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Honorary Thirty-thirds

The Supreme Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite in the United States have adopted the custom of electing honorary members, who are sometimes called Honorary Thirty-Thirds. They possess none of the rights of Inspectors-General or Active Members, except that of being present at the meetings of the Council, taking part to a limited extent in its deliberations, except when it holds an Executive Session.

The earliest record that we have been able to discover is a letter of Morris Holbrook; December 2A, 1897 (volume x, page 208), of iczal Bulletins, Supreme Council Southern Jurisdiction, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. This letter was written to Brother J. J. J. Gourgas and, among other things, he says that Jeremy L. Cross was made an honorary member of this Supreme Council. The same Supreme Council provided for Honorary Thirty- thirds in the Statutes of 1855. Probably the specific idea in this particular case was to make honorary members of those Brethren of the Supreme Council of Louisiana who surrendered their Supreme Council in that year and amalgamated with the Southern Jurisdiction. From that time onward the Statutes contain provisions for Honorary Members.

The original number of Honorary Members in the United States of America was nine Sovereign Grand Inspectors-Central comprising a Supreme Council. The additional Thirty- third Degree Members were made only by vacancies occasioned by the death of one of the original nine.

The necessity arising from the circulation of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Degrees in America brought about the appointment of Deputy Inspectors-General, assigned sometimes to States; at other times at large. Some of the records of these Deputy Inspectors-General notably omitted the numerical designation of Degree. As time passed on and the organization of Supreme Councils by the several factions proceeded, the number of Thirty-thirds grew. Thirty-three was the number set for a "regular" Supreme Council. After the union of the two Supreme Councils of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction in 1867, sixty-six was set as the limit and these were expressly defined to be Active Members. The proceedings of the early seventies indicate the differences of opinion resulting in the adjustment of the rite privileges to Honorary Members of the Supreme Council.

In the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite there is but one Thirty-third Degree and persons elected under the provisions of Article 17 of the Constitution became honorary members of the Supreme Council, not Honorary Thirty-third Degree Members--and this subject was carefully dealt with in the Proceedings of 1923 (pages 48 to 50).

Practically the same rule governs in the Southern Jurisdiction except that Honorary Members are invested with a different title, Inspectors-General Honorary (see Article 4, Section 8, of The Statutes).

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