MassachusettsNegroFreemasonry

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NEGRO FREEMASONRY IN MASSACHUSETTS

Since the granting of the charter to African Lodge by the Grand Lodge of England, there has been an African-American component to the Craft in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the difficulties associated with the recognition of its regularity, the activities of the Prince Hall Masonic movement, and the unquestioned issues of prejudice and bigotry have been a part of the relationship between white and black Freemasonry since the beginning.

This page gathers references and commentary on the subject, primarily from the Massachusetts Grand Lodge A. F. & A. M. perspective. No judgment on the remarks or declarations is implied or intended; this is a historical reference only.

COMMUNICATIONS WITH PENNSYLVANIA, JUNE 1817

From Proceedings, Page III-101, in regard to allegations made by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania:

The Committee to whom was referred the Consideration of a Communication made by Brother Henry Fowle relating to a conversation which occurred at the City of Philadelphia between himself and several members of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, respectfully Report

That in their opinion a letter of the following import should be forthwith transmitted to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, addressed to the G. Secretary:

To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and accepted Masons in and for the State of Pensylvania

Strength Health & Prosperity

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts send Greeting

Whereas a communication has been made to us by Bro. Henry Fowle our Grand Marshall, stating that being at Philadelphia in June 1816, he had the honor to be introduced to many Masons of high rank and eminence, among whom were Members of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania the conversation naturally turned upon the State of Masonry generally. Bro. Fowle observed that some of the Gentlemen seemed to speak with indifference of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and on enquiring the cause was much surprised to be informed by the Rt. Worshipful William McCorkle, Esq., and others that they understood that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts had granted a Charter to a number of Black Masons & patronized their Lodge; this they deemed derogatory to the honor of the Craft and was the reason that the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania had ceased to correspond with her Sister the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. . .

Bro. Fowle merely observed that they had been misinformed and that he would state the affair to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts who would no doubt immediately refute the calumny & vindicate their own honor. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts therefore think proper to state that they have never granted a Charter to black Masons . . . That they have never heard of a Black Mason's requesting to visit a Lodge under this jurisdiction . . . That they have never countenanced the visits of Masons to the African Lodge . . . They have been informed however that prompted by Curiosity several reputable Masons have visited the African Lodge and examined their Charter, records and mode of working, and from them they learn that their Charter was obtained from the Grand Lodge of England, about the close of the Revolution.

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, know nothing more of the African Lodge, but will be always happy to answer any Communication, which the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania may please to make, and in the mean time hope for the renewal of that friendly intercourse and Brotherly love which among Members of the same family should ever prevail.

by order of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
EDWARD TURNER, Corresponding Grand Secretary

The above is respectfully submitted by
HENRY FOWLE,
ZACH G. WHITMAN,
Committee

The foregoing communication was read, accepted and directed to be transmitted by the Corresponding Grand Secretary

"UNITED BRETHREN" CASE, SEPTEMBER 1846

From Proceedings, V-89, 09/09/1846:

The M. W. Grand Master submitted the following statement, viz:—

"To the G. Lodge of the Com. of Mass., Within a few days past I received information of the existence of a clandestine Lodge in this city, called the United Brethren, pretending they were regularly organized, and under the jurisdiction of the G. Lodge of this Commonwealth, and that they had succeeded in imposing upon a goodly number of innocent and unsuspecting men. The information was first communicated to the G. Secretary, by two of the members who began to suspect they had been imposed upon, and applied to him to ascertain the fact. Upon the receipt of this information I invited some of the principle {sic} officers and members of the G. Lodge to meet, and with them held a consultation, which resulted in a recommendation, that the most effective measures be adopted to abate the evil and to punish its authors, by the prompt application of the severest penalty known to our laws. To accomplish this, it was deemed advisable to repair to the place of their meeting for the purpose of ascertaining all the facts in relation to the subject, by a careful examination of their records, and other documents, we accordingly repaired to their Hall in West Cedar Street, on the evening of the 31st, ult. where were congregated some ten or fifteen colored men who conducted themselves with great propriety and afforded us every facility in their power in accomplishing our purpose. They produced certain spurious papers, purporting to be a Dispensation from the G. Lodge bearing date Sept. 1845, together with their Records, which we were allowed to retain and are now m possession of the G. Lodge. They stated to us (and we had no reason to doubt their veracity) that they were honest in their intentions, and supposed these papers to be genuine, and that they were a regular Lodge.

"To our inquiry how they came in possession of these papers they answered that they received them from Benj. F. Leonard, who assured them they were in the usual form and that they would receive a Charter in one year from the date thereof.

"The Lodge consisted of about twenty members — most of whom had received the degrees therein, and it is believed were honest and sincere, but the victims of fraud and deception. It was proved to the satisfaction of all present on the occasion referred to, that Benj. F. Leonard, a white man, but with a reputation infinitely blacker than the skin of his associates — aided by Phillip Ranell, a colored man, was the principal actor in these infamous proceedings — it was he, who devised and matured the plan — prepared (or caused to be prepared) the spurious papers — formed the Lodge and conferred the degrees upon the six first candidates received a large portion of the fees, and applied the same to his own private use — violating all his masonic obligations, and approximated so nearly to total depravity, that its advocates may here find plausible arguments in support of the doctrine.

"After we had completed the examination and possessed ourselves of such information as could be obtained, they were informed that all their papers were spurious and the whole a cheat — that they could not be recognized as a Lodge, nor could they continue to meet as such, they had been deceived and robbed of their money, and advised them to seek redress before the Gd. Jury — these are all the material facts in relation to the subject, and I trust will be found sufficient to justify the proceedings which have already taken place, and insure speedy action of the G. Lodge."

The above statement was laid upon the table. A petition was presented and read from sundry colored persons, referred to in the statement of the G. Master praying to be healed and legalized as Masons. Laid on the Table.—

The following charges against Bro. Benj. F. Leonard were presented and read.

The undersigned charge Bro. Benj. F. Leonard, a Master Mason of Boston, with being accessory to the forming of a clandestine Lodge of Masons within the city of Boston, and therein making masons in a clandestine manner, and with other gross, irregular and unmasonic conduct — all which will be made to appear — by full and substantial proof, when the trial shall take place.

John B. Hammatt,
Robert Keith, M. Masons.

Whereupon it was on motion Voted. That a summons issue to Bro. Benj. F. Leonard, citing him to appear before this G. Lodge and answer to the charges preferred against him by R. W. Brs. John B. Hammatt and Robt. Keith, at such time as the G. Master may designate, and that the G. Secretary furnish him with a copy of said charges, fourteen days at least before the day of trial. </blockquote>

The statement of the G. Master and the petition of the colored persons referred to, were taken from the table, and committed to the M. W. G. Master, D. G. Master, S & J. G. Wardens and R. W. Bro. Peabody to report thereon.

From Proceedings, V-95, 09/29/1846:

The G. Marshal made return of the summons, which, by order of the Grand Master, he had served on the 14th day of Sept, inst., on Bro. Benj. F. Leonard. He also made return that he had served the accused with a copy of the charges against him, agreeable to the requirements of the 14th Act of the Constitutions of the G. Lodge.

Bro. B. F. Leonard was then admitted into the G. Lodge, and the charges having been read to him by the Dep. G. Master, he plead not guilty thereto.

R. W. Brs. Bradford, Keith, Hammatt, Tuttle and Moore being called upon, severally recapitulated and substantiated the facts set forth in the statement submitted by the G. Master at the last communication of the G. Lodge.

Bro. Leonard was then called on for his defence and after adverting to his course through life as a Mason, and denying all improper conduct in the matter, before the G. Lodge, he filed a request that the trial might be postponed, until sometime in Oct., next, that he might have an opportunity to employ council. {sic}

Whereupon on motion of R. W. Bro. Rev. E. M. P. Welles it was Voted, That the further examination of the case be postponed, until sometime in Oct, as the G. Master may designate.

Bro. Leonard then withdrew:—

When on motion of Rev. Bro. Welles.

  • Voted, That a Com. be appointed to examine the witnesses, and other persons interested in the trial now pending and report the result to the G. Lodge at its next meeting, and that Bro. Leonard be notified to appear before the Com. if he shall see fit.
  • Voted, That the first four officers and the Rec. G. Sec. be the Com. provided for by the above vote.

From Proceedings, V-98, 10/14/1846:

The case of Benj. F. Leonard being the special business for which the G. Lodge was convened, was taken up for consideration, Bro. Leonard was thrice asked by the G. Marshal and not answering to the call, the Com. appointed at the last special communication, to examine witnesses and other persons interested in the case, made their report which was accepted.

Brother Leonard was accordingly expelled from the rights and privileges of Freemasonry.

From Proceedings, V-105, 12/09/1846:

The Com. on the petition of Messrs. Hayden, Thomas and others, presented the following report, which was read and adopted.

Grand Lodge, Boston, Dec 9. 1846.

The Com. to whom was referred the petition of Messrs. Hayden, Thomas and others persons of color, praying to be Masonically legalized have attentively considered the subject, and respectfully ask leave to report.

Your Com. have had several meetings and have given the petitioners a patient hearing. They all expressed high regard for the Institution and a sincere desire to be recognized by the G. Lodge and placed under its jurisdiction.

And it is due to them to say, that they conducted themselves with commendable propriety and behaved like good masons. But still, it appeared to your Com. and not to them alone, but to such of our aged and experienced brethren, as have been consulted on the subject, that there were insuperable objections to granting the petition which it is not necessary to mention, especially as it is understood they have concluded (and ere this, have probably carried it into effect) to obtain a Charter from the African Lodge in Pennsylvania. In view of all the facts your Com. are unanimously of opinion that no further proceedings in the premises should be had, and recommended that the petitioners have leave to withdraw:

for the Com., S. W. ROBINSON.

NOTE ON PRINCE HALL GRAND LODGE, MARCH 1847

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. VI, No. 5, March 1847, Page 139:

AFRICAN LODGE, IN BOSTON.

Our readers will recollect that about a year ago we had occasion, in reply to inquiries at that time addressed to us, to refer to the existence of the African Lodge in this city. Among the letters then received, asking for information on the subject, was one from the late Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of New York, - our answer to which will be found incorporated in the following report, adopted by that Grand Body, at its annual session in June last:-

To the M. W. Grand Lodge of the State of New York:

The undersigned, to whom was committed the memorial of a number of persons holding a Lodge in this city, called Boyer Lodge, No. 1, presented to this Grand Lodge in June last, has to report,- That, according to instructions, he has inquired into the facts set forth in said memorial, and finds that the memorialists have been entirely ignorant of Masonic history, and of their own particular history, or otherwise that they very deliberately attempted to impose upon this Grand Lodge as historical facts, what they knew to be untrue.

Said memorial sets forth, "that the Boyer Lodge, No.1, of the City of New York, had been some nineteen or twenty years regularly and legally constituted and installed, as a Master Masons Lodge, with a legal Warrant or Charter, issued from the Rt. W. African Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the City of Boston, in the State of Massachusetts, whose Charter empowering them to Charter Lodges in the United States of America, is from the M. W. Gr. Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland, and is now half a century old, being dated the 29th September, A. D. 1784, and of Masonry, 5784, Robert Rolf, D. G. M., and Wm. White, G. Secretary, with the seal of the M. W. G. Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of London, signed by Lord Howard, Earl of Effingham, then acting as Grand Master, under his Royal Highness, Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland." This simple sentence presents a mass of gross absurdities and of false facts; mingling in the Fraternity of the African Lodge in Boston, the two Grand Lodges then in England, and the G. Lodge of Scotland.

To correct this statement, In part, the memorialists have recently presented another paper, in which they say: "We beg leave to state, that the Boyer Lodge, in petitioning your honorable Body in May last, that they fell into an error, if they stated that the African Grand Lodge of Boston, who Chartered us, received their Charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, we only intended to state that we was informed that they petitioned that body for a Charter, and in due time received one, bearing the Grand Seal of London, &c. &c. We have recently received a letter from ollr correspondent and Brother, Robert T. Crucefix, stating that the Warrant was granted to the African Grand Lodge of Boston, by the Grand Lodge of England, in the year 1784, and was numbered 459, and that the Grand Lodge of Scotland hod nothing to do with it." They then insert an extract of a letter from Dr. Crucefix, in which it will be noticed he does not call it the African Grand Lodge, as above set forth, but says that "the African Lodge of Boston received its Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England, in the year 1784, and was numbered 459, on the Registry; the Warrant was signed by Rowland Holt, D. G. Master, and countersigned by Wm. White, G. Sec'ry, the father of our present G. Sec'ry. This I find all regularly entered in the books of our Grand Lodge; consequently, any connection with the Grand Lodge of Scotland is out of the question."

The undersigned having requested the Rt. W. CHARLES W. MOORE, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, to endeavor to see the Charter of the so called African Grand Lodge of Boston, and if possible, obtain a copy thereof, begs leave to incorporate the following extract from Br. Moore's letter, dated July 26, 1845:-

"I called, agreeably to your request, on Mr Hilton, who, I believe, is the Master of the African Lodge in this city,-stated to him the object of my visit, and asked permission to see the Charter of his Lodge. He informed me that there was a difficulty between his and Boyer Lodge, of long standing, - that they had nothing to do with that Lodge, nor would they have, until the difference referred to was settled. He further stilted, that they were entirely independent of all white Lodges, asked no favors of them, and would have nothing to do with them; nor would they admit a white Mason, if he should present himself as a visitor. In the course of the conversation, he distinctly said, that he had been told by them people, (meaning Boyer Lodge,) to have no communication with any body on the subject of their recognition by the Grand Lodge of New York. He also positively and repeatedly refused to allow me to see the Charter of his Lodge, or to give me any information in relation to its history or present existence. It is proper for me to add, that my convenation with him was kind and gentle. I explicitly stated to him that I did not call officially, but as a friend, and at your request, with a view to ascertain whether Boyer Lodge was a regularly constituted Lodge, such as the Grand Lodge of New York could recognize.

"This Lodge (African,) has, unquestionably, a Charter of some kind. Twenty years ago I saw it; and my impression is, that it is an ordinary Lodge Charter; but whether genuine or not, I am unable to say. I have understood that it was surreptitiously obtained, (through the agency of a Sea Captain,) from one of the two Grand Lodges then in England; but I can find no such record in the proceedings of either of those bodies. I have a list of the Lodges chartered by the G. Lodge of Scotland, up to 1804. It contains the name of St. Andrew's Lodge, in Boston, chartered in 1756, but it does not bear the name of African Lodge, nor does it furnish any evidence, nor have I ever met with any, (to my recollection,) that the Grand Lodge of Scotland ever granted a Charter for more than one Lodge in Boston, viz: St. Andrews. The only Provincial Grand Lodge ever formed in Massachusetts, under authority derived from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, was that over which Gen. Warren presided, in 1769, - and the only one by authority from England, was St. John's Grand Lodge, in 1733. If there be others, claiming such powers, they are spurious.

"The African Lodge has never been recognized by the Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth. Applications have several times been made by its members for admission to our Lodges, but they have generally, if not always, been refused. Mr. Hilton stated to me, that he had once, through the influence of a friend, gained admission into one of our out-of-town Lodges. If so, the Brother who introduced him, laid himself open to censure, and would have been dealt with, had the circumstance come to the knowledge of the Grand Lodge. That the course of our Grand Lodge, in reference to African Lodge, is not the result of prejudice, it is only necessary for me to say, that within the last month, a colored Brother from England, has visited, and been kindly received, in one of our city Lodges.

"Such is the state of the case, so far as I am able to communicate it. The argument does not belong to me; but you will permit me to inquire, whether your Grand Lodge is prepared to recognize any real or pretended Lodge, existing within another jurisdiction, before it has been recoguized by the Grand Lodge of that jurisdiction ? Again,- does your Grand Lodge allow other Grand Lodges to establish Lodges within its jurisdiction? And is it ready to recognize Lodges so established?"

These three questions have been, by repeated decision of this Grand Lodge, answered in the negative; and according to the treaty stipulations entered into by this, and other Grand Lodges of this continent, soon after the revolution, and the uniform resistance of every encroachment upon the sole jurisdiction of the several Grand Lodges, down to the present time; these questions can be answered only in the negative.

The undersigned would further state, that the legality of the Body called Boyer Lodge, No. 1, has been already twice reported on by Committees of this Grand Lodge; on the 3d of March, 1812, and on the 4th of March, 1829; in the latter report, the main facts were correctly stated, and able argument sustained, and the conclusion drawn, that Boyer Lodge, No.1, can be regarded only as a clandestine Lodge; the undersigned can arrive only at the same conclusion, it being established beyond doubt, that the African Lodge at Boston was illegally established by the Grand Lodge of England, within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts; that its name has been long stricken from the roll of the Grand Lodge of England, that its assumed authority to grant Warrants was unmasonic and fraudulent; and further, that the statement contained in the memorial of said Boyer Lodge, that it has been "regularly and legally constituted and installed as a Master Masons' Lodge, with a legal Warrant or Charter," is totally unfounded.

All of which is respectfully submitted.
New York, June 2d, 1846.
JAMES HERRING, G. Sec'ry.

Since writing the letter from which the extract in the foregoing report is taken, a friend andBrother has handed us the folluwing document, which was published in the papers of this city in 1827, but had entirely escaped our recollection. We give it as an important part of the history of the Lodge in question :-

AFRICAN LODGE-No. 459. Greeting:

"BE it known to all whom it may concern - That we, the Master, Wardens, and Members of the African Lodge, No. 459, city of Boston, (Mass.) U. S. of America, hold in our possession a certain unlimited Charter, granted Sept. 29, A. D., 5784, A. D. 1784, by Thomas Howard, Earl of Effingham, Acting Grand Master, under the authority of his Royal Highness Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, &c. &c. &c., Grand Master of the most ancient and honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons. Be it further known, that the Charter alluded to bears the seal of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge at London, England, and was presented to our much esteemed and worthy Brethren and predecessor, Prince Hall, Boston Smith, Thomas Sanderson, and several others, agreeably to a humbla petition of theirs, sent in form to the above Grand LOdge. Be it remembered, that according to correct information as regards this instrument, and the manner in which it was given, it appears to have been confined exclusively to the Africans, and to certain conditions. Whether these conditions have been complied with by our ancestors, we are nnable to say; but we can add, that in consequence of the decease of the above named Brothers, the institution was, for years, unable to proceed, for the want of one to conduct its affairs. agreeably to what is required in every regular and well conducted Lodge of Masons. It is now, however, with great pleasure, we state, that the present age has arrived to that degree of proficiency in the art, that we can, at any time, select from among us many, whose capacity to govern, enables them to preside, with as much good order, dignity and propriety, as any other Lodge within our knowledge. This fact can be proved by gentlemen of respectability, whose knowledge of Masonry would not be questioned by anyone well acquainted with the art. Since the rise of the Lodge to this degree of proficiency, we concluded it was best and proper to make it knowlI to the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge from whence we derive our Charter, by sending written documents and monies, to fulfil the agreements of our ancestors, giving information of the low state to which it had fallen, its cause, &c., with its rise and progress; and also, soliciting further favors, whereby we might be placed on a different and better standing than we had heretofore.

And notwithstanding this has been long since done, and more than sufficient time has elapsed for returns, yet we have never received a single line or reply from that Hon. Society. In consequence of this neglect, we have been at a stand what course to pursue. Our remote situation prevents us from making any verbal communication whatever. 'raking 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 governed by any Lodge than that of our own. We agree solemnly to abide by all proper rules and regulations which govern the like fraternities - 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.

"Done at the Lodge, this, the 18th June, A. L. 5827, A. D. 1827. In full testimony of what has been written, we here affix our names.

JOHN T. HILTON, R. W. M.
THOMAS DALTON, Sen. Warden.
LEWIS YORK, Jun. Warden.
J. H. PURROW, Secretary."

There is a discrepancy between the above and the statement given by Dr. Crucefix, as to the name of the acting Grand Master by whom the Charter was granted; but in this Br. Crucefix may have been mistaken. The name, and number, and date agree; and there can be no doubt that both parties refer to the same Charter, nor that it was originally genuine. Nor have we any doubt that it was years ago' forfeited to the Grand Lodge of England, from which it was derived, and from whose roll it was stricken about the beginning of the present century.

Note: This charter is again reproduced in Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XIX, No. 4, February 1860, Page 122, with the following preamble: "It is proper to add, that the Lodge was many years ago stricken from the roll of the Grand Lodge of England, and that it has never been recognized as a regular body by the Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth."

NOTE ON PRINCE HALL GRAND LODGE, JULY 1848

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. VII, No. 9, July 1848, Page 262:

AFRICAN GRAND LODGE.

We understand that a body of colored persons has recently been organized in this city, under the name of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. It claims to be a Masonic body, and to have under its jurisdiction one or more subordinate Lodges, and, we believe, one or more Chapters; or, at all events, there are colored persons connected with it, who claim to be R. A. Masons. We understand, also, that they derive their authority to form a Grand Lodge from a body, located either in New York or Philadelphia, styling itself the "General Grand Lodge of the United States."

This is about all we know respecting the matter; and our object in referring to it at this time, is merely to say, that there are no Lodges of colored Masons in this city, or any other part of the United States, that are recognised and acknowledged by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, or, to our knowledge, by any other regularly constituted Grand Lodge in this country; and the same thing is true, so far as we are informed, as regards the Chapters, and all other Masonic bodies. We have thought the statement of this fact important, in order that our Brethren in distant States may not be imposed upon.

We sometime since gave the history of the establishment of the "African Lodge" of colored persons in this city. (Vide this Magazine, Vol. VI, p. 139.) The facts were then fully and correctly stated, and need not now, theiefore, be repeated. The Charter was granted in 1784, though not received until 1787. It was obtained by a Capt. Scott, master of a London packet, sailing out of this port. We have always understood that Scott represented to the authorities at London, (the Duke of Cumberland being Grand Master,) that the petitioners were white persons, and that on the strength of his misrepresentations in this and other respects, the Charter, after having been withheld for two or three years subsequent to its date, was finally sent out, and the Lodge was organized under the immediate auspices of Mr. Prince Hall, a colored person, at that time of some distinction among his own people in this city. It was never recognized by the Grand Lodge of this State; nor has there ever been any Masonic intercourse between the two bodies.

NOTE ON LODGES OF COLORED MASONS, DECEMBER 1850

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. X, No. 2, December 1850, Page 41:

LODGES OF COLORED MASONS.

We have frequent inquiries as to the regularity of the Lodges of colored Masons, which are held in different sections of the country; notwithstanding we have on several occasions given the information asked for.

A correspondent at Niagara Falls, (attached to Hiram Lodge, Buffalo,) under date Oct. 31, says- "We are desirous of knowing whether there is, or not, a regularly constituted Lodge of Freemasons, of colored people, in the city of Boston, chartered by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts."

To this inquiry we answer, there is no such Lodge in Boston. There is a body of black persons in the city, which assumes to be a Grand Lodge, and having under its authority one or two subordinate Lodges but they are not recognized by the Grand Lodge of this State. No communication whatever is held with them; nor are black persons received into any of our Lodges.

There is not a regular Lodge of black Masons in the United States. There are many colored persons who claim to be Masons; and from what we learn from distant correspondents, we infer they sometimes succeed in gaining admission into the Lodges; but they are not lawfully entitled to the privilege of sitting in any Masonic body of competent authority.

We understand that two or three colored men have recently left this vicinity for California, with the avowed determination of offering themselves for admission to the Lodges in that State. This notice will enable Brethren there to detect the imposture, if it be attempted.

In many parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia, and in the West India Islands there are many colored Masons; but in this country the initiation of blacks has never been encouraged.

NOTE ON NEGRO LODGES, JUNE 1853

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XII, No. 8, June, 1853, Page 233:

The Committee on foreign correspondence in the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, take an extract from the address of the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Texas, and comment upon it as though the country was full of regularly authorized negro Lodges. The Committee say, either the Grand Lodges of England and Ireland "have invaded the jurisdiction of some of our sister Grand Lodges in the United States," with or without the consent of these Grand Lodges, or our sisters have themselves been guilty of wrong." Neither of these alternatives is true, and the fling at "our sisters" was uncalled for. There is not a lawfully authorized or acknowledged negro Lodge in the United States, nor are we aware that there is a negro in the country, who could rightfully claim, or properly be admitted into any lawful Masonic Lodge. That there are "associations of blacks, claiming to be Masonic", is true. They exist in this city, and in New York, in Philadelphia and in Baltimore, and probably in other cities, south and west; but they exist without authority, and their claims are nowhere recognized. The assumption of the name does not make them Masonic; and it is an assumption for which there is no remedy. Why then keep agitating the subject? No good can come out of it. It is one with which our Grand Lodges have nothing to do. The evil does not exist, in a form approachable by them, or over which they can extend their au thority.

We have so often given the history of the only black Lodge ever or ganized in this country, under anything which could be construed into lawful authority, that we had supposed it was familiar to every intelligent Brother. But in this it seems we were mistaken. It may not, therefore, be wholly unprofitable to repeat, that in the year 1784, a petition was sent out to the Grand Lodge at London, by some colored persons in this city, praying for a Charter authorizing them to open a Masonic Lodge. The petition was entrusted to a Captain Scott, master of a London packet, sailing out of this port; through whose influence, and, as alleged, misrepresentations, the prayer of the petitioners was granted. The Charter was not, however, received until 1787, when, we believe, the Lodge was organized, though we are not aware that it ever did any work. Its existence was of short duration; and as it had been illegally authorized by the Grand Lodge of England, it was soon after stricken from the register of that body. Such was the beginning and the end of the only Lodge of colored Masons ever opened in America, under the sanction of any acknowledged Grand Lodge in the world. It was never recognized by the Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth, nor was any intercourse ever allowed with its members.

Some years since this old Charter fell into the hands of certain colored persons, claiming to be Masons, by whom a Lodge was organized in this city. We believe it is still in existence, though of its character and the nature of its proceedings we know nothing. If its members are in the possession of any thing resembling the ritual of Masonry, they probably received it from the West Indies or St. Domingo, where the more intelligent and educated of their race are not refused admission into the Lodges. President Boyer was a Mason, as were also most of the members of his government. It is likewise probable that from this quarter has nearly all the black Masonry in this country been derived. But from whatever source it may have emanated, it is all spurious, and in no manner identified with the legitimate Freemasonry of the United States; nor is any Grand Lodge in the Union accountable for its existence or continuance. The insinuation that the Grand Lodge of a sister State would, under any circumstances, countenance a gross violation of the conceded rule in rela tion to this class of persons, is ungenerous.

But enough. The subject is not a suitable one for discussion in our pages, nor in the reports of committees of correspondence; at least not until it shall assume some more tangible shape than it at present hears.

REPLY TO THE NOTE ON NEGRO LODGES, AUGUST 1853

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XII, No. 10, August, 1853, Page 295:

NEGRO LODGES.

We give place to the following communication, in compliance with the wishes of the estimable Brother whose name is appended to it. Had he placed a discretionary power in our hands, our conviction of the great danger of agitating such a subject, would have induced us to withhold its publication. But having no such discretion, we lay it before our readers, — premising, that we shall not again obtrude the matter upon their notice. However our correspondent may regard it, the subject is neither a safe nor a profitable one for discussion in our pages, nor in the proceedings of Grand Lodges. Whether our opinion in this respect be right or wrong, is immaterial. It is based on our judgment,, and must be allowed to influence our action. We give his communication, with as few and brief notes as are consistent with the position in which we most unexpectedly find ourselves:—

Natchez, June 14, 1853.

Dear Br. Moore :— Your June number of Magazine is before me. Your comments on that part of the report of committee on foreign correspondence in Mississippi, relative to negro Lodges, has been read with some surprize. I allude to the tone of the article more particularly.

