Independent Order of Good Samaritans & Daughters of Samaria

Temperance activists formed the Independent Order of Good Samaritans. It was in New York City in 1847. It admitted African Americans to membership. Thus, it was the first fraternal group in the US “to recognize the humanity in man, no matter what his color.”

The next year the Order admitted women. Then it became the Independent Order of Good Samaritans and Daughters of Samaria

People said that the initiation ceremony was very impressive. It included a re-enactment of the parable of the good Samaritan. The Order had many degrees. The three highest were called the encampment. As was common in fraternal groups, there were many lofty titles. A example would be the head of the group. He was the Right Worthy National Grand Sire of the Order. 

Youth Branch

Order of Good Samaritans
Fictional Tom Sawyer

The Order also had a youth branch. It had its own rituals and pompous titles. Of course, that was an attraction to both youths and adults. An example of the former if found in in the The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Tom joined the Cadets of Temperance. He did so to wear the showy outfit.

A cornerstone of the group was simple. “Our Order knows no distinction among mankind but goodness.” Members hoped help people avoid the temptation to drink alcohol. They also hoped to reform people. As a result, they thought that their membership included more “reformed drunkards” than any other temperance group. Given their attitudes, perhaps they were right.

The Order claimed to have initiated 400,000 members by 1899. But that claim appears to be inflated. That’s because other sources gave much lower yearly induction figures. Yet the Order had lodges in nearly every state.

It also operated as an insurer. So it had insurance policies covering death, sickness, and disability. It also had annuities to providing benefits for the elderly. 

Independent Order of Good Samaritans and Daughters of Samaria


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