one, the formation of the General Grand Council. Right Puissant Companion William (Bill) Snyder did the leg work in looking. He found some interesting items in the transactions of the Convention and Denslow\’s History of the Cryptic Rite, and he accumulated them into a document that we are currently calling Guide Lines for operating Councils and Grand Councils. They have been considered by Jurisprudence and eventually, we are going to propose these for inclusion in the Constitution and Bylaws as Landmarks of the Cryptic Rite. These guidelines have been translated into most languages and they will be posted on the website for reference by all Cryptic Masons. They may even attract the attention of other Brothers, Companions, and Sir Knights.

I would like to thank all of you for your support in helping preserve this rite and working toward a goal of preserving Freemasonry, the Greatest Fellowship and Fraternity on Earth.


David A. Grindle
General Grand Master

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