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Prince Hall Masonry

Page About Freemasonry, Essays: Prince Hall Masonry Prince Hall Masonry - (Apologies for any lack of political correctness - African Americans will herein be called Negros)

By: Charles H. Tupper MPS

It is beyond doubt that there were some informal Masonic communications in Boston Massachusetts prior to 1733 but the official history begins around July 30th of that year. (It may have been as late as the end of August, however) The first Provincial Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was founded at that time with Henry Price as Provincial Grand Master (supposedly with a deputation from Right Honourable Anthony Browne, Viscount Montagu, Grand Master of England from April 19, 1732 to June 7, 1733) This Grand Lodge was founded at the same time as the ``Old First Lodge'' (#126 on the roll of the Grand Lodge of England). The Lodge was erased from the UGLE roll in 1813 along with African Lodge #370 and a host of others.

The second Provincial Grand Master deputation in the English Grand Lodge minutes is to Roger Lacy by Viscount Weymouth, Grand Master, 1735-36 for a Lodge at Savannah, Georgia. The third was to Robert Tomlinson to be Provincial Grand Master of New-England by the Earl of Loudoun, Grand Master 1736-37. There is no mention of the deputation of Henry Price in the Grand Lodge of England Minutes and it is not mentioned in the list of those sent beyond the seas in Anderson's Constitutions of 1738. The deputation of Daniel Coxe by the Duke of Norfolk is, however, in the minutes of June 5, 1730 as Provincial Grand Master. The Coxe deputation was for a period of two years and included Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey and the Provincial Grand Master was to be locally elected upon the expiration of the term.

William Allen succeeded Coxe and probably only presided over one Lodge in 1731-32 and he was succeeded by Humphrey Morrey. In 1734 Benjamin Franklin was elected and he wrote to Henry Price and requested clarification of Price's Provincial Grand Master status as related to area. His answer came as a newspaper article in the ``American Weekly Mercury'' of Philadelphia. It said that Franklin had been appointed by Price as Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania.

Franklin never used this appointment, probably because he questioned its authenticity. The only authority that could appoint Provincial Grand Masters was the Grand Master of England. A provincial Grand Lodge could, and can, only warrant Lodges.

Robert Tomlinson was appointed Provincial Grand Master by the Earl of Loudon, Grand Master of England 1735-36 and it seems that this deputation superseded that of Price.

Tomlinson died in 1740 and was succeeded by his Deputy Grand Master Thomas Oxnard. In 1743 John, Viscount Dudley and Ward, Grand Master of England made him official as Provincial Grand Master.

Poor Ben Franklin was again appointed Provincial Grand Master in 1749 by Oxnard but Oxnard did not have the authority to do this either. In 1750 Lord Byron, Grand Master of England appointed William Allen Provincial Grand Master and he appointed Benjamin Franklin Deputy Grand Master, which he did have the power to do.

Thomas Oxnard died in 1754 and good old Henry Price became Acting Provincial Grand Master. In 1755, Jeremy Gridley was appointed Provincial Grand Master by James, Marquess of Carnarvon. Gridley died in 1757 and Price again took over the reins until 1768 when John Rowe, Gridley's Deputy, was elected, confirmed from London and, on November 23, 1768, Rowe was installed as Provincial Grand Master of North America. (except were no Provincial Grand Master had ever been appointed)

Rowe was the first Grand Master in the United States to be popularly elected and execute the prerogatives of the office. By 1772 there were about 70 Lodges which had sprang from the original Provincial Grand Lodge.

The thing that should be noticed from all of this is that no proof has ever existed that Henry Price was, in fact, the Provincial Grand Master in 1732. His name does not appear on the English Engraved List until 1770 as a Provincial Grand Master of North America. He is responsible for the founding of Old First Lodge. As a side note it should be said that Peter Pelham, Grand Secretary in 1750 supposedly copied Price's alleged Deputation and this Deputation gave Price the authority to constitute Lodges.

In 1752 a group of Masons began to hold meetings in the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston, Massachusetts and opened a Lodge under Ancient Usage. (self constituted) Some of these Brethren had been members of Old First Lodge and it is not known where the original Lodge membership of the others originates. In 1754 this Lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a charter. The charter was issued in 1756 but was not expedited until 1759, probably because the Masonic credentials of some of the members was in question and possibly because the Grand Lodge of Scotland did not want any problems with the Grand Lodge of England. It was received in 1760 by the Lodge. This Lodge was named ``Lodge of St. Andrew.''

On March 6, 1775, Lodge #441, Irish Constitution, John Batt - Master, who was a sergeant in the British Army stationed under General Gage at Castle Williams, Boston, Mass., initiated Prince Hall and fourteen other Negro men of Boston into the mysteries of Freemasonry. From that beginning, with small additions from foreign countries, sprang the Masonry among the Negro's of America. These fifteen brethren were probably authorized by the Lodge which made them to assemble as a Lodge. At any rate, they did so. It does not appear that they did any ``work'' until after they were regularly warranted.

They applied to the Grand Lodge of England for a warrant, March 2, 1784. It was issued to them as ``African Lodge #459,'' with Prince Hall as Master, September 29, 1784. The charter was not received until May 2, 1787. The Lodge was organized under the warrant on May 6, 1787. It remained upon the English registry until the amalgamation of the rival Grand Lodges of the ``Moderns and the ``Ancients'' into the present United Grand Lodge of England. In 1813, it and the other English Lodges in the United States were erased. Incidentally, African Lodge #459 had been renumbered #370 in 1792 but the Lodge was unaware of this.

Brother Prince Hall worked diligently in the cause of Freemasonry. From 1792 until his death in 1807 he exercised all the functions of a Provincial Grand Master. The year 1792 is noteworthy because this is the year that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was organized. Two Lodges were not part of this event: St. Andrew's Lodge and African Lodge. St. Andrew's Lodge was accepted into the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in December l, 1809 after years of negotiation and pressure from the Massachusetts Grand Lodge. The African Lodge was roundly ignored from the outset.

In 1797 Prince Hall issued a license to thirteen black men who had been made Masons in England to assemble and work as a Lodge in Philadelphia. Another Lodge was organized under his authority in Providence Rhode Island. In 1808 these three Lodges joined in forming the ``African Grand Lodge of Boston.'' Negro Freemasonry in the United States was off and running.

The second Negro Grand Lodge was formed in 1815 and was called the ``First Independent African Grand Lodge of North America in and for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.'' The third was the ``Hiram Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.'' These three Grand Lodges recognized each other formally in 1847 and formed a National Grand Lodge. Practically all Negro Lodges in the Country are descended from one of these three original Grand Lodges.

It should be noted that, in the early days, the African Lodge was freely visited by the white Masons. Gradually, especially after some white Grand Lodges, acting upon the slight information that was accessible in those days, questioned their standing. Over time, the advantages of exclusive territorial jurisdiction became apparent and visitation slowed and stopped altogether. They had become more or less irregular until this became the rule of the land.

