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It should be appreciated that M∴ W∴ Brother William Upton's 1899
paper on the recognition of Prince Hall Masonry stands as a historic monument
within the Craft; speaking to the issue of the Level among Mason's, despite
the contrary “equality attitudes, more typical of the time.
Still, it took nearly another century, before the matter of Prince
Hall recognition became a globally widespread reality.
This file is not intended as a near-perfect rendition of the
original essay. It represents a text source for the researcher's need to
expediently cut-and-paste the desired sections of the original document – also
offered as a
LIGHT ON A DARK SUBJECT
WILLIAM H. UPTON, A. M., LL. M.,
Grand Master of Masons in the State of Washington.
LIGHT ON A DARK SUBJECT
A Critical Examination
OF OBJECTIONS TO THE LEGITIMACY OF THE MASONRY EXISTING
AMONG THE NEGROES OF AMERICA.
BY WILLIAM H. UPTON, A. M., LL. M.,
Grand Master of Masons in the State of Washington.
THE PACIFIC SEATTLE MASON, PUBLISHER.
COPYRIGHT BY J.M. TAYLOR, 1899
Wilson & Blankenship, Printers
The following paper was originally prepared for the use of the
members of the Grand Lodge of Washington, Free and Accepted Masons. The
opinion having been expressed that the interest felt by members of the
Fraternity throughout the country in the subject to which the paper relates
will occasion a demand for the "Proceedings" of that Grand Lodge which would
cast an undue burden on the Grand Lodge; and THE PACIFIC MASON, with its usual
public spirit, having offered to come to the relief of the Grand Lodge by
publishing a separate edition of the essay, a few copies are now issued in the
The writer can add nothing to the idea expressed in the
introductory part of the paper: That it was written solely with a view of
supplying, in a convenient form, more correct information upon the subject of
"Negro Masonry” than is generally accessible. If the paper assists the candid
seeker after truth to form a more correct conception of the history and
rightful status of the Negro Mason, its end will have been accomplished.
The writer will be glad to be informed of any errors or
inaccuracies that may have crept into the paper.
W. H. U.
Walla Walla, June, 1899.
A CRITICAL EXAMINATION
Of Objections to the Legitimacy of the Masonry Existing Among
the Negroes of America.
INTRODUCTORY. ……..….……………………………….……….………………………….………….…… 1-8
LIST OF OBJECTIONS ……..….……………………………………………….………….……….……….…… 9
Objections to the initiation of PRINCE HALL ………………………………….…………….……….……….…
Objections to the inchoate Lodge, 1775-1787 ……………………….……………………….…………….……….…17
Objections to African Lodge, No. 459. ………………………………………….…………….……….……18-
BRITISH MASONRY, 17 75-1787 — a Digression ……….……….……………………….…………. 22-26
MASONRY IN MASSACHUSETTS, 1775-1787 — a Digression ………………………….……….…. 27-32
Objections to the career of African Lodge, 1808-1847, ………………………….………….…………
Objections to Lodges founded by PRINCE HALL ……….……….…………………………….………. 49-58
Objections to the first negro Grand Lodge …………………………….……….……….…………………. 59-67
Objections to later negro Grand Lodges ……….……….………………………….………….…….……… 68- 71
MASONRY IN THE PHILIPPINES AN ALLEGORY ……………..………………………….…………. 73
Objections to recognition ……….…………………………….…………..….……….……….……….……….………. 74-89
How to solve the problem ……….…….……………………………….…………….……….……….……….………. 90-93
Appendices ……….……….………………………….………….……….……….……………………………… ………... 94
§1. At the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Washington
in 1897 a respectful petition was received from two colored men who claimed to
be Masons, praying the Grand Lodge to "devise some way” whereby they might be
"brought into communication with” members of the Craft in this state. The
petition was referred to a committee composed of Past Grand Masters THOMAS
MILBURNE REED and JAMES EWEN EDMISTON and the present writer, then a Grand
Warden. The committee reported the following year, and its report was adopted
by an almost unanimous vote. In their report the committee plainly expressed
the personal belief of the members thereof, that the negro Masons of the
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
United States who can trace their descent from the Grand Lodge of England are
as fully entitled to the name of Masons as any other brethren.
But, as they knew that a different view was entertained in many
quarters; and were satisfied that the ends of justice could be served without
any change in our law; out of comity, and in the interest of harmony, they
recommended only the adoption of certain resolutions, which left the status of
the petitioners as it was under the Landmarks and ancient usages of the Craft,
except that the Grand Lodge declared that the colored Masons might cultivate
the royal art and regulate their own affairs within this state without
molestation from it. * Because the committee took the view that the matter
before it concerned this Grand Lodge alone, and was prepared to answer orally
on the floor of the Grand Lodge any questions that might be asked; and because
it intended to propose no change in our law, unless the declaration just
mentioned amounts to a change, it did not deem it necessary to discuss — with
three exceptions, and these but briefly — the objections that
* The following were the resolutions adopted:
"Resolved, That, in the opinion of this Grand Lodge, Masonry is
universal ; and, without doubt, neither race nor color are among the tests
proper to be applied to determine the fitness of a candidate for the degrees
“Resolved, That in view of recognized laws of the Masonic
Institution, and of facts of history apparently well authenticated and worthy
of full credence, this Grand Lodge does not see its way clear to deny or
question the right of its constituent Lodges, or of the members thereof, to
recognize as brother Masons, negroes who have been initiated in Lodges which
can trace their origin to African Lodge, No. 459, organized under the warrant
of our R. W. Brother THOMAS HOWARD, Earl of EFFINGHAM, Acting Grand Master,
under the authority of H. R. H. HENRY FREDERICK, Duke of CUMBERLAND, etc.,
Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honourable Society of F. & A. Masons in
England, bearing date September 29, A. L. 5784, or to our R. W. Brother PRINCE
HALL, Master of said Lodge; and, in the opinion of this Grand Lodge, for the
purpose of tracing such origin, the African Grand Lodge, of Boston, organized
in 1808— subsequently known as the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,
the first African Grand Lodge of North America in and for the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, organized in 1815, and the Hiram Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania may
justly be regarded as legitimate Masonic Grand Lodges.
“Resolved, That while this Grand Lodge recognizes no difference
between brethren based upon race or color, yet it is not unmindful of the fact
that the white and colored races in the United States have in many ways shown
a preference to remain, in purely social matters, separate and apart. In view
of this inclination of the two races— Masonry being pre- eminently a social
Institution—this Grand Lodge deems it to the best interest of Masonry to
declare that if regular Masons of African descent desire to establish, within
the State of Washington, Lodges confined wholly or chiefly to brethren of
their race, and shall establish such Lodges strictly in accordance with the
Landmarks of Masonry, and in accordance with Masonic Law as heretofore
interpreted by Masonic tribunals of their own race, and if such Lodges shall
in due time see fit in like manner to erect a Grand Lodge for the better
administration of their affairs, this Grand Lodge, having more regard for the
good of Masonry than for any mere technicality, will not regard the
establishment of such Lodges or Grand Lodge as an invasion of its
jurisdiction, but as evincing a disposition to conform to its own ideas as to
the best interests of the Craft under peculiar circumstances; and will ever
extend to our colored brethren its sincere sympathy in every effort to promote
the welfare of the Craft or inculcate the pure principles of our Art.
“Resolved, That the Grand Secretary be instructed to acknowledge
receipt of the communication from GIDEON S. BAILEY and CON A. RIDEOUT, and
forward to them a copy of the printed Proceedings of this annual communication
of the Grand Lodge, as a response to said communication. “— Proceedings, G. L.
of Washington, 1898, p. 60.
have been urged, from time to time, against the legitimacy of negro Masonry;
but contented itself with remarking that they had been "fully met and
completely answered, over and over again. “Subsequent events seem to me to
demonstrate that this course was a mistake; and I feel free to say so, as I
prepared the report of the committee. For, during the year, those same old,
threadbare and untenable objections have been brought forward in numerous
Grand Lodges; with the result, not only that this Grand Lodge has been
condemned without a hearing, but that the question itself has been prejudiced
in many Grand Lodges for another generation, by the mistaken notion that its
merits were fully examined in the year 1898-0 by committees of those
jurisdictions. As a matter of fact, no single committee — so far as indicated
by its report — has given it more than a superficial examination, or shown any
acquaintance with the later literature of the subject, referred to by the
Washington committee last year.
§ 2. The comity and consideration for the opinions of others shown
by the Washington committee and Grand Lodge were neither appreciated nor
reciprocated. During the year, in a number of Grand Lodges, the position of
this Grand Lodge has been savagely attacked, often in language disgraceful to
Masonry. Men whose utterances fail to disclose even a superficial acquaintance
with either the history or the law of the subject, have presumed to sit as
judges in condemnation of this Grand Lodge; and Grand Lodges have usurped a
supervisory power over our actions which, if acquiesced in, means not only the
destruction of the sovereignty of this Grand Lodge, but the end of that
principle of self-government among Masons which has been claimed as a
cornerstone of our Institution since the dawn of its history.
§ 3. Under these circumstances, it seemed to me to be due to the
brethren of this Grand Lodge — who, last year, confided in the judgment,
knowledge and integrity of their committee, and who, this year, may be called
upon to again pass upon similar questions; as well as to friends of this Grand
Lodge elsewhere who may lack time or opportunity to investigate the subject
for themselves, that a plain statement should be made of the reasons which
exist for considering the negro Masons of America within the pale of the
Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. I had hoped that
some other of the many hands in this jurisdiction more capable than mine might
prepare this statement; and especially that it might be undertaken by that
beloved brother who has ruled over two generations of Masons and now dwells in
honor among the third, and who has had no superior among Masons in the state
of his nativity*, or
* Grand Secretary REED first saw both the light of nature and the light of
Masonry in Kentucky—the jurisdiction which was the first to denounce us, and
the one which employed the most indecent language. Brother EDMISTON, another
member of our committee on Negro Masonry, and a Mason who, as chairman of the
Committee on Jurisprudence, has made a reputation as a Masonic jurist such as
no other son of Arkansas enjoys, is a native of that State; and in the
Confederate army did what he could to rivet the shackles of slavery on the
negro. The Grand Lodge of his native State sought to rival Kentucky in
malignant abuse of this Grand Lodge.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
in the State whose foundations he assisted to lay. But one circumstance after
another seemed to lay the task upon me. It is a task which I would gladly have
escaped. I have no taste for controversy; I feel no special interest in negro
Masonry, and originally discussed the subject only because detailed to that
duty by my Grand Master. Other deterrent circumstances, also, exist, too
personal in their nature to be of interest to the reader, but which constantly
remind me of the vanity of all things earthly; and, most of all, of the
frivolity of such petty prejudices and technicalities as have prompted the
recent attacks on this Grand Lodge, and of those attacks themselves: "He that
sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.“
§ 4. I am not particularly intimidated by the knowledge, which has come to me
during the year, not merely by what has appeared in print but by abusive
letters, that the undertaking will subject me to scurrilous abuse and cowardly
vituperation; for since I have learned how thin the veneer of Masonry and of
civilization is upon some men who have held high places in Masonic councils;
and that, as one eminent brother has expressed it, men whom I had been wont to
look up to as leaders are "fifty years behind the times and a thousand years
behind the principles they profess, “I have become indifferent to their abuse:
as LAURENCE DERMOTT expressed it, "I do not find that the calumny of a few
Modern Masons has done me any real injury. “
I shall write for four classes of readers: First, the little band
of Masonic scholars who, in diverse climes, pursue their studies for the sake
of truth alone—the most of these already know and declare that the Grand Lodge
of Washington is right; second, that large class of brethren who have neither
time nor opportunities for personal investigation, and are compelled to take
their information at second hand; third, a determined and implacable and well
organized band of men who have determined that, right or wrong, Mason or no
Mason, come what may, the negro shall not be recognized by American Grand
Lodges; and, lastly, the members of my own Grand Lodge, who may be called upon
to act upon the matters which I shall discuss, and who have a right to feel
sure of their ground before acting. I feel that the first and last of these
classes know me well enough to rely implicitly on the frankness and candor
with which I shall address them. I feel quite as certain that the discordant
and malignant cries of the third class will so drown my voice that for the
present it will not reach the ears of the second; and possessed of this
conviction I am content to address the few of today, the many of tomorrow—to
appeal to posterity and a future age.
§ 5. In casting about for a plan on which to present my view of the subject,
no better one has occurred to me than to take up, one by one, every objection
that has ever been urged against the regularity of the Masonry found among the
negroes, and set forth, under each, the reasons why it failed to impress me as
sound. This, therefore, is the course I shall adopt in the following pages;
and when I have done this I shall have placed my reader, so far as my ability
to express my meaning
clearly, and the unfavorable circumstances under which I write permit, in a
position to see why I reach the conclusion that no single one of the
objections is valid; and to judge for himself whether he agrees with me or
not. When I have done this, my task will have been completed; unless I invite
such readers only as reach the same conclusions as I do, to consider briefly
what course ought to be adopted by the white Masons of America to restore the
ancient universality of Masonry. "The curious subject of Freemasonry, “said
HALLAM,* eighty years ago, "has been treated of only by panegyrists or
calumniators,— both equally mendacious. “What was true of Freemasonry even
fifty years after HALLAM spoke, is nearly as true today of "the curious
subject” of Negro Masonry.
While I shall write of it avowedly as a partisan, I shall endeavor
not to deserve the reproach which the historian applied to our ancient
I shall avoid as much as possible the tone of controversy, and
shall cite authorities for statements of fact not found in the commoner
Masonic histories. I hope I may be pardoned for adding that I have sufficient
confidence in my own intellectual honesty to believe that Time, if she shall
point out any trifling errors of statement, and whether she confirms or
refutes my conclusions, will vindicate the candor with which I present the
subject and the correctness of my statements of historical facts.
§ 6. Origin of Negro Masonry.f—The origin of Masonry among the
negroes of the United States was as follows:
On March 6, 1775, an army Lodge attached to one of the regiments
stationed under General Gage, in or near Boston, Mass., initiated PRINCE HALL
and fourteen other colored men of Boston into the mysteries of Freemasonry.
From that beginning, with small additions from foreign countries, sprang the
Masonry among the negroes of America. These fifteen brethren were probably
authorized by the Lodge which made them — according to the custom of the day—
to assemble as a Lodge.
At least they did so, but it does not appear that they did any
“work “ until after they were regularly warranted. They applied to
the Grand Lodge of England for a warrant, March 2, 1784. It was issued to
them, as "African Lodge No.459, “f with PRINCE HALL as Master, September
*Middle Ages, iii, 359.
This sketch of the origin of negro Masonry is substantially that
compiled by the present writer in 1895 (Proceedings, G. L. of Washington,
1895, Cor. Rep., p. 206) and adopted by the Washington committee on Negro
Masonry ( Proceedings, 1898, p. 52 ). It was originally compiled from data
drawn from a great variety of sources. Its general correctness has not been
questioned by any Grand Lodge committee during the heated controversy of the
past year ; but, nevertheless, it is not here presented as authoritative, but
merely as a thread to string our inquiry upon. The few points in it concerning
which any question has ever been raised will be discussed in subsequent
sections. CLARK — a trustworthy authority — states that PRINCE HALL was
initiated a short time before March 6, but the others on that day.— Negro
Masonry in Equity, 13.
1: Were we ignorant of the manner in which Lodge numbers were
assigned, in view of subsequent events we might suspect that grim humor had
led a prophetic Grand Secretary to assign to African Lodge the number which
was borne by that “Spectator, “in which ADDISON had said, “We have just enough
religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love, one another. “
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
1884, but not received until May 2, 1787. The Lodge was organized under the
warrant four days later. It remained upon the English registry— occasionally
contributing to the Grand Charity Fund—until, upon the amalgamation of the
rival Grand Lodges of the "Moderns “and the "Ancients “into the present United
G. L. of England, in 1813, it and the other English Lodges in the United
States were erased.
Brother PRINCE HALL, a man of exceptional ability, worked
zealously in the cause of Masonry; and, from 1792 until his death in 1807,
exercised all the functions of a Provincial Grand Master. In 1797 he issued a
license to thirteen black men who had been made Masons in England to “assemble
and work “as a Lodge in Philadelphia. Another Lodge was organized, by his
authority, in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1808 these three Lodges joined in
forming the "African Grand Lodge “of Boston— subsequently styled the "Prince
Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts” — and Masonry gradually spread over the
The second colored Grand Lodge, called the “First Independent
African Grand Lodge of North America in and for the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, “was organized in 1815; and the third was the "Hiram Grand Lodge
of Pennsylvania. “These three Grand Bodies fully recognized each other in
1847, by joining in forming a National Grand Lodge, and practically all the
negro Lodges in the United States are descended from one or the other of
It is known to a certainty that they have our secrets and practice
our rites. * Many foreign Grand Lodges recognize their organizations; and
where this is not done, their individual members are commonly received as
§ 7. oStatus conceded them.— In the earliest days their Lodge was freely
visited by white Masons; + and down to the present time many white Masons,
when influenced by curiosity or higher motives, have not hesitated to thus
recognize them. But gradually, especially after some white Grand Lodges, t —
acting upon the slight information that was then accessible — had questioned
their standing, and the advantages of exclusive territorial jurisdiction had
become apparent, their origin was lost sight of; and the view that they were —
for what reason was generally but vaguely understood—more or less irregular,
became prevalent, and finally crystallized among the rank and file of the
Fraternity into almost an axiom. The subject has, however, been examined
* Proceedings, G. L. of Washington, 1895, Cor. Rep., pp. 208, 209. Letter of
P. G Master L. V. BIERCE ; New Day — New Duty, 16.
-I* PRINCE HALL incidentally mentions this ; ( see Appendix 11,
post) ; and JACOB NORTON, speaking of the same period, says, in a letter dated
Sept. 26, 1872, printed in the London Freemason: "I have indubitable proof
that African Lodge was then repeatedly visited by white brethren. “
I The terms "white Grand Lodge”and "white Lodge, “where employed
in this paper, are used merely as convenient terms to distinguish our own
organizations—in the majoritg of which no “color line”is nominally drawn —from
the negro bodies.
II New York as early as 1818 and 1829.
roughly speaking, there may be said to be about six different
ideas as to how the negro Masons should be classed, to-wit:
1. As impostors, not Masons at all; but pretending to be; and
therefore more unworthy than ordinary profanes.
2. As persons whose claim to Masonic consideration has been passed
upon adversely—legislatively, and upon an ex parte showing—by the local Grand
Lodge, and is therefore to be considered no further.
3. As Masons, more or less irregular, whose claims to legitimacy
it would be inconvenient to acknowledge; and who, therefore, had better be
quietly ignored, under the best excuse, that may be at hand.
4. As persons whose claims have never been passed upon by our
Grand Lodge, and of whom, therefore, every Mason of our jurisdiction must be
his own judge.
5. As Masons, found to have been made consistently with the
Landmarks and general laws of the Institution at large; and, therefore, with
certain claims upon us which we are not at liberty to wholly ignore; but to
whose organizations it is not expedient (out of comity for certain other
Bodies, and under certain "American doctrines") for us to accord formal or,
perhaps, any official recognition.
6. As Masons, whose organizations ought to be accorded by us the
same recognition as that accorded to other American Grand Lodges and Lodges.
The literature of the subject during the last year would indicate
that the official Grand Lodge classification of them—which, in the North, has
usually been somewhat more rigorous than the personal views of leading members
of the Grand Lodges—in a majority of jurisdictions of the United States places
them in class 2; though sometimes the language points to classes 1 or 3. The
Washington committee last year* found them in this State, in class 4; and
although the committee plainly stated that the personal opinion of its members
placed them in class 5—not in class 6, as has been inferred—it recommended
leaving them in class 4.
And that is where they stand in Washington today. Masonic sentiment
outside of the United States—and possibly parts of Canada—is practically
unanimous in placing them in classes 5 or 6.
Since the subject was under consideration in 1869 and 1876, there
has been a slight but perceptible drift of opinion in favor of the correctness
of some of the claims put forward by the negro Masons.t Thus, even in Delaware
the Grand Master now admits that- "This is not a question of the regularity
and legitimacy of PRINCE HALL'S making, but of the right which he exercised to
erect Lodges of Negro Masons. * * * “
One of the most virulent of the anti-negro writers, who in 1876
reported to his Grand Lodge that the negro Lodges were "irregular and must be
held to be clandestine, “has now reached the conclusion that- -Il
*Proceedings, G. L. of Washington, 1898, p. 50.
fSee also the views of Dr. JOSEPH ROBBINS, in Appendix 28, post.
tEdict against the Grand Lodge of Washington, Jan. 10, 1899.
IJosuai H. DRUMMOND; proceedings, G. L. of Maine, 1899. Cor. Rep.,
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
"If one of these colored Lodges were in existence in Washington today and
should ask to give in its adhesion to the Grand Lodge of Washington, and that
Body should accept, and issue a charter to it, that Lodge would thereby
become, as to all the world, a regular lodge. * “
Of course, such would not be the case had the Lodge and its
members been "clandestine. “
§ 8. Definitions. This last remark illustrates the wisdom of
having definite meanings for the words we employ. The words "regular,
“"nonregular, “"irregular” and "clandestine, “in particular, will frequently
occur throughout this paper. It is unfortunate that they are sometimes
employed by Masons in different senses. "Irregularities” may, of course, be
either trifling or enormous. The phrase "a regular Lodge, “however, has a
definite and certain meaning, given it by one of the "Old Regulations” of
1721; wherein the only. Grand Lodge in the world declared that when members of
its Lodges desired to form a new Lodge "they must obtain the GRAND MASTER'S
warrant to join in forming a NEW LODGE, “
until which time the "REGULAR LODGES” were not to countenance them.* This
subject will be fully discussed in subsequent parts of this paper;t and hence
we need observe here, only that while there was but one Grand Lodge, a
"regular” Lodge was one that, having been formed by authority of the Grand
Master or his representative, was enrolled or entitled to be enrolled upon its
Register. As other Grand Lodges were formed, the definition was naturally
extended to include all Lodges which had been formed under the authority of
any Grand Lodge or Grand Master; or, having been formed otherwise, had been
"regularized” by being placed on the roll of a Grand Lodge. All other Lodges
were non-regular. On this point a brother who has made this subject his
peculiar field, and who, for accuracy of knowledge and of expression stands
second to no other Mason, of this or any other age, says4 "What was meant by
the "regularity” of Lodges in early days was that such Lodges as were under
the jurisdiction (sub regula) of the Grand Master were styled Regular. This
did not imply that all other Lodges were irregular; far from it. They were
non-Regular, but not necessarily clandestine or unlawful. A similar
distinction holds in the Roman Catholic church between the secular (or
parochial) clergy, and the regular (or monastic) clergy. This does not
stigmatize the former as irregular.
Some of our historians have failed to grasp the distinction, and
have thought Regular Lodges alone could be lawful at any period of our
In later times inexact writers, in and out of Grand Lodges, have
used the term "regular” as though it applied only to Lodges upon the roll of
recognized Grand Lodges. But this indicates a total misconception of the
meaning of the term. The word "regular” has no relation to the legitimacy of a
Lodge, but relates solely to the question of its right to enrollment. The
Grand Lodge of Washington has never formally "recognized” any of the German
Grand Lodges; but unquestionably it regards
*General Regulations, A. D. 1721, viii.
-See i4 22, 23, 51 et seq., post.
W. J. CHETWODE CRAWLEY, Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, ix, 125. See also
Appendix 16 post.
all their Lodges as "regular, “if they be Masonic Lodges at all. By a similar
latitude, Grand Lodges have been wont to vote that such and such a Lodge is
"irregular” or "clandestine. “This only means that they will so regard it, and
is similar to the action of Grand Lodges which vote a Master Mason the "rank”
of Past Grand Master. All the world knows that he is not a past Grand Master.
There is nothing in the world to prevent the Grand Lodge of Kentucky from
voting that our Lodge Olympia, No. 1, is an "irregular” or a "clandestine
Lodge. “But such a vote does not affect the actual standing of the Lodge, but
only its subjective standing with relation to that particular Grand Lodge and
such other bodies as elect to adopt that vote to govern their own concerns.
From the practice last mentioned, it results that a Lodge may be "regular” in
one jurisdiction and with reference to the general law of the Institution, and
yet be under a judgment of irregularity in another. The word "clandestine” is
also used somewhat recklessly at times--by reckless writers, when looking
around for some word that is strong enough to express their detestation; but
nearly all writers admit that, properly, it is a much stronger word than
"irregular. “Perhaps the clearest idea of the correct use of the word may be
obtained by applying this test: Anything that can or could be "healed” or
cured, in any way or by any body, is not "clandestine, “but is, at most,
"irregular. “A great lawyer* speaking of what acts might be held to amount to
"The court very wisely hath never laid down any general rule,
beyond which it will not go; lest other means for avoiding the equity of the
court should be found out. “
Perhaps a similar respect for the ingenuity of depravity ought to
deter us from making any definite list of acts that may be clandestine.
J. List of objections. It may be a convenience to the reader if I
now give a list of the objections which will be considered in this paper. To
make the list serve the purpose of a table of contents, I add, after each
objection, the numbers of the sections in which it is answered. This will
enable the reader to skip those parts of the paper which relate to objections
which he already knows to be puerile. (I claim that this is one of the most
unselfish suggestions ever made by any writer; for it will justify many
well-informed Masons in closing the book as soon as they have run their eye
over the list !) Objection to the initiation of PRINCE HALL and his
1. That there is no evidence that they were ever made Masons.—%
2. But if made, they were made in an army Lodge.— 11.
3. That in 1773 a Provincial Grand Lodge at Boston had forbidden
army Lodges to initiate civilians.— 12, 13.
4. That negroes are ineligible to be made Masons.— 14- 16.
Objection to the inchoate Lodge.
5. That until 1787 the first negro Lodge had no warrant or
*HARDwnIcE, C., in 3 Atk., 278.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Objections to African Lodge, No. 459.
6. That it never had a warrant; but the pretended warrant -vas a
forgery.-§§ 18, 19.
7. That England ipso facto lost the right to warrant Lodges in the
United States when the independence of this Nation was recognized§ 20.
8. That the warranting of African Lodge was an invasion of the
jurisdiction of a Massachusetts Grand Lodge.-§§ 21, 33-36.
9. That it is not known that African Lodge was ever formally
"constituted. “-§ 37.
10. That the organization of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in
1792 invalidated the further existence of African Lodge.-§ 38-43.
Objections to the career of African Lodge, 1808- 1847.
11. That the Lodge became dormant, some time after 1807.-§ 44.
12. That it was dropped from the English register at the end of
13. That it surrendered its warrant to England in 1824.-§ 46.
14. That it declared itself independent, in 1827.-§ 47.
15. That it surrendered its warrant to the National Grand Lodge in
1847.-§ 48.Objections to Lodges founded by PRINCE HALL.
16. That African Lodge was not a Grand Lodge, and PRINCE HALL not a
Grand Master; and consequently they could not establish other Lod ges .-§§
17. That the Lodges established by them were in invasion of the
jurisdictions of existing Grand Lodges.-§§ 68-71.
Objections to the first negro Grand Lodge.
18. That its erection was an infringement of the "American
of the exclusive territorial jurisdiction of Grand Lodges.-§§
19. That it became dormant.-§ 65.
20. That in 1847 it surrendered its independence-sovereignty-by
becoming a constituent of the National Grand Lodge.-§ 66.
21. That the negro Masons abandoned the requirement that candidates
be "free born. “-§ 67.
Objection to later negro Lodges and Grand Lodges.
22. That their existence is an invasion of jurisdiction.-§ 68- 71.
Objections to recognizing.
23. That however legitimate negro Masonry may be, the Grand Lodge
of Massachusetts has, it is said, decided against it, and all the world is
bound by that decision.-§§ 77- 83.
24. That the language of our installation charges precludes
25. That there are rival Grand Lodges among the negro Masons, and
they are "not ready” for recognition until they have settled their internal
26. That recognition would injuriously affect the "high degree”
27. That recognition would involve a recognition of the "social
equality” of the negro.-6 87.
28. That recognition by one Grand Lodge might occasion
inconvenience to others which did not recognize.—§ 88.
29. That for other Grand Lodges to recognize a particular negro
Grand Lodge, before it had been recognized by the white Grand Lodge of the
State in which it is situated, would be an infringement of that spirit of
comity which pervades the relations between the white Grand Lodges.— § 89.
Objections to the initiation of PRINCE HALL and his companions.
10. Doubts as to their making.—The first objection to the
regularity of PRINCE HALL and his associates which I shall consider is one of
the "conclusions” of the Massachusetts committee of 1876,* that there is "No
evidence that they were made Masons in any Masonic Lodge. “While the
suggestion of such a doubt, never heard of until a century after the event to
which it alludes, is an illustration of the methods of those who, having
predetermined that—right or wrong—the claims of the negro Masons shall be
rejected; it is to the credit of American Masons that few of them have laid
any stress upon it. Like most of the "conclusions” of that committee, there is
nothing at all in the body of the report to base it upon. Of course, the
sufficient answer to this objection is that the Grand Master of England was
satisfied on that point before he granted his warrant for African Lodge. That
answer is not only a conclusive one when the matter is approached as a
question of Masonic jurisprudence, but it was en
*Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., Sept. 1876, p. 59. This report, which appears to
be about all of the literature of the subject which most of the southern
committees have ever read, will be spoken of again in 182, post. As these
so-called "conclusions"—many of which are not conclusions at all, and do not
follow from anything stated in the report proper, but are mere assertions and
opinions—haire been copied into nearly every committee report during the year
and accepted as gospel, I give them here; and have inserted in brackets after
each the sections of this paper wherein its subject is incidentally disposed
"1. No evidence that they were made Masons in any Masonic Lodge. [3, 10.] "
2. If made, they were irregularly made. M 11- 16.]"
3. They never had any American authority for constituting a Lodge. N 19.] "
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
30, 1782, and the treaty of peace made November 3, 1783. 20.] "5. The Grand
Lodge of England dropped African Lodge from their list in 1813. 45.] 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. 44.] "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. 50, 64, 68-71.] "7. No Masonic authority exists for
any of the organizations since 1807, whether pseudo Lodges or Grand Lodges N
49-60]; and no evidence of the Masonry of any of their members has come to our
knowledge. [3 6 last note.] "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 practice Freemasonry.
