The annual Convocation of the Supreme Encampment of America was held on or about 9th September, 1881, at which a resolution was carried by a majority of the representatives present, to sever their connection with the Parent Encampment, when they must have had the official intimation of their Charter being cancelled. This resulted in a complete split of the party, one section abiding by the Parent Grand, the other taking an independent position apart from the Parent Grand. With the former party went the Grand Prior Sir Knight George Cheesman, who for the following three years acted as Inspector General for the Parent Grand and took general supervision of the Order in America. The manner in which he performed his difficult task deserved, and received, the oft repeated thanks of the Imperial Parent Grand Encampment. At the annual Convocation of the Imperial Encampment, 10th June,, 1882, Companion Richard J. Irvin, of Constantine Encampment, Philadelphia, was present and represented the Loyal Sir Knights of America, and had conferred on him the degrees suppressed by the Supreme Encampment, thus the whole of the degrees were once more given by all Encampments working under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Encampment.
On 9th June, 1884, the Supreme Encampment of America was again revived and permission given them to create an Order of Merit to be known as "the Great Cross of Malta." From this time onward the Order has gone forward by leaps and bounds, increasing at a rate never previously known in the modern history of the Order. In 1889 a readjustment of the relationship of the Supreme Encampment of America to the Imperial Encampment was effected. The document is a lengthy one, but we prefer to quote it verbatim:
"Agreement of union between the Imperial Grand Black Encampment of the Universe, and the Supreme Commandery of the Continent of America.--Agreement of Union made and entered into this first day of June, in the year of our lord, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine (A.D. 1889) between the Imperial Black Encampment of the Universe, with headquarters in the City of Glasgow, Scotland, acting herein by its specially delegated and duly accredited representative, Sir Robert Stewart, Past Imperial Assistant Grand Master, residing in the City of Worcester and State of Massachusetts, party of the first part, and the Grand Commander of America, of the Ancient and Illustrious Order of Knights of Malta, with headquarters in the City of Philadelphia, State of Pennsylvania, United States of America, acting herein by Sir H. D. Miller, Past Most Eminent Grand Commander, residing in the town of Drifton, State of Pennsylvania; Sir Richard Stewart, Grand Treasurer of the said Grand Commandery of America, residing in the City of Philadelphia; and George H. Pierce, Most Eminent Grand Commander of the said Grand Commandery of America, residing in the said City of Philadelphia, and State of Pennsylvania, the said Sirs H. D. Miller, Richard Stewart, and George H. Pierce composing a special committee appointed for the purpose of conferring with other bodies claiming to be Knights of Malta, party of the second part.<.h4>
"And whereas the said party of the first part have instituted various Commanderies in the United States of America; and whereas the said party of the second part, acting by virtue of a Charter of incorporation obtained under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which said Charter confers upon the party of the second part the right to Charter and institute subordinate Commanderies, and to make such laws, rules and regulations as may be necessary for its protection and promotion, and claims to be entitled to and has in its possession all the forms and ceremonies of the said Order of the Knights of St. John, the same as are possessed by the said party of the first part; and by virtue of its Charter powers, has instituted many subordinate Commanderies in various parts of the United States, with authority to practise the forms and ceremonies of the said Order. Now, therefore, the parties hereto, in consideration of the premises, and believing it to be for the general good of the ancient and illustrious Order herein mentioned that the rights of each be recognised, and that they be united by one common bond of union, do hereby solemnly declare and agree as follows:--
"Also to furnish to the said party of the second part annually a universal password, the use of which shall entitle any Sir Knight in good standing to admission into any Commander or Encampment on the globe.
"Also, to grant the said party of the second part authority to have at least three representatives present at any and all Imperial Grand Convocations of the said party of the first part, the said three representatives to have all the rights and privileges pertaining to the representatives to such Convocations, except the right to vote on the disbursement of the funds of the Imperial Black Encampment or the election of the Imperial Officers.