It should also be noted that the term ``irregular'' is seldom utilized correctly. Prince Hall Lodges should be more correctly titled ``unrecognized.'' This has nothing to do with whether or not a particular Prince Hall Lodge or Grand Lodge practices Freemasonry according to the Ancient Landmarks. It is simply a tool whereby Grand Lodges do not allow inter-visitation between the members of their jurisdiction and the Prince Hall Lodges.

Following is the text of the application for the English Warrant by Prince Hall:

Wm. M. Moody
Most W. Master

Permit me to return you my hearty thankes for your brotherly courtesy to my Brothers Read and Mene, when in a strange land and in a time of need, you was so good is to receive them as Brothers, and to treat them so cordially as they informed me you did. What you have done to them I luck upon as done to me and the hole of us, for which I give you meney thanks, and like wise to all the lodge. I hope they behaved themselves as men and masons with you; if not I would be glad if you would be so good as to let me know of it and they shall be dealt with accordingly.

Dear Br. I would inform you that this lodge hath been founded almost this eight years and had no Warrant yet But only a Permet from Grand Master Row to walk on St. John's day and Bury our dead in form which we now injoy. We have had no opportunity tell now of aplieing for a warrant through we were prested upon to send to France for one but we refused for reasons best known to ourselves. We now apply to the Fountain from which we received light for this favor, and Dear Sir I must beg you to be our advocate for us by sending this our request to His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland Grand Master, and to the Right Honourable Earl of Effingham acting Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master and Grand Wardens and the rest of the Brethren of the Grand Lodge that they would graciusly be pleased to grant us a Charter to hold this Lodge as long as we behave up to the spirit of the constitution.

This our humble petition we hope His Highness and the rest of the Grand Lodge will graciously be pleased to grant us there.

Though poor yet sincear brethren of the craft, and therefore in duty bound ever to pray, I beg leave to subscribe myself

Your Loving Friend and Brother

Prince Hall
Master of African Lodge No 1

Following is the text of the original Warrant granted by the Grand Lodge of England to African Lodge #459.

To All and Every:

Our right worshipful and loving brethren: We, Thomas Howard, Earl of Effingham Lord Howard; etc.; Acting Grand Master, under the authority of his Royal Highness, Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, etc.; Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, send greeting:

Know ye that we at the humble petition of our Right Trusty and well beloved brethren, Prince Hall, Boston Smith; Thomas Sanderson, and several other brethren residing in Boston, New England, and North America do hereby constitute the said brethren in to a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, under the title or denomination for the African Lodge, to be opened in Boston, aforesaid; and do further; as their said petition and of the great trust and confidence reposed in every one of the said above named brethren hereby appoint the said Prince Hall to be Master; Boston Smith, Senior Warden; and Thomas Sanderson, Junior Warden for the opening of said Lodge, and for such further time only as shall be thought by the brethren thereof, it being our will that this our appointment of the above officers, shall in no wise effect any further election of officers of said Lodge, but that such election shall be regulated, agreeable to such by-laws of the said Lodge as shall be consistent with the Grand Laws of the Society, contained in the Book of Constitutions; and, further, that you do from time to time cause to be entered in a book kept for that purpose, an account of your proceedings in the Lodge, together with all such Rules, Orders and Regulations as shall be made for the good government of the same that in no wise you omit once in every year to send to us for our predecessors, Grand Masters' or Royland Holt, Esq., our Deputy Grand Master for the time being an account of your said proceedings and copies of all such Rules Orders and Regulations as shall be made as aforesaid, together with the list of the members of the Lodge, and such sum of money as may suit the circumstances of the Lodge and reasonably be expected toward the Grand Charity.

Moreover, we will, and require of you; the said Prince Hall, as soon as conveniently may be, to send an account in writing of what may be done by virtue of these presents.

Given at London under our hand and seal of Masonry, (seal) this 29th day of September A.L. 5784, A.D. 1784; by the Grand Master's command

R. Holt, Deputy Grand Master
Attes: William White, Grand Secretary

John T. Hilton was master of African Lodge and was Grand Master of the African Grand Lodge when the next phase in the evolution of Prince Hall Masonry began. He was probably the most efficient Master that African Lodge ever had, sensing the need for a Grand Lodge, attempted to accomplish this by a self-declaration of Grand Lodge status, at the same time attempting to escape the existing limitations upon him by declaring independence of all other Masonic bodies in the world. He became the first Grand Master of the National Compact. By the time John Hilton did this, Mother Kilwinning and Lodge Melrose St. John had done the same thing previously so this was nothing that had not already been done. Kilwinning was chartering lodges as early as 1749.

This phase in the history of the Prince Hall Grand Lodges was the forming of the National Grand Lodge, commonly called the ``Compact'' and formally named the ``National Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Ancient York Masons.'' This Grand Lodge was rife with discontent among the brethren of the various Grand Lodges Lodges from the beginning. This discontent started at the convention at Boston, Mass. on June 23, 1847 where the Compct began. The Lodges had obstensively met, at the invitation of the African Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, to exchange ideas as to the fraternal relations between the various Lodges. Also, for the brethren of the various Grand Lodges to celebrate St. John's Day with a parade and an oration. This was accomplished to the satisfaction of all involved.

The Masons from Philadelphia arrived too late to take part in the business of this convention. They, evidently with the consent of the original callers of the convention, re-opened it on June 24, 1847. This group did, in fact, pass legislation and formed a Grand Lodge that set itself above all others that were formed from the original Prince Hall Lodge. It wrote a Constitution that made it the sole authority over the three symbolic degrees of Masonry. It also made itself the sole body that could warrant Grand Lodges in the United States.

This National Compact took no notice of any body but itself. It refused to listen to the constituent Lodges when they complained about the high handed way that it ran things. The various Grand Lodges that did not become part of it were invaded by it as it chartered Lodges in their spheres of influence despite having an agreement not to do this. In 1848 it established a Grand Lodge in New York which already had one. In 1855 it did the same in Delaware. Later, it did the same in Maryland, Rhode Island, Virginia, and other states. If there was a rival Grand Lodge in a State it constituted Lodges within the sphere of that Grand Lodge.

At a convention in Chicago, Illinois on September 4 - 6, 1877 a resolution was passed by fifteen Grand Lodges to dissolve the National Compact. It was ignored by that body, probably because there was nothing left of it by this time.