N 50, 64, 68-71.] 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. “[068-71.]
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
tirely convincing to my mind when I approached the subject as a private
inquirer. Yet for the benefit of the more skeptical, I add the following;
Brother CLARK informs us* that "The records of the initiation of these fifteen
colored men is in possession of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
Grand Master WILLIAM SEWALL GARDNER, in his address i to the Grand
Lodge of Massachusetts, said (italics mine):
"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. “
A committee reported to the Grand Lodge of Ohio in 1876 as
"Your committee deem it sufficient to say that they are satisfied
beyond all question that Colored Freemasonry had a legitimate beginning in
this country, as much so as any other Freemasonry; in fact, it came from the
same source. “
The absurdity is apparent of supposing that no denial of their
Masonry would have been made at the time; no attempt to prevent their
obtaining a warrant, when the fact of their initiation was common talk in
Boston, and when the public press had stated that they had sent to England for
a warrant, and were disappointed at its non-arrivall How many Lodges, formed
in 1784, can now show where their members were initiated? But, after all, the
true answer to this objection is that sufficient evidence must have existed in
1784 to satisfy the Grand Master of England; and it is immaterial whether that
evidence still exists or not.
11. Objection that they were made in a Military Lodge.— It is
objected that the making of PRINCE HALL and his associates was irregular
because they were made in a military Lodge, and military Lodges — it is
alleged — were forbidden by the law of the Grand Lodge of England to initiate
civilians. If this last allegation were true — instead of being absolutely
without any foundation whatever -it would be completely answered by the fact
that these brethren were "regularized, “in 1784, in the only way then known to
Masonry —by receiving the warrant of the Grand Master of England and being
enrolled as Lodge No. 459 on the register of the premier Grand Lodge of the
*The Negro Mason in Equity by M.•.W.'.SAmuEc W. CLARK (n. p.
[Cincinnati]: 1886), 14.
This admirable work so completely demolishes the principal
arguments against the negro Masons that the present report would be
superfluous were Bro. CLARK'S book in the hands of the brethren generally.
JACOB NORTON and others examined these records. See 44, note; 80, note, post.
tProceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 34. Grand Master GARDNER
was the arch-enemy of the negro Masons, and this address is incomparably the
ablest document of all that have appeared against them.
T_Composed, as has been said, "of the leading Masons of Ohio":
Lucius V. BIERCE, ENOCH T. CARSON, FERDINAND WILMER, Louis H. PIKE and CHARLES
A. WOODWARD.— Proceedings G. L. of Ohio, 1876, p. 17.
See 15, post; and Appendix 7.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE
But let us probe this objection a little deeper. Who could make a law
prohibiting the military Lodge from making PRINCE HALL a Mason?
Obviously, the Grand Lodge to which it belonged. Recognizing this,
some of our critics * have cited OLIVER'S “Dictionary of Symbolic Masonry “for
the statement that a law of the ( "Modern “) Grand Lodge of England forbade
the initiation of civilians by military Lodges. It is almost cruel to give the
answer to this rare instance in which those who have assumed that the Masons
of Washington were ignoramuses, have deigned to cite any authority for their
assertions. In the first place, OLIVER'S inexactness is so well known that he
is never cited, by scholars, as authority on a disputed point; in the second
place, at this point OLIVER was speaking of a period long subsequent to 1775;
and, finally, it is absolutely certain that neither of the English Grand
Lodges had any law on that subject at that time. I have before me the 1764 and
1807 editions of the "Ahiman Rezon “of the “Ancient “± Grand Lodge, the former
of which was in force when PRINCE HALL was initiated — the next edition having
appeared in 1778 -and in neither of these is there the slightest trace of any
law on that subject. And I am authorized by the highest authority in England
on such a point, Bro. WILLIAM JAMES HUGHAN, to quote him as saying that no
such law appears "in any edition of the Constitutions “of the "Modern “Grand
Lodge "until the year 1815. “t Should it be shown that PRINCE HALL'S
initiation occurred in a Scotch or Irish Lodge, an even more stunning response
to this objection would exist.
12. Same.—The Vote of 1773 .11—But so eager has been the desire to
omit nothing that might becloud the mind of too inquiring brethren, that we
have been gravely reminded that in 1773 the St. Andrew's Provincial Grand
Lodge at Boston “passed a vote “that “no traveling Lodge had the right in this
jurisdiction to make Masons of any citizens. “** It was -I will not say
uncandid, but unfortunate and misleading that Grand Master GARDNER attributed
this to “the Massachusetts Grand Lodge "; ft and Bro. WOODBURY to "the”
Provincial Grand Lodge "of Massachusetts. “ft Many have been misled thereby
into supposing that this vote
*Special report of Committee on For. Cor.; Proceedings, G. L. of Arkansas,
1898 ; et seq.
( By the last two words I mean, See also the reports of numerous
other committees who have lazily followed the Arkansas assertion, and copied
it into their reports, without investigation ) t The reader unfamiliar with
the terms “Ancient “G. L. and “Modern “G. L. will find them explained in i24,
Bro. HUGHAN wrote the same thing to Bro. W. R. SINGLETON of the D.
C., but Bro.
SINGLETON could not read his letter ! See Proceedings, G. L. of D.
C., 1898, Cor. Rep., s.
v. "Kentucky. “
See 13, post.
**The language of this "vote” is not quite identical in all our
authorities. My quotation is from the Woodbury Report.— Proceedings, G. L. of
Mass., Sept. 1876, p. 67.
ft Address ; Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 34.
Woodbury Report, ut supra. The St. Andrew's (Provincial) G. L. died
with its Provincial G. M. in 1775. Or, if, as some of our Massachusetts
brethren—of whom Grand Master GARDNER was not one (Address, p. 23)—prefer to
hold, it be considered identical
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
was passed by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and there lies before the
writer at this moment a letter from a most respected New England Grand Master,
in which it is suggested that he and the Grand Master of Washington are
precluded by "this action by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, with which the
Grand Lodges of Washington and are in affiliation "! It may be advisable for
the younger reader who desires to more clearly understand the condition of
Masonry in Massachusetts at the time this vote was passed, to turn, at this
point, and read what is said of the "Ancients” and "Moderns” in sections 22 to
26, and of Masonry in Massachusetts in sections 27 to 32. To appreciate the
absurdity of citing this vote of 1773, the well-read Mason needs to be
reminded of but few points:
First, that the body that passed it was not a Grand Lodge at all,
but was a Provincial Grand Lodge* existing by the will and pleasure of the
Provincial Grand Master appointed by the Grand Master Mason of Scotland; and
had no jurisdiction whatever except over the four Scotch Lodges in
Massachusetts, St. Andrew's and Massachusetts Lodges in Boston,
Tyrian with the independent body organized in 1777, it did not assume the name
of "The Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Ancient Masons” until 1782. The present
"Grand Lodge of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “created by the union of
the last-named body of "Ancient” Masons with the rival St. John's (Provincial)
Grand Lodge of "Modern” Masons.
was not formed until 1792. The matter is more fully discussed in 27-32, post.
*The Address of Grand Master GARDNER, which contains the ablest
attack on the negro Masons we have seen, also contains an able and scholarly
discussion of the Provincial Grand Lodge system, from which the following
correct statement of the subject is condensed:
"The Provincial Grand Master was appointed by commission of the
Grand Master, wherein the extent of his powers were set forth, and by virtue
of which he convened his Grand Body. In the language of early days, this
commission was styled a Deputation, and this word conveys the true idea of the
Provincial's position. It was a Deputy Grand Lodge, with its various Deputy
Grand Officers, convened by the power and authority of the Provincial Grand
Master as the Deputy of the Grand Master. It possessed no sovereign powers. *
* * * "The allegiance of the Lodges and of the Craft was to the Grand Lodge of
England [or Scotland, etc., as the case might be], and to the Provincial Grand
Lodge and Grand Master, through the parent Body. There was no direct
allegiance to the Provincial from the Craft. * * * * "Thus it will be seen
that the Provincial Grand Master was appointed for the convenience of the
administration of the affairs of the Grand Lodge of England in distant parts
in the same manner that our District Deputies are appointed at the present
time. * * "The Provincial Grand Lodge was the creation of the Provincial Grand
Master, and was wholly under his direction and control. * * * In this Grand
Lodge there was no inherent power, save what it derived from the Provincial
Grand Master, by virtue of his delegated authority, thus making it the very
reverse of a Sovereign Grand Lodge. * * "Such a Grand Lodge never possessed
any vitality which would survive the life of the commission appointing the
Provincial Grand Master.
"The death of the Provincial would also lead to the same result.
The commission to him from the Grand Master would lose all its force upon his
decease. * * * * [After quoting authorities]:
"If these authorities support the position taken, and if the
conclusions arrived at are correct, it follows beyond all controversy that
when Provincial Grand Master JOSEPH WARREN expired on Bunker Hill, June 17,
1775, the Provincial Grand Lodge, of which he was the essence and life,
expired also, and with it all the offices of which it was composed. “—
Proceedings O. L. of Massachusetts, 1870, pp. 13-23.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
at Gloucester, and St. Peter's at Newburyport;* that it was an "Ancient” body
and had or claimed no jurisdiction over "Modern” Masons or their Lodges; and
that a Provincial Grand Master, or the Grand Lodge of his province, had no
jurisdiction over military Lodges temporarily in the province. The latter,
whether "Ancient” or "Modern, “English, Scotch or Irish, owed no allegiance
save to the Grand Lodge, whose warrant they held; and could laugh to scorn any
assertion on the part of a petty Provincial body to legislate concerning
them.± If the authors of the vote of 1773 had any idea of usurping
jurisdiction over the English and Irish army Lodges, they forgot their own
history, and disregarded the words of their own Grand Master; for when, in
1762, the English Lodges in Boston objected to the establishment of the first
Scotch Lodge in that city, St. Andrew's Lodge, as an infringement on the
jurisdiction of JEREMY GRIDLEY, the English Provincial Grand Master, the Grand
Master Mason of Scotland wrote t (italics mine):
"I do not doubt nor dispute his [GmDLEy's] authority as Grand
Master of all the Lodges in North America, who acknowledge the authority and
hold of the Grand Lodge of England, as he certainly has a warrant and
commission from the Grand Master of England to that effect. The Grand Master
and Grand Lodge of Scotland have also granted a warrant and commission to our
Rt. Worshipful Brother, Col. JOHN YOUNG, Esq., constituting and appointing him
Provincial Grand Master of all the Lodges in North America who acknowledge the
authority and hold of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. These commissions when
rightly understood can never clash or interfere with each other. “
The Grand Master Mason of Scotland was right: He himself had no
jurisdiction over the English and Irish army Lodges in America, and the petty
Provincial Grand Lodge, whose very existence was dependent upon the pleasure
of his Provincial Deputy, had none.
13. Same.—I had written section 12 before it occurred to me that
it could possibly be necessary to verify the correctness of the statements of
the Massachusetts writers, that there was such a vote as they speak of.
* For the last three Lodges, see Proceedings G. L. of
Massachusetts, 1869, p. 172; and Drummond, in Gould's History, iv, 343. For
St. Andrew's Lodge, see l 28, post.
t This was undoubtedly the general rule. The idea that a Grand
Lodge ruled over territory instead of over the Lodges upon its own roll only
and their members—could legislate for other Lodges or Masons, and even for
profanes—first found adherents in any numbers, at a much later day. Indeed, if
the "vote of 1773”was intended to suggest such a dogma, it probably is
entitled to the distinction of being the first assertion of it, and may become
as famous in history as the "crime of 1873. “Some reasons for thinking that
it— remember we are now speaking of the legislative power of Grand Lodges, not
of the judicial functions of a Lodge—is a false doctrine, and contrary to a
fundamental principle of Masonry will be found in the introduction to the
Masonic Code of Washington (Ed. 1897.) ; The letter is—or purports to
be—quoted by DRUMMOND, Gould's History, iv, 300.
Throughout this paper, in citing Gould’s "History of Freemasonry,
“the reference is to the American (pirated) edition—for the unavoidable reason
that very few American readers have access to the English edition. In justice
to GOULD, it should be remembered that he is not responsible for anything in
the American edition after page 294 of volume iv. Pages 297-529 of that volume
are by Past Grand Master J. H. DRUMMOND. The former is one of the most
accurate and reliable of historians—Masonic or secular. The other writer is
exactly the opposite; his quotations must always be verified and his
conclusions received with caution, especially when he is engaged in
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Having now examined the official proceedings,* I find there never was any vote
which purported to forbid the initiation of civilians by army Lodges.
But I will let section 12 stand, as a monument to the trouble to
which a man can be put by writers who will not or do not quote correctly.
Past Grand Master GARDNER'S language was:± "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. “
Brother WOODBURY'S committee said:
f "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.' * * *”
But the original record, under the date above mentioned, reads as
follows (the brackets are mine): I1 "The Petition of RICHARD CARPENTER &
Others, under the 2d of June was this Evening Read, and The Substance therein
debated, [The Grand Lodge being fully of Opinion that the Lodge at Castle
William nor no other Travelling Lodges, has any Right to Make Masons of any
Citizen,] The same was put wether the Prayer of the said CARPENTER & Others
should be Granted, Passed in the Negative. “
What the nature of the petition was does not appear.
A child can see that Brothers GARDNER and WOODBURY—
unintentionally, I do not doubt—quoted what was not in the record; that the
matter which I have placed in brackets was not voted on; that that part of the
record is but the opinion of the Grand Secretary, Brother HOSKINS, as to what
influenced the minds of the members of the Grand Lodge. Had Brothers GARDNER
and WOODBURY been writing up the Proceedings of their Grand Lodge in 1870 and
1876, respectively, they might have inserted the opinion that the Grand Lodge
was "fully of Opinion” corresponding to theirs; but the Grand Lodge did not
say so in their cases.** Similarly, Brother HOSKINS may have made a fine
speech, taking the view expressed within the brackets, and may not have made a
single convert to his view—and yet believed he had convinced all present.
However this may be, if the Prov. G. L. was of this "Opinion, “it
did not say so. If it thought travelling Lodges did not have "any Right” to
initiate civilians, either because it knew that it had no jurisdiction over
them, or for some other reason, it did not venture to "decide” or "pass a
vote” that they should not do so; and that is the end of this objection.
§14. Negroes ineligible.—We have now disposed of every objection
that has been made to the mere initiation of PRINCE HALL and his associates,
unless it be the objection that negroes are ineligible to be made Masons.
During the last year there has been great anxiety manifested to waive this
objection, and to insist that no question of race or color is
*Proceedings in Masonry, St. John's Grand Lodge 1733-1792, Massachusetts Grand
Lodge 1769-1792. Boston. Published by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 1895.
Address; Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 34.
Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., Sept. 1876, p. 67.
1; Proceedings in Masonry, ut supra, p. 250.
**See 03 81, 82, post.
involved, and Southern committees have pointed triumphantly to the fact that
they borrowed their arguments from Northern Masons — thereby claiming to clear
their skirts of the charge of "race prejudice. “The writer has no earthly
interest in showing that race prejudice is, and always has been, the real
foils et origo of the opposition to our negro brethren; but such, beyond all
question, is the fact. But for that, African Lodge No. 459 would have been as
eagerly urged to come into the Grand Lodge formed in Massachusetts in 1792 as
was St. Andrew's Lodge.
But for that, no Grand Lodge would have declared non-intercourse
with WASHINGTON during the last year—not even those whose laws declare that a
candidate for Masonry must be a "WHITE man;” or the one which recognized the
Gran Dieta of Mexico at a time when, with no Bible on its altar, it was
initiating women into Masonry, and which itself authorizes the three degrees
to be conferred for a fee of ten dollars. It is insulting to our intelligence
to appeal to the North as the friend of the negro. It was the North that
mobbed GARRISON and murdered LOVEJOY. He spoke truth who so coarsely said,
"The South said to the negro, 'Be a slave and God bless you:' the North said,
'Be free, and God damn you.' “
Even in California, less than forty years ago, to call a man an
"Abolitionist” was the deadliest of insults. No, we are all "tarred with the
same brush; ”tainted with prejudice, not so much against the negro race as
against the race that has been one of slaves; and the Grand Master of
Washington could produce scores of letters, written by Masons of national
reputation, which, starting out with the claim that "this is not a question of
color, but of jurisdiction, “wind up with a wail that "the presence of vast
hordes of negroes makes this a practical question in the South; ”and that "if
negroes be recognized, Masonry in the South will be destroyed. “
The answer to this is very simple: It is not true that Masonry
compels me to recognize every Mason as my social equal; or to take him into my
family or my Lodge. "For though all MASONS are as BRETHREN upon the same
level, yet MASONRY takes no Honour from a Man that he had before; nay rather
it adds to his Honour, especially if he has deserv'd well of the Brotherhood,
who must give Honour to whom it is due, and avoid ILL MANNERS. “* If the law
of Freemasonry excludes negroes, you do well to object to their presence. If
it does not, and you are unwilling to submit to its laws, Freemasonry can do
without you—is better off without you—though you represent a dozen Grand
Lodges and carry half a million so- called "Masons” with you. Masonry does not
exist "to vindicate the social supremacy of the Caucasian race,:' and the man
who is particularly fearful of losing his social standing is usually the man
whose social standing rests on a very unsubstantial foundation.
15. Same.—But this objection, though now largely abandoned from
sheer shame at its unmasonic character, has been earnestly urged. Thus, in
discussing this very question, it was said:
"It is indisputable that whatever theory we adopt as to the origin
* The Charges of a Freemason, 1723.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Masonry, that theory carries us back to the Caucasian race. * * * Masonry was
originally what it is mainly to-day, a Social Institution; * * * into which it
is not credible that anyone of the negro, or of any other of the inferior
races, could have been admitted. * * * Under no circumstances whatever ought
the legality of negro Masons to be acknowledged. “* In view of the protests to
which reference has been made, it may be well to give a few out of the many
illustrations, that are at hand, of the fact that race prejudice has been and
is a potent factor in the matter.
LEWIS HAYDEN in a letter in The Pacific Appealt says:
"An article appeared in the Columbia Sentinel, published in
Boston, in 1787 (before our charter was received), wherein sport was made by
the White Masons over the supposed loss of our charter. As further evidence of
the spirit of caste, contemporaneous with our existence, the historian
Belknap, in 1795, gleaned the following statement from a White Masonic
brother: 'The truth is, they are ashamed of being on an equality with blacks.
Even the fraternal kiss of France, given to merit without distinction of
color, doth not influence Massachusetts Masons to give an em brace less
emphatical to their black brethren. * * *' “
In 1847, the Grand Lodge of Ohio adopted the following,t repealed
in 1869, I believe:
-Resolved, That, in the opinion of this Grand Lodge, it would be
inexpedient and tend to mar the harmony of the fraternity to admit any of the
persons of color, so-called, into the fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons
within the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge. “
In 1851, the Grand Lodge of Illinois, "Resolved, That all
subordinate lodges under this jurisdiction be instructed to admit no negro or
mulatto as a visitor or otherwise, under any circumstances whatever. “II Iowa
and New York also bear witness:
"Eighteen years ago [i. e., in 1852] the Grand Lodge of Iowa
adopted a report on foreign correspondence, which embodied and endorsed the
action of the Grand Lodge of New York, declaring that the 'exclusion of
persons of the negro race is in accordance with Masonic law and the ancient
charges and regulations,' and also declaring it 'not proper to initiate them
in our lodges;' also, at the same time, it was declared 'inexpedient, as a
general rule, to initiate persons of the Indian race, or constitute lodges
among them.' "** The Grand Lodge of Delaware passed in 1867, and expunged in
1869, the following:tt "Resolved, That lodges under this jurisdiction are
positively prohibited from initiating, passing, raising or admitting to
membership, or the right of visitation, any negro, mulatto, or colored person
of the United States.
This prohibition shall be an obligation, and so taught in the third
16. Same.—The Grand Master of Florida, speaking of the proposal of
*R. W. DANIEL SAYRE, Gr. Sec.; Proceedings, G. L. of Alabama, 1876.
tQuoted in the Voice of Masonry, May, 1876, p. 392.
New Day—New Duty (Cincinnati: 1875), pp. 11, 18.
11 Voice of Masonry, May, 1876, p. 393. I believe Illinois
reverted to the ancient landmarks in 1871.
**Address of JOHN LONG, G. M.; Proceedings, G. L. of Iowa, 1870.
Iowa rescinded this law in 1870.—New Day—New Duty, 25.
New Day—New Duty, 14.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
Grand Master ASA H. BATTIN of Ohio to recognize the colored Grand
Lodge of Ohio, said, in part:
"Does our brother for a moment stop to consider the vast horde of
utterly ignorant negroes, liberated in the South, who aspire to reach after
and lay hold of every privilege the white man enjoys? * * * I am fully of
opinion that if our good brother, as many of the brethren of his jurisdiction
have done, would sojourn a while with us, he would certainly be of the opinion
that the fullness of time had not yet come; and that while this measure might
possibly work good with him, it would work destruction to others of the Great
Fraternity of Masons. * * * I will say in conclusion * * * that, with our
distinguished brother, ALBERT PIKE, * * * 'When I have to recognize the negro,
as he now is, as a Mason, I shall leave Masonry.' * * *"* The constitution of
the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, still in force, provides that— "A candidate for
initiation must be of the age of twenty-one years and a free-born white man.
“± The Committee on Foreign Correspondence of South Carolina, in a special
report on Negro Masonry, says:
"The Ahiman Rezon of South Carolina, compiled by that eminent
author, erudite scholar and unsurpassed Masonic jurist, ALBERT G.
MACKEY,t and adopted by the Grand Lodge, specifically declares that
a candidate must be of free white parents. “Il Let Texas be our last witness:
"As the result of that [a committee report in 1876] and of cognate
reports, the following standing resolution was adopted, and which [sic] is now
prominent in our laws:
“'This Grand Lodge does not recognize as legal or Masonic any body
of negroes working under their charters in the United States, without respect
to the body granting such charters, and they [sic] regard all such negro
Lodges as clandestine, illegal and unmasonic; and, moreover, they [sae] regard
as highly censurable the course of any Grand Lodge in the United States which
shall recognize such bodies of negroes as Masonic Lodges.' Art. 36, Masonic
Laws of Texas. “**
No, brethren, "Let us be honest. “If there is any man in America— black or
white—who is wholly free from race prejudice, he may thank God that he is
exceptionally favored. The writer cannot claim to be free from race feeling;
but, it seems to him that if there are two places where it ought to be held in
check they are in the Church and in the Masonic
*Proceedings, G. L. of Florida, 1876.
fArticle viii, Section 5.
that that I have said is, that the Masonry of this country, like
that of every other country, recognizes no distinction of race or color in the
qualifications of a candidate. “A LBERT G. MACKEY, in Voice of Masonry, June,
1876, p. 424.
II Proceedings, G. L. of S. C., 1898, p. 50.
**Proceedings, G. L. of Texas, 1898, p. 69. I may add that since
the foregoing was in type I have been informed by two Texas-made Masons that
in that State—and, they think, in other Southern States— white Masons are
required to enter into an obligation not to recognize negro Masons. My
informants are unable to remember whether this applies to all negro Masons or
only to those made in the "negro Lodges. “That such an extraordinary and
extreme departure from the basic principles of Masonry can have been made
seems incredible—although, as we have seen in the text, it once occurred in
Delaware; an d further comment will be reserved for a later page. See 3 87,
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Lodge. Not that men need worship or lodge together—that is a different thing.
Masonry gives every Mason in the universe an absolute veto on any other man's
entering his Lodge as a visitor or as a candidate; but it does seem that when
we are called upon to pass upon the question whether a certain man is a Mason
we ought to be able to put race prejudice beneath our feet. Whether we can do
so or not, the fact remains that the color of PRINCE HALL'S skin did not
vitiate his initiation; for by the practice of the tenets of Masonry, as
PRESTON taught as far back as 1772,* "We are taught to regard the whole human
species as one family,. the high and low, the rich and poor; who, as children
of the same Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support
and protect each other. “
Objection to the inchoate Lodge, 1775-1787.
17. The Lodge before the warrant.—”I would inform you, “wrote
PRINCE HALL, apparently to the Grand Secretary of England, in March, 1784,
"that this Lodge hath been founded almost eight years. We have had no
opportunity to apply for a warrant before now. * * * “
Brethren who have taken it for granted that Masonic usages in the
eighteenth century were the same as those at the end of the nineteenth may be
surprised, both at the idea of a Lodge without a warrant ( or charter ) and at
the openness with which PRINCE HALL mentions his connection with such a Lodge.
The latter fact was doubtless due in part to the fact, of which we shall
produce ample evidence in another part of this paper, that such Lodges were so
common at that time as to cause no remark, and to reflect no discredit— but
sometimes quite the opposite— on those who established or belonged to them.
The reader familiar with the usages of that time will have little doubt that
PRINCE HALL and his associates assembled, as so many other Lodges then did, by
authority of the Lodge which initiated them.** But whether they had such
authority or not, and whether it was sufficient or not, is of no moment at
this point; for these brethren conferred no degrees until they received their
warrant in 1787, and that warrant made them as regular as any Lodge in the
world. This last point I do not ask the reader to take for granted, but we
will proceed to consider it.
Objections to African Lodge, No. 459.
18. That the warrant was forged.—No one believes in this objection
today. We now know that, like most of the objections that have been made to
the genuineness of the Masonry of the colored men, it was origi
* Illustrations of Masonry (14 Ed., London: 1829), 42.
1See the ringing words of the Grand Master of Ireland, upon this
point, in Appendix 18, post.
t Negro Mason in Equity, 27; Proceedings G. L. of Mass., Sept.
1876, pp. 67, 68. HALL had been one of the first to volunteer in the defense
of his country in 1775, and during the war had had little opportunity to think
much about warrants.
II See 51-57, post.
**See the references last cited, and Appendix 1, post.
nally put forward not as a reason but as an excuse for denying them their
rights. But as it makes an affirmative assertion of something which there was
never the slightest foundation for believing to be true, it must have been put
forth, originally, with a deliberate intent to deceive; and therefore it
illustrates the methods of some who have written on this subject, as well as
the credulity and ignorance of those who have been content to accept and
repeat their assertions, without investigation. And this last mentioned habit,
and the willingness of men to write about subjects of which they have not
studied even the rudiments, explains why scholars and men who have any real
knowledge of negro Masonry, or of the facts, principles and usages upon which
the question of its legitimacy really depends, have nothing but contemptuous
pity for the utterances of certain committees, Grand Officers and editors,
during the past year.
"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread;” but men who in all the
other affairs of life demand the use of modern critical and scientific methods
in investigating historical questions, cannot, simply because they are
Freemasons, disregard the knowledge which they have labored to obtain, at the
instance of men too inert to ascertain the facts, or too deficient in the
apparatus of criticism to appreciate the effect of the facts when they are
presented by another. Nor can the man who views Masonry from the standpoint of
the student, ever admit that questions of history, of law or of morals are to
be determined by counting noses. GALILEO will still whisper, "It moves,
nevertheless. “But "let us return to our sheep, “ lest some one be offended.
The objection that the warrant of African Lodge was a forgery was
at one time urged as confidently as any of those which have been so
passionately presented and implicitly relied upon during the past year. It is
now in no greater contempt than they will be in a few years. Therefore, let us
treat every objection, great or small, with equal seriousness.
19. Same.—It is now indisputable that a warrant in the usual form,
attested by the Grand Secretary, and bearing date 29th September, 1784, was
issued by authority of the Grand Master of England—of the premier Grand
Lodge—to PRINCE HALL, BOSTON SMITH, THOMAS SANDERSON and others, constituting
them "into a regular Lodge” under the title of "African Lodge. “* The Grand
Secretary receipted for the fees for the warrant, 28th February, 1787. Its
arrival in Boston was mentioned in the "Massachusetts Centinal” of May 2,
1787. The Lodge was placed on the roll of the Grand Lodge as No. 459, ranking
from the year 1784, and appeared on every list of its Lodges until the Grand
Lodge itself was absorbed in the United Grand Lodge at the end of 1813.± At
the renumbering of the Lodges in 1792 it became No. 370. t
* GOULD'S Hist. of Freemasonry, iv, 268.; Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870,
p. 34; Id.
September, 1876, p. 65. The warrant has been often printed, e. g,
in each of the Massachusetts pamphlets here cited; and in New Day—New Duty,
17; and CLARK'S Negro Mason in Equity, 28. See Appendices 4 to 9, post.
t R. F. Gould’s, "The Four Old Lodges and Their Descendants
(London: 1879), 72, 78; W.
J. HUGHAN, Voice of Masonry, Nov., 1876.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
The warrant was seen by a committee of six members of the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts who reported, in 1869,— "Your committee have examined the
charter and believe it is authentic. “* § 20. The independence of the United
States had been recognized.—The objection that the Grand Lodge of England
ceased to have jurisdiction to warrant Lodges in America when the treaty of
peace was signed in 1783, will have greater weight in my mind when I learn
that national independence operates to erect a Chinese Wall which Masonry
cannot cross. I shall not waste time over this puerile objection. The Mason
seeks the Master's Word that he may travel in foreign countries and work
there; and no Mason, in ancient or modern times, ever did a Mason's work
except in a Lodge. There is no Lodge on the continents of Europe, Asia or
Africa that is not a monument of the right of a British Grand Lodge to erect
Lodges in foreign, independent, Nations. The declaration of July 4, 1776,—not
the treaty of 1783—made Massachusetts what China is today, an independent
State; and it left England, in Massachusetts, the same right that
Massachusetts to-day exercises in China, to erect Lodges there;—unless some
totally different reason than the fact that the political independence of
Massachusetts had been recognized, existed. I am not ignoring the fact that it
is claimed that another reason did exist, but will next consider that.
