Have you ever noticed this plaque outside the FBI Building on E street between 9th and 10th Streets? On this site, the Fraternal Order of Knights of Pythias was founded in February 1864. The Knights of Pythias was the first American Order ever chartered by an Act of the Congress of the United States. The Order is an international organization dedicated to the cause of universal peace.
From the Order’s web site:
The Knights of Pythias was founded by Justus H. Rathbone, at the time a clerk in the U.S. Treasury Department.
During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, being advised of the contents of the Order’s ritual and it’s teaching, said: “The purposes of your organization are most wonderful. If we could but bring its spirit to all our citizenry, what a wonderful thing it would be. It breathes the spirit of Friendship, Charity and Benevolence. It is one of the best agencies conceived for the upholding of government, honoring the flag, for the reuniting of our brethren of the North and of the South, for teaching the people to love one another, and portraying the sanctity of the home and loved ones. I would suggest that these great principles by perpetuated and that you go to the Congress of the United States and ask for a charter, and so organize on a great scale throughout this nation, and disseminate this wonderful work that you have so nobly started. I will do all in my power to assist you in this application and with your work.”
“If fraternal love held all men bound, how beautiful this world would be”
-Justus H. Rathbone