Confederate Brigadier Albert Pike: 5 things you need to know about the former advocate of Native Indian rights
Albert Pike has the rare distinction of being the only Confederate member to have a monument in Washington DC. His statue was torn down on June 19, by protesters for his strong ties with the confederates and his alleged sympathy for slavery. Soon the internet was divided over his position on slavery and his background. There appears to be a lot of confusion over who Albert Pyke is and the role he played in our history. So, here are five interesting snippets about the mysterious masonic scholar.
Although Albert Pike is the descendant of John Pike, the founder of Woodbridge, New Jersey, his childhood was anything but easy. Pike was born in 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts to Benjamin and Sarah Pike. His father was reportedly an alcoholic, while his mother tried hard to push him into ministry. He spent his childhood in Newburyport and Framingham. In 1825, Pike was sent to stay with his uncle. His uncle discovered Pike's photographic memory and helped him learn several languages.
Awarded honorary Masters in Arts degree from Harvard
Albert Pike cleared the entrance exam for Harvard University in 1825. When the college asked him to pay the tuition fees for the first two years, the young scholar chose to forego studying at the prestigious university owing to his financial difficulties, and instead, opted for self-education. He continued studying law by himself and wrote several legal subjects. Aside from his legal works, Pike also wrote poetry as a hobby. Many of his poems were published posthumously by his daughter. In 1859, he received an honorary degree from Harvard University.
Despite pro-Native Indian stance, he favored slavery
In 1850, Pike was actively engaged in politics. He joined the Know-Nothing Party (Order of United Americans). The party's political ideology was anti-foreigners. The party believed that slavery was better for the economy, rather than farmers importing laborers from abroad for working on their farms. Despite his stance on slavery, Pike was formerly pro-Indian. He represented several Native American tribes against the federal government and won settlements for them.
During the Civil War, Pike was appointed as the commissioner of Indian Affairs for the Confederacy. He eventually was promoted to brigadier general. He organized several regiments of Arkansas tribes. Some of his soldiers mutilated the Union soldiers during the battle, which landed him into trouble. He fought with his superiors and accused the Confederacy of neglecting its treaty obligations to the tribes. He was arrested for treason, but released soon after.
Links to Arkansas Ku Klux Klan
Pike's name often comes up as an early leader of Ku Klux Klan. According to historian Walter Fleming, Pike was the "chief judicial officer" of the Klan in 1905. This has been a controversial subject as no substantial evidence has been found to either substantiate or disprove Pike's involvement with the Klan.