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General Grand Chapter

Until the year 1797, the Royal Arch Degree and the Degrees subsidiary to it were conferred in America, either in irresponsible Bodies calling themselves Chapters, but obedient to no superior authority, or in Lodges working under a Grand Lodge Warrant. On October 24, 1797, a Convention of Committees from three Chapters, namely, the Saint Andrew s Chapter of Boston, Temple Chapter of Albany, and Newburyport Chapter, was held at Boston, which recommended to the several Chapters within the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York to hold 8 Convention at Hartford on the fourth Wednesday of January ensuing, to form a Grand Chapter for the said States.

Accordingly, on January 24, 1798, delegates from Saint Andrew's Chapter of Boston, Massachusetts; King Cyrus Chapter of Newburyport, Massachusetts; Providence Chapter of Providence, Rhode Island; Solomon Chapter of Derby, Connecticut; Franklin Chapter of Norwich, Connecticut, and Hudson Chapter of Hudson, New York; to which were the next day added Temple Chapter of Albany, New York, and Horeb Chapter of Whitestown, New York, assembled at Hartford in Convention and, having adopted a Constitution organized a governing Body which they styled The Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the. Northern States of America. This Body assumed in its Constitution jurisdiction over only the States of New England and New York, and provided that Deputy Grand Chapters, subject to its obedience, should be organized in those States. Ephraim Kirby, of Litchfield, Connecticut, was elected Grand High Priest; and it was ordered that the first meeting of the Grand Chapter should be held at Middletown, Connecticut, on the third Wednesday of September next ensuing.

On that day the Grand Chapter met, but the Grand Secretary and Grand chaplain were the only Grand Officers present. The Grand King was represented by a proxy. The Grand Chapter, however, proceeded to an election of Grand Officers, and the old officers were elected. The Body then adjourned to meet in January, 1799, at Providence, Rhode Island.

On January 9, 1799, the Grand Chapter met at Providence, the Deputy Grand Chapters of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York being represented. At this meeting, the Constitution was very considerably modified, and the Grand Chapter assumed the title of The General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons for the six Northern States enumerated in the preamble. The meetings were directed to be held septennial; and the Deputy Grand Chapters were in future to be called State Grand Chapters. No attempt was, however, made in words to extend the jurisdiction of the General Grand Chapter beyond the States already named. On January 9, 1806, a meeting of the General Grand Royal Arch Chapter was held at Middletown, representatives being present from the States of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York. The Constitution was again revised. The title was for the first time assumed of The General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons for the United States of America, and jurisdiction was extended over the whole country. This year may, therefore, be considered as the true date of the establishment of the General Grand Chapter.

In 1826 the sentential meetings were abolished, and the General Grand Chapter has ever since met triennially. The General Grand Chapter consists of the present and past Grand High Priests, Deputy Grand High Priests, Grand Kings and Scribes of the State Grand Chapters, and the Past General Grand Officers. The officers are a General Grand High Priest, Deputy General Grand High Priest, General Grand King, General Grand Scribe, General Grand Treasurer, General Grand Secretary, General Grand Chaplain, General Grand Captain of the Host, and General Grand Royal Arch Captain. It originally possessed large prerogatives, extending even to the suspension of Grand Chapters; but by its present organization it has "no power of discipline, admonition, censure, or instruction over the Grand Chapters, nor any legislative powers whatever not specially granted" by its Constitution. It may, indeed, be considered as scarcely more than a great Masonic Congress meeting every three years for consultation. But even with these restricted powers, it is capable of doing much good.

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