Page About Freemasonry, Essays: Prince Hall Masonry
Prince Hall Masonry - (Apologies for any lack of political
correctness - African Americans will herein be called Negros)
Prince Hall Masonry
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
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
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.
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
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
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:
- New York, Boyer Grand Lodge, June 7 - reorganized with Nat.
Compact Lodges to form the ``United Grand Lodge'' on December 27, 1878
- 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
- New Jersey, Independent, April 29 - Consolidated into what is now
known as the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' December 29, 1875
- Delaware, Independent Grand Lodge, July 1
- Virginia, Independent grand body, October 14 - united with Compact
Lodges formed what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge'' on December
- Ohio, September 21 and formed what is now known as the ``Prince
Hall Grand Lodge.''
- Ontario, Canada, Exact date unknown - Formed what is now the
``Prince Hall Grand Lodge.''
- Tennessee, Independent, August 3, - reorganized with Compact Lodges
on June 12, 1888 to form what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge.''
- Missouri, Independent, July 31
- Florida, Independent and Compact Lodges formed what is now the
``Union Grand Lodge'' on June 12, 1872
- North Carolina, formed what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,''
exact date unknown.
- Indiana, June 23
- Michigan, Compact dissolved, September 22 - formed with Unity Grand
Lodge to form what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' September 23
- Prince Hall Grand Lodge, December 18
- California, Conventional Independent Grand Lodge and Compact Lodges
consolidated into what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' June 24
- Georgia, Independent formed, June 23 - consolidated with Compact
Lodges to form what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge.'' June, 1888
- Louisiana, Eureka Grand Lodge and the Union Grand Lodge (Compact)
consolidated to form what is now the ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' exact
- Kentucky, exact date unknown
- Rhode Island, Union Grand Lodge and Harmony Grand Lodge (Compact)
reorganized into what is now known as ``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,''
- Kansas, King Solomon Grand Lodge formed what is now known as the
``Prince Hall Grand Lodge,'' between March 7 and 9
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
``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
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
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.
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
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)
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.
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
- California (Conditional)
- North Dakota
- New Brunswick
There is one more addition which is worthy of note but is outside of
- 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
``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
``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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Incorporated F&AM of
Wisconsin - 600 W. Walnut St. Suite 30 Milwaukee 53209
- 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
- Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia - Henry W. Coil
- Freemasonry in American History - Allen E. Roberts
- Colonial Freemasonry - Various - Published by the Missouri Lodge of
- Light on a Dark Subject - William H. Upton
- Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Washington 1897, 8 &9 - GL of
- 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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