  1. A simple statement of facts derived from other sources, and what was considered a legitimate conclusion therefrom, is construed by you into 'a fling,' and that 'uncalled for,' at our sister Grand Lodges. To 'fling' means, literally, to throw, and if the committee hit any other Grand Lodge than their own, it must certainly be by a fling; but modern use has attached the idea to the word fling, that the act is done with a little malice or ill will. I trust the Mississippi Committee have too much regard for their individual character, and for the dignity of their office as well as a too high respect for other Grand Lodges of the United States, to say any thing in a malevolent spirit, or under other inspiration than that of the highest motive.
  2. Whether their comments were uncalled for, is a matter of opinion, and though I do not think that that difference of opinion, which might be expected to exist on this subject, has been expressed by you in the kindest and most charitable manner, I am willing, for one, to allow you considerable latitude on this subject.
  3. But why the Mississippi Committee should voluntarily do an uncalled for act, which act could only inflict pain on themselves, and in which no sinister motive could be traced, must he referred to other philosophy than mine to determine. If you had published the whole of the committee's remarks on the subject of negroes and negro Lodges, and they would have occupied but little of your space, I would not have had occasion to write this letter.
  4. Certainly not to defend the committee for introducing the subject of negro Masons and negro Lodges into their report; for the committee showed that the subject was before the Grand Lodges of the District of Columbia, Illinois, Texas and New Hampshire, in 1852. The Grand Lodge of Texas passed a special resolution on the subject, as did also the Grand Lodge of Illinois, and is the Grand Lodge of Mississippi alone to keep silence and not to comment upon these proceedings, nor upon the improper position of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire? And why the Grand Lodge of Mississippi and not the Grand Lodge of Texas, and Illinois, which preceded the former in agitating the matter, was the subject of your comments, it might satisfy curiosity, though utility might not be the gainer, to inquire. I will let that pass.
  5. Now a word upon the facts of the case. The committee in considering the proceedings of the Grand Lodges above mentioned, said "either the Grand Lodges of England or Ireland have invaded the jurisdiction of some of our sister Grand Lodges in the U. States, with or without the consent of these Grand Lodges, or our sisters have themselves been guilty of wrong." On what was this opinion founded? By referring to their report, it will be seen that in 1845-6, negroes had visited Lodges in Illinois — and again in that Hate, last year ; and this last visitor, it appears, presented certificates o( his having visited Lodges in Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin and Ohio, and be also showed a constitution and By-Laws of his Lodge, represent ing them as deriving authority from the " North American Grand Lodge".
  6. It may be said, and said truly, that the North American Grand Lodge is not gaily constituted body, and yon say," there is not a lawfully authorized or acknow¬ ledged negro Lodge in the United States, nor are we aware that there is a negro in the country, who could rightfully claim or be admitted into any lawful Masonic Lodge." That is precisely the opinion of the committee of Mississippi, very fully and handsomely expressed, and I would only add, whether the Lodges were chartered, or the individuals initiated, by Grand Lodges in Great Britain or America. You say, that "there are associations of blacks claiming to be Masonic, is true; but they exist without authority and their claims are no where recognized." You will certainly not consider me impertinent, for inquiring by what means the blacks above mentioned visited tbe Lodges in Illinois in 1845-6, when the only question raised, in tbe discussion which resulted from their visitation, was that of expediency, and not one word was said about their want of legal qualification. If he who visited the Lodges in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin and Ohio last year, did so only on the strength of the constitution and By-Laws of a Lodge deriving their authority from "the North American Grand Lodge," did so illegally, and certainly the remarks of the committee in this respect were not uncalled for, nor tbe subject "unsuited to the reports of committees on foreign correspondence." But in 1845-6 the legality of the Lodge and the regularity of the initiation were not questioned. In addition to this, the Grand Master of Texas, whose words were quoted by the committee, and which paper I believe you reviewed last year, without contradiction, I plead as a full justification of the committee of Mississippi.

"It will doubtless astonish many of the Brethren to learn that there are now, in several of the eastern and north-western States, bodies of negroes, who profess to be working, as regular Lodges, under Charters from the Grand Lodge of England, and from other sources."

Again, he says; "through the report of the committee on foreign correspondence of the Grand Lodge of New York, we learn that there are one or more such Lodges in New York city, one in Cincinnati, one in St. Louis, one or more in New Jersey, one in Chilicothe, Ohio ; and others in Philadelphia."

Were the remarks of the committee uncalled for? That the subject is "unworthy of the report," is no fault of the committee, but of those who furnished it. But why agitate the subject? Sure enough, why? Let those answer who are the cause.

Fraternally yours,
William P. Meller,
One of the committee of Mississippi.

(1.) The article which our Brother is pleased to consider an attack upon his report, is a frank and plain statement of the origin and existence among us, of what are called negro Lodges, and of the light in which they, and negro Masons, are regarded by the Grand Lodges in this country. Though elicited by the report submitted to the Grand Lodge of Mississippi, it is general in its terms and application, with the slight exceptions hereafter noticed. Entertaining the belief that there existed a great misapprehension of the true character of the bodies in question, and of the relation they hold to the Masonic family,— the light in which they are regarded by our Brethren whose misfortune it is to have them in their midst,— and foreseeing that any serious misunderstanding on a subject so delicate, must inevitably end in consequences highly prejudicial to the peace of the Fraternity, we deemed it our duty, as public journalists, not only to show that there were no present grounds for uneasiness, but to enter a protest against the agitation of the subject, as "uncalled for," "until it shall assume a more tangible shape than it at present bears." To the propriety of this course, we think no right minded and true Mason can or would desire to take exception. Our Brother has misconceived our purpose, or he has incautiously surrendered his generally good judgment, to his acute sensitiveness on the subject. In this last respect we are willing to allow him "considerable latitude."

(2.) We object to so much of this small criticism, as would make us impute even a " little malice," or " a malevolent spirit," to the committee. Our Brother intended to do just what his words have done, "hit" those of "our sisters" (i. e, Grand Lodges), who, as he alleges, in the event that the Grand Lodges of England and Ireland have not invaded their jurisdictions in establishing negro Lodges, " have themselvee been guilty of wrong." We are charitable enough to believe that our Brother intended no more by his "hit," than did Dean Swift by his "fling," when he wrote

"I, who love to have a fling,
Both at senate house and king."

(3.) This difference of opinion may be stated thus :—If any of our Brethren think it a part of the duty of committees on correspondence to scatter firebrands throughout the length and breadth of the Masonic community, we, on the contrary, think such incendiary work "uncalled for." That's the difference, in a nut-shell — its latitude and longitude.

(4.) The reason we did not publish this part of the report, is, that we thought it based on a misapprehension of the facts; and that, consequently, its conclusions were not just. We conceived that we were doing all that it was necessary or expedient to do in the matter, in making a simple reference to the report, and giving the facts as they really exist. There is no difference of opinion between ns and our Brother on the main question; and should the time ever come when it shall be necessary to meet it, he will find us by his side. We cannot, however, consent to play the part of the hero of Cervantes.

(5.) The subject was brought before the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia in 1852, on a petition from the President of Liberia, for a charter for a Lodge in that republic. The Grand Lodge took no official action upon it, "the subject matter having been already disposed of." Was this a cause of uneasiness ? Let us look at the subject in all its bearings, — look at Liberia as it is, see who its friends are and where they are found, — and we shall have little difficulty in coming to the conclusion, that the case is not one which calls for animadversion. Neither does it furnish any grounds for the apprehension that other similar bodies are about to pursue an opposite course. This case therefore does not help our Brother's argument. On the contrary, it makes against it; as much as it proves, that in this, as in the only other instance in this country, so far as we are informed, where a petition has ever been presented for a charter for a Lodge of colored Masons, it was promptly rejected.

We are not aware that the subject was before the Grand Lodge of Illinois in 1852. That body in 1846, disposed of the question in a manner which ought to be satisfactory to our Brother, by the adoption of a resolution, declaring— "that this Grand Lodge is unqualifiedly opposed to the admission of negroes or mulattoes into Lodges under this jurisdiction." The violation of this rule is also made to operate a forfeiture of the charter.

The subject was brought before the Grand Lodge of Texas the last year, by the Grand Master, in his address; from which we quote as follows:—

"It will doubtless astonish many of the Brethren to learn that there are now, in several of the Eastern and North-Western States, bodies of negroes, who profess to be working as regular Lodges under Charters from the Grand Lodge of England, and from other sources.

"The propriety of the action of the bodies, who have so far desecrated our time-honored institution as to issue these Charters, is not a subject to be discussed. This, as well as every other Grand Lodge within the slaveholding States, should indignantly protest against all procedure of the sort, and demand the immediate annulment of all Charters which have been granted."

Had the Grand Master of Texas been correctly informed as to the facts in the case, he would not probably have expressed himself in precisely these terms. In the first place, the Grand Lodge of England has granted no charters for Lodges in America, during the present century. This part of the "profession," was therefore false, and wholly unworthy of his official notice, besides its injustice to the Grand Lodge of England. In the next place, there is not a negro Lodge in the country, working under a charter, having the sanction of any regular Grand Lodge in the world. If such Lodges have any charters at all, they are derived from self-constituted spurious negro associations, calling themselves Grand Lodges; over which the regular Masonic authorities of this country, have no more control or power, than they have over the secret "Triad Brotherhood" of China; and of the true character of which they know as little. What, then, would our " indignant protest" amount to ? and of whom shall we demand "their immediate annulment?" Is not this running a tilt against a windmill? And yet our Brother of Mississippi takes up the strain, and charges the Grand Lodge of England with having commenced the evil "in the spirit of abolition fanaticism," by striking out the words free born from the ritual. The Grand Lodge of England undoubtedly, in this last respect, "removed one of the ancient and valued landmarks of Freemasonry;" but we are at a loss to understand how that act, which took place but two or three years ago, was the commencement of the evil of negro Masonry in this country ; for it has existed in our midst half a century. He says, in continuation, that "Ireland followed in her footsteps," — a fact of which we were not aware,— and adds, that, "either these Grand Lodges have invaded the jurisdiction of our sister G. Lodges in the U. States, "with or without the consent of these Grand Lodges, or our sisters have themselves been guilty of wrong." It "would have gratified curiosity," and "utility might have been the gainer," if our Brother had given us something more satisfactory than mere assertion, that "our sisters have been guilty of wrong." We will "let that pass." But we must still adhere to our first opinion, that the "fling" was " uncalled for."

One word touching the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire. The committee of correspondence in 1852, opened a new question, and justly exposed themselves to criticism. Their own Grand Lodge however took no action on the subject It was a question about which there is, and probably will conitnue to be, a difference of opinion. But the case supposed is one not likely to arise, and its agitation was therefore premature and ill-advised. Our Brother of Mississippi may rightfully plead justification, for his "off-set" here.

(6.) Our Brother has run fairly off the track here. The report charges that "our sister" G. Lodges "have been guilty of wrong." He now abandons this ground as untenable, and transfers his accusation to certain subordinate Lodges. On this point we have no controversy. But how stands the case in the new aspect in which he presents it? In 1845-6, a mulatto, (we think it was a single case), born of a Cherokee mother, and therefore "free born," and in point of law an Indian, though his father was an African, — was admitted once as a visitor, into a Lodge at Chicago. What was the consequence? The Lodges in the State rose almost en masse against it, and their G. Master, who was supposed to have favored the admission; and though he was subsequently exonerated of any immediate agency in the matter, it cost him his influence among his Brethren. The Grand Lodge took the case in hand; and so far from treating it as a question of " expediency," as said by our correspondent, passed the stringent resolutions referred to in the preceding note. The language of the committee who reported the resolutions was this—

"The Author of all has placed a distinguishing mark upon them, (negroes,) clearly indicating that there was a distinctiveness to be kept up; and it is repulsive to the finest feelings of the heart, to think that between them and us there can be a mutual reciprocity of all social privileges."

Does our Brother hold that this Grand Lodge, in the course it pursued on that occasion, was "guilty of wrong?" "It might satisfy curiosity, though utility might not be the gainer," to inquire why this long buried case was exhumed? It certainly does not help our Brother's argument, for the Grand Lodge of Illinois stood up squarely on his own ground. So much for the first cause of grievance in his catalogue of "facts."

His next complaint is, that a negro was, the last year, admitted into a Lodge in Illinois. We have not the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of that State for Oct. 1852, before us, and are a little surprized that our Brother should have had them when he wrote his report in January last. Such promptness is not usual. But admit the fact to be as stated, and what does it prove? Simply that the Lodge violated a solemn edict of its Grand Lodge, and in so doing forfeited its charter. If we had the facts before us, we could better judge of the merits of the case. Our Brother says, this "visitor, it appears, presented certificates of his having visited Lodges in Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin and Ohio." The evidence that these were genuine certificates, is not given; and we confess it appears to us not a little remarkable, that Lodges in Kentucky and Missouri, both slave holding States, should admit a negro as a visitor among them, — even though he did present "a constitution and By-Laws" of a Lodge, "deriving authority from the North American Grand Lodge" — a body without a soul — a thing without vitality — and so known to every even moderately informed Mason in the country. But admit all that is claimed, and what does it prove? Merely that the visitor had so much white blood in him that he was enabled to impose upon these Lodges, or that the officers of them were exceedingly stupid, and too ignorant of their duty to be longer entrusted with their Charters.

But we have said enough, — more than we had intended. The result may be summed up in few words.

  1. In 1846, the Grand Lodge of Illinois, reproved one of its subordinates for admitting a half-blooded Indian as a visitor, and passed resolutions prohibiting, under severe penalty, a repetition of the offence.
  2. The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia refused to act on a petition for a Charter for a Lodge in Liberia.
  3. The committee of correspondence in the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire, in 1852, thought the resolution of the Grand Lodge of Illinois, too stringent, and went into the discussion of an abstract question, that, in a whole generation to come, will not probably once be brought to a practical test. Thus giving point and force to the opinion which is rapidly gaining strength, that such reports are productive of as much mischief as good.
  4. The Grand Master of Texas, under a misapprehension of the facts in the case, "discharged a big gun."
  5. Certain Lodges in Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin and Ohio, are reputed to have been imposed upon by a vagrant clandestine negro Mason; for which piece of folly ithey deserve to lose their Charters.

Thus ends the sum and substance of all the grievances of which our good Brother complains. They are certainly not very alarming. And as we cannot discover in them, any "persistance in pushing the black race into the fraternity," nor yet wherein Grand Lodges "have been guilty of wrong," we must be allowed to indulge the opinion, that the evil is not of a magnitude to "destroy all harmony in the Masonic, as it has in a part of the religious and political world." If this result is ever to lie realized,— and God forbid, — the surest way to bring it about, is to agitate the subject. We have done with it.

Since this was in type, we have received the Illinois proceedings, and find in them a notice of the exception taken by the New Hampshire committee, to the rule before quoted. It is a mere explanation of the necessity for the rule, and the reasons on which it is predicated. The committee say, the rule was "infringed upon by one of our subordinate Lodges in 1851, inadvertently and without intention to violate the rule of this Grand Lodge." While there is nothing in all this to cause alarm among the most sensitive on the subject, there is much that should command their approval.

COMMENTARY ON NEGRO LODGES, MAY 1856

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XV, No. 7, May 1856, Page 220:

The following correspondence on this subject is so just in the views expressed and so wholly unexceptionable, that we transfer it to our pages, from the recent proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Vermont, as matter of information. The facts stated have been given in previous volumes of this Magazine, but may, nevertheless, be new to many of our present readers: -

I lay before the Grand Lodge also, at this time, the following described papers, and deeming them important, ask for them its attentive consideration.

  • First. A letter to me from Peter G. Smith, of Montpelier, dated September 21st, 1855.
  • Second. Copy of a letter from J. S. Rock, of Boston, to Peter G. Smith, dated September 6th, 1855, said Rock signing himself as "Corresponding Secretary of Prince Hall Grand Lodge."
  • Third. Copy of a letter from myself to Peter G. Smith, in reply to his letter of September 21st, and embracing a reply to the contents of J. S. Rock's letter to him.
  • Fourth. A letter from M. W. Winslow Lewis, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, in reply to a letter addressed to him by me on the subject embraced by the foregoing letters.

The question which these documents immediately involves is not probably doubtful in its character; but the subject possesses an interest, in view of our present position and of applications of a like kind which may be made hereafter, which makes it our duty to meet it with prudence and wisdom. There are other questions obviously related to the present one, which are glimmering in the distance, and the agitation of which may perhaps be foreshadowed by this. Although "sufficient for the day is the evil thereof", it is certainly not unwise to anticipate and be prepared for the future.

I have endeavored to place the present question upon its plain and simple merits, and have in my letter to Mr. Smith entered into it more at large than I should have done, had I not been desirous of having it thoroughly understood by all the Brethren of this Masonic jurisdiction. I have contended, and, I believe, have established the position, that the bodies of colored men in Boston, claiming to be regular Masonic Lodges, are illegitimate, spurious and clandestine, and that, consequently, no man receiving the degrees in them, whether white or colored, can be recognized as a regular Mason or received as such into any regular Lodge of Masons. With these views, however innocently or ignorantly Mr. Smith may have acted, in becoming a member of one of those bodies, my plain duty left me no other course than to instruct Aurora Lodge not to receive him as a Mason.

The following is the correspondence referred to in the foregoing:—

Montpelier, Sept. 21, 1855.

Mr. P. C. Tucker, Sir: — I went to Boston last June and joined a Lodge of Masons. When I returned to Montpelier I asked for a seat in the Lodge, and was refused, on the ground that it was said to be a clandestine Lodge. I then wrote back to Boston, not wishing to be imposed upon, and got the letter inclosed. I showed it to Mr. Washburn, of Montpelier, and he told me what you had said to him, and wished me to write to you, and you would give me the facts in the case. Sir, you will oblige me by answering this, and returning the letters.

Peter G. Smith.

Copy of letters enclosed me by Peter G. Smith, of Montpelier, Vt., and received by me September 22d, 1855.

No. 60 Southac Street, Boston, Sept. 6, 1855. A. L. 5855.

Peter G. Smith, Esq., My Dear Sir and Brother —Yours bearing date Aug. 14th, came duly to hand. You say that the Grand Master of Vermont says that the colored Masons had their Charter taken from them, and that they are now working without a Charter. We reply that the charge is no doubt innocent, but it is nevertheless false from beginning to end. The original Charter is now in our possession, and always has been, and we worked under it until some time after the war between this country and Great Britain, when the colored Masons held a Convention and declared themselves independent, the same as the whites had already done before. This was done on account of the difficulties of making the returns to the mother country. There has always been the best feeling, and our Brethren ail visit the Lodges, not only in England, but in all parts of the world. If the Grand Master of Vermont wishes any more light we are prepared to give it to him ; or, if he has a curiosity, he can see the original Charter.

Yours, Fraternally, J. S. Rock,
Corresponding Secretary of Prince Hall Grand Lodge.

Copy of letter from Philip C. Tucker, Grand Master, to Peter G. Smith.

Vergennes, Sept. 22, 1855.

Mr. Peter G. Smith, Montpelier, Sir: —I received yours of yesterday, enclosing a letter to you from Mr. J. S. Rock, of Boston, this morning. As to the Lodge of colored men existing in Boston, calling itself "Prince Hall Grand Lodge, and such Lodges as acknowledge its jurisdiction, I have to say that my understanding on the subject is this :

I suppose it to be true, that on the 20th day of September 1784, a Charter for a Master's Lodge was granted to Prince Hall and others, under the authority of the Grand Lodge of England, and that the Lodge thus chartered, bore the name of "African Lodge, No. 459," and was located at Boston. If any other Charter was ever granted, at any other time, by the Grand Lodge of England or any other Grand Lodge, to the colored persons of that city, it has never come to my knowledge.

I suppose it to be also true, that African Lodge, No. 459, did not continue its connection for many years with the Grand Lodge of England, and that its registration was stricken from the rolls of that Grand Lodge more than fifty years ago.

I suppose it further to be true, that this Lodge, No. 459 and all others which have originated from it, have always held themselves aloof from and have always refused to acknowledge any allegiance to the Grand Lodge of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

I also further suppose it to be true, that on the 18th day of June, 1827, this same Lodge, No. 459, issued a declaration, and had it published in some of the Boston papers, signed by John T. Hilton, Thomas Dalton, Lewis York, Jr., and J. H. Furrow, (claiming to be Master, Wardens and Secretary thereof,) which declaration contained the following language : "We publicly declare ourselves free and independent of any Lodge from this day, and we will not be tributary or governed by any Lodge than that of our own."

And I still further suppose it to be true, that in the month of July, 1845, R. W. Charles W. Moore, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, had a personal interview with Mr. Hilton, then Master of this same Lodge, No. 459, at which interview Mr. Hilton said, that they, (the members of said Lodge,) were "entirely independent of all white Lodges, asked no favors of them, and would have nothing to do with them; nor would they admit a white Mason, if he should present himself as a visitor.

All these things are of record, and cannot, I think, be truthfully denied in any quarter. From them I form the following opinions :

  • First. Even if a Charter for a subordinate Lodge, to be located within the United States, could be lawfully granted by the Grand Lodge of England, after the close of the American Revolution, and if such Charter could be lawfully recognized by the American Lodges, its vitality would necessarily expire when the grantor substantially revoked the grant by striking it from its records and thus disavowing all connection with the grantee.
  • Second. That the mere retention of a Charter, after its legal revocation, cannot preserve or retain any right, power or authority, in the original grantees or their successors, where the right to revoke is reserved, as it always is in all Grand Lodges, in the grantor.
  • Third. Even if African Lodge, No. 459, had a lawful Masonic existence June 18, 1847, the declaration of that date was both unmasonic and revolutionary, and placed that body as effectually beyond recognition by either the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts or any other Grand Lodge in the United States, as was the French Lodge of Virginia, or are the German Lodges of New York.
  • Fourth. Had African Lodge, No. 459, been in all things a lawful Lodge, after the declaration of its first officer of July, 1845, that "it would not admit a white Mason if he should present himself as a visitor," it would have been both humiliating and degrading to have allowed the doors of the white Lodges to stand open for a reciprocity of courtesies which were thus gratuitously and roughly declared inadmissable, in advance of any request, offer, or wish to establish them.

I have the highest Masonic authority in Massachusetts for denying that "the Brethren" of the Lodge in question "all visit the Lodges," so far as the Lodges of Massachusetts are concerned. A Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of that Commonwealth, writing at Boston, in 1848, says :— "There are no Lodges of colored Masons in this city or any other part of the United States, that are recognized and acknowledged by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, or, to our knowledge, by any other regularly constituted Grand Lodge in this country. It" (the African Lodge,) "was never recognized by the Grand Lodge of this State, nor has there ever been any Masonic intercourse between the two Bodies." The same Brother, writing at the same place in 1846, says, referring to that Lodge: "Applications have several times been made by its members for admission to our Lodges, but they have generally, if not always, been refused." Again he says : "That the course of our Grand Lodge in reference to African Lodge, is not the result of prejudice, it is only necessary for me to say, that within the last month, a colored Brother from England has visited, and been kindly received in one of our city Lodges."

I believe I am correct in stating, that the two following propositions are recognized as sound Masonic law in this country.

  • First. That no Grand Lodge of any State can regularly recognize a Subordinate Lodge existing in another State, or its members, until such Subordinate Lodge is recognized by the Grand Lodge of the State in which it exists.
  • Second. That no Grand Lodge, either in these United States, or any other country, can legally establish a Subordinate Lodge in any other State where a regularly constituted Grand Lodge exists.

From these views you will readily perceive why the Masonry of the United States does not and cannot recognize either "Prince Hall Grand Lodge," or its Subordinates, or their members, as regular. To our understanding, the whole of these organizations are irregular and unmasonic, and exist adverse to Masonic regulations and law. If, as Mr. Rock asserts, members of these bodies are admitted to "visit Lodges in England and all parts of the world," that admission probably rises from the fact, that the history and Masonic positions of these bodies are not as well understood elsewhere as they are in the United States.

Mr. Rock expresses an inclination to " give the Grand Master of Vermont more 
light" on this subject. As he signed himself "Corresponding Secretary of Prince
Hall Grand Lodge," I suppose him to possess all the "light" which the subject has
 in it; and whatever that light may be able to reflect upon me, of the truth of the
 past or present, will always receive the respectful attention it may deserve, from


Your obedient serv't. , Philip C. Tucker,
Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Vermont.

P. S.—I return Mr. Rock's letter, according to your request.

Office of the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
Boston, October 3, 1855.
M. W. Philip C. Tucker, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Vermont.

Dear Sir and Brother:—In reply to yours of the 26th ultimo, I can only re-affirm all that you have stated, that the Grand Lodge of this State does not recognize the "Prince Hall Grand Lodge" or any Lodge of colored Masons in this State; that no colored Masons have ever visited or would be allowed to visit our Lodges. No white Mason to my knowledge ever entered a black Lodge. So far as I have ascertained, the blacks have once possessed a Charter from England, which Charter (a copy being taken) was returned to its source for alteration, and was never sent back to this country, and the copy of the aforesaid is all the blacks now have.

But I shall endeavor to see that Instrument, and will then notify you of the facts,
 &c. Trusting to have at some time the honor of a personal interview, I am, very
 truly and

Fraternally yours,
Winslow Lewis, Grand Master.

EXCERPT FROM GRAND MASTER HEARD'S DIRECTIVES TO THE LODGES, JULY 1857

From Section 5:

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts recognize no body purporting to be a "colored" Lodge, or "colored" subordinate Lodge, and it is believed that no regular Lodge in this country admits colored men into the Order; hence, relief afforded to such persons must be on the ground of common humanity, and not because they belong to our institution.

GRAND LODGE OF HAMBURG AND AFRICAN LODGES, NOVEMBER 1859

'From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XIX, No. 2, November 1859, Page 33:

We give below an interesting and ably drawn report on the subject of colored Masons and African Lodges, from the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh of the 6th May, 1858, together with the comments thereon by the committee of correspondence of the Grand Lodge of New York. It presents the strongest argument on the negro-side of the question we have met with, though the writer of the report was manifestly either not well informed or was wholly indifferent to the relations which the colored race in this country sustain to the white population. In England, or Holland, or wherever else the social equality of the races is recognized, the argument would be irresistible. But no such equality is here admitted ; or at least not to any very considerable extent. The black is here held to be the inferior race, and qualified neither by nature or habits to become the companion and equal of the white man. Without stopping to inquire whether this be just or otherwise, it may be safely assumed that it is the fixed and unalterable sentiment of the people of this country ; and all attempts to change it—to debase the white or to elevate the black race to a common level of equality, are as futile as would be an attempt to change any fixed law of nature. The thing can never be accomplished through any agency less powerful than the hand of Him who created all races of men. Call it prejudice or anything else, the fact is undeniable and unalterable. Were it expedient, therefore, to authorize the establishment of colored Lodges among us — even in the northern States, where the black race may be supposed to be as favorably considered as elsewhere in the country — there never could be any common sympathy or fraternal intercourse between them and the Lodges of their white brethren. They would be strangers to each other, though members of the same household. It is so in all the relations of society — in business, in schools, in churches, in religion. The two races are not, and cannot be brought together in equality anywhere, or under any circumstances, whether social, political, masonic, or religious. And if any of our Brethren in this country or elsewhere have succeeded in reasoning themselves into a different opinion, and hope to force it to a consummation, by removing the barriers to their admission and equality in our Lodges, we beg to suggest, in all frankness, and with due respect for their philanthropic sympathies, that the sooner they give up such expectations, the better it will be for all the parties interested.