21. Invasion of Massachusetts jurisdiction.—This brings us to a
crucial point; for one of the two objections that has been chiefly relied upon
by those who have written adversely during the last year has been that the
warrant to African Lodge No. 459 was invalid because, in granting it, the
Grand Master of England "invaded the territorial jurisdiction” of the Grand
Lodge of Massachusetts, and consequently, it is asserted, African Lodge was
clandestine or irregular ab initio. Recognizing the fact that this objection
is a stumbling block to many honest minds, I shall waive the fact that, to my
mind, to call a Lodge warranted by the Grand Master of England "irregular” is
to employ a contradiction of termsj and to call such a Lodge "clandestine, “is
the height of absurdity; and shall undertake to show: 1. That in 1784 and 1787
the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction did not exist; 2. That, had
the doctrine existed, there was, at that time, no Grand Lodge which had or
claimed exclusive jurisdiction over Massachusetts or even over Boston; 3. That
the Body referred to by our critics was not one that the Grand Master who
warranted African Lodge, or African Lodge itself, was bound to, or lawfully
could recognize as a Grand Lodge of Masons; and, 4, that no invasion of
jurisdiction, real or pretended, occurred.
But to make these matters entirely clear to any but the quite
well-informed of my readers, I must ask leave to indulge in two long digres
*Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1869, p. 135.
jThe original definition of an irregular Lodge was "one formed
without the Grand Master's warrant. “See 8, ante, and references there cited.
sions:* one for the purpose of showing the condition of British Freemasonry at
the time referred to; the other for the purpose of showing the state of
Masonic government in Massachusetts at the same period.
British Masonry, 1775-1787,—a Digression.
22. "Modern”Grand Lodge.—Origin of warrants and charters.— The
Reformation of religion, by putting an end to the erection of great
ecclesiastical buildings in England, seems to have dealt a heavy blow to the
Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons. The lack of employment seriously
affected both the importance and the number of the operative members; and for
a time the fortunes of the Fraternity were at so low an ebb that it was almost
lost sight of, so that until very recently our historians were wont to
confound our Fraternity with the guild masons — men who, as the researches of
Brother SPETH and others have rendered fairly certain, were the very antipodes
of our brethren. t The building necessitated by the great fire of London in
1666, said to have been inflicted upon the English on account of their
cruelties to "the poor and innocent people of the Island of Schellingh, “t
afforded relief to two generations; but early in the eighteenth century
destruction seemed to stare the Fraternity in the face. At this juncture, a
few brethren determined upon a radical step, viz.: to cut loose—so I am
inclined to interpret our only historian of this period il—from the intimate
relations they had maintained, from 1620 at least,** with the guild masons—the
Masons' Company of London,—and "cement under a Grand Master as the center of
Union and Harmony. “ft They formed, in 1717, the first Grand Lodge of Masons,
and elected the first Grand Master, in the sense in which that title is now
used. Until that time, indeed until 1721—nay, quite generally until many years
latertt—the right to form a Lodge depended on no superior authority, but was
regarded as inherent in the Masonic character. I am aware that at some unknown
date in or before the preceding century, some now forgotten body, at some
place equally unknown NI attempted to place
* Covering 22 to 32 inclusive.
t G. W. SPETH, What is Freemasonry? ( London, n. d., [ 1893 ] );
Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, x, 10; CONDER, The Hole Crafte and Fellowship of
Masons, passim; Proceedings, G. L. of Washington, 1895, p. 184.
1. Londe-as Puyn-Hoop oft Godts Rechvaerdige Strafe, etc.
(Rotterdam: 1666.) II ANDERSON, New Book of Constitutions, 1738.
**CONDER, Hole Crafte, pp. 7, 145.
ft ANDERSON, ut supra.
t See N 51-58, post.
I will anticipate a criticism by writers of a class which has been
very much in evidence during the past year in discussing Negro Masonry and
volunteering to instruct the benighted brethren of Washington by the recital
of oft exploded old wives' tales,—brethren who have read nothing written
concerning Masonry within thirty years except Grand Lodge Proceedings, and to
whom the writings of that brilliant school of writers, founded by WoonFORD and
HUGHAN and adorned by a score of names hardly less honored than these, who
have revolutionized our ideas of Masonry, are a terra incognita;—by stating
that the New' Articles were not "made and agreed upon by a General
Assembly”held in 1663 by the Earl of ST. ALBANS. See HUGHAN, Old Charges,
(1895 edition,) 122, 121. Local readers will find these New Articles in The
Masonic Code of Washington, p. 190.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
a slight restriction on this right by adopting the "New Articles”or
"Additional Orders;” but these Orders either fell still-born or soon became
obsolete, and the fact that there was Masonic "work, “either operative or
speculative to be done was sufficient warrant for the proper number of Masons
to form themselves into a Lodge.* But, in 1721, the young Grand Lodge approved
a set of General Regulations, No. viii of which, while it did not venture to
deny this ancient right, sought to discourage it by declaring that the regular
Lodges—that is the Lodges on the roll of the Grand Lodget—were not to
"countenance” or own as "fair brethren and duly formed, nor approve of their
Acts and Deeds, “any "set or number of Masons"—already members, as the context
shows, of Lodges on the Grand Lodge roll—who should "take upon themselves to
form a Lodge without the Grand Master's Warrant, “that is, authority.f This
new rule was intended by the Grand Lodge to apply to the members of its own
Lodges only,—for the idea that a Grand Lodge can legislate for anyone but its
own constituents is an innovation of comparatively recent date and, if I
mistake not, of American origin. There were other Lodges in England, and we
shall presently see that the acceptance of this new dogma was very slow, and
may be led to doubt whether it has even yet become quite universal. II
23. Rise of the "Ancient Masons. “—When the first Grand Lodge was
formed in 1717, there were Masons in London who took no part in the new
movement, some of whom began to observe its course with disfavor.
But the revival and "great run” which the Institution experienced,
especially about the year 1722, due partly to the benefits of the Grand Lodge
system, but perhaps more to the fact that a peer had accepted the
Grandmastership, redounded to the benefit of these independent Masons as well
as to that of the "regular” Lodges. "Old Brethren who had neglected the Craft”
not only "visited the Lodges, “as ANDERSON tells us, but began to form Lodges
of their own, "without the Grand Master's Warrant” but in accordance with
immemorial usage. It used to be assumed that they were rebels** from the Grand
Lodge, and even in so recent a work as his great History,ft Brother GOULD
commonly styles the
* W. J. CHETWORDE CRAWLEY, Caementaria Hibernica, I, Introduction, 15; Lost
Archives, 5; The Grand Lodge of Munster, 6. See also 51-58, post, and Appendix
16; but this fact is now universally admitted.
t See 8, ante.
T.That the word "warrant” here means "authority, “see Ars Q. C.,
viii, 193 et seq.; and Caementaria Hibernica, I, 7. Local brethren will find
an account of how the authority was given, in Masonic Code of Washington, 111,
See 23, 24, 51 et seq. Towards the end of 1722 the Grand Lodge
appears to have had 20 Lodges on its register.—ANDERSON, Constitutions, 1723.
Dr. CRAWLEY, than whom no higher authority on this subject exists, estimates
that prior to the organization of the Grand Lodge of the "Ancients” in 1751-2,
the number of English brethren who were without "the Grand Master's
warrant”for their Lodges, exceeded the number in the "regular Lodges. “—SPETH's
An English View of Freemasonry in America (Tacoma: 1898), 14.
**Gould, The Athol Lodges (London: 1879), v.
ifThe last volume of which first appeared in 1887.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
Antients, "schismatics. “But the later researches of SADLER* and CRAWLEYt have
demonstrated that, for the most part, the brethren of these Lodges had never
been connected with the "regularl Lodges; and, also, that from a very early
date their relations with the Masons of Dublin were very intimate; and Irish
names were very numerous on their rolls. II These independent Lodges, most of
them new, but a few dating from pre-Grand Lodge times, existed in other parts
of England, also, and were commonly called "St. John's Lodges. “** In Ireland
they were sometimes styled "hedge” or "bush” Lodges. They are alluded to in
the records of the Grand Lodge in 1723, 1724, 1735, 1739, 1740, 1749, 1752 and
later.-t-t To detect the members of these Lodges when they presented
themselves as visitors, the Grand Lodge, at a date which .may not be quite
certain, and which is unimportant to our purpose, but which is commonly said
to have been 17394$ "adopted some new measures, “which were immediately
denounced as—and, although adhered to until 1813, at the union of the latter
year were admitted to have been—a departure from the Landmarks; namely, it
reversed the names of two columns— with all that that implies. This
circumstance led many to renounce their allegiance to the Grand Master NI and
increased the number of non-regular Lodges.
24. Same.—"Ancient” Grand Lodge. “—On July 17, 1751, a "General
Assembly” of members of five or six of these non-regular Lodges —existing, as
PRINCE HALL'S Lodge did from 1776 to 1784 or 1787, "without the Grand Master's
warrant"—formed an organization to which the descent of more than three
fourths of the "recognized” Grand Lodges in the United States can be traced.
From the first, their record styled this body a Grand Lodge,***although they
had no Grand
* Masonic Facts and Fictions (London: 1887),—an epoch-marking book.
t Caementaria Hibernica.
I Let it be understood that a "regular” Lodge meant one that had
been "regularized” by having the warrant of the Grand Master for its
existence;—that is, one that was sub regula, subject to the laws of, the Grand
Lodge.—Gould, History, iii, 136, note 2. See 8 ante.
It is perhaps safe to say that an Irish Mason, especially one who
belonged, socially, to the lower or lower-middle class, on going to England,
A. D. 1730-1800, was almost certain to join an independent or "Ancient” Lodge
and not a "regular” or "Modern” one. Of course there were exceptions.
**While the Grand Lodge always discouraged fraternizing with them,
the less intolerant particular Lodges were often content if a visitor hailed
"from a Lodge of the holy Saint John of Jerusalem, “instead of from "a
regularly constituted Lodge. “Evidence of this can be found in the
minutes—sometimes in the by-laws—of numerous eighteenth century Lodges. See
post, 57 ad fin.
tjANnEnsoN, New Book of Constitutions, 1738, New Regulations
passim. Gould, History, iii, 127, 128, 138, 142, 145, 147, 148.
1 GOULD, History, iii, 149.
PRESTON, quoted by GOULD, Ibid.
***JOHN LANE, Ars Q. C., v, 166 et seq. For this fact, and
certainty as to the exact date of the organization, we are indebted to
"Morgan's Register, “the "Large folio bound in White Vellum” mentioned by
DERMOTT (GOULD, History iii, 187), long lost, which was discovered by SADLER
and identified by LANE in 1885—apparently after GOULD'S account of the
Ancients was written. GOULD (History, iii, 147, 191), on evidence which the
researches of Brothers SADLER and CRAWLEY have rendered less conclusive,
thought that even the olde-t of the Lodges which composed this Grand Body did
not ante-date 1747.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Master. Afterwards, "to supply the deficiency of a Grand Master, “they
organized a "GRAND COMMITTEE, “presided over by a President. Its minutes are
extant and full from Feb. 5th., 1752, when its "Grand Secretary, “JOHN MORGAN,
resigned, and the talented LAURENCE DERMOTT was elected his successor—a
meeting at which were "present the Officers of Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and
10, being the representatives of all the Ancient* Masons in and adjacent to
London. “On Dec. 5, 1753, by electing a Grand Master, this Committee
transmuted itself into an undoubted Grand Lodget—the famous Grand Lodge of the
Antient, or Atholl Masons, or Free and Accepted Masons according to the Old
Space would fail us to properly eulogize the extraordinary genius
of its Grand Secretary LAURENCE DERMOTT, the journeyman painter, to whom the
marvelous influence of this body was due. "As a polemic, “says MACKEY, II "he
was sarcastic, bitter, uncompromising, and not altogether sincere or
veracious.** But in intellectual attainments he was inferior to none of his
adversaries, and in philosophical appreciation of the character of the Masonic
Institution, he was in advance of the spirit of his age. “
Of him "it may be said, without erring on the side of panegyric,
“says Gould,f± "that he was the most remarkable Mason that every lived.
* * * Yet although a very unscrupulous writer, he was a matchless
administrator. In the * * * latter [capacity] he displayed qualities which we
find united in no other member of the Craft, who came either before or after
him. “His Ahiman Rezon, first published in 1756,tt became the gospel from
which there was no appeal, among "Ancient” Masons throughout the world, on all
questions of Masonic law; and I know of no book, in which the original matter
was so small, that has exerted so vast an intluence•lil Its author made open
war upon the senior Grand Lodge;
*This is, I believe, the earliest use of this word to distinguish these
brethren from the adherents of the premier Grand Lodge of the world, founded
in 1717, to whom DERMOTT succeeded in attaching the name of "Moderns. “
t Transactions [i. e., minutes] of the Grand Committee; printed by
GOULD, History, iii, 186.
And presents, it seems to me, the most correct illustration of what
a Grand Lodge properly is, viz., a grand committee of all the Lodges, with a
Grand Master at its head— strangely in contrast with the definitions of an
autocratic, irresponsible and almost omnipotent body, which brethren have been
led to frame by dreaming over the word "sovereignty” and drawing analogies
from the powers of civil States.
Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, sub voce.
**Sad it is, but true, that controversies over the two most
important subjects in the world— barring the sex,—Masonry and religion, seem
to annihilate both candor and courtesy.
Sufficient illustrations of this as to Masonry have appeared in the
discussions of negro Masonry during the past year. In religion, we remember
the response of an eminent divine to the pamphlet which JAMES I wrote against
his doctrines: "When God wants to create a fool, He turns a king into a
ft History, iii, 187.
- ISubsequent editions in 1764, 1778, 1787 and, after his death,
1800, 1801, 1807 and 1813. The 1807 edition contains the first list of its
Lodges published by the "Ancient” Grand Lodge.
The bulk of the book was copied from SPRATT's (Irish) Book of
1751) which was mainly copied from ANDERSON'S Constitutions, 1738
edition; but DERMOTT'S departures from his originals were the features which
have left the deepest impressions upon Masonry, especially in some parts of
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
and with ridicule, vituperation, sarcasm; bombast, fiction, invention; truths,
half-truths and no-truths, attacked its pretentious; disputed its authority;
and, finally, fastened upon it the stigma of "Modern, “and won for his own
Grand Lodge the title of "Antient” and—not without a modicum of justice—the
credit of being a bulwark set up in the providence of God to defend and
maintain the "old institutions” of the Craft which the "Modern” Grand Lodge
had attacked or neglected. More than this: so savage was his attack, so bold
his assumption, so bitter his arraignment, so infamous the stigma which he
succeeded in attaching to the word "Modern, “that all English-speaking Masons,
except those belonging to his one rival, hastened to declare that they were "Antient
Masons” and practiced the "Antient system. “* Scotland recognized the "Ancient”Grand
Lodge of England in 1772; and in the same year the Grand Lodge of Ireland
"Ordered * * * that hereafter no English Mason shall be considered worthy of
our Charity, without producing a Certificate from the Grand Lodge of England,
“—meaning DERMOTT'S Body.i
25. The "two Societies. “—One effect of this was—and this is the
point to which this long digression has been leading up, and one which the
reader must comprehend if he would appreciate the true standing of African
Lodge No. 459 with relation to the other Masonic bodies in Massachusetts—that
Masonry, which from time immemorial had been one universal Fraternity, became
divided into two distinct, independent and hostile Societies, the governing
bodies of which each denied the legitimacy of the other, and, so far as they
could control their constituents,t held that its members were not to be
considered Masons, but were spurious and clandestine. GOULD well says:
"Mutatis mutandis, the description given by Burton of the split in
the Associate Synod, will exactly describe the breach between, and reunion of,
the Masons of England:
`After long separation, these bodies, which had been pursuing
their course in different lines, re-united their forces. But, in the meantime,
according to a common ecclesiastical habit, each body counted itself the
*An amusing illustration of this occurred in 1765 when, on the same day that
it was inaugurated by the "Modern”Grand Lodge, a Lodge at Joppa, Md., adopted
a by- law:— "That none who hath been Admitted in any Modern Lodge shall be
Admitted as a Member of this Lodge, without taking the respective Obligations
Peculiar to Ancient Masons. “
SCHULTZ, Freemasonry in Maryland, 39; quoted by Gould, History, iv,
t The letters are printed in the Ahiman Rezon (Ed. 1807), xlvi.
-IInnumerable instances might be cited where individual brethren
and even Lodges let their appreciation of the obligations of the Masonic
Institution lead them to ignore the stern edicts of their Grand Lodge,
and—more or less openly—to extend the hand of fellowship to brethren from the
opposite camp; just as, during our war, Union and Confederate soldiers laid
aside their arms at the entrance to Mt. Vernon and stood side by side at the
grave of WASHINGTON. In the same way, for more than a century there have
always been white Masons whose interpretation of their Masonic obligations has
led them to recognize and fraternize with PRINCE HALL or his Masonic
descendants, upon occasion, notwithstanding official disapproval of their
acts. See ante, 6, references in the last note; and Appendix 14, post.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Synod, and denied the existence of the other, save as a mob of impenitent
Schismatics.' "* Said DERMOTT in 1778, speaking of what he styles the two
“fraternities of Ancient and Modern Free-masons “(italics mine):
“And though a similarity of names, yet they differ exceedingly in
makings, ceremonies, knowledge, Masonic language and installations; so much
that they always have been, and still continue to be, two distinct societies,
totally independent of each other. “
A writer who has made the “Ancients “his especial study concludes
that t“Between the two Societies implicated, there was very little in common,
except the wearing of aprons and the cultivation and practice of charity. “
As late as 1813, the Grand Lodge of Ireland resolved II“That they
do not feel it possible to make any order for the admission of Modern Masons
into Antient Lodges. “
26. Same.—The relation—or lack of relation—between the “Antients
“and “Moderns “was quite as distinct as that between the two bodies which,
respectively, claim jurisdiction over the white Masons and the black Masons of
Kentucky. It was almost identical with that, in Scottish Rite circles, between
the so-called “Northern Jurisdiction “and the so-called “Cerneau Jurisdiction
of the United States. Or, to draw an illustration from recent political
history, the relation between the Antient and Modern Masons of circa 1760-1813
resembled that between the “Gold Democrats “and the “Free Silver Democrats,
“1896-8 : Each claimed to be the “only original, Simon-pure, “the genuine
continuation of the party of the fathers; each denounced the other as totally
spurious, and with no right to the name it claimed; each denounced deserters
from its own camp in unsparing terms, but welcomed with open arms accessions
from that of the other,—coming either individually or in bodies,— with very
little inquiry into their antecedents ; killed the fatted calf in their honor,
and assigned them front seats in their tabernacle. But either of these Grand
Lodges would no more have sought to make laws for the government of Lodges of
the other, and would no more have thought of regarding an American State as
"completely occupied” by the existence in it of a Grand Lodge of the rival
faction, than a convention of “Gold “
Democrats “would have sought to make rules for a "Free Silver”
primary, or than "Gold Democrats” would have hesitated to organize a State
Central Committee in a State which the “Free Silver Democrats “had already
“occupied “by a similar organization. When we remember that we must judge the
validity of the warrant granted to African Lodge in 1784 by Masonic law and
usage as it was in 1784; and when we remember
* History of Scotland, ii, p. 344; GOULD, History, iii, 190. The reunion of
English Masons occurred at the end of 1813. See 45, post.
t Ahiman Rezon (Ed. 1807), xxx.
HENRY SADLER ; Masonic Facts and Fictions, 193.
11 W. J. CHETWODE CRAWLEY, Caementaria Hibernica, Masonic Manuals,
21. To the effect that the Grand Lodge of Ireland never recognized the “Modern
“Grand Lodge, after the rise of the “Antients ", see CRAWLEY, in Ars Q. C.,
that that warrant was granted by the Grand Master of the “Modern “
Masons, and that the Grand Lodge whose jurisdiction he is charged
with having “invaded “was an “Ancient “body, the relevancy of this long
digression will be apparent.
Masonry in Massachusetts, 1775-1787,—a digression.
27. The “Modern” Masons.—The first Lodge in Boston was opened by
HENRY PRICE in 1733. Whether or not he was a Provincial Grand Master will
probably be debated as long as there are Masons in Massachusetts and
Pennsylvania, and is a question immaterial to our present purpose. His Lodge
appears on the engraved list of 1734 as No. 126 on the roll of the then only
Grand Lodge in London, afterwards known as that of the “Moderns "; and the
Provincial Grand Lodge which he is said to have opened was certainly regular
from 1736, when ROBERT TOMLINSON was appointed Provincial Grand Master for New
England. TOMLINSON was succeeded by THOMAS OXNARD, in 1743, whose appointment
was for "North America. “PRICE acted as Prov. G. M. on the death of OXNARD in
1754 ; and JEREMY GRIDLEY was appointed the following year. On GRIDLEY'S death
in 1767, PRICE again assumed the office, being installed by the former Deputy
of GRIDLEY. These two assumptions of office by PRICE were unwarranted by law,
as was the election of JOHN ROWE, as GRIDLEY'S successor, by the Provincial
Grand Lodge ; for that body died with the Provincial, * and the office was not
an elective one.
The election was, however, only intended as a nomination ; a
committee was appointed to write to England for a patent for ROWE, and his
appointment was received in 1768. He remained in office through the
Revolutionary war and until his death, early in 1787. f No successor was ever
appointed. His Provincial Grand Lodge—which had long been known as "St. John's
Grand Lodge, “to distinguish it from the “St.
Andrew's (Provincial) Grand Lodge, “and the "Massachusetts Grand
Lodge, “which we shall consider in the next section,—never declared itself an
independent or “sovereign “Grand Lodge; and, on the other hand, seems never to
have doubted its right to continue to meet. Meetings were held in Feb. and
Aug., 1787, RICHARD GRIDLEY presiding as D. G. M.; and in July, 1790; Nov.,
1791; and March, 1792, with JOHN CUTLER, a Past (Prov.) S. G. W., presiding.
At the last meeting he was styled D. G. M. At the date of this meeting a union
was effected between this body and the “Massachusetts “Grand Lodge of “Ancient
Masons, and the present Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formed ;a
body which embraced in its jurisdiction all the Lodges in the State, except
African Lodge, "Modern, “which never joined it, and St. Andrew's Lodge, the
oldest of the “Ancient “Lodges, which remained out until 1809. The Provincial
Grand Masters named in this section had warranted a large number of Lodges.
“No less than forty Lodges,“ wrote
* See note under 12, ante.
-1It is inexact to speak of his Prov. G. L. as “dormant “from 1775
to 1787: The only essential feature in a Prov. G. L. is a Prov. G. M. He may
be inactive, but so long as he is in esse there is no technical “dormancy. “
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
PRICE, in 1755, “sprung from my first Lodge in Boston. “Some of these may have
been grand children rather than children of the "First Lodge "; but GOULD *
prints a list of forty-two Lodges, dating from 1734 to 1772, erected by PRICE
or his successors and scattered from Nova Scotia to Dutch Guiana. Nine of
these were in Massachusetts; and three of them, besides the original "First
Lodge, “found their way on to the roll of the mother Grand Lodge in
England,—and, with African Lodge, were dropped from it in 1813-14.j
§ 28. The "Ancients” in Massachusetts.—We now come to the history
of the "Grand Lodge” whose alleged "exclusive jurisdiction” the creation of
African Lodge is said to have violated.
"Prior to 1756, the schism which originated in England had spread
to this Province. Some persons who had applied to the regular Lodges in
Boston, and had been rejected, obtained their degrees in the Lodges of Ancient
Masons attached to the Royal Regiments stationed here, or were made Masons
after the ancient system in some irregular way, and attempted afterwards to
visit the Boston ["Modern"] Lodges, but were denied admission. They, as well
as others who had not been rejected, but who were Ancient Masons, and had also
been driven away from the doors of the Lodges, feeling themselves aggrieved at
the course pursued by the [St. John's Provincial] Grand Lodge towards them,
petitioned the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a charter to hold a Lodge under its
auspices in Boston. “11 But before sending for a charter in 1754—or receiving
it in 1760—they had formed a Lodge. Says DRUMMOND:** — "It seems that some
brethren in 1752 commenced meeting at the `Green Dragon' tavern and opened a
Lodge 'under ancient usage' [that is, without a warrant or charter or any
other authority.] The next year they commenced doing work. * * * Some of the
petitioners [for the charter] were made in the voluntary Lodge self-organized
in 1752. * * * During the interval [of about six years] between the time of
sending the petition and its [the charter's] receipt by the Lodge, it had
continued to meet; except that from September, 1759, to the fourth of April,
1760, it either did not meet or else the record has been lost. It did work up
to April, 1758. “
A writer of equal reputation expresses the matter thus:fl"St.
Andrew's Lodge was originated in 1762  by nine clandestine made Masons.
In 1756 when it was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, it numbered
twenty-one members, exclusive of one of the original nine, who left Boston in
the interval. Its charter did not arrive until 1760, at which time the Lodge
had been increased by eighteen additional members; so that in all, thirty-one
candidates were initiated tt be
*History, iv, 252.
fGould, Four Old Lodges, 75; History, iv, 258. See 145, post.
t As to this term, see 24, ante.
Grand Master W. S. GARDNER; Proceedings, G. L. of Massachusetts,
1869, p. 159. (The italics are mine.) **Addenda to GOULD'S History, iv, 334.
Dr. JOSEPH ROBBINS, Cor. Rep., Proceedings, G. L. of Illinois,
1871, p. lxxx. See also Appendix 28, post.
It The force of Dr. ROBBINS' argument is not weakened by
admitting, as claimed by Bro.
DRUMMOND, that a few of these were received by affiliation, not by
fore the Lodge received its charter, and thirteen before the charter was
signed—making a fair quantum of irregular work to be legalized in one batch.
No one, we presume, doubts the authority of the Grand Lodge of Scotland to
legalize it, nor can similar authority be denied to the Grand Lodge of England
in the case of African Lodge. These facts sufficiently indicate the usage in
the early days of the history of Masonry in Massachusetts, and show that
African Lodge had a title to legitimacy as colorable as that of Lodges whose
status is never questioned. “
But we must not anticipate.
§ 29. Same.—St. Andrew's Grand Lodge.—This non-regular, or—as we
should in this day style it—irregular * Lodge was regularized in 1760, as we
have seen, by receiving a charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland; but the
"Modern” Lodges of Boston still refused to recognize it.• Resenting this,
these brethren took advantage of the presence of three Military Lodges, "one
Scottish, one English, and one Irish, but all working under the 'Ancient'
system, “t to get them to join, in 1768, in petitioning the Grand Lodge of
Scotland for a Provincial Grand Master Dr.—afterwards General—Joseph WARREN,
Master of St. Andrew's Lodge, was appointed, and was installed in December,
1769. His Grand Lodge was commonly called the "St. Andrew's Grand Lodge. “The
army Lodges moved away, 1769-1772. "They were never in fact more than a merely
nominal part of it; St. Andrew's Lodge was really the Grand Lodge. “II Grand
Master WARREN was killed in the battle of Bunker Hill in 1775—no successor was
ever appointed,—and with him expired his Provincial Grand Lodge, and the
authority of all its officers. **
§ 30. The "Massachusetts” Grand Lodge of "Ancient Masons. “—The brethren who
had been associated with General WARREN'S Provincial Grand Lodge celebrated
the feast of St. John, in December, 1776, without—so far as I am
aware—realizing that their functions had expired.
But when JOSEPH WEBB, who had been WARREN'S deputy, received a
petition for a Lodge at Stockbridge, he realized the situation; and, call
* Brethren who are fond of strong language would say "clandestine,
“—forgetting that nothing that can be healed is clandestine.
t St. Andrew's Lodge admitted "Moderns"—evidently for the purpose
of strengthening its position, according to the policy pointed out in 26; and
the "Modern” Lodges occasionally admitted to their dinners on St. John's day
members of that Lodge made in "Modern” Lodges—and once, probably by an
accident or in an "era of good feeling, “one solitary "Ancient Mason. “But the
only occasions when they consented to associate with them generally were in
permitting them to attend the funeral of Prov. G. M. GRIDLEY in 1767, and for
a period in and following 1773.
DRUMMOND; Gould's History, iv, 341.
Id., iv, 342. • ** So held his associates, in 1785, declaring "the
grant to have been made to the Grand Master by said Charter appointed, and to
him alone, without any provision for a successor, “(Gould’s History, iv, 304;)
and, "Now the principal being dead, the commission was of consequence vacated.
“(Id., iv. 302. See also 31, post.) See Grand Master GARDNER'S opinion, to the
same effect, in the note under 12 ante.
GOULD expresses the same opinion (History, iv, 221); and, in fact,
I know of no writer of any note who reaches a different conclusion, except
Past Grand Master DRUMMOND. He does so (Gould’s History, iv, 343) by confusing
the law applicable to Grand Masters with the law governing Provincials,—who
were themselves only deputies.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
ing a special meeting of his associates, in February, 1777, laid the petition
before them. "This proposition aroused the brethren to a realizing sense of
their status and condition as a Grand Lodge. They were doubtful of its power,
as then organized, to grant the Charter prayed for. “* They ordered "all the
Masters and Wardens” of the Ancient Lodges to be summonded to meet the
following month. At that time there were four Ancient Lodges in Massachusetts
but one of them, Massachusetts Lodge, could not be congregated on account of
the war. There were, as we have seen, a number of "Modern” Lodges; but these
were of course not invited. On the evening appointed, the situation was
probably carefully discussed; and the meeting adjourned till the next evening,
when eleven brethren were present—but eight of the eleven were from one Lodge.
We quotef"March 8, 1777, the following brethren assembled, representing St.
Andrew's Lodge of Boston, Tyrian Lodge of Gloucester, and St. Peter's Lodge of
JOSEPH WEBB, D. G. M., of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston.
PAUL REVERE, S. G. W. of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston.
THOMAS CRAFTS, J. G. W., of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston.
JOHN LOWELL, G. Treas., of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston.
NAT. PIERCE, G. Sec. pro tem, of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston.
THOMAS HRANN, S. G. D., of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston.
EDWARD PROCTOR, J. G. D., of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston.
MOSES DESHON, P. M., of Tyrian Lodge, Gloucester.
PHILIP MARETT,of Tyrian Lodge, Gloucester.
WINTHROP GREY, G. St'ds' S. W. of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston.
WM. GREENOUGH, M., of St. Peter's Lodge, Newburyport.
The brethren then proceeded to unanimously elect a Grand Master,
Grand Wardens, and other Grand Officers. JOSEPH WEBB was chosen Grand Master.
