As a self-taught attorney in 1831, he moved to Arkansas opened a practice devoted to suing the federal government over treaty violations for several native American tribes. Often arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, he won large financial settlements for the Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw nations.
In the Mexican War, Pike led a Regiment of Arkansas Cavalry Volunteers, performing well at the Battle of Buena Vista. At the beginning of the Civil War, Pike was appointed as a Brigadier General in command of three regiments of Indian cavalry. The Native Americans who fought were promised a free and independent Native American state if the South won the war. After the Battle of Pea Ridge, Pike’s Native troops were accused of scalping the fallen Union soldiers. Pike was reprimanded and resigned his position.
Pike joined a Masonic Lodge in 1840, and in 1859 he was elected Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction. A 33rd degree Mason, he held the position of Grand Commander of North American Freemasonry from 1859 until his death in 1891. In 1871, he published a book called Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. The 861 page book is a collection of 32 essays of esoteric Masonic philosophy and lessons in Comparative Religion, Philosophy, Comparative Etymologies, Symbolism, And Numerology. It is the basis for the minutiae of Masonic rituals and a copy of Morals and Dogma was given to every new member of the Masonic Southern Jurisdiction from the early 1900s until 1969.
In 1901 a statue of Pike was erected in Judiciary Square in downtown Washington, D.C. Pike is the only Confederate general with an outdoor statue on federal property.
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