T.S. true early history
Oct 31, 2006 01:11 AM
The following article is from THE PATH, May, 1895, and probably
written by W.Q.J. Today's consequences are worth thinking of for
The Path, May 1895, pp. 55-60
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
INSIDE FACTS AS TO ITS ORGANIZATION. – A DE FACTO BODY. – THE REAL
T.S. IN NEW YORK. – THE PRESIDENT STILL A DELEGAT TO FOREIGN LAND,
AND HOLDING OVER IN OFFICE
These facts are extracted from a paper prepared for the Convention
at Boston in April, 1895. The historical documents and records used
in the preparation of the matter are: the original minutes of the
T.S.; the original constitution; the record published in India,
Europe and America from time to time; Old Diary Leaves - not
considered however as wholly reliable – original documents drawn up
and signed as far back as between 1875 and 1878.
STATEMENTS OF FACTS
1. At a meeting held in the room of H.P. Blavatsky, 46 Irving
Place, New York City, September 7, 1875, it was agreed to form a
Society for the purpose of Occult Study. Upon motion of William Q.
Judge, Henry S. Olcott was elected Chairman of this meeting, and
upon motion of H.S. Olcott, William Q. Judge was elected Secretary
of the same. Adjourned to September 8, 1875. This is asserted as the
facts by those who were present.
2. Pursuant to adjournment, a meeting was held at the same
place September 8, 1875. It is with this meeting that the minute
book begins. Upon motion of William Q. Judge it was voted that H.S.
Olcott take Chair, and upon motion it was voted that William Q.
Judge act as Secretary. Upon request of the Chair, sixteen persons
handed their names to the Secretary, as agreeing to found and belong
to such a society. A committee of four, including the Chairman, was
appointed "to draft a constitution and by-laws and to report the
same at the next meeting". Adjourned to Monday, September 13, 1875,
at the same place.
3. Pursuant to adjournment, a meeting was held September 13,
1875. H.S. Olcott acted as Chairman and C. Sotheran as Secretary.
The Committee on "Preämble and By-laws" reported progress. It was
resolved that the name of the Society be "The Theosophical Society".
The Chair appointed a committee to select meeting room. "Several new
members were nominated and upon motion those persons were added to
the list of Founders". The meeting adjourned subject to the call to
list of the Chair.
4. Pursuant to notice dated at New York, October 13, 1875,
signed Henry S. Olcott, President pro tem., a meeting was held at
206 West 38th street, October 16, 1875, "to organize and elect
officers". Eighteen persons were present. The report of the
Committee on "Preämble and By-laws" was laid on the table and
ordered printed. The meeting adjourned to October 30, 1875, at the
same place. H.S. Olcott was Chairman, and J.S. Cobb Secretary.
5. October 30, 1875, the Society met pursuant to adjournment.
Mott Memorial Hall, 64 Madison Avenue, New York City, was selected
as the Society's meeting place. By-laws were adopted, but with the
proviso that the "Preämble" should be revised by a committee and
then published as the "Preämble of the Society". Officers were
elected as follows: President, Henry S. Olcott; Vice-President, Dr.
S. Pancoast and G.H. Felt; Corresponding Secretary, Mme. H.P.
Blavatsky; Recording Secretary, John Storer Cobb; Treasurer, Henry
J. Newton; Librarian, Charles Sotheran; Councillors, Rev. J.H.
Wiggin, R.B. Westbrook, LL.D., Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten, C.E.
Simmons, M.D. and Herbert D. Monachesi; Counsel to the Society,
William Q. Judge. Adjourned to November 17, 1875.
6. The Society met in Mott Memorial Hall, November 17, 1875,
pursuant to adjournment. The President read an address and after
that the transaction of business, adjourned to December 15, 1875.
7. It is probable that Col. Olcott selected this as the date of
organization, because of his inaugural address, but it is not
correct, and he had no authority to do so. About this time members
fell away and there was no quorum.
8. A few odd meetings were held until 1878. The minute book
was mislaid. Resolutions were made by two or three persons writing
them out and declaring them passed.
9. In the year 1878 H.P. Blavatsky and H.S. Olcott were
appointed a "Committee of the Theosophical Society" to visit foreign
countries and report. The Theosophist for October, 1879, vol. i, No.
I, p. I, first item, says: "For the convenience of future reference,
it may as well be stated here that the Committee, sent to India by
the Theosophical Society, sailed from New York December 17, 1878,
and landed at Bombay, February 16, 1879, having passed two weeks in
London on the way". In the Theosophist for January, 1880, vol. i, p.
95, Col. Olcott says he "came to India with two English colleagues
and their learned Corresponding Secretary, Madame Blavatsky. They
came only expecting to study Eastern Religion and Yoga Vidya and
report their discoveries to the Western Theosophist", which were the
Society in New York, consisting of over forty members at the time.
10. Before the departure of their Committee to foreign
countries, the Theosophical Society elected General A. Doubleday as
President pro tem., to serve during the absence of the President.
This election of President pro. tem. was never revoked; nor was the
appointment of this Committee. On arrival in India H.S. Olcott had
their picture taken and sent to America endorsed by him "The
Delegation to India".
11. Meeting of the Theosophical Society were held at New York
for some years after departure of the Committee, and were presided
over by General Doubleday and William Q. Judge.
12. From October 30, 1875, December, 1878, all alterations of
the By-laws were made in regular and formal manner, by the Society
in New York.
13. These By-laws provided that new members could not be elected
until after thirty days consideration of their application.
14. The original organization was kept up at New York certainly
until after January 1, 1882.