Tested by modern ideas— which brethren are very quick to apply to
the negro organizations,—this was sufficiently irregular. Says Dr. ROBBINSf
"We think we speak advisedly when we say that there is no evidence in
existence to show that a single one of the eleven brethren named by him as
being present, March 8, 1777, was the representative of a Lodge or authorized
by any Lodge to participate in the business in which they then engaged, that
of organizing a Grand Lodge. It cannot be shown even that the two members of
Tyrian Lodge, Gloucester, nor he of St. Peter's Lodge, Newburyport, were
authorized representatives of the bodies to which they belonged. Eight of the
eleven persons present were members of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston. “
Another brother, as well known in England as in America for his
caustic criticisms of anything that appeared to him to be sham or insincere,
thus expressed it.il
*W. S. GARDNER; Address, Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 25. See the
views of the same writer, quoted in a note under 12 ante.
f From GARDNER, Address; Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 26.
Proceedings, G. L. of Illinois, 1871, Cor. Rep., 70.
;1 JACOB NORTON, Revolution and Assumption; reprinted as an
appendix to Address to the Colored Masonic Fraternity of the U. S.,
"Now, remember, the Masters and Wardens were called; but how many
Masters and Wardens can we find in the above list of names, who formed the
said Grand Lodge? * * * The S. W. of St. Andrew's Lodge attended by virtue of
his defunct commission of Grand Steward.
St. Andrew's Lodge did not authorize him to represent her, because
she did not join the said Grand Lodge until 1809.* Moses Deshon was neither
Master nor Warden; hence the only legal representative then present was a
Master of St. Peter's Lodge, Newburyport. He represented a Lodge; the rest
represented only their individual selves. And this solitary Master of a Lodge,
associated with ten unauthorized brethren, assembled in an upper chamber of a
tavern, and there and then elected each other into various kinds of
Worshipfuls, and declared themselves the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts;t while
hundreds of Masons, and a number of Lodges then existing in the State, were
neither represented nor consulted. * * * The rest of the brotherhood in the
State retained their inherent right, either to remain tributary to their
parent Grand Lodge, to organize a new one, or to join the one just organized.
But, as a Grand Lodge of "Ancient” Masons, which it professed to
its organization was still more irregular; for DERMOTT himself
informs us that the law of the "Ancients” required five Lodges, to organize a
31. Same.—These criticisms were presented originally, and are reproduced now,
not for the purpose of questioning the legitimacy of this body, which
flourished from 1777 to 1792, but to refute the pretension that its origin was
more regular than that of other bodies—for example, the (white) Grand Lodge of
New Hampshire and the first African Grand Lodge; and to show the absurdity of
the idea that its existence in Massachusetts made the continuation of the
jurisdiction which the Grand Lodge of England had exercised there ever since
1737 "an invasion of jurisdiction"—and that, too, when the Massachusetts and
the English Grand Lodges belonged to "distinct societies, totally independent
of each other. “II
It was a legitimate body; but its legitimacy was not due to the regularity of
its origin,—for of that it could boast little enough; but, like that
* Other writers, including Dr. Rom:arts, agree with Bro. NORTON; but I have
the impression that St. Andrew's Lodge or a faction of that Lodge did
affiliate with this new body from 1777 to 1782—although still retaining her
allegiance to the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
The fact is, there were two factions in St. Andrew's Lodge, plainly
traceable back to a point many months prior to the declaration of independence
of 1782—presently to be mentioned,—one of which contended for no connection
except with the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and the other sympathizing with this
new movement. Many judicious thinkers have believed this breach dates from at
least this period, and that the eight members of St. Andrew's who assisted in
forming this new body were unauthorized members of this— the minority—
t Here Bro. NORTON is unjust: This body never assumed that name; it
never asserted jurisdiction over African Lodge or any other "Modern” Lodge;
and, in 1782, it expressly disclaimed jurisdiction over any Lodges except
those constituted by itself. See 31, post.
1. "To form what Masons mean by a Grand Lodge, there should have
been the Masters and Wardens of five regular Lodges; that is to say, five
Masters and ten Wardens, making the number of installed Officers fifteen. This
is so well known to every man conversant with the ancient laws, usages,
customs and ceremonies of Master Masons, that it is needless to say more. “—Ahiman
Rezon (Ed. 1807).
11See quotations from DERMOTT, in 25, ante; also 26.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
of many other Grand Bodies which "originated in assumption, “* was achieved by
the Masonic character of its work; and, being established, retroacted to heal
all questions of origin. These questions, however, still continued to disturb
the brethren, especially the members of St. Andrew's Lodge; t and in 1782 a
committee was appointed "to draught resolutions explanatory of the powers and
authority of this Grand Lodge, respecting the extent and meaning of its
jurisdiction, and of the exercise of any other Masonic authorities within its
jurisdiction. “This committee, in a report which was "accepted” Dec. 6, 1782,
and some parts of which I beg leave to italicize, first reviewing their
history, pointing out "That the Commission from the Grand Lodge of Scotland
granted to our Late Grand Master Joseph Warren Esq'r. having died with him and
of Course his Deputy whose Appointment was derived from his Nomination being
no longer in existence, they saw themselves without a Head, & without a Single
Grand Officer. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "That the
Political Head of this Country having destroyed All connection &
Correspondence between the Subjects of these States & the Country from which
the Grand Lodge originally derived its Commissioned Authority, * * * the
Brethren did Assume an Elective Supremacy, * * * 'That in the History of our
Craft we find. that in England there are Two Grand Lodges independent of each
other, In Scotland the SameII and in Ireland their Grand Lodge and Grand
Master are Independent of either England or Scotland. 'Tis clear that the
Authority of some of these Grand Lodges originated in Assumption, or otherwise
they would Acknowledge the Head from whence they Derived. “
The committee recommended the adoption of five resolutions, of
which the following are relevant to our inquiry (italics mine):
"2d. Resolved, That this Grand Lodge be forever hereafter known &
Called by the Name of the MASSACHUSETTS GRAND LODGE OF Ancient MASONS, and,
that it is free and Independent in its Government & Official Authority of any
other Grand Lodge, or Grand Master in the Universe.
3d. Resolved, That the Sovereign Power & Authority of the said
Grand Lodge, be Continuedt to Extend throughout the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, and to Any of the United States, where none shall be erected
over such Lodges only as this Grand Lodge shall there Constitute.
* * * * „ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
5th. Resolved, That no Person or Persons ought or can (Consistently with the
Rules of Ancient Masonry and the Good Order of the Craft) use or Exercise the
Powers or Perogatives of An Ancient Grand Master, or Grand Lodge, towit, to
give Power to Erect Lodges of Ancient Masonry [etc.] * * within any part of
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Right full and Appropriated Limits to
which the Authority of this Grand Lodge forever hereafter Extends.“
* See quotations later on in this section.
t DRUMMOND, GOULD'S History, iv, 303. See also a note under the
I quote from Proceedings in Masonry, 302,—the versions given by
DRUMMOND and GARDNER being entirely unreliable.
II That is, the Grand Lodge and Kilwinning Mother Lodge. And yet
this very report is quoted by Brothers GARDNER and DRUMMOND—to say nothing of
the committees, of what the historian Gould, with a painful irreverence, calls
"the sheep-walking school”of writers, who have written on negro Masonry during
the past year and have blindly followed Bro. WOODBURY as a bell-wether—as the
very source and origin of the doctrine that two Grand Lodges "cannot” exist in
the same State! I DRUMMOND makes this read "construed. “
32. Same.—Upon these resolutions, one of the most scholarly of
American * writers has justly observed,— “Read by the light of contemporaneous
history, the words of section 3 show that it claimed authority, even in
Massachusetts, "over such Lodges only as this Grand Lodge has constituted or
shall constitute. “t There were at that time Lodges, Grand and subordinate, in
Massachusetts, which it never undertook to rule and which it never
constituted. It did not throughout that declaration do more than claim that it
had the prerogative to charter Lodges anywhere and everywhere within the
limits of the commonwealth. It did not in that declaration deny the right of
the St. John's Grand Lodge to act with equal independence within the same
limits. It claimed simply its independence of any and every Grand Lodge in the
world, including the other Grand Lodge already established in Massachusetts.
It even recognized the principle that two sovereign and independent Grand
Lodges might exist within the same territory. * * * “
Another point to be observed, is the clear absence of any claim of
jurisdiction over "Modern “Masons or their Lodges.
The declaration of independence in resolution 2d was unsatisfactory
to St. Andrew's Lodge. It withdrew from the Grand Lodge, and never returned to
it, but continued its allegiance to the Grand Lodge of Scotland until
seventeen years after the dissolution of “the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, “in
1792. In the latter year, five years after African Lodge No.
459 received its warrant, and eight years after that warrant had
been granted, a new Grand Lodge—the present Grand Lodge of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts—was formed, by the union of the St. John's Grand Lodge of Modern
Masons and the Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Ancient Masons; and the last named
body “VOTED THAT THIS
GRAND LODGE BE DISSOLVED. “The only two Lodges in Massachusetts which
possessed charters emanating directly from the mother country took no part in
organizing this new body—St. Andrew's, the oldest of the "Ancient”
Lodges, and African No. 459, the only Lodge that ever existed in
Massachusetts which possessed the warrant of the Grand Master of the "Moderns,
“ the mother Grand Lodge of the world. The former resisted the jurisdiction of
the new Grand Lodge until 1809; the latter never came under it.
From the former you and I are descended; from the latter, our negro
brother. Let me bring these long digressions to an end by a thought well
expressed by another. When the chief aim of New England brethren was to show
their Masonry more ancient than that of Pennsylvania, they wrote of naught but
the St. John's Grand Lodge, originating with HENRY PRICE in 1733. But when it
became necessary to exclude African Lodge by showing "a single Grand Lodge
“with “exclusive territorial jurisdiction, “it became convenient to put HENRY
PRICE and his "forty Lodges'' out of sight; and claim for the present Grand
Lodge, formed when PRINCE HALL had been a Mason seventeen years, identity with
a body of
* DR. JOSEPH ROBBINS, Proceedings, G. L. of Illinois, 1871; Cor. Rep., 77. DR.
ROBBINS copied GARDNER'S version of the resolution.
This is unquestionably the correct interpretation of resolution
3d. Others, by a different punctuation, and by obscuring “the light of
contemporaneous history” have sought to read into it another meaning.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
"schismatics “whom HENRY PRICE and PRINCE HALL had been taught by their Book
of Constitutions “not to countenance “but to “treat as Rebels. “* Or, as Bro.
NORTON expressed it ±,— “In former times, the legal history of the Grand Lodge
of Massachusetts began with HENRY PRICE. We were then assured that, from that
holy fountain of the Albion Eden, issued that limpid stream of living waters
which continued winding and meandering through the lovely valley of fragrant
flowers, extending its benign influence to Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia;
to Charleston, South Carolina; to the West Indies, etc.; and that another
stream, equally limpid, sparkling, crystal, lovely, etc., which emanated from
the Caledonian Paradise in 1769, meeting the Albion stream of 1733 in 1792,—
these two beautiful waters merging and commingling, formed that noble and
majestic river known as the Most Honorable and M. W. Ancient Grand Lodge of
“Bro. Moore has, however, recently discovered that that does not
square with his Masonic jurisprudence, and therefore it cannot be true.
So in a late number of his Magazine he admitted that the Grand
Lodge of 1733, called St. John Grand Lodge, virtually died before 1777,— died,
too, without hope or chance of legal resurrection. But the Grand Lodge of
Scotch origin, he gives us to understand, continued the real simon pure, for
it could show an unbroken chain, without a flaw, of apostolic succession right
through; so that even the death of Joseph Warren did not deprive it of a
particle of vitality. * * * * And he further intimates that it was really
fortunate for the houseless and homeless outcasts of the 1733 Grand Lodge
origin, to have been, through the agency of the Joseph Warren origin.
reinstated and legalized in their Masonic status.
"Our Bro. GARDNER, however, knocks Bro. MOORE'S theory all to
smash. He boldly declares that both Grand Lodges became at that time legally
defunct,— dead, dead, dead,— but is of opinion that either of them had a right
to resuscitate itself by revolution and assumption; and as the successors of
Joseph Warren were first in the field, therefore they acquired, in 1777, when
they elected their Grand officers, a right to domineer over every Mason in
Massachusetts; that whomsoever they were afterwards pleased to acknowledge as
Masons, remained Masons, and whomsoever they chose to ignore, he or they
thereby lost all the rights and privileges of Masons. “
But we need dwell no longer upon the absurd notions which Bro.
NORTON thus pilloried. Even the ablest of our brethren were excusable for
entertaining them thirty years ago, when the history and ancient usages of our
Fraternity were a sealed book. Only the most ignorant are now.
33. Objection that the warrant of African Lodge invaded
jurisdiction.— We now return from our, digressions to the point where we were
The candid reader who has perused 22-32 attentively has observed
that, at the time the warrant of African Lodge was granted and received,— 1.
Freemasonry was divided into two hostile societies, the "Moderns” and the
"Ancients, “neither of which claimed any jurisdiction over the affairs of the
other. II 2. The "Modern” Grand Master of England was represented in Massa
* See 22, 25, ante.
f Revolution and Assumption, ut supra.
t This is like the Missourian's "allowed. “—W. H. U.
See 25 ante.
chusetts by his St. John's Provincial Grand Lodge and a large number of
Lodges.* 3. The "Ancients” were represented by the St. Andrew's—then called
"Massachusetts"—Grand Lodge, which had "originated in revolution and
assumption”in 1777, but existed as an "independent Grand Lodge of `Ancient'
Masons. “t 4. St. Andrew's Lodge of Ancient Masons was maintaining a separate
existence, a constituent of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.t 5. The
"Massachusetts” Grand Lodge—which must not be confounded with the Grand Lodge
of Massachusetts, which was not organized until 1792 II—claimed jurisdiction
over "Ancient” Masonry only,** and expressly disclaimed jurisdiction over any
Lodges except those of her own constitution.tt This must lead to the
acceptance of some of the propositions which were laid down in 21, viz.:
"That there was at that time no Grand Lodge that had or claimed
exclusive jurisdiction over all Masonry—`Modern' and `Ancient'—in
"That the Body whose 'exclusive jurisdiction' is charged to have
been invaded—the 'Massachusetts' Grand Lodge of 1777-1792,—being an 'Ancient'
body, was not one that the Grand Master of the 'Moderns,' or African Lodge No.
459—a 'Modern' Lodge—were bound to or could recognize as a Grand Lodge of
Masons; or as anything but 'a mob of impenitent schismatics;' “tt and,
consequently,— "That no invasion of jurisdiction occurred. “
Of course the formation of African Lodge was no invasion of the
jurisdiction of St. John's Grand Lodge,—I have not yet found a writer so stu
* See 27, ante. ROWE was Prov. G. M. when the warrant was granted in 1784 and
his death occurred but a few months before it was received in Boston. His Prov.
Grand Lodge we have seen, continued a de facto existence until 1792. But had
it not done so, the total extinction of the Prov. Grand Lodge would not have
affected the validity of the “Modern” Lodges in Massachusetts, for they were
all entitled to enrollment on the register of the Grand Lodge of England, and
four of them--besides African Lodge—were there enrolled.
t I am not sure whether I have made it sufficiently clear that the
"Massachusetts” and "St. Andrew’s” Bodies belonged distinctly to the "Ancient”
faction. Such, however, was the unquestioned fact, and so they themselves
always claimed. See 28-32, ante; Gomm's History, iv, 215, 305, 306, 312; and
Proceedings in Masonry, 454. At the latter reference will be found the
original petition of 1768, praying for the appointment of their first Prov.
G. M. The petitioners, "taking into consideration the present state
of Ancient Masonry, “
give reasons for wanting a G. L. "of Ancient Masons, “the first of
which is that it "would render Ancient Masonry more respectable in this place,
where there is a Provincial Grand Lodge of Modern Masons. “St. Andrew's Lodge
was sharply rebuked by Lodges 169 and 58, in 1772, for admitting "Modern”
Masons as visitors, "directly in Opposition to the express rules and articles
of antient Masonry.— Proceedings in Masonry, 457.
t See 32, ante.
II See 32, ante.
** See Resolutions 2d and 5th, in 31, ante.
it This disclaimer will be disputed; but see Resolution 3d at the
last reference, and Dr.
ROBBINS comments thereon, in 32. But the matter does not affect our
present argument, and will be considered further in 34-36, post.
-1.$ See 25, ante.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
pid or so bold as to claim that it was. To the brethren of that body, it was
the act of their own honored Grand Master erecting a new Lodge, just
as—through his deputies—he had erected all of theirs.
34. Same.—W hat was said in the last section, to my mind, entirely
disposes of the idea that the warranting of African Lodge was an "invasion” of
anything. "But, “the reader asks, "is it not true, as we have been so often
and so emphatically told, that the mere fact that a Grand Lodge is erected in
a State, ipso facto gives it the exclusive right to erect Lodges in that
State?” Stay, gentle reader; let me ask a question or two: Do you propose to
ignore the difference between the "Ancients”
and "Moderns, “and claim that the existence of a Grand Lodge of the one faith
excluded the propogation of the other creed ? And, if so, is not almost the
only purpose of this paper to answer the very question you have now asked? And
are you going to beg the question, at this point?
Remember, our purpose in starting out was to calmly survey the
whole field, and from that survey determine for ourselves, first, whether
African Lodge had a right to exist; and, if so, whether other negr2 Lodges
have the same right. If the reader has answered the question by accepting as
axiomatic the stupid saw quoted above, it will not profit him to read further.
He will find the subject treated in his method by writers of the grade of
those who wrote the Kentucky report and the reports copied from that;—writers
who assume premises that have no foundation in fact and draw conclusions that
are insequent to the premises.
And now, having dropped all readers but the sincere seeker after
truth, let us resume. Although, as has been said, the objection of invasion
has been fully answered, let us, for the sake of argument, ignore the
difference between "Ancients” and "Moderns, “and assume that, instead of
disclaiming, the "Massachusetts” Grand Lodge had claimed exclusive territorial
jurisdiction, in 1782;—and face the objection in that form.
This last claim is the one that has actually been made. Writers
who, for some unknown reason,* have felt an interest in showing that this not
yet-universally-established doctrine is of considerable antiquity, have
thought they found a rudimentary assertion of it, if not in the vote of 17734
in the resolutions adopted by St. Andrew's Grand Lodge in 17824 Assuming that
to be so, does that establish the right? Surely, none but the most prejudiced
will deny that to merely claim a new and hitherto unheard-of right is not to
establish that right. The important point is to have that claim acknowledged,
willingly or unwillingly, by those against whom it is asserted,--who in this
case were not only the negro Masons, but the Grand Lodges of England and
Scotland. We shall presently see the real origin of exclusive territorial
jurisdiction. It will suffice for
* Was it for the purpose of showing that PRINCE HALL was an invader in 1787,
or JOSEP CERNEAU in 1807?
See ?, 13, ante.
Quoted in 31, ante. GOULD thought we could "possibly discern the
first germ” of exclusive jurisdiction in the restrictions put upon
American-made army Lodges during the Revolutionary war.—History, iv, 224.
II See 39, post.
the present to say that England has never ceased to claim the right to erect
Lodges in any country at least until there was a Grand Lodge there which she
recognized or, to maintain her existing Lodges, even then; and that no Grand
Lodge in Europe recognized any Grand Lodge in Massachusetts until long after
African Lodge was organized.
35. Same.— Exclusive territorial jurisdiction.—The surest way to
learn what the Masonic law of that period on that subject was is to learn what
the practice of Masons then was. I shall cite no continental usages, as those
of the British Isles will have more weight; and I shall mention only Lodges
which were placed on the rolls of the English Grand Lodges, omitting the
numerous Lodges formed by Provincial Grand Masters, but never enrolled.
In FRANCE a Grand Master was elected in 1738,* and the Grand Lodge
was recognized by the Grand Lodge of England, "Moderns, “in 1768.1Yet the
latter warranted Lodges in France in 1767 (three Lodges), 1772 and 17854 the
"Ancient” Grand Lodge of England in 1763 and 17734 and the Grand Lodge of
Ireland in the latter year. “** In SWEDEN, the Grand Lodge was formed in 1759;
but the senior English Grand Lodge appointed a Provincial Grand Master there
in 1765, warranted three Lodges in 1769, and carried them on her roll until
the Union, when—with African Lodge No. 459—they were dropped. ft The
"Ancients” of London warranted a Lodge in Sweden in 1773. tt In GERMANY 1111
the National Grand Lodge of Saxony at Dresden had been regularly formed by
three Lodges in 1741; and in the same year the Lodge which afterwards
developed into the Grand Lodge "Sun” at Bayreuth began acting as a Mother
Lodge. The Grand National Mother Lodge of Three Globes had erected its first
dependent Lodge a year earlier,—an act which, according to our theorists,
ought to have given her "exclusive territorial jurisdiction” over all Germany,
for all time to come.
In 1745 the Mother Lodge of the Eclectic Union, at
Frankfort-on-the-Main exercised the power of erecting Lodges, whence she
derived her name. In 1765 the Royal York of Friendship, at Berlin, began
acting as a Mother Lodge, and was formally erected into a Grand Lodge in 1798.
In 1770 ZINNENDORFF, at Berlin, had erected the National Grand
Lodge of all German Freemasons, and three years later the "Modern” Grand Lodge
of England recognized it as being all that its name implied. Besides this,
between 1740 and 1780 scores, if not hundreds, of Lodges existed in Germany
erected by other authorities. Yet, instead of assuming
*Gould, History, iii, 395.
t Id, 401.
tlbid.; and Four Old Lodges, passim.
Gom,n, The Athol Lodges, passim.
** Ars Q. C., viii, 82.
-11 GOULD, History, iv, 2 et seq.
-tt Go-m.1J, Athol Lodges, 35.
,111 All that will here be said of the German Grand Lodges will be
found in Gould, History, iv, 33-74.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
that any or all of these things "excluded” her from German territory, the
elder of the English Grand Lodges appointed a Provincial Grand Master at
Frankfort-on- the-Main in 1766; and, although the German Mother Lodge asserted
its position as an independent Grand Lodge in 1782, reappointed a Provincial
in 1789—his commission being signed by the same Lord EFFINGHA M who granted
the warrant of African Lodge; in the latter year he had ten Lodges under him—KLoss
says twenty-nine,—and England maintained his authority until the union of
1813, and, indeed, until 1823. In 1786 England appointed a Provincial Grand
Master for Hamburg and Lower Saxony; and in 1799 continued his Provincial
Grand Lodge, which ultimately developed into the present Grand Lodge of
Hamburg;—a body which finds in its own history a precedent for those
"invasions of jurisdiction” which have been so much deprecated. After
governing bodies existed in Germany, the Grand Lodge of England constituted
Lodges there in the years 1742, 1743, 1755, 1762, 1767, 1770, 1786, 1787 (two
Lodges), 1789, 1790 (9 Lodges, if I count correctly), 1791, 1801 (2), 1802
(3), 1804 and 1805.* In HOLLAND there was a Loge du Grand Maitre in 1734. It
changed its name to the Union Mother Lodge in 1749, and was constituted a
Grand Lodge in 1756.i Yet the Grand Lodge of Scotland chartered a Lodge at
Amsterdam in 17554 and the "Ancient” Grand Lodge of England in 1762; II while
the "Modern” Grand Lodge of England erected Lodges in Holland in 1735, 1749,
1753 (2), 1755, 1756, 1757, 1762 (3), 1765, 1767 (2) and 1768.** Why she
ceased doing so we shall see while learning a later lesson.±1The Grand Master
of Ireland warranted a Lodge, No. 148, at Norwich, England, in 1747; and
another, No. 247, in the Middle Temple, London, in 1754. Both were still on
the Irish register in 1809.# Kilwinning Mother Lodge, in 1779, chartered a
Lodge in Dublin which was in existence in 1806.
In fact, so different has been the law and practice of Masons from
what our doctrinaires would have us believe— and so far is it from a fact that
the circumstance that a Lodge is created in invasion of another jurisdiction
make it a clandestine Lodge—that the dean of the guild of Masonic scholars has
said, (italics mine): ***
*Gould, Four Old Lodges, passim.
GOULD, History, iv, 8.
t Id, iv, 9.
GOULD, Athol Lodges, 21.
**So it would appear by the original rolls of the English Grand
Lodge, printed by GOULD; Four Old Lodges. But a very careful writer in Ars Q.
C., ii, 96, says, in 1757, 1762 (3), 1765, 1767 (2), 1768 and 1769.
tt See 3, 39, post.
1+W W. J. CHETWODE CRAWLEY, Ars Q. C., viii, 80.
1111 D. MURRAY LYON, Mother Kilwinning; quoted in the New England
Freemason, Sept., 1875.
***WM. JAMES HUGHAN, Ars Q. C., viii, 84. See GOULD to a somewhat
similar effect, in Ars Q. C., v, 102; and see Appendix 14, post. The 1st.
Battalion, 9th. Foot, in which was
"A curious paper might some day be written on Friendly Invasions
by Masonic Lodges, for what with those of a military character belonging to
Ireland and Scotland, and others started by French Prisoners of War in England
from about 1760 to far on in this century, we have had brethren at work,
hailing from other jurisdictions, which possibly, in some measure, had
affected the mode of conferring the ceremonies, as at Bristol and elsewhere. “
36. Same.—A voice from South Carolina.—The foregoing examples of
the practice of the five leading Grand Bodies in the British Islands ought to
forever silence the silly claim that, at the time African Lodge was
established, there was any law that forbade a Grand Lodge to plant a Lodge in
a State where another Grand Lodge existed. But before leaving the subject, I
wish to cite an illustration which no one seems to have mentioned, and which I
fancy it will take our critics some time to explain away. I do not refer to
the fact that the Grand Orient of France granted authority for a Lodge at
Portsmouth or Sagesse, Virginia, in 1785;* although that act further
illustrates the usage of the day; and, as France was at that time America's
closest ally, it tends to show that the granting of a charter to foreign
petitioners was regarded as a fraternal act; not a hostile one, as has been
gratuitously intimated of the grant to PRINCE HALL. But in answer to the
objection that the warrant of African Lodge was invalid because it invaded
"exclusive jurisdiction, “where the "Ancients” and "Moderns” had rival Grand
Lodges, I shall now point out the fact that, two years later, the "Ancient”
Grand Lodge of England chartered a Lodge, which has always been recognized as
entirely regular, in a State where a single Grand Lodge and that an
independent Grand Lodge, had existed for many years. DRUMMOND± names 1783 as
the true date of the origin of the first independent Grand Lodge of South
Carolina, "Modern, “though MACKEY claimed it was sovereign from 1777; and DE
SAUSSURE, from a year earlier. Well, on May 26, 1786—twenty months after the
date of PRINCE HALL'S warrant—the "Ancient” Grand Lodge of England issued a
charter for Lodge No. 236 at Charleston, S. at This Lodge was organized within
the jurisdiction of the then existing Grand Lodge of South Carolina, and in
1787 assisted in forming a rival Grand Lodge in that State. It may be
incidentally remarked that the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
chartered three Lodges in South Carolina after there was a sovereign Grand
Lodge there, in 1783, 1785, and 1786; and the present Grand Lodge of
Pennsylvania re-chartered one of these in 1787. II
But I will not multiply evidences. In addition to the conclusions reached in
33, it seems to me the truth of the other proposition laid
Lodge No. 183, "Ancients, “being wrecked off the coast of France in 1805,
remained in that country, as prisoners of war, until 1814. During all this
period the Lodge worked in France, initiating both soldiers and civilians.
*Gould, History, iv, 259. The Lodge was, apparently, never
t GOULD'S History iv, 398.
GOULD, Athol Lodges, 44; DRLTMMOND, Gould's History, iv, 399.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
down in § 21 has been established beyond the peradventure of a doubt, viz:
that at the time the warrant of African Lodge No. 459 was granted and
received, the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction did not exist.
Thus, in several different ways, each one of which is conclusive,
the objection which has been so much relied upon, and which we began
considering so far back as § 21, has been shown to have not the slightest
foundation either in fact or in law.
§ 37. Was African Lodge "constituted. “—It is desired to keep this
paper as free from any display of feeling as possible, as those who have
written against the colored Masons have exhibited feeling enough for both
sides. But it is difficult to avoid saying that when the distinguished Grand
Secretary of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia,* having seen the
fallacy of nearly all the other arguments against them, proposes to brand
thirty thousand Masons as spurious because, one hundred and twelve years after
the event, he knows of no evidence that African Lodge was formally
"constituted, “he affords a typical illustration of the extremes to which a
partisan determination not to be convinced, and not to let the masses of the
brethren see the truth, leads men to go to seek for excuses for refusing the
hand of fellowship. Stronger language than this
* M. W. Bro. WILLIAM R. SINGLETON; Proceedings, G. L. of D. C., 1898, Cor.
Report, s. v.
Kentucky. Few Masonic writers in America are able to reason more
correctly or express themselves more clearly, when they wish to, than Bro.
SINGLETON; and therefore he may justly be held responsible for the misleading
character of his report, which may be analyzed as follows:
He says that, hearing of the action of the G. L. of Washington, he
"corresponded with our distinguished brother, William James Hughan * * * *
requesting, if possible, that he send us a copy of one of the army lodge
charters, our object being to show that such charters could not authorize any
army lodge * * to make Masons of citizens of any country where regular lodges
under any constitutions already existed. “(It is needless to say that Bro.
SINGLETON did not find any charter that would help him towards showing that.)
He does not give HUGHAN'S answer to that letter; but proceeds to copy, from a
modern edition of what he calls the "Constitution of the Grand Lodge of
England,“ provisions relative to army Lodges; leaving the reader to infer that
they existed in 1775, — which was not the case. He then tells us that he sent
Bro. HUGHAN the Arkansas report containing the assertions as to army Lodges
and Dr. OLIVER which we refuted in 11) ante. He quotes a part of Bro. HUGHAN'S
answer; in which /give, within brackets, after the word "Courts, “the words
for which Bro. SINGLETON substituted asterisks and the words "of Courts;” viz
(asterisks, Bro. SINGLETON'S):
"No such regulation, as referred to by Dr. Oliver in his Dictionary
of Symbolic Masons re Military Lodges, appears in any * * * * of Courts
[edition of Book of Consts.] of Grand Lodge of England until the year 1815.
