About the USC
The United Supreme Council Foundation is dedicated to transforming the lives of children, families, veterans and our aging population through improving their education, health and family economic stability. We start by identifying the people and places most in need. We then work closely with our partners to find solutions that combine bold thinking with real-world experiences. We go directly into communities and learn about struggles, needs and aspirations, then pair those most in need with proven, practical solutions to help them move forward.
Since our start, more than 50 years ago, we have committed more than $100k annually to support cradle to college programs, our veterans, and aging populations across America and its territories.
We firmly believe that true progress and transformative, sustainable change are the products of time, hard work, and a willingness to stand for what is right. We know we can’t solve every problem, but with collaboration and determination with individuals like yourself we can accelerate real progress for real people every day.
The First Scottish Rite Organization Among African Americans
The United Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Northern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., Inc. was created from the sizeable efforts of a number of dedicated Brothers to unite all “colored” Freemasons.
Our story begins, in earnest, in the mid-1800s. In 1850 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Count de Saint-Laurent—Patron of the Prince Hall Scottish Rite—conferred the degrees of the Scottish Rite, including the Thirty-third and Last Degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, upon David Leary, a prominent Philadelphia Freemason.
By December 1854, Illustrious Leary received his patent of authority from the Supreme Council of France investing him with the privileges and prerogatives of a Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Active grade. In January 1856, King David (Darius) Supreme Council was created with a full complement of elective and appointive officers.
Between 1856 and 1879 four (4) more Supreme Councils were created populated predominantly by colored men:
- Supreme Council of the United States (New York)—1864;
- Supreme Council, Southern and Western Jurisdiction (Washington)—1869;
- Supreme Council of the Southern States (Star of Bethlehem) (Baltimore)—1871; and
- King Fredrick Supreme Council (Philadelphia)—1879
Five Supreme Councils in close proximity to each other eventually required a course correction. Through a series of meetings in New York City of all five (5) Supreme Councils in late 1880/early 1881, a framework for a union in the spirit of the Grand Constitution of 1786 was agreed upon.
On April 9, 1881, the United Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry Thirty Third Degree of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America (our name at that time), commanded by Illustrious William H. Cooper 33°, was formed from the amalgamation of both the Philadelphia bodies and the New York body. Immediately upon the completion of the organization of our United Supreme Council, a resolution was passed recognizing Illustrious Leary as a past Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander of this Council newly formed.
As with any new venture, our United Supreme Council began in a fledging manner, but in the years that followed we quickly got under speed. The following is a very small sampling of the accomplishments we have enjoyed since our inception—
- In 1883, we exchanged the Orient of Kentucky for the Orient of Delaware
- In 1898, we incorporated ourselves.
- In 1908, in conjunction with our sister United Supreme Council in the Southern Jurisdiction, issued a Joint Bulletin proclaiming the legitimacy of “colored” Scottish Rite Freemasonry.
- In 1914, the Order of the Golden Circle was established in the Northern Jurisdiction after first receiving permission from Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander Robert L. Pendleton 33° who created the body in the Southern Jurisdiction in 1907.
- In 1928, the building of the Cathedral was completed.
- In 1974 the Cathedral underwent a modernization. The iconic stairs were razed and six additional offices were built in their place.
- In 1985, the Scottish Rite House was completed.
- In 1995, we were afforded official recognition and visitation with the Supreme Council, 33°, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction—USA.
- In 1996, the Scottish Rite Tower was completed.
- In 2013, we were afforded official recognition and visitation with the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A.
There are many, many other successes and highlights.
The United Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Prince Hall Affiliation, Northern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., Inc. is composed of 23 Orients comprised of 29 states generally north of the Mason-Dixon line as far north and west as Alaska; as far east as Maine and as far south as Kansas; (1) territory (Guam); three (3) countries (The Bahamas, Barbados, and the Philippines) and a presence in seven (7) other countries (Bahrain, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Kuwait).
Our membership is composed of many Consistories and Assemblies ACTIVELY working in their communities and spreading the positive spirit of Scottish Rite freemasonry.
Beginning in April 1881 with Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander William H. Cooper 33° extending to the baton being passed to the current incumbent of the office, Sovereign Grand Commander S.G.I.G. Melvin J. Bazemore 33°, 20 men have possessed the audacity to lead this United Supreme Council.