On May 10, 1878 another convention was held and it formed a union of Grand Lodges and again passed a resolution. This time asking the National Compact to disband. The power of the National Compact had been broken by this time and no Grand Lodges were present at the meeting in Wilmington, Delaware in 1877. It was, in effect, dead as an entity. The dates that the Prince Hall Grand Lodges withdrew from the National Compact and/or formed are as follows:

1848
New York, Boyer Grand Lodge, June 7 - reorganized with Nat. Compact Lodges to form the ``United Grand Lodge'' on December 27, 1878
1849
Pennsylvania, Hiram Grand Lodge, November 9 - Independent grand body, June 28, 1850 - United with Compact Lodges to form the presently named ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge'' on December 24, 1882
1850
New Jersey, Independent, April 29 - Consolidated into what is now known as the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' December 29, 1875
1850
Delaware, Independent Grand Lodge, July 1
1867
Virginia, Independent grand body, October 14 - united with Compact Lodges formed what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge'' on December 15, 1875
1868
Ohio, September 21 and formed what is now known as the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge.''
1868
Ontario, Canada, Exact date unknown - Formed what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge.''
1870
Tennessee, Independent, August 3, - reorganized with Compact Lodges on June 12, 1888 to form what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge.''
1871
Missouri, Independent, July 31
1872
Florida, Independent and Compact Lodges formed what is now the ``Union Grand Lodge'' on June 12, 1872
1872
North Carolina, formed what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' exact date unknown.
1873
Indiana, June 23
1873
Michigan, Compact dissolved, September 22 - formed with Unity Grand Lodge to form what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' September 23
1873
Prince Hall Grand Lodge, December 18
1874
California, Conventional Independent Grand Lodge and Compact Lodges consolidated into what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' June 24
1874
Georgia, Independent formed, June 23 - consolidated with Compact Lodges to form what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge.'' June, 1888
1874
Louisiana, Eureka Grand Lodge and the Union Grand Lodge (Compact) consolidated to form what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' exact date unknown.
1875
Kentucky, exact date unknown
1875
Rhode Island, Union Grand Lodge and Harmony Grand Lodge (Compact) reorganized into what is now known as ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' October 17
1876
Kansas, King Solomon Grand Lodge formed what is now known as the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' between March 7 and 9
1876
Maryland, First Independent Colored Grand Lodge and Union Grand Lodge (Compact) reorganized into what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' September 12

The main objection raised today against intervisitation between Grand Lodges in the same State has to do with a purely American doctrine - exclusive jurisdiction. This doctrine had its beginnings during and after the Revolutionary War when the Grand Lodges began to form. The various States began to form Grand Lodges and would then Charter Lodges only within the territory of their State and the areas that did not have an existing Grand Lodge. Gradually the concept of exclusive jurisdiction became the norm.

In 1796 the Grand Lodge of New York passed a resolution stating that it would not issue a Charter to any group in a State where there was another Grand Lodge in existence. The concept spread by common consent and not rules as most Masons believe today. There were exceptions to this rule in the early days but they were all ironed out in the end. The important thing about this is that it is being used as a reason to not recognize the Prince Hall Grand Lodges in many jurisdictions.

Many books have been written about the Black Lodges in North America over the years. Probably the most read is ``A Documentary Account of Prince Hall and Other Black Fraternal Orders'' by Henry Wilson Coil, Sr. This book is the first of a series that I will use the arguments against regularity from and attempt to answer them. These objections are as follows:


Ob: ``The supposed acting army lodge, in recognition of the fact that Masonic degrees can be conferred only in a lodge, turned out to be no more than a lone former sergeant named John Batt in the British forces who, having been discharged therefrom, enlisted in the American Army at Boston for a short period until he deserted. Since it was a financial venture for him, it is difficult to see why he selected Blacks for his prey, none of whom seem to have been overburdened with wealth, though the needs of White petitioners were supplied by the several lodges in that city.''

Doc: The supporting documents for these claims found in this tome are: 1) Reproduction of the record of the fees paid for the degrees, 2) Reproduction of the record of the degrees conferred, 3) Reproduction of British General Robert Paget's Regimental Roster showing the discharge of John Batt on February 3, 1777, 4) Reproduction of War records of Col. Henley's Regiment (American) showing enlistment and desertion of John Batt (enlisted 2/20/1778 and deserted 6/10/1778, 5) Listing of John Batt's military services in 1777-78, 6) Listing of English Muster Rolls for John Batt for 1775-77, 7) Pay receipt for 5/28/1778 with John Batt's signature, and 8) War record of Henley's Regiment for enlistment bonus dated 5/28/1778

Ans: This claim is a very deliberate attempt to put the date of the initiation, passing and raising of Prince Hall and his fellows to a time when this could not have legally happened. A perusal of the documents show that the year of the event is missing and this makes the claim possible. It is reasonably certain that John Batt did, in fact, sell degrees in 1778 but nowhere is Prince Hall or any of his Brethren mentioned in the documentation. I submit that, since Military Lodge #441 was, in fact, active at Castle William in 1775 that it is not up to the Prince Hall Masons to prove that he was legally initiated, passed and raised at that time, as Prince Hall himself claimed but, rather, is up to those who do not believe this to disprove it.

It must be remembered that Masonic Records for this period are fragmentary in many places and the lack of a positive document to show the fact of conferral is missing for a great many men who are claimed by our Fraternity as true and trusty brothers.


Ob: ``African Lodge ceased after 1797 to pay Grand Lodge dues and to correspond with the London office, for which reason it was dropped from the joint roll of the UGLE in 1813 along with 352 or 363 other delinquent lodges. In this or any similar case, those who ``creep under the tent' to enter the Fraternity, by that very act, declare their lack of Masonic qualities, for no Masonic body rejects good material.''

Ans: Oh really? It is an established fact that Grand Lodges throughout the United States have, for over two hundred years, rejected ``good material'' because of the color of their skin. This racial bigotry has even been, at one time or other, been written into the Masonic Code in many Grand Jurisdictions. Following are some representative examples: 1) Louisiana - 1924 - decision of GM - ``A mixture of white and Negro blood made a man ineligible for the degrees'' 2) South Carolina - Ahiman Rezon - ``.....that a candidate must be of free white parents.'' 3) Texas - Constitution and Laws - 1948 - ``This Grand Lodge does not recognize as legal or Masonic any body of Negroes working under any character of charter in the United States, without regard to the body granting such charter, and they regard all Negro lodges as clandestine, illegal and un-Masonic, and moreover, they regard as highly censurable the course of any Grand Lodge in the United States which shall recognize such bodies of Negroes as Masonic Lodges.'' 4) Illinois - Proceedings - 1899 - ``Therefore to have Lodges exclusively of Negroes, would be dangerous to the high character of our Order. And, to associate them in Lodges with white brethren , would be impossible.'' 5) Delaware - Proceedings - 1867 - contained in obligation of Master Mason - ``**********of any Negro, mulatto, or colored person of the United States *******************''

As can be seen from these examples it was impossible for the Negro to petition a Lodge for the degrees or for Negro Lodges to petition anywhere for entrance into any Grand Lodge in the Country. I submit that Freemasonry itself does not draw barriers on the basis of the color of skin. Since the general practice in the United States is to draw this line, the Negro Lodges are left with no choice but to be separate. Just who is the un-Masonic party here?

When the UGLE dropped the Lodges in the United States from the rolls in 1813, the UGLE had a problem on their hands because every Lodge wanted a low number. The re-numbering process left out all Lodges that had not been regular in their Charity donations for a period of time. This had nothing to do with whether or not the Lodges were worthy of being Lodges.


Ob: ``The Blacks failed to appreciate the honor and nobility of the Freemasonry which was being exhibited before their eyes in the Provincial Grand Lodges and lodges in Boston.''

Ans: When the two existing Grand Lodges in Massachusetts consolidated in 1792 there were two Lodges that were not invited: St. Andrew's and African Lodge. The Grand Lodge immediately put pressure on St. Andrew's to join which it did in 1809. African Lodge was totally ignored from the outset. I wonder what ``nobility'' ``was being exhibited before their eyes in the Provincial Grand Lodges'' in Boston? Is it any wonder that they did not wish to intrude? Is it any wonder that they felt the need to go their own way? I think they did what they felt they had to do under the circumstances.