Dr. Oliver gives no date, and he was simply quoting laws in operation when his
work was published. Yours fraternally, “Wm. J. HUGHAN. “
Thus balked in his attempts to prove two things that never existed,
Bro. SINGLETON remarks: "It seems that sentiment controls our distinguished
brother, and he evidently inclines to be in favor of the regularity of the
Prince Hall organization, which we greatly regret. “
He then quotes from Gould (History, Eng. ed., vi, 419; Am. ed., iv,
224) something that GOULD says of a restriction placed by American Masonic
authorities upon the ten American army Lodges in the American army during the
Revolutionary war;—but gives it in a way to indicate that GOULD had mentioned
it as a restriction placed by English authority on English Lodges before the
war; and then, referring to the initiation of PRINCE HALL, triumphantly asks,
"Did the army lodge, in 1775, comply with the above * * * ?”He then proceeds
to make the point about "constituting, “which I discuss above, in the text.
would be justified by this, the newest of objections, and one that can only be
classed as sham and frivolous. For, mark you, it is not claimed that there is
the slightest reason for doubting that the Lodge was constituted; unless,
indeed, a reason is suggested by the question, "Who was there to install” the
officers? The answer is: Any one of the white Masons of Boston who visited
this Lodge as late as 1792* may have been deputed for that purpose, if any
deputation was necessary.
After this question, Bro. SINGLETON adds, "We must bear in mind
that this was the invariable custom from the earliest date of our modern
Masonry, since 1717, “
It will no doubt shock the brother to learn that all well-informed
Masons, except himself, agree that among the "Moderns” the installation
ceremony either never existed or else fell into complete desuetude before
1750,± and remained so until 1810. But the brother quotes from the Book of
Constitutions, 1723, that— "A NEW LODGE, for avoiding many irregularities,
should be solemnly constituted, “etc.
And adds,— "This has always been considered as mandatory and never
omitted, and no Lodge has ever been permitted to do any Masonic work until the
constitution of the same by authority of a Grand Master. “
I am always lost in admiration for the learning of a man whose
knowledge is so wide and so minute that he can say, "No Lodge has ever;” or,
as another of these marvels of erudition t has said within the year, in all
the effulgence of italics, In every case that has ever existed in the York
Bite;”and perhaps Bro. SINGLETON and I will not be so far apart if we agree as
to what "constitution” "by authority of a Grand Master” means.
But what will he say to the suggestion that, among the "Moderns,
“no ceremony of constitution was requisite between 1757 and, at least, 1810?
The propositions I lay down are as follows:
I. That among the "Modern” Masons II—to which division African
Lodge belonged,—from about 1722 to a date not later than 1757 a Lodge was
"constituted” by a ceremony, performed either by the Grand Master in person,
his Deputy or some person to whom a warrant to constitute the Lodge had been
issued by authority of the Grand Master. This was very similar to our practice
of "constituting” a Lodge under charter, except that the Lodge was given no
charter or written warrant. It sometimes, however, obtained possession of and
retained the warrant which had been issued to constitute it.
2. That at a date not earlier than 1753 or later than 1757 the "Mod
* See Appendix 11, post.
f W. J. CHETWODE CRAWLEY, Caementaria Hibernica, I, Ceremony of
Installation, 22; HENRY SADDLER, Notes on the Ceremony of Installation
(London: 1889), 3, 49; Masonic Facts and Fictions, sub anno 1810. The former
seems to be GOULD'S opinion. See Ars Q. C.
v, 104 et seq., and Appendix 27, post. "The chair of a lodge, at
that time , certainly in England and Scotland, was filled and vacated
without a ceremony of any kind. “—Gould, Royal Arch Degree, reprinted from the
Freemason, quoted Caementaria Hibernica, I.
1J. H. DRUMMOND; Proceedings, G. L. of Maine, 1899, Cor. Rep., p.
Ii The practice in Ireland and among the "Ancients”was very
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
erns” adopted a new form of warrant, upon the face of which the Grand Master
professed to "hereby constitute” the brethren named "into a regular Lodge;”
and this was the form of warrant granted to PRINCE HALL.* 3. That after 1757,
the "Modern” Grand Lodge of England, upon issuing a warrant for, say, a Lodge
at a distance, never deputized or appointed anyone to perform any ceremony of
"constituting” the new Lodge.
4. That the mere delivery of such a warrant constituted the Lodge,
without any ceremony whatever. In other words, that from 1757 till 1810 or
1814, the Grand Master of England created a permanent Lodge by mere force of
his written warrant, just as an Atnerican Grand Master now creates a temporary
Lodge by his written "dispensation"; and no ceremony of "constituting” was
I admit that—because a form of "constituting” continued to be
printed in the Book of Constitutions, and because old brethren had been
accustomed to see a ceremony—it was common, nay, usual, to have a ceremony. I
merely say it was not universal or obligatory.
I shall make no quotations in support of the first three
propositions; as their correctness is, I believe, conceded by well-informed
Masons.f As to the fourth proposition I am not able at this time to produce
conclusive evidence. It seems to follow from the third. I find Lodges, the
minutes of whose first meetings are preserved, in which there is no mention of
either constituting or consecrating; and others!! in which the Lodge was
consecrated some years after beginning an authorized existence, but appears
never to have been constituted by any ceremony.** A brotherfi who has few
rivals in his chosen field—the study of old Lodges and their records—speaking
of a period that ended some time between Dec. 20, 1753, and Jan. 14,
1757—tells us:tt "After this period we find another change in the form and
contents of the Warrants issued by the premier (or 'Moderns') Grand Lodge. * *
* At any rate, each Warrant, from that period, when signed was an actual
Constitution of a Lodge, including the appointment of its first Master and
'The ceremonial used at the initial opening of the Lodge (now
termed its Consecration'—not a very appropriate word) may be supposed to have
given the finishing touch to its 'Constitution,' but the phraseology used
since 1757 clearly shows that the Lodge was virtually constituted when the
Warrant was signed. “(Italics mine.)
* See Appendix 5, post.
f W. J. CHETWODE CRAWLEY, Caementaria Hibernica, I, Lost Archives,
7, 9; JOHN LANE, Ars Q. C., viii, 193.
IPhilanthropic Lodge, No. 804, and Lodge of Fidelity, No. 289,
both at Leeds, in the last decade of the last century.
II Constitutional Lodge, No. 294, at Beverley, consecrated 1793;
Rural Lodge of Philanthrophy, now No. 291, at Highbridge, consecrated 1795.
** PRESTON makes Installation, Constitution and Consecration three
distinct ceremonies, and says that the latter is often omitted;—as it is in
America.—Illustrations of Masonry (14th. Ed.), 73 et seq.
ft. JOHN LANE, author of "Masonic Records, 1717- 1894, “etc.
1-..t Ars Q. C. viii, 206.
Discussing the same subject, and referring to an Irish warrant
granted in 1732, W. H. RYLANDS said,*— "Thus by this Charter the Grand Lodge
of Ireland constituted the Lodge and elected the first officers, no ceremony
of consecration being apparently required. “
As I am sending this sheet to the printer, I receive letters from
Brothers HUGHAN and GOULD which appear to confirm, in a measure at least, the
view I have expressed.
My response to this objection, then, is: First, that no ceremony of
constitution was necessary; second, that it is very probable that a ceremony
did occur; and third, that them is not the slightest reason for doubting that,
if it was necessary, it did occur; or for drawing on one's imagination for a
doubt, one hundred and twelve years after the event.
38. Effect of organization of Grand Lodge of Mass., 1792.—"But,
“it is asked, "assuming that African Lodge was regular down to 1792, did not
the union of the rival Grand Lodges of the 'Moderns' and Antients' into a
single Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, in that year4 render it irregular?” Is it
not true, as so dogmatically asserted by Grand Master GARDNER, and so often
echoed since, that whenever three Lodges have formed a Grand in any State it
"has sole, absolute and exclusive jurisdiction in that State, “so that "No
other Grand Lodge whatever can law fully interfere with this jurisdiction, and
can neither establish Lodges in such State, nor continue any authority over
Bodies which it might properly have exercised prior to the organization of
such Grand Lodge therein?” Did it not render African Lodge irregular when, in
1797, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts put in its constitution that:— "The
Grand Lodge will not hold communication with, or admit as visitors, any
Masons, residing in this State, who hold authority under, and acknowledge the
supremacy of, any foreign Grand Lodge"?
"Are not these things so?” On the contrary, most assuredly, not
one of them is so. As for the declaration of 1797, which was an attempt to
coerce St. Andrew's Lodge into joining the Grand Lodge,** it simply announced
what the Grand Lodge would not do; and did not profess to deny the Masonry of
St. Andrew's or African Lodges. Grand Master GARDNER admits that his doctrine
is merely an "American doctrine"; but I shall show in a subsequent section ft
that it has been condemned by the ablest Masonic authorities; and the reader
has seen in preceding sections that the very opposite was the usage of Masons
all through the century which we are considering.tt But it may be of service
if I now show
* Ars Q. C. viii, 212.
f See Appendices 26 and 27, post.
.See i 32, ante.
In an address which was simply an argument against the negro
Masons; Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 24.
** See 31, 32, ante.
tf See i40-42, post.
35, 36, ante.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
the real origin of "exclusive territorial jurisdiction;” and return to this
subject later on * 39. Origin of exclusive territorial jurisdiction.—The
doctrine by virtue of which a Grand Lodge may possess exclusive jurisdiction
within a certain territory owes its origin, not to any assertion of a
right—still less to the mere existence of a Grand Lodge,— but to the waiver of
a right, and the granting of a privilege. The first instance in Masonic
history where a Grand Lodge ceased to have the right to erect Lodges "within
the jurisdiction” of another Grand Lodge was in 1770, and then the right was
lost by but two Grand Lodges, and in but two countries. We have seen that up
to that year the English Grand Lodges erected Lodges in Holland, in spite of
the existence of a Grand Lodge there.f In 1770 the Grand Master of the
Netherlands wrote to England "promising that on condition the Grand Lodge of
England did not in future constitute any new Lodges within his jurisdiction,
the Grand Lodge of Holland should observe the same restriction with respect to
all parts of the world where Lodges were established under the patronage of
England. “This was agreed to, and is the first instance in history of any
limitation of the absolute right of every Grand Lodge to erect Lodges in any
part of the woad. Note the language: there was no claim that England had
transcended its right; no doubt in the mind of the Dutch Grand Master of his
right to erect Lodges in English territory; no resentment, by England, of his
claiming that right; no claim was based on any assertion of right or attribute
of sovereignty; but each body waived a prior existing right "on condition, “
and acquired, by purchase for a valuable consideration, through a treaty, a
new and theretofore unheard of privilege, namely "exclusive territorial
jurisdiction"—as against that one Grand Lodge only.
The next illustration, that I recall, of the growth of the
doctrine, is also a case, not of assertion but of voluntary relinquishment. It
is found in No. 3 of the resolutions adopted by the St. Andrew's Grand Lodge
in Massachusetts, already printed, t in which that Body intimated its
intention not to exercise its "power and authority” in any part of the United
States where there was another Grand Lodge. 11 Next, we find the Grand Lodge
of Massachusetts, in 1796, "suggesting”
to the Grand Lodge of New York, "the propriety” of similarly
curtailing its prerogative; and in response to this request the latter body
resolved— not that it could not, but that it would not thereafter grant
charters to persons residing "within the jurisdiction of any other Grand
* In r 40, post. f See 'g 35, ante.
In 31, ante. Resolution 5th. has been thought to assert exclusive
territorial jurisdiction; but when properly understood it is seen to be, not a
denial of the right of erecting Lodges within the State, but a protest against
the appointment of another Provincial Grand Master there—of "Ancient”
Masons,—with "power to erect Lodges. “
Consistently with this "long- established policy, “the present
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has, up to the present time, refrained from
following the impertinent examples of some younger Bodies who have attempted
to dictate what the Grand Lodge of Washington may say or think about negro
GOULD'S History, iv, 423; Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 25.
Before this date there had been declarations by certain Grand
Lodges and Provincial Grand Lodges that all Lodges in their States must
acknowledge the authority of the local Grand Lodge; but these, apparently
without exception, were made either in connection with some assertion that the
Grand Lodge had achieved independence, and so were aimed only against its
mother; or, in a war with a rival Grand Lodge in the same State; or, in an
attempt to coerce some old Lodge which refused to submit to the new Grand
Body. But it was in the way that I have pointed out that the idea gradually
gained ascendency—very rapidly in America, slowly abroad—that Grand Lodges
ought not to create Lodges in States or countries where other Grand Lodges
exist. Soon the fact that the rule originated in a waiver of rights was lost
sight of; and, at the revival of American Masonry after its light had been
well nigh quenched by the Morgan excitement, a school of writers arose who
found it easier to evolve theories from their imaginations than to laboriously
learn the history of Masonry,—especially as that history was then well-nigh
inaccessible. Of their writings, FREDERIC SPEED, P. G. M. of Mississippi, has
"For the most part, they were purely the efforts of the
imagination of those who wrote, and the more is the pity; for the most of us
who belong to the generation of Masons who read as Gospel truth the teachings
of the venerable array of frauds who catered to the Masonic thirst for
knowledge thirty years ago, have had to painfully unlearn much that we learned
with painstaking care. “
But many would not take the trouble to "unlearn"; and it is they
who have presumed to lecture the Grand Lodge of Washington during the past
year; and it is their abuse which the writer of this line has experienced in
the past, and anticipates without dread in the future. As old FROISSART
"The locks of the Temple of Truth are neither to be picked by
cunning, nor forced by clamorous violence. The noise of furious arguers is the
shutting rather than opening of the Temple doors. “
40. Effect of organizing G. L. of Mass., continued.—In pointing
out, in the last section, the true origin of "exclusive territorial
we digressed somewhat from the question whether the formation of a
sole Grand Lodge in Massachusetts in 1792 affected the regularity of African
Lodge, holding under the Grand Lodge of England. Yet I hope that digression
has helped the reader to see the absurdity of the claim that the organization
of a new Grand Body can possibly affect the regularity of a previously
existing Lodge which does not consent to come under its jurisdiction;--a
claim, be it said to the credit of American Masonry, that has been put forward
only by a few theorists of the extremist type, and has been generally rejected
by conservative Americans, as it has been by all foreign writers. Let us now
read a few opinions, out of many:
Says ROBERT FREKE GOULD,* the historian of Masonry:— "Under the
Grand Lodge of England, and the same will probably hold
*'The Family of Grand Lodges; reprinted from "The Freemason, “1896. The
italics are mine.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
good with respect to the sister jurisdictions of Ireland and Scotland, there
are no hard and fast rules for the recognition of new Masonic powers, but the
stream of precedent tends to show, that sooner or later, the 'regularity, of
every newly-erected governing body of Symbolical Masonry which controls a
majority of the tributary Lodges within the jurisdiction, is destined to be
acknowledged by the three earliest of Grand Lodges.
"Not, however, that this step would carry with it the stamp of
'irregularity' as relating to the continued existence of any minority of
Lodges, large or small, which might decline to affiliate with the new
organization. The status of these would remain unimpaired by the act of the
majority, and no pressure would be applied by either of the aforesaid Grand
(I speak with certainty in the case of England, and from reasonable
conviction with regard to the other two) to induce a subordinate to detach
itself from the minority.
"The usage in America is as follows: * * directly a local Grand
Lodge is regularly inaugurated (though the question of lawful constitution
remains a very open one) all the Lodges which stand out and decline to join in
the movement become 'irregular.' * * "Some authorities go so far as to
maintain that if three out of ninety-nine Lodges assemble and erect a Grand
Lodge, the remaining ninety-six become irregular. This, of course is a
monstrous doctrine * *”
In 1883, the Grand Master of Quebec, in discussing the action of
England in refusing to abandon the Lodges which she had established in that
province before the Grand Lodge of Quebec was formed, correctly stated the
English law—the law which determined the standing of African Lodge after the
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formed:— ``The Grand Lodge of England claims
that a private Lodge chartered by her in unoccupied territory has the right,
during its pleasure, and forever if it will, to continue its allegiance to the
Grand Lodge of England, and to be supported by her in this pretension, after
the said territory has been constitutionally occupied by a regularly formed
Grand Lodge. “* The Quebec Lodges referred to still exist, under the Grand
Lodge of England, and their regularity is not questioned by any Grand Lodge in
Concerning them, the doyen of Masonic scholars, WILLIAM JAMES
HUGHAN said, in a letter read before the Masonic Congress at Chicago in "No
Grand Lodge should be considered absolutely sovereign, with exclusive
jurisdiction in its own domain, until it has induced all the Lodges existing
prior to its formation to join its ranks, without resorting to coercion. Much
as I deplore, for example, the difficulties which have arisen through the
three Lodges refusing to join the Grand Lodge of Quebec, but preferring to
remain under England, I consider as a matter of law, usage and justice, based
upon the experience of over a century and a half, they have the right so to
Wherein does the case of these Lodges differ from that of African
Lodge in 1792,— except in that they were invited to join the local Grand
Lodge, while she was not
41. Same.—The distinguished authority last quoted, after speaking of the fact
that there were in New Zealand, besides a number of Scotch and Irish Lodges,
some sixty English Lodges which insisted on retaining
* Quoted in Proceedings G. L. of Washington, 1886, p. 473.
t Proceedings of the Masonic Congress, p. 22.
their connection with the Grand Lodge from which they received
their charters, at another time said:* "Now is it fair or just to declare all
these irregular, simply because they 'of their own free will and accord'
decline to join the newly- formed Grand Lodge of New Zealand, on the latter
being recognized? I support your 'emphatic protest' against such an un-Masonic
action. “* * * In the same year that the Washington committee reported that
African Lodge, No. 459, was not rendered irregular by the formation of the
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, the Grand Lodge of New Zealand was recognized by
England and admitted that these Lodges might lawfully continue to exist within
her territory;f and every Grand Lodge in the world admits their regularity.
Yet their case and that of African Lodge in 1792 differs in no respect
whatever,—except that in that year the doctrine of "exclusive territorial
jurisdiction” was only beginning to be dreamed of.
American writers, above the grade of mere theorists, have joined
in the same statement of the law. Thus Past Grand Master THOMAS MILBURNE REED,
one of the ablest and best informed of these, said, many years ago :f "It is
not within the power of any Grand Lodge to force allegiance to its authority
from a subordinate not of its creation, nor to sever the relations of such
subordinate from its parent Grand Body. This can only be done by voluntary
consent. The sooner Grand Lodges understand this question the better. It is a
fallacious idea to suppose that a newly organized Grand Lodge can do what
older established bodies would not attempt to do—extend the mantle of its
authority over Lodges of another jurisdiction and compel their obedience. “
42. Same.—In 1887 a committee of which JOHN W. SIMONS was chairman
reported to the Grand Lodge of New York in part as follows: 11
*HUGHAN to UPTON, Sept. 2, 1897; Proceedings, G. L. of Washington, 1898, p.
jThe astounding extremes to which reckless and unscrupulous
writers will go in attempts to deceive and mislead their readers, when they
hope to escape detection, is illustrated by the fact that Past Grand Master J.
H. DRUMMOND states THE VERY OPPOSITE OF THIS to have been the case—that
England abandoned the position she had always held.
His statement will be found on an early page of his correspondence
report in the Proceeding of the G. L. of Maine for 1899. To show its falsity,
I quote the following from the "Articles of Recognition” signed by the
principal officers of the Grand Lodges of England and New Zealand as printed
in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of England for September, 1898, p. 116:
"1. That the Grand Lodge of New Zealand shall in future be the
recognized Grand Lodge of the Colony. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "9.
The Most Worshipful the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England will
consider any District in which fewer than three Lodges may continue under
their allegiance to the Grand Lodge of England to be ipso facto dissolved, but
(subject thereto) the Lodges under the English Constitution, both private and
the District Grand Lodges, will continue as at present, and remain unaffected
by this recognition.
"10. All Brethren who shall continue Members of Lodges under the
English Constitution shall be fully recognized by the Grand Lodge of New
Zealand. * * *”
After this, I trust readers will understand why I place no
reliance upon anything that that "Masonic Worthy” says; and am indifferent to
Proceedings, G. L. of Washington, 1880, p. 601.
Proceedings, G. L. of N. Y., 1887, Special Cm.. Rep., p. 79.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
"Up to this point we are all agreed, and the argument is reduced to the
question, whether there is any known Masonic law, under the operation of which
just and regular Lodges hailing from a recognized and unquestionable
authority, and at the time of their formation in possession of vacant
territory, can be forced to give up their existence or change their allegiance
except by the exercise of their own free will, and accord.
To say that they ought to do so in the interests of peace and good
Masonic government is a non sequitur, which no one is disposed to question;
but when it is asserted they must do so we come to the very marrow of the
"After long, patient examination of the various journals and acts
of Grand Lodges, this committee is free to say that it has found nothing of
greater weight than opinions which, however plausible, are not law. “* * *
Upon recommendation of this committee, it was—* Resolved, That the Grand Lodge
of the State of New York, while earnestly upholding the rights of the Grand
Lodge of Quebec as a sovereign and independent Masonic government, refuses to
accept the doctrine that Lodges legally constituted by competent and
acknowledged authority can be compelled by any known law to transfer their
allegiance against their will. “* * * Substitute "Massachusetts” for "Quebec”
in this resolution, and we have what ought to be the answer of every Grand
Lodge to the objection we are considering. It may startle some of our
theorists to learn that it is the answer Of Massachusetts. As late, at least,
as 1870, the Constitutionsf of that Grand Lodge declared that— "As every
warranted Lodge is a constituent part of the Grand Lodge, in which assembly
all the powers of the Fraternity reside, it is clear that no other authority
can destroy the power granted by a Warrant. “
The brilliant and judicious editor of Ars Quatuor Coronatorumf
thus reviews the subject:
"To treat it as a landmark constitutes the height of absurdity,
because Freemasonry predates Grand Lodges by centuries, and any rule of Grand
Lodge sovereignty mug have had its origin in some regulation of a Grand Lodge,
and have been absolutely unknown before 1717.
The doctrine in its simplest form took birth between 1717 and
1720, as it is laid down by Grand Master Payne in the "Old Regulations” that
no new Lodge was to be accepted as regular unless formed with the Grand
Master's consent. But in this form it is not very far reaching. Note in the
first place, that although not distinctly so stated, the regulation only
contemplates new Lodges within the Bills of Mortality, i. e., within the
confines of the cities of London and Westminster. Lodges, therefore, formed
elsewhere, were considered regular enough. Next, such irregular Lodges are not
termed clandestine, but simply irregular, which practically meant that they
could not be recognized by Grand Lodge or their members admitted to the
Quarterly Communications. Further, that no disqualification is imposed upon
Lodges already existing, of which there were probably many,** nor is there any
indication of an effort to force them to come into the family. The whole
proceeding is therefore simply the es
* Proceedings, G. L. of N. Y., 1887, p. 147.
j Part iv, Art. 1, sec. 7; printed as an Appendix to Proceedings,
G. L. of Mass., 1870.
T`GEORGE W. SPETH, An English View of Freemasonry in America, 8.
(The italics are mine.) See 51, post.
** See 22-24, ante.
tablishment of a sovereign jurisdiction for London and Westminster, but not of
a sole jurisdiction.
"To this doctrine we gave a final touch, so far as we are
concerned, in 1770, when, in recognizing the newly formed Grand Lodge of the
Netherlands, we agreed to cease granting English warrants for Lodges in the
Low Countries;* but, just as in 1720 we made no attempt to coerce previously
existing Lodges in London, so in 1770 we took care that previously existing
Lodges in Holland should not be coerced into joining the Dutch Grand Lodge,
but provided by treaty for their unmolested existence, so long as they should
"Your American doctrine, if I understand it rightly, not only
places it in the power of an insignificant minority of the Lodges in a given
district to form themselves into a Grand Lodge and claim recognition, but
enables them to compel a possibly large majority of dissentient Lodges to fall
into line, or to be banned as irregular and clandestine. In this case it is
not even the tyranny of a majority, but may be that of a minority, sheltering
itself behind a so-called landmark, which is only a regulation, and not a
universally acknowledged one at that.
Consider how badly it may possibly work. * * * * "The doctrine is
utterly indefensible. To merely state it in all its horrid nakedness is to
condemn it. The erection of a new Grand Lodge, no matter where or when or how,
cannot possibly invalidate the right of a Lodge or Lodges, predating it,
perhaps by a generation, to continue to be received, acknowledged and
recognized as regular in every way. “
We have thus seen that by Masonic usage, practically if not
absolutely without an exception from 1717 to 1899,—in opposition to which,
absolutely nothing exists except the dogmatic assertion of mere theorists who
have held that America ought to assert a rule which has no basis in Masonic
practice, in America or elsewhere—the status of African Lodge and St. Andrew's
Lodge was absolutely unaffected by the creation of the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts in 1792; and that these Lodges had an indefeasable right to
continue their allegiance to their mother Grand Lodges until they voluntarily
formed other connections,—which the former did in 1808, and the later in 1809.
43. Summary of conclusions.—It may be well to pause here to note
that our review of the first ten objections to the Masonry of the American
negroes has established beyond question the following points:
1. That PRINCE HALL and his associates were regularly initiated in
strict accordance with every provision of law, in a regular Lodge of Masons
lawfully at work.
2. That, whether or not they possessed sufficient authority for
assembling as of Lodge from 1775 to 1784—during which period there is no
evidence that they made any Mason,—in the latter year their inchoate Lodge was
"regularized” by being placed on the roll of the premier Grand Lodge of the
world; and in 1787 a warrant was delivered to them which, under the
universally recognized law of the day, would have cured all irregularities in
their original making—had there been any.
*See 39, ante.
t That is, the bastard doctrine which has been as vigorously
denounced by well-informed American Masons as by Masons in other lands, and
which disgraces America when it assumes its name.—W. H. U.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
3. That the issuance of that warrant was strictly in accordance with law, and
was not an "invasion” of any "jurisdiction” or the infringement of any right
4. That the warrant was received in 1787; and African Lodge, No.
459, was regularly constituted by its authority, in strict
conformity to every law known to Masonry.
5. That the status of African Lodge was not affected by the
organization—in which it was not permitted to participate—of the Grand Lodge
of Massachusetts, in 1792; but its continued existence, as a constituent of
the Grand Lodge of England, was strictly in accordance with Masonic law.
Objections to the career of African Lodge, 1808-1847.
44. Irrelevant objections.—Alleged dormancy.— I shall review the
next five objections briefly—although, I trust, effectively,—because, in my
opinion, they are wholly irrelevant to our inquiry. They relate wholly to a
period subsequent to 1808, in which year a Negro Grand Lodge had been formed
which at once chartered Lodges in various parts of America. It is undisputed
that African Lodge survived to assist in forming that Grand Lodge; and, hence,
the matter would not be of the slightest interest to me were it shown that
African Lodge expired— which, however, was not the case—immediately
thereafter. But, as these objections have been offered, let us examine them.
The first is, that at some, very indefinite, time after the death of PRINCE
HALL, in Dec., 1807, the Lodge became dormant. Those who have asserted this
for the purpose of befogging the subject have been willing to have it
understood that this dormancy occurred immediately after the death of PRINCE
HALL— especially after ample evidence had been produced that the Lodge was not
dormant about the year 1820, the time to which the objection originally
related. As a fact, the only foundation for this claim of dormancy is found in
a misinterpretation of a sentence written by the officers of the Lodge to the
United Grand Lodge of England, in 1824, asking for authority to confer the
Royal Arch and other "high degrees. “* That sentence reads,— "It is with
regret we communicate to you that, from the Decease of our Well Beloved
Brethren who obtained the Warrant, we have not been able for several years to
transmit Monies and hold a regular communication;” etc.
Of course, "from the Decease, “means, "on account of the decease;”
but it has been distorted to mean, "from the date 'of the decease.
“t And -hold a
regular Communication” has been distorted to mean, "hold a *The letter is
printed in Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 49.
That this was their meaning, plainly appears from their language,
when speaking of the same subject, in their declaration of 1827. After
referring, evidently, to their duty to contribute to the Grand Charity fund,
and expressing a doubt whether they had performed it, they say, (italics
“But we can add that, in consequence of the decease of the above
named Brother, the institution was for years unable to proceed—for want of one
to conduct its affairs—agreeably to what is required in every regular and
well-educated Lodge of Masons. “—Proceedings G. L.
of Mass., 1870, p. 42.
meeting, “The context clearly shows that it means, "keep up a regular
communication with the Grand Lodge, “by remitting money, etc. It is well
enough known that the temporary dormancy of a Lodge would not kill the Lodge;
for, under the English law, "three hold the warrant;”
and three members, with the warrant, could at any time revive a
dormant English Lodge. The "old Lodge at York” was dormant from about 1740 to
1761, but was revived in the latter year by six members. The famous American
Union Lodge—now on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Ohio—was revived by two
members in 1790, after being dormant from 1783. But CHARLES GRISWOLD, P. G. M.
of Minnesota, effectively disposed of this objection—as, indeed, he did of all
others,—and we may quote his language:* "The Massachusetts Register, an
almanac, published in Boston for several years, gave, for some time, the names
of the various Masonic bodies, together with their place of meeting, African
Lodge among the rest. In 1806 we find the following notice: 'The African Lodge
in Boston meets regularly at the house of Prince Hall, in Congress street, on
the evening of the first Tuesday in each month.' From this time on up to and
including 1813, the notice of the time of meeting appears regularly, proving
conclusively that up to that date, at least, it had an active existence. A few
years after, the said almanac ceased to notice the meetings of any of the
Masonic bodies. Again, that they were in existence in 1824, appears from the
letter which, as a Lodge, they addressed to the Grand Lodge of England, in
which they give an account of their prosperity, and ask for authority to
confer higher degrees. A copy of said letter may be found in the proceedings
of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for 1870, page 49. There is a Mason now
living, who testifies that he was initiated in that Lodge in 1822. Another who
died recently, was initiated there in 1820. When, in 1869, Prince Hall Grand
Lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for Masonic recognition,i
they placed before the committee to whom their petition was referred, written
records to prove a continuity of regular meetings during all the years of
I am informed that the committee refused to examine these records.t
Had they taken the opposite course, brethren might have been saved from making
assertions which they may find it somewhat difficult to prove. What, however,
was not done by them, has been done by others.
