Monday, July 27, 2015

The Ancient City of Acre

The city of Acre plays an important part in the history of crusades and particularly in the history of the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon as it was in Acre where the order was founded. Acre is unique as it has existed since the time of the Phoenicians; has been influenced by the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Bahai religions; and many of its ancient structures have been preserved over time.

Acre is located on the northern section of Haifa Bay in Israel and is one the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the world. Acre sits in an important location as it was an important trade port connecting the Levant to the maritime trade that occurred in the Mediterranean.

Acre is thought to have been founded some time during the early Bronze Age (circa 3000 B.C.). There is an early reference to a city named Aak, which appeared on a list of cities paying tribute to Thutmose III. The name "Acre" used was derived by the Greeks from the root word "ake" meaning healing, which goes back to the Greek mythological story of Heracles finding healing herbs there for his wounds. The original city was fortified by a high earthen wall where access was through brick gateways. It is also thought to have been referred to as Akko or Akka which city is found in Judges 1:31 and refers to a city where Israelites could not drive out Canaanites; the Jewish historian Josephus referred to the city as Akre. The city would eventually become a part of the territory belong to the tribe of Asher, one of the 12 tribes of Israel, and ruled by a provincial governor under King Solomon, though some argue that it remained an independent city. As it was on the northern edge of the Israeli kingdom and being a seaport town, Acre was exposed to other cultures and in the 8th century BC, took part in a revolt, along with Tyre and Sidon, against Shalmaneser V, an Assyrian king.


After Acre was conquered by Alexander the Great, the city was renamed 'Antiochia Ptolemais', named after Ptolemy II Philadelphus, King of Ptolemaic Egypt (a Hellenistic kingdom that existed after the death of Alexander the Great and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII).

Around 153 BC, Alexander I Balas, son of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, contesting with Demetrius I Soter over the crown of the Syrian Kingdom of the Seleucidae, took over Acre, or Antiochia Ptolemais. 

The city was captured by Alexander Jannaeus (King of Judea), Cleopatra VII (Queen of Egypt), and Tigranes II (King of Armenia) in the 1st Century BC. For Alexander Jannaeus this was a strategic move as the Seleucid Empire was too weak to intervene and prevent the takeover.

During the control of Judea under the Roman Empire (starting around 48 BC), Acre was a staging point for legions to quell the Jewish rebellion (sometimes referred to as the Great Revolt). After the Roman Empire was split into two halves, Acre was administered by the Eastern Roman Empire (what would become the Byzantine Empire). The Byzantines would control it until 614 AD when the Persians took control of it for a short period.

In August of 636 AD, the Byzantines were defeated by the Islamic Army led by Khalid ibn al-Walid, a general of Abu Bakr, and is considered one of Khalid's greatest military victories. Following the battle, Acre fell under the rule of the Rashidun Caliphate. The Rashidun Caliphate ruled from 632 to 661 until it was replaced by the Umayyad Caliphate and them by the Abbasids. Through the caliphates, Acre was revived as it was used as one of the main ports and naval bases, and due to this importance the caliphates strengthened the fortifications.


The city would remain in the hands of Muslims until 1104 when, after 4-years of siege, Acre was finally captured by the armies commanded by King Baldwin I of the newly established Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Crusaders needed Acre for their chief port for both supplies and new troops required for maintaining their holdings and further conquest in the Holy Land. Acre also gave them access to the trade that had made the city so prosperous and was matched only in size by the city of Jerusalem. Acre made Jerusalem, and the crusader kingdom, very wealthy providing more than all the revenues of the King of England. Acre symbolized the exchange of western and eastern cultures better than any other city during the Crusades.


In 1187, Acre fell into the hands of the Ayyubid Sultan, Saladin, after his victory against the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin. This was not the only city lost to the Crusaders as a result of the Battle of Hattin; several other cities of great importance were lost such as Jerusalem. In 1189 Acre was besieged by the Crusaders, but it would take two years before they would capture the city from the Muslims.