The propriety of recognizing the so called colored Lodges in this country, and which, it should appear, have petitioned the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh for recognition, is a matter which is at once set at rest by the fact, that all such Lodges, if they exist at all, (as they doubtless do, and in considerable numbers,) are unlawful, and therefore unrecognizable bodies. There is not a masonically lawful Lodge of colored Masons in the United States, nor are there probably colored Masons enough in the country to form one,—Masons we mean, of course, who have been regularly admitted to the Institution according to the recognized forms and laws of Masonry. There are therefore no colored Lodges, and with the exception of a very few colored men, who have been made Masons in foreign countries, no colored Masons, which the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh, nor any other Grand Lodge in Europe, can recognize as Masonic bodies, without trampling under foot, not only their own solemn engagements, but those fundamental laws which underlie the whole superstructure of Masonry. The question of recognition therefore, as applied to the so-called colored Lodges in this country, is not a debatable one. It is not one that any Grand Lodge, having the facts before it, can for a moment entertain; and it is to be presumed that the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh, when more correctly informed as to the true condition of the case, will at once dismiss the subject. The report, above referred to, is as follows :—

The Grand Lodge of Hamburgh, beg leave to submit to the consideration of those sister Grand Lodges in Europe, more intimately connected with a matter of general importance, requesting them to report their opinion what action in relation thereto, might be necessary to be taken, and which at the same time might be calculated to meet the approbation of a majority of them. There exists in some of the States of N. America, besides the Lodges at Hayti, many independent Lodges of colored people, (negroes, mulattoes, &c,) as, for instance, in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, &c. They are united under Grand Lodges under the jurisdiction oi a National Grand Lodge of America. We know little about them, because they are declared by the North American Grand Lodges as clandestine Lodges, and all Masonic intercourse with them is strictly forbidden. Their origin is unknown. The African Lodge at Boston, insists upon having obtained its charter from the Grand Lodge of England ; this is, however, doubtful. According to an assertion of some of our German brethren, who have, free from prejudice, visited negro Lodges in New York, they could find nothing tending to prevent them from pronouncing these Lodges just and perfect. In North America, however, in the land of boasted liberty, a negro or mulatto, in short, any person in whose veins a single drop of colored blood runs,—be he twice as righteous, honest, well educated, talented and scientific, is considered an outcast, and all intercourse with such person is regarded as a disgrace. The prejudice against colored people, even in those States not counted as slave States, and where none but free negroes live, as for instance in the State of New York, is of such a nature, that no white person would sit down with a negro at the same table, or travel with one in the same stage. That even our American brethren are not free from this prejudice, is a fact well known and deeply to be regretted. In the transactions of the Grand Lodge of New York, (Willard,) for 1855, the question whether colored persons could be admitted as Masons, was regarded as a monstrous proposition, and unworthy of discussion.

At the Masonic Convention, in Paris, in 1855, Bro. Cummings, representative of Washington, insinuated that the European Lodges, in consideration of the condition in America, might be induced not to admit negroes; this insinuation was, however, rejected. Under these prejudicial circumstances on the part of the North American Grand Lodges, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that colored Lodges and colored Grand Lodges never will be recognized by them. But are the Grand Lodges of Europe, where such prejudices are.unknown, thereby bound to deny the legitimacy of a great number of otherwise just and lawful Lodges, and to re/use their brethren admittance into our Lodges because they are of a darker color? The fact that a Grand Lodge of a negro State — that of Hayti, with its Subordinates — has been recognized by most of the European Grand Lodges, as a legal Grand Lodge, and that its representative at the Masonic Convention at Paris has been accredited, and furthermore and in particular, the fact that this Grand Lodge is enumerated as such on the list of Prussian Grand Lodges, is sufficient proof that such a prejudice has no existence in European Grand Lodges. The Grand Lodge of another negro State, that of the Republic of Liberia, in Africa, although too young yet and too little known, may, in the course of time, rely upon being recognized by the European Grand Lodges as well as that of Hayti.

As to the Grand Lodges and their Subordinates of colored people, the North American Grand Lodges might appeal to a monopoly, according to which only one Grand Lodge can legally exist in one and the same State; and no Lodge can legally exist in such State without the sanction of the Grand Lodge thereof. This monopoly has been created by common consent, and is not founded, as, for instance, in Prussia, on a demand of the government. The Grand Lodge of Hamburgh, in consequence of having been regardless of this monopoly, as far as it concerns German Lodges, came in conflict with them. On this ground the right of discussing the propriety of such monopoly might to the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh be denied; but here it must he premised that this action of the Grand Lodge at Hamburgh has only reference to such Lodges, which, if they bad been disposed to join the Grand Lodge of the State, would, undoubtedly, have been rejected by the same on the supposition that the members of such Lodges were unfit for reception. When American Lodges, in respect to a general prejudice prevailing there, deem it proper to reject colored persons ; when they refuse members of colored Lodges admittance, forbidding at the same time all Masonic intercourse with them, they may, politically, be in the right, but not masonically, and cannot expect European Lodges to agree with them on this point. The connection of Europe with other parts of the world, increasing from year to year, demands a discussion of this question, which ere long, may be submitted to the consideration of each European Lodge, in particular to Lodges in seaports and in Germany, but to the Lodges at Hamburgh. The Grand Lodge at Hamburgh will, at its next convention, make this question the topic of deliberation, relying thereby upon the support of its sister Grand Lodges, desiring them to communicate their views and intentions in respect to the recognition of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Liberia, in Africa, but in particular in respect to the Lodges and Grand Lodges of colored people, pronounced by the American Grand Lodges to be clandestine."

There are some features of this report that are very singular, and would be unaccountable, but for the fact that a Mason from Hamburgh is unknown in America, and he will continue to be a stranger in this land of charities and Masonic benevolence so long as that unwise body on the continent of Europe, which bears that name, shall persist in the support and countenance of its Subordinates in this jurisdiction. Speaking of the negro "Lodges," this report says: Their origin is unknown. The African Lodge at Boston insists upon having obtained its charter from the Grand Lodge of England; this is, however, doubtful. According to an assertion of some of our German brethren, who have, free of prejudice, visited negro Lodges in New York, they could find nothing tending to prevent then to pronounce these Lodges just and perfect. In the first place, has the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh ever been appealed to by these negro Lodges to recognize them'? Not at all; Hamburgh will not so pretend. What business, then, has that body to be meddling with this matter? More than three thousand miles away ! None whatever. Do they know of the rejection of a colored individual by one of our Lodges 7 Do they know, or have they been informed of the exclusion of a single member of a "colored Lodge" from the doors of a white man's Lodge? Has it been intimated to Hamburgh that all intercourse with colored Masons has been forbidden? We present these questions only to show the inconsistency of the pretensions of Hamburgh. And these are the grounds upon which it goes out to the Grand Lodges of Europe with an earnest appeal for the recognition of colored Lodges in this country. And yet, strange as it may appear, there is not the slightest proof—there is not the shadow of evidence, that we are obnoxious to one of these charges. And yet, Hamburgh asks the Grand Lodges of Europe to recognize these bodies, when it declares their origin is "unknown," and their pretensions "doubtful." Some of the "German Brethren" have visited these negro Lodges in New York ! We respectfully submit that the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh is mistaken in this particular. No German Brother has ever visited one of these Lodges. Such a thing cannot be done—for the moment a Mason enters the portals of such a body in New York, in the character of a Mason, his panoply of Brother departs from him. There may be, and doubtless have been, white persons, perhaps Germans, who have visited negro assemblages which were called by the negroes themselves " Masonic Lodges;" but these assemblages bear about the same affinity to a Masonic Lodge that a negro clam-bake would bear to the Diet of Worms! None but irregular, clandestine or expelled Masons visit these bodies of Masons; the Mason in good standing who should visit one of these bodies would subject himself to expulsion, and would be expelled as soon as the subject could be brought before his Lodge — not so much because the body is made up of colored men, though this would cause a suspicion of his orthodoxy, but because there is not, and never has been, a negro Lodge of Masons, in the State of New York, deriving authority from a regular Grand Lodge. A moment's reflection will convince any Mason that such a body cannot be visited without a violation of the most solemn obligations.

The Grand Lodges of Europe are supposed to be without prejudice to the colored race, and are therefore asked to recognize these bodies! Extravagant credulity! Can it be possible that Hamburgh believes the other Grand Lodges of Europe will recognize negro Lodges and Grand Lodges solely because their members have dark skins? This idea presupposes an affection for the colored race on the part of the European Grand Lodges which would trample upon Masonic obligations to be gratified. Those bodies cannot commit, nor permit their members to commit so great a crime. There must be some other evidences furnished those Grand Lodges of the regularity of these negro Lodges before they will acknowledge them; and when they come to seek for this evidence it will be entirely wanting.

GRAND LODGE OF HAMBURG AND AFRICAN LODGES, MAY 1860

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XIX, No. 7, May 1860, Page 215:

Wi noticed some months since in the pages of this Magazine, the efforts making by the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh to induce the Grand Lodges of Europe to consider the propriety of recognizing the negro Lodges, both Grand and Subordinate, which exist in this country, without authority. The subject has recently received the attention of the Grand Lodge of New York and elicited from the committee of correspondence of that body, a report from which we make the following extract:—

The great object of Masonry is to cultivate peace, harmony and fraternity among the families of mankind ; it fosters none of the malignant passions which divide and destroy society ; it has none of the attributes of war, and desires not the aid of and cannot employ any of its agencies to enforce its decrees. Its greet mission is peace, its chief implement of warfare is love, and its influence among the families of men is to draw them together, and make them one Brotherhood. It looks for its maintenance, and the enforcement of its laws and decrees, to the obligations which its votaries have assumed, and the high moral tone which its ritual inculcates. Its genial and fraternizing influences extend to the remotest boundaries of civilization. All continents, all civilized nations, and even the islands of the sea, are peopled with its votaries.

Like the extended possessions of a colossal empire, the great luminary of day does not cease to shine upon its altars. It forms a golden arch which encircles human society, and its keystone is composed of the moral jewel which was repeated in the accents of Divinity, among the lessons that were taught from the Mount of Olives eighteen hundred years ago: " Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you do ye even so to them." Any Masonic government that deliberately or voluntarily removes this keystone, in its relations with other jurisdictions, deserves the reprehensions of universal Masonry, because it thereby destroys the general harmony, and introduces confusion and disorder in place of union and concord. Bat this keystone has been removed, this great maxim of Masonic faith has been violated, prostrated and destroyed, in the action of the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh. It has not withdrawn or offered to withdraw the charters of its illegitimate subordinates. Though apprised of the universal sentiment which prevails among the GranJ Lodges of the United Slates in condemnation of its acts, it persists in keeping up these Lodges in the jurisdiction of New York, in violation of our laws and in defiance of our authority. This is not all. It is, indeed, but a tithe of her offending. It is a venial, and excusable offence in comparison to a much greater which she is seeking now to perpetrate. Because we have declared her two subordinates irregular, and suspended intercourse with her till their charters are recalled, she has invented a means of reprisal, a mode of retaliation, which for deliberate revenge has no parallel in tine history of Masonry.

There are certain bodies of colored men, Africans, in the States of the American Union, at the South as veil as in the North, whose members claim to have got hold of some of the secrets, and profess to practice the rites ol Mason ry. They have no legitimate claims, and with an individual exception, as we believe, make no pretence to legitimate descent or authority from regular G. Lodges. Many of those in the Southern States as we are informed, are slaves, all are blacks and mulattoes. They have no Masonic connection with, because they are not recognized by, the Masons in this country. They are, as stated, mostly slaves and the descendants of slaves, between whom and the whites there is an irreconcilable and irradicable repugnance lo social equality. A persistent attempt to enforce this equality would be very likely to result in the destruction of Masonry in the United States, or in a war of races; ending in the extermination of the negro race.

Strange and unaccountable as it appears, it seems that the Grand Lodge of Hamburgh contemplates this stale of things with composure and complacency. She is disposed not only to recognize these bodies herself as regular and legitimate Lodges and Grand Lodges, but she is trying to persuade the other Grand Ledges of Europe to do the same thing. The following quotation from the proceedings of that body, of May 6th, 1858, will prove the scope of her designs, viz: "The Grand Lodge of Hamburgh will, at its next convention, make this question the topic of deliberation, relying thereby upon the support of its sister Grand Lodges, desiring them to communicate their views and intentions in respect to the recognition of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Liberia, in Africa; but, in particular, in respect to the Lodges and Grand Lodges of colored people, pronounced by the American Grand Lodges to be clandestine." In another part of the Hamburgh proceedings, they refer lo " independent Lodges of colored people (negroes, mulattoes, Sic.) in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, &c, which ate united under Grand Lodges under the jurisdiction of a National Grand Lodge of America. We know little of them," says Hamburgh, ** becanse they are declared by the North American Grand Lodges as clandestine, and all Masonic inlercoarse is strictly lorbidden." There can be, therefore, no possible misapprehension as to who and what Hamburgh seeks to recognize as regular and legitimate Masons and Masonic bodies.

In reference to the individuals composing these bodies it is proper to say, that their social status, both in the Northern and Southern Slates of the Union, is, ex necessitate rei, inferior to that or the white, and their political privileges are limited. We will not stop to argue the policy or impolicy, the justice or injustice of this state of things. We take the facts as they are, and American society as it is, and apply to them the rules of Masonic law. Among these rales, landmarks as they are called, are the following, viz.:

  1. "The men made Masons must be free born, (or no bondmen,) of mature age and of good report," &c.
  2. "The privilege of assembling as Masons is no longer unlimited, but shall be vested in certain Lodges, convened in certain places, and legally authorized by the warrant of the Grand Master and the consent of the Grand Lodge."

Are the persons of color in the United States, who claim to be Masons, free born? Slavery originally existed in nearly all the States of the American Union — in every one of them, we believe, except one. At the breaking out of the American Revolution we had a population, in all, of 2,800,000 souls, of whom 500,000, in round numbers, were slaves. These comprised nearly all the blacks then in the American Union; and since that day (1775) to the present, the emigration of Africans to this country has been exceedingly limited. Except in individual and isolated instances, since the year 1808 it has been comparatively and almost absolutely nothing, and anterior to that period their emigration hither was involuntary, compulsory and as slaves. Hence it will be perceived, that nearly all of African blood in the United States are either slaves or the descendants of slaves, and as such are ineligible to the degrees of Masonry under the Masonic landmark first above quoted ; but if this landmark were ignored or disregarded, there are other obstacles equally insuperable to their recognition.

Could we persuade ourselves it were necessary to argue the question of their moral and mental disabilities, or to present their inferior social status in American society, as furnishing evidences of their ineligibility to Masonic privileges, equality and honors, we should arrive at the same conclusion, that nothing but a revolution—an entire disruption and overturning of American society, could induce a recognition of the right ot the African race in America to Masonic equality and privileges; but we do not propose to discuss these questions. We know there are differences of opinion on this subject in other portions of the world as well as here in the United States. These differences in the political world are serious, apparently irreconcilable, and sometimes threatening to the harmony and integrity of the American Union. With the realization of this truth, no Mason in the United States has, in his capacity as a Mason or Masonic officer, ventured to discuss them, and no good Mason will discuss them. We all know that strife, discord and disunion among the American Grand Lodges would be the inevitable concomitants of such a discussion. Hamburgh is aware of this, and with the obvious design to bring on a collision, and to precipitate calamity and rain upon the Masonic fraternity in North America, makes the proposition to the Grand Lodges and Grand Orients of Europe, which we have above copied from her proceedings, to recognize and legitimate the negro organizations in the United Stales as Masonic!! Will the Grand Lodges of the world countenance, either by affirmative action or by inaction, this diabolical purpose! Will they suffer one of the great sisterhood of Masonic sovereignties, without rebuke or reproof, to commit an act so flagrantly violative of national comity, and to fraught with disaster to the peace and harmony of Masonry?

COMMENTARY ON COLORED MASONS, FEBRUARY 1862

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXI, No. 4, February 1862, Page 155 (from the New York Sunday Courier):

But little is known among the regular Fraternity in the United States of the condition of Freemasonry among the negroes, and yet, during the week which closed the year 1861, a so-called Grand Lodge of that persuasion was held in the city of New York, and an election had, by which some of the sons of "Ham" were elected to the rank of Grand Dignitaries, with all the high-sounding titles in which that imitative race take so great a pride.

These "colored brudders" have, on more occasions than one, in years gone by, published their list of dignitaries in the columns of our contemporaries, and, probably with the desire of receiving the benefit of our extended Masonic circulation, this year honored us with their notice; but, though deeply sensible of the intended honor, we most respectfully declined to be the medium of communication between them and the regular constituted Fraternities in the United States.

While we have every desire to promote the interests of genuine Freemasonry, we have no inclination to give prominence to that which is bastard and spurious, and without designing any affront to the "sons of Afrio," we cannot consent, directly or indirectly, to elevate them to an equality with the white or dominant race in our columns.

The existence of these so-called Masonic Lodges among the blacks has never been recognized by any Grand Lodge Of Freemasons in the United States. Their origin was not in accordance with the laws of the Institution, and it is doubtful whether their continuance is not, from the material of which they are in part at least said to be composed, a direct infraction of that Ancient jaw which requires of all candidates for initation into the mysteries of the Society to be "freeborn" or "no bondmen."

The authority under which these negro lodges claim to derive their powers is of itself, a sufficient evidence of their irregularity; and, in order that our readers may be thoroughly posted on the subject, we will give a verbatim copy of the document upon the strength of which they have based their organization :—

"To all and every one right worshipful and loving Brethren. We, Thomas Howard, Earl of Effingham, Lord Howard, &e, &e, Acting Grand Master, under the authority of hit Royal Highness Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, &c, &c, he. 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, in North America, do hereby constitute the said Brethren into a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, under the title or the denomination of the African Lodge, to be opened in Boston aforesaid: And do further, at 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 opening the said Lodge, and for such further time only as shall be thought proper by the Brethren thereof; It being our will that this our appointment of the above officers shall in no wise affect any future election of officers of the Lodge, but that such election shall be regulated agreeably to such by laws of the said Lodge as shall be consistent with the general laws of the Society, contained in the Book of Constitutions. And we hereby will and require you, the said Prince Hall, to take special care that all and every the said Brethren are to have been regularly made Masons, and that they do observe, perform and keep the rules and orders 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 nowise yon omit once in every year to send to us, or our successors. Grand Masters, or to Rowland Holt, Esq., our Deputy Grand Master for the time being, an account in writing of your said proceedings, and copies of all such rules, orders and regulations as shall be made as aforesaid, together with a list of the members of the Lodge, and such a sum of money as shall suit the circumstances of the Lodge, and reasonably be expected, toward the Grand Charity. Moreover, we hereby will and require you, and 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, this 29th day o( September, A. L. 5784, A. D. 1784.
By the Grand Master's command,
R. Holt, D. G. M.
(Attested) William White, G. S.

Under such an authority as the above is it that the colored population have ventured to establish a National Grand Lodge, which, in turn, grants Warrants to State Grand Lodges, and these latter to Subordinate Lodges.

The basis upon which the negroes have raised their superstructure according the laws which prevail among Masons, especially in the U. S., is fatally defective, and their work consequently illegitimate. In the first place, the Grand Lodge of England had no right, in 1784, to establish a Lodge in Boston, as there was a Grand Lodge, exercising authority, established there, for the State of Massachusetts. Iu the second place, the Warrant granted in 1784 to the negroes gave them no authority to establish a Grand Lodge or a National Grand Lodge,

NOTE ON COLORED LODGES, AUGUST 1863

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXII, No. 10, July 1863, Page 310:

After a careful examination of so much of the proceedings of our Right Worshipful Sister Grand Lodges on the subject of "Colored Lodges," and the action of some of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodges of Europe in regard to it, there is a fear on our mind, that the Masonic opinion held by the Grand Lodges of the United Stales thereto, may not have been strongly and clearly laid before those jurisdictions. The argument on this question is plain and conclusive. Each Grand Lodge in the United States is a sovereign and supreme jurisdiction. No subordinate Lodge of Freemasons can regularly exist in any such jurisdiction, without its rights, privileges and powers are directly derived from such supreme sovereign authority. If any such Lodge claims to exist and work, it is not recognized as a Lodge of Freemasons — hence it is irregular or clandestine. No other Masonic authority than that of the jurisdiction can grant a right for such. a Lodge.

No Grand Lodge in the United States has ever granted a Charter to a "Colored Lodge" of Freemasons. Then Colored Lodges are not recognized, and are either irregular or clandestine. As these "Colored Lodges" claiming to exist in the United States are not recognized by any Grand Lodge of the U. States, they cannot be Masonically recognized anywhere. The principle is too plain to admit of controversy. If the Grand Lodges of the United States are supreme in their several jurisdictions, they are severally the highest Masonic authority known to such jurisdiction If they are the highest and best authority, there is not a forum, which can claim an appellate power to review or overrule their decision. Their decision on any question which they have the sole right and power to decide, is absolute and steadfast. Then, if each Grand Lodge in the United States decides that "Colored Lodges" are not recognizable as Masonic institutions within their jurisdiction, it is neither competent nor Masonic for any foreign Grand Lodge to set aside such decision. To do so would disturb the harmony, destroy the sovereignty, impair the dignity, usurp the rights and powers, and subordinate a Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of tbe United States to such foreign Grand Lodge. It would do more. It would cause its constituents to depend on any other authority but its own. The proposition thus stated is unanswerable. Thus the question stands, in the opinion of the Right Worthy Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. It cannot be made to yield to any other than indisputable Masonic principles. No other elements must be permitted to enter into the discussion. Masonry knows Masonic principles, landmarks, rights, privileges and objects only. What is not of Freemasonry, is not within the power of Masonic action. Other questions may knock at the West door, but they ought not, cannot, will never be allowed to enter into a Temple dedicated to Freemasonry — never. — Rep. G. L. Pen.

A NEGRO MADE A FREEMASON, DECEMBER 1867

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXVII, No. 2, December 1867, Page 37:

The following is from the Boston Commonwealth of last week, and while the making of Mr. J. B. Smith, a colored man, a Freemason, is a mere matter of taste, and does not, if he has the necessary qualifications, violate any landmark, yet the hope expressed in the latter part of the paragraph, that it may prove the first step towards bringing the clandestine Lodges of ' fellow citizens of African descent' into relations with the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, we should opine is so far distant as not to be within the vision through the most powerful telescope.

The Commonwealth says : —

"We are gratified to record that our well-known citizen, Mr. Joshua B. Smith, was initiated a Mason in St. Andrew's Lodge, of this city, on Thursday evening last. The ceremonies were unusually dignified and solemn, the acceptance of the candidate being by the unanimous vote of that ancient and highly respectable Lodge. The event in itself, aside from the parties immediately concerned, has no particular interest, save that it is the first time in the history of Masonry in this State that a colored man has been admitted to white fellowship, which, we sincerely trust, is the dawn of a new era in fraternal association, and the first step towards bringing the African Lodges of this State into harmonious relations with the Massachusetts Grand Lodge."

We find the above in the New York Courier of the 2d November last. The case not being one of common occurrence, will be likely to excite in certain quarters a more than common interest. It may not, therefore, be improper or out of place here, in order that there may be no misapprehension of the facts, to say a few additional words in reference to it.

Mr. Smith is undeniably a "colored man," though maternally descended from one of the most respectable white families in Virginia, — an accident, it is believed, not without its precedents or sequences. But be this as it may, young Smith was at birth assigned to the care of a faithful nurse, and in duo time sent to the western part of the State of New York, where he was educated and fitted to fight the battles of life on his own account. He has fought them manfully and successfully, and now occupies a social position, not less indicative of his industry than of the high estimation in which he is held as a citizen. The color of his skin, though a shade darker than the Caucasian, is not of any decided African type, nor are his features. We are told he has a white wife and a family of fine promising children, who are undistinguishable in their complexion from the white children with whom they associate in school and on the play-ground, and by whom they are respected as equals. It may be to his credit or otherwise, according to the republican notions of the reader, that neither Mr. Smith nor his family look for intimate associates among the class to which his paternal ancestor belonged. "We state the fact, and give these particulars to show that the case is not an ordinary one, nor Mr. Smith a common "negro." He is a well educated, intelligent and respectable man, with wealth enough to enable him to do good among his poorer neighbors, and a heart generous enough to prompt him to do it. His initiation, therefore, does not strictly furnish any precedent for the admission of persons of the African race, however Worthy they may be. It leaves that question untouched. And it only remains for us to add in this connection, that Mr. Smith, though born in a slave State, is himself a freeman by birth, the civil condition of the mother determining that of the child.

It is not quite true that "this is the first time in the history of Masonry in this State, that a colored man has been admitted to white fellowship." About the year 1830, certain Spanish refugees arrived in Boston, and were soon after received into Masonry, on the recommendation, and through the influence of certain officials who were interested in their welfare, and regarded thorn as patriots and martyrs in the cause of civil liberty. They were educated " colored men," who had occupied places of official distinction and influence in their own country. Isolated cases might also be quoted from the history of other Grand Lodges in this country; but, as a general rule, the initiation of this class of our citizens has been discountenanced by the fraternity here, though they are admitted in many other countries without any objection to them on account of class or color. There is no masonic law of general application, either ancient or modern, against their reception. The question is therefore wholly one of expediency, which every masonic jurisdiction may settle for itself.

Such a thing as the recognition of the existing African Lodges in this city, or anywhere else in this country, by the Grand Lodge of this State, is among the impossibilities, except through such an utter disregard of the laws of the Institution and of masonic obligation as is not to be anticipated. All the existing African Lodges in the country, without a single exception, are self-constituted or without legal authority. The first colored Lodge in this city, was opened about the close of the last century, under a charter granted by the Duke of Cumberland, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England; but the grant was in violation of the jurisdictional rights of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and therefore an illegal act and void. The Lodge was never recognized by any Grand Lodge in America ; and, in 1813, the Grand Lodge of England erased it from its books. Its charter should then, at least, have been returned to the body from which it was originally received ; but it was not so returned, and has since been held by different parties as quasi authority for their irregular proceedings. It is entirely worthless.

HAYDEN PETITION, DECEMBER 1868 AND AFTER

In December 1868 a petition was presented to the Grand Lodge by a group of black Freemasons; it was referred to committee during the following year.

220px-Lewis_Hayden.png

From Proceedings, December 1868, Page VII-259:

A petition signed by Lewis Hayden and several others, claiming to be Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons, and asking to be recognized as such, was received, read, and on motion of R. W. Bro. John T. Heard, was referred to R. W. Brothers John T. Heard, George W. Warren, Bradford L. Wales, Isaac Hull Wright, Charles Levi Woodbury, Tracy P. Cheever, and Charles W. Moore.

From Proceedings, June 1869, Page VII-454:

R. W. Br. John T. Heard, Chairman of the committee on the following petition of Lewis Hayden and others made their report:

PETITION

To the Most Worshipful Ancient and Honerable Society of Free and Accepted Masons for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

We the undersigned, represent that in the year seventeen hundred and seventy five the rites of Masonry were conferred in an Army Lodge attached to the British Army then stationed at this Port upon Prince Hall, Thomas Sanderson, Boston Smith, John Main, John Hartfield, William H. Gregory, Charles Spooner, John Carter, and others who were soon after organized as, and dispensated into, a Lodge.

Being thus organized they made application to Major General Warren for a Charter, from whom it appears encouragement was received, but after his fall no more was heard of it.

In seventeen hundred and seventy nine the petition was again renewed, We do not know that an official answer was ever returned but tradition informs us that it was made sport of in the Massachusetts Grand Lodge which fact being made known to them they said "This shall never discourage us, nor move us from our purpose we have undertaken, and we will accomplish our design, we will petition to foreigners for what is denied us at home."

The condition of the colored population of the State at that time, denied as they were of the benefits of education for the support of which-they were taxed, together with public opinion as then existing and expressed through the journals of that epoch forbade the recognition of the negro as a man and a brother. This can readily be seen from the fact that African Slavery and the slave trade were then lawful in this Commonwealth, and as a consequence, the pecuniary interests of the Masons of that age transcended their obligations to the brotherhood of man. Nor was it until seventeen hundred and eighty three that the institution of slavery was abolished; since which time no man has been born in this Commonwealth otherwise than free. We say their condition together with public opinion from the fact that Prince Hall and his associates were denied even the right of assembling except by special permit of the authorities of the town of Boston.

Laboring under these disadvantages the love of Masonry prompted and necessity forced them, to petition the Grand Lodge of England for a Charter and in the year seventeen hundred and eighty four (up to which time no official answer was given their petition by the Massachusetts Grand Lodge) it resulted in the granting of Charter 459 dated Sept. 29th seventeen eighty four, which is now in our possession a true copy of which is here annexed:

"The seal of the
Grand Lodge of
Masons London."

