G A Cook
Name of the book?Exactly this. Brother Andrew Hammer has written a good little guide to the history of the COR, and there is plenty of evidence that it existed already in the 1700s as part of Craft Masonry. Both in the English Rites, but certainly also in the Swedish Rite. So saying that there is no evidence earlier, is simply incorrect by the brother from Louisiana.
Saying that they belong to the first degrees of the AASR, shows a lack of understanding of how that rite developed and formed. The rituals we know today and historically, even back to Morin clearly had earlier origins, and there is no evidence, as far as I'm aware that the COR shows up in those rituals as the first place in Masonry.
The main challenge with proving the position of the COR historically is that most of the exposes dealt with the rituals, and what happened inside the lodge. Few touch on how a Mason was prepared, and what happened before the initiations.