Pike's Statue

In October, 1993, the Council of the District of Columbia received "proposed legislation" titled "Albert Pike, Ku Klux Klan Memorial Statue, Removal Resolution of 1992, PR 9-526." The request to have the President of the United States remove this statue was submitted by council member William P. Lightfoot. Mr. Lightfoot claimed

"The United States Congress, on April 4 and 5, 1898, authorized a private organization to place the statue of Albert Pike on the public land of the United States, being falsely informed only that Albert Pike was a leader of white freemasons in the southern states, and 'a distinguished citizen of the United States, an able lawyer and statesman, an accomplished poet, and a brave soldier.'"

Below is an article which appeared in the August, 1993 issue of the Philalethes magazine and is reprinted here with permission. We believe it helps cut through some of the 'fog' surrounding this matter. We'd encourage you to pay particular attention to the motivations of those who attack the Pike memorial.

Attack on the Albert Pike Statue, Washington, DC

By Gary Scott, MPS

The Albert Pike Statue is located at 3rd and D Streets, N.W. in downtown Washington, D.C. It is administered by the National Park Service. Congress authorized the placement of a statue to Albert Pike on Federal land in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 1898, in Joint Resolution 20 (30 stat. 737). The Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, which Pike led for 32 years, sponsored and paid for the statue's erection, as recognition for his long service to the Scottish Rite. At the time of erection, the statue stood in front of the Scottish Rite House of the Temple. The enabling legislation does not refer to Pike's service in the Confederate Army.

Pike Monument, Washington, DCPike, an early advocate of native American rights, led Confederate Indian troops at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Even though he had severe disagreements with Jefferson Davis over use of Indian troops and left Confederate service, the statue was for many years the scene of ceremonies by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

In this eleven-foot bronze statue by Italian sculptor Gaetano Trentaove, Pike is presented in civilian dress as a Masonic leader, not as a Confederate General. He carries a copy of his famed but long out of print Morals and Dogma in his left hand. The large granite pedestal below him contains a bronze lady in Greek dress who sits on one level of the pedestal and holds the banner of the Scottish Rite.

The statue was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 1978, in a National Register nomination of the Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C. Pike's statue is the only Confederate officer represented among the outdoor Civil War statuary of Washington.

Since September, 1992, protesters have held rallies at the Pike statue contending that he was "the chief founder" of the Ku Klux Klan in Arkansas. The protesters are led and organized by and consist mainly of supporters of political figure Lyndon LaRouche. (masonicinfocom note: an additional reference here calls LaRouche a 'Fascist Demagogue' and provides much material on his bizarre behavior.) The protesters' main organizer is Anton Chaitkin who is affiliated with the Shiller Institute, a LaRouche organization. Messrs. LaRouche, Chaitkin, and their supporters contend that the Klan was founded as the terrorist arm of the Scottish Rite as part of a wide Masonic conspiracy to keep the South in Confederate hands.

Mr. Chaitkin appears to believe that Masonic historians have been actively rewriting American history as part of a Masonic conspiracy. He believes that the Scottish Rite is a British Imperial plot, hatched in Charleston, South Carolina, to perpetuate slavery, and then failing that, to perpetuate the Ku Klux Klan; and that the whole American legal system is largely controlled by the Scottish Rite, which is responsible for the imprisonment of Lyndon LaRouche on credit card fraud charges.

During this period of weekly rallies by the LaRouche organization, the statue has been painted, chipped, and decorated with Klan costume, the latter to appear on a Lyndon LaRouche for President poster. Several posters have appeared in the vicinity of the current House of the Temple in Washington.

On April 20, 1993, Mr. Chaitkin and his associate, Rev. James Bevel, were convicted of climbing on the statue after a police official had asked them to step down. At the trial, the two defendants attacked the sitting judge for having reputedly been a member of an Albert Pike DeMolay Chapter in San Antonio, Texas, a confirmation of their Masonic conspiracy thesis in the legal system. Outside the courtroom, LaRouche followers carried large banners stating, "Down with Pike!"

There is one recent biography of Pike, written by Robert Duncan and published in 1961, and another currently being prepared by Dr. Walter Lee Brown, a retired professor of history at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Brown's Ph.D. dissertation was on Pike, and he is considered a leading authority on the subject. Dr. Brown has stated that there are no primary sources which provide evidence that Pike was involved with the Klan. (masonicinfo.com note: that book is now published and is linked here)

There are no records extant from the late 1860s - early 1870s period which connect Pike with the Klan. A Congressional investigation (U.S. House of Representatives, Report No. 2, 42nd Congress, 2nd Session, Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States Washington, D.C., U. S. Printing Office, 1872) into the activities of the Reconstruction Era Klan includes material from 1868 to 1871. There are references to alleged Klan leaders in several states, but no mention of Pike.

Published works cited by Mr. Chaitkin and the LaRouche organization involving Pike with the Klan are secondary sources written years after the active Reconstruction Klan period. Ku Klux Klan, by Walter Fleming (1905) states that Pike was the Chief Judicial Officer of the Klan. A lurid pro-Klan history, the Authentic History Ku Klux Klan, 1865-77, written by Susan Lawrence Davis in 1924, cites Pike as the Grand Dragon of the Klan for the state of Arkansas and Chief Judicial Officer appointed by Klan founder, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. This work is not footnoted, and the author does not cite her sources. All books which cite his alleged Klan activity were written after Pike's death.

Pike' s biographer, Fred W. Allsopp states that Pike only spent brief times in Arkansas after his Confederate service.