Effingham A. G. M. To all & every one Right Worshipful and loving Brethren, We Thomas Howard, &c. &c., Earl of Effingham - Lord Howard, Acting Grand Master under the authority of His Royal Highness, Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, &c, &c, &c. Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honerable Society of Free and Accepted Masons sends 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, in North America do hereby constitute the said Brethren into a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons under the title or denomination of the African Lodge, to be opened in Boston, aforesaid and do further at their said petition, hereby appoint the said Prince Hall to be Master, Boston Smith, Senior Warden, and Thomas Sanderson, Junior Warden, for opening the said Lodge, and for such further time as shall be thought proper by the Brethren thereof, it being our will that this our appointment of the above officers shall in no wise affect any future election of officers of the Lodge, but that such election shall be regulated agreeable to such By Laws of the said Lodge as shall be consistent with the general laws of the society, contained in the Book of Constitutions, and we hereby will and require you, the said Prince Hall, to take special care that all and every one of the said Brethren are or have been regularly made Masons, and that they do observe, perform, and keep all the rules and orders 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, our successors, Grand Masters or to Rowland Holt, Esq. our Deputy Grand Master, for the time being, an account in writing of your said proceedings, and copies of all such rules, orders, and regulations as shall be made as aforesaid, together with a list of the members of the Lodge, and such a sum of money as may suit the circumstances of the Lodge and reasonably be expected, towards the Grand Charity, Moreover we hereby will and require 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 this 29th day of September A, L. 5784, A. D. 1784.
By the Grand Master's command
ROWLAND HOLT D. G. M.
Witness WILLIAM WHITE
Grand Secretary.

By the authority of this Charter they opened a regular and perfect Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the town of Boston, in which they initiated, passed and raised Master Masons, This they continued to do as a subordinate Lodge until the year eighteen hundred and eight at which time there being three Lodges among us, one in Boston, one in Philadelphia and one in Providence, they, under Prince Hall, organized a Grand Lodge in this town, aforesaid which Grand Lodge granted Charters to the several subordinates now existing under the titles and denominations of "Rising Sons of St. Johns' No. 3," "Union No. 2," and "Celestial Lodge No. 4.

It also granted Charters in several other States which have organized themselves into Grand Lodges.

The three first remaining, continued their existence under their old Charters until eighteen hundred and forty seven in which year the National Grand Lodge was formed.

The African Grand Lodge of Boston becoming a part of that body surrendered its charter and received its present Charter, dated, December 11th. Eighteen hundred and forty seven, under the title of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and by which authority we this day exist as a Masonic body, and subordinate to it are the following named Lodges with their respective locality and membership.

  • Union Lodge, No. 2. Boston, 40 Members.
  • Rising Sons of St. Johns, No. 3, Boston, 43 Members.
  • Celestial Lodge, No. 4, Boston, 52 Members.
  • Union, No. 7, New Bedford, 38 Members.
  • Eureka, No. 11. Savannah, Geo., 19 Members.
  • Sumner, No. 12, Springfield, 29 Members.
  • Hilton, No 13, Savannah, Geo., 21 Members.

Hayden Lodge, No. 8, Charleston S.C. withdrawn Oct 1868, and with other Lodges, formed a Grand Lodge for the State of South Carolina. The requisite number of Lodges out of which to form a Grand Lodge are already in existence in Georgia and we doubt not will soon organize a Grand Lodge for that State.

Notwithstanding our changed condition enjoying as we do the benefits of education, and the favorable growth of public opinion, it is questionable, after a lapse of ninety three years of unsullied Masonic existence on our part, aided by Civilization and progress, whether the Masons of to-day unlike their ancestors, free from the perplexing connection with slavery, it having been blotted from the annals of the Continent, are ready to assent to the recognition and truly cosmopolitan character of our fraternity, we are prompted to enter this our humble plea for equal Masonic manhood in the hope that we be permitted to establish our claim to Masonic rite by whatever means the most worshipful Grand Lodge may suggest.

Signed,

  • Lewis Hayden, Edwd. C. Ruhler, John J. Smith. Richard S. Brown, John W. Rice, Stephen R. Dorsey, George W. Brown, Joseph P. Hawkins. Francis P. Gray, Joseph Jo. Harvey, Thomas Pritchett. John W. Johnson, Alfred R. Lewis, Thomas McCarppy, William H. W. Derby, John H. Dorsay, Charles H, Greeland. L, V, Johnson, Chas. A. Rickson, Robert Dorsay, A. B, Cannedy, D. H, Corney, Moses Olmstead, Wm Gray. Master Masons of Boston.
  • Members of Union Lodge No. 7 of New Bedford: Anthony G. Jourdain Jr., George H. Mitchell, James Thomas. George Delavan, Augustus D. Piper, John A. Austin. Andrew M. Bush, Joseph M, Scott, Charles H. Brook, Charles F. Ferguson, W. M. Jackson, Henry F. Martin, James Wiggins, Edward Jackson, Parker (his X mark) Samplings, Charles H. Carter, Joseph H. Smith, John W, Davis, George H, Braywood, Daniel B. Smith, William H. Watkins, John W.

Williams, Michael Wainer, Jr., Thomas Tillman, Walter S. Tilghman.

  • Members of Sumner Lodge No. 12 Springfield: Thos. Thomas, Geo. H. Queen, C. A. Purvis, W. M. Montague, David Jennings, I. J. Baptist, Paylon Washington, W. H. Adams, Charles W. Hall, I. N. Howard, J. W. Francis, Eli. S. Baptist, Samuel R. Scottron, S. E. Wright. Henry 0, Thermann. A. Glasco, Charle Dawson, C. K. Dorsey, L. B, Askin, John Q. Jones, W. J. Lynch.

REPORT OF COMMITTEE

This report also appears in Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXIX, No. 3, January 1870, Page 90:

Report of Committee on the above petition.

To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge:

The Committee to whom was referred the petition of Lewis Hayden and others would respectfully report:

That the petitioners are black men, who though they are not members or initiates of Lodges under the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, nor of regular Lodges within the jurisdiction of any Grand Lodge in correspondence with it, still claim that they are Masons and desire to be recognized as such by this Grand Lodge, They plead, in the terms of the petition "for equal Masonic manhood in the hope that we be permitted to establish our claim to Masonic rite by whatever means the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge may suggest."

There are three classes of signers of the petition, namely, 1, Lewis Hayden and twenty four others, who style themselves. Master Masons of Boston. 2. Anthony P. Jourdain, Jr. and twenty five others who designate themselves as members of Union Lodge No. 7. of New Bedford. 3, Thomas Thomas and twenty others, who claim to be "officers and Members of Sumner Lodge No. 12 of Springfield. The petitioners do not avowedly represent either of these Lodges or any others: so that their statements and prayer should be regarded as expressions of individual persons, rather than the representations and request of the Lodges mentioned in the petition.

The petition refers to the origin and progress of the so-called Freemasonry to which the petitioners belong, and embraces a copy of a Charter which certain black men, therein recognized as Masons, obtained in 1784, from the Grand Lodge of England and received by them in 1787.

Your committee have examined the Charter and believe it is authentic: but as they do not deem it to be necessary at this time to investigate the historical statement contained in the petition: they have not inquired into its legal Masonic effect, nor whether any proper organization under it ever took place. The petitioners include only a portion of the persons who claim to derive privileges from this instrument, when it is obvious that the granting of their prayer for the reasons they advance, would equally benefit their associates who have not joined in the petition, and over whom therefore, this Grand Lodge would have no control. Under these circumstances, it is not necessary to inquire into the validity of the proceedings of the persons named in the charter or whether the petitioners have any just claim to be considered their successors.

Lodges professing to be Masonic existing in this Commonwealth without the sanction of this Grand Lodge, are irregular and spurious, and the members of them are of course denied Masonic intercourse with members of regular Lodges, and they and their members, including the petitioners, are not recognized by the Craft.

Our Constitutions make no distinction on account of the color of persons who desire the benefits of Freemasonry, and there are no rules or regulations whereby the petitioners if "worthy and well qualified," are excluded from our fraternity, if they seek admission through duly organized Lodges.

Your Committee recommend that the petitioners have leave to withdraw.

All of which is respectfully submitted
JOHN T. HEARD,
G. WASHINGTON WARREN,
BRADFORD L. WALES,
ISAAC H. WRIGHT,
CHARLES W. MOORE
TRACY P. CHEEVER
CHARLES LEVI WOODBURY

The report was accepted.

NOTES ON NEGRO FREEMASONRY, JANUARY 1869

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXVIII, No. 3, January 1869, Page 90:

Lewis Hayden, Grand Master "of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of (so-called) F. A. A. Masons for the State of Massachusetts," has sent us a pamphlet of one hundred pages, styled "Grand Lodge Jurisdictional Claim; or, War of Races."

Our colored friend, instead of arguing the case upon its merits, begins with imputing to the Masonic Lodges of the country insincerity and dishonesty, and charges that they " bow in obedience to the demands of slavery."

No Lodge has ever refused the recognition of the so-called colored Masons, except upon the ground that they have no Masonic connection or legitimacy. What their ritual and secret work may be are unknown to the fraternity. They may be very superior and instructive. Our brethren can venture no criticism, and seek not to intermeddle with them. It is sufficient that they are not in the masonic succession, and are not accredited by the legitimate American masonic governments. The Lodges of Hamburg, in Brooklyn, are clandestine, and therefore they are beyond our masonic intercourse. These so-called Lodges are made up of white persons. Here it is not the objection of color.

Again, there are in some jurisdictions a majority of Freemasons of anti-slavery sentiment — those who would preserve sentimental consistency everywhere — and yet their opinion coincides with the fraternity as to this question of legitimacy. Among such were Joshua Giddings, of Ohio.

Whatever may be true of Lodges of the different Obediences in foreign lands, there is only one rule for American Freemasonry, and that is that coordinate masonic jurisdictions cannot and will not be tolerated, white or black.

The pamphlet charges that in the anti-masonic period the Grand Lodges of the United States held a different position as to the colored Lodges, but that now, in masonic prosperity, there is a proscriptive change. This is a mistake. The position has been ever one and the same. We have no National Grand Lodge, and hence each Grand Lodge decides this question of legitimacy and intercourse for itself, and yet the entire list of Grand Lodges decide with singular unanimity in the negative.

If the Scottish Rite of this country, or the English or the Scottish or the Irish Grand Lodge were to establish a Lodge here, it would not be recognized, as those in Hamburg in New York are not.

While not agreeing with the so-called colored Masons, we are not called upon to abuse them nor traduce them. We simply do not recognize them because we believe in but one masonic regime in each State or jurisdiction. We have before given to our readers the reliable history of "Prince Hall Grand Lodge." It is not necessary to repeat it. Yet if we were to concede all that its members and advocates claim historically and practically, it cannot be recognized, for it has taken the power of ratification into its own hands. The original Lodges have not demanded their rights and acknowledgment and sought reception into the accredited Grand Lodge, but have set up Grand Lodges of their own and a National Grand Lodge also (unknown to American Masonry), and these competitory. When these "Prince Hall" National and Grand Lodges return to that condition demanded by their own historic logic there may be a show of propriety in re-examining this question. Until this event, organized Masonry cannot even consider it, and we think that Grand Lodges err in discussing the "Prince Hall" subject. The "Prince Hall Grand Lodge " is on the same footing to us as all exterior non-masonic organizations. As Masons, we " know then not."

NEGRO LODGES, FEBRUARY 1869

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXVIII, No. 3, January 1869, Page 90:

The history of the establishment of the "African Lodge" in this city, and the subsequent spread of Masonry among the colored population of this country, has been so frequently and fully set forth in these pages that we need not again trouble our readers further with the subject, than by a general re-statement of its principal points ; and this we do, not as a matter of choice, but of personal necessity, forced upon us by the ill-advised and unauthorized imputations of parties more interested in the matter than ourselves.

The Warrant was granted by the Grand Master of England, in September, 1784, but was not received in this country until 1787, when the Lodge was organized. There were, at that time, two Grand Lodges in the State, holding and exercising co-ordinate and exclusive jurisdiction over the territory, — a right which, up to that period, had never been questioned, nor has it ever been conceded to any other masonic power whatever.

On the 24th of June, 1783, nearly four years before the organization of the African Lodge, the Massachusetts Grand Lodge promulgated the following declaration of its rights of jurisdiction : —

"That no person or persons ought or can, consistently with the rules of ancient Masonry, use or exercise the powers or prerogatives of an ancient Grand Master, or Grand Lodge, to wit, to give power to erect Lodges of ancient Masonry, to make Masons, appoint superior Grand Officers, receive dues, or do anything which belongs to the powers- or prerogatives of an ancient Grand Lodge, within any part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the rightful and appropriate limits to which the authority of this Grand Lodge forever hereafter extends."

In correspondence, and in confirmation of this action of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Grand Lodge of New York adopted and issued the following preamble and resolution : —

"Whereas, the Grand Lodge of the State of Massachusetts have, by a communication dated the 4th of January last, suggested to this Grand Lodge the propriety of adopting a Regulation, — declaring that no Charter or Dispensation for holding a Lodge, be issued by any Grand Lodge, to any number of Masons residing out of the State, wherein the Grand Lodge is established: Be it therefore
"Resolved and declared by this Grand Lodge, that no Charter or Dispensation for holding a Lodge of Masons shall he.granted to any Person or Persons whatsoever, residing out of this State, and within the jurisdiction of any other Grand Lodge."

Such was the law prescribing the jurisdiction of these Grand Lodges in 1783, and it is the law of every Grand Lodge in this country at the present time. In the face of it, and in defiance of it, the Grand Master of England, in 1784, assumed to grant a Warrant for a.Lodge in Boston, to be holden under the authority of the Grand Lodge of England. It may be said, and perhaps with some plausibility, that the petitioners for the foreign Lodge were ignorant of the law, and that, therefore, whatever irregularity or blame there may have been in the transaction, properly attaches to the Grand Master of England, But, admitting this, it was an assumption which the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts could not then, nor can it now, admit, consistently with its own previous determination, nor without surrendering its sovereignty over its own jurisdiction.

We leave this point here.

We have said on a former occasion, that, waiving the question of the legality of the establishment of the African Lodge by a foreign power, within the jurisdiction of a co-ordinate power, the life of the Lodge was terminated, in 1813, by the erasure of its name from the books of the Grand Lodge of England ; from which Body it derived its being, and on whose will, and by whose authority alone its existence could be sustained and continued. The truth of this statement, and the fact of the erasure, have been denied by our colored friends, and that in not very courteous, if characteristic terms ; and this denial is our apology for the present writing. But, before proceeding to answer it, there is one other point that has recently been forced into the argument, which may be properly noticed in this connection. It is that Prince Hall, at the time, or soon after he received his Warrant for the Lodge, also received a commission appointing him Deputy Grand Master, with all the powers and authority pertaining to that office, and, as such .Deputy, he constituted the first Lodge in Pennsylvania and the first in Rhode Island, which, together with 459 (African Lodge), constituted the original African Grand Lodge." Now, in confirmation of the truth of our own statement, and of the incorrectness of the latter, we offer the following official letter from the Grand Secretary of England : —

Freemasons' Hall, London, W. C, 11th Nov., 1868.

Charles W. Moore, Esq., Deputy Grand Master Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

Dear Sir and R.W. Brother : —I am in receipt of your favor of the 20th ult., making enquiries respecting a Warrant granted in 1784, to a certain " Prince Hall." I have caused a most diligent search to be made in our Books here, and the only reference I can find is in the Calendar for 1785, when a Lodge appears to have been working under the English Constitution, at Boston, under the No. 459, and called the "African Lodge." It afterwards became 370, and I presume had ceased working, as at the Union in 1813, it was removed from the list.

To reply to your questions categorically:

  • 1st. I can find no record, in 1775,(see note below) of any dispensation, but as the G. L. Books were not then kept, as they are now, with accuracy, such may, nevertheless, have existed.
  • 2d. It was struck off the list in 1813, but I can find no trace of any return having been made, and consequently imagine it must have ceased working long before, although retained on the list.
  • 3d. I should say most decidedly, that the said "Prince Hall" was never appointed D.G.M. or had power to grant Warrants for the establishment of Lodges in your country. Henry Price of Boston was P.G.M. for America from (1733 to 17—) ; after which year his name disappears from the list.


It is quite clear that the Lodge referred to is not working under the English Constitution, and that the parties holding the Wan-ant can have no right to it, and are not a regular Lodge, unless empowered to meet under your Constitution.

I am, dear Sir and Brother, yours truly and fraternally,
John Hervey,
Grand Secretary.

Note: It is claimed that the Lodge commenced work in 1775 under a dispensation. We have the impression that such documents were not granted at that day. Lodges commenced work under a warrant. —Ed.

The foregoing letter does not call for any comment. It is sufficiently clear and explicit for the purposes for which it was written. It has heretofore been generally understood, and we think claimed by the Lodges of colored Masons in the different sections of the country, that they originally derived their authority, whatever that may be, not from Prince Hall, as "Deputy Grand Master," but from the African Lodge itself, by virtue of the power vested in it by its Warrant. To show that it possessed no such power, — a power never vested in any subordinate Lodge, — and as a matter of curious interest to those of our readers who may never have seen it, we append a copy of the original Warrant, as follows : —

"A.G.M. To all and every our Right Worshipful and loving Brethren, we, Thomas Howard, Earl of Effingham, Lord Howard, &c, &., &c, Acting Grand Master under the authority of his Royal Highness, Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, &c, &c, &c, Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons, sends greeting:

"Know ye, that we, at the humble petition of our right trusty and beloved Brethren, Prince Hall, Boston Smith, Thomas Sanderson, and several other Brethren residing in Boston, New England, in North America, do hereby constitute the Brethren into a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, under the title or denomination of the African Lodge, to be opened in Boston aforesaid, and do further at their said petition, hereby appoint the said Prince Hall to be Master, Boston Smith, Senior Warden, and Thomas Sanderson, Junior Warden, for opening the said Lodge, and for such further time only as shall be thought proper by the Brethren thereof, it being our will that this our appointment of the above officers, shall in nowise affect any future election of officers of the Lodge, but that such election shall be regulated agreeable to such By-Laws of the said Lodge as shall be consistent with the general laws of the society, contained in the Book of Constitutions; and we hereby will and require you, the said Prince Hall, to take especial care that all and every the said Brethren are, or have been regularly made Masons, and that they do observe, perform, and keep all the rules and orders 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, or our successors, Grand Masters, or to Rowland Holt, Esq., our Deputy Grand Master, for the time being, an account in writing of your said proceedings, and copies of all such rules, orders, and regulations as shall be made as aforesaid, together with a list of the members of the Lodge, and such a sum of money as may suit the circumstances of the Lodge and reasonably be expected, towards the Grand Charity. Moreover, we hereby will and require 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, this 29th day of September, A.L. 5784, A.D. 1784.

"By the Grand Master's Command.
R. HOLT, D.G.M.
Attested, Wm. White, G.S.

It will be seen that one of the conditions of the above Warrant is, that the Lodge shall "once in every year" send to the Grand Master or his successors, or Deputy Grand Master, an account in writing of its proceedings, and copies of all such rules, orders, and regulations, as it shall make. And also " an account in writing of what may be done by virtue " of its Warrant. The Grand Secretary of England informs us that he can find no trace of such returns having been made. We are assured however that they were made for some years, while the Lodge was under the Mastership of Prince Hall, but were probably neglected by his successors. And if so, this, if there were no other reason, would operate as a legal forfeiture of the Warrant, for breach of its conditions.

Here we leave the subject. It is purely a question of masonic law. Color and race have nothing to do with it. The black man stands Masonically just as he stands to-day as a citizen. "Before the law," he is, in both cases, the equal of the white man. Masonry per se makes no distinction of color. If prejudices exist, it is not responsible for them. Time may subdue them — abuse and misrepresentation, never.

ADDRESS AT GRAND LODGE, MARCH 1870

From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXIX, No. 9, July 1870, Page 271:

We give the following extract from the very able address delivered by Grand Master Gardner before the Grand Lodge of this Commonwealth at its Quarterly Communication, March last. It furnishes a concise and intelligible history of the origin of the colored Lodges in this country, and as clearly and intelligently defines their character and legal masonic status, and ought to be, and it is to be hoped will be received as the conclusion of the whole controversy : —

October 1, 1773, the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, after mature deliberation, decided that neither the Lodge at Castle William, nor any other travelling Lodge, "has any right to make Masons of any citizen."

I have no doubt that, on the 6th of March, 1775, the day after Warren delivered his celebrated oration in the Old South Church, where he was menaced by British troops, Prince Hall and thirteen others received the three degrees in a travelling Lodge attached to one of the British Regiments in the army of General Gage, by whom Boston was then garrisoned; that Prince Hall and his associates met as a Lodge thereafter in Boston, without any Warrant or authority, until May, 1787.

In 1784, application was sent to England for a Charter. The letter of Prince Hall, dated March 1, 1784, accompanying the petition to the Grand Lodge of England for the Charter of the African Lodge, says: "I would inform you that this Lodge hath been founded almost eight years." "We have had no opportunity to apply for a Warrant before now, though we have been importuned to send to France for one, yet we thought it best to send to the fountain head, from whence we received the light, for a Warrant."

On the 29th day of September, 1784, a Charter was granted, but it did not arrive at Boston for nearly three years. April 29, 1787, it was received, and, on the 6th of May following, Prince Hall organized the " African Lodge" at Boston, ten years after the Massachusetts Grand Lodge had asserted its freedom arid independence ; ten years after the American doctrine of Grand Lodge jurisdiction had been established.

Without any other authority than that contained in the Warrant for said Lodge, Prince Hall, the Master thereof, it is said, on the 22d of March, 1797, granted a Dispensation, preliminary to a Warrant, to certain persons in Philadelphia. Soon afterwards, Prince Hall established a Lodge at Providence, R. I. African Lodge, of Boston, continued to act as a subordinate Lodge until 1808, when, with the assistance of the Lodges at Philadelphia and Providence, established as above stated, it organized a Grand Lodge at Boston, which Body granted Charters to several subordinates, not only in Massachusetts, but in several other States.

In June, 1827, the African Lodge declared its independence, and published its Declaration in one of the newspapers printed at Boston.

It is unnecessary to argue the masonic and legitimate effect of this Declaration. It was a surrender of their Charter, and a public declaration that from thenceforth they ceased to act under it, or to recognize its validity or the authority from whence it was derived. If the "African Lodge" had any existence at this time, by force of this Declaration its existence came to an end.

In 1847, a National Grand Lodge was formed; and, says the petition of Lewis Hayden and others to this Grand Lodge, set out on page 132 of our printed Proceedings for 1869, "the African Lodge of Boston, becoming a part of that Body, surrendered its Charter, and received its present Charter, dated December 11, 1847, under the title of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and by which authority we this day exist as a Masonic Body."

Under the direction of Prince Hall the Lodge prospered; but after his death, which occured December 4, 1807, M 72, it became dormant, and ceased to have any actual existence. In 1813, upon the union of the Grand Lodges of England, African Lodge, which had been registered as No. 459 and as 370, was removed from the list, and was never after recognized by the United Grand Lodge. The Declaration of 1827 complains that the members of African Lodge could open no correspondence with the Grand Lodge of England, and that their communications and advances were treated with the most studied neglect.

Boyer Lodge, No. 1, was organized at New York City by the African Lodge or the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. The members of this Lodge applied to the Grand Lodge of New York for recognition in 1812, 1829, and again in 1845. Grand Secretary James Herring made a report in 1846 which contains a. letter from our Brother Charles W. Moore, Grand Secretary, which throws some light upon the condition of the African Lodge in Boston at this time.

Why this Charter was granted without the consent of the Lodges in Massachusetts, and without any correspondence concerning the propriety of the step, is a question which can be answered by every American who remembers the bitter hostility existing in England at that date towards the successful rebels against the crown of Great Britain. This Charter, in common form, conferring no extraordinary powers upon the petitioners, authorizing them to hold a Lodge, enter, pass, and raise Masons, and no more, was undoubtedly granted by the Grand Master of England, and under it the petitioners commenced Work. The successors of the persons named in that Charter have magnified the powers granted by it; have construed it to confer upon them Grand Lodge powers; have set up, by virtue, of it, Grand Lodges, and finally a National Grand Lodge, with subordinate State Grand Lodges ; and have established an "American doctrine of Grand Lodge Jurisdiction" peculiar to themselves, distinct and separate from any other Grand Lodge government known to man. Their National Grand Body " claims and exercises masonic authority over these United States, with full power and authority to settle all masonic difficulties that may arise among the Grand Lodges of these States."

The original Charter, granted September 29, 1784, under which the successors of the persons named therein have claimed to act from April, 1787, to the year 1847, and which was the only plausible authority by which they could hope to be justified in their proceedings, was not only surrendered by operation of masonic law, June 18, 1827, by reason of the Declaration then made; but on the 11th of December, 1847, was actually, in set form of words and with premeditation, abandoned and surrender; and if they now possess the parchment upon which it was written, it is kept only as a curious relic of the past, emasculated of its virility.

With a National Grand Lodge, State Grand Lodges, and subordinate Lodges, they .have so complicated the primitive difficulty, that it will not be easy for them to escape from the triple bonds with which they have bound themselves, although many of them may be dissatisfied, some with their form of government, and some with their associates. This is simply a question of Grand Lodge Jurisdiction, a question which was settled and determined by this Grand Lodge, September 17, 1797, when it incorporated into its Constitutions this Section: —

"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."

This provision, in some form of language, has existed in our Constitutions from 1797 to this day. It now stands in the following form: "No Lodge of Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons can legally assemble in this Commonwealth under a Warrant granted by any foreign Masonic Power."

This is, as I have said, simply a question of Grand Lodge Jurisdiction, and we can consider it calmly and without prejudice.

The Institution of Freemasonry is universal. It stretches from East to West, from North to South, and embraces within itself the representatives of every branch of the human family. Its carefully-tyled doors swing open, not at the knock of every man, but at the demand of every true and worthy man, duly accepted, whatever his religion, his race, or his country may be. This Grand Lodge stands upon the high vantage ground of this catholic society, and recognizes the great principles which must necessarily underlie an Institution which has a home on the continents and on the islands of the seas.

When that celebrated play of Terence, styled the " Self-Tormentor," was first introduced upon the Roman stage, before the great amphitheatre crowded with senators, knights, citizens, and men of rank, some of whom had been found worthy of a Roman triumph, and Chremes, in his reply to Menedemus, repeated the words, —

"Homo sum; humani nihil a me alienum puto,"
"I am a man; nothing which relates to man is alien to me,"

the vast assemblage rose up, impelled by a common sentiment, and rent the air with reiterated plaudits. The words of Chremes have not yet ceased to reverberate, We bear upon the Masons' arms of Massachusetts, and have inscribed upon our Grand Lodge banner, the motto,—

"Humani nihil alienum,"
"Man everywhere our brother."

COLOR AS A MASONIC DISQUALIFICATION, DECEMBER 1872

This circular letter from the Grand Master of Connecticut in December 1872, reported in Moore's Freemason's Monthly, denies that race is a disqualifying attribute, but then says that if "introduction of any candidate . . . will create discord in the craft . . . it is his duty to cast a black ball and reject him."

COLORED LODGES REPORT, AUGUST 1875

From New England Freemason, Vol. II, No. 8, August 1875, Page 392:

At the Congress of the "Union of Grand Masters," held at Darmstadt, in Germany, in April last, it was decided to recommend to the German Grand Lodges the recognition of the Colored Lodges of the United States. This is only a preliminary step, as the action of the Congress is' not valid until it has been approved by the various Grand Lodges represented by it, to whom its decisions are referred as propositions merely.

It is, however, to be feared that the action of the German Grand Lodges will be in conformity with the recommendation of the Congress of Grand Masters.

It is not surprising that the Masons of Germany, separated from their Brethren of America by a distance of many thousand miles, speaking another language, enjoying only an interrupted communication, and differing materially from us on the law and practice of Grand Lodge jurisdiction, should altogether misunderstand this question of Colored Lodges as it presents itself in the United States. But it is to be regretted that the usual industry and accuracy of investigation which, on other topics of literature, has always been characteristic of the Teutonic mind, should not have been applied to the resolution of this problem.