Ob: ``The Blacks, flouted the provisions of the very Grand Lodge which had so imprudently given them the warrant of 1784-87 and paid no heed to the English General Regulations of 1721-23, eventually ignoring the Grand Lodge itself.''

Ans: HRH and the Earl of Effingham evidently did not feel that it was ``imprudent'' to issue the warrant to African Lodge and there is no basis from which to make such a statement. Investigation was certainly carried out as to the worthiness of Prince Hall prior to the issuance as is the norm in Freemasonry. As to the rest of this, I wonder why the brush is only used to paint African Lodge and none of the other 352-363 Lodges that were in the same position at the time?


Ob: ``Irrespective of the reasons, those Blacks occupied a depressed social, educational and economic position and lacked the number of men sufficient to maintain a Masonic lodge. Hundreds of White lodges have expired for the same reasons.'' ``''There are no preserved minutes of the lodge between 1788 and 1807, inclusive, though minutes before and after that period are preserved. It was during this period that the communications with London ceased.''

Ans: Hundreds of white lodges and even some Grand Lodges have also resurrected after a period of dormancy. The most common occurrences were the time following the ``Anti Masonic period'' in the 1800's. I, personally, know of Lodges in my own jurisdiction that have lost minute books and they certainly are not being closed because they can not prove that they met for the years that are missing. Again, an attempt to paint the Negro Lodges with a different brush.


Ob: ``The African Lodge took no notice of the erasure of its name and number from the Grand Lodge roll in 1813, though it could have petitioned for restoration.''

Ans: Neither did the other Lodges that were stricken from the rolls who had their Lodges in the United States.


Ob: ``African Lodge could not under regulations of the Grand Lodge do aught but make, pass and raise Masons, nor could it create other lodges or a Grand Lodge.''

Ans: Neither could Mother Kilwinning Lodge or St. Andrews Lodge but they, among others, did the same thing and I do not see them being attacked for doing it nor are the Lodges they chartered deemed clandestine.


Ob: ``By this time, Prince Hall had become the forgotten man, His name is mentioned in no record or transaction from 1788 until the middle of the nineteenth century, when he was rediscovered. There were no Prince Hall Lodges or Grand Lodges, the first to bear that name coming in 1848.''

The convention that formed the National Compact was then held.

``Then followed thirty years of considerable confusion and dissension, largely seeming to grow out of the disposition of some National Grand Masters to exercise their overlordship too vigorously and to alienate many of the state Grand Lodge officers. Although the National body met triennially and should have issued ten reports of proceedings down to 1877, only four were printed and made available to the public. This has enabled the Blacks of either establishment to circulate statements about their activities, many of which seem vicious or misleading. Unsupported rumor and propaganda were so widespread that the rebels against the National Compact who withdrew succeeded in setting themselves up as the conservative patriots defending ``states' rights'' and claiming the Nationals to be frauds or clandestine. As proof of their Masonic purity of origin, they adopted after some years and one by one the name ``Prince Hall'' and asserted that the National Grand Lodge had been dissolved in 1877. The facts are that the Triennial Proceedings in printed form have been available in recent years and it is said that there are Compact subordinate lodges in twenty-seven states.''

Ans: Any statements made by one Grand Lodge to or about another during the time of the National Compact are not material to the regularity so I have no comment on this.

Every Prince Hall Grand Lodge can, and does, trace its ancestry to one of the three original Negro Grand Lodges and this is an attempt to mislead.

Since the various Grand Lodges had, by 1877, severed relations with the National Compact and the statement is ``it is said'' I submit that the National Compact did, in fact, dissolve in 1877. If proof of the contrary exists, why is the statement worded thus?

As for the Triennial Proceedings. The Prince Hall organization has had Proceedings of their York Rite Triennials right along.


In 1897 two Negro Masons named Con A. Rideout and Gideon S. Bailey wrote a letter to the Grand Lodge of Washington asking if there was some way that they could be recognized as regular Masons. The Grand Lodge appointed a committee consisting of MW Thomas M. Reed PGM, William F. Upton, DGM and James E. Edmiston PGM to investigate the regularity of their credentials.

In 1898 the committee returned their report and stated that indeed they were in order and their regularity was without doubt. The GL of Washington then voted on a four part resolution which, in part, stated that: 1) ``neither race nor color are among the tests proper to be applied to determine the fitness of a candidate for the degrees of Masonry. 2) ``in view of recognized laws of the Masonic Institution, and of facts of history apparently well authenticated and worthy of full credence, this Grand Lodge does not see its way clear to deny or question the right of its constituent Lodges, or of the members thereof, to recognize as brother Masons, Negroes who have been initiated in Lodges which can trace their origin to African Lodge, No. 459.'' 3) ``This Grand Lodge deems it to the best interest of Masonry to declare that if regular Masons of African descent desire to establish, within the State of Washington, Lodges confined wholly or chiefly to brethren of their race, and shall establish such Lodges strictly in accordance with the Landmarks of Masonry, and in accordance with Masonic Law as heretofore interpreted by Masonic tribunals of their own race, and if such Lodges shall in due time see fit in like manner to erect a Grand Lodge for the better administration of their affairs, this Grand Lodge, having more regard for the good of Masonry than for any mere technicality, will not regard the establishment of such Lodges of Grand Lodge as an invasion of its jurisdiction, but as evincing a disposition to conform to its own ideas as to the best interests of the Craft under peculiar circumstances; and will ever extend to our colored brethren its sincere sympathy in every effort to promote the welfare of the Craft or inculcate the pure principles of our Art.'' 4) ``The Grand Secretary be instructed to acknowledge receipt of the communication from Gideon S. Bailey and Con A. Rideout, and forward to them a copy of the printed Proceedings of this annual communication of the Grand Lodge, as a response to said communication.''

This created a firestorm of protest and declarations of non communication with the Grand Lodge of Washington. Much to the shame of the Grand Lodge it buckled under and rescinded this resolution in 1899 bringing a cloud over Freemasonry for another 90 plus years in Washington.

The thing that is most interesting about this period is the investigation into the regularity of the Prince Hall Lodges. Much of the material contained therein is being used today as a basis for declarations of coexistence and mutual visitation in the various Grand Lodges that have recognized Prince Hall Masonry and those who are presently in process of considering doing the same. There are still portions of this Country, however, that stop acting like Freemasons when the question of Negro Masonry comes into the picture. They forget that Freemasonry only looks for the truth and is open to any good man, regardless of race.

Another interesting thing that happened in 1898 is that the UGLE issued a written statement that it did not want to discuss ``Colored Masonry'' with the Grand Lodge of Washington as it was not directly concerned with the question.

Following are the findings of the Grand Lodge of Washington which have proved to be accurate over the test of time and the objections and answers to those objections as found by the investigation.


Additional objections to the initiation of Prince Hall and his brethren:

Ob: They were made Masons illegally because a Provincial Grand Lodge in Boston had forbidden army Lodges to initiate civilians.

