Albert Pike

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Albert Pike
Albert Pike
Place of burial Oak Hill Cemetery
Allegiance United States United States of America
Confederate States of America Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Rank Brigadier General
Battles/wars American Civil War

Albert Pike

Albert Pike, about 1864

(December 29, 1809, Boston - April 2, 1891, Washington, D.C.) was an attorney, soldier, writer, and Freemason. Pike is the only Confederate military officer or figure to be honored with a statue in Washington, D.C. The statue sits in Judiciary Square. He was the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in the Southern Jurisdiction and authored the popular masonic book Morals and Dogma.


Pike was born in Boston, son of Benjamin and Sarah (Andrews) Pike, and spent his childhood in Byfield and Newburyport, Massachusetts. He attended school in Newburyport and Framingham until he was fifteen, at which point, having passed the Harvard entrance exam but unable to afford tuition, he began a program of self-education, later becoming a schoolteacher in Gloucester, Fairhaven and Newburyport.

In 1831 Pike left Massachusetts to travel west, first stopping in St. Louis and later moving on to Independence, Missouri. In Independence, he joined an expedition to Taos, New Mexico, hunting and trading. During the excursion his horse broke and ran, forcing Pike to walk the remaining 500 miles to Taos. After this he joined a trapping expedition to the Llano Estacado in New Mexico and Texas. Trapping was minimal, and after traveling about 1300 miles (650 on foot), he finally arrived at Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Settling in Arkansas in 1833, he taught school and wrote a series of articles for the Little Rock Arkansas Advocate under the pen name of "Casca." The articles were popular enough that he was asked to join the staff of the newspaper. Later, after marrying Mary Ann Hamilton, he purchased part of the newspaper with the dowry. By 1835 he was the Advocate's sole owner. Under Pike's administration the Advocate promoted the viewpoint of the Whig Party in a politically volatile and divided Arkansas.

He then began to study law, and was admitted to the bar in 1837, selling the Advocate the same year. He was the first reporter for the Arkansas supreme court, and also wrote a book (published anonymously), titled The Arkansas Form Book, which was a guidebook for lawyers.

Military career

When the Mexican-American War started, Pike joined the cavalry and was commissioned as a troop commander, serving in the Battle of Buena Vista. He and his commander, John Selden Roane, had several differences of opinion. This situation led finally to a duel between Pike and Roane. Although several shots were fired in the duel, nobody was injured, and the two were persuaded by their seconds to discontinue it.

After the war, Pike returned to the practice of law, moving to New Orleans for a time beginning in 1853.[citation needed] He wrote another book, Maxims of the Roman Law and some of the Ancient French Law, as Expounded and Applied in Doctrine and Jurisprudence. Although unpublished, this book increased his reputation among his associates in law. He returned to Arkansas in 1857, gaining some amount of prominence in the legal field and becoming an advocate of slavery, although retaining his affiliation with the Whig party. When that party dissolved, he became a member of the Know-Nothing party. Before the American Civil War he was firmly against secession, but when the war started he nevertheless took the side of the Confederacy.

He also made several contacts among the Indian tribes in the area, at one point negotiating an $800,000 settlement between the Creeks and other tribes and the federal government. This relationship was to influence the course of his Civil War service. At the beginning of the war, Pike was appointed as Confederate envoy to the Indian tribes. In this capacity he negotiated several treaties, one of the most important being with Cherokee chief John Ross, which was concluded in 1861.

Pike was commissioned as a brigadier general on November 22, 1861, and given a command in the Indian Territory.[citation needed] With Gen. Ben McCullough, Pike trained three Confederate regiments of Indian cavalry, most of whom belonged to the "civilized tribes," whose loyalty to the Confederacy was variable. Although victorious at the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern) in March, Pike's unit was defeated later in a counterattack, after falling into disarray. Also, as in the previous war, Pike came into conflict with his superior officers, at one point drafting a letter to Jefferson Davis complaining about his direct superior.

After Pea Ridge, Pike was faced with charges that his troops had scalped soldiers in the field. Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman also charged Pike with mishandling of money and material, ordering his arrest. Both these charges were later found to be considerably lacking in evidence; nevertheless Pike, facing arrest, escaped into the hills of Arkansas, sending his resignation from the Confederate Army on July 12. He was at length arrested on November 3 under charges of insubordination and treason, and held briefly in Warren, Texas, but his resignation was accepted on November 11 and he was allowed to return to Arkansas.