The Siege of Acre was the start of the Third Crusade and lasted nearly 2-years. Guy de Lusignan, King of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, led the Crusading army to besiege the port city. After the Battle of Hattin, many of the strategic holdings such as Acre and Tyre were captured by Saladin's forces. This news shocked Europe and a call for a Third Crusade occurred. King Guy had been released after his capture at Hattin and with the refusal of Conrad to let him enter Tyre, headed towards Acre to capture the city and establish a new base of operations for his kingdom; his authority was tied solely to his wife and many rejected his claim as ruler of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Unable to take the city by surprise the Crusaders set up camp around the city and wait for reinforcements, this came in the form of Danish, French, German, Italians, and English. Upon hearing this news, Saladin moved his army towards Acre where the first battle occurred on September 15, 1189, and the Muslim forces were repelled, but small battles and skirmishes over the next several months. The Crusader force was in a precarious position as it had a Muslim garrison within Acre on one side and Saladin's forces located east of the city in a semicircle formation.

The Siege of Acre was plagued with stalemates and neither side could obtain a large enough victory to secure the complete defeat of their enemy. The Crusaders attempted to destroy the walls using siege machines, but when they attempt to breach the walls, Saladin would attack from the rear causing them to stop the infiltration of Acre and repel the Islamic forces which would give the garrison within Acre and opportunity to repair the damage. On July 4, 1191, city had taken enough damage that it offered terms of surrender to King Richard, but he rejected the conditions. A week later, after a final battle, the Crusaders accepted the terms of surrender offered by the Muslims holding the city of Acre.

It was during the Siege of Acre that William, the Chaplain to the Dean of St. Pauls, arrived in the Holy Land and came to see the devastation of the siege and all the dead Crusader bodies that were not buried. With some assistance, he began to bury the dead Crusaders and help with the wounded. His movement gained traction and popularity so William formed an order with Acre being incorporated to its name as a memorial of its founding location. He started out by raising monies needed to ransom captives of the Muslim forces. Being successful at fundraising, William then proceeded to build a church and churchyard dedicated to St. Thomas `a Becket whereupon the order became known as "Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon" (Acon being the anglicized version of Acre). This order was truly unique as it was the only order composed of Englishmen. This order, out of necessity, would become militarized and fight alongside the other military orders found in Acre.

Once captured in 1191, Acre served as the de facto capital of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem as Jerusalem was still under the control of Saladin's forces as well as the headquarters of the military orders such as the Knights Templar, Knights Hospitallier, and German Teutonic Knights. The city expanded with new neighborhoods, palaces, churches, and public buildings which required new defenses built in the form of a double city wall.

Acre would remain in control of the Crusaders until 1291 when the Mamluk Sultan Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil captured the city in a bloody siege and razed the city so it could not be used against him or his successors in the future. Acre was the last stronghold of the Crusaders on the Levantine mainland and many, such as the Knights Templar, fled to islands such as Cyprus.

The Mamluks had been capturing small portions of what remained of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, but when the Tripoli fell, the leaders in Acre started to prepare and fortify Acre in hopes of keeping it and repelling the Mamluk army headings its way. The Mamluk army was strengthened by troops from Damascus, Hama, Tripoli, and al-Kark which arrived at Acre on April 5, 1291. Over the next 2-weeks the Mamluks launched barrages against the towers and walls of Acre and engaged in small skirmishes with the Crusading forces. On May 5, Acre attempted to settle the matter with a plea for mercy, but this failed. On May 8, the towers began to cave in from the immense damage dealt to them by the Mamluks. The days following were seen with attacks into the city, but a complete victory wasn't accomplished until the 18th of May, and by that time many rulers were able to escape. Not everyone was willing to surrender to the Mamluks; the Knights Templar held out until May 28 when their fortress finally collapsed killing them and most of the attacking Mamluks. The Fall of Acre signaled the end of the Crusader control of the Holy Land.


While much of the city was in ruin, it was still used as a port, even during the Mamluk era which lasted until 1517 AD when Acre was taken over by the Ottomans. Under the Ottomans it seems Acre was neglected as it fell into disuse and decay. By the end of the 17th century, there were just a few buildings, some cottages, some religious sites, and a few French merchants.

Tribal leaders or sheikhs were able to take it over. At the end of the 18th century Acre was revived and made the seat of power under the rule of Dhaher al-Omar, sometimes known as Zahir al-Umar al-Zaydani, whose domain included Galilee, Tiberias (near the Hills of Hattin), Arraba, Nazareth, and Deir Hanna. It was during this sheikhdom that Acre's fortifications were rebuilt. Such were the fortifications that not even Napoleon was able to capture the city in 1799, but was destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt in 1831. During the Egyptian-Ottoman War, naval forces from England, Turkey, and Austria shelled Acre causing Ibrahim Pasha to flee the city. After this war, Acre served as the capital of the northern region of the Land of Israel in the Ottoman Empire.