Ans: This objection comes as an allegation that the UGLE issued this injunction but, even if true, the brethren were regularized in 1784 by virtue of the Warrant issued by the Grand Master of the UGLE. Subsequent to the time of this objection, is falsity obvious, the objection was transferred to Provincial Grand Master Warren issued this injunction in 1773 but there is no proof of this. Failing in having this objection hold up a third surfaced. This one has the Grand Lodge of Ireland had a regulation prohibiting the practice where there was a ``Town's Lodge'' where the Regiment was quartered. Despite any injunction prohibiting the practice, any man made a Mason within a regularly constituted Lodge of Masons is a Mason and this action is absolute. The Lodge may be reprimanded for the action but the man remains a regular Mason.


Ob: Negroes are ineligible to be made Masons

Ans: Excerpt from the ``Grand Lodge MS, No. 2, circa 1650: ``28. That noe p'son shall be accepted a ffree Mason but Such as are of able body, honest parentage, good Reputacon, & observers of ye Lawes of the Land.''

These are some of the ancient rules that we follow in our Fraternity and they do not have a word in them about skin color. ---------------------------------

Ob: The Lodge had no warrant or charter until 1787 and still met as a Lodge

Ans: This fact was abundantly clear to the Grand Master of the UGLE when he issued the Warrant as it was stated in Prince Halls prayer for a Warrant and he did not have objections to this. If he did not and issued the warrant, which he did, then no one has a right to object. ----------------------------------

Ob: England lost the right to warrant Lodges in the United States when the independence of this Nation was recognized.

Ans: ``To travel in foreign countries, work and receive masters wages.'' Masons work and receive their wages in Lodges of Masons. The objection is impossible if this is a fact. The UGLE does not do this as a simple courtesy today. ------------------------------------

Ob: The warrant was an invasion of the jurisdiction of a Massachusetts Grand Lodge.

Ans: The American doctrine rears its head again. As I have pointed out before, this is not according to ancient usage. It is only an agreement entered into over time in North America. -------------------------------------

Ob: African Lodge was never formally constituted

Ans: Read the warrant. The Lodge was constituted upon issuance of the Warrant. It states so on its face. -----------------------------------

Ob: The organization of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1792 invalidated the further existence of African Lodge.

Ans: Exclusive jurisdiction again. Even the action of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1797 which stated that ``The Grand Lodge will not hold communication with, or admit as visitors, any Masons, residing in this State, who hold authority under, and acknowledge the supremacy of, any foreign Grand Lodge,'' does not invalidate the existence. Besides, this was passed simply to coerce St. Andrews Lodge, which met at the Green Dragon, into joining. The wording in no way questions the Masonry of any other Lodge. It is probable that this injunction made the African Lodge unrecognized in Massachusetts as of that time. ----------------------------------

Ob: That it surrendered its warrant to the UGLE in 1824.

Ans: In 1824 African Lodge stated in a letter to the UGLE that they were Royal Arch Masons and that the warrant they had only authorized them to confer the first three degrees. They wished to confer the four RA degrees and so solicited the ``Renewal of our Charter.'' There is no mention of surrendering any charter and the objection is not worthy. -----------------------------------

Ob: African Lodge declared itself independent in 1827.

Ans: This came because African Lodge published in a newspaper, after being unsuccessful in communicating with the UGLE, the following:

``Taking all these things into consideration, we have come to the conclusion that with what knowledge we possess of Masonry, and as people of color by ourselves, we are, and ought by rights to be, free and independent of other Lodges. We do, therefore, with this belief, publicly declare ourselves free and independent of any Lodge from this day, and that we will not be tributary, or be governed by any Lodge but our own. We agree solemnly to abide by all proper rules and regulations which govern the like Fraternity, discountenancing all imposition to injure the Order, and to use all fair and honorable means to promote its prosperity, resting in full hope that this will enable us to transmit it in its purity to our posterity for their enjoyment.'' . . . ``We did no more than the Massachusetts Grand Lodge did on the 6th day of December, 1782, when it, in full Grand Lodge, adopted the following resolution , and made it part of its constitution: ‘That this Lodge be hereafter known and called by the name of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Ancient Masons, and that it is free and independent, in its government and official authority, of any other Grand Lodge or Grand Master in the Universe.' ``

``Did this declaration of independence destroy the legality, if it had any, of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge? Was its existence brought to an end by this act? We believe not. Then why should it destroy the legality of African Lodge, or terminate its existence? We demand that you measure both of us by the same rule, and we will abide the result; any other course is dishonest, unfair and unjust.''

At the time this was written the Lodge did not know it had been removed from the roll of the UGLE. Although it had acted as a Mother Lodge, it still thought of itself as a Lodge on the roll of the UGLE. The rest of the objection is put aside as the statement indicates. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. ---------------------------

Ob: Prince Hall Lodges can not be recognized because the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has declared them ``clandestine.''

Ans: Even if there was such a decision it would be binding only on Prince Hall Lodges within the sphere of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Since there is not and never has been, this fact is of no consequence. In order for the Prince Hall Lodges to become ``clandestine'' in Massachusetts the Massachusetts Grand Lodge must first officially expel some or all of the Lodges in the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. (Sort of like the Popes did when there were three of them) This, they have never done so the objection is without foundation.

Also, The GL of Massachusetts declared Prince Hall Masons ``regular'' In 1947. ----------------------------

Ob: That we should not be compelled to associate with Negroes on a basis of social equality- (i.e. bigots)

Ans: ``Freemasonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise remain perpetually at a distance.''

No matter what ones opinion of the social standing of a Negro is, it is not Masonic to refuse to meet them upon the level based on this opinion. Freemasonry is not built upon the foundation of opinion, it is built upon the concept of the brotherhood of man. Blacks come under that heading. ------------------------------

Some more Questions, comments and answers: --------------------------------------------------

Questions from Brother Conrad Lake, Hiram Grand Lodge, NY,NY

<<<. Question: We are in the year 1994, are we still practicing Masonry the way (ideals) they did it in the 1800's-1900's. Or do things change but really remain the same?>>>

Answer: Unfortunately, in many places in this Country things seem to remain the same. In Washington, the PHGL and the MWGL have recognized one another, but only for visitation. Joining a Lodge in the other jurisdiction is prohibited unless one demits from the present one. The agreement here is not universally deemed as being good for the Masons or good for the Fraternity by Masons in both Jurisdictions. The MWGL of Oregon is not in fraternal amity with the MWGL of Idaho at this time because Idaho voted to recognize the PHGL with jurisdiction in Idaho. It happens to be the MWPHGL of Oregon and Oregon claims invasion of their territorial boundaries by this recognition.

Eleven Grand Lodges in North America at this time have mutual recognition, one has conditional recognition, and the United Grand Lodge of England has recognized the MWPH Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. A few more are on the verge. Some are waiting to see which way the wind blows and some have decided that Hell will freeze first. Some Prince Hall Grand Masters feel this way also.

I visit Lodges a lot and visit at least two Prince Hall Lodges each month. I am the only non Prince Hall Mason who has his picture in the Washington Prince Hall Grand Lodge yearbook of Lodges for 1993. In my travels I see prejudice on both sides. This is not going to go away over night, even in states like this where we have visitation rights.