Before adopting any further measures in reference to a recognition of the Colored Lodges — measures which may very seriously impair the harmony now existing between the Masonic powers of the two countries — the German Masons should correctly understand what is the status and the pretension in this country of those who are called "Colored Masons." We commend to their attention the following paragraph taken from the New York Graphic, a secular paper, which, however, gives to the German Masons precisely the information on this subject which they need and which they evidently do not possess:

"The Colored Freemasons, yesterday, (June 2,) held the annual meeting of their Grand Lodge in this city. The public usually mistakes the attitude of the Freemasons towards the Colored Lodges. The latter do not recognize the authority of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, and hence are a schismatic body with which loyal Masons are forbidden to hold intercourse. That these schismatic bodies happen to be composed of colored men has nothing whatever to do with the refusal of the Regular Masons to recognize them, and they would be treated in precisely the same way were they composed of white men. Unless the Colored Masons will submit to the authority of the Grand Lodge, they must necessarily be treated as rebels. This is universal Masonic law, and it is absurd to expect the Grand Lodge and its subordinates to ignore it."

The most learned Masonic jurist could not have stated the argument more correctly. There is no question of race or color implicated. If these men had been the whitest specimens of the Aryan race that ever came from the Caucasus, their position would be exactly the same. They are men practising the rites of Freemasonry without legal authority—opening and holding Lodges without Charters or warrants of constitution emanating from a recognized Grand Lodge. And although in this free country such things may be done without a violation of the municipal law, in no country where Masonry exists can they be done without a violation of Masonic law.

If the German Grand Lodges insist on the recognition of schismatic and clandestine Lodges, they will be inflicting a blow not on the independence and sovereignty of the American Grand Lodges alone, but on the purity and integrity of Masonic discipline.

Such a blow, it need not be said, will be vigorously resisted in the United States; and deplorable as may be the results of such resistance, it cannot be avoided if we would preserve the legal principles of the organization of Masonry in this country.— Voice of Masonry.

The views here expressed seem so clear and just that we are at a loss to understand how the contrary can be so persistently and voluminously maintained by some Brethren, even in this country, who ought to know better. It is, perhaps, not greatly to be wondered at that the recognition of the so-called colored Grand Lodges should be advocated by foreign Brethren, who can see no impropriety in the establishment by their Grand Lodges of subordinate Lodges in our jurisdictions, or in the admission of candidates to Masonry from any country by any Lodge in whose territory they may chance to sojourn temporarily. The very "Congress of the Union of Grand Masters" which made the recommendation above referred to, gravely discussed a proposition to affiliate with the Odd Fellows, and to allow members of that organization to be admitted to Masonic Lodges as visitors. The principal argument seemed to be, that, as the purposes of both associations were laudable and their objects- beneficent, we ought to throw down all barriers between them, and work together for the common good. The proposal was voted down by a small majority, although the only difference between the two cases seems to be that the negroes claim to be Masons, and the Odd Fellows do not. The ideas of these foreign Brethren as to the nature and objects of our Institution seem to be so diametrically opposed to those that prevail among us that it is useless to argue with them. On the questions of Grand Lodge sovereignty and the recognition of negro Lodges, they cannot or will not see the point of our arguments.

But when we are forced to hear, or to read, the same tedious and stupid outpouring of words from Brethren here at home, who know all the facts, the unreasonableness of the demand, and the untruthfulness of some of the premises, we must confess that we lose all patience, and our emotions verge very decidedly on the indignant. It is not true, (and these negrophilists know it,) that the Grand Lodges of this country refuse to recognize these spurious organizations because they are composed of black men. There are black men in good and regular standing in several of our jurisdictions, and their right to the same consideration as white Brethren is scarcely questioned,—never, except by a few hot-headed individuals whose prejudices outrun their judgment, and whose opinions, therefore, have little weight. There is at present a colored man who is a member of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, a very worthy and exemplary Mason, and no Brother ever thinks of regarding him or treating him any differently than if he were white. But these Brethren came into the Institution by the same door through which all of us unprivileged white men entered, and after due trial and strict examination. If any others of their race desire to enter our ranks, we know of no reason why they should be accorded any other or better terms than were extended to the best white men among us. "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you," was good doctrine for each of us; and, in our judgment, it is equally good for each of them.

The true reason why these men cannot, and should not, be recognized as Masons, is that they have not been made under any authority which we can recognize as legitimate. They are clandestine Masons — if indeed they are Masons at all. They are just as truly spurious and illegitimate as were those of whom Franklin tells us, who were made for a bowl of punch. Why, in the name of all that is Masonic, should we at one fell swoop tumble into the Fraternity ten thousand men who have never passed the ordeal of a committee, when there is not the slightest obstacle to their admission individually — unless their own characters furnish it?

The advocates of this making of Masons by wholesale argue, forsooth, that by refusing the desired recognition we are doing the negro injustice — depriving him of an inalienable right. Such talk is the veriest nonsense. No man — not even a black man — has an inalienable right to be made a Mason, nor to be recognized as a Mason.when made without due authority and in due form. For these men to insist upon being taken into our sanctuary upon their simple demand, is as reasonable as it would be for a Methodist to insist upon receiving the sacrament in a church of close communion Baptists. The Methodist may be as good a man and as good a Christian as the best of the Baptists in his own opinion; but that gives him no right to force himself into their company upon the most sacred occasions, and they do him no wrong by excluding him.

For the last ninety years these men and their ancestors seem to have found some satisfaction in playing at what they call Masonry, and we are not disposed to interfere with them or to interrupt their amusement. But if any of them want to be Masons, we insist that there is only one course for them to take—They must be made in a regular Lodge, one by one.

COMMENTARY ON "COLORED MASONS, SO-CALLED", DECEMBER 1875

From New England Freemason, Vol. II, No. 12, December 1875, Page 550:

We have received another batch of those pamphlets, "fearfully and wonderfully made," for which the Grand Lodge of Ohio is fast acquiring such a "bad eminence." First comes one of 48 pages, with a clap-trap heading, "1776 New Day — New Duty, 1876," a curious jumble of everything that has ever been said or written as to negro Masonry, by black or white orator or scribe — all being placed on an equality, called Brothers, and styled Grand Masters or what not, without any regard to their being legitimate or illegitimate, regular or clandestine. Next comes another edition, with eight pages added, comprising an angry and hastily written letter from Brother Albert Pike, two kindly and unconsidered trifles from Dr. Lewis (furnished by that industrious and indefatigable Masonic destructive Jacob Norton), copious extracts from Moore's Freemason's Magazine, describing the constitution of Germania Lodge, and having no connection whatever with negro Masonry — and so on to the end of the chapter, hotch-potch, omnium gatherum, hash and re-hash, until our stomach fairly rebels against it. Then, to crown all, comes a volume of Proceedings, with the same dose again, and 73 pages of so-called Masonic history, gathered from the four quarters of the globe, — a most astonishing medley of fact and fancy, truth and fiction, strung together without order or connection, — a complete muddle of non sequiturs. These publications look to us like the productions of a printer who had received carte blanche to print whatever he pleased, and forthwith he prints anything and everything. Verily we wish somebody would hold this crazy Western Brother.

We have not space to argue this question with him at present, and we doubt if he is not so blind that he will not see. But we have a little evidence to offer as to the legitimacy as a Mason of one whom he quotes approvingly, and whom some of the German Grand Lodges have appointed as their "Representative," namely: Lewis Hayden, who for some years styled himself Grand Master of Prince Hall Grand Lodge. At the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, held on the 9th of Sept., 1846, the M. W. Grand Master submitted the following statement:

"Within a few days past I received information of a clandestine Lodge in this city, called the United Brethren, pretending they were regularly organized and under the jurisdiction of the G. Lodge of this Commonwealth, and that they had succeeded in imposing on a goodly number of innocent and unsuspecting men. The information was first communicated to the G. Secretary by two of the members, who began to suspect they had been imposed upon, and applied to him to ascertain the fact.

"Upon the receipt of this information, I invited some of the principal officers and members of the G. Lodge to meet, and with them held a consultation, which resulted in a recommendation that the most effective measures be adopted to abate the evil and to punish its authors, by the prompt application of the severest penalty known to our laws. To accomplish this, it was deemed advisable to repair to the place of their meeting, for the purpose of ascertaining all the facts in relation to the subject, by a careful examination of their records and other documents. We accordingly repaired to their hall in West Cedar Street, on the evening of the 31st ult., where were congregated some ten or fifteen colored men, who conducted themselves with great propriety, and afforded us every facility in their power in accomplishing our purpose. They presented certain spurious papers purporting to be a Dispensation from the G. Lodge, bearing date Sept., 1845, together with their records, which we were allowed to retain, and which are now in the possession of the G. Lodge. They stated to us (and we had no reason to doubt their veracity) that they were honest in their intentions, and supposed these papers to be genuine, and that they were a regular Lodge. To our enquiry how they came in possession of these papers, they answered that they received them from Benajah F. Leonard, who assured them they were in the usual form, and that they would receive a charter in one year from the date thereof.

"The Lodge consisted of about twenty members, most of whom had received the degrees therein, and it is believed were honest and sincere, but the victims of fraud and deception. It was proved to the satisfaction of all present on the occasion referred to, that B. F. Leonard, a white man, hut with a reputation infinitely blacker than the skin of his associates, (aided by Philip Ranell, a colored man,) was the principal actor in these infamous proceedings. It was he who devised and matured the plan; prepared, or caused to be prepared, the spurious papers; formed the Lodge, and conferred the degrees upon the six first candidates; received a large portion of the fees and applied the same to his own private use — violating all his Masonic obligations, and approximating so nearly to "total depravity" that its advocates may here find plausible arguments in support of the doctrine.

"After we had completed the examination, and possessed ourselves of such information as could be obtained, they were informed that all their papers were spurious, and the whole a cheat; that they could not be recognized as a lodge, nor could they continue to meet its such; that they had been deceived, and robbed of their money; and we advised them to seek redress before the Grand Jury.

"These are all the material facts in relation to the subject, and I trust will be found sufficient to justify the proceedings which have already taken place, and insure speedy action of the Grand Lodge.

Sept. 9, 1846. S. W. Robinson, G. M."

It was voted to lay the communication from the Grand Master on the table.

A petition was presented and read from sundry colored persons referred to in the above statement, praying to be "healed" and legalized as Masons. It was laid on the table.

Charges were preferred against Benajah F. Leonard for being accessory to the forming of a clandestine Lodge, and making Masons therein clandestinely, and for other gross, irregular and unmasonic conduct. It was ordered that a copy of the charges be served on him, and that he be summoned to appear and answer. The statement of the Grand Master and the petition were taken from the table and referred to a committee.

At a Special Communication, held on the 29th of Sept., Leonard appeared and pled Not Guilty. After the introduction of evidence against him, he asked that the case might be postponed until some time in Oct., to give him an opportunity to employ counsel. His request was complied with, and a committee was appointed to take further testimony.

At a Special Communication held on the 14th of October, the accused was called, but did not appear. The committee on testimony reported, and the defendant was unanimously pronounced guilty, and expelled from all the rights and privileges of Freemasonry. At the Annual Communication, December 9th, 1846, the committee on the petition of Messrs. Hayden, Thomas and others, presented a report to the effect that they had held several meetings and given the petitioners a patient hearing, but that there were insuperable objections to granting the petition, which it was not necessary to mention, especially as it was understood that the petitioners had concluded to obtain a charter from the African Lodge in Pennsylvania. Accordingly they had leave to withdraw.

Such was the Masonic birth of Grand Master Hayden, the "Grand Representative of divers and sundry European Grand Lodges. The ignorance and stupidity manifested in recognizing such a Mason is excusable, perhaps, in these foreigners; it is unpardonable in natives who have ransacked the earth for information on this subject.

COMMITTEE REPORT ON AFRICAN LODGE, SEPTEMBER 1876

From Proceedings, Page 1876-64:

Your committee are not unmindful of the existence of clandestine Bodies professing to have the privileges of Masonry in various parts of the United States, composed mainly or exclusively of men of African descent. The origin of these Bodies was in this jurisdiction, where their claims to possess regular or genuine Masonry, frequently presented to this Grand Lodge and carefully examined, have never been found consistent with Masonic law.

There is no distinction in this Grand Lodge grounded upon color. Masonry is a social institution, and the Lodges regulate the admissions they severally make. We know of a good many men of African descent who have received regular Masonic degrees in Lodges under this jurisdiction, and who do obtain thereby all the benefits thereof. At this time, in this Grand Lodge, there sits a Brother of this descent, who has been a respected member for several years in virtue of his rank as Warden of one of our most respectable subordinate Lodges. We have had and received in our subordinate Lodges visiting Masons of regular standing in their own jurisdictions who were of African descent.

We state these things merely that our position may not be misconceived, and our objections to Masonic irregularities be scoffed down on the pretence that we are opposing a class on account of their color.

True it is that in 1787 three colored men of Boston received from England a Charter for a subordinate Lodge, at Boston, to be called African Lodge, which had been granted in 1784, but not forwarded to them until three years afterwards. The chief of them, Prince Hall, died December 2, 1807.

The date of this Charter was after the treaty of peace with England in 1783, by which the independence and sovereignty of these States were recognized. It was also eight years after the Massachusetts Grand Lodge was formed (March 8th, 1777), and had declared the Masonic independence' of the Masons of this Commonwealth, whereby the duties of self-government were assumed by the Masons of this Commonwealth, which they have continued to exercise to the present time. Thus this Charter proceeded from a foreign source, which had no political authority in the country, where alone it was directed to be used, and which had no Masonic right there; for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts had been for years in the possession of the Masons of the Commonwealth. It is admitted that this Charter was never recognized by any Lodge in Massachusetts. Certainly, after the evacuation of Boston, March 17th, 1776, there is no pretence that England had any control in Massachusetts. It is probable that some persons may have worked as clandestine Masons under this Charter for some years after its arrival, but in 1813 it was struck from the rolls of the Grand Lodge of England, and no returns to England had been made under it for many years previously to this action. Thus ended the Charter of African Lodge and its history. In 1808, an organization called the Prince Hall Grand Lodge was started in Boston, but by whom is not known. It professed to grant Charters, and did make some clandestine Bodies in other places. No Masonic power, domestic or foreign, stood its sponsor, and no known Mason belonged to it against whom the penalty of expulsion could be hurled by the Grand Lodge of this State. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts never authorized any Lodge or recognized any person claiming Masonic rights from this source.

The next in order of succession we have heard of was the National Grand Lodge, professing to have been established by these counterfeits about the year 1847. It is understood that this Body claims jurisdiction in and over Masonry in all the States of this Union, but no official intercourse has ever been sought by that Body with this Grand Lodge, or those who pertain to it, and we are ignorant of all that concerns it. No Mason is known to have belonged to it.

Your committee find it difficult to trace these organizations further. Existing without Masonic authority, anarchy seems crowned supreme among rival Bodies of mushroom growth, fully conscious of each other's illegitimate aspirations. The existing Prince Hall Grand Lodge organization is supposed to draw its powers from this National Grand Lodge.

In 1827 some persons calling themselves African Lodge No. 459 repudiated the Grand Lodge of England. The petitions of these pretended Masons have been considered by the New York Grand Lodge in 1846, and by this Grand Lodge in 1869. Your committee deem it best to append as part of this report that of Bro. Herring, of New York, made in 1846; the petition of Lewis Hayden and others, and the report thereon to this Grand Lodge, 1869, and Grand Master Gardner's address, 1870, for a fuller statement of the history of the organizations of these bogus Masons of the National Grand Lodge, so called.

It will be noticed that the petition of 1869 pretends that in 1775 Prince Hall and others were made Masons in an army travelling Lodge at Boston. It is somewhat singular that the Provincial Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, October 1, 1773, passed a vote that "no travelling Lodge had the right in this jurisdiction to make Masons of any citizens," and that Gen. Joseph Warren was the Provincial Grand Master at the time of this vote. The name of the Army Lodge is not given where Prince Hall got his Masonry. Why Hall should apply to Gen. Warren prior to his death, June 17, 1775, for recognition, is hard to perceive. The sharp social division between the patriots who constituted the members of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge and the Army Lodges of the English invaders, from the attack on Fort William and Mary, at Portsmouth, in December, 1774, to Lexington in the following April, and Bunker Hill in June, does not favor the idea suggested by the petitioners that he did so. Hall himself, in a letter dated March 1, 1784, says they had been working as a Lodge almost eight years. The evacuation of Boston, March 17, 1776, was almost eight years previous to the date of his letter. Probably, before the evacuation, he and his associates sat in the Army Lodge that made them, if there was any such. No pretence is made that any of them ever sat in a local Lodge, and were they citizens of Massachusetts, as the petition would infer, no British Army Lodge had the right to make them. Consequently, if made at all, as individuals they were irregular and clandestine under the Provincial Grand Lodge rule, and remained so when this Grand Lodge had declared its independence from British Masonic rule. Prince Hall's letter of 1784 admits there was neither British nor American authority for the Lodge he professes to have held from the date of the evacuation. True it is, the petition to this Grand Lodge states they had a Dispensation, but does not say from whom. In a publication of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of 1865 a citation occurs from the address of J. V. De Grasse, June 30, 1858, who says he has in Hall's own handwriting that in 1776 he "organized and opened, under Dispensation granted by this British travelling Lodge, the first Lodge of Masons composed of colored men in America."

The power "to grant Dispensations to form Lodges" is a Grand Lodge power, and never was delegated by the English Grand Lodge to any travelling Lodge. This pretence of authority in 1776 falls, leaving their legitimacy to depend on the Charter received by them from England in 1787. Now, however doubtful the Masonic jurisdiction in Massachusetts during the revolutionary struggle may seem to some, none, we think, will claim that the Grand Lodge of England had authority to charter Lodges in Massachusetts after our independence was acknowledged by Great Britain on November 30, 1782.

We recapitulate these facts, because they point to inevitable conclusions as to Prince Hall and his associates : —

  1. No evidence that they were made Masons in any Masonic Lodge.
  2. If made, they were irregularly made.
  3. They never had any American authority for constituting a Lodge.
  4. Their Charter from England was granted at a time when all American Masonic authority agrees that the Grand Lodge of England had no power to make Lodges in the United States, after the acknowledgment of our independence, November 30th, 1782, and the treaty of peace made November 3d, 1783.
  5. The Grand Lodge of England dropped African Lodge from their list in 1813. Said Lodge does not appear to have worked since Prince Hall's death in 1807, except this, that in 1827 parties calling themselves African Lodge, No. 459, repudiated the Grand Lodge of England.
  6. The Grand Lodge of England did not delegate to African Lodge any power to constitute other Lodges, or to work elsewhere than in Boston.
  7. No Masonic authority exists for any of the organizations since 1807, whether pseudo Lodges or Grand Lodges; and no evidence of the Masonry of any of their members has come to our knowledge.
  8. Neither English nor any other Masonic authority exists, nor has at any time existed, for these colored Lodges located out of Boston to make Masons or practise Freemasonry. Each of them began its existence in defiance of the Masonic community of the State where located, and continues unrecognized by the regular Masons of the State.

Your committee entertain a deep solicitude for the preservation of the jurisprudence of Freemasonry as the best security for the permanency of the ancient landmarks of the Art. The only Masonic distinction among men depends on a Masonic investigation of the candidate's claim to be worthy and well qualified. If these are found in a competent Masonic way, his right to receive the privileges of Masonry is perfect. We conceive distinctions founded upon race to be as inadmissible as they would be if founded on the candidate's sectarian creed or political party.

The object of the Institution is to bring good men of various races, creeds, and politics together, and make them better acquainted and more tolerant of differences so long as they agree on being good, reverential, and charitable citizens, which are the essentials of Freemasonry.

The policy which would make Masonic distinctions of these accidents which Masonry seeks to disregard, must overthrow the very toleration which makes Masonry universal, and gives it the aroma of the mission of peace and good-will on earth. Shall a visiting Mason be told at the door, this is a Presbyterian Lodge, you cannot enter; or, this is a native American Lodge, all of foreign birth are excluded? It is by adhering to the landmarks that Masonry has had its great social success; a contrary course would soon wreck the Institution. Possibly, the great principles of toleration are not as closely adhered to in some Lodges as they should be; but that is a fault which more Masonic light will cure. Surety it does not justify overthrowing our common altars and legalizing departures from the landmarks. If Masonry had ever sought popularity or power, it would have sacrificed its generous spirit and broad platform, the purest exalted social philosophy, in catering to local prejudices.

If the individual Lodges of Ohio or of Massachusetts are capable of proving a colored man by Masonic tests, why should such a man not gain admission by the same strait and narrow door other men use? If fit and worthy men exist among the race, as doubtless they do, why should they not ask to kneel at your altars, rather than at a separate one? Your committee know the tension of the race-feeling in this country, and the generous sympathy, which in the desire to vindicate its humanity and equality, tends to overstep the limits of prudence, and extend to all privileges which should be restricted only to the best of each race.

The African Grand Lodges do not show regular and genuine descent. The quality of their members, like that of their founders, is unknown to the Masonic community. We do not know whether they are more cognate to our requirements than the Sons of Temperance, the Odd Fellows, or the Grangers, independent institutions, patronized by many very reputable citizens.

If the progressive toleration of Ohio is strong enough to spread genuine Masonry among those of her colored citizens who are worthy, why not rather proceed with individuals tested in a regular way, than to break down a landmark in the effort to absorb an entire organization, of whose moral and personal character and quality they have no Masonic mode of knowledge? We are without any intention of being offensive to our Brethren in Ohio, or of trespassing on the recognized independence of their State organization. Should they think otherwise, this committee apologizes in advance for any incautious phrase they may have used.

This is the first occasion in Masonic history where, under no Masonic pressure, the Grand Lodge of a State has it under consideration to divide the union of the Craft in their jurisdiction by a color distinction, and abrogate its "own exclusive control over Masonry, rather than trust the Masons in its subordinate Lodges with the right of judging black men's qualifications, as well as white men's, for Freemasonry; to make thousands of Masons by a mere vote in the Grand Lodge, and hurl them as visitors on the local existing Lodges, who had never found in them any Masonic qualification; to erect another Masonic authority in the State, with its autonomy of subordinate Lodges, and independent rules and jurisprudence and jurisdiction, and present to the Masonic Craft the experiment of a dual Masonry and a dual government in its limits. The question whether these would promote the unity and harmony of the Craft must force itself on the consideration of every intelligent and conservative Mason who is in relation of fraternity with the present Masonic authority in Ohio.

Our Grand Lodges have been organized to support the traditional Freemasonry which their members received from the fathers. This compels us to be conservative in Masonry. They did not expect their high doctrines could thrive, except among those selected for lofty character, and broad liberality of opinion. The world still looks to such men for leadership in all good and honorable objects.

We recognize the fundamental idea that the Brother's interest should be preferred to that of those who do not know the light. The committee have no doubt that the intelligent and worthy members of the Grand Lodge of Ohio will take every precaution to consider the bearings of the proposition before them on the Royal Art of which it has long been one of the brilliant and cherished ornaments; and that whatever step it takes in the matter will be founded on reasons acceptable to the Masonic world, consistent with its traditions, and which it will not hesitate to spread, before other Grand Lodges of the Masonic community.

NEWSPAPER REPORT ON EXCELSIOR LODGE, JUNE 1901

From Boston Evening Transcript, June 24, 1901:

Negroes In Masonry
Hon. Isaac B. Allen is Flatly Contradicted in Statement Regarding Excelsior Lodge
No Negro Lodge Recognized, Says Mr. Nickerson
Line is Drawn Upon Authority, Not on Color


Is there a lodge of Negro Free Masons which is recognized by the (white) Massachusetts Grand Lodge? In the Charles Street African M. E. Church last evening Hon. Isaac B. Allen publicly stated that there is; and for further information he referred his hearers to Sereno D. Nickerson, grand secretary of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

Secretary Nickerson said this morning: "We do not recognize Excelsior Lodge, and Mr. Allen is as well aware of that face as anyone."

Mr. Allen's statement was an incident in a sensational scene which occurred in the church last evening, which in turn resulted from the intention of the pastor, Rev. William H. Thomas, D. D., to preach a Masonic sermon to the members of Excelsior Lodge. This body is not recognized by Prince Hall Grand Lodge, and when it came to the ears of the grand master, William L. Reed, that one of the members of Prince Hall Lodge was to honor Excelsior Lodge from the pulpit, he at once issued a manifesto to the brethren of his jurisdiction warning them against an affiliation with "so-called Masonic lodges." Notice was also sent to Dr. Thomas, who then caused it to be known that he would not preach the sermon he had prepared.

Members of both bodies were on hand in the church last evening, and immediately after the opening services Mr. Allen arose and made the following statement:

"We are today the only Negro Masons recognized by the white Masons, and we are dependent upon no body of Masons. There have been some complications recently, and statements have been made in the papers concerning us. We are simply Masons. Some of us were initiated in Europe and some in Canada. If anyone wishes information regarding us he can go to Sereno D. Nickerson of Masonic Temple. Excelsior Lodge, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, was organized Sunday, Jan. 13, 1901, in Friendship Hall, 12 Kneeland Street, by L. W. Pohse, 32°, grand master of the most worshipful grand lodge, incorporated, of Washington. Excelsior Lodge is the only lodge of Masons in Massachusetts working under a legitimate grand lodge, incorporated, of Negro Masons."

Dr. Thomas avoided embarrassment for himself by saying, before he began his sermon, that he was made a Mason in Widow's Son Lodge in Brooklyn, which was in fraternal fellowship with Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts through the Negro Grand Lodge of New York. "I do not forget my sacred vow," continued Dr. Thomas. "If I did I would be unworthy to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all men. This I shall do tonight without violating my Masonic vow." He then spoke on The Light that Lighted Every Man. The sermon was not of Masonic character, and was heard with equal pleasure by all the congregation.

When a copy of the statement made by Mr. Allen was shown to William L. Reed, grand master of Prince Hall (Grand) Lodge, after the services, he exclaimed: "I simply say that if Isaac Allen is a Mason I am not."

C. J. Johnson, worshipful master of Excelsior Lodge, A. F. & A. M., denies that there was any irregularity about the Masonic character of Excelsior Lodge. Mr. Johnson shows a mass of Masonic literature, in which it appears that the lodge was regularly and lawfully established in Boston by the grand master, L. W. Pohse, of the most worshipful grand lodge of Washington, D. C., which he claims is the only legal grand lodge of Negro Masons in the United States.

Sereno D. Nickerson, grand secretary of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, said this morning regarding the claim of Hon. Isaac B. Allen: "We do not recognize Excelsior Lodge, and Mr. Allen is as well aware of that fact as anyone. He came to see me three or four weeks ago with another Negro. They brought in a document coming from an incorporated organization in Washington, D. C., and inquired if we would recognize it. I had never seen or heard of it before, and said that we would not recognize it or any other document issued under Prince Hall authority. Mr. Allen said that he cared nothing about Prince Hall, but he and his friends supposed when they took the degrees that the lodge was legitimate and would be recognized by us. Mr. Allen then wanted to know how he and his friends could be made Masons under our authority, and I replied that there was no test of race or color in Masonry, and that they could make individual application to our lodges as the white Masons do. The two men then left with the intention, as I understood it, of making application to some white lodge.

"You will understand," continued Mr. Nickerson, "that we do not decline to recognize Negro Masons because of their color, but because they have not been made under competent authority. We do recognize certain Negro Masons who have been made, under authority of the Grand Lodge of England, and some may have been made by white lodges in this country. I sat two years in Adelphi Lodge of South Boston with J. B. Smith, the well-known Negro caterer, who served that lodge as junior warden. He had been a slave."

"Then there is not a lodge of Negro Masons recognized anywhere in this country?"

"No. Some years ago the grand lodge of the State of Washington undertook to recognize Negro lodges made under Prince Hall authority and succeeded in raising a storm which swept over the whole country. The grand lodges in the various States repudiated the action of the Washington Grand Lodge, and at its meeting the next year the vote recognizing the colored lodges was rescinded."