During the British Mandate of Palestine after World War I, Acre was reconstructed. In the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan, Acre was originally designated to be a part of a future Arab state, but was besieged and captured by the Israeli's during the 1948 War. The port of Acre fell into disuse as it was supplanted by the port of Haifa, located along the south side of the Bay of Haifa (opposite of Acre).

Today Acre is a city with a mixed demography with Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Acre is considered the holiest city for the Bahá'í Faith, a monotheistic religion emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind and was founded in Persia during the 19th century. Throughout its history, this city has been under Phoenician, Assyrian, Roman, Byzantine, Hellenistic, Persian, Islamic, Crusader, British, and Israeli control. Even with its destruction, Acre has many well preserved remains which show off its unique history and the styles of architecture seen in the urban life of Acre throughout the years; recent excavations have uncovered Hellenistic and Roman cemeteries as well as a temple dedicated to Antiochus VII Euergetes (sometimes referred to as Sidetes), a ruler of the Seleucid Empire. In 2002, the oldest part of the city of Acre was declared a world cultural preservation site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and serves as a major tourist attraction. Acre, today, serves much of Western Galilee in trade and administration matters.

References


1. History. n.d. http://www.akko.org.il/en/Old-Acre-History. 

2. Czech, Kenneth P. Third Crusade: Siege of Acre. August 2001. http://www.historynet.com/third-crusade-siege-of-acre.htm. 

3. Hickman, Kennedy. Crusades: Siege of Acre. n.d. http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/battleswars10011200/p/siege-of-acre.htm.

4. Acre, Israel. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acre,_Israel. 

5. Acre: History & Overview. 2008. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/acre.html. 


6. Alexander Jannaeus. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Jannaeus. 


7. Bahai Faith. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1%27%C3%AD_Faith. 


8. Lendering, Jona. Alexander I Balas. n.d. http://www.livius.org/aj-al/alexander01/alexander_i_balas.html. 


9. Old City of Acre. n.d. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1042. 


10. Siege of Acre (1189-91). n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Acre_(1189–91). 


11. Siege of Acre (1291). n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Acre_(1291). 


12. Sites - Israel: Akko or Acre. n.d. http://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=49&sub=4654&cat_name=Sites+-+Israel&subcat_name=Akko+or+Acre. 


13. Snell, Melissa. Acre, City of. n.d. http://historymedren.about.com/od/aterms/g/city_of_acre.htm. 


14. The British Mandate Period. n.d. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths3/MFmandate.html.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fellow-Crafts Song

By Brother Cales Delafate, Esq.


I

HAIL Masonry! thou Craft divine! 
Glory of Earth, from Heav’n reveal’d; 
Which dost with Jewels precious shine, 
From all but Masons Eyes conceal’d.


CHORUS

Thy Praises due who can rehearse 
In nervous Prose, or flowing Verse?


II

As Men from Brutes distinguish’d are, 
A Mason other Men excels;
For what’s in Knowledge choice and rare 
But in his Breast securely dwells?


CHORUS

His silent Breast and faithful Heart 
Preserve the Secrets of the Art.


III

From scorching Heat, and piercing Cold; 
From Beasts, whose Roar the Forest rends; 
From the Assaults of Warriours bold 
The Masons Art Mankind defends.


CHORUS

Be to this Art due Honour paid, 
From which Mankind receives such Aid.


IV

Ensigns of State, that feed our Pride, 
Distinctions troublesome, and vain! 
By Masons true are laid aside: 
Art’s free-born Sons such Toys disdain;


CHORUS

Ennobled by the Name they bear, 
Distinguished by the Badge they wear.


V

Sweet Fellowship, from Envy free: 
Friendly Converse of Brotherhood; 
The Lodge’s lasting Cement be! 
Which has for Ages firmly stood.


CHORUS

A Lodge, then built, for Ages past 
Has lasted, and will ever last.


VI

Then in our Songs be Justice done
To those who have enrich’d the Art, 
From Jabal down to Burlington, 
And let each Brother bear a Part.


CHORUS

Let noble Masons Healths go round; 
Their Praise in lofty Lodge resound.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

134th Annual Homecoming of Silver City

Yesterday I carpooled up with my Lodge Secretary and several others to the historic mining town of Silver City, "the queen of ghost towns". While it is only 72-miles to that town it is located deep within the Owyhee Mountains and is one of the few mining towns that didn't get commercialized or burn down. Going to Silver City is like taking a step back in time and it isn't just the view that will make you breathless, the town sits at over 6,100-ft elevation.