An old record book of African Lodge, now in the possession of
Thomas Dalton, a former member of that Lodge, reveals, beyond question, the
fact that the Lodge continued to hold its meetings during each year of the
disputed period, to-wit : 1808-1827. This record book has been carefully and
critically examined by Jacob Norton and other eminent. Masons, and pronounced
* Proceedings, G. L. of Minnesota, 1877, p. 60. Substantially the same matter
will be found in Voice of Masonry, for April, 1896. I have. verified all
Brother GRISWOLD'S statements of fact.
t See 80, post.
1, Bro. SAMUEL EVANS, P. M., (white) of East Malden, Mass.,
intimates as much in his "Colored Masons' Petition, “printed as an appendix to
the Address to the Colored Masonic Fraternity of the U. S. (Cleveland: 1871)
by WILLIAM T. BOYD, Committee on Correspondence of the (colored) G. L. of
Ohio.— W. H. U.
II NORTON'S description of the record book will be found in his
"The Early History of Masonry in Massachusetts, “printed as an appendix to
LEWIS HAYDEN'S letter "To the R. W. J. G. FINDEL, [the well known Masonic
historian of Germany] Honorary Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge,
and General Representative thereof to the Lodges upon the Continent of
Europe”(Boston: 1871); also, in Proceedings, G. L. of Ohio, 1876, p. 118.—W.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
45. Erasure from the Grand Lodge roll in 1813.—African Lodge, No. 459,
continued on the roll of the Grand Lodge of England—the peer of any of her
daughters,— for many years. The records of the Grand Lodge show her
contributions to its charity fund in 1789, 1792, 1793 and 1797.* In April,
1792,E when it renumbered its Lodges, it advanced African Lodge to No. 370. In
1791 or 1792 we find the Grand Secretary of England writing to PRINCE HALL
asking what had become of certain of the white Lodges.4 But, among the
objections which, for reasons stated in the preceding section, are really
immaterial, it has been urged that African Lodge was dropped from the English
roll in 1813 or 1814. The illegitimate idea has been carefully fostered that
this was done for the purpose of forfeiting the right of African Lodge to
exist, or at least had that effect. Brother GRISWOLD corrects some erroneous
ideas, as follows:
"In making said erasure, the Grand Lodge of England evidently
recognized the fact that her American children, African Lodge among the rest,
were of age and well able to take care of themselves. At that time, they all
had their own Grand Lodges in this country, and in their formation had
virtually severed their connection with the parent Grand Lodge. The action of
the Grand Lodge of England was simply a recognition of this fact. Prince Hall
Grand Lodge proper was formed in 1808, five years before said erasure took
place. When the attention of Bro. John Hervey, Grand Secretary of the Grand
Lodge of England, was first called to this matter, he gave it as his personal
opinion, in a letter to Bro. C. W. Moore, that said African Lodge, as a result
of its erasure, had become irregular; but when, upon further examination, he
found that all the American Lodges upon the English Grand Lodge register were
erased at the same time, he evidently saw his mistake, and, in a still later
letter, recalled his first opinion. In the Canadian Masonic News of January
last, Bro. Jacob Norton says: 'In conversation with Bro. Hervey about the two
letters sent by him to Bro. Moore, Bro. H. told me personally, that, upon
reflection, he really could not distinguish the difference between the
legality or illegality of the , Massachusetts Grand Lodge, or the Prince Hall
Grand Lodge.' “
The facts of the case are these: At the end of 1813, the two rival
Grand Lodges of. England, the "Moderns” and the "Ancients"** effected a "happy
union, “and formed the present United Grand Lodge of England. This
necessitated a renumbering of the Lodges. Our British brethren have always
attached great importance to a high position on the roll. Hence,
*Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 48. The English law left it to the
Lodges themselves to determine what sums the "circumstances of the Lodge”
justified them in contributing to the Grand Charity.
GOULD, Four Old Lodges, 75. Among several other inaccuracies, both
as to facts and law, in letters written by Grand Secretary HERVEY to Grand
Officers of Massachusetts, in 1868 and 1870, was 'his statement that this
occurred in 1793.— Proceedings G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 48. Some recent
writers would appear not to be aware that Bro. HERVEY afterwards retracted
some of these opinions, notably the one that dropping African Lodge from the
roll in 1813 affected its regularity.
See Appendix 10, post.
Proceedings, G. L. of Minn., 1877, p. 58; Voice of Masonry, April,
1876. To avoid the effect of the fact that African Lodge was a recognized
English Lodge at the time she aided in forming a Grand Lodge for the negro
Masons, in 1808, writers have not been above insinuating that the erasure
occurred "about the beginning of the present century. “
** See 22, 24, ante.
great interest was taken in the matter. Lots were drawn to see whether an
"Ancient” Lodge or a "Modern” should become No. 1. Then the remaining numbers
were allotted, alternately, one to a "Modern” Lodge, the next to an "Ancient.
“As another step in the same attempt to secure high numbers, each of the
expiring Grand Lodges struck from its roll every Lodge that was not certainly
known to be alive and desirous of remaining with the United Grand Lodge. This
included every English Lodge in America which had ever been on the roll of
either Grand Lodge, and many in other countries—some of which were alive and
greatly resented being dropped. * There was not the slightest idea or the
slightest pretence that the erasing of these Lodges affected the good standing
of any of them that happened to be alive; and I take it that none but the most
bigoted of readers will question the statement of WILLIAM JAMES HUGHAN, that
it did not affect the standing of African Lodge.
Up to that time, both English Grand Lodges had retained on their
* For example, the famous Loge l' Anglais No. 363--afterwards Nos. 240 and
204,—at Bordeaux, of which Bro. G. W. SPETH gives a magnificent account in the
current volume of Ars Q. C.—volume xii,—and which we shall further mention in
?, 53 post. This Lodge, although it had been engaged in defending English
Freemasonry in a gallant war with the Grand Orient of France, and had been cut
off from communication with the mother country by the Napoleonic wars, in 1818
learned, for the first time, with "dismay and grief,“ that it had been erased
from the roll, with the others, in 1813-14. This Lodge had maintained a
regular representative near the Grand Lodge of England, a member of that
DILLON family which produced a scion whose courtesy--as W. J. CHETWODE CRAWLEY
SO gracefully expresses it—"stood the test of the guillotine:” "The gallant
Count Dillon, one of the early victims of the Reign of Terror, was asked by a
shrinking lady, condemned in the same batch, to precede her in the terrible
procession. The count bowed with courtly grace, and saying 'Anything to oblige
a lady,' stepped on to the platform of the guillotine in her place. “—Ars Q.
C., xii, 10.
t See Appendix 15, post. Yet, as we have plenty of brave men in
this country—of the class who "rush in where angels fear to tread"—who will
not fear to reiterate that African Lodge was killed by being removed from the
roll in 1813, let me beg some of them to tell us what was the standing of the
following Lodges—all of which still exist and are among the leading Lodges of
the world—and what was the standing of the men whom they initiated, during the
years they were not on the roll of any Grand Lodge— not even an "African”
UNION LODGE, Frankfort-on-the-Main, (Mother Lodge of Eclectic Union
G. L.), warranted by Eng., 1742; independent, 1782; rejoined Eng., 1789;
erased with African Lodge, 1813; rejoined, 1822; erased, 1823. Query, status
1782-1789; 1813- 1822?
G. L. FREDERICK, Hanover, warranted by Eng., 1755; erased — with
African Lodge, 1813; replaced, 1821; independent, 1828. Query, status
ENGLISH LODGE, Bordeaux, independent, 1732; warranted by Eng.,
1766; joined G. 0. of France 1781, but remaining on Eng. roll; renounced G.
0., 1782; recognized as an Eng.
Lodge 1792, 1802; erased, 1813; first knew of it, 1818. Query,
status 1732-1766; 1813— ?
ST. CHARLES, Brunswick, warranted by Eng., 1770; joined Strict
Observance, 1770, but remaining on Eng. roll; returned to Eng. rule, 1802;
erased, 1813; joined G. L. of Hamburg, 1835. Query, status, 1770-1802;
BLACK BEAR,. Hanover, warranted by Eng., 1786; seceded to Three
Globes; rejoined Eng.; 1806; erased, 1813; replaced, 1821; erased, 1827;
joined G. L. of Hanover, 1828. Query, status 1813-1821?
THREE ARROWS, Nuremberg, warranted by Eng., 1790; erased, 1813;
joined G. L. of Frankfort, 1823. Query, status 1813-1823?
APOLLO, Leipzig, warranted by Eng., 1805; erased, 1813; joined G.
L. of Saxony, 1815.
Query, status 1813-1815?
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
practically all the American Lodges which had ever found a place there.
GOULD gives a list of twenty-eight “Modern” Lodges in America,
dating from 1733 to 1787, which, he says, "were placed on the English
Register, and without exception continued to figure annually in the official
lists until 1813. “* Among these were African Lodge and three other
Massachusetts Lodges. HUGHAN ' gives a list of forty-three “Modern” Lodges in
America—in and outside of the United States—exclusive of military Lodges, and
says that "all” of them were stricken from the register at the union. He then
adds a list of "Ancient” Lodges dropped, adding "so that at the union some
thirty 'Ancients' were struck off, or, in other words, some seventy American
Lodges connected either with the 'Moderns' or 'Ancients' were removed from the
roll, immediately before the union of December, 1813!"t 46. Alleged surrender
of the warrant, 1824.—Another of the objections which I class as immaterial is
the statement which used to be made but is now, I believe, entirely abandoned,
that African Lodge returned its warrant to England in 1824, and thereafter
worked under "a mutilated copy. “There never was the slightest ground for the
fiction that the warrant was returned to England, except in a strained
construction placed on the words "renewal of our Charter” found in the letter,
mentioned in 44, sent by African Lodge to the United Grand Lodge of England in
1824. The writers stated that they were Royal Arch Masons, but that the
warrant of 1784 allowed them "to confer but the three degrees” and finding it
injurious to have "no legal authority to confer the other four degrees, “they
solicited the "renewal of our Charter” so as to authorize them to confer the
additional degrees, "as we are now getting in a flourishing condition. “There
is in the letter no suggestion of sending the old warrant to England, and as a
fact it was not sent. It is still in the possession of the negro brethren and,
as we have seen,** has been seen and examined by their adversaries. Brother
CHARLES W. MOORE, who is said ft to have been largely responsible for this
unwarranted objection was afterwards a member of the committee tt which
reported, in 1869, that— "Your committee examined the charter and believe it
is authentic. “
47. Declaration of independence, 1827.—The next objection is also
immaterial because, like the last, it concerns the history of but one Lodge.
In June, 1827, the Master, Wardens and Secretary of African
* History, iv, 258.
f Voice of Masonry, Nov. 1876.
I! See 3 44, ante.
** See 19, ante.
if Negro Mason in Equity, 32.
Curiously enough, Bro. MOORE'S name is not appended to the report
as printed in in Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1869, p. 129 et seq.; but is
appended to the same report where printed as an appendix to the Woodbury
report.—Proceedings G. L. of Mass., Sept., 1876, p. 86.
Lodge published in a newspaper the declaration in question—the importance of
which appears to me to have been greatly overestimated. After reciting the
history of African Lodge, and— apparently with some degree of resentment—its
unsuccessful attempt to communicate with the English Grand Lodge—evidently
referring to the letter of 1824, mentioned in the preceding section,—the
declaration goes on to say:— "Taking all these things into consideration, we
have come to the conclusion that with what knowledge we possess of Masonry,
and as people of color by ourselves, we are, and ought by rights to be, free
and independent of other Lodges. We do, therefore, with this belief, publicly
declare ourselves free and independent of any Lodge from this day, and that we
will not be tributary, or be governed by any Lodge but our own.
We agree solemnly to abide by all proper rules and regulations
which govern the like Fraternity, discountenancing all imposition to injure
the Order, and to use all fair and honorable means to promote its prosperity,
resting in full hope that this will enable us to transmit it in its purity to
our posterity for their enjoyment. “* The impression I receive from this is,
that it indicates that, like the Bordeaux Lodge up to 1818,E African Lodge did
not know that it had been removed from the English roll; that although, like
that Lodge, it had acted as a Mother Lodge; and—just as that Lodge had
"aggregated” with the Grand Orient l:—had been connected with African Grand
Lodge; yet, like the Bordeaux Lodge, it regarded itself as all the time a
constituent of the Grand Lodge of England; and that this declaration was
intended to sever that relation. Some brethren have thought that white Masons
might take advantage of this more or less petulently expressed determination
of the members of a single Lodge, "as people of color” to "flock by
themselves, “to forever deny the hand of fellowship to all other negro Lodges
as well; but this suggestion seems to me to evince very little of "the spirit
of Masonry. “Other phases of the declaration are sufficiently noticed by
Brother CLARK: II— •We did no more than the Massachusetts Grand Lodge did on
the 6th day of December, 1782, when it, in full Grand Lodge, adopted the
following resolution, and made it part of its constitution:
“That this Lodge be hereafter known and called by the name of the
' Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Ancient Masons,' and that it is free and
independent, in its government and official authority, of any other Grand
Lodge or Grand Master in the Universe.' "Did this declaration of independence
destroy the legality, if it had any, of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge? Was its
existence brought to an end by this act? We believe not. Then why should it
destroy the legality of African Lodge, or terminate its existence, We demand
that you measure both of us by the same rule, and we will abide the result;
any other course is dishonest, unfair and unjust.
"But admit that, by this declaration, African Lodge, No. 459, did
terminate its life. What effect would that have upon the status of negro
Masons in America? None whatever. It would only be the extinction of one
subordinate Lodge—a something that frequently occurs in every
*The address is printed in full in Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 41.
t See 45 ante, note.
I See 53, post; and list of similar cases in long note under c 45,
Negro Mason in Equity, 42.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Grand Lodge jurisdiction without in the least affecting the Grand Body.
"In 1827 negro Masons were not dependent upon the existence of any
one subordinate Lodge, for long before then they had provided for the legal
propagation of the principles of Masonry and the regular succession of its
organization by the establishment of Grand Lodges in a legal and regular
manner. Masonry among colored men in America was well on its way in the
dissemination of those sublime principles underlying the institution of
Freemasonry, and was successfully creating there from a superstructure which
sometime, sooner or later, will be tried by the square of virtue and receive
its just designation of good and true work. “
48. Alleged surrender of warrant to National Grand Lodge, 1847 .—
The last of these objections to the continuing vitality of this single Lodge
is an argument of Grand Master GARDNER'S based on a misreading— doubtless
unintentional—of the petition of LEWIS HAYDEN and others.
Grand Master Gardner says *—italics mine:
“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 ', “etc.
But, unfortunately for the Grand Master's argument, upon turning
to the reference given by himself, we find that the petition of LEWIS HAYDEN
and others, instead of the words which I have italicized in the above
quotation, really said,— "The African Grand Lodge of Boston, becoming a part
of that body” etc.
We therefore pass this objection until we come to treat of negro
Grand Lodges. I
Objections to Lodges founded by PRINCE HALL.
49. Prince Hall not a Grand Master and African Lodge not a Grand
Lodge.—We now arrive at an objection which seems a most serious one to the
brother who knows Masonry only as it is at the end of the nineteenth century,
and supposes it to be safe to judge eighteenth century acts by nineteenth
century usages. It is stated by friends and foes alike, and is unquestionably
a fact, that in 1797 PRINCE HALL issued a “license “to thirteen black men, who
had been made Masons in England, to “assemble and work” as a Lodge in
Philadelphia; that another Lodge was organized by his authority at Providence,
R. I.; and that it was these two Lodges and African Lodge No. 459 that
organized the first negro Grand Lodge. Two objections are raised to the
creation of these Lodges: first, that they were an invasion of the territory
of the Grand Lodges of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, respectively; and,
second, that their erection exceeded the authority vested in either PRINCE
HALL or his Lodge. As I shall have to consider the matter of "invasions”
later, when considering the general diffusion
* Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 35.
t Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1869, p. 132.
t See 3, 66, post.
of negro Masonry throughout the land, * let us pass that objection until that
time, and proceed to examine the other one. I waive entirely the claim which
negro writers have been disposed to insist upon, that PRINCE HALL probably had
express authority from England to act as a Provincial Grand Master among the
negroes; t for I am, as stated in the outset, t simply giving the reader the
reasons which have led me to the conviction that the colored Masons are
entitled to recognition as members of our Fraternity, and I have not rested my
conclusions upon that claim.
This objection may be overthrown by showing either of two things—
which, indeed, are but two aspects of one thing,—viz: that African Lodge had
all the authority that was necessary to establish the Philadelphia and
Providence Lodges; or, that the brethren in Philadelphia and Providence needed
no higher authority than the "license”of PRINCE HALL, to justify them in
working as a Lodge. I shall show both of these things.
§ 50. Same.—Doctrine of Mother Lodges.—Among the old Lodges which
organized the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736, were several which acknowledged
themselves daughters of the still older Lodge at Kilwinning. This famous
Mother Lodge withdrew from the Grand Lodge in 1744 and “resumed its
independence, which in the matter of granting Charters it had in reality never
renounced, and for well-nigh seventy years continued to exist as an
independent Grand Body ", chartering Lodges in every quarter of the globe. No
doubt the example of this famous Lodge had something to do with the fact that
throughout the century following the establishment of the grand lodge system
it was no uncommon thing to see a Lodge assume the functions of a Mother
Lodge, by granting authority to a body of Masons to assemble as a Lodge.
Instances are very numerous, but I see no necessity of citing more
of them than are incidentally mentioned in other parts of this paper. In some
cases, as when Union Lodge was formed at Albany, N. Y., in 1759, **
* See 68-71, post.
t It is quite true that, in the years involved, PRINCE HALL carried
on an intimate correspondence with the Grand Secretary of England,—perhaps
more intimate than that of any other American Mason; but, it seems to me
that—although some strong arguments based on other grounds have been put forth
by M. W. Bro. W. T. Boyd and others—the theory that he was a Provincial G. M.
arose chiefly from the fact that the Grand Secretary addressed him as "Right
Worshipful. “The extent of the Masonic knowledge of those who have had the
assurance to criticize the Grand Lodge of Washington during the last year is
illustrated by the fact that they have made rare sport of the circumstance
that, in one of its resolutions, this Grand Lodge applied to PRINCE HALL the
title which he always bore in his life time:
“To speak of * * our R.'.W.• . Bro. Prince Hall, Master of said lodge', “says
the Kentucky committee, boiling over with merriment, "must provoke a smile
from every well-informed Mason. * * * It has never been Masonic usage to dub
the Master of a symbolic lodge Right Worshipful. “Unfortunately for these
wiseacres— who, if we should let them alone, would end by proving that PRINCE
HALL must have been a Provincial G. M.,—Bro. Gould, of whom most of them have
probably never heard, says :“The letters ' R. W.' were prefixed to the
Master's title in all Lodges under the original G. L. of England. “—History,
iv, 268, note.
See 5, ante.
GOULD, History, iii, 309.
** See 55, post.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
or PRINCE HALL'S inchoate Lodge of 1776, * the authority was doubtless
intended to be temporary, until a Grand Master's warrant could be secured; and
the authorizing body had no ambition to be regarded as a Mother Lodge. In
other instances, no further authority appears to have been contemplated, and
the authorizing body appears to have intended to assert a rank somewhat
superior to that of her daughters— although usually retaining its own place
upon the roll of a Grand Lodge, and never developing into a Grand Lodge. The
English Lodge at Bordeaux was an example of this; as, possibly was the Lodge
at Fredericksburg, Va.; and it seems probable that African Lodge, No. 459,
after it become evident that the white Masons of the new nation intended to
ostracize their colored brethren, would have developed into such a body, had
not the death of PRINCE HALL rendered apparent the advisability of forming a
Grand Lodge. In a third class of cases, the Mother Lodge was finally
transformed into a Grand Lodge, and recognized as such throughout the world.
We have seen that this was the origin of several of the most magnificent Grand
Lodges in the world :—the "Three Globes,'? at Berlin; of Saxony, at Dresden;
of the. “Sun, “at Bayreuth; Eclectic Union, at Frankfort; and Royal York, at
Berlin. 11 But was not this assumption of a power to establish Lodges, a
usurpation of power Unquestionably it was; and perhaps all such power is of
like origin. ** But, it would seem that, like the usurpation of sovereignty in
nations, its justification lies in its success. "It is a condition, not a
theory that confronts us. “As we “cannot frame an indictment against a whole
people, “so we cannot successfully impeach the Masonry of half the continent
of Europe. There must be something in the nature of a statute of limitations
which shuts off criticism of the acts of those who have successfully exercised
supreme authority in Masonry. Or, as a distinguished German brother expresses
it, ft— "I believe that it is unwise and unjust to dispute the legal standing
of any Lodge or Grand Lodge which practices Masonry according to our standard,
and has been doing good and honest work amongst the people of its own class
for upwards of a hundred years. It may be possible or even admissible to
contest the legal standing of a Lodge or Grand Lodge at the time of its
establishment, but if such Lodge or Grand Lodge has withstood this contention
of legality and afterwards does successfully withstand the much severer test
of vitality for over a hundred years, then in my opinion it has conclusively
proved that it owes its existence not to mere chance or caprice, but that it
is destined to fulfill a mission and to supply a want. “
Tested by this rule, the act of PRINCE HALL which, for more than a
century, has withstood, not only the devouring tooth of Time, but every attack
that the ingenuity of five generations of his white brethren could
* See 17, ante, and Appendix 1, post.
t See 53, post.
See 54, post.
1' See 35, ante, and Appendix 12, post.
** See g 24, 31, ante.
tt CARL WEIBE, 0-. M. of Hamburg; see Appendix 20, post.
devise; and has resulted in diffusing the pure light of Masonry, through more
than a thousand Lodges, among three nations of men;* and in offering to eight
millions of souls practically their only opportunity to obtain a knowledge of
the Word which was in the beginning,± is beyond successful attack. But,
without appealing to any statute of limitations to justify the erection of the
Lodges at Philadelphia and Providence, it seems to me that any candid man who
considers the historical instances which are cited in this section must concur
in the conclusion of that Prince-Mason and prince of negrophobists, General
ALBERT PIKE, that-Prince Hall Lodge * * * had a perfect right (as other Lodges
in Europe did) to establish other Lodges, making itself a mother Lodge.
That's the way the Berlin lodges, Three Globes, and Royal York,
became Grand Lodges. “t 31. Same.—Lodges without a warrant.—Let us now
investigate how far truth and falsehood commingle in the idea that there can
be no lawful Lodge without "the Grand Master's warrant. “It will be remembered
that the first suggestion that any authority from a Grand Master was requisite
occurred in a regulation—the majority of whose companions have since been
repealed,—approved in 1721 by a Grand Lodge which at no time in its existence
ever claimed jurisdiction over any Masons except those of its own Lodges; and
originally applied only to Lodges in London and Westminster; II that that
regulation did not profess to brand, as "clandestine, “Masons made in
non-regular Lodges; that, even in its original mild form, the regulation was a
"usurpation of the inherent right of Masons, when in sufficient numbers, to
meet and form a Lodge at their pleasure;"** and that that "usurpation” or
infringement of their inherent right was steadily resisted, from the time of
its inception, by large numbers of Masons. tt We thus see that the importance
of a warrant or charter arose from the gradual acceptance of what was
originally not a law of the Masonic Institution, but a mere grand lodge
regulation; and that while we, as members of Grand Lodges whose dignity the
regulation tends to enhance; as witnesses of the wisdom and utility of the
regulation itself; and as Masons mindful of the installation charges, are
bound, at the end of the nineteenth century, to uphold that regulation—in its
true meaning—in so far as our obligation to the higher lay of the Institution
itself will permit:tt yet in sitting in judgment on the acts of brethren of a
* The United States, Canada and Liberia.
t John, I, 1.
See Appendix 12, post.
See the quotation from G. W. SPETH in 3, 42, ante, and see also 3
22 ante and Appendix 16 post. In 1724 it was agreed by the Grand Lodge, "That
if any brethren, shall meet Irregularly and make Masons at any place within
ten miles of London, the persons present at the making (the New Brethren
Excepted) shall not be admitted” into a regular Lodge, until after
submission.—Gould, History, iii, 129.
GEORGE W. SPETH, An English View of Freemasonry in America, 8.
tt See 23, ante.
In our, doubtless, commendable, efforts, through a century and a
half, to strengthen the Grand Lodge System, we seem to have almost forgotten,
at times, that the Grand Lodge is but a means to an end; and that the real
Institution is that Universal Fraternity
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
previous century we are justified in assigning to the regulation, now so much
respected, no greater authority than it had achieved for itself at the period
to which our inquiry relates. I shall now undertake to show, by citing a few
typical instances out of hundreds that occurred, that at the time the Lodges
were formed which received their authority from PRINCE HALL the new doctrine
that authority from a Grand Master or Grand Lodge was necessary to the
formation of a new Lodge, although rapidly winning its way, had not yet
obtained general acceptance in practice; but, on the contrary, the approval of
any well-established body of Masons was treated as sufficient authority for
forming a new Lodge; or, as one of our safest guides has expressed it, that
"throughout the last century and well into this, lodges have been formed by
British Masons without the previous consent or authority of Grand Lodge or the
Grand Master, * * * neither have the founders of such lodges ever been
censured for their irregularity of conduct. “* and that, as our own Masonic
descent is from such bodies, we are not in a position to cast a stone at a
negro Mason whose Masonic pedigree is similar,—even if there were any
sufficient reason for wishing to do so.
§52. Same.—illustrations.—I will not pause to speak of Lodges like
those at Kilwinning, 4 Kelso, MelroseI and Gatesheadil which, formed before
the Grand Lodge system, existed independent of it for long periods.
of time or, like the Lodge at Alnwick,** never submitted to it ; or
those, like No. 54 at Great Earl street, Seven Dials, ft and the Lodge of
Felicity, now No. 58, tt which worked but briefly and at an early day before
being "regularized;” or those like the Lodge at Hexham, of whom little more is
known than that they existed after 1717 and never submitted to the Grand
Lodge; or Lodges, like those already mentioned, which continued to flourish
and be recognized after being erased from the Grand Lodge roll; or Lodges like
Port Royal Kilwinning Cross Lodge and Cabin Point Royal Arch Lodge, whose
origin no man knoweth, but from which perhaps half the Grand Lodges of the
United States are descended,*** but
which has existed, and could exist again, without Grand Lodges or Grand
Masters. "It wad frae monie a blunder free us, An' foolish notion, “if we
could realize oftener and more distinctly that it is initiation into this
immemorial Fraternity, and not the conformity of his initiation to some
latter-day rule of convenience, that makes a man our brother. On this "hang
all the law and the prophets. “"He that hath an ear, let him hear. “
* G. W. SPETH, An English View of Freemasonry in America, 3.
.1. See 50, ante.
t Lodge Kelso did not affiliate with the Grand Lodge of Scotland
until 1754 ; nor Lodge Melrose St. John, till 1891.—Gould, Ars Q. C., vi., 70
II The Lodge of Industry, at Gateshead, which was regularized in 1735, seems
to have worked at Swalwell from 1717—perhaps from 1690.
** The LOdge at Alnwick, 1701-1757, never joined any Grand Lodge.
fl This Lodge joined the Grand Lodge in 1728, but had been "working
It. Petitioned Grand Lodge, 1735—Ars. Q. C., v., 106.
IA See note under i45, ante.
*5* The conjectures of DOVE, GOULD, DRUMMOND and others as to the
origin of these Virginia Lodges are only conjectures. Not improbably their
origin was like that of Freder5
will pass to particular instances. My first relate to a time when the
regulation requiring “the Grand Master's warrant “was new and fresh in memory:
my later ones to a time when its existence was known the world over.
( 1.) The first whose disregard of the new regulation I note, was
no less a person than the celebrated DR. WILLIAM STUKELEY, thought by some —
but not by me — to have been the first person initiated in London after the
revival of 1717. Says our best authority:* “In June, 1726, Stukeley `retired
to Grantham,' at which place, he tells us,— I set up a Lodge of freemasons, wh
lasted all the time I lived there.' This was until February, 1730, when he
removed to Stamford.
“The Lodge at Grantham never appeared on the roll of the Grand
Lodge, which it would have done, I think, had the proceedings of that body
[the G. L.] been viewed with favour by the doctor [Stukeley.] Under the
circumstances, therefore, it seems to point out, firstly, that independent
Lodges continued to organize themselves for many years after the formation of
a Grand Lodge (of which there is ample corroboration); and secondly, “etc.
(2.) April 17,1728, in the Grand Lodge, a letter being read from
brethren in Madrid stating that the Duke of WHARTON — who had been Grand
Master 1722-3 but was not then an officer of the Grand Lodge — had assumed to
act as a “Second Deputy “and had formed them into a Lodge, and that they had
made three Masons,“ The Grand Lodge drank prosperity to the Brethren of the
Lodge at Madrid t and desired the Grand Master to write them word of their
being acknowledged and received as Brethren. “t ( 3.) GOULD II finds that the
New World did not differ from the Old:— “Brethren [in Scotland] united to form
Lodges in neighborhoods where there were fair chances of their continuance,
and such assemblies, though without any other sanction**, were not styled
irregular when the Grand Lodge of Scotland was erected in 1736. * * * “It is
evident that the brethren who left the Old World and brought to their new
homes a knowledge of the Craft, were as much within their rights in holding
Lodges in Philadelphia ft, Portsmouth (New Hampshire), and elsewhere in
America, as those who assembled in like manner in England and Scotland; and
just as in the latter countries the members of
Vicksburg Lodge—illustration (8) in our text. The Grand Lodge of Washington
was formed by Lodges chartered by the G. L. of Oregon; the latter, in part by
Lodges chartered by the G. L. of California; the latter, in part by Lodges
sprung from the G. L. of the District of Columbia; the latter, in part by
Lodges chartered by the G. L. of Virginia; and these two Lodges, of unknown
origin, assisted in establishing that illustrious mother of Grand Lodges.
*R. F. GOULD, Masonic Celebrities. No. 5.—The Rev. William
Stukeley, M. D.; Ars.
Q. C., vi, 143.
Who will join me in drinking, “Prosperity to the Brethren of the
Lodge” formed by "Second Deputy” PRINCE HALL? Do not all speak at once.
Minutes of the Grand Lodge ; quoted by SADLER, Masonic Facts and
11 History, iv, 240.
** In a Kingdom where there had been Mother Lodges from time
immemorial, whose “sanction” was sought by some other Lodges.—w. x. u.