Most white Masons are conversant with the historic Prince Hall controversy, which at various times in the past hundred years has broken out in this State. It has been made the subject of special reports to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, notably in 1876, when it was discussed by a committee consisting of Charles Levi Woodbury, William S. Gardner and Sereno D. Nickerson. In 1898 the Washington episode was treated by a committee of the Grand Lodge, consisting of S. Lothrop Thorndike, Charles C. Dame and Sereno D. Nickerson. The Freemasons' Magazine of March, 1847, contained an article giving the history of African Lodge of Boston and including correspondence with the Grand Lodge of New York; and in 1870 Grand Master William S. Gardner, in an address to the Grand Lodge, tells the story of the development of African Lodge, the formation of a "National Grand Lodge" and the origin of "Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Prince Hall, with whom originated Negro Masonry in the United States, was one of fifteen Negroes who, in 1784, having been made masons in Boston in an English Army lodge, applied to the Grand Lodge of England for a warrant. They received this and organized African Lodge under it in 1787. Prince Hall was their master. By-and-by, "with a certain assurance, of which his race has never been entirely devoid," he began to act as if he were a full-blown English provincial grand master, although the United States had for many years been independent of the mother country, and Massachusetts had long had her own grand lodge. He chartered Negro lodges in neighboring States which at the time had their own white grand lodges. From those Negro lodges grand lodges sprang up which, in their turn, organized lodges in States other than their own. Thus Negro Masonry had its origin, and its difficulties with white Masonry have ever turned upon the early action of Prince Hall. Without further explanation, Masons will at once see the anomaly of two grand lodges in one State, as became the condition subsequent upon the issue of his "authority" by Prince Hall.

In the present instance, it is obvious that Excelsior Lodge exists under the charter of neither a white grand lodge in the United States nor of the Grand Lodge of England; and should it be found to contain members who have taken degrees under the Grand Lodge of England, such undoubtedly would forfeit their claim to recognition by regular Masons in this state because of their affiliation with the unauthorized body.

COMMENTARY ON ALPHA LODGE, NEW JERSEY, APRIL 1909

From New England Craftsman, Vol. IV, No. 7, April 1909, Page 246:

Fraternal relations heretofore existing between the Grand Lodges of Mississippi and New Jersey have been broken by order of Grand Master Edwin J. Martin of Mississippi. Tin's action was taken because there is a lodge of negroes working under a charter of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey.

In answer to a letter of Grand Master Martin, requesting information on the subject. Grand Master Wolfskeil of New Jersey admitted that Alpha Lodge, No. 166, of New Jersey "is composed almost entirely of negroes." He stated further: "The Lodge was warranted on Jan. 19, 1871, but it has never been very prosperous and is not so now, having a total membership of only forty-six on January 1. 1908."

Thirty-seven years have elapsed since Alpha Lodge No. 100, of Newark, New Jersey was warranted and never until now have the peaceful relations of the Grand Lodges of this country been disturbed in consequence. Why need the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mississippi go out of his way to find trouble and possibly inconvenience the brethren of two States who might have occasion to enjoy fraternal privileges to which they are entitled. We are quite willing that the Grand Lodge of New Jersey should have a lodge of negroes if she wishes to, it does not affect our comfort one way or the other, for no visitor, either white or black, can sit in our lodge, if objection is made. We can conceive of a white Mason who might be fully as objectionable as the colored man: and we know there are some colored men whose education and character are worthy of the recognition of the best in any station. We agree, however, with the opinion of Grand Master Martin, that as a race the negro has not reached a station of intelligence or morality that warrants his admission into a Masonic lodge. But as no lodge is compelled to admit them, either as members or visitors, why should the fact that New Jersey makes the negro a Mason be ignominiously proclaimed to the world, and her poor little lodge of forty-six negroes made the cause for the interruption of (he fraternal relations of two sovereign Grand Lodges of Masons.

COMMENTARY ON "NEGRO MASONRY", AUGUST 1912

From New England Craftsman, Vol. VII, No. 11, August 1912, Page 361:

The Grand Lodge of Michigan this year was petitioned for recognition by two Grand Lodges of Colored Masons, situated in this state and in Florida. The petitions were left to the proper committee who gave a somewhat lengthy report, summarizing the historical claims of the Negro Masons, and concluding that the petitioning Grand Lodges had no grounds for recognition and declaring it a Masonic offence to have Masonic intercourse with them. The unanimity with which the report of the committee was accepted shows conclusively thai the wish of the majority of Michigan Masons had been expressed, and we cannot doubt the wisdom of their conclusions. But we do object to the grounds on which these conclusions were based. It is true that we want to have nothing to do with Negro Masons, but not because their origin was illegitimate. The very best authorities among American Masonic students are agreed that Negro Masonry in this country had an origin fully as legitimate as much of that now acknowledged as regular. The truth of the matter is that we do not recognize the Negroes because they are Negroes. Why equivocate? Why make silly excuses? We do not wish to associate with Negroes on an equal social basis; that is all there is to it. It is far more dignified to state our position honestly than to try and cover up the real reason with history which is not true. —The Tyler-Keystone.

COMMENTARY ON "NEGRO MASONRY", DECEMBER 1928

From New England Craftsman, Vol. XXIV, No. 4, December 1928, Page 68:

by Harry A. Williamson, Past Grand Historian, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York

Without doubt the one absorbing a subject which has occupied the uppermost position in matters concerning the Masonic Fraternity in the United States, is that pertaining to what is generally styled as Negro Masonry, but which those affected designate as Prince Hall Masonry. For many decades a great mass of literature upon the subject has been produced by numerous Caucasian writers. The greater portion of such matter is misleading and is either unsubstantiated by facts or absolutely without foundation. Very few writers of the present era appear inclined to give the facts of the origin of the Negro organization the personal, impartial and unprejudiced examination to which they are entitled but apparently are more satisfied to base base their conclusions upon the writings of Masons who, because their political and social environment were permeated with race prejudice found it impossible to judge the evidence with a clear and free mind. The authorities in mind and who are so frequently quoted are none other than Albert G. Mackey and George Thornburgh.

In all fairness to the subject and if nothing but the truth is desired, the investigator must realize fully that an exhaustive examination is a necessity and this will require a great deal of time and patience. It is not so much the facts of origin that are in dispute but rather the methods of subject, notably Lewis Harden, the procedure adopted, subsequent to the establishment of African Lodge which are the bone of contention and around which the discussion of the legitimacy of Prince Hall Masonry hinges.

All of those who have followed the conclusions of both Mackey and Thornburgh make it a point to determine 18th century Masonic customs and usages in comparison with those in vogue during the last or the present period, and this is where the greatest error is made. If the investigator will confine himself to the varied Masonic procedure of the 18th century, during the examination of all matters which belong entirely to that period, he will surely ascertain that the procedure of the Negro Masons of the colonial days to be identical in many respects to that followed by the Caucasian Masons of the same period.

For a thorough examination of the claims of the Prince Hall Masons, the following works are recommended: proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Washington (1); of Illinois (2); of Minnesota (3); of Ohio (4); and of Indiana (5). All of the matter contained in those volumes is from the pens of Caucasian authorities as represented by William H. Upton; Joseph Robbins; Charles Griswold; John D. Caldwell and the Fraternal Reviewers of the proceedings of other grand jurisdictions (5). Included in this array of opinion there must be added: Documents: Respecting the Controversy between the Grand Lodges of New York and Hamburg (6). From all of these both sides (pro and con) of the question can be investigated. On the Prince Hall side the outstanding work is The Negro Mason in Equity by Samuel W. Clark of Ohio (Cleveland, 1885). Another, not so generally known is The Origin and Objects of Ancient Freemasonry, Its Introduction into the United States and the Legitimacy Among Coloured Men by Martin R. Delaney, M. D., of Pittsburgh, Pa. (1853). While a number of other Prince Hall Masons have contributed to the literature of the of the subject, notably Lewis Hayden, the foregoing works contain all the evidence upon which the Negro branch of the Craft is willing to stake its case.

Every writer concedes that Prince Hall and fourteen other "free Negroes" were initiated on March 6. 1775, in a lodge attached to one of the regiments in the British Army which was under the command of General Gage and billeted in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A short while after the initiation, this regiment removed from Boston, but, before leaving, the master of the lodge, J. B. Batt, is said to have given Prince Hall a "permit" which, according to Masonic parlance of the present time would be called a "dispensation." This "permit" did not confer authority to initiate persons into that group, merely giving those men the right to "attend church ami bury their dead," and there is no record extant to the effect that tiny did other than what the "permit" allowed.

This document has been the object of no little discussion. That the procedure was in accordance with the custom of the period is borne outl by the following illustration: Betetout Lodge at Gloucester Court House, Virginia, was established by authority given to its members by Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4, of Fredericksburg (7); the same Fredericksburg Lodge gave permission to a group of Masons to found Falmouth Lodge in Stafford County Virginia (8). That the legality of the "permit" given to Prince Hall was beyond question, also, that the formation of a lodge without the formality and authority of a charter or warrant as is the law now, was, during the period under discussion, absolutely regular, is attested by George William Speth, the founi of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 2076 (the world's most famous literary Lodge), in a letter addressed to William H. Upton of the State of Washington, under date of October 27, 1897 (9).

The next move of this group » to address a petition to the Caucasian jurisdiction in Massachusetts of which General Joseph Warren was the Provincial Grand Master (10). This petition was formally received, but before any action could be taken upon it, Warren was killed at the battle of Bunker Hill. Again in 1779. this group is reported having addressed another petition to the Massachusetts Masons, but no records exist as to what action, if any, was taken in the premises. It has been claimed however and evidence appears to point in that direction, that no action was taken because of the prejudice manifest by a large group of Caucasian Masons of the colony and at the same time a sympathetic group expressed regret for the sentiment manifest and suggested that Hall make application to the Grand Orient of France for recognition.

There is little doubt but that Prince Hall was very well informed concerning Masonic history and the regulations governing the fraternity, for. while lie appreciated this suggestion, he evidently considered tile Brand Lodge (Moderns) of England to be the the recognized head of the organized Craft and therefore addressed the petition of his group to that body in a letter under date of March 2, 1784 (11), and the prayer being granted a warrant of authority creating African Lodge No. 459 was issued to these men under date of September 29. 1784. Owing to the delay in the delivery of that document the lodge was not formally constituted until May 6, 1787, and it is from this body all of the regular Freemasons of colour in the United States and Canada are descended.

One of the most persistent of the numerous "objections" which have been registered against the founding of African Lodge and the existence uf its descendants, has to do with the "American Doctrine of Exclusive Territorial Jurisdiction." As its name implies, this is a product of American inventive genius and is energetically resorted to for the purpose of excluding the Negro organization from the category of possessing any "regularity." The principle of this doctrine is that not more than one Grand Lodge can legally exist in the same territory (state) at one and the same time. As an understanding between grand jurisdictions, and its origin in 1796, in an agreement between the Grand Lodges of New York and Massachusetts (12), although prior to that year African Lodge had been founded twelve years and African Grand Lodge for five years, yet most Caucasian writers endeavour to make that principle retroactive in effect against Prince Hall Masonry irrespective of the fact that prior to that year (1796) and subsequent to it, joint occupancy of the territory of Massachusetts by more than one Grand Lodge had existed also, joint occupancy of territory by more than sovereign body existed in a number of foreign countries and exist even to this day in both hemispheres. In weighing the validity of this doctrine it must be borne in mind that the agreement of 1796 between New York and Massachusetts concerned Masonic control over Caucasians and not Negroes.

The claim is made that African Lodge lost its status as a "regular" body, when it was erased from the English register at the time of the Union of the rival jurisdictions in England in 1813 because it had failed to continue its contributions to the Grand Charity Fund as was required at that time. It is of record that all lodges, irrespective of location, which had failed to make that regular contribution were dropped from the roll at the time of the Union, but none of those excepting African Lodge have ever been charged with having lost their "regularity" for continuing to exist after erasure, and there is no record to prove that any of the other lodges affected ever ceased to function after the action taken at the Union in 1813. Now by what process of rational reasoning can this erasure be charged as constituting a crime against African Lodge and not similarly so charged against the other lodges involved?

Another "objection" registered against the Prince Hall organization is that African Lodge constituted herself into a Grand or Mother Lodge. This is contrary to present regulations and customs, but was in accordance with those prevailing during that period. What about Mother Kilwinning Lodge of Scotland (13)? This lodge assisted in the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and later withdrew from that body and proceeded to issue warrants for the formation of other lodges just as it had done before the Grand Lodge of Scotland was founded. What about the Loge du Grand Maitre of Holland in 1734? This body, later known in 1734 as Union Mother Lodge, formed itself into a Grand Lodge in 1756 (14). What about the Grand Lodge of Prussia at Berlin, Germany, which was formed from the Lodge Royal York of Friendship in 1756 (15)? What about the Grand Lodge of Eclectic Union at Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, which was formed in 1745 from Union Lodge? As these and other possible illustrations transpired long before the formation of African Grand Lodge on 24th June, 1791, it is clearly proven that the members of African Lodge were aware of sufficient precedent for their procedure.

Other charges laid against African Lodge are: (a) that it became dormant and was revived by a few members in 1927. No writer has ever been able to produce a single fact to substantiate this charge. This is purely "hearsay" testimony, a thing which is never considered of importance and value by the critical and impartial investigator: (b) That the Warrant of the Lodge was "returned." To whom and when, has never been stated: (c) That it was lost in a fire in the late sixtys which destroyed the building in which the Prince Hall Masons of Boston held their meetings.

'Phe writer of this narrative is in a position to positively refute the last two charges for the reason that, he possesses a photograph of the Warrant of African Lodge No. 459. and he has held that precious document in his hands and read the same. The story relative to this opportunity which occurred at the centennial of the changing of the name of the Massachusetts Craft from "African" to "Prince Hall Grand Lodge" held at Boston in September. 1908, and as published upon another occasion, is as follows:

"On Wednesday morning early, 9th September, the Deputy Grand Master of Massachusetts. R. W. Robert T. Teamoh, consecrated the large hall in the Parker Memorial for Masonic purposes. The only three Masons from New York who were fortunate enough to be among the few brethren who assisted in this ceremony, were James C. Denhani, master of Celestial No. 3, who officiated as acting grand secretary; William H. Crooms, past master of Adelphic Union No. 14, as an acting grand steward, and Harry A. Williamson, master of Carthaginian No. 47, as acting grand treasurer. It was on this occasion that these three brethren had the most distinguished privilege and unusual honour of holding in their bands and examining the Original Warrant granted to Prince Hall and his colleagues, establishing African Lodge No. 459, bv the Grand Lodge of England in 1784. It is indeed a venerable document, but every outline of seal, signature and the subject matter is clear and distinct and may be read without the least difficulty."

The so-called revival of 1827 had to do with the Declaration of Independence issued by the members of African Lodge under the date of 28th June of that year. The master of the lodge at the time was John T. Hilton, who likewise held the office of Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the state. The document in question specifically referred to matters concerning African Lodge-alone, which body was at that time a constituent of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. It should be read (16), and very carefully studied in order to obtain a correct understanding of its intent and purpose which is outlined as follows (17):

"That as African Lodge (which had obtained its authority from the Grand Lodge of England) had from time to time complied with the law by sending contributions to the Grand Charity Fund for which no acknowledgment had been received; because letters addressed to the Grand Lodge of England for many years had remained unanswered, therefore, in consequence of such neglect by the officials of the said Grand Lodge of England, African Lodge declared itself 'free and independent' of any organization other than the Grand Lodge to which it then held allegiance."

As has previously been stated, all lodges that had failed to forward regular contributions to the English Grand Charity Fund were dropped from the register at the time of the Union in 1813. African Lodge made contributions to the fund on 21st November, 1787, and 25th November, 1789. The first Grand Lodge of Negroes, African Grand Lodge, was founded in 1791, and African Lodge became a part of the body, but, notwithstanding the fact, the lodge continued to forward contributions to the Charity Fund. These payments were as follows: 18th April, 1792; 27th November, 1793, and 22nd November, 1797 (18).

There is a possibility other payments were made of which no record has thus far come to light, but the dates just cited contain a record unsurpassed by any of the other lodges located in America at that time.

As is generally supposed and known, Masonic authority and government throughout the American Union among the Caucasians is confined exclusively to those of that race. Time and again have Prince Hall Masons and Negroes who were not members of the Craft made application for affiliation with a number of the Caucasian grand jurisdictions, but upon every occasion have those petitions been either denied or ignored. In 1845, members of Boyer Lodge No. 1, of New York City, submitted a petition to the Caucasian Grand Lodge of New York for recognition. This petition was denied (19). In 1868, Lewis Hayden and 71 other Prince Hall Masons petitioned the Massachusetts body for recognition, but the same was denied (21). In 1869, William T. Boyd, Grand Master of the Prince Hall Craft in Ohio, submitted a petition for recognition to the Caucasian jurisdiction of the same state, but the same was denied (22). A petition for recognition was presented by the Prince Hall Masons of Michigan to the Caucasian body in the same state at the session held in 1874, but this was denied (23). These are but a few of similar illustrations to prove the Caucasian Fraternity has been unwilling to accord fraternal recognition to the Freemasons of colour and tacitly denies membership in its lodges to men of the Negro race. This attitude is the reason for the existence of lodges in which membership is confined exclusively to black men.

Upon a number of occasions, writers in America, also, in some foreign Masonic periodicals have stated it is the unanimous opinion of the American Grand Lodges that the Prince Hall organization are "clandestine irregular or bogus." The writer takes issue with such statements and draws attention to the following facts. In 1876, the Caucasian Grand Lodge in Ohio was willing to officially recognize the Prince Hall grand jurisdictions of the same state provided the latter would style itself the "African Grand Lodge, etc., of Ohio" (24). In 1923, the Prince Hall Masons in California were enabled to prevent the incorporation of a Negro clandestine Masonic organization through the co-operation of the Caucasian Masonic authorities of the same state. There is a law upon the statute books of the State of New York which prohibits the public use of Masonic emblems and the conferring of Masonic degrees by unrecognized bodies, yet in no instance has this law ever been applied against the Prince Hall Craft in that state although various Negro so-called Masonic organizations have felt the weight of that statute. Now what do these illustrations signify?

Irrespective of what some authorities may say. Prince Hall Masonry is here to stay. The Freemasons of colour have no desire for fraternal intercourse with the Caucasian Craft in the United States. All they want and do demand is, in the light of the records and in the spirit of truth and justice, that the Caucasian Grand Lodges will forever cease stigmatizing their organization as "bogus clandestine or irregular." With about nine thousand lodges, approximating about three hundred thousand members; with a property valuation of about two million dollars which includes undeveloped and developed real estate comprising Masonic homes for aged Masons, their widows and orphans, Grand Lodge buildings and those belonging to individual lodges: with hundreds of thousands of dollars contributed annually for charitable purposes, are these men asking too much?

STATEMENT BY THE GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND, 1930

From New England Craftsman, Vol. XXV, No. 5, February 1930, Page 108:

Light on a Dark Subject
Grand Secretary's Clear Statement as to Negro Masonry in the U. S. A.

(The following letter, received by the Editor of the Trestle Board from the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England in reply to a query for authentic information, is published in a recent issue of that journal, which is issued in San Francisco, U, S. A., "without comment and for the edification of our readers.")

Grand Lodge of England
Freemasons' Hall, Gt. Queen Street,
London, W. C. 2
25th July, 1928.

To the Editor of the Trestle Board.

Dear Sir and Worshipful Brother,— In reply to your letter of the 6th June: In 1775 a Lodge in one of the British regiments under General Gage, at Boston, Massachusetts, initiated Prince Hall and fourteen other negroes into Freemasonry. The facts are universally admitted, although the Lodge has never been identified hitherto, but it is said to have been an Irish one.

After the departure of the military Lodge, the fifteen negroes continued to meet as a Lodge, presumably under a warrant from the regimental Lodge, but they do not appear to have made Masons. In March, 1784, they applied to England for a warrant and became African Lodge, No. 459. It was renumbered No. 370 in 1793, and remained on the roll of Grand Lodge until the Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, when it was considered probably defunct and dropped from the roll.

According to Prince Hall, the Lodge joined with Philadelphia Negro Lodge (1797) and Providence Negro Lodge in 1808, and constituted the African Grand Lodge.

So far as the United Grand Lodge of England is concerned, the African Lodge, No. 459, ceased to function, and the subsequent statement as to the establishment of a Grand Lodge by Prince Hall with the African Lodge as a constituent body cannot be accepted, as the Lodge had ceased its allegiance and was considered defunct. The position of the so-called negro Grand Lodges scattered oven the United States is undoubtedly irregular, and the United Grand Lodge of England has always adopted that view in regard to all questions in respect to them.

I trust this information will prove! of assistance to you, and, if there is anything further I can do, please let me know.

Yours faithfully and fraternally,
(Signed) P. Colville Smith

Grand Secretary.

Lane, in his "Records," says that the last payment by 459 was made in 1797.

The Grand Secretary's statement, although not unfamiliar to Masonic students, is well worth reproducing, as the position of negro Masonry in the States is one of difficulty. It appears, however, that Alpha Lodge, 116, of Newark, N. J., chartered by the Grand Lodge of United States, 1871, is at present composed largely, if not entirely, of coloured men and their descendants, and the sixty odd members are not inclined to noisy assertion of their right to recognition by white Lodges. This is said to be the one regular negro Lodge in U. S. A., and for its constitution the Grand Lodge of New Jersey is responsible. The issue of the Trestle Board which contains Sir Colville Smith's letter contains an article dealing with a P. G. M. of Oregon who said he had received his three Blue Lodge Degrees in a Negro lodge, Lodge, subsequently joining a Lodge in Chili, returning to America and joining an ordinary Lodge. The P. G. M. of Oregon was an "irregular Mason, and, in the opinion of the Trestle Board contributor, those Brethren who sat with him were condoning a Masonic crime.

COMMENTARY ON NEGRO FREEMASONRY, OCTOBER 1932

Note: this is a particularly slanted and fairly offensive treatment of the subject.

From New England Craftsman, Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, October 1932, Page 39:

Negro Masonry in the United States
By Cyris Field Willard, P. P. S.
(First published in the "Bulletin de l'Association Maçonnique Internationale" of Geneva, Switzerland)

It is only at the request of my dear Brother, John Mossaz, Grand Chancellor of the International Masonic Association, that I have abandoned the duties of office filled with correspondence in order to present certain facts in relation to negro Masonry which are unknown, it would seem, to the greater part of European Freemasons.

In doing so permit me to say that I was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in Columbian Lodge of Boston (without number) and chartered in 1795, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where negro Masonry originated and where the facts concerning its origin have been very much discussed.

This Masonry (if it can be called such) had its origin when a negro named Prince Hall and 13 others were initiated on the 6th of March, 1775 in a military lodge of the British army which was then in Boston;— that is only about six weeks before the first battle took place at Concord and Lexington by which the War of he Revolution began.

These historical preliminaries are necessary in order to understand how these things happened. Two months after the battle at Concord, that of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775 and two weeks later, George Washington arrived and took command of the
first American army struggling for the indpeendence of the 13 colonies. He besieged the English army in Boston and forced it to evacuate Boston on the 17th of March, 1776, that is about a year after the initiation of these 14 negroes who must have, as a consequence disappeared when this army left the city.

The white Masons then controlled the governmental affairs in the 13 colonies, every Governor then being a Mason, and these colonies on July 4, 1776, a little m ore than three months after Washington forced this British army out of Boston, declared their independence of Great Britain. This war for independence continued up to September, 1783, when the treaty of ;eace was signed at Paris, by which Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States.

These same 14 negroes who are said to have been created Freemasons in 1775, after nine years of warfare which must have scattered them all over the country, are alleged to have asked the Grand Lodge of England for a charter, which Grand Lodge, without consulting the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts then in existence, issued to Prince Hall and the same 13 others, so they claim, on September 20, 1784, or a year after the government of Great Britain had recognized lie United States of America as a separate and inde-bendent nation.

This lodge under this charter, was borne on the Register of the Grand Lodge of England under the Hame of "African Lodge" No. 459 {sic}, but the charter did 2ot reach Boston where the lodge was supposed to be until 1787, or four years after the United States had [become n free, separate and independent nation.

The lodge never did much work and ceased very soon to have any relations with the Grand Lodge of England. It was never recognized by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in whose jurisdiction it had been planted without its consent, anil to which Grand Lodge this African Lodge always refused to give obedience, nor was it recognized by any other Grand Lodge of which we have record.

About 1800 it was considered defunct and was erased from the list of lodges belonging to the Grand Lodge of England.

They tried to revive this lodge which had some slight appearance of legality, but they did not succeed according to Masonic law.

It was never recognized as legal by the Grand Lodge of England after it had been erased from its list of lodges, from that time to this.

The Grand Lodge of England, however, permits negroes to be admitted in some of its regularly constituted lodges in Africa and the West Indies. It is therefore evident that it is not a question of color but of Masonic Law.

It was the negroes themselves who decided to "fly their own kite," for they arrived at the conclusion, as they say themselves, "that with the knowledge that they possess of Masonry and in so far as people of color, they had the right to be free and independent of all other lodges." (Note 1.—See article "Negro Lodges" by Robert I. Clegg in the "Encyclopedia of Freemasonry.")

Without any legal authorization from any Grand English Lodge whatever, they published, 40 years after the date of the charter, on June 18, 1827, a statement in which they declared themselves "free and independent of all other lodges from this date, wishing to be tributary or governed by no other lodge than their own."

A short time after this they took the name of Prince Hall Grand Lodge and commenced to issue charters for local lodges and from this illegal foundation were born all the negro lodges now existing in the United States.

Brother Clegg said in his article (and all who knew him will bear testimony to his probity and sense of justice), that "it cannot be denied that the unrecognized self-revival of 1827 and the subsequent assumption of grand lodge powers were illegal, and rendered both the Prince Hall Grand Lodge and all the lodges that emanate from it, clandestine. This has been the general opinion of Masonic jurists in America." It can thus be seen that it is not a question of prejudice on account of color, but instead, a question of illegality.

It is necessary also to note that it was the negroes themselves who placed themselves outside regular Masonry in the United States by creating a clandestine Masonry after the "African Lodge" was extinct, and so declared by the power that created it.

It was a good thing that the negroes acted as they did, for there are certain physical reasons why the whites and the negroes do not mix together in the United States. One of them is the strong odor which emanates from the negro, which is very pronounced in a closed room like a Masonic hall, and which is offensive to the nostrils of the white man, as I know from personal experience, although the negroes themselves do not appear to be aware of it.

The negro of America is very different from the Senegalese. The latter proudly consider the negroes of the West Indies and other parts of America as of slave origin. "Free-born, not bondsman or slave" were the conditions required by our old Constitutions, in order that a man might become a Free Mason.

Negro slavery was introduced into the Western Hemisphere bv Las Casas, a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. Its abolition was for us a terrible problem, which cost the United States thousands of lives, as well as millions of dollars in the course of the great Civil War, 1861-1865, and we have not seen the end of it yet. The numerous cases where white women have been ravished by negroes are generally settled by the negro offender being "lynched," and this brutal anil illegal act seems to be the only thing that keeps the blacks in check in the Southern States, particularly where the greater part of them are living.

My father and eldest brother fought in the Civil War for the liberation of the negro slaves, so I cannot be accused of prejudice against them.

My observations, after having travelled and lived in the Southern states of our country, where the negroes are most numerous, have shown me that the white man of the South knows best how to treat them, as he has grown up among them and understands them. The negroes are increasing in number and migrating to the Northern States, where the politicians flatter them, because unfortunately they were given the right to vote after their liberation. Some of them are intelligent, but the great mass of them are ignorant, superstitious and unworthy to have the ballot. It cannot be denied that Masonry has been a great benefit to the negro himself, whose lodges do not differ much from those of the whites, except in some slight modification of the ritual. Many of them are excellent ritualists, and as they love ceremonies, they can often recite the ritual from beginning to end. They are very charitable among themselves, and imitate the white man, which is only natural—in the side orders, such as the Knights Templars and the Shrine, Eastern Star, etc. When a recent schism took place in the "regular" negro Masonry of California (perhaps it would be more correct to say, the older negro Masonry), a certain number of the "irregulars" withdrew and formed a seceding grand lodge of "gentlemen of color," the older branch addressed itself to some of the officers of our grand lodge, who helped them out of their difficulties with advice which stemmed the current of revolt.

