Albert Pike (December 29, 1809 – April 2, 1891) was an American attorney, Confederate officer, writer, and Freemason.
Albert Pike Albert Pike
BornDecember 29, 1809
Boston, MassachusettsDiedApril 2, 1891 (aged 81)
Washington, D.C.Place of burialOak Hill CemeteryAllegiance Confederate States of AmericaService/branch Confederate States ArmyYears of service1861–1862RankBrigadier GeneralBattles/warsAmerican Civil WarAlbert Pike (December 29, 1809 – April 2, 1891) was an American attorney, Confederate officer, writer, and Freemason.
Pike was born in Boston, Massachusetts, son of Ben and Sarah (Andrews) Pike, and spent his childhood in Byfield and Newburyport, Massachusetts. His colonial ancestors included John Pike (1613-1688/1689), the founder of Woodbridge, New Jersey. He attended school in Newburyport and Framingham until he was 15. In August 1825, he passed entrance exams at Harvard University, though when the college requested payment of tuition fees for the first two years which he had successfully challenged by examination, he chose not to attend. He began a program of self-education, later becoming a schoolteacher in Gloucester, North Bedford, 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.
Journalist and Lawyer
Settling in Arkansas in 1833, Pike taught school and wrote a series of articles for the Little RockArkansas Advocate under the pen name of “Casca.” The articles were popular enough that he was asked to join the newspaper’s staff. 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.
Pike 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. 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 privately published posthumously by his daughter. In 1859, he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Harvard,
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He first joined the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in 1840 then had in the interim joined a Masonic Lodge and became 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.
Ku Klux Klan
Albert Pike has often been named as influential in the early Ku Klux Klan, being named in 1905 as “the chief judicial officer” of the Klan by a sympathetic historian of the early Klan, Walter Fleming. He was cited as the leader of the Arkansas Ku Klux Klan. However, this has been a controversial subject with Masonic authors saying that it “is impossible to either substantiate or disprove” involvement in the Klan.
Death and legacy
Pike died in Washington, D.C., aged 81, and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery. Burial was against his wishes; he had left instructions for his body to be cremated. In 1944, his remains were moved to the House of the Temple, headquarters of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite.
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