Albert Pike

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Albert Pike
AlbertPikeYounger.jpeg
Albert Pike
Born(1809-12-29)December 29, 1809
Boston, Massachusetts
DiedApril 2, 1891(1891-04-02) (aged 81)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burialOak Hill Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Service/branchConfederate States of America Confederate States Army
Years of service1861 - 1862
RankConfederate Officer's Collar Rank Insignia.svg Brigadier General
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War
 
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Albert Pike
AlbertPikeYounger.jpeg
Albert Pike
Born(1809-12-29)December 29, 1809
Boston, Massachusetts
DiedApril 2, 1891(1891-04-02) (aged 81)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burialOak Hill Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Service/branchConfederate States of America Confederate States Army
Years of service1861 - 1862
RankConfederate Officer's Collar Rank Insignia.svg Brigadier General
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Albert Pike (December 29, 1809–April 2, 1891) was an American attorney, Confederate officer, writer, and Freemason.

Biography[edit]

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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."[4] 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.[citation needed] By 1835, he was the Advocate's sole owner.[3] Under Pike's administration the Advocate promoted the viewpoint of the Whig party in a politically volatile and divided Arkansas.[4]

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.[citation needed] 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.[3] Several volumes of his works were self-published posthumously by his daughter. In 1859, he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Harvard,[3][5]

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.[6] He was cited as the leader of the Arkansas Ku Klux Klan.[7] However, this has been a controversial subject with Masonic authors saying that it "is impossible to either substantiate or disprove" involvement in the Klan.[8]

Pike died in Washington, D.C., aged 81, and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery (against his wishes — he had left instructions for his body to be cremated).[3] In 1944, his remains were moved to the House of the Temple, headquarters of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite.

Military career[edit]

When the Mexican-American War started, Pike joined the cavalry and was commissioned as a troop commander, serving in the Battle of Buena Vista.[3] He and his commander, John Selden Roane, had several differences of opinion. This situation led finally to an "inconclusive" duel between Pike and Roane on July 29, 1847 near Fort Smith, Arkansas.[9] Although several shots were fired in the duel, nobody was injured, and the two were persuaded by their seconds to discontinue it.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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 Civil War he was firmly against secession, but when the war started he nevertheless took the side of the Confederacy.[3] At the Southern Commercial Convention of 1854, Pike said the South should remain in the Union and seek equality with the North, but if the South "were forced into an inferior status, she would be better out of the Union than in it."[10]

He also made several contacts among the Native American 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.[3] At the beginning of the war, Pike was appointed as Confederate envoy to the Native Americans. In this capacity he negotiated several treaties, one of the most important being with Cherokee chief John Ross, which was concluded in 1861.[3]

Pike was commissioned as a brigadier general on November 22, 1861, and given a command in the Indian Territory.[3] With Gen. Ben McCulloch, Pike trained three Confederate regiments of Indian cavalry, most of whom belonged to the "civilized tribes", whose loyalty to the Confederacy was variable. Although initially victorious at the Battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern) in March, Pike's unit was defeated later in a counterattack, after falling into disarray.[3] 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.[citation needed]

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.[11] 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.[11] He was at length arrested on November 3 under charges of insubordination and treason, and held briefly in Warren, Texas[disambiguation needed], but his resignation was accepted on November 11 and he was allowed to return to Arkansas.[3][11]

Freemasonry[edit]

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.[9] 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.[12] 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 regarded in America as an eminent[13][dead link] and influential[14] Freemason, primarily only in the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction.

Poetry[edit]

As a young man, Pike wrote poetry which he continued to do for the rest of his life. At 23, he published his first poem, “Hymns to the Gods.” Later work was printed in literary journals like Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine and local newspapers. His first collection of poetry, Prose Sketches and Poems Written in the Western Country, appeared in 1834. He later gathered many of his poems and republished them in Hymns to the Gods and Other Poems (1872). After his death these appeared again in Gen. Albert Pike’s Poems (1900) and Lyrics and Love Songs (1916).[15]

Selected works[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Albert's descent from his immigrant ancestor John Pike is as follows: John Pike (1572–1654); John Pike (1613–1688/89); Joseph Pike (1638–1694); Thomas Pike (1682–1753/4); John Pike (1710–1755); Thomas Pike (1739–1836); Benjamin Pike (1780–?); Albert Pike (1809–1891).
  2. ^ Hubbell, Jay B. The South in American Literature: 1607-1900. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1954: 640.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Pike, Albert," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/PP/fpi18.html (accessed December 15, 2008).
  4. ^ a b http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=1737
  5. ^ "The Phoenix," Manly P. Hall
  6. ^ "General Albert Pike, who stood high in the Masonic order, was the chief judicial officer of the Klan." Page 27, Ku Klux Klan: its origin, growth and disbandment, Walter Fleming
  7. ^ "Arkansas was headed by General Albert Pike, explorer and poet.", page 58, The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America, Wyn Craig Wade
  8. ^ Albert Pike did not found the Ku Klux Klan
  9. ^ a b Eicher, John H., aer, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 429
  10. ^ David Morris Potter, Don Edward. The impending crisis, 1848-1861. HarperCollins, 1976. (Page 467)
  11. ^ a b c Smith, Dean E. "Pike, Albert" in Historical Times Illustrated History of the Civil War, edited by Patricia L. Faust. New York: Harper & Row, 1986. ISBN 978-0-06-273116-6. p. 585
  12. ^ Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 0-8071-0823-5. pp. 240-241
  13. ^ ALBERT PIKE AND FREEMASONRY, March–April 2002 edition, California Freemason On-Line[dead link]
  14. ^ Albert Pike, masonicinfo.com
  15. ^ Moneyhon, Carl H. (February 4, 2009), Albert Pike (1809–1891), Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, retrieved November 14, 2009 

References[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainCousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource

External links[edit]