"Also that all matters of dispute that may at any time arise between Subordinate Commanderies on the American Continent, or in the Grand Commandery of America, shall be settled solely by the Grand Commandery of America, whose decision shall be final.
"And also, that they shall furnish at least thirty copies of the Annual Report of the Imperial Encampment for the special use of the Grand Commandery of America, also one copy for each Commandery named upon the returns of the said Grand Commandery.
"And the said party of the second part, in consideration of the premises and of the promises to be performed and kept by the said party of the first part agrees as follows:--
"That Charters are to be given free of charge by the said party of the second part to all Encampments in good and regular standing now existing on the continent of America, by virtue of Warrants issued by the Imperial Encampment of Scotland as soon as conveniently can be done after application has been made, accompanied by proper proof of their legal existence, and also such rituals and paraphernalia as are usually furnished to new Commanderies.
"That all members of the Encampments now existing on the Continent of America who have acted under Warrant direct from the Imperial Encampment of the Universe, who are now in good standing, and who will submit credentials proving their claims as Past Commanders, will be entitled to the degree of Past commander and admission to the Grand Commandery of America, and entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities of members thereof.
"That the said party of the first part shall be entitled to at least three representatives to any and all Convocations of the Grand Commandery of America, said representatives to have all the rights and privileges pertaining to the representatives to such Convocations, except the right to vote on the disbursement of the funds of the Grand Commandery or the election of Grand Officers.
"And the said parties hereto mutually agree that all the ancient landmarks as prescribed in the rituals of the Order shall be vigorously maintained.
"In testimony whereof the said parties hereto, by their repre- sentatives, have hereunto set their hands and seals. Dated at Philadelphia the day and year first above written.
"The Imperial Grand Black Encampment of the Universe , by ROBERT STEWART.
"The Grand Commandery of America of the A. & I. O. Of K., of M., by
H. D. MILLER.
GEORGE H. PIERCE."
"At a regular meeting of the Executive Board of the Grand Commandery of America, held at 1828 Wylie Street, Philadelphia, on the first day of June, 1889, the agreement of union hereunto appended was unanimously approved.
GEORGE H. PIERCE, M.E.G.C.
Attest:--JNO. I. WRIGHT, G.R."
"Ratified and endorsed by the Representatives attending the annual Convocation of the Imperial Parent Grand Encampment held at Glasgow, Scotland, on the 15th day of June, 1889.>
(Signed) WILLIAM G. INGRAM, I.A.G.M.
JAMES BOYD, Grand Recorder."
Our readers will notice that the initial letters of this title were identical with those of the legal body, the Ancient and Illustrious Order of Knights of Malta, "A. And I.O.K. of M." The American public were thus being deceived by the use of the initials, which both parties used, in preference to the full name, in their publications.
To put an end to the deception an action was raised by the Supreme body, in the Court of Common Pleas, of Philadelphia, which resulted in the suppression of the bogus title and forbidding the use of any title pertaining thereto, or in any way infringing on the name "Knights of Malta." --1st December, 1900.
The change from the "Grand" to the "Supreme Grand" Commandery of the Continent of America was duly registered on 18th September, 1901.
In connection with the Supreme Commandery there is working a very strong Friendly Society, duly safe-guarded by the laws of the country, which no doubt has had a great deal to do with the rapid spread of the Order in that country. So great has been the increase of Commanderies that it was soon found that the annual recognition fee stipulated for by the agreement of 1889, was insufficient to cover the cost of the annual reports stipulated for by the said agreement. This led to an attempt to impose a per capita tax, instead of the recognition fee.
The matter came up for discussion at the annual Convocation of the Imperial Parent Grand encampment at Glasgow, Scotland, on the 9th June, 1900, when there were present Sir Knights George H. Pierce, P.S.C., Lewis E. Stilz, P.G.C., and Daniel I. Robinson, P.G.C., from the Supreme Grand Commandery of America, to look after their own interests in the matter. Sir Knight Pierce, America, proposed the following resolution, which was agreed to by a majority:--
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