The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, commonly known as Scottish Rite, is one of several Rites
in the worldwide fraternity known as Freemasonry. In the Scottish Rite, the central authority is referred to as a “Supreme Council.” The Supreme Council, 33°, with headquarters located in Lexington, Massachusetts, is the governing body of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.
History of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction
1813 On August 5th Daniel D. Tompkins is chosen as the first Sovereign Grand Commander (SGC) of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Tompkins had enjoyed a successful political career. In 1804 he was simultaneously elected to Congress and appointed to the New York Supreme Court. He chose the latter, serving until his election as Governor in 1807. He was offered the post of Secretary of State in the Madison administration, and was elected U.S. Vice President in 1816, with fellow Mason, James Monroe.
1827 Anti-Masonic movement spreads across the nation, and nearly extinguishes the fraternity. John James Joseph Gourgas was elected as Sovereign Grand Commander and kept the rite alive during this dark period. Through his dedication and loyalty he earned the title “Conservator of the Rite.”
1840’s SGC Giles F. Yates sets about rebuilding the organization. One of his followers, Killian H. Van Rensselaer, established new valleys in New Haven, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
1851 Edward A. Raymond is elected as Sovereign Grand Commander.
1860 Raymond’s contentious leadership causes a split in the Supreme Council. He was deposed and replaced by Van Rensselaer. Raymond established a rival Supreme Council, which operated for six years.
1867 Following the death of Raymond, the two rival councils unified.
1879 Henry L. Palmer is elected Sovereign Grand Commander, beginning the longest tenure (30 years) in the history of the rite.
1921 Leon Abbott is elected and moves the Supreme Council headquarters from New York to Boston. Upon his death, his will provided for the Abbott Scholarships.
1933 Melvin Maynard Johnson is elected and serves as the first full-time SGC. Johnson led the rite through the Great Depression, World War II, a membership drop to 208,000, and its rebound to 422,000. He established a foundation to fund schizophrenia research and wrote many papers on early freemasonry.
1968 SGC George A. Newbury moved the Supreme Council headquarters from Boston to Lexington, MA, just a mile from where the American Revolution began.
1970 The Northern Light begins publishing.
1975 On April 20, the day after the American Revolution Bicentennial began on Lexington Green with President Ford presiding, the National Heritage Museum opens on the grounds of Supreme Council headquarters. It is called the gift of the Scottish Rite Masons to the nation.
1995 SGC Robert O. Ralston begins a new charity as the first 32° Masonic Learning Center for Dyslexia opens. There are now 46 such centers, with more on the way.
2000 The Supreme Council opens its new headquarters building on the grounds in Lexington, MA.
2003 Walter E. Webber succeeds Robert Ralston as SGC.
2005 The number of children’s learning centers exceeds 50.