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Albert Pike

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Albert Pike

Albert Pike
Albert Pike by Mathew Brady
Born (1809-12-29)December 29, 1809
Boston, Massachusetts
Died April 2, 1891(1891-04-02) (aged 81)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial Oak Hill Cemetery
Allegiance  United States
 Confederate States
Service/branch  United States Army
 Confederate States Army
Years of service 1846 – 1847 (USA)
1861 – 1862 (CSA)
Rank Captain (USA)
Brigadier General (CSA)
Battles/wars Mexican-American War
American Civil War

Albert Pike (December 29, 1809 – April 2, 1891) was an attorney, soldier, writer, and Freemason. Albert Pike is one of the only Confederate military officers or figures honored with a statue in Washington, D.C., another being Robert E. Lee. [1]

Early life

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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[1]

Journalist and lawyer

Settling in Arkansas in 1833, Pike 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 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.[1] Under Pike's administration the Advocate promoted the viewpoint of the Whig Party in a politically volatile and divided Arkansas.[4]

Pike then began to study law and was admitted to the [1] Several volumes of his works were privately published posthumously by his daughter. In 1859, he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Harvard.[1][5]

Military career

Statue at Judiciary Square, Washington, D.C.

When the Mexican–American War started, Pike joined the Regiment of Arkansas Mounted Volunteers (a cavalry regiment) and was commissioned as a troop commander with the rank of captain in June 1846. With his regiment, he fought in the Battle of Buena Vista.[1] Pike was discharged in June 1847. He and his commander, Colonel 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.[6] 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. 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.

In 1847 Pike became disillusioned when the Whig Party refused to take a stand on slavery. His anti-Catholicism stand led him to join the [7]

When the war started he took the side of the Confederacy.[1] 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."[8]

He also made several contacts among the Native American tribes in the area, at one time 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.[1] 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.[1]

Pike was commissioned as a brigadier general on November 22, 1861, and given a command in the Indian Territory.[1] 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.[1] Also, as in the previous war, Pike came into conflict with his superior officers, at one time 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.[9] 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.[9] 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.[1][9]


He first joined the Scottish Rite's Southern Jurisdiction in 1859.[6] 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.[10] 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[11] and influential[12] Freemason, primarily in the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction.

Death and legacy

Pike died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 81, and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery. Burial was against his wishes; he had left instructions for his body to be cremated.[1] In 1944, his remains were moved to the House of the Temple, headquarters of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite.


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).[13]

Selected works

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m PIKE, Brigadier General Albert: Memorial at the Municipal Center in Washington, D.C..
  2. ^ 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).
  3. ^ Hubbell, Jay B. (1954) The South in American Literature: 1607–1900. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. p. 640.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ "The Phoenix," Manly P. Hall
  6. ^ a b Eicher, John H., aer (2001) Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 429
  7. ^
  8. ^ Potter, David Morris and Edward, Don (1976) The impending crisis, 1848–1861. HarperCollins. p. 467
  9. ^ a b c Smith, Dean E. (1986) "Pike, Albert" in Historical Times Illustrated History of the Civil War, edited by Patricia L. Faust. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-273116-6. p. 585
  10. ^ Warner, Ezra J. (1959) Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-0823-5. pp. 240–241
  11. ^ ALBERT PIKE AND FREEMASONRY. California Freemason
  12. ^ Albert Pike,
  13. ^


External links

My Personal Views On Pike's Morals and Dogma
  • Works by Albert Pike at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Albert Pike at Internet Archive
  • Pike's Masonic philosophy
  • Albert Pike: Hero or Scoundrel?
  • About Pike's famous Luciferian quote
  • About room where he is entombed at the Wayback Machine (archived February 23, 2006)
  • Albert Pike commemorative Masonic Lodge – Located in Denver CO
  • Pike's words for Dixie ("Everybody's Dixie", also known as "To Arms in Dixie")
  • Albert Pike at Find a Grave
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