Templars of Honor and Temperance (TOHAT)


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A fraternal, mutual assessment, beneficiary, total abstinence society; the oldest and most direct descendant of the Sons of Temperance, which is the oldest similar society of American origin. The latter was founded at New York city in 1842, and two years later, at the annual session of the national, or governing division, in New York, a proposition was made to draft three degrees based on the society’s legend, “Love, Purity, and Fidelity.” But the anti-secret society sentiment then prevailing in various State Divisions, the outgrowth of the anti-Masonic agitation of 1827-40, was strong enough to defeat the project. The Sons of Temperance itself was a secret society, but adhered to extreme simplicity in its ceremonials. As the members of Marshall Division, No. 11, Sons of Temperance, New York city, strongly favored the introduction of degrees into the order, together with signs, as a safeguard against imposition, that body took steps on June 2, 1845, “without any definite object as to ulterior results.”* to organize a strictly total abstinence association having in view an impressive and practical ceremony more lasting in its teachings than the forms gone through with by the Sons of Temperance. A plan was also incorporated for extending relief to sick and distressed members, but with all these changes there was no expectation that the outcome would be a split from the parent society. The newly formed organization was practically a society within a society, and called itself the Marshall Temperance Fraternity after the division in which it had its birth. In November, 1845, the name of the body was changed to Marshall Temple, No. 1, Sons of Honor, a title manifestly suggested by that of the parent society.

Efforts were made in that month to bring the Sons of Honor into the Sons of Temperance, as an adjunct to the latter, all members of the new society being Sons’ of Temperance, and its name was again changed to Marshall Temple of Honor, No. 1, Sons of Temperance. This was at a meeting held December 15, 1845, the birthday of the order. Among the first officers, A. D. Wilson, R. T. Trail, and John Murphy are regarded as the founders. It was then arranged that none but Sons of Temperance should be made Sons of Honor, and Marshall Temple of Honor, No. 1, should grant charters for subordinate Temples of the new order within an order until there should be five such, when a Grand, or State, Temple would be formed. But before the Grand Temple of Honor of the State of New York was organized at American Hall, Grand Street and Broadway, New York city, on February 21, 1846, Marshall Temple had fourteen subordinate Temples, twelve , at New York and one each at Philadelphia and Baltimore. The Grand Temple of New York was to act as the head of the order until the National Division, Sons of Temperance was ready to formally incorporate the new order within itself. The work of establishing subordinate temples of Sons of Honor progressed rapidly, but as the National Division of the Sons of Temperance, in June, 184G, declared it “inexpedient to form a connection between the National Division and the Temples of Honor,”the National Temple of the Templars of Honor and Temperance of the United States was organized in Columbian Hall, No. 263 Grand Street, New York city, November 6, 1846, by representatives of the Grand Temples of New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Ohio, thus marking the permanent separation of the two societies. The National Temple of Honor promptly declared itself a total abstinence, secret fraternity and adopted a ceremonial of three degrees, entitled, respectively, Love, Purity, and Fidelity, and a ritual and regalia, together with “a traveling pass and key.” The degrees have since been increased to six by the addition of the degrees of Tried, Approved, and Select Templar, the last named representing the summit and perfection of this variety of templarism. Before the Civil War the order spread to the South and West, where it had a large membership, but it never completely rallied from the loss of membership due to the war. It numbered about 7,000 men and women at the close of 1896, residents of Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Louisiana. Texas, Utah, Wyoming, New Brunswick, England, and Sweden. The beneficiary department has not proved a marked success, and membership in it is not obligatory. The social department is composed mainly of women, but brethren are eligible to membership. It is managed and controlled by women under the guidance of the Inner Temple of the Grand Temple, and contained, at the close of 1896, about 1,100 women members.

Junior Templars of Honor and Temperance meet iii sections. Boys of from twelve to fifteen years of age are eligible to join, and at eighteen years of age may enter the Temple of Honor, for which the preliminary training is designed to prepare them. The Templars of Honor ritual is based on historical accounts of Templar knighthood, with fraternal teachings drawn from the stories of David and Jonathan and Damon and Pythias.

It is more than a matter of conjecture whether the ritual and degrees of the Templars of Honor were suggested, in part, at least, by printed and other outgivings of the fierce anti-secret society agitation which had hardly quieted down when this society of teetotal Templars made its appearance.

The names of the three supplementary degrees of the Templars of Honor suggest Masonic inspiration, and the formation of Councils of Templars by those attaining the highest or Select Templar degree parallels the relationship of the Chapter to the lodge in Freemasonry under the American system or rite. Quite significant, as bearing on this, is the chief emblem of the order, a temple, and within it the nine-pointed star, composed of three interlaced equilateral triangles.

The government of the order rests in the Supreme Council, which has jurisdiction over Grand Temples and Grand Councils, the latter being composed of representatives of subordinate temples and subordinate councils. Only members of the sixth or Select Templar degree are eligible to membership in subordinate councils. The order is not only unsectarian, but unpolitical, and seeks, in addition to pledging its members not to use or traffic in intoxicating liquors, to enforce “prohibition by the strong arm of the law, maintained and upheld by public sentiment.” (See Sons of Temperance.)

* Early History of Templars of Honor, etc.. Cincinnati, 1855.

Stevens, Albert Clark, ed. The Cyclopaedia of Fraternities: A Compilation of Existing Authentic Information . . . of More Than Six Hundred Secret Societies in the United States. New York: Hamilton Printing and Publishing Company, 1899, p.410-12.

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