Question: <<< There are a great many Black Masons trying to bridge the gap between White Masons and Black Masons (PH or Non PH)>>>

Answer: This is not a one way street. There are many white Masons attempting to do the same thing.

<<< where are we going?>>>

Two of the main problems in States that are close to recognition are the ideas that the ``elephant'' is going to swallow the ``fly'' and that some unhappy camper will cause a problem that will make news. Part of this is due to the ``history'' of one GL or the other. No one wants their GL to merge with another. The same holds true in most Lodges. The other is possible if someone decides to resort to unscrupulous, illegal means to stop the process. It is a very real possibility in some places.

In Washington (I keep using this as it is where most of my experience in the subject lies) the Prince Hall Lodges are outnumbered by a factor of over 10 to 1. This made it difficult to get together on how the recognition would take place. The process took eight years from the time the two Grand Jurisdictions held their first joint public meeting. Some of this time was due to the fear that the PHGL would lose its identity and some of it was due to the fact that it took that long to ``soften up the troops'' enough to give the resolution a chance at passage in both Grand Lodges. The stampede to visit one another has not materialized and it has been almost four years now. Most of the time I am the only white Mason at the PH meeting and I have been told that the mutual visitations are very rare. This, I feel, is unfortunate as we have much to offer one another, on both sides. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.

Each year for the past three Thomas M. Reed Lodge #225 (My mother Lodge) has had a Prince Hall appreciation Table Lodge at a stated communication. The speakers are the DGM of the MWGL of WA and the GM of the MWPHGL of WA. The PHGM brings his retinue and we foot the bill for all. The visitation at this event by the Brothers of the constituent PH Lodges is dismal. We average about 85 to 100 Masons at this affair each year but there are about 10 PHGL officers and maybe, if we are lucky, 10 brothers from PH. Periodically we take all of our officers and visit a Prince Hall Lodge together. Return visits are zero at this time. We are trying to bridge the gap but it is not easy. Distrust seems to permeate the whole process at the grass roots level.

Comment: <<< The real problem are the grand bodies.>>>

Answer: Ah, it were only that simple. We live in a country that has made a fine art out of prejudice for over two hundred years. 1964 to 1994 is a drop in the bucket in that time. Only one generation has grown to adulthood and the second are yet teenagers. The vast majority of the membership in the Fraternity is over sixty years of age. These men had already formed their opinions on the subject before Dr. King began to change the way the American Public deals with the issue. It is all very fine for you or I to say that this way or that way is the way it should be and perhaps we would be right. This all seems to go right out the window when the ballot is on the line. Like it or not, the Officers of the constituent Lodges are Grand Lodge and can do as they wish in any matter not in conflict with the landmarks recognized by that GL when the Grand Lodge convenes. This does not happen as most, in my experience, are sheep at the annual session and do as they are led to do, except when it comes to issues involving prejudice. This has nothing to do with what is right and proper in any circumstance.

Comment: <<>>

Answer: No truer thing than this. The converse is also just as true.

Comment: <<< Grand bodies tell you not to speak to this group because they did not pay money to get into a ``Book.''>>>

Answer: I am of the opinion that it is not up to any Grand Lodge to tell the Masons in their Jurisdiction who they can or can not visit. But, they do this and it is not within my power or yours to end the practice. The part about the ``money'' makes no sense as this has nothing to do with money. IMO, It has everything to do with territorial power. It is up to all of us to both know and understand the history and barriers and to help one another to see that future history changes and the barriers become a thing of yesterday. -------------------------------------------------------------------

Questions from Brother Edward Bloom, Indiana

Ques: (Brother Bloom requested information on his Grand Lodge and the question of Prince Hall)

Answ: What I have learned about the subject here in Washington came from a great deal of research, time and effort on my part. I have gone through all of the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge looking for material, I have looked at every book in the King County Masonic Library and have purchased twelve books on the subject at various times. Although other Grand Lodges have cropped up in the work, my actual knowledge of the inner dealings of them is sketchy. I do, however, have an accurate picture of how the Grand Lodges in the United States are dealing or not dealing with the subject. The actual specifics of each Grand Lodge would require an in depth study by someone with the time and energy to search out the available material in the Jurisdiction. This material is accessible to any Master Mason if he takes the time to look for it. If you have access to the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Indiana I suggest that you start going through the Grand Master's decisions such as the one in 1945 where the Grand Master ruled that a Lodge could not initiate a Chinese man because he was not a citizen of the United States. Many times the records are written to cloud the actual reasons for something that has happened.

In the process of your study on the subject I would caution you to always remember that history deals with the world of yesterday. People change and events change with them. In many Grand Lodges the Grand Lodge Officers would not be adverse to the recognition of the Prince Hall Masons but, until the younger Grand Lodge requests the older to recognize it, there is nothing that will be done.

When recognition is requested there comes a great deal of negotiation as the Grand Lodge is entering waters it is unfamiliar with. The Fraternity is over 275 years old and some things take time. This is not only because your Grand Lodge will be cautious but also the Prince Hall Grand Lodge will be. Both need assurances of their niche in the scheme of things in the State.

The paper I wrote had several examples of the actions of Grand Lodges in the past. This was done to point out that there has been, in the past, discrimination against the Black Masons in this Country. The today's of the Fraternity on this subject I will not get into on this forum. There are active Masons who are good men and true here that belong to Grand Lodges that they would not like to see dragged through the mud of accusation. Even though it can be documented.

Comment: <<< Regardless of the fact that the GL of IN has never officially looked into the matter (as a GL at convention), surely the minutes of every meeting are detailed similar to a court room.>>>

Answ: What is written down usually is that the subject was discussed. Nothing else. I would be surprised if the available minutes of any meeting where the subject has arisen say anything else unless a public statement was the result. If that is the case you will probably be able to get the text of the statement. Whether or not they should be they are usually written in the same form as you hear at the Lodge. i.e. This or that was discussed. So and so talked about. This was voted upon and the result was. Minutes are usually written like that. Unless there are papers that were used as the subject of discussion, I am afraid that the aforementioned type of information is all you will obtain. I have hit my head on this wall too many times to have much faith in getting hard information about the actual subject matter of any meeting. You may strike paydirt though. There is always a first time.

Comment: <<< I personally know several Masons who are openly against recognition of PHM and admitting a man of color to our Brotherhood. My mentor for the memory work even went so far as to say the ``a man, free borne'' was expressly put into the work to keep the men of African decent out (he said that ``Abe gave them their freedom, they weren't free borne).>>>

Answer: I am glad that you brought this one up as I have not addressed this point. To this charge the answer is as follows: Halliwell Manuscript (Regius Poem)

Articulus quartus
The fowrye artycul-yys mofte be,
yar ye mayfter hym wel be-fe,
yat he no bonde mon-prentys make,
Hy for no couetyfe-yo hym take;
Ffor the lord that he ys bonde to,
May fache the prentes wherfeuer he go.
Which means:
Fourth Article
The fourth article this must be,
That the master him well besee,
That he no bondman ‘prentice make,
Nor for no covetousness do him take;
For the lord that he is bound to,
May fetch the ‘prentice wheresoever he go.