In Freemasonry

Free masonry.jpg

He had in the interim joined a Masonic lodge and become extremely active in the affairs of the organization, being elected Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite's Southern Jurisdiction in 1859. He remained Sovereign Grand Commander for the remainder of his life (a total of thirty-two years), devoting a large amount of his time to developing the rituals of the order. Notably, he published a book called Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in 1871, of which there were several subsequent editions.

Pike is still sometimes regarded in America as an eminent[1] and influential[2] Freemason. His anti-Roman Catholic pronouncements were seen as representative of American freemasonry by Catholic sources.[3] However, in his published response to the Humanum Genus of Pope Leo XIII, it is evident that he had no particular antipathy to Catholicism as a religion nor to membership of Roman Catholics in the lodge. His fight was against the desire of institutional Catholicism to suppress Freemasonry by force.

Other Interests

Additionally, Pike wrote on several legal subjects, and continued producing poetry, a hobby he had begun in his youth in Massachusetts. His poems were highly regarded in his day, but are now mostly forgotten. Several volumes of his works were self-published posthumously by his daughter.

In 1859 he received an honorary Ph.D. from Harvard but declined it ("The Phoenix," Manly P. Hall).

He was the chief judicial officer of the original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. [4]

Pike died in Washington, D.C., aged 81, and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery (against his wishes — he had left instructions his body be cremated).

In 1944 his remains were moved to the House of the Temple, headquarters of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite.

Immediately prior to the Civil War, Pike had been persuaded by his friend, William James Rivers, to move to Charleston, South Carolina and to join the Palladians. Rivers was a famous professor emeritus of Ancient Languages and produced a great number of documents for Pike. Another friend of Pike's in Charleston was a student of Rivers, Henry Timrod, Charleston's wealthiest citizen and poet laureate of the Confederacy who wrote South Carolina's state song. These collaborations were unfortunately interrupted by the start of the Civil War, which separated the three friends. Pike became a Brigadier in the Confederate army, Rivers a professor in Columbia and afterward president of Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, and Timrod, who lost all his family, including his little son, as well as his entire fortune in the war, sickened and died in Columbia. Although Pike continued to be in contact with Rivers until the end of his life, none of the three friends ever returned to Charleston again.


  • Albert Pike: Morals and Dogma. Book
  • Albert Pike: Meaning of Masonry. Kessinger Publishing, May 2004. ISBN 1-4179-1101-8
  • Albert Pike: Reprints of Old Rituals. Kessinger Publishing, March 1, 1997. ISBN 1-56459-983-3
  • Albert Pike: Book of the Words. Kessinger Publishing, March 1, 1997. ISBN 1-56459-161-1
  • Albert Pike: Indo-Aryan Deities and Worship as Contained in the Rig-Veda. Kessinger Publishing, March 1, 1997. ISBN 1-56459-183-2
  • Albert Pike: The Point Within the Circle: Freemasonry Veiled in Allegory and Illustrated by Symbols. Holmes Pub Grou Llc, November 1, 2001. ISBN 1-55818-305-1
  • Albert Pike: Morals and Dogma of the First Three Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Freemasonry. Kessinger Publishing, May 2004. ISBN 1-4179-1108-5


  • Walter Lee Brown: A Life of Albert Pike. University of Arkansas Press, September 1, 1997. ISBN 1-55728-469-5
  • Fred W. Allsopp: Albert Pike a Biography. Kessinger Publishing, March 1, 1997. ISBN 1-56459-134-4
  • Annie Heloise Abel The American Indian as a Participant in the Civil War, Smith College, 1919, Project Gutenberg,

Ancestry & Family

Albert's descent from his immigrant ancestor John Pike is as follows:

  • John Pike (1572-1654)
    • John Pike (1613-1689/90)
      • Joseph Pike (1638-1694)
        • Thomas Pike (1682-1753/4)
          • John Pike (1710-1755)
            • Thomas Pike (1739-1836)
              • Benjamin Pike (1780-????)
                • Albert Pike (1809-1891)

Notes and References

  1. ALBERT PIKE AND FREEMASONRY, March-April 2002 edition, California Freemason On-Line
  2. Albert Pike,
  3. Albert Pike in the Official Bulletin, September, 1887, 173, quoted as footnote [172] in Masonry (Freemasonry) from the Catholic Encyclopedia
  4. Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, by Col. Winfield Jones, page 27

External links

Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.