-1-1All the early, “Modern “Lodges in Philadelphia—the Lodges to
which BENJAMIN FRANKLIN belonged, and of which he was Grand Master — were of
this class; — they had no “warrant “of any kind.—w. x. u.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
such Lodges were accepted as petitioners for written Constitutions without
their legal status as Masons being demurred to, so we shall find that the
Boston authorities raised no objection to the Masonic regularity of the
Portsmouth brethren, but granted their request for a warrant in 1736. We have
already seen that in 1734 the Prov. G. M. of New England was requested to
confirm* Dr. Franklin and others in their privileges in Pennsylvania—thus
completing the parallel.
"In those early days a piece of paper or parchment, containing a
written or printed authority for certain brethren and their successors to meet
as a Lodge, was not held in the superstitious reverence with which it
afterwards became regarded. The old customs were gradually being supplanted by
the new, but the former evinced great tenacity of existence in some instances,
especially in the British colonies, where they appear to have remained for the
longest period of time unmodified. * * * * "The Fraternity there [in
Philadelphia, in these unchartered Lodges] must be held to have been as much
and as legally a Grand Lodge as that of 'All England at York.' “
§ 53. More illustrations.—(4.) Our next illustration as strikingly
resembles the case of the negro Masons as if the one had been copied from the
other. In his brilliant and instructive account of the English Lodge at
Bordeaux, t after mentioning that its first meeting was held Sunday, April 27,
1732, under the presidency of a Bro. MARTIN KELLY whose identity has eluded
research; that by 1737 it was in a prosperous condition; and that it still
exists, Bro. SPETH goes on to say :
“The English Lodge quickly assumed the right to found other
Lodges, and thus acquired the position of a Mother Lodge. In a similar way
have arisen more than one Continental Grand Lodge; for instance, the Grand
Lodge of the Three Globes at Berlin. The English Lodge at Bordeaux never seems
however to have progressed beyond the status of a Mother Lodge, but in this
character it proved very active. * * * None of the Lodges created by the
Anglaise were ever reported to England, neither does the Lodge seem to have
acted on behalf of the Grand Lodge of England : it was simply a Lodge,
established so far as we know, without the knowledge or concurrence of the
Grand Lodge of England, by Englishmen resident at Bordeaux, and which assumed
the authority to create similar Lodges. Its first creation was the Loge
Française of Bordeaux, on the 13th December, 1740. These two titles prove to
my mind that the Loge L'Anglaise did not intend to imply by its designation
that it was under the rule of England, but simply that it was comprised mainly
of Englishmen, whereas the Loge Française was intended for Frenchmen.
On the 1st February, 1765, this latter Lodge affiliated with the
Grand Lodge of France, then become more active in the Provinces, and changed
its name to La Francaise Blue ecossaise. We shall hear a good deal about this
Lodge. - The other Lodges which are known to have been created by L'Anglaise
are two at Brest in 1746: one each at Limoges in 1751, at Pons in 1754, at
Cayenne in 1755, at Cognac in 1760, and at Périgueux and New Orleans in 1765.
Two Lodges of which we shall hear more are the Harmonie at Bordeaux, most
likely a daughter of L'Anglaise, although this is not certain,—from which
sprung in 1746 the Amitié. The above list must be very incomplete, for the
Lodge, in a letter of the 2nd August, 1785, to the Grand Lodge of England
claims to have constituted forty-two Lodges, and in another “more than fifty,
“which may be an exagger
* The Pennsylvania view has always been that this request was not granted, but
was practically withdrawn. The Massachusetts view, that it was granted.—W. H.
f Ars Q. C., xii, 6.
ation, but certainly points to more than the ten or eleven mentioned above. “
To the same authority we are indebted for the information that
this Lodge resisted the authority of the Grand Lodge of France; that in 1766,
“left almost isolated and without moral support, “by its daughter Lodges, many
of whom deserted to the enemy, it “appears to have for the first time
bethought itself of its English origin", and took a warrant from the Grand
Lodge of England, “under the No. 363, and with a note in our registers to the
effect that the Lodge had existed since 1732 "; that later the members became
divided into two factions, one of which succeeded in getting the Lodge to vote
in 1774 “that it would cease all correspondence with the Grand Lodge of
England", and, in 1777-8 to apply to come into either “affiliation” or
“aggregation” with the Grand Orient of France; that in 1781 it was "formally
installed as a Lodge in Correspondences with the Grand Orient; that in England
it was renumbered, as 239 in 1780, 240 in 1781 and 204 in 1792 *—which changes
were unknown to the Lodge in 1802 ; that in 1782 the other faction got control
of the Lodge, asserted its connection with England, broke with the Grand
Orient, resumed correspondence with the Grand Secretary at London and waged
war against the Grand Orient; that in 1802, like African Lodge in 1824, it
tried to obtain authority from England to work “high degrees “; that,
although—like African Lodge and so many others—it had been dropped from the
English register in 1813, 'which it did not hear of till 1818, after the war
in 1816, it—again like African Lodge—undertook to resume correspondence with
England; but, in spite of an even pathetic letter, in which it recites the
"painful but honourable struggle which we sustained with the G. 0. of France
"—reminding us of the equally painful but honourable struggle “of the negro
Masons—”at a period when resistance was counted a crime, and passive obedience
a duty ", it never succeeded in again obtaining English registration; that the
Lodge has never relinquished its last English number, “but its title is to-day
' La Loge Anglais N o. 204'; “and many other interesting particulars. t I must
leave it to the reader to observe the many striking coincidences between this
history and that of the negro Masons;—remarking only that, while the Lodge l'
Anglaise had far less authority for its original existence than the Lodges
which PRINCE HALL founded in Philadelphia and Providence; in its development
into a Mother Lodge; its erasure from the roll; its long existence among a
people of another race; and its
* Its number had been changed to 298 in 1770.—Gould, Four Old Lodges, 64.
t See 46, ante.
Among these I count the fact, which will amuse our Martinist
friends, that in 1764 this Lodge refused admittance to a "foreign officer”
because he had visited "the clandestine Lodge of MARTINEZ PASCALIS “in
Bordeaux ! This reminds us to ask those who insist on judging 18th century
Masonry by 19th century usages, Are you going to brand as spurious all the
Masonry that sprang from PASCALIS and ST. MARTIN? And, if they answer “Yes, “
Do you know where ALBERT PIKE got the greater part of the contents
of “Morals and Dogma”?
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
long war with the supreme Masonic authority of that race, as well as in many
minor particulars, the parallel between it and African Lodge and its offspring
is well- nigh perfect. Yet what Mason in the world—before French Masonry
abandoned a believe in God—would deny the Masonry of the Loge '1 Anglaise, at
any stage of its existence?
54. More illustrations.—(5) For our next example we are indebted
to one of the older historians of Masonry in the northern kingdom.* , In 1747
a petition was presented to the Grand Lodge of Scotland stating that as
"Alexander Drummond, late Master of the Lodge Greenock Kilwinning, and Past
Provincial Grand Master of the West of Scotland, had taken up his residence at
Alexandretta in Turkey, and desired to propagate the art and science of
Masonry in those parts of the world, where he had already erected several
Lodges, “it was prayed that he might have a "Provincial Commission. “The
prayer was granted, "with full power to the said Alexander Drummond, and any
other whom he might nominate, to constitute Lodges, “etc.
(6). We have already seen how the "Ancient” Grand Lodge of England
was formed in 1751k— exactly as the first African Grand Lodge was formed in
1808, except that the former was organized by an "assembly” (that is, mass
meeting of members) of five or six Lodges, none of which had warrants; while
the latter was organized by representatives of three Lodges, one of which had
a regular warrant and the other two de facto warrants. To illustrate how our
ancient brethren believed irregularities in these petty matters of form and
administration might be cured, I cite a note dated 5 Feb. 17524 on the minute
book of the "Ancients, “that at this "General Assembly of Anoient Masons” of
July 17, 1751, already mentioned, "an order was made” that "the Masters of
Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 were authorized to grant Dispensations & Warrants & to
act as Grand Master. “Again, we learn from an entry made by DERMOTT in
Morgan's Register II under date 14 Sept., 1752, that "whereas several of the
Lodges have congregated and made Masons without any Warrant (not with a desire
of Acting wrong, but thro: the Necessity above mentioned), “—namely, the fact
that, as yet, the "Ancients” had no Grand Master,—to "Rectify” this, the Grand
Committee provided that the Grand Secretary should "write Warrants, “which
were to be presented to the Grand Master for signature as soon as they should
"arrive at the Great happiness” of having such an officer. This is practically
what the negro Masons also did.
(7.) As our next illustration, I desire simply to refer to the
account, already given,** of the organization of St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston;
* LAURIE, History of Free Masonry and The Grand Lodge of Scotland (Edinburg:
f See 24, ante.
I Quoted in Ars Q. C., v, 166 et seq.; and by GOULD, History, iii,
Quoted by JOHN LANE, Ars Q. C., viii, 205; and by SADLER, Masonic
Facts and Fictions, 70. "Morgan's Register, “mentioned by GOULD in a note
(History, iii, 187), long lost, was discovered by SADLER and announced to the
world by LANE, in 1885.
**In ?, 28, ante.
"early proceedings, “as GOULD says,* "were indeed as irregular as it is
possible to conceive";— and yet from the men whom she initiated during those
"early proceedings", you and I derive our Masonry.
(8.) In his History of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, Brother JOHN
DOVE says:t "From facts which reached us through persons, there can be very
little doubt that occasional Lodges were held and degrees conferred without
Warrant, before and subsequent to this date , at many places, in
Virginia, under the immemorial usage of the Ancient Grand Lodge at York.
"We have also evidence from the records of Falmouth Lodge, in
Stafford County, that in the absence of a Warrant from any Grand Lodge, the
competent number of Master Masons being met and agreed, acted under this
immemorial usage, only asking the sanction oft the nearest Lodge in writing;
and which document operated as their Warrant, as will be seen by the records
of Fredericksburg Lodge, No. 4, in granting this privilege to the Masons in
Falmouth. We are also justified in inferring that the Military Traveling
Lodges may have in many instances imparted the Degrees of Masonry to persons
of respectability residing at or near their place of encampment, and on
leaving gave them a Warrant to confer these Degrees on others, in lieu of a
certificate of enrolment. “
At the formation of the Grand Lodge of Virginia, this
Fredericksburg Lodge was not able to claim a chartered existence prior to July
21, 1758; II yet before that it had made GEORGE WASHINGTON a Mason in 1752,
and had empowered five brethren to form Botetourt Lodge at Gloucester Court
House. This Botetourt Lodge, which had no other warrant until 1773, joined in
forming the Grand Lodge of Virginia, from which the Grand Lodge of Washington
55. More illustrations.—(9.) We now come to an example of the
practice, similar to that mentioned in our quotation from DOVE in the
preceding section, of a Lodge's issuing a copy of its charter, as sufficient
authority for the formation of a new Lodge. **
* History, iv, 218.
t The Virginia Text-Book (3d. Ed., Richmond: 1866), 344.
11n a report to the Grand Lodge last year (Proceedings, G. L. of
Washington, 1898, p. 50), the present writer included this paragraph, copying
it from CLARK'S Negro Mason in Equity.
The Arkansas committee, SAM H. DAVIDSON, Chairman, reported to
that Grand Lodge that this extract was "garbled. “Others, including J. H.
DRUMMOND, have repeated that statement. Although I knew that Bro. CLARK was a
more accurate writer than either of the others named, this charge gave me much
uneasiness;—for there are but few crimes, except slander, which I detest more
than literary dishonesty. It took me many months to find a copy of DOVE: but,
when found, it demonstrated that Bro. CLARK (colored) is not only more
accurate than the others, but more—just. DOVE gives the passage verbatim as
CLARK had printed it, except that the latter's printer had dropped out the
three words which I have now italicized—if, indeed, they were in the edition
from which CLARK copied. His error made no change in the sense.
1 The statement, sometimes made, that Fredericksburg Lodge worked
under a dispensation before it was chartered, is pure conjecture.
Dispensations preliminary to a warrant or charter appear to have been unknown
in those days;—except "dispensations, “like those mentioned in some of the
sixteen illustrations given in the text, issued by Master Masons who had no
authority from Grand Lodge or Grand Master to issue them.
**”Their existence as a Lodge may fairly be dated from such
authorization, for in many respects that semi- official origin was of a much
more Masonic character than in many
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
One of the oldest Lodges in New York, now Mount Vernon No. 3, for six years
had no other authority for its organization or existence than a copy of the
warrant of another Lodge. At the end of six years, in 1765, it merely had that
copy “confirmed “by a Provincial Grand Master of another jurisdiction—that of
the “Moderns ". * It was "reconfirmed “ by another "Modern “Provincial in 1773
; t but the Lodge worked from 1759 to 1800 without any other warrant. In 1798
DE WITT CLINTON reported to the Grand Lodge of New York “that he had not been
able to induce the members of Union Lodge at Albany [as it was then called] to
surrender their old Warrant or to come under or acknowledge the jurisdiction
of this Grand Lodge”* * The 2nd Battalion of the 1st Foot, to which Lodge No.
74 on the Registry of Ireland was attached had long been stationed at Albany,
N. Y., but in 1759 was ordered away. 11 The official historian says : **— “In
consequence of the long domicile of the Regiment in Albany, the Lodge had
accepted into its membership by initiation or otherwise a large number of
influential citizens, with whom the ties of friendship and brotherly love had
become very strong, insomuch that, when orders were received for the regiment
to remove in 1759, the Military brethren caused an exact copy of their Warrant
to be made, and indorsed the same as follows : ft “We, the Master, Warden and
Brethren of a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, No. 74, Registry of Ireland,
held in the Second Battalion Royal, adorned with all the honors, and assembled
in due form, Do hereby declare, certify and attest, that whereas, our body is
very numerous by the addition of many new members, merchants and inhabitants
of the City of Albany, they having earnestly requested and besought us to
enable them to hold a Lodge during our absence from them, and we knowing them
to be men of undoubted reputations and men of skill and ability in Masonry,
and desirous to promote the welfare of the Craft.
We have, therefore, by unanimous consent and agreement, given them
an exact and true COPY of our Warrant as above, and have properly installed
Mr. Richard Cartwright, Mr. Henry Bostwick and Mr. Wm. Furguson, as Assistant
Master and Wardens of our body, allowing them to stt and act during our
absence, or until they, by our assistance, can procure a separate WARRANT for
themselves from the GRAND LODGE OF IRELAND.
GIVEN under our hands and seal of our Lodge in the CITY of ALBANY,
the eleventh day of April, in the year of MASONRY 5759, and in the year of our
LORD GOD 1759.'“[Signed by the Master, Wardens and Secretary.]
other instances, that could be mentioned, of the period. It would be absurd to
claim for the initial proceedings of the Craft in early days the same
regularity and fidelity as to details that should be observed under more
advantageous circumstances, and as we now demand. “—W. J. HUGHAN, in London
Freemason, Sept. 7, 1889. Compare 17 ante, and Appendix 1, post.
* CHARLES T. MCCLENACHAN, History of Freemasonry in. New York, i,
GOULD, Ars Q. C., v., 242; MCCLENACHAN, History, i, 152.
** MCCLENACHAN, Ibid.
if Lodge No. 74, in the 1st Foot, gave an exact copy of its Warrant
to a body of Brethren at Albany (N. Y.), in 1759, AND IT IS UNREASONABLE TO
BELIEVE THAT IT WAS A SOLITARY INSTANCE OF THE KIND.-GOULD, History, iV, 217.
In my opinion it was probably by a similar authority that PRINCE
HALL and his associates were “dispensated into a Lodge “* in 1776; but of this
no conclusive evidence appears to survive.
§ 56. More Illustrations.—(10.) The brother whose “Masonic Facts
and Fictions” gave the world its first correct conception of the "Ancient”
Masons tells us, in another valuable work, that in 1759 the Masters
and Wardens of eight or nine army Lodges temporarily at Quebec assembled and
chose an "acting Grand Master;” and that he and his successors warranted
Lodges among the merchants of the city "without the warranted sanction of the
Grand Lodge of England” until 1767. GOULD, it is true, tells ust that "about”
the year 1762 a Prov. G. M. of Canada was "appointed”from England; but the
local historian II explains this by telling us that the commissioner for
Provincials issued prior to that to JOHN COLLINS in 1767 failed to reach the
appointees. Only one of these Lodges found its way on to the Grand Lodge
register before 1770; yet the legitimacy of the origin of the others was
recognized by permitting them to rank from 1762.** (11.) An illustration
closely analogous to the last is found in the action, already fully narrated,
.11of the brethren who "assumed” authority to erect a Grand Lodge of Ancient
Masons in Boston in 1777.
(12.) Under the date 1783, Gould tells us It the Lodge in the
Prince of Wales' American Regiment "claimed to work under an Irish warrant-No.
535--really granted to the 30th. Foot (but from whom they had received a
copy), and to have been 'installed' in Lodge No. 512, 63rd. Foot, in South
(13.) He informs us, at the same reference, that by the joint act
of two "Ancient” Lodges at Halifax, St. Andrew's, No. 155, and St. John's No.
211, dispensations had been granted for four other Lodges in Nova
Scotia, apparently in 1781.
(14.) The same authority tells us MI that the first stationary
Lodge in New Brunswick "was established by dispensation of Nos. 155 and 211
(A.) in 1784, “--evidently the same Lodges.
(15.) Our next illustration evidently refers to the same two
I prefer to give it in the language of an eminent Hebrew
brother:*** "In my reply to Mackey on the colored question, I expressed my
belief that a notion prevailed in the last century that a Lodge had a right to
grant a dispensation for the formation of a new Lodge; that Prince Hall,
* See Appendix 1, post.
t HENRY SADLER, Thomas Dunckerley (London : 1891), 51.
t History, iv, 270.
JOHN H. GRAHAM, History of Freemasonry in Quebec (Montreal: 1892),
** GOULD, ut supra.
ft Ante, 29-32.
IT History, iv, 272.
*** JACOB NORTON, Additional Facts and Suggestions concerning the
Ancients, quoted in The Negro Mason in Equity, 25.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
do doubt, received such a dispensation from the Army Lodge, and therefore he
thought it proper to grant similar documents to the colored brethren in
Philadelphia and in Providence, R. I. Now in Bro. Brennan's 'History of
Freemasonry in British America', I found two letters copied from the originals
preserved in the archives at Halifax. The first dated November 7, 1783 (St.
Ann's, New Brunswick). An army officer, whose regiment was disbanded, but who
was still in possession of an Irish Army charter, asked Bro. J. Peters,
Secretary of a Lodge at Halifax, whether he could not open a Lodge at St.
Ann's under the said army charter, to which he received the following reply:
“It seems to be the opinion here that no objection can be made to
your meeting and conversing under your old warrant, but that it will not be
right, as it was granted for another province and to a regiment which is now
disbanded, to proceed to making, etc., under it. We have not yet a Provincial
Grand warrant here, but one is applied for, and by a late account from a
brother in England we have reason to expect it daily.
When it arrives you will have regulations sent to you. Our worthy
George Pyke, Esq., at present Master of St. John's Lodge, is the
Provincial Grand Master elect. In the meantime I am ordered to acquaint you
that you may at any time have from the Lodges here a dispensation which will
answer all the ends of a warrant, etc.
(16.) We now reach the decade in which the Philadelphia Masons
considered PRINCE HALL'S authority to meet, sufficient ; and for an analogous
ease, in the land where the idea that "regularity” was important had been
invented, we are again indebted to the accomplished Secretary of Lodge Quatuor
Coronati * (italics mine):
"It appears that a dispensation and warrant [for the Lodge which
became Uombermere Lodge of Union No. 526, afterward 295, at Macclesfield,
England,] having been applied for and delayed beyond the date when the
brethren desired to meet, they obtained permission of the neighboring Lodge,
Beneficent No. 454, and met under their sanction on the 7th of March, 1793.
[This would appear to have been about seven months before the constitution of
the Lodge.] The proceeding is a remarkable one and even in those lax days must
have been irregular, but it demonstrates a least a laudable desire on the part
of the brethren to act in a regular manner. “
57. Same. Conclusions. — Other examples might be given. We might
carry them almost to the present day by noting cases like those in New York in
1827, 1850 and 1859, where, after rebellious brethren and Lodges had gone out
from the Grand Lodge and assumed and exercised power to erect numerous Lodge
and make hundreds of Masons, all these new Lodges and Masons were esteemed
regular enough to be taken into the original Grand Lodge without any "healing”
or curative process whatsoever. All our illustrations have been drawn from the
acts of English and American Masons, in what is styled the "York rite. “They
could be indefinitely increased in number should we go into other
nations—whose Masonry we recognize—or into other "Rites. “But I doubt not, the
reader is weary of examples. Yet one word of caution is necessary:
When the Washington committee cited a few of these illustrations,
last year, a bold attempt to befog the subject was made by certain writers and
committees, by brazenly asserting that these Lodges were not recognized by
"regular” Masons until they had been regularized by the Grand
* G. W. SPETH, Ars Q. C. vii, 27.
Lodge "having jurisdiction;"--some writers, bolder or more ignorant than the
rest, even said "by the local Grand Lodge"! The reader can see, from a perusal
of the examples themselves, that that is not true. And he must read between
the lines, and conjure up for himself the innumerable cases which must have
occurred of visiting, dimitting, joining by affiliation, joining in forming
new Lodges, and the like, between members of such Lodges as we have mentioned
and Lodges regularly registered, to realize how completely the veins of all
existing Masonry are permeated by blood from these technically non-regular
sources. The printed histories of English Lodges are full of illustrations of
the fact that the stringent "paper edicts” of the two Grand Lodges against
receiving members of Lodges which they had not recognized as regular—men who
could hail only "from a Lodge of the Holy St. John of * Jerusalem"—were
constantly disregarded. A last century writer whose work has become a Masonic
classic gives a selection of laws, that Lodges might choose therefrom in
framing their by-laws; and one of these reads as follows:
"Article 6. Visitors.
“That every visiting brother being a member of a regular lodge,
shall pay on every visit Is. 6d. but if only of the lodge of St. John shall
pay 2s. “
58. Same.—Have I not shown all that I claimed in sections 49 and
51? Is the reader not satisfied that the grand lodge regulation which sought
to make the existence of a Grand Master's warrant the sole test of regularity,
was slow in winning acceptance by the Fraternity? Is he not satisfied that
technical non-regularity was regarded, a century ago, as a far less serious
thing than our modern theorists would make it out to be now—or than it is now;
and was measured by a far different standard? Is he not satisfied that the
Masonic pedigree of every mother's son of us, if all its ramifications could
be traced, would be found to lead back, by one line or another, to such
non-regular bodies as I have mentioned? And, if so, judging matters by the
Masonic usage of that day, can we escape the conclusion that the Lodges were
within the pale of Masonry which were formed in Philadelphia and Providence by
brethren who acted with the knowledge and approval of a Mason whose standing
as a veteran of the Revolutionary War; whose character as a Christian
minister; whose zeal in diffusing Masonic light; hardly less than the fact
that he was known to be in correspondence with the Grand Secretary of England
and to be the only Mason in Massachusetts who held a warrant which emanated
directly from the mother Grand Lodge of the world, proclaimed PRINCE HALL
easily the leader among all the black Masons in America, and a Mason whose
official standing could hardly be considered inferior to that of WEBB and
GRIDLEY at the times that they found themselves, upon the deaths of WARREN and
ROWE, respectively, heads of what remained of Provincial Grand Lodges that
had, in strict
* I think "of” is an older form than "at"; and one JOHN-ST. JOHN the Almoner—
iA Candid Disquisition of the Principles and Practices of the M.
A. and H. Society of F.
and A. Masons. By WELLINGS CALCOTr, P. M. (London: 1769), 206.
W. S. GARDNER, G. M.; Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 33.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
ness, perished with the Provincial Grand Masters? * It seems to me we can not
honestly strike the Lodges at Philadelphia and Providence from the roll of
perfectly legitimate Masonic Lodges. ± Objections to the first Negro Grand
59. Organization of first negro Grand Lodge.—The first negro Grand
Lodge is ordinarily dated from 1808. This is proper enough; but there are
traces of an earlier organization, in the life time of PRINCE HALL— and
possibly ante-dating the organization of the white Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts, March 5, 1792. These traces are, by far, too slight to give us
any clear idea of that organization; or to tell us whether, like the white
organization of 1777 in the same State, and so many others, it originated "in
assumption, “t or was a stage in the natural development of a Mother Lodge,Il
or was based upon some authority contained in some, now lost, letter from the
Grand Secretary of England; but—as the traces of prehistoric glaciers on our
mountain tops, and the foot-prints of prehistoric birds in the sandstone rock
point with absolute certainty to the former existence of glaciers and
birds,—just as certainly do these slight traces demonstrate that something
must have existed to make them. I allude to such points as these: A writer**
whose veracity, in his long and useful career as a Mason and a Masonic
controversialist, has never been questioned tells us t h at— "In a certificate
given to 'Brother John Dodd' in February, 1792, the document is signed,
`PRINCE HALL, G.•.M.• .
CYRUS FORBS, S.' .G. -.W.. .
GEORGE MIDDLETON, J .G.•.W.•.' “
The same writer, speaking of the "license” to PETER MANTORE and the
other Philadelphia negroes, states (italics mine): ft "Prince Hall says, in a
letter written to Peter Mantore, March 22nd, 1797: 'We hereby and herein give
you license to assemble and work as aforesaid.' He further advises them 'not
to take any in at present until you chose your officers, and your Master be
installed in the Grand Lodge, which we are willing to do when he thinks
convenient and he may receive a full Warrant instead of a permit.' “
In 1795, Rev. Dr. BELKNAP, the historian, writing to Judge TUCKER,
Professor in the University of Virgina, after mentioning, "One of my
informants, Prince Hall, a very intelligent black man, aged fifty-seven years,
"Having once and again mentioned this person, I must inform you that he is a
Grand Master of a lodge of Masons, composed wholly of blacks. and
distinguished by the name of African Lodge. It was begun in 1775, while this
town was garrisoned by British troops, some of whom
* See ?A 27, 29, and note under 12, ante.
t See first note under ii 55, ante.
See 24, 31, ante.
II See 50, ante.
** WM. T. BOYD, Transactions, (negro) G. L. of Ohio, 1883, p. 102.
tt Id., 103.
tr, Proceedings, (white) G. L. of Ohio, 1876, p. 113.
held a lodge and initiated a number of negroes. * * * The lodge at present
consists of thirty persons, and care is taken that none but those of good
moral character are admitted. “
60. Same, 1808.—But, whatever may have been the previous condition
of affairs, the death of PRINCE HALL, December 4, 1807, evidently brought home
to his associates—just as the death of WARREN had brought home to the "Ancient”Masons
of Massachusetts thirty years before*—a realization of the necessity of
organizing—or re-organizing—a Grand Lodge. Fortunately—or unfortunately, if
the existence of Masonry among the negroes be a misfortune,—the foresight of
that remarkable man had rendered this possible; and, a few months after his
death, representatives of the negro Lodges in Philadelphia, Providence and
Boston assembled in the latter city and organized the "African Grand Lodge. “
Notwithstanding the fact that the two younger Lodges were accorded
equal standing with the mother Lodge No. 459 in this convention, some writers
appear to regard this as the development of the mother Lodge into a Grand
Lodge, after the German practice.f I see no special objection to this view, if
the reader doubts whether the two younger Lodges should be regarded as fully
developed before being fully regularized by being placed on the roll of a
Grand Lodge.4 There was really no settled practice at that time as to how a
Grand Lodge should be organized; and the method followed by the colored
brethren is the one that has since attained the greatest popularity,
especially in America. In view of the considerable number of American Grand
Lodges that have recognized the Gran Dieta of Mexico, the reader who attaches
an importance which I do not to quibbles about the manner of organizing a
Grand Body will find a wide field for investigation in the organization of
that hybrid, and in the formation of several of the bodies through which its
pedigree must be traced. Of bodies nearer home, it is well known that the
Grand Lodges of New Hampshire and Rhode Island were each erected by two
Lodges; and that of New Jersey by one, assisted by a few individual brethren.
African Grand Lodge chartered Lodges in various parts of the United States and
entered upon a career which can be described with substantial but not absolute
accuracy by paraphrasing the description by Grand Master GARDNER of one of the
predecessors of its white sister, over which he presided:ll
* See §30, ante.
t See 35, 50, ante. GOULD suggests that, "The 'Grand Committee' of
the 'Ancients,' which subsequently developed into their 'Grand Lodge,' was, no
doubt, originally their senior private Lodge, whose growth, in this respect,
is akin to that of the Grand Chapter of the 'Moderns,' which commencing in
1765 as a private Chapter, within a few years assumed the general direction of
the R. A. Masonry, and issued warrants of constitution. “—Atholl Lodges, a;
quoted also, as a note, in his History, iii, 191. As to this development of
the Grand Committee, see 24, ante.
Ilt should be remembered that a great number of the Lodges which
participated in the formation of the white Grand Lodges in Massachusetts had
never been "regularized “by being placed on the rolls of the Grand Lodges of
England or Scotland. See 27, 29-32, ante.
11 Address, Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 32. The body
spoken of was the one organized in Mass. in 1777. See 30, ante.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Thus by the record, and by contemporaneous history, it is fixed beyond all
question and doubt that the African Grand Lodge, in 1808, by assumption of the
powers, duties and responsibilities of a Grand Lodge, became a free,
independent, sovereign Grand Lodge, with a jurisdiction absolute and entire
throughout the United States and a provisional jurisdiction in other States
and countries. By this revolution and assumption, from that day to this, the
African Grand Lodge, without interruption, has exercised all the plenary
powers of a Grand Lodge. It has held regular and special meetings, elected and
installed its Grand Masters and other Grand Officers, kept full and complete
records of its doings, granted warrants for new Lodges, erected and erased
Lodges, compelled and received the allegiance of its subordinates and their
members, and has been in correspondence with and recognized by other Grand
Lodges of the world. From 1808 to 1899 the full and just-completed term of
ninety-two years, there has never been any successful opposition to its claim
of sovereignty. From time to time it has gathered to itself every opposing
element [except its principal rival] possessing even a colorable title to
legitimacy, which it found within the borders of its jurisdiction.