This manuscript is the earliest known version of the original charges of Freemasonry. This manuscript does not call for a man to be ``Free- born.'' It only calls for him to be a free man.

Besides this, for the Black Mason of today the charge does not hold water. Only in the context of the origination of the Prince Hall order could this have ever had any meaning. That meaning is blown out of the water by the ancient text. The idea of ``Free-born appeared in the Anderson Constitutions of 1723 and have been with us ever since. This does not make it a landmark in any jurisdiction, only a modern rule in those that have this.


MW Grand Lodges with mutual recognition in North America as of February, 1995:

  • California (Conditional)
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • North Dakota
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • New Brunswick
  • Quebec

There is one more addition which is worthy of note but is outside of North America:

  • Great Britain: United Grand Lodge of England

Let us take a look at differences and deal with Comity, right and wrong and the American Doctrine once again. Following is the text of the answer to these things as written by MW William H. Upton PGM of Washington in 1899. This is as true today as it was when it was written and no one has ever said these things better.

``. . . . I take it that it is undeniable that the unaffiliated Mason, and the Mason whose Grand Lodge has not bound his action in the matter, should accord to the Negro Masons just that standing which his individual judgment and conscience tell him they are entitled to,- neither more nor less. It seems to me, also, that as members of that Universal Fraternity the existence of which is too often almost forgotten, the individual Mason has certain rights and duties, and bears certain relations towards all other members of that Fraternity-even towards those who may be technically non-regular, from a Grand Lodge standpoint,-with which Grand Lodges ought to interfere as little as possible; and that, as our committee suggested last year, a Grand Lodge ought not, by ``a mere majority vote upon what is largely a question of history and a matter of opinion, to bind each individual Mason of the Grand Jurisdiction either on the one hand, to spurn one who is in his judgment a true and lawful brother, or, on the other, to converse Masonically with one whom he honestly believes to be a clandestine Mason.''

``Subject to these limitations, I take it as fundamental that each Grand Lodge-Kentucky and South Carolina no less than England and Washington- ought to determine for itself, but of course for no one else, how it will treat these people and their organizations. This seems to me the only course consistent either with Masonic harmony or with that great principle of ``self-government, subject to the Landmarks only'' which lies at the very base of all Masonic law. I have no right or desire to bind the consciences or the judgment of my Kentucky brethren; and they SHALL NOT bind mine. If this view be adopted, we must expect to see Negro Masonry accorded, as is the case to-day, a different standing in one State or country from that which it has in another. In jurisdictions where prejudice-I will not say against Negroes, but against Negro Masons, if you please-is the strongest, and the principles of Masonry the least appreciated, we may expect that, perhaps for another century, Negro Masons will be denounced as ``clandestine and spurious,'' and all intercourse with them will be absolutely prohibited. In others, of a little higher order of intelligence, and where the light of Masonry burns a little brighter, while the Negro organizations may be treated as invaders, individual Negro Masons may be treated as unrecognized rather than as spurious Masons. In others, where darkness and error, passion and prejudice, have shrunk even more before reason and knowledge, ``sweetness and light,'' it may perhaps be held that the rise of Negro Masonry in America-as the rise of ``Ancient'' Masonry did in England-divided our fraternity into two distinct Societies, between which ``there was very little in common, except the wearing of aprons and the cultivation and practice of charity''; but both of which were, according to their lights loyal members of one indivisible FRATERNITY. And, best of all, may we not hope to see-if not yet, still in the not too distant future-some jurisdictions wherein will exist that happy condition which Dermott longed for but did not live to see-``a general conformity and universal unity between the worthy masons of all denominations''? - a condition which was wrought to pass, so far as England was concerned, in 1813, by the ``happy union'' of those who had theretofore regarded each other as ``a mob of impenitent Schismatics.''

``The question whether-after we reach the stage of development which enables us to see that the Masonry of the Negroes is Masonry and has a right to exist-we should absorb them into our organizations or encourage them to maintain separate ones, is beyond the scope of this paper. The American writers who have written most strongly against one of these plans would have written more strongly against the other, had that other been under consideration at the time:-their object being to discourage action of any kind. My own opinion is, that the former course is most consistent with the genius of the Masonic Institution and will ultimately prevail; but that there are few parts of America in which race feeling will not cause the latter to be preferred for a generation or two longer. I am entirely clear that each Grand Lodge must settle this question for itself; but agree that all information that might be obtained by a full discussion of both plans ought to be carefully weighed.

``Whether the rights of Negro Masons are finally to be recognized or denied; whether or not Masonry shall be able to vindicate its catholicity even when tried by the severe test of race feeling; whether we are destined to realize that the ``two Societies'' already alluded to are but branches of one Universal Fraternity, or are to see the breach between white Mason and black Mason widened into a gulf of hatred and war; until these questions are settled, there is a demand upon all true lovers of the Masonic Institution, for the exercise of the highest degree of patience, forbearance, toleration and tact. Upon this point- as well, I believe, as of the relative positions of the Past, the Present and the Future upon the main question is more affected by prejudice. Blood is thicker than creed. Differences of religious faith among Masons would not create one-tenth part of the commotion, as the raising of this question of race does. On this question of affiliation with races of all colors, or of one particular color, the men of the Past, the men of the Present, and the men of the Future have distinct ideas and feeling. The first say ‘No' to the petition, ‘under any and all circumstances, absolutely and emphatically, No.' The second say, ‘We do not seek it; we do not object to it under some circumstances; with restrictions we would be willing, without restrictions, unwilling. In fact, we have not made up our minds.' The third say, ‘We accept it, freely accept it, as the logical sequence of our being Masons, of our professing Masonry; for Masonry knows no race, knows all races alike.' The first has undergone ossification, is already fossil. The second is playing at tilting; see-saw; up and down; this way, that way; undecided; timid; too moral to do an injustice and defend it; too feeble in spirit to dare to be just. The third, positive, progressive, in harmony with the tendencies of the age, hopeful, full of faith, actuated by feelings in accordance with the doctrines of the common fatherhood, universal brotherhood, and the claims of truth and justice to service and submission from every human soul. The first would deny justice to the colored Masons; the second would not deny, would not demand, would be under the influence of the first; the third would insist on the whole truth being told, on the admission of every proper claim.''

``Where such differences as these exist; in a Fraternity whose boast has been that she formed a ``center of union'' between men who must otherwise have remained ``at a perpetual distance,'' and has kept her votaries free from even the dissension's which flow from theological controversies, by ``leaving their particular opinions to themselves,'' dogmatic assertion, intolerance of differences, threats, and anathemas are out of place. Washington cannot say to Kentucky, ``Thou shalt;'' nor can Kentucky say to Washington, ``Thou shall not;'' For the brethren of Kentucky and of Washington are not only Free Masons, they are free men. Least of all can Kentucky say to Washington, ``There is no question,'' for Washington hears the voice of Abel's blood crying from the ground. Nor can Kentucky tell us that another has settled this question for us; for that is but the deceitful voice of the women who weep for Tammuz.