Now, almost 139 years later, this United Supreme Council stands firmly entrenched in the pantheon of Scottish Rite masonry the world over. We are more than Prince Hall Scottish Rite freemasonry; we are Scottish Rite freemasonry.
We believe in giving a voice to the voiceless. Our communities are often excluded from the political, economic and social institutions that provide services for the nourishment and enrichment of our people with dignity and respect. We are guided by a vision that includes economic empowerment, political awareness, social justice and service to the community. For more than a century, our mission has been to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, and advance human achievement from the cradle to college, in support of our active and retired military, and our aging populations.
Our goal is to empower individuals and groups to share in the knowledge, wealth, and resources of this world, in hopes of reaching their full potential. Our Foundation is built on your donations and gives 100% of your donations to charitable and philanthropic causes. Your tax-exempt donations can be made in a multitude of ways; please consult your financial planner for more information. We thank you for considering us as part of your estate planning, and your legacy of giving.
We believe that movements are built upon individual leadership, strong institutions, and innovative, often high-risk ideas. As a charitable giving organization, we have evolved over the years, but our investments in three areas have remained the touchstones of everything we do and are central to our theory of how change happens in the world. These approaches have long distinguished the United Supreme Council Foundation, and they have had a profound cumulative impact.
Our Values and Culture
We work with a sense of urgency but recognize that meaningful change requires sustained investment over time in those living and working closest to the problems. For this reason, we focus on grass-roots efforts at every level through supporting participation by people of diverse backgrounds and life experiences. We also closely collaborate with governments, city agencies, the private sector, academia, and other creative community opportunities.
Our culture is driven by trust, and leadership that empowers innovation and excellence. We are accountable to each other at the foundation, to our charter, to our sector, to the organizations we support, and to society at large and the laws that govern our nonprofit status.
Joining the College of Masonry
Are you contemplating continuing and enhancing your Masonic journey by joining the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry alternatively referred to as the College of Freemasonry? I hope you are! As a primer please read the following about our organization –our origins, who we are and what we do!
The true origins of the Scottish Rite dwells in antiquity, but the traceable portions date to about 1733 in continental Europe. A formal Scottish Rite presence was established in the United States in 1801. Concerning the Scottish Rite among Prince Hall Masons, the first acknowledged organization began in Philadelphia circa 1820 culminating in the formation of this United Supreme Council is 1881. Since that time our Jurisdiction has expanded to 23 Orients comprised of 29 states generally north of the Mason-Dixon line; 1 territory (Guam); 3 countries (The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Barbados, and the Philippines) and a presence in 7 other countries (Bahrain, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Kuwait).
WHO WE ARE
Welcome to a Brotherhood like none other where you can join together with like-minded men and explore, more in Depth, the moral and social virtues inculcated in the Ancient Craft Degrees and apply these studies to the rectitude of your life. As you progress from the 4th through 32° the moral lessons provided assist you in combating the modern day enemies of Ignorance, Superstition, Fanaticism, Despotism, and Ambition and are designed to resonate with and enhance your level of understanding of freemasonry. Membership in the Scottish Rite requires a belief in a Supreme Being and accepts men of all faiths. It is not a religion, but rather a way of life. Alongside every successful man is a successful woman and that adage rings especially true concerning our ladies auxiliary – the Golden Circle. This valued group is comprised of the wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters of the membership.
WHAT WE DO
As the Scottish Rite is an extension of Ancient Craft Masonry, the same basic concepts of personal and fraternal development; community outreach; and extension of charity exist here as well on a larger scale. The United Supreme Council Northern Jurisdiction is engaged in a number of ongoing endeavors to include;
- Ownership of the Scottish Rite House and Scottish Rite Tower located in the 1500 Block of Fitzwater Street; a combined 231 units of affordable housing for South Philadelphia’s elderly population.
- Operation of the “Saving our Youth – From Cradle to College” mentoring program.
- Extension of charity to multiple organizations annually through our Benevolent Foundation.
- Awarding financial assistance to need-based college students in underserved communities through educational grants to our Orients.
Has what you have just read intrigued you? Are you ready to embark on the next level of your Masonic journey? Do you desire to help your fellow man and Brother? Will you commit to improve the future conditions of today’s youth? If so please contact the Illustrious Secretary and Keeper of the Seals and Archives of your local Scottish Rite body and request a petition for membership. I hope to see you soon!
Melvin J. Bazemore
Sovereign Grand Commander
(Chief Executive Officer)