The Lodge in Silver City was built in 1864, but Silver City Lodge #13 wasn't founded until 1881 after Owyhee Lodge #5 and War Eagle Lodge #6 decided consolidate and form a new Lodge; Owyhee Lodge #5 and War Eagle Lodge #6 were two of the founding Lodges of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Idaho. In the winter months Silver City Lodge meets in the small town of Homedale, ID, because the roads are closed due to the snow fall and lack of resources in the area. At the Annual Homecoming they perform a 3rd degree ceremony. If Silver City doesn't have a candidate, another Lodge can bring a candidate and that Lodge confers the 1st section then afterward the Grand Lodge is invited to preside over the Raising and then closes the Lodge. At this meeting there were more than 15 Lodges represented from multiple states, some of the Brothers were the candidate's father and brother.

This meeting is an interesting one as the Lodge building has no electricity which means no A/C. Normally it is a heatwave in the Lodge room and requires us to have all the windows open and lots of water to keep everyone hydrated. This year wasn't too bad as it has been raining and storming the last couple of days so it kept the temperature down, and Mother Nature provided some acoustics during the degree with some thunder and rain.



Today was filled with a Grand Lodge Planning Meeting in the morning and the Idaho Masonic Family Association in the afternoon. Now it's time to catch up with homework and get some sleep.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Pike Statue in DC

Located at 3rd and D Streets NW near Judiciary Square of Washington DC is a statue dedicated to Brother Albert Pike. Congress authorized, through a Joint Resolution, the placement of this statue on April 9, 1898. The Supreme Council of Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, led the movement behind the erection of the statue, which they wanted to dedicate to the memory of his service to the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.


The statue sits at 11-ft tall, is composed of bronze, and was sculpted by Gaetano Trentaove. Pike is presented in civilian dress as a Masonic leader, not as a General for the Confederate Army; this statue was not intended to commemorate Pike's short military career with the Confederacy, but to honor him for his service to the Scottish Rite and Freemasonry in general. In his left hand is holds a copy of his book, "Morals & Dogma." The statue sits atop a granite platform at the bottom of which sits a Greek goddess holding the banner of the Scottish Rite. Carved around the platform are the words: Author, Poet, Scholar, Soldier, Philanthropist, Philosopher, Jurist, and Orator. On the front of the platform bears the words "Vixit Laborum Ejus Super Stites Sunt Fructus" which means "He has lived. The fruits of his labors live after him."

The statue has drawn calls for its removal because of his position in the Confederate Army (not realizing there are Confederate statues maintained by the US government all over the US) and the asinine theory that Pike was a founder and officer of the Ku Klux Klan. Dr. Walter Lee Brown, an expert on Pike, has stated that there are no primary sources that support the accusations that Pike was ever involved with the Ku Klux Klan. Even from a Congressional investigation no reference to Pike ever came up when looking at the activities of the Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction Era. As the statue sits on Federal land, the National Park Service maintains the statue. On September 20, 1978, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; 
what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.

Albert Pike was born on December 29, 1809 in Boston, MA, the son of Ben and Sarah Pike. His childhood and early academics were spent in Newburyport and Framingham until his he was 15-years old. In 1825 he applied and was accepted into Harvard, but never attended due to the tuition fees. Instead of finding another college, he chose to educate himself and eventually became a schoolteacher in the region. Such were his determination that he learned to read Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek, Latin and French.

In 1831, Pike left New England and headed West, eventually making it to Taos, NM; after having walked 500-miles after losing his horse. After Taos, he traveled to Llano Estacado before going to Fort Smith, AR.

In Arkansas he started teaching again and wrote for a newspaper called the "Little Rock Arkansas Advocate." His articles became so popular that he was asked to join the staff and eventually would become its sole owner. In 1834, he married Mary Ann Hamilton who gave birth to 11 children. 

While in Arkansas he again took to the path of self-education and began to study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1837 and sold the newspaper. In 1859, Harvard wished to give him an Honorary PhD, but he declined it. In 1861, at the start of the Civil War, Pike was appointed as Commissioner of Native American Tribes; Pike had a relationship with Native Americans, having successfully counseled on behalf of the Choctaw Nation to the Supreme Court of the USA. The Confederates saw it important to have a strong relationship with the Native Americans and Pike was given power to oversee treaties with the Cherokee, Comanche, Osage, Quapaw, Senecas, and Shawnee nations. Pike believed that the South should stay with the North, but if they were forced into submission and treated as inferior then he believed the South had the right to secession. He would eventually resign from his position as an officer in the Confederate Army. With the defeat of the Confederacy, rebel officers such as Pike were indicted for treason, but Pike was given a pardon by President Andrew Johnson, a Mason himself.

