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First Imperial Session Badge of Shriners International

Badge from 1876 Imperial Session, on display at Shriners International Headquarters in Tampa, Florida

Badge from 1876 Imperial Session, on display at Shriners International Headquarters in Tampa, Florida


The first Imperial Session was held on Tuesday, June 6, 1876, at the Masonic Lodge in New York City. The 20 members in attendance established the governing body of the fraternity, originally called the Imperial Grand Council.

Fourteen Nobles of Mecca Shriners were elected to serve three-year terms on the Imperial Grand Council, with Dr. Walter Fleming presiding as Grand Potentate. The fraternity established rules for membership and forming new temples (chapters). Leadership also chartered Shriners International’s second temple, Damascus Shriners in Rochester, New York.