These facts concerning the illegal formation of the negro grand lodges in the United States should be taken into consideration every time this question is discussed.

Grand Commander John H. Cowles, in his allocution of 1931 to the Supreme Council A. & A. S. R. of the Southern Jurisdiction, drew attention to the "Sovereign Grand Lodge, F. & A. M. of the United States (Colored)" and gave a short history of this organization. He remarked that this group did not attempt td aeceive by not mentioning its color, for the seal frankln bore the word "Colored". The communication of tliii grand lodge to which he referred, says that "one ought to make a differentiation between the regular Masons of color and the irregular ones". They have the trail of constant changings which take place continually new grand lodges are born and die so often that it difficult to follow them. "The greater part of the colored grand lodges in the United States," continues Brother Cowles in his allocution, "make their origin go back to Prince Hall, who pretended to have received his degrees in a lodge of the English army the winter it occupied Boston. The colored Masons do not ask for recognition in this country, but they do so with grand lodges in foreign countries, and sometimes they obtain it. I have thought it well to introduce this information into my allocution in order that the regular Masons of the world may know that the regular Grand Lodges of the United States do not recognize any colored or negro Masonry in this country."

Moreover, having been made a Mason in Boston, the writer has seen and spoken with these negro "Masons"(?) and he knows that they are not recognized,— not because they are negroes, but because their lodges we not legally organized as Masonic law prescribes, and hence they are clandestine Masons.

It must be remembered that Boston was the cent of the movement in favor of the abolition of negro slavery which led to the Civil War (1861-1865). Before that time no negro slave could legitimately become a Freemason, for our "Ancient Charges" or constitutions kept them out. They demanded that a man MUST be "freeborn, and no bondsman or slave."

The reason why the Grand Lodge of England delivered a charter to these negroes, of whom the greater part were undoubtedly slaves, must be sought for the political events of the time. Smarting at the defeat of her armies, after the recognition of the United States of America, as a separate and independent nation and against the Old Charges which require recipients of a warrant or charter, to be freemen, freeborn and no slave, the Grand Lodge of England gave this charter to African Lodge one year an peace was signed, without investigating whether they were free-men or slaves.

Volumes have been written and may still be written on this subject. But the preceding brief synopsis contains all the salient facts that can be cited.

When the writer was the editor of The Master Mason at San Diego he wrote a letter to Sir Colvin Smith, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of England asking him if his Grand Lodge recognized any of the negro lodges or grand lodges in the United States. To this inquiry was received a very courteous reply in the negative and giving the information that the "African Lodge" had been extinct for a long time.

The above was written and put into French in the Bulletin of the International Masonic Association published at Geneva, Switzerland, in order that our European brothers might know the facts about negro Masonry and not commit the mistake of antagonizing American Masons still more by recognizing these clandestine bodies. It went all over Europe and South America where they have 35 grand lodges forming this International Association.

This was done because the writer is of the opinion lat many cases of disagreement with European Freemasons arise because the latter do not understand our viewpoint owing to the barriers erected by differences of language and customs.

This is one of the reasons for the existence of the Philalethes Society that it may bring about a better understanding between the Masons of all countries who are seeking to spread the Masonic ideals of Universal Brotherhood.

REPORT ON NEGRO FREEMASONRY IN MASSACHUSETTS, MARCH 1946

The following unanimous report of a Committee appointed by the Grand Master on March 22, 1946, was read by the Grand Master. Action upon the acceptance of this report and its recommendations will be taken at the March, 1947, Communication.

To the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts:

The Committee appointed by you to consider and report upon the subject of Negro Freemasonry in Massachusetts, begs leave to submit the following report:

It has been a full half century since our Grand Lodge has considered the subject of Negro Freemasonry. Then, and in all previous studies of the subject, attention was directed primarily, if not solely, to the question of the technical regularity of the origins and early history of Negro Freemasonry. In the light of the evidence then available, it was believed it could not, according to Masonic law, be regarded an legitimate Freemasonry. On the same evidence, the same conclusions would presumably have been reached - and perhaps even more emphatically - if the individuals and Lodges in question had been white instead of colored.

In the intervening half century, Masonic historical research has made much progress, and the emphasis has changed considerably in Masonic thinking with respect to some of the factors involved in any such inquiry. The legality and regularity of each organizational act is now tested according to the law and customs of its date rather than by those of the present.

Your Committee finds that according to the then prevailing Masonic law and custom, the origin, early procedures and subsequent development of the so-called Prince Hall (Negro) Freemasonry in this Commonwealth have been, and are, regular and legitimate. Moreover, there is reliable and uncontradicted documentary evidence, dated June 30, 1784, that African Lodge, of which Prince Hall was Master, was, in 1776, granted a "Permet" by John Rowe of Boston (then Provincial Grand Master over North America where no other Provincial was appointed), "to walk on St. John's day and Bury our dead in form," etc. Rowe succeeded Henry Price in 1768. Thus for 170 years African Lodge and its successors have been functioning in Massachusetts in good faith and with the justifiable belief that their origin and procedure were as regular and legitimate as we have thought ours to be. Obviously, we do not presume to pass upon conditions prevailing in any other jurisdictions.

It is understood that there are other groups of Negroes who claim to be Masons, but we have found no evidence in support of such claims, and our conclusion thus far is that the so-called Prince Hall (Negro) Freemasonry is, alone, entitled to any claim of legitimacy among Negroes in this Commonwealth.

Members of this Committee have inspected the original charter of African Lodge, No. 459, granted by authority of H.R.H. the Duke of Cumberland, Grand Master of our own Mother Grand Lodge of England, dated 29th September, 1784, appointing Prince Hall (a Negro resident of Boston) to be its Master. This is the source of all "duly constituted" Prince Hall Freemasonry, and is now in the possession of the M.W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. & A.M., of Massachusetts. Our Grand Lodge traces its history as a "duly constituted" organization 1733, and Prince Hall (Negro) Freemasonry to 1787 when African Lodge began to function under its charter. Thus for more than a century and a half, these two branches of Freemasonry have existed side by side in this Commonwealth, each by its own preference adhering strictly to its own racial sphere of activity and without intervisitation.

There is need for unifying and strengthening all influences for the improvement and uplifting of mankind. Freemasonry seeks to build character and promote brotherhood among all men. These objectives have nothing to do with race or color or economic status. In this country, the welfare and the future of the white and colored people are interdependent and largely identical. Each has its own schools and colleges and churches and societies, but both have the same ultimate aspirations; both make common sacrifices in defense of their single country; both read the same periodicals, hear the same radio programs, and enjoy or suffer together the triumphs or failures of our national well being; and each is affected by the spiritual welfare of the other.

In conclusion, your Committee believes that in view of the existing social conditions in our country, it is advisable for the official and organized activities of white and colored Freemasons to proceed in parallel lines, but organically separate and without mutually embarrassing demands or commitments. However, your Committee believes that, within these limitations, informal cooperation and mutual helpfulness between the two groups upon appropriate occasions are desirable.

Your Committee makes no recommendation except that this report be accepted, approved and recorded.

Fraternally submitted

Joseph Earl Perry, Chairman
Melvin M. Johnson
Arthur D. Prince
Claude L. Allen
Albert A. Schaefer
Arthur W. Coolidge

This declaration, with accompanying documentation, was read and approved at the March 12, 1947 communication of the Grand Lodge.

ACCEPTANCE OF REPORT, MARCH 1947

From New England Craftsman, Vol. XLII, No. 6, June 1947, Page 84:

In view of the fact that Negro Freemasonry, so-called, had its origin in Massachusetts the following official communication from the Grand Secretary's office will he of interest to all Craftsman readers, giving us as it does the latest stand on the subject in this commonwealth:

On January 24, 1947, by the order of Most Worshipful Grand Master Samuel H. Wragg, I caused the following letter to he sent to each voting member of the Grand Lodge, as well as to each Lodge Secretary:

January 24, 1947
Dear Brother:

The Most Worshipful Grand Master, on March 22. 1946, appointed the following named Brethren, all Past Grand Masters, as a committee to investigate the subject of Negro Freemasonry and to report to him: M. W. Joseph Earl Perry, Chairman; M. W. Melvin M. Johnson; M. W. Arthur D. Prince; M. W. Claude L. Allen; M. W. Albert A. Schaefer; M. W. Arthur W. Coolidge.

Enclosed herewith is a copy of the unanimous report of this committee, as read to the Grand Lodge by the Grand Master at the regular Quarterly Communication on December 11, 1946.

Action on the acceptance of this report and admission of the recommendations will be taken at the regular Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge on March 12. 1947.

That all members of the Grand Lodge may ban opportunity to consider this report before action be taken, a copy is being sent to each voting member of Grand Lodge as well as to each Lodge Secretary.

Fraternally yours,
Frank H. Hilton, Grand Secretary.


To the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts:

The Committee appointed by you to consider report on the subject of Negro Freemasonry in Massachusetts, begs leave to submit the following report.

It has been a full half century since our Grand Lodge has considered the subject of Negro Freemasonry. This and in all previous studies of the subject, attention directed primarily, if not solely, to the question of the technical regularity of the origins and early history of Negro Freemasonry. In the light of the evidence then available, it was believed that it could not, according to Masonic Law, be regarded as legitimate masonry. On the same evidence the same conclusion would presumably have been reached — and perhaps even more emphatically — if the individuals and lodges in question had been white instead of colored.

In the intervening half century. Masonic historical research has made much progress, and the emphasis has changed considerably in Masonic thinking with respect to some of the factors involved in any such inquiry. The legality and regularity of each operational act is now tested according to the law and customs of its date rather than by those of the present.

Your Committee finds that according to tin prevailing Masonic law and custom, the origin procedures and subsequent development of the so-called Prince Hall (Negro) Freemasonry in this Commonwealth have been, and are, regular and legitimate. Moreover, there is reliable and uncontradicted documentary evidence, dated June 30. 1784, that African Lodge, of which Prince Hall was Master, was, in 1776, granted a "Permet" by M. W. John Rowe of Boston (then Provincial Grand Master over North America where no other Provincial was appointed), "to walk on St. John's day and Bury our dead in form," etc. Rowe became Provincial Grand Master in 1768.

Thus for 170 years African Lodge and its successors have been functioning in Massachusetts in good faith with the justifiable belief that their origin and procedure were as regular and legitimate as we have thought ours to be. Obviously, we do not presume to pass upon conditions prevailing in any other jurisdictions.

It is understood that there are other groups of Negroes who claim to be Masons hut we have found no evidence in support of such claims, and our conclusion thus far that the so-called Prince Hall (Negro) Freemasonry is, alone, entitled to any claim of legitimacy among Negroes in this Commonwealth.

Members of this Committee have inspected the original charter of African Lodge. No. 459, granted by authority of H. R. H. the Duke of Cumberland, Grand Master of our own Mother Grand Lodge of England, dated 27th September 1784, appointing Prince Hall (a Negro resident of Boston) to he its Master. This is the source of all "duly constituted" Prince Hall Freemasonry, and is now in the possession of the M. W. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. & A. M. of Massachusetts. Our Grand Lodge traces its history as a "duly constituted" organization to 1733, and Prince Hall (Negro) Freemasonry to 1787 when African Lodge began to function under its Charter. Thus for more than a century and a half, these two branches of Freemasonry have existed side by side in the Commonwealth, each by its own preference adhering strictly to its own racial sphere of activity and without intervisitation.

There is need for unifying and strengthening all influences for the improvement and uplifting of mankind. Freemasonry seeks to build character and promote brotherhood among all men. These objectives have nothing to do with race or color or social or economic status. In this country, the welfare and the future of the white and colored people are interdependent and largely identical. Each has its own schools and colleges and churches and societies, but both have the same ultimate hope and aspirations: both make common sacrifices in defense of their single country: both read the same periodicals, hear the same radio programs, and enjoy or suffer together the triumphs or failures of our national well being: and each is affected by the material and spiritual welfare of the other.

In conclusion, vour Committee believes that in view of the existing social conditions in our country, it is desirable for the ofilcial and organized activities of white and colored Freemasonry to proceed in parallel lines, but organically separate and without mutually embarrassing demands or commitments.

However, your Committee believes that, within these limitations, informal cooperation and mutual helpfulness between the two groups upon appropriate occasions is desirable.

Your Committee makes no recommendation except that this report be accepted, approved and recorded.
Fraternally submitted

  • Joseph Earl Perry, Chairman
  • Claude L. Allen
  • Melvin M. Johnson
  • Albert A. Schaefer
  • Arthur D. Prince
  • Arthur W. Coolidge

Most Worshipful Joseph Earl Perry, Chairman of the Committee, then made the following motion:

Most Worshipful:

I move that the report of our Committee as read by you be accepted, approved and recorded. In so doing, I think it appropriate to say that your Committee of Past Grand Masters had relatively little difficulty in agreeing as to the legitimacy of Prince Hall Freemasonry, but did encounter some real perplexities when it came to phrasing their conclusions, for they felt that the subject matter is potentially controversial and that a wrong emphasis, however well intended, might harm the very ones whose interests we have at heart.

After our preliminary discussions, therefore, I submitted to the Committee several drafts of possible reports to serve as starting points for our further discussions, the several reports varying primarily in the degree to which it seemed wise to go in the proposed official action. The Committee selected the one which you have just read and made its further amendments and refinements on that framework. It may not satisfy those of our members who believe we should go the full distance toward complete intervisitation or those at the other extreme who believe we should do nothing, but your Committee is of the opinion that at this time, the Grand Lodge should do no less, and could not wisely do more, than is suggested in the report.

The work of the Committee was promptly attended to, but we have purposely deferred official presentation to the Grand Lodge for nearly a year, during most of which time discussion of the subject matter has been systematically carried on throughout the jurisdiction and copies of the Committee report containing its recommendations have been sent to each voting member of the Grand Lodge and have also been furnished to all who have made inquiries. Whatever action may be taken on this motion may. therefore, be deemed to represent the considered judgment of our entire membership as presented by the Grand Lodge.

Prior to any action being taken, Most Worshipful Melvin M. Johnson spoke of his long interest in the subject matter, outlined the early history of Negro Freemasonry in this country, answered such questions or objections to the action proposed by the Committee as he had encountered, and outlined his reasons for believing in the importance and timeliness of action at this time.

He first called attention to the fact that the Committee does not recommend what is technically known Masonically as "'recognition." Neither does it recommend intervisitation. Mere acknowledgement of legitimacy implies neither.

The following is a summary of his address pertaining to the early history and development of Negro Freemasonry in Massachusetts:

There exists in the United States a completely organized and functioning Masonic world of which many of us know little, although it descends directly from the Mother Grand Lodge of the world, that of England.

I refer to the Negro Freemasonry which, in order to distinguish it from the Freemasonry of our own technical recognition, has heen differentiated by itself as of "Prince Hall Affiliation." One out of every eight Freemasons in the United States belongs to its bodies, which are as legitimate and as regular and duly constituted as our own.

Some years ago, supposing that Negro Freemasonry was clandestine or at least irregular, I began the writing of a brief to prove it. In preparation therefor, I searched for and studied all known facts which were pertinent, seeking the best evidence. The result, much to my surprise, was a firm conviction of the genuineness of Prince Hall (Negro) Freemasonry. The facts and law are so clear that, in my opinion, no unbiased searcher for the truth can come to a different conclusion. I did not finish my study until the fall of 1944 and did not suggest its consideration in this Grand Lodge until after it had been discussed by the Grand Masters of Masons in Oregon at the Grand Masters" Conference in Washington in 1946. It then seemed wise to bring it to the attention of our own Grand Master and Grand Lodge.

African Lodge No. 1

On March 6, 1775, a freeman by the name of Prince Hall, and fourteen other free colored men, were initiated in Boston by Army Lodge No. 441 of the Irish Constitution.

The claim has been made that an Irish military Lodge had no right to initiate civilians. From 1768, that was the Irish rule where, and only where, there was an Irish "Town Lodge." There was none such in Boston. Even if there had been, it would not have affected the status of a candidate although the Lodge which violated the rule might have been punished. There was no such English rule until 1815.

On July 3, 1776, African Lodge No. 1 was organized in Boston by an assembly of unaffiliated Negro Brethren and authority from that Army Lodge. I In almost identical fashion, Union Lodge of Albany, now Mount Vernon Lodge No. 3 under the Grand Lodge of New York, was born. I Its "Bcgulations,' (By-Laws) were adopted January 14, 1779.

There were then no independent Grand Lodges in the whole of the Western Hemisphere. Moreover, there were then only five Provincial Grand Lodges which, with their descendants, persist today, viz: Massachusetts (2), Georgia, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Official acknowledgment of the legitimacy of African Lodge No. 1 was almost immediately made by John Rowe of Boston, Provincial Grand Master for North America, holding authority from the premier Grand Lodge of the world, that of England. He issued a permit authorizing the Lodge to appear publicly as a Masonic body in procession for the purpose of celebrating the Feast of Saint John and to bury its dead.

On both March 2 and June 30, 1784, African Lodge No. 1 applied to the Grand Lodge of England for charter. This is the same Grand Lodge which, through Henry Price as Provincial Grand Master, founded th first "duly constituted" Freemasonry in the Western Hemisphere in 1733. On September 29, 1784, a charter was executed for African Lodge No. 459 by authority of the Duke of Cumberland, then Grand Master of on Mother Grand Lodge of England.

This was not a trespass for an owner cannot trespass upon property of which he is already in possession. is true that the Massachusetts Grand Lodge (of Scottish origin) assumed its independence March 8, 1777. (I Mass. 259) However, the St. John's Grand Lodge functioning by authority of the Grand Lodge of England under Provincial Grand Master John Rowe continued as such until after his death in February, 1787. (I Mass 220) It first assumed authority to act as an independent Grand Lodge on July 29, 1790, when it elected John Cutler as Grand Master. (I Mass. 221) Thus it will be seen that at the time when the charter of African Lodge No. 459 was granted, as well as when the lodge was organized on May 6, 1787, the Grand Lodge of England was still exercising its authority over the territory where African Lodge was established. Twice African Lodge had sent the fee due to the Grand Lodge of England for its charter and twice the money failed to reach the Officers of the Grand Lodge of England. Finally, on March 10. 1787. the charter was paid for delivered to Captain Scott, the third messenger, a son-in-law of John Hancock.

On May 6. 1787, African Lodge No. 459 was formally organized in Boston under the charter, with Prince Hall as Worshipful Master. That charter is in existence in a safe deposit vault in the City of Boston. Massachusetts, and has been inspected by members of your committee. There is no question of its authenticity. Moreover, it is believed to he the only original charter from the Grand Lodge of England which is now in possession of any Lodge in the United States.

May 18. 1787. a list of members of this Lodge showed eighteen Masters, four "Crafts" and eleven Entered Apprentices, Twenty-three of the names on the list are not of the original fifteen.

African Lodge thereafter functioned as a Mother Lodge; that is to say, it assumed authority to establish other Lodges much as, indeed, it had itself been founded by the Irish Army Lodge in 1776.

Where Grand Lodges exist, the chartering of Lodges by other existing Lodges would not he recognized today. It, however, was common in the Eighteenth Century, as every Masonic historian knows. In other words, at the time African Lodge functioned as a Mother Lodge, what it did was then a lawful practice in the Fraternity.

Some have believed that the Grand Lodge of England later revoked or annulled the charter of African Lodge. Such is not the fact. It is correct that at the union of 1813, the Grand Lodge of England revised its rules on particular Lodges and omitted those which had gone out of existence or become attached to some other Grand Lodge. This had no effect upon the legitimacy or standing of any erased Lodge. Some seventy Lodges located in the United States, which had at some time ben carried on the English roll, were dropped from the roll in revisions. African Lodge, No. 459 (later No. 370) was one of them. So was St. John's Lodge then and now of Boston, constituted in 1733, the oldest Lodge of continuous existence in all the Americas.

Prince Hall Grand Lodge

African Grand Lodge (1791) was organized by an assembly of the Craft. The same method was used by le Moilerns (1717) and the Antients (1751) in England: likewise hy New Jersey (1787) in the United States. Two additional Lodges were established by African Lodge in 1797: African Lodge of Philadelphia and Hiram Lodge No. 3 of Providence. In 1808, after Prince Hall's death, a delegate convention of the three existing Lodges changed the name to "Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. and A. M." as a memorial to him. Note that the 1791 Grand Lodge was organized the year before our own present united Grand Lodge. It that time, there were functioning with their See at Boston, Massachusetts, St. John's Grand Lodge (English, 1733-1792), Massachusetts Grand Lodge (Scottish, 1769-1792), and the Lodge of St. Andrew, working independently.


In 1791, when this first Negro Grand Lodge was organized, there were only eleven other existing Grand Bodies of Symbolic Freemasonry in the whole Western Hemishphere which today exist. They were located in Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, Connecticut and New Hampshire. The Grand Lodge of Rhode Island was organized the next day. (1915 Mass. 281-2) This Negro Grand Lodge was not organized with any prescribed territorial jurisdiction. Like the present York Grand Lodge in Mexico, its jurisdiction was not territorial, hut was limited to a certain class: the Prince Hall Grand Lodge to negroes
and the York Grand Lodge to English speaking residents of Mexico.

Territorial Jurisdiction

It has been urged and is still believed by many that the formation of African Lodge No. 1 and of its successor, African Lodge No. 459, violated the doctrine of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction."

Often an existing rule of law is wrongly cited to show the illegality of something which took place before that rule was established. Whatever effect the doctrine of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction " may have, it cannot be rightfully used to render illegal that which existed legally before the doctrine was asserted. Neither can it be used effectively where estopped hv the equitable doctrine of laches or stale demands. Indeed, the Constitutions of our own Grand Lodge make an exception in that doctrine whereever territorial jurisdiction is "shared with another Grand Lodge by mutual consent" (Section 712) It has shared that jurisdiction in Massachusetts with the Prince Hall Grand Lodge for a century and a half by that silence which tacitly gave consent. Such sharing does not destroy the doctrine of territorial jurisdiction, but, rather, affirms it.

Massachusetts has three Lodges in Chile, founded in 1853. 1876 and 1884. respectively, and yet we recognize and exchange Representatives with the Grand Lodge of Chile.

At the present time, we recognize the York Grand Lodge of Mexico, which claims jurisdiction over English-speaking people in the whole of Mexico, and we also recognize Mexican Grand Lodges with concurrent territorial jurisdictions. In China, we have maintained Lodges of our obedience since 1863. and yet we have acted in comity there for many years with Lodges of the obedience of the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland. Ireland. Austria and the Philippines.

In the Canal Zone and Panama, the Grand Lodges of Massachusetts and Panama share certain limited territorial jurisdiction with each other by treaty. (1917 Mass. 79 and 192 Mass. 141)

It is true that the Provincial Grand Lodge of Henry Price and its successor have functioned continuously since 1733. It is also true, however, that there never has heen a moment since November 30, 1756 (the date when the Grand Lodge of Scotland chartered the Lodge of St. Andrew in Boston) when there has not heen a sharing of lawful Symbolic Freemasonry functioning in what is now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Before the evacuation of Boston, there were various Army Lodges functioning here, under charters from the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland and Ireland. The Lodge of St. Andrew continued after the union of 1792 to operate under its Scottish charter until 1809, when it united with this Grand Lodge. From December 27, 1769. until December 6, 1782. the Lodge of St. Andrew was a part of the Provincial Grand Lodge established hy Scotland and known as the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, of which Brother Joseph Warren was Provincial Grand Master. This Scottish Provincial Grand Lodge declared itself independent on December 6, 1782. Meanwhile, the English Provincial Grand Lodge of 1733, then known as St. John's Grand Lodge, and the Massachusetts Grand Lodge continued to function as separate Grand Lodges in this Commonwealth until 1792, when these two Grand Lodges united, since which time in White Freemasonry there has heen but one Grand Lodge. * * * Assuming that our Grand Lodge has rightfully had and now has exclusive Masonic jurisdiction over Massachusetts, then we certainly have the right to allow another Grand Lodge to share that jurisdiction to such extent as we see fit.

ft is somewhat interesting to note that although our Grand Lodge has heen a party to proceedings in court to establish the illegitimate character of a number of irregular and clandestine operations, claiming to be Masonic, yet it never has proceeded against Prince Hall Freemasonry. In fact, in one criminal case prosecuted against clandestine Negro Freemasonry by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, our then Grand Secretary testified as a witness against the clandestine outfit.

Other super-technical claims of the irregularity of Prince Hall Freemasonry have heen made, none of which is sufficiently important from a legalistic viewpoint to require comment. The real opposition to Negro Freemasonry is rather social than legal. A vast majority of the Grand Lodges of the world outside of the United States and Canada, recognized by us, have Negro members as legitimate as ourselves and I have sat with them on quite a number of occasions when visiting in foreign countries. Their test is culture, not color. Even in Massachusetts, there is one authenticated instance of a Negro who, by reason of his office in his particular Lodge, was a member of and had a vote in this Grand Lodge. In 1867, a Bishop of the Episcopal Church and the Negro caterer to the Grand Lodge knelt together at the Altar of one of our oldest and most highly respected Lodges to receive their Masonic obligations. It is so recorded. In my mother Lodge, I have sat with Negro visitors who were members of legitimate English Lodges.

There are some who say, "Why do anything?" The fundamental answer is that we should practice our own teachings. Moreover, there is need of leadership in this day when, in the words of Bishop Pardue, "The clash between the application of a democratic philosophy and vast racial discrimination, is daily making new converts to the religion of communism.

(For documentation, see printed Proceedings of St John's Grand Lodge, Massachusetts Grand Lodge ami Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts; also History of Freemasonry Among Negroes in America By Harry E. Davis, 1946, which cites original sources of information.)

Acceptance of the report of the Committee and the adoption of the recommendations were unanimously voted by the Grand Lodge.

A true copy of the record.

Attest: Frank H. Hilton, Grand Secretary.

EXCERPT FROM GRAND MASTERS' CONFERENCE, FEBRUARY 1948

From New England Craftsman, Vol. XLIII, No. 2, April 1948, Page 48:

On March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and 14 other free colored men were initiated in Boston by Army Lodge No. 441 of the Irish Constitution and the British Army. It was a perfectly legitimate initiation by an army lodge. They did not violate any doctrine of the exclusive jurisdiction for two reasons: There was no such doctrine at that time. It is purely an American invention, and it did not become established until many years after that time. The second reason that there were then, and continued to be during the period of the organization of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, two Grand Lodges in Massachusetts. One of them was originally established as a Provincial Grand Lodge by England, and the other originally established as a Provincial Grand Lodge by Scotland.

During part of the period there was also another lodge which had been chartered by Scotland that was not affiliated with either of the others. All were regarded as legal at that time although they had begun to debate the matter of exclusive jurisdiction, but there was no such thing in those days.

On July 3, 1776, one day before a most memorable day in our history, African Lodge No. 1 organized by authority from the Army Lodge. It obtained a license or a permit. I sav it was recognized under authority of the Army Lodge. That was in accordance with the custom of that day and not of today. It obtained a license or permit from John Rowe cf Boston, then Provincial Grand Master for North America, appointed bj the Grand Master of England, which authorized African Lodge No. 1 to be allowed to appear publicly in procession to bury its dead.

The permit as it was called did not expressly authorize conferring of degrees, but it did authorize them to act as a lodge in certain public function. Now, in almost identical fashion many lodges in this country were organized in those days. 1 cite, for conspicuous instances. Union Lodge of Albany, now Mount Vernon Lodge No. 3. which was organized in exactly this way.

On January 14, 1779, African Lodge No. 1 adopted regulations. These are what we would now call by-laws.

On March 2, 1784, African Lodge applied to the Grand Master of England lor a warrant or charter of constitution. The application was received and granted, and on September 29. 1784, a Charter was issued by authority of the Duke of Cumberland, then Grand Master of our Mother Grand Lodge of England, authorizing the constitution of what became African Lodge No. 459.

There was no violation of the jurisdiction of anybody by that act. The Grand Lodge had issued that Charter which authorized the present Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as a Provincial Grand Lodge.

