Ordo ab Chao: Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem

The Inquiry, which included Walter Lippmann as well, met to assemble the strategy for the postwar world. According to The Anglo-American Establishment by Carroll Quigley, Col. House, along with Walter Lippmann, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, were all members of the Round Table. Like his son, J.P. Morgan Jr., J.P. Morgan belonged to the American branch of the Sovereign Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (SOSJ), part of the Russian Tradition of the Knights Hospitaller, which evolved from the Knights of Malta. In 1893, the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Prince Cantacuzene, Russian Admiral Grand Duke Alexander Michaelovich (1866 – 1933) and Russian Transportation Commissioner Colonel A. Cherep Spiridovich (1867 – 1926), the former head of the Okhrana, who wrote a biography of Rasputin, introduced the Russian SOSJ White Cross at the Chicago World’s Fair to American civic leaders. The Grand Duke was the son of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich of Russia, the youngest son of Nicholas I of Russia, and Grand Duchess Olga Feodorovna. Grand Duke Alexander directed the assassination of the spiritualist monk Gregori Rasputin in late 1916. The men directly involved in the murder of Rasputin were the Grand Duke’s sons, son-in-law, cousin and a member of British MI6.

The SOSJ was legitimately continued outside of Russia by Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia (1876 – 1938), son of the Russian SOSJ Grand Prior, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia (1847 – 1909). Kirill was the legal heir to the Russian throne as he was third in line behind the heir of Russia’s last Tsar, Nicholas II. Kirill was the son of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia, a grandson of Emperor Alexander II and a first cousin of Nicholas II. Kirill married his paternal first cousin, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Their granddaughter, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, is the current claimant to the headship of the House of Romanov.

Grand Duke Kirill assisted Richard Teller Crane of Chicago with plans to organize the American White Cross in New York City. Richard Teller Crane I (1832 – 1912) was the founder of R.T. Crane & Bro., a Chicago-based manufacturer, later Crane Co.. He was also a member of the famous Jekyll Island Club (aka The Millionaires Club) on Jekyll Island, Georgia, whose members came from many of the world’s wealthiest families, most notably the Morgans, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts.

The American White Cross was designed for intelligence gathering operations. In 1901, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) headquartered in Rome, and Cardinal Gibbons, announced that an American Grand Priory would be started solely for the American Catholic members of a fraternal organization called the “Knights of St. John” which had been started about 1880 in imitation of the old order. In 1904, the American White Cross First Aid Society was started in Chicago by civic leader Mrs. Potter Palmer, Roman Catholic Cardinal Gibbons, the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, representatives of the U.S. Army and Edward Howe, formerly the American Red Cross Field Superintendent. A similar arrangement existed in England between the Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem and the British Red Cross.

An early and prominent member of the American White Cross was Wall Street lawyer William Nelson Cromwell (1854 – 1948). Future CIA chief Allen Dulles would later work for the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, founded in 1879 by Cromwell and Algernon Sydney, which gained renown for its business and commercial law practices and its impact on international affairs. The firm advised John Pierpont Morgan during the creation of Edison General Electric (1882) and later guided key players in the formation of U.S. Steel (1901). American Grand Priory leaders, Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University, Archer Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society of America, William Nelson Cromwell, Wall Street lawyer and Francis C. Nicholas, founder of the American International Academy, are among those who crafted the American Grand Priory into an intelligence organization. Some results of their careers include the founding of the Republic of Panama and the successful purchase and construction of the Panama Canal. They were also responsible for the founding of the Pan-American “Organization of American States” and directly influenced the founders of the Central Intelligence Agency. Cromwell was responsible for the success of, among many other projects, McCormick Harvester, Carnegie’s U.S. Steel Corporation and the Panama Canal. He became Grand Prior of the American SOSJ in 1912.

An epidemic of political assassinations and the abortive Russian Revolution of 1905 prompted the expansion of the Order into the United States. In 1905, Count Alexis Ignatiev, Commander of the SOSJ Chevalier Guards, was assassinated in Russia. Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was also assassinated. These events hastened the development of a permanent presence of the Knights of St. John in America. Cherep Spiridovich, President, was among the coordinators of this expansion. The American Grand Priory also had a history of cooperation with members of the monarchist and anti-Semitic Russian Black Hundred’s Movement due to their association with Cherep Spiridovich. As an intelligence operative, he was handled by the Russian Ambassador to the U. S., Baron Rosen.

In 1909, Grand Duke Vladimir was assassinated in Russia, and his son, Grand Duke Kirill, thereby became Grand Prior of the SOSJ Russian Grand Priory. William Nelson Cromwell became American Grand Prior in 1912, and meetings thereafter were usually held at his offices in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The name of the hotel is ultimately derived from the town of Walldorf in Germany, the ancestral home of the prominent German-American Astor family who originated there. Others prominent in the OSJ at this time included John Jacob Astor until his death on the Titanic, J.P. Morgan, his son J.P Morgan, Jr. and the extended Cornelius Vanderbilt and Chicago Crane families. The Chicago Crane family affiliation with the White Cross eventually led, in 1941, to their daughter Frances’ marriage to OSJ Hereditary Knight Commander Belosselsky-Belozersky, in New York City. Charles R. Crane, son of R.T. Crane, became a philanthropist, diplomat, and, unfortunately, a financial supporter of the first Russian revolution of 1917.

The American Grand Priory leaders were mostly socially prominent Protestant Episcopalians from New York City and Chicago. There was also a small group of American descendants of Catholic Jacobites, who were still followers of the old Stuart Pretender to the throne of England and Scotland. The Pretender at the time was Queen Mary IV of Bavaria (1849 – 1919), and an army physician and OSJ member Edgar Erskine Hume was among those who later considered Mary’s successor, Bavarian Crown Prince Rupprecht (1869 – 1955), as his “rightful sovereign.” The American Grand Prior, William Nelson Cromwell, and Dr. Francis C. Nicholas had had contact with Spanish Knights of St. John during years of preparation work for the American Panama Canal project. Interaction with the Spanish knights was also the result of Americans meeting Spanish knights during the Spanish-American War from 1898 to 1900, and later during the Mexican civil wars. The remnant Castellany of Guadalajara, Mexico, of the Spanish Order of St. John the Baptist joined the American Grand Priory with their monarchist Pretender, Don Agustin Yturbide. King Alphonso XIII of Spain was the protector of the remnants of the Spanish Order which was given a papal blessing as late as 1879. He expanded his association to the SOSJ in America.

According to SOSJ’s own history, “The American Grand Priory was peopled with the scions of Wall Street and the ‘Eastern Establishment.’ These men and women, many of them active or reserve officers in the military, worked with the fledgling western military intelligence communities and made the Grand Priory the first civilian foreign intelligence organization in the United States.” As a result of the “success” of SOSJ international ventures, President Wilson and Col. House had created “The Inquiry” at the American Grand Priory headquarters on upper Broadway in New York City in 1917, which became the internationalist advisory Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in 1921.

From the book, Ordo ab Chao, by David Livingstone.

Volume Three, League of Nations