In 1867-1868, Pike worked in Memphis, Tennessee as editor of the Memphis Daily Appeal. In 1868 he moved to Washington, D.C. to become editor of The Patriot, a democratic newspaper, and to preside over the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, whose chief officer he remained until his death in Washington in 1891. Alleged involvement with the Arkansas Klan would have been very brief, if at all. Pike died at the old Scottish Rite House of the Temple near the current location of his statue. Sufficient documentation to record Pike's Klan activity is lacking. We may never find proof for the allegations of his involvement in the historical records.

Pike was prominent in Masonic circles, a prolific Masonic writer, and was well known in late 19th century Washington, D.C. Pike was pardoned for his actions as a Confederate general by President Andrew Johnson. Petitions of Masons from all over the country requested his pardon. He spoke his mind freely, expressing the beliefs and attitudes of his age. His statue reflects the ambiguities of the tragic Civil War Reconstruction Era.

The statue was originally erected on a Federal triangle at Third and Indiana Avenue, N.E. In 1975 the statue was moved slightly to its present location near the Department of Labor building after its original triangle had been removed to accommodate the Third Street underpass of the Federal mall. The statue is still on Federal property and maintained by the National Park Service.

The National Park Service does not have the authority to selectively remove authorized memorials from public view. Any proposal to remove a statue from the city would violate the authorizing legislation, and thus would have to be accomplished by a new act of Congress. The National Park Service maintains memorials to Lincoln, Grant, Frederick Douglass, and Robert E. Lee in the Washington area. There are monuments to both Union and Confederate military leaders on all the Civil War battlefields maintained by the Park Service across the country.

When informed of the allegations against Pike, noted Civil War historian Shelby Foote stated, "I don't believe in judging a man 100 years after his death. You have to look at him in his own time. " If Pike is condemned and demands are made for the removal of his statue because he may have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan, then the park Service may be asked to condemn and remove statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many other Americans who owned slaves.

The Park Service in administering its historical sites is charged with presenting all sides of American history, and that sometimes includes interpreting long ago attitudes that are not popular or "politically correct" today. The public expression of all phases of our history is crucial if we are to maintain our cherished rights of freedom of expression, and if we are to understand our complex past. Otherwise, we become like totalitarian states, constantly revising history to justify tearing down statues of previous generations of leaders just to facilitate currently ideologies. Many of his rituals are known only to the Scottish Rite, and many are rarely performed today. All plead for toleration and acceptance of all religious viewpoints, and the absolute right of an individual to approach God in his own way, unimpaired by governmental interference. This is a much needed lesson in this era, when militant fundamentalists are attempting to manipulate government to establish as norm their own political viewpoint.

The preceding article appeared in the August, 1993 Philalethes magazine published by the Philalethes Society and is copyright 1993, the Philalethes Society. Its reprint appears here by permission. The Philalethes Society is the oldest and largest Masonic research organization. If you are a Master Mason, you should consider membership in the Society! Click here to find out more.

More on that statue!

In the February, 1993 issue of the Philalethes, we find this item:

Another good friend, and the most dedicated Master Mason it has been my pleasure to know, is Most Worshipful Howard L. Woods, a highly regarded Christian minister. His civic activities and many awards attest to his love of his fellow man. His ten years as Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons in Arkansas indicates the high esteem his Brethren hold him. Brother Woods was The Philalethes Society Lecturer in 1991, the only Prince Hall Mason to ever be so chosen.

He writes:

The Albert Pike Statue: Let It Stand.

There is no love lost between Prince Hall Masons and the memory of the late Albert Pike, Masonic Historian, writer, alleged ritualist for the Ku Klux Klan, but, if Freemasonry is to remain the bulwark of free-thinking people, then, "Let the statue remain!"

Like the natures he wrote about, Albert Pike showed the light and dark sides of his own soul, when with one breath he spoke of his willingness to give up his Freemasonry rather than recognize the Negro as a 'Masonic Brother' and with another breath, declared that every man should be free, for a free man is an asset, while a slave is a liability. Mankind is that way, and as long as the statue stands, America and Freemasonry will survive.

Let the statue be torn down and America and Freemasonry will be in jeopardy, for one would have to wonder, "What would be next?" As a Prince Hall Mason, an African American and supposedly free-thinker, I can see a higher power than the mortal mind of Albert Pike guiding his pen as he wrote such beautiful words of life without an occasional helping hand from someone "bigger than you or I."

Let the statue stand, even if it is proven that Albert Pike did write ritual for the Ku Klux Klan; more ignoble deeds have been done by others without sacrifice of their historic heroism.

Let the statue stand as a reminder that the good and evil of men are in equilibrium within us, and we all should strive for perfection now and in the future, not in the past. Let the statue stand !

--Rev. Howard L. Woods, Grand Master, Prince Hall Masons of Arkansas.

The preceding article appeared in the February, 1993 Philalethes magazine published by the Philalethes Society and is copyright 1993, the Philalethes Society. Its reprint appears here by permission.

The Pike monument was erected in 1901, some ten years after his death. It bears these inscriptions at the eight corners of its base: Author, Poet, Scholar, Soldier, Philanthropist, Philosopher, Jurist, Orator and, in the front, Vixit Laborum Ejus Super Stites Sunt Fructus; He has lived. The fruits of his labors live after him.

And its location in what is NOW (but was not then) known as Judiciary Square is fitting in light of his preeminence as an attorney! Anti-Masons make much of the recognition of Pike in light of his service to Confederacy during the War Between The States. Pike, however, never served during the full length of the hostilities, recognizing the futility of war and the incongruity of the cause. 

 

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