The Charter was not received, however, until 1787, because a sea captain who was given hv the Negroes in Boston the money to pay for the lodge, pay for the Charter, and get it from the Grand Lodge of England found use personally for this money. A second time the Negroes sent the money over by another man, and lie also embezzled the money. The third time they tried it again—the money was delivered and the Charter was delivered to Captain Scott on March 10, 1787. They came over here and African Lodge No. 459 was formed and was formally organized under that Charter, with Prince Hall as Worshipful Master.

Then African Lodge became a Mother Lodge. That is not the custom today. It was the custom in that day and it is our duty to measure the legality of an act as of the time when the act was performed. It would lie absolutely illegal today. It was just as legal then as any other act could be.

They then proceeded to establish other lodges in other states and Massachusetts, and on June 24, 1791, a Grand Lodge was organized by the Negroes. That was one year before the two white Grand Lodges legally existing in Massachusetts, concurrently joined together, so there was no single Grand Lodge then composed solely of Whites that even claimed exclusive jurisdiction within Massachusetts.

At the time when the St. John's Grand Lodge and the Massachusetts Grand Lodge were both exercising jurisdiction in Massachusetts, this third Grand Lodge was forme by the same kind of authority.

Incidentally, the Prince Hall Charter of this African Lodge, I think, is the only Charter issued by authority of the Grand Lodge of England or its Grand Master to an American lodge which exists today. These hoy-have something that we do not have and they take great pride in showing it to us. I personally have examined thai Charter and it is obviously authentic.

In fact, in 1791 when the Prince Hall Grand Lod«e was first organized, if my recollection is correct, there were only four independent Grand Lodges in the whole of the United States. In other words, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge is older than any Grand Lodge represented by almost everyone in this room, or the vast majority.

RECONSIDERATION OF REPORT, JUNE 1949

Direction given by the Grand Master in March, 1949; Page 1949-41.

"The Grand Master stated that in view of the misinterpretations by some Grand Lodges of the action taken by this Grand Lodge in March, 1947, he had referred this matter back to the original committee of Past Grand Masters for further clarification and for recommendations as to further action. This Committee, to which M.W. Samuel H. Wragg was added, is requested to report to Grand Lodge at the Quarterly Communication of June 9, 1949."

On June 8, 1949, the following report was submitted and approved; Page 1949-99.

"To the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts:

"As requested by you on March 9th, your Committee has reconsidered the subject of Negro Freemasonry. It has given careful and sympathetic attention to the various comments of certain other Grand Lodges relative to its earlier report of November 25, 1946, as approved by the Grand Lodge on March 12, 1947, and has re-examined the original source material on which its earlier report was based, but we believe it will serve no good purpose to re-open the discussion.

"Misunderstandings and statements which we feel to be erroneous have produced unfortunate events. The net result is producing disharmony in American Freemasonry, whereas unity is what we need more than anything else. Unity and harmony are vastly more important to the Fraternity than debates about Negro Freemasonry.

"Therefore, in the interest of Masonic harmony, we recommend that the vote of the Grand Lodge on March 12, 1947, whereby our earlier report was approved, should be rescinded."

Fraternally submitted

Joseph Earl Perry, Chairman
Melvin M. Johnson
Arthur D. Prince
Claude L. Allen
Samuel H. Wragg
Arthur W. Coolidge

Relations with Negro Masonic organizations remained essentially a dead letter until the revival of interest in the 1990s. This report was in response to adverse reactions from other Grand Lodges.

ST. CROIX LODGE, 1955

A petition was presented from Brethren in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, but some of the petitioners were Negroes, complicating the process.

COMMITTEE INVESTIGATION, DECEMBER 1968

From Proceedings, 1968-301, 12/11/1968:

"This committee consisting of all the living Past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge has given, and is giving, earnest and continuous study to the subject referred to it and has been in friendly contact with some of the leaders in Negro Masonry. The subject is important and complicated and deserves the continuing interest of our Grand Lodge but it is our unanimous judgment that no formal action by this Grand Lodge would be wise or desirable at this time.

"Respectfully submitted,
Joseph E. Perry, Chairman
Thomas S. Roy
Andrew G. Jenkins
A. Neill Osgood
Laurence E. Eaton
Whitfield W. Johnson"

MEETINGS BY GRAND MASTER, SEPTEMBER 1969

From Proceedings, 1969-261, 09/10/1969:

"I want now to speak to you about a matter which has concerned this Grand Lodge for many years. I have reference to our relationship to Negro Masonry. Our continuing Committee of Past Grand Masters appointed to study Negro Masonry in the United States, has this subject constantly in mind. I know that in some areas of our Grand Jurisdiction there exists an interest in our relationship with Negro Masonry, especially Prince Hall Masonry, and that several Lodges have in years past expressed the hope that our Grand Lodge would recognize Prince Hall Masonry. I believe that the interest of our Lodge and our Members is increasing, and I am not surprised that it does gain some impetus because of our increased awareness of the basic justice of civil rights.

"The problem, however, is not easily solved, nor easily defined. There are those who urge that we re-affirm our resolution of 1947. Some think that we should Masonically recognize Prince Hall Masonry. Some believe that we should invite Prince Hall Masonry into our Grand Lodge structure as a Provincial Grand Lodge, and there are those who argue for the status quo which permits a man, whatever his color, to make application for membership in Masonry and be accepted if found worthy.

"As with civil rights, our country is Masonically divided in its reaction to the recognition of Negro Masonry. We cannot view without dismay the prospect of Masonic disharmony in this country, whatever its cause. Relationships between Grand Jurisdictions are best developed and preserved at the level of the Grand Lodge in each jurisdiction.

"Representatives of a number of jurisdictions that share this Masonic problem have met on two occasions to exchange views and to consider possible actions and reactions. I have made every effort as your Grand Master to foster harmony between our Grand Lodge and all those which I have visited. My effort has been to discover whether a united approach is possible to the common problem of the Grand Lodges in the states in which Negro Masonry exists, and to develop a tolerant attitude among the other Grand Lodges which will result in a Masonic understanding of any future action which our Grand Lodge might take.

"Within Massachusetts our relationship with Prince Hall Masonry had been until recently at the Grand Lodge level. Our Committee on Negro Masonry, consisting of our presiding and Past Grand Masters, have held two fraternal and mutually helpful dinner meetings with the Prince Hall Grand Master and some of his Past Grand Masters and Officers. In the Spring of this year, I invited M.W. Brother William E. Reed, Grand Master of Prince Hall Masonry in Massachusetts to still another dinner under similar circumstances. It was decided to postpone it until Fall, and on September 4th I extended another invitation.

"I hope that this information will indicate to you the extent of my interest and concern, and that of all our Grand Lodge Officers. I ask for your indulgence in attempting to arrive at the solution which will be best for Massachusetts Masonry and for Masonry in the entire United States, and will be just and Masonically equitable to our Negro Brethren.

"This can best be done, and must be done, at the Grand Lodge level. If our constituent Lodges become involved or communicate with the Grand Lodges of other jurisdictions, whether recognized or not recognized, without a full knowledge of what has already been done, they are working at cross purposes to our Grand Lodge and may be performing a disservice to the other Grand Lodges. I call your attention to Section 703 of the Grand Constitutions which reads as follows:

Inter-jurisdictional correspondence shall in all cases be conducted through the Office of the Grand Master except as he may otherwise order.

At this time I request, in the hope that it will not be necessary for me to enjoin, our constituent Lodges, their Officers and Members, to strictly observe the provisions of Section 703 and to refrain from communication, either officially or unofficially, on Masonic matters with any unrecognized Grand Lodge, or with its subordinate Lodges, their Officers or Members. It is fundamental Masonic Law of long standing that such communications be conducted by the respective Grand Lodges.

"I strongly urge our constituent Lodges to feel free to tell the Grand Master of their concern or hope for action on any matter at any time, but I request that no Lodge enter upon a program of circularizing other constituent Lodges or urging concerted action with such Lodges on the matter of Negro Masonry.

"Please be assured that this subject will continue to be of great concern to me, your Grand Lodge Officers and the Grand Lodge Committee on Negro Masonry.

"Our principal purpose as Masons must always be to so strongly inculcate the teachings of Masonry in the minds and hearts of our Members that those teachings will be evidenced in their individual lives, in the Community and in the World.

"In like manner the solution of this problem must ultimately come from the hearts and minds of Masons who profess love of all mankind, and who rejoice in a universal friendship under God, the Father of us all."

PRINCE HALL MASONRY, JUNE 1970

Page 1970-337, 06/10/1970, on Prince Hall national meetings.

"During the middle days of August, Boston will be host to the Conference of Grand Masters of Prince Hall Masonry, followed within a few days by the meetings of their Imperial Shrine and their system of Scottish Rite Masonry and other related Prince Hall bodies.

"There will be literally thousands of Prince Hall Masons and their families in the City of Boston. I am sure that all of us will welcome the opportunity to offer a friendly smile and words of welcome to indicate to our friends our pleasure in having them in our midst.

"Increasingly I have become aware that one or more Bodies in Massachusetts, having a close tie to Masonry, restrict their applicants to non-Negroes, supporting their position by the statement that they take their lead from the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, and stating that the Grand Lodge does not accept Negroes as members.

"That is not true. I want to make it crystal clear that the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts makes no distinction between men because of the color of their skin, or of their race, or of the their creed. I will no longer permit this misconception to be circulated in this Jurisdiction without challenge. A continuance of this attitude will result in the withdrawal of all support and sponsorship of the Body or Bodies involved."

RAINBOW AND EASTERN STAR, SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 1970

Page 1970-390, 09/09/1970, on Rainbow.

"At our June 1970 Communication, I said that I had become increasingly aware that one or more bodies in Massachusetts having a close tie to Masonry restricted their applicants to non-Negroes, giving as their reason that they follow the lead of our Grand Lodge and that our symbolic Lodges are not permitted to accept Negroes as Members. I said the statement is untrue, and you know that it is not true. Influencing my remarks was the action of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls in withdrawing recognition from the Auburn, Massachusetts Assembly of Rainbow in October 1969 shortly after the Supreme Deputy for Massachusetts, on the occasion of her first visit to Auburn Assembly, noticed a colored young lady among the Members. This has greatly disturbed the Members of Auburn Assembly, and of course their advisors as well. Knowledge of the action is widespread among the Assemblies of Rainbow Girls of Massachusetts and is causing them very real anguish as they find themselves involved in an organization with high ideals, but still does not permit the Membership of a Negro girl.

"I have received untold telephone calls and some correspondence with reference to this matter. One young lady, a Member of another Massachusetts Assembly, says: This ruling shocked, hurt, and infuriated me to think that an organization like Rainbow should have such a rule. It is impossible to sit through an assembly meeting without thinking that everything we do and say does not hold true because of this one rule. She adds that: The reason given is that Masons, among others, sponsor Rainbow, and Masons do not allow Negroes, so Rainbow cannot allow Negroes. She makes the strong point that the Order of DeMolay in Massachusetts is also sponsored by Masons and they are allowed to have Negroes in their Chapters.

"Letters from concerned Brother Masons express chagrin and fear for the harm that may be done our Fraternity by such indiscriminate and erroneous statements.

"I acknowledge that the Order of the Rainbow for Girls has no official tie with the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, that it is a separate organization and I have been very careful not to seem to interfere. However, as the opportunities have presented themselves, I have discussed this matter with Mrs. Agnes MacLeod, Supreme Worthy Advisor, Mrs. Martha Marie Whitfield and Judge Lavern Fishel, Supreme Parliamentarian, as well as with Mrs. Ona Carnes, Supreme Deputy for Massachusetts. My discussions with the first three who comprise the Jurisprudence Committee of the Supreme Assembly, International Order of the Rainbow for Girls, did not involve the Auburn Assembly impasse at all. As Grand Master, my appeal was that the Order of Rainbow in Massachusetts be permitted in fact to follow the lead of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts with respect to the eligibility of Negroes for Membership.

"Subsequent to the Biannual meeting of the Supreme Assembly of Rainbow in Cleveland, Ohio, in late July, I wrote to Brother Fishel (August 13, 1979) with copies to the other Members of the Jurisprudence Committee expressing the hope that as much in advance of our September 9th Communication as possible I might learn whether such freedom of action is now permitted in Assemblies of Rainbow in Massachusetts, and if not, what if any action has been taken. I said that I would be delighted to report at that meeting that such may be done and added that it would give me the opportunity to make a fist strong move in fostering a closer tie between the Order of Rainbow for Girls and our Massachusetts Masonry. Hopefully it would become as close as that we presently enjoy with the Order of DeMolay. I have had no reply.

"I wrote on August 19, 1970 to Mrs. Carnes, the Supreme Deputy for Massachusetts, a somewhat similar letter, expressing concern and curiosity as to what had transpired and the hope that she might give me some good news both for our Masonic Craft and the Order of The Rainbow for Girls. By telephone on September 1, I learned from Mrs. Carnes that the Auburn situation is unchanged following a discussion or hearing accorded four representatives of the Auburn Advisory Council in Cleveland by the Jurisprudence Committee. She said: Any Assembly that is failing to comply with the decisions as they affect eligibility for membership shall have their charter revoked and all recognition by the Supreme Assembly withdrawn. I find no fault with that statement; it follows closely the pattern of the relationship between our Grand Lodge and the symbolic Lodges. I only wish the color requirements were less severe.

"With reference to my hope for easing of the ruling with reference to Negroes in Massachusetts, Mrs. Carnes told me the there has been no change from the oft-repeated statement through the years by those in authority that anyone with any percentage of Ethiopian blood would not be accepted to membership. Subsequently she told me that at the Supreme Assembly sessions the Jurisprudence Committee I mentioned earlier was authorized and directed to serve as a fact-finding committee to collect factual data and report to the next Supreme Assembly Session. They meet biannually; hence it appears that there can be no action for at least two more years.

"My options are several, including the enjoining of Massachusetts Masons and all other Masons residing in Massachusetts from serving on the Advisory Broads of the Assemblies. A narrow view of the whole unhappy situation would seem to indicate that we emphasize our position by our action.

"To do so would result in hurting and abandoning our daughters and their friends that are Members of recognized Massachusetts Assemblies. I am not willing at this point to take action that would harm and possibly destroy in Massachusetts an Order that had done so much for so many young ladies. I am proud that my daughter is a Past Worthy Advisor. Her association with the Order did much to mold her into the fine young wife and mother that she is. My present attitude therefore is to hope that patience may overcome prejudice and prove more conciliatory than precipitate action.

"I urge all of our Massachusetts Masons who are Members of Advisory Boards of the Order of Rainbow for Girls to continue their great contribution to a basically fine organization and prayerfully work toward the disregard of a girl's color and the increasing regard for her character.

"In the meantime, I shall offer to Auburn Assembly, should they wish it, and to any other Assembly that finds itself in a similar position, should they desire it, every possible support just as long as the Assembly continues to be an influence for good among our daughters and their friends.

"Maybe one day, black will be among the colors of the Rainbow.

"I am more than grateful than you can possibly realize for your acceptance of this report."

Page 1970-597, 12/09/1970:

"In my remarks of September 9, 1970 at the Quarterly Communication of this Grand Lodge, I reported my concern that the Order of the Rainbow for Girls had withdrawn recognition of the Auburn, Massachusetts, Assembly of Rainbow in October of 1969 because the Assembly had accepted a Negro young lady as a member. I told of my contacts with the Jurisprudence Committee of the Supreme Assembly, International Order of the Rainbow for Girls made in the hope that at least in Massachusetts the Order would follow the lead of our Grand Lodge with respect to the eligibility of Negroes for membership.

"I stated that I had written on August 13, 1970 to Judge Laverne Fishel, Supreme Parliamentarian, and a member of the Jurisprudence Committee of Rainbow expressing the hope that I might learn what action had been taken at the Supreme Assembly of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls on the occasion of their biannual meeting in late July, and said that as of our meeting date, September 9, 1970, I had not received a reply.

"Judge Fishel wrote on September 17, 1970 that the Supreme Assembly had resolved that the policy and guide lines of admittance to membership as regards race, creed and color in the Order of the Rainbow for Girls would be as pronounced in the decisions of the General Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. Further, said he, it was resolved that any Assembly failing to comply with this policy and guide line is subject to having its Charter revoked and recognition withdrawn by Supreme Assembly.

"On September 21, 1970 I asked him if he would tell me what is the policy and what are the guide lines as pronounced in the decisions of the General Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star to which his September 17th letter referred.

"The Judge's September 30, 1970 reply reads as follows:

"Pursuant to your request of September 21, 1970, the following is submitted.

"Contained in the Decisions of the General Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, 1876-1955, Page 12, the following language appears:

Ethiopian Blood

  1. No person with any percentage of Ethiopian blood can be elected or initiated to membership. M.W.G.M. Chapin 1922, Page 48.

"It is my understanding that this question is on the Agenda at General Grand Chapter this year in Wisconsin."

"Your Grand Master wishes more than anyone else for a close rapport between the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts and the Order of the Eastern Star. No single action could accomplish this more quickly than the abandonment of the decision of one Most Worthy Grand Matron of forty-eight years ago.

"There would seem to be the opportunity for such action when the Massachusetts Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, meets in annual conclave in May, 1971. Your Grand Master will hopefully and prayerfully listen for word that the approaching impasse has been avoided."

PRINCE HALL CORRESPONDENCE, DECEMBER 1970

Page 1970-598, 12/09/1970, on interjurisdictional correspondence and Prince Hall.

"At the September 1969 Quarterly Communication I requested, in the hope that it would not be necessary for me to enjoin, our constituent Lodges, their Officers and Members to strictly observe the provisions of Section 703 of the Grand Constitutions which reads:

Interjurisdictional correspondence shall in all cases be conducted through the Office of the Grand Master, except as he may otherwise order.

and to refrain from communicating either officially or unofficially on Masonic matters with any unrecognized Grand Lodge or with its subordinate Lodges, their Officers, or Members. In September of this year I became aware that one of our Lodges proposed to vote at their next communication on a motion that one or more Prince Hall Freemasons be invited to seek an admission to a subsequent regular meeting of the Lodge and that if such Prince Hall Freemasons satisfactorily passed examination by a committee appointed by the Master, they were to be admitted to the regular meeting of that Lodge.

"The Grand Secretary of our Grand Lodge, upon learning of this proposed action, notified the Secretary of the Lodge that if the Brethren should take affirmative action on the vote proposed at their meeting, such action would be void and have no effect in view of the fact that the admission of visitors not having a duly authorized uniform card was in direct violation of Section 501 of the Constitutions and Regulations of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts.

"At my direction the Worshipful Master did not allow the proposed vote to be taken. In confirming this directive in a letter dated October 6, 1970, I expressed my reluctance to conclude that the action was taken in deliberate violation of the Grand Constitutions and Masonic Common Law, although there were a number of Past Masters of the Lodge in the meeting room. His attention was called to that portion of my remarks included in the Grand Master's address of September 10, 1969, which I have just read. I added that in view of the then present situation, and to dispel any possible doubt in his mind or in the minds of his Officers and Members who might succeed his as Master, I was enjoining him and his successors in office as Master of his Lodge from presenting to the Lodge for action the proposed vote, or any vote of similar purport, at any time in the future unless and until the injunction should have been removed by me or by one of my successors in office.

"I ordered that the Master and his Members individually and collectively as a Lodge were perpetually enjoined from engaging in Masonic conversation or Masonic intercourse of any nature whatsoever, either personally or officially with any person not a Member of a Lodge under the Jurisdiction of a regular Grand Lodge recognized as such by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. It is a fundamental Masonic Law of long standing that such communications be conducted by the respective Grand Lodges. Although I do not at this time change the wording of my admonition of September 1969, and although I will continue the use of the word request rather that enjoin, similar action in the future by any Massachusetts Lodge or Member thereof will be dealt with as though it was a violation of a Grand Master's edict."

PRINCE HALL MASONRY, DECEMBER 1970

Page 1970-600, 12/09/1970, on Prince Hall Masonry.

"You will recall my report to you of attendance at a pleasant luncheon as a guest of William Reed, the Grand Master of Prince Hall Masons in Massachusetts, in August, at the Parker House on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of Grand Masters of Prince Hall Masonry. I described it as a completely informal luncheon. It was not during their Conference Sessions. The invitation read: Please accept this special invitation to be with us and many friends on August 14, 1970 at the Parker House between 11:30 A.M. and 2:00 P.M. for a high Social Gathering.

"Because of highly erroneous newspaper reports of that which I considered a simple, friendly gesture, attendance at the luncheon has been misunderstood by the leaders of many Jurisdictions throughout the Country. They have expressed reactions varying from mild curiosity to great concern.

"My statement to them has been that my appearance on the occasion of the 1970 Conference of Grand Masters, Prince Hall Masons, which was held in Boston, as it is once every ten years, was not at a meeting of their Conference. It was a completely informal luncheon. I did not meet with them during their deliberation, nor participate in their Conference work.

"All of those with whom I have discussed this matter have expressed understanding and ready acceptance of my statement.

"I hope that my presence at the Luncheon may have served to demonstrate that men of good will everywhere should seek out and can find some common grounds on which to meet and discuss their mutual aims and aspirations.

"On August 28, 1969, I was requested by William E. Reed, Grand Master of Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Jurisdiction of Massachusetts, to lay before our Grand Lodge their petition for a re-affirmation of the resolution of our Grand Lodge in 1947 relating to the regularity of origin of Prince Hall Masonry when tested by the Masonic Laws and Customs prevailing in the 1780's. This resolution was rescinded by our Grand Lodge in 1949, and there still exist differences of opinion as to the correctness of the conclusions in the 1947 resolution.

"I am not questioning the legitimacy of African Lodge #459 which was constituted by a Charter issued to Prince Hall by the Grand Lodge of England, although that Charter dated September 29, 1784, was considered by the Grand Lodge of England in 1813 to have become ineffective.

"Prince Hall was working under a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England. He promised to be governed by the Laws of that Grand Lodge.

"R.W. James W. Stubbs, the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, has written that he knows of no instance of an English Lodge assuming the right to constitute other Lodges. Within the past year, that position has been restated by Brother Stubbs in the following letter to the Grand Secretary dated December 11, 1969:

Further to your letters of 28th November, the receipt of which I acknowledged on 4th December, the position with regard to the Prince Hall organization as seen by the United Grand Lodge of England is that it claims descent from the Warrant issued on the 29th September, 1784 in favor of fifteen men of color residing in Boston, Massachusetts, to form a Lodge (then No. 459) on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of England. That Warrant, which like any other Warrant issued to a private Lodge, gave no power to the Masons of that Lodge to form other Lodges.

So far as the Grand Lodge of England is concerned, the brief history of the matter is that the Lodge in Boston, which was known as African Lodge, became inactive for one reason or another (no dues or communications received from it since the late 1790's) and it was erased from the Roll of our Grand Lodge in 1813, whereupon the Warrant became ineffective. This Warrant may still be in the possession of the Prince Hall Masons in the United States but had it come back into our possessions, as strictly speaking it should have done, it would have been endorsed as cancelled and retained for the records in our archives.

From the English Masonic point of view, therefore, the Prince Hall movement has been acting unconstitutionally by assuming the functions of a Grand Lodge and issuing Warrants to form other Lodges. African Lodge was formed as a Lodge under the Grand Lodge of England and therefore it remained an English Lodge throughout the period of its existence: the Lodge and Members were subject to the regulations of the Grand Lodge of England and they had no authority to use or act on the English Warrant by way of forming other Lodges and then forming themselves into a Grand Lodge.

I hope your Grand Master will find the information helpful in the consideration of the matter by your Grand Lodge.

"On the basis of all information currently available to me as to the Laws and Customs of the Mother Grand Lodge of England, and without prejudice, I feel that no useful purpose would be served by placing the above request before our Grand Lodge at this time.

"Nonetheless, I want you to know that I have the greatest respect for those Prince Hall Masons whom I have come to know. I only wish that there were more areas that appear to exist in which we might exhibit our admiration for the work they are doing."

RAINBOW AND EASTERN STAR, SEPTEMBER 1971

Page 1971-393, 09/08/1971, on OES and Rainbow.

"You will recall my earlier concern the Assemblies of the Order of the Rainbow for Girls in Massachusetts had been, by direction of its leaders both at the International level and the State level, unable to accept Negro young ladies as Members. I related to you that I had been informed that this policy stemmed from a similar prohibition of the Order of the Eastern Star. I concluded that section of my address by saying that the Massachusetts Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, seemed to have an opportunity to protest the restriction and to embrace a more enlightened attitude when they met in Annual Session in May, 1971.

"I am pleased that first move in that direction was taken by a petition to the Most Worthy Grand Matron, of the General Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, by Massachusetts Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, requesting the privilege of accepting such applicants into membership in Massachusetts and asked a decision within ninety days of the day of the vote, which I believe was May 15, 1971. I understand that a response has been made, but I have no knowledge of its nature, whether favorable or unfavorable.

"I offer my commendation and applause to the Massachusetts Grand Chapter for its courageous action, and regardless of whether the petition has been granted, urge all Master Masons who are Members of the Order of the Eastern Star to continue to move in that direction. I am confident that they will do so, because as Massachusetts Masons they are a part of the strong band of brethren within the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts which does not have and never has had a requirement as to race, creed, or religion as a basis of Membership."

PRINCE HALL RECOGNITION, MARCH 1995

Page 1995-44, 03/08/1995, on Prince Hall recognition.

"Today is an historic day for this Grand Lodge manifested by your vote to recognize the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. You will recall that at the December Quarterly, we announced that on that day the United Grand Lodge of England granted recognition to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. We have had several meetings with the Grand Officers of Prince Hall and the Committee on Foreign Relations has made an investigation regarding the regularity of this Grand Lodge, and by your vote, this has been accomplished.

"It is interesting to note that this is the third time that recognition has been requested by Prince Hall and the second time that a favorable vote was taken. In 1947, this Grand Lodge voted to recognize the legitimacy of Prince Hall. This vote was rescinded in 1949 due to the withdrawal of recognition of our Grand Lodge by a number of other Grand Lodges. We were 48 years ahead of our time. In 1970, no vote was taken because of the position of the United Grand Lodge of England. There is much literature and many dissertations on this subject, and it my hope that all of that is now behind us and we can now offer the hand of friendship to these Brothers. There is still some work to be done as the United Grand Lodge recognizes only the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and none of the others. I expect that there was some discussion of this subject at their Quarterly meeting today, and we will keep you posted. In the meantime, I must caution you that the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is the only Prince Hall Grand Lodge recognized by Massachusetts."

Note that M.W. Edgar R. McLean, Prince Hall Grand Master, gave remarks at the June 14, 1995 Quarterly Communication, beginning on Page 1995-105.

From TROWEL, Fall 1995, Page 5:

Prince Hall Masonry Welcomed at Quarterly

An historic and momentous happening at the I Regular Quarterly Communication of our Grand Lodge brought a prolonged standing ovation as the Most Worshipful Grand Master, Past Grand Masters and Grand Lodge Officers of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, Jurisdiction of Massachusetts were formally received into our Grand Lodge on Wednesday, June 14th. This followed official recognition which was voted at the Quarterly Communication in March and which was reciprocated by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge.

M. W. Edgar R. McLean, Grand Master, introduced his Cabinet of Officers and spoke with great feeling of the historical significance of the occasion. M. W. David W. Lovering presented Bro. McLean with the prestigious Henry Price Medal with suitable remarks.

Grand Representatives were exchanged with R. W. Donald D. Lowell being appointed as the Grand Lodge Representative of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge near our Grand Lodge and M. W. Chester R. Isles, Past Grand Master, as our Grand Representative near the Prince Hall Grand Lodge. It was a joyous realization of the true meaning of Brotherhood.

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Grand Representatives: M. W. Chester R. Isles, M. W. David W. Lovering, M. W. Edgar R. McLean, R. W. Donald D. Lowell.

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The Grand Masters: M. W. David W. Lovering, M. W. Edgar R. McLean.

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The Grand Masters, Grand Marshals and Grand Representatives with the Prince Hall Cabinet of Officers.

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The Grand Marshals: R. W. E. Joel Peterson, Wor. Wilbur Evans.

(Is that a look of envy from Bro. Peterson for the beautiful sash of Bro. Evans?)

Photos by David Newcomb.


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