15. What purported to be "Revised Rules of the Theosophical
Society" were adopted at Bombay in October, 1879, by a body which
called itself the "General Council of the Theosophical Society", but
had no legal existence whatever. There was published in the
Theosophist for April, 1880 (vol.i, p. 179): "The Theosophical
Society or Universal Brotherhood. Principles, Rules, and By-laws as
revised in General Council, at the meeting held at the palace of
H.H. the Maharajah of Vizianagram, Benares, 17th December, 1879". To
this was subjoined the statement: "Revised and ratified by the
Society, at Bombay, February the 26th and 28th, 1880. – Attest:
Kharsedji N. Seervai, Joint Recording Secretary". This meeting at
Benares was merely one held by H.S. Olcott without notice and was
irregular. It was here that Col. Olcott worked out the resolution
that declared him President for life, The original Constitution
fixed his term at one year and was never amended. The so-called
ratification at Bombay was irregular and amounted to nothing.
16. None of the admissions to membership nor any alterations of
the By-laws adopted at the instigation of the Committee sent to
foreign lands were in accordance with the By-laws of the
Theosophical Society in force at the time. The legal By-laws were
adopted by a vote of the Society in New York and could only be
changed by a like vote. None of these alterations of the By-laws
were ever submitted to the Society in New York and that Society
never voted on any of them.
17. From December, 1878, down to present time, various sets
of "Rules", "By-laws", and "Constitutions" have been promulgated by
alleged "General Councils", but none of them have ever been adopted
in accordance with the only By-laws of any validity.
18. No laps of time, no passive assent, and no active assent
given in ignorance of the legal status of the case, would confer any
validity upon the otherwise illegal acts of the President or of the
Committee to foreign lands or those claming to act through or under
them, or either of them.
19. Up to 1880 members were admitted to the Society in New York
in accordance with the By-laws.
20. Before H.S. Olcott and H.P. Blavatsky went to India the name
of the Society was altered in New York, in the manner which
prevailed after members had dropped off, to "The Theosophical
Society of the Arya Samaj of Arya Vart". This made it a Branch of
the Arya Vart, over which Dyanand presided. Diplomas were printed
thus and issued as late as September, 1878, with Dyanand's name and
seal printed on them.
21. In India, again, Col. Olcott, in the same manner as before,
altered the name of the Society back to the old style by striking
off "of Arya Samaj of Arya Vart". If the Society properly voted to
change in New York to Arya Samaj, it certainly never voted to
22. Before the departure to India in 1878 the Recording
Secretary was sent to London to form the British Theosophical
Society. Hi did this and Dr. Wyld presided over that for a time.
This body finally became, it asserted, the "London Lodge", now
controlled by MR. Sinnett.
23. The London Lodge has always claimed to be autonomous, has
continued its work, always claiming to be perfectly independent of
the President, the parent Society, the Section in which it is, the
Constitution, and all and every person and body whatever. This
anomalous position has been always recognized and permitted by the
President, and also by the European Section in which that Lodge is.
This is finally exhibited in the letter from the Lodge, found in the
Proceedings of that Section for 1894.
24. When H.P.B. for the last time settled in Europe, she
autonomously, independently, and at the request of the Europeans
(except the London Lodge), founded "The Theosophical Society in
Europe", of which she was President. After she hade made her
declaration, Col. Olcott issued a paper so as to seem to approve of
what had been done. On these was built up the present European
25. An examination of the records from the beginning to the end
of 1893 shows that there is no record whatever of the election of
William Q. Judge as Vice-President of the T.S. In July, 1894, at
London, Col. Olcott and the Indian General Secretary upon William Q.
Judge's raising the point, decided that they would assert that the
record was defective and could be cured by stating the fact that
such Vice-President had been elected in India many years before, and
it was so ordered in Council. But as the meeting at with said
elected took place – if it ever did – was not one participated in by
those who could bind the whole Society, and as the teal T.S. existed
in New York, if anywhere, it follows that William Q. Judge was not
regularly elected Vice-President.
The following by Col. H.S. Olcott occurs in a letter from
him to W.Q. Judge, dated May 17th, 1893: "If you want separate T.S.
Societies made out of Sections, have them by all means: I offered
this years ago to H.P.B., and even to A.P.S[innett]".
In July, 1894, at London, he enunciated the same idea and
plan to W.Q. Judge and Dr. Buck, after the dismissal of the
26. From a consideration of the above statement of facts it
(a) The present existing so-called "General Council of the
Theosophical Society" was merely a de facto status and not a legal
one, as it has grown out of and upon wholly illegal proceedings.
(b) The By-laws adopted October 30th, 1875, and such amendments
thereto as were made according to the terms of those By-laws, are
the only legal ones at present in force and the only ones having any
(c) The Theosophical Society formed at New York in 1875, never had
any legal existence outside of the United Stated and cannot have
except upon amendment of the By-laws.
(d) The Theosophical Society was founded at New York, September 8,
1875, by some eighteen persons, and there was no such Society
founded November 17, 1875, that being simply the date upon which the
President delivered his inaugural address.
(e) The present existing so-called "Theosophical Society and
Universal Brotherhood", with its officers and "General Council", has
no legal connection with "The Theosophical Society" founded at New
York, September 8, 1875.
(f) The authority of the so-called "General Council of the
Theosophical Society and Universal Brotherhood" over members,
Branches, and Sections, who have submitted to it in ignorance of the
real facts in the case, existe inly so long as its authority is no
called in question, but when so called in question it ceases to have
any lawful authority whatever.
NOTE. A diploma made and issued in due form in 1883 to a
member in St. Louis, was signed by Gen. Doubleday as President pro
tem., and William Q. Judge as Recording Secretary. This shows the
Society as then active in New York. We will print next month a
reproduction of this diploma.
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