His Masonic career started in 1850 when he petitioned Western Star Lodge #2 where he was initiated and passed in July 1850, and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on November 4, 1850. He demitted from Western Star Lodge in 1852 to become a charter member of Magnolia Lodge #60. He would affiliate with other Lodges over the years in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Washington DC. He received the degrees and orders of the York Rite from 1850 to 1853 in Arkansas, and the Scottish Rite degrees in 1853 in South Carolina. In 1858, Albert Mackey would invite Pike to join the Supreme Council and would become the Sovereign Grand Commander the following year. He would hold this position for 32-years. In 1870 the Supreme Council, and Pike, moved from Charleston to Washington DC. He is most well-known for his reform in the rituals of the Scottish Rite and publication of "Morals & Dogma." Being beggared by the Civil War, Pike borrowed monies from the Supreme Council until they voted, in 1879, to place in the budget an annual income of $1,200 for the remainder of his life. Pike is remembered as an influential Scottish Rite Mason, but is far too often misrepresented, particularly by anti-Masons who use him as a whipping boy for their aggression against Freemasonry.

Albert Pike died on April 2, 1891, in Washington DC and was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery. Pike was disinterred and reburied at the House of the Temple, the headquarters of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction for the USA. Pike was a man larger than life. He was a prolific writer and has left his mark on this world. He was an imposing figure standing over 6-ft tall and 300-pounds; he was the Merlin of his age with his waist length hair.



References

1. Albert Pike - Hero or Scoundrel? n.d. http://civilwarstudies.org/articles/Vol_5/pike.shtm. 

2. Albert Pike. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Pike. 

3. Albert Pike. n.d. http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/biography/pike_a/pike_a.html. 

4. Albert Pike Statue in Washington D.C. n.d. http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonicmuseum/albert_pike_statue_in_washington_dc.htm.
5. Browne, Allen. Albert Pike. February 5, 2011. http://allenbrowne.blogspot.com/2011/02/albert-pike.html. 

6. PIKE, Brigadier General Albert: Memorial at the Municipal Center in Washington, D.C. n.d. http://www.dcmemorials.com/index_indiv0000360.htm. 

7. Pike's Statue. n.d. http://www.masonicinfo.com/pikestatue.htm. 

8. Who is Albert Pike? n.d. http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/biography/pike_a/albert_pike_bio.html.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!!

Happy Independence Day!!!




Enjoy this narration of the Declaration of Independence!



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kappa Sigma Bio: Edmund Law Rogers

Next on the list of Kappa Sigma biographies is Edmund Law Rogers, one of the Five Friends and Brothers of Kappa Sigma. He was born on July 1, 1850, in Baltimore, MD. The Rogers family was a prominent family in Maryland and the family estate, known as Druid Hill, is one of the largest city parks in North America. He attended school at James Kinner Academy in Baltimore with another founder of Kappa Sigma, Frank Courtney Nicodemus.

He began his collegiate career at the University of Virginia in 1869 and on December 10th assisted in the founding of Kappa Sigma in America. He was known for his love of the arts as an artist and an actor. He left an indelible mark upon the fraternity by designing the Star & Crescent, the badge of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Within the Zeta Chapter, the chapter at the University of Virginia, he would become the 2nd Grand Master (the President) of the Chapter, succeeding George Miles Arnold.



He would start a career in acting, going under the pseudonym, Leslie Edmunds. He was very popular actor and starred in such productions like "The Octoroon," a play inspired by the book "The Quadroon" and which focused on the denial of liberty, identity, and dignity of the slave.

Edmund Law Rogers died on December 19, 1893, at the age of 43, and was buried on Druid Hill in the Buchanan and Rogers burial ground.


References

1. 5 Friends and Brothers. n.d. http://www.umich.edu/~kappasig/5Brothers.htm.

2. Edmund Law Rogers, Jr. n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund_Law_Rogers,_Jr. 

3. History. n.d. http://kappasigma.org/about/history/.

4. The Five Founders. n.d. https://quizlet.com/54353742/the-five-founders-flash-cards/.