``It may be that in one State it is impracticable, yet, to even discuss the question of recognizing Negro Masons; that in another it is best that white and black Grand Lodges should profess ignorance of the other's existence; that in a third the practicable plan is to recognize one Fraternity, divided, temporarily, into two Societies-friendly or hostile, as you will; while a State may exist in which one Grand lodge for all ``worthy masons of all denominations'' may even now be possible. May it not be that our brethren of the South know better than we what is for the best interests of Masonry in the South, as the South now is? May it not be that we, here on the shores of the prophetic Pacific, know better than they what is best for us? In any event, it is the immemorial law of Masonry that we should regulate our affairs; they, theirs. And have we forgotten that it is also the law that we should ``judge with candor, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with justice;'' and that, if ``submission is impracticable,'' we must carry on our contention ``without Wrath and Rancor,'' and ``saying or doing nothing which may hinder Brotherly Love and good Offices to be renewed and continued; that all may see the Benign Influence of Masonry, as all true Masons have done from the Beginning of the World, and will do to the End of Time.

Amen So Mote It Be''


In the past Grand Lodges have not recognized or had to really deal with the question of the regularity of the Prince Hall Grand Lodges for two reasons: 1) They had not been asked to and, 2) That the American Doctrine made it inadvisable to deal with it. Things change and we must be willing to change also. We are now faced with the question. What we do with it in the United States will not change the fact that the Prince Hall Grand Lodges not only live but, are prospering. They are not going to go away.

We need to remember that we have no room to complain about the existence of these Grand Lodges for they occupy a field that we have long abandoned. In most places in North America it has been the practice to admit only Caucasians into the Fraternity. This has been no more than an attempt to shut Freemasonry away from all but those who we would seem to be the most comfortable with. It has prevented us from truly uniting all men one with the other. From the earliest days of this activity the Prince Hall Lodges have fulfilled a need in our fraternity to see that men of ``Every Country, sect and opinion'' have had access to our wonderful Fraternity and its teachings.

Since they occupy a niche that we have not cultivated it should mean nothing to us to recognize the existence of these Grand Lodges at the very least. This would go a long way toward making the Fraternity what it professes to be. This also should not materially affect the ``American Doctrine'' either for, as I stated before, we have ignored these men anyway and there is not a Grand Lodge in the Country that has not known about these Lodges for generations. Prince Hall Grand Lodges in existence at this time are as follows:

  • The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM Jurisdiction of Alaska - P.O. Box 736 Anchorage 99510
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM Jurisdiction of Arkansas - 4th & State St. Pine Bluff, 71601
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of the State of Arizona and Jurisdiction, Incorporated 2032 Calle Campana De Plata Tucson, 85705
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Alabama - 1630 N. 4th Ave. Birmingham 35203
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of the Commonwealth of the Bahama Islands and Jurisdiction - P.O. Box F3121 Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of the Carribean - Barbados - Address unknown by author at publication
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM, State of California, Incorporated - P.O.Box 8 Vallejo 94590
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM, Colorado and Jurisdiction - 1244 Euclid Avenue Pueblo 81004
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Connecticut, Incorporated - 106 Goffe St. New Haven 06511
  • The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Delaware - 612 South Heald Street Wilmington 19801
  • The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F&AM, PHA, District of Columbia Incorporated 1000 You St. N.W. Washington D.C. 20001
  • Most Worshipful Union Grand Lodge Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity F&AM, PHA, Florida & Belize 410 Broad St. Jacksonville, FL 32202
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM, Jurisdiction of Georgia - 330 Auburn Avenue, N.E. Atlanta 30335
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM, State of Illinois - 809 E 42nd Pl. Chicago 60653
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F&AM, Jurisdiction of Indiana - 653 Northwest St. Indianapolis 46202
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Iowa and Jurisdiction - 1340 Idaho St. Des Moines 50306
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Kentucky - 215 E Walnut St. Midway 40307
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM for the State of Louisiana and Jurisdiction 1335-37 N Boulevard Baton Rouge 70821
  • The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM State of Maryland and Jurisdiction 1307 Eutaw Pl. Baltimore 21217
  • The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Michigan - 3100 Gratiot Ave. Detroit 48207
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM, State of Minnesota and its Jurisdiction 3832- 4th Ave South Minneapolis 55409
  • Most Worshipful Stringer Grand Lodge, F&AM, Prince Hall Affiliation, Jurisdiction of Mississippi 1072 John R. Lynch St. Jackson 39203
  • The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F&AM of Missouri and Jurisdiction 4525 Olive St. St. Louis 63108
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Nebraska and its Jurisdiction - 2414 Ames Avenue Omaha 68111
  • The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Nevada - 2700 Colton St. North Las Vegas 89030
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM, State of New Jersey - 188- 190 Irvine Turner Blvd. Newark 07108
  • Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of New Mexico - P.O. Box 5358 Albuquerque 87185
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of F&AM of the State of New York - 454 W 155th St. New York City 10032
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM, Jurisdiction of North Carolina - 1405 E. Washington St. Greensboro 27420
  • The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio F&AM - 50 Hamilton Park Columbus 43203
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM Jurisdiction of Oklahoma - 5048 N Peoria St. Tulsa 74126 The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM Province of Ontario and Jurisdiction - 7141 Lancaster Ave Mississauga L4T 2PZ
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Oregon, Incorporated - 116-20 N.E. Russell St. Portland 97212
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of the State of Rhode Island - 883 Eddy St Providence 02905
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of F&AM of the State of South Carolina - 2324 Gervais St. Columbia 29204
  • Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Tennessee - 253 S. Parkway West Memphis 38109
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Virginia F&AM, Incorporated - 1800 Monsview Pl. Lynchburg 24504
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM, Washington and Jurisdiction - 306-24th Ave. S. Seattle 98144
  • Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of West Virginia - 513 Elm St. Institute 25112
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Incorporated F&AM of Wisconsin - 600 W. Walnut St. Suite 30 Milwaukee 53209

Bibliography:

  • The Beginnings of Freemasonry in America - Melvin N. Johnson
  • A Documentary Account of Prince Hall and Other Black Fraternal Orders - Henry W. Coil Sr.
  • A Prince Hall Masonic Quiz Book - Joseph A. Walkes Jr.
  • Freemasonry Through Six Centuries - Henry Wilson Coil Sr.
  • Freemasonry Among Negroes and Whites in America - Harvey Newton Brown
  • Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia - Henry W. Coil
  • Freemasonry in American History - Allen E. Roberts
  • Colonial Freemasonry - Various - Published by the Missouri Lodge of Research
  • Light on a Dark Subject - William H. Upton
  • Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Washington 1897, 8 &9 - GL of Washington
  • Negro Masonry in the United States - Harold V.B. Voorhis
  • A History of Freemasonry among Negroes in America - Harry E. Davis
  • Prince Hall Yearbook 1993 - MWPHGL of Washington and Jurisdiction
  • Black Square and Compass - Joseph A. Walkes Jr.
  • Great Black Men of Masonry - Joseph Mason Andrew Cox
  • The Regius Poem - Unknown (Halliwell Manuscript)

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