6

May2010/

TheNorthernLight

theissueofmultipleSupremeCouncilsoperating
inNewYork.EmmanuelDeLaMottawas
dispatchedtoexaminethepatentsofeachgroup
andtodeterminewhichonewasthe“real”one.

DeLaMotta,whowastheTreasurerGeneral

oftheSupremeCouncilinCharleston,found
threemajoractiveScottishRitegroupswhenhe
arrivedinNewYork.Onewasthegroupheaded
byCerneau,anotherwasthegroupestablishedby
Bideaud,andthethirdwasagroupwithmembers
initiatedbyAbrahamJacobswhohadreceiveda
patentin1790inJamaica.DeLaMottaasked
eachgrouptoallowhimtoinspecttheirrecords.
CerneaurefusedtherequestleadingDeLaMotta
todenouncehim“asanimposterofthefirst
magnitude,andwhomwehaveexpelledfrom
MasonicAsylumwithinourjurisdiction.”
Bideaud’sgroupwasregularized,formingthe
SupremeCouncilfortheNorthernMasonic
Jurisdictionin1813.MembersofJacobs’group
werereceivedintothisSupremeCouncilonce
appropriatepaperworkwascompleted.

DeLaMotta’sdecisionhasalternatelybeen

describedasthecorrectchoiceandacompletely
arbitraryone.WhileBideaud’sgroupwasformed
first,it,likeCerneau’s,wasnotregularandalso
camefromtheWestIndies.

R

egardlessofwhichinterpretationofDeLa
Motta’sdecisionseemsmostaccurate,

questionsstillaboundastoCerneau’struegoals.
Wasitsimplythathemisunderstoodwhathis
patentallowedhimtodo?Orwashereallyonly
initforthemoney?Thesequestionswilllikely
continuetobedebatedanddissectedfordecades
tocome.ItdoesseemlikelythatCerneaudidnot
haveagoodgraspofEnglish.Healsomayhave
believedthathewasworkingwiththeauthority
ofadifferentgroup.Accordingtothe1862
historybyFolger,Cerneauappliedtoboththe
GrandOrientofFranceandtheSupreme
CouncilofFranceforrecognitionandwas
granteditbyboth.TheScottishRiteMasonic
MuseumandLibraryisfortunatetohavea
minutebookkeptbyCerneau’sgroupcovering
theyearsfrom1816to1825.Therecordsinthe
bookresemblethoseofcountlesslodges.The
entriestrackthegroup’sbusiness—they
documentmeetings,notechartersgrantedand
membersnominated,reviewreportsby
subcommittees,anddiscusscorrespondenceand
accounts.Inshort,thesepagespresentagroup

thathadacommonaimandwentaboutits
businesswithitsmembersthinkingtheywere
doingnothingwrong.

AfterDeLaMotta’sdecree,in1813,the

BideaudgroupwasrecognizedbytheSupreme
CouncilinCharlestonandcontinuedtooffer33
degrees,justastheyhadforseveralyears.Around
thesametime,Cerneau’sgroupchangeditsname
to“SovereignGrandConsistoryfortheUnited
StatesofAmerica.”But,wasthisanattemptto
outdotheothergroupbytakingonagrander,
moreexpansivename,orwasitmerelyanattempt
todifferentiateitselfandattractnewmembers?

After1813,Cerneaucontinuedtoconfer

degreesandfashionedhimselfasSovereign
GrandCommanderuntil1827whenheleftNew
YorktoreturntoFrance.Unfortunately,likeso
manyoftheeventsofhislife,Cerneau’sreasons
forthisreturnandwhathappenedtohimin
Franceareunknown.Evenhisdateofdeathis
unclear—justthatitwassometimeintheearly
1840s.

Cerneau’ssuccessorinNewYorkwasElias

Hicks.Thegrouphadbeensuccessfulinstarting
anumberofsubordinatebodiesinsixstatesand
fiveothercountries,buttheAnti-Masonic
movement,whichgainedstrengthinthelate
1820sand1830s,reportedlywipedoutallof
thesegroups,exceptfortheoneinNewOrleans.

‘‘

‘‘

ThischapterofScottishRite

historytouchesonthefraternity’s

originswhilealsodemonstrating

howcherishedthebondsof

Brotherhoodwere—provoking

strongfeelingsandpassionate

emotions.