§ 61. Alleged infringement on G. L. of Massachusetts.—But was not
the erection of African Grand Lodge an invasion of the rights and jurisdiction
of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts? Only in appearance, and when
superficially considered; not in fact. Massachusetts was a legitimate Grand
Lodge. It was also an independent—which is what the word “sovereign “meant in
those days—Grand Lodge; and, before 1808, it had claimed exclusive
jurisdiction in that State. But it had not made good that claim—it had not
acquired exclusive jurisdiction. The Grand Lodges of England and Scotland were
still maintaining concurrent and adverse jurisdiction there. * African Lodge
No. 459 and St. Andrew's Lodge were still disputing her pretensions, and
successfully resisting them. It would be a very singular thing if the fact
that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was endeavoring to grow into a sole
Grand Lodge with exclusive jurisdiction would, in itself, operate to prevent
her opponent from also growing, and becoming the better able to maintain its
contention. That would be a very simple and easy way to win a battle, but it
has no basis in common- sense or reason and we need consider it no farther. In
the next place, while we may concede that the idea of the possibility of such
a thing as exclusive territorial jurisdiction had made considerable headway by
1808—though it had by no means won general acceptance,—the two Grand Lodges in
Massachusetts in reality had separate and not conflicting jurisdictions. The
younger body, whatever it may have said on paper, practically exercised
jurisdiction only among black men; and the older body, whatever it may have
said on paper, practically exercised jurisdiction only among white men. This
is the case with all those bodies in the United States which, for the sake of
brevity, I allude to as “white “Grand Lodges. The fact that, in later years, a
negro was occasionally initiated in one of their Lodges is but the rare
exception that proves the rule. No candid man, familiar with the facts, will,
after considering the probable result of a ballot on a negro candidate in any
Lodge with which he is familiar, assert that our white
* See 42, ante, ad fin.
Lodges afford any practical gateway for the entrance of the great
body of worthy and qualified colored men into our Fraternity. This is so
everywhere in America, and in 1899; but, in Massachusetts, before 1808 the
white Masons had given conclusive evidence that they intended to exercise
jurisdiction only over whites—that they did not want negro Masons; for, while
from 1792—indeed, from 1782—they had used every persuasion and every threat
that could be devised to induce the white Lodge St. Andrew's to unite with
their organization, they never once invited the black Lodge No. 459 to do so.
By mutual consent, then, we must hold, the white and black Grand Lodges of
1808, though in the same territory, were exercising jurisdiction in different
fields; and those jurisdictions did not conflict.
But there is still another reason why there was no invasion.
African Grand Lodge, although called “of Boston, “and although it held its
communications in that city, was not organized as a Grand Lodge “of
Massachusetts” or "of Boston. “It was, like the British Grand Lodges in their
earlier history, simply a Grand Lodge in the world. It, as they, had no
territorial jurisdiction; but its jurisdiction extended throughout the world
over its own Lodges and none other. It asserted no jurisdiction over the
Lodges of the white Grand Lodge; and thus did not invade its jurisdiction.* %
62. Two Grand Lodges in one State.--- Bogus "American Doctrine. “— But let us
assume that the reader is not able to accept all the conclusions reached in
the last section; and assume that the erection of the first Negro Grand Lodge
was a distinct invasion of the rights and jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts. You ask, "What was the effect of that fact?” I ask, The effect
on whom--on you and me, or on the Negro Mason? The effect, as to you and me,
may be that we will not "recognize"-that is, enter into diplomatic relations
with, the invading Grand Body. That is a matter relating to the "recognition
“of the negro organizations -an entirely different question from the question
of their legitimacy,— and one which will be considered in its proper place.±
At present we are considering-not whom we ought to recognize -but whether this
assumed "invasion” would affect the legitimacy of the Masons made under
authority of the second Grand Lodge. It is entirely clear to me that it would
not. “But, “the young Mason asks, “is it not a fact, and is it not ' the
American doctrine,' that two Grand Lodges cannot exist in the same state?” It
is not a fact, and that is not “the American Doctrine. “I say this with full
knowledge that in every country in which two unfriendly Grand Lodges have
existed, the elder has usually, and both have often, stigmatized the Lodges
and members of the other as "irregular, “"clandestine, “"spurious, ““bogus
“and the like; and also with full knowledge that numerous American Grand
Lodges and Masonic
* The full acceptance by the negroes of the doctrine of territorial
jurisdiction, as betwee their own organizations, may be said to date from the
formation of their National Grand Lodge in 1847.
t See 74-89, post.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
writers, when defining the “American doctrine, “have employed the very words,
“cannot exist “or “cannot lawfully exist;” and if the reader will bear with me
I will presently show that these words have a far different meaning from that
which they might appear to convey. But let us first see what the facts of
history have been. In England, from 1725, when the “old Lodge at York “assumed
the title of Grand Lodge, to 1813 there were always two Grand Lodges, and for
part of that time there were three, and for a time four. In Scotland we have
seen a Grand Lodge and a contemporaneous Mother Lodge.* In early Irish history
we find two Grand Lodges. In Prussia alone there are now and long have been
three, dwelling together most amicably; and in all Germany eight or nine.t In
Massachusetts we saw that prior to 1792 there were two, one of them
practically independent from 1787 and the other entirely so from 17774 In
South Carolina there have been two. In New York, not to mention minor bodies
which failed to achieve the recognition with which history crowns successful
independence, there were rival Grand Lodges from 1823 to 1827, from 1837 to
1850 and from 1849 to 1858.** These illustrations of the fact that dual Grand
Lodges do exist and have existed I deem sufficient without calling attention
to those disclosed in the history of Louisiana, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, France and
other countries.ft What, then, is meant by the statement that two Grand Lodges
“cannot “exist in the same State?
63. Same.—True American Doctrine.—The courts of England and
America have often explained that, in interpreting laws, "may” must sometimes
be construed to mean "shall” or "must"; "shall” to mean "may"; "or”to mean
"and"; "and”to mean "or", etc.; and that the circumstances attending the use
of the words under consideration must also be taken into account. It is by a
method somewhat analogous, that we learn that the "American doctrine” as to
two Grand Lodges in one State, when correctly understood, does not contradict
history—is not a stupid
* See 50, ante.
t See 35, ante, and Appendix 20, post. See 33, ante, and preceding
Gould, History, iv, 261.
** In each case of reconciliation in New York, all the Lodges and
all the acts— including the initiations—of the rival bodies were declared to
have been regular. No "healing” was deemed necessary.
if I see no reason to modify, in the least particular, the view
which I expressed two years ago :
“Hoodwink a brother and then let him lay his finger on a
terrestrial globe, and it is almost certain that he will point to a
country—whether it be England or Australia, Germany or Canada, Massachusetts,
South Carolina or New York—whose Masonic history flatly contradicts the absurd
claim that two legitimate Grand Lodges can not exist in the same country at
the same time. We trust that by the time another question of the kind comes
before our Grand Lodges they will have learned that two rival bodies may exist
side by side, neither of them clandestine in any proper sense of the word,
each irregular from the point of view of the other and under its laws; but
both entirely regular as far as concerns the rest of the Masonic world.
“—Proceedings, G. L. of Washington, 1897, Cor. Rep., p. 106.
lie; but is, when expressed less technically, simply that experience has shown
so clearly that Americans accept it as an axiom, requiring no further proof
and concerning which no further experiment is justifiable, that in America two
Grand Lodges cannot exist in the same State successfully and without detriment
to the Craft; and that, therefore, to discourage a practice which is found to
be so injurious, if a second Grand Lodge be formed in any State—no matter how
regular its sponsors may be, or how strictly they follow approved precedents
in organizing the new Grand Lodge,—the existing Grand Lodges will not enter
into relations with it—that is, accord it "recognition. “* I am not driven to
the necessity of asking the reader to accept my assurance on this point, but
will cite an authority that ought to be convincing. Perhaps no writer
formulated the "American doctrine” earlier than ALBERT G. MACKEY, the
well-known Masonic author; or defended it more strenuously. Hence the
following extract from an editorial article from his pen is authoritative upon
the question of the meaning of the doctrine. It will be noticed that in the
early part of the quotation he uses the usual formula, "two independent Grand
Lodges cannot lawfully exist;” and that the remainder of the quotation shows
that he means that they "cannot” exist because they "have always failed” to
work harmoniously and without friction. Speaking of the proposal to have the
white Grand Lodge of Ohio recognize the negro Grand Lodge in that State,
MACKEY says:± "Now, if there is any one well recognized principle of Masonic
law and usage in all English speaking countries, it is that two independent
Grand Lodges cannot lawfully exist within the same jurisdiction. Attempts have
been made in England, and in this country in Massachusetts, South Carolina,
New York and Louisiana, to establish two independent Grand Lodges in the same
jurisdiction. But these attempts have always failed— the two Grand Lodges
remained in antagonism to each other—neither ever recognized the
other—intercommunication between the members of each was prohibited under
severe penalties—and the result, without exception, was that one of the two
was obliged to recede from its position, and either to become extinct or unite
with the other. “
Thus we see that the “American doctrine, “when properly understood,
does not relate to the right of a second Grand Lodge to exist, but of its
capacity to exist successfully and without injury to the Fraternity; and that
there is nothing in that doctrine to make the organization of African Grand
Lodge illegal, but something that tends to make its formal recognition
difficult. It may be remarked, moreover, that this "American doctrine “had
hardly acquired a foothold in 1808; and that, originally and possibly down to
1869, it was not understood to apply to the negro Grand Lodges — they being
regarded as inoffensive “minor bodies, “
forming almost a “distinct society, “t and precipitating none of
the evils against which, as the above extract from MACKEY shows, the
* The refusal of the Grand Lodge League of Germany, a few years
ago, to recognize SETTEGAST'S Grand Lodge Kaiser Friedrich Zur Bundestreue was
based upon a quite similar idea, viz: that recognition ought to be refused
because it was not politic to form an additional Grand Lodge.
f Voice of Masonry, Jan., 1876, p. 54.
t Compare what is said of the “two distinct societies “in ii 25,
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
was designed to guard; and, finally, that, not being a Landmark, it can be
upheld only so long as it does not interfere with rights conferred by the
§ 64. Same.— Not binding on negroes.—But let me assume that the
reader cannot agree with any of the opinions I have expressed in the last two
sections — for I could not ask or hope that any reader should agree with me in
all respects, nor is that necessary in order that he should agree with me on
the main questions. Suppose it be thought that MACKEY intended to go so far as
to say that, although dual Grand Lodge have existed in various parts of the
world for a century and three-quarters, and even in many parts of America; yet
that " ancient usage " has worked so badly in America that, in America, it has
become a law, not only that it is totally inadvisable that two Grand Lodges
should exist in the same State, but that, as an actual fact, the breath of
life cannot be breathed into a second Grand Lodge in any State ;—that its
existence is absolutely impossible.* Well, who made this law? I will not press
the question too closely, lest we draw from the windy woods of Maine another
of those patronizing explanations of how new theories, unheard of by the
fathers, can suddenly become "absolutely binding" on bodies of Masons who
never assented to them and who had fondly thought they were free Masons. But
this much we may admit, that if such a law existed in 1808 it must have been
made by the white Masons; for, even if the negroes accepted such a law forty
years later, the wildest romancer will hardly claim that any of the three
negro Lodges in existence in 1808, or any member of any of those Lodges, had
directly or indirectly assented to any such doctrine as early as 1808. How,
then, could that law be binding on the negro Masons? Will folly be carried so
far as to claim that the white Masons could, first, exclude the negro brethren
from the white organizations, and then, having done this, proceed, in those
organizations, without the consent of the negroes, to create a law that would
both bind the negro Masons and render it impossible for them to continue their
growth? Surely, the proposition is too monstrous to be considered. No; the
"American doctrine," whatever its true meaning may be, and in whatever stage
of development it may have been in 1808, was not morally, legally or
Masonically binding on negro Masons. Entrusted, not for themselves alone, but
for posterity, with the holy mysteries of Freemasonry, it was not merely their
right, it was their solemn duty, to provide proper means for preserving the
royal art, and passing it unimpaired to the latest ages. Nobly did they
perform that duty; and what Mason will cast a stone at them for doing so?
* Of course this view is beset with many difficulties : For
example, as late as 1858 two Grand Lodges in New York State decided that two
had existed there since 1849; and that all the acts, all the initiations, all
the charters, all the past rank and past grand rank, of both were to be
regarded as entirely regular.
Is it necessary to again remind the reader that I am here
considering, from the standpoint of the laws of the Masonic Institution
itself, the abstract question whether the negro Mason is or is not a member of
the Universal Fraternity — entitled, whether we are able to
"Isolated, ridiculed, denied the sympathy and support to which as members of a
universal brotherhood they felt themselves entitled, and smarting under a
sense of bitter wrong, is it strange that they yielded to that desire for
human fellowship to which all races of men are subject, and sought to create
the means for its gratification. They would have been something more or less
than human had they done otherwise. Cite as we may and admit as we do the
complications which render it so difficult for them to escape from the triple
bounds with which they have bound themselves we cannot, who have in the outset
robbed lawful Masons of their just rights, lift from our consciences the
burden of responsibility for their subsequent mis-steps." * § 65. Dormancy of
African Grand Lodge.—The next objection urged is that African Grand Lodge,
organized at Boston in 1808, was probably dormant for some years, early in its
existence;—about the time of the "Morgan excitement." To my mind there are
some circumstances that seem to point that way, or an absence of accessible
evidence of its continuous activity. But the point is immaterial, for both
before and after the date of its alleged dormancy it chartered more than
enough Lodges to continue the line of negro Lodges. There is, moreover, no
fixed rule as to the revival of a dormant Grand Lodge; as witness the revivals
of the Grand Lodge at York, and of some of the American Grand Lodges after the
Morgan excitement. The impression on my mind is, that, as in some other and
very distinguished cases in Masonic history, very little distinction was made
between the Grand Lodge, the Mother Lodge and the Lodge. Past Grand Master
EMANUEL SULLAVOU gives the line of succession as follows: t Prince Hall; Nero
Prince, 1807-9; George Middleton, 1809-11; Peter Lew, 1811-17; Samuel H.
Moody, 1817-26; John T. Hilton, 1825-6; C. A. Derandamie, 1827-9; Walker
Lewis, 1829-31; Thomas Dalton, 1831; George Gaul, 1732; James H. Howe, 1834;
John T. Hilton, 1836-1847. Under HILTON, African Grand Lodge joined in forming
the National Grand Lodge, and changed its name to Prince Hall Grand Lodge.
66. Surrender to the National Grand Lodge.—The next objection to
African Grand Lodge is, that by the—alleged—surrender of its warrant to the
National Grand Lodge in 1847 it lost its character as a Grand Lodge. This
objection, like the last, is wholly immaterial to our inquiry—
concede them or not, to such rights as that membership implies? The question
whether we have entered into engagements which prevent us from recognizing him
or his organizations— one or both —is a different question ; and will be
considered in 0374-89, post.
*DR. JOSEPH ROBBINS, Proceedings G. L. of Illinois, 1871, Cor.
Rep., p. lxxxi.
-1The reader will remember the same confusion of the proceedings
of Lodge and Grand Lodge in the records of the Grand Lodge of All England, at
York. (Gould, History, iii, 153 et seq.) A somewhat similar commingling of
records occurred among the white Masons of Boston: "For the first half century
of their existence the history of the [St. John's Prov.] Grand Lodge and of
the First Lodge, so far as we know it, seems to have been curiously
intermingled. The Records of one Body frequently report transactions of the
other. The First Lodge was often called the 'Mother Lodge.' "— Proceedings in
Masonry, Introduction (by SERENO D. NICKERSON), V.
Proceedings of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Granting of
Warrant 459 to African Lodge (Boston: 1885), 19.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
and for the same reason. The petition of LEWIS HAYDEN and others to the Grand
Lodge of Massachusetts, says: * " The African Grand Lodge of Boston, becoming
a part of that body [the National Grand Lodge,] 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
What the petitioners meant by "surrendered its Charter," is not
clear. They may have supposed African Grand Lodge possessed some kind of
authority in writing; or the expression may have been a careless one for "
surrendered its independence." It has misled some into supposing the old
warrant of Lodge No. 459 was surrendered. f That this was not the case,
sufficiently appears from the quotation next following, as well as from the
fact that the petitioners exhibited the warrant of Lodge 459 to the committee
to whom their petition was referred. t One of their own writers thus disposes
of this objection. II " Before meeting this objection, it will be necessary
for us to know something of the nature of the organization known as the
'National Grand Lodge.' In 1847 there were only three colored Grand Lodges in
America, viz : ' African Grand Lodge of Massachusetts' (Boston), the First
Independent African Grand Lodge of North America' (Penn.). and the ' Hiram
Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.' The members of these organizations, believing
that the interests of Masonry among colored men in America would be enhanced
and better protected by placing its control in the hands of a central power,
met in convention in June, 1847, and organized the 'National Grand Lodge of
the United States of North America,' which was to be ' the Supreme Masonic
Power in the United States.' " In other words, this National Grand Lodge
became a supreme power over all the territory of the United States of America,
just as England did in the early part of the last century; and the Grand
Lodges that received warrants from this National Grand Lodge sustained the
same relation to it as the Provincial Grand Lodges, acting under the authority
of Deputations, sustained to the mother Grand Lodge in England. The objection
made is, that, by the surrender of the warrant of African Lodge to the
National Grand Lodge in 1847, it lost its character as a Lodge, and,
consequently, ceased to exist. Now the fact is, no warrant of any subordinate
Lodge was surrendered to the National Grand Lodge. The only action taken in
the matter of warrants was that the Grand Lodges forming the convention should
recognize the newly organized National Grand Lodge as the Supreme Masonic
Authority of the United States, and agree to take out warrants as Grand Lodges
subordinate thereto. The only error made was the surrender by the Grand Lodges
forming the National Grand Lodge of their sovereignty as supreme Masonic
authorities; the legal existence of the subordinate Lodges was in no ways
disturbed, no more so than the subordinate Lodges under the Provincial Grand
Lodges, which, in turn, were subordinate to the Grand Lodges of England and
Scotland. We believe the organization of the National Grand Lodge to have been
an error, but only as relating to government, and not as to legal succession."
• Prince Hall Grand Lodge subsequently resumed its independence.
* Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1869, p. 132.
t See 48, ante, See 19, 46, ante.
II SAMUEL W. CLARK, The Negro Mason in Equity, 43.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
§ 67. " Free," instead of " free-born."—Perhaps here, as conveniently as
anywhere, may be considered the objection that made the greatest impression
upon my mind when I first began to consider the claims of the negro Masons. It
struck me as a graver objection than any of the others, because they, almost
if not quite without exception, relate to mere matters of Masonic government
and administration;—to regulations made and usages acquired since 1717, and
therefore subject to change. But the fact that the negroes have substituted "
free " for " freeborn " in their description of the qualifications of a
candidate seemed to me very close to an innovation in Masonry. On this subject
the Washington committee said, last year : * "Your committee, both by their
early training and by what appears, from the manuscript Constitutions, to have
been the usage of the fathers for three centuries, are very strongly
predisposed to the idea that only the freeborn should be made Masons. But it
must be admitted that the earliest Masonic manuscript that has escaped the
devouring tooth of time, the Halliwell or Regius poem, not only designates the
qualification as ' free,' not 'freeborn,' but joins with its only rival, in
point of age, in assigning for the rule a reason which applies to the former
word only; namely, that if a slave should be made a Mason his master might
come to the Lodge and demand his surrender, and dire consequence—even
manslaughter—might ensue: for, as the Regius MS. aptly observes, Gef yn the
logge he were y-take, Muche desese hyt mygth ther make, * * * * * * * ' For
alle the masonus that ben there Wol stonde togedur hol y-fere.' " But not
relying alone upon claims to be drawn from these ancient documents, our
colored brethren are able to point to at least one notable champion of their
practice. For in 1838 the Grand Lodge of England struck the word `freeborn'
from its list of qualifications of candidates and substituted the word '
free.'1 "In view of this action on the part of a jurisdiction which we regard
with peculiar reverence and affection, he would be a hardy man who would
denounce this practice of the negro Masons as placing them beyond the pale of
"And, whatever may be the true rule, even without the example of
the Grand Lodge of England, we think our colored friends might successfully
rely upon the plea that where one not possessed of the proper qualifications
is initiated, he is nevertheless a Mason. Where women or minors or maimed men
have been initiated, this rule has not been universally acknowledged; but we
think it the better one and the one supported by the weight of authority.
But—and we take no pleasure in mentioning it—in the too common case of the
initiation of men who are lacking in the internal—the moral and
intellectual—qualities that fit a man to be made a Mason, the rule has been
To this I will add only the comment of Dr. ROBBINS :II
* Proceedings, G. L. of Washington, 1898, p. 56.
jI am informed that the white Grand Lodges in Canada have made the
same change; and, apparently, those in Australasia have done so.
I. This portion of the Washington report is pronounced by the
South Carolina committee—I leave it to the reader to determine how justly or
frankly—an "attempt to juggle with the words free and free-born."—Proceedings,
G. L. of S. C., 1898, p. 50.
II Proceedings, G. L. of Illinois, 1898, Cor. Rep., p. 124. See
Appendix 28 post.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
"The lapse of the full period of the lifetime of a generation has
substantially removed the only fundamental difficulty; and what a third of a
century ago was a burning question, viz: Whether in substituting the word
`free' for ' free-born ' fifty years ago, the Grand Lodge of England had
violated a landmark, now excites only the languid interest which ever attaches
to an abstraction that can never assume the concrete form.”
Objection to later Negro Grand Lodges.
68. Invasion of jurisdiction.—But, assuming that negro Masonry was
lawfully introduced into Massachusetts; and, being lawfully there, had a right
to continue and to propagate itself there, even through a Grand Lodge; and
could not be rendered illegitimate there by after- made laws of the white
Masons; was not the later diffusion of negro Masonry throughout other States,
whether through Lodges or Grand Lodges,—in many cases after both races had
accepted the doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction,—such an invasion
of the jurisdiction of Grand Lodges already existing there as to be worthy of
condemnation; and so wrongful as to render the invading bodies illegitimate? I
will answer this long question candidly; and, I hope, in such a way as to
convince the equally candid reader that a part, at least, of his misgivings
But, first, let us divide the question: To what part of the United
States do you allude? For, in Kentucky, South Carolina, etc.—perhaps in
onefifth part of the United States—the white Grand Lodges have, by a radical
innovation upon the very body of Masonry, declared in their written law that
in their Lodges a candidate for admission to our fraternity must be a WHITE
MAN—that no negro, no matter how worthy and well-qualified, shall be initiated
under any circumstances; * and one Grand Lodge— Florida, I believe— has
accepted from the State a charter of incorporation which expressly limits her
jurisdiction to Masonry among "Masons of the white race.”
Surely, it needs no argument to show that these Grand Lodges have
no standing to complain of the establishment of Lodges in a field that they
have voluntarily abandoned. The situation in those States is not materially
different from what would be the case in Washington, should the Grand Lodge of
Washington decree that her Lodges should initiate none but natives of the
State; or, that no Lodge should hereafter exist East of the Cascade Mountains.
The theory that a Grand Lodge may obtain "exclusive jurisdiction " in a State,
is based upon the theory that she will completely occupy that State. Her
refusal to do so is not merely to shut a part of the State or people out of
Masonry: it is an attempt to shut the eternal Masonic Institution out of a
part of the State. As that Institution is greater than all Grand Lodges,—above
all new regulations and local " doctrines "—she sweeps away all such attempts,
like chaff before a tornado. It is the right of the Masonic Institution to
receive into her fold all men who possess the qualifications which she
prescribed before any Grand Lodge existed, and who are able to pass the one
test which she has prescribed. It is within the bounds of possibility that a
* See 14-16, ante.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
Grand Lodge may lawfully restrict her own jurisdiction to a particular class
of men—" white men, or men less than five feet tall or men with blue eyes ";
but she cannot, under the pretence of a territorial jurisdiction, deprive the
Fraternity-at-Large of such worthy "black, tall or red-eyed men " as happen to
reside in the State. Of a Grand Lodge which provides the Lodges which she
declines to provide for the initiation of such men, she can not complain that
it invades her jurisdiction;—for it is not her jurisdiction : she has
voluntarily waived and abandoned it. * Thus, we see that in perhaps a fifth
part of the United States—and that the part in which the bitterest complaint
against the negro Mason is made—the reader's objection has no application.
69. Same.—Let us see if other States must not be eliminated from
this branch of our inquiry. If the Jurisdiction which the reader has in mind,
now nominally opens its doors to white and black alike, did it always do so?
Was there a time when, as we have seen that some Grand Lodges formerly did, ±
it excluded black men from initiation? If so, did the Masonry of the negro
organizations enter that State while, or before, that exclusion existed? If it
did, is it not manifest — for reasons similar to those mentioned in the
preceding section — that the effect of adopting those exclusion laws was both
to waive jurisdiction, so far as black men were concerned, in favor of such
negro Lodges as might be established in the State during the continuance of
those laws; and also to waive objections, however valid before the passage of
those laws, to the existence of negro Lodges which had been previously
established there? It seems so to me. And is not the consequence even more
far- reaching: In view of the principles already discussed, that a Masonic
Lodge once lawfully existing may, in the absence of fault on its part,
continue to exist forever4 and that it is not only the right but the duty of
Masons to provide for the perpetuity of the Institution, by encouraging the
legitimate growth of the Fraternity, and by establishing new Lodges as the
need for them arises ;11 in view of these things, does it not necessarily
follow that, in those States which we are now considering, the subsequent
repeal of the laws which restricted initiation to white men did not impair the
right of the negro organizations, acquired in the manner I have stated, to
continue to exist, expand and flourish until the crack of doom? This
conclusion seems to me absolutely unavoidable. I have arrived at it soberly
and unavoidably, after the most careful consideration of the subject that my
reason is capable of. Hence I submit it to the candid consideration of the
reader,—well aware that from the candid reader only will the subject receive
any consideration worthy of the name.
70. Same.—If the conclusion reached in the preceding section be
sound, it eliminates from our inquiry more Jurisdictions than many of us
* See views of ALBERT PIKE to the same effect, in Appendix 12, post.
f In ii 14-16, ante. t See r 40-42, ante. See 64, ante.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
are aware of; and almost any reader will do well to inspect closely the
ancient history of his own Grand Lodge. But the subject is not exhausted yet.
The question with which we opened section 68 assumed that negro Masonry was
lawfully introduced into Massachusetts. But negro Masonry was not introduced
into Massachusetts, merely, in 1775, or 1784 or 1787, but into America; nay,
into a whole race of men. Deprecate as we may, and ought, the introduction of
a race or color line into Masonry, yet the fact remains that the mistake of
granting a warrant to a Lodge composed exclusively of negroes; or the mistake
made in 1787 or 1792 of not absorbing that Lodge into the white Grand Lodge,
gave to the planting of African Lodge No. 459, as subsequent events have
proved, the effect of introducing Masonry not into a State but into a Nation;
not into a place but into a race. In the inscrutable providence of The Great
Architect of the Universe it has pleased him to permit two races of his
children to dwell side by side; but separated by a wall more distinct than a
State line,—stronger than that which doth hedge about the jurisdiction of a
Grand Lodge. It may be that, but for the planting of African Lodge, that wall
would forever have hidden the light of Masonry from the eyes of the weaker
race. It may be that there are no accidents in the affairs of men; that the
hand that bound the bands of Orion, also guided our fathers; that the All
Seeing Eye, "whom the sun, moon and stars obey, and under Whose watchful care
even the comets perform their stupendous revolutions," foresaw all; and
provided, in a way that was not our way, that that wall should be penetrated
by the light of truth;—" suffered all nations to walk in their own ways," yet
"nevertheless left not himself without witness" in any; for "in every nation
he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him." Let us
not, to whom He has accorded greater light than to His less favored children,
and who "have an altar whereof they have no right to eat," doubt that His hand
has guided our footsteps in all ages past; or be too confident that those who,
for more than a century, have knelt at Masonic altars are not Masons, Free and
"Accepted with Him." Let us, rather, with becoming reverence, pray that He
lead us into the way of truth.
71. Same.—If the establishment of African Lodge No. 459 be
regarded as the introduction of Masonry into a Nation or a race instead of
merely into one State, then all questions of invasion of jurisdiction
disappear for reasons already mentioned, and negro Masonry has a right to
continue * to exist and expand until every worthy and qualified man in that
nation, or of that race, has seen the light by which Masons work. But if that
view be not accepted, then, in addition to what has been said in sections
immediately preceding, I must ask the reader to consider the applicability of
principles already discussed:—that the negroes, having lawfully received the
light of Masonry, being debarred from the organizations controlled by the
whites, had both the right and the duty to provide ways and means to pass that
light to their posterity; that as the whites practically—and in many
instances, expressly—limited their oper
* See 69, ante, and references there cited.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
ations to the white race, and the negroes practically limited theirs to the
black race, there is no real conflict of jurisdiction between them ; that
most, if not all, of the so-called " laws" with which their presence is
supposed to conflict, are modern regulations built up by their enemies without
their consent, after their right to exist had accrued; that these laws are
valid only so long as they do not conflict with rights which are based upon
the higher laws of the. Masonic Institution itself; and, finally, that the
existence among the negroes of Masonry of lawful origin; its successful
existence, against every form of opposition, for practically a century and a
quarter; the beneficent effects of its existence there; that it will
unquestionably continue to exist until the end of time; and that, as the
intelligence, the morality, the ability and the consequent influence of that
race increase, the inconsistency of the position of the white organizations
will become more and more apparent to all thinking minds;— that all these
things are facts; that it is useless to kick against the pricks, but is the
part of reasonable men to look upon the situation as it is, and if the
regulations which we made early in the century are either inconsistent with
the principles of Masonry, or unfitted for the situation as we find it at the
end of the century, to exercise the power which the first Grand Lodge was so
careful to recognize when it said:— "Every ANNUAL GRAND- LODGE has an inherent
Power and Authority to make NEW REGULATIONS, or to alter these, for the real
Benefit of this ANCIENT FRATERNITY: Provided always that THE OLD LAND-MARKS BE
CAREFULLY PRESERVD."* Surely if the venerable Regulations approved in 1721 may
be so readily amended, the innovations which our immediate ancestors engrafted
upon the Institution, and which, however useful in their day, have ceased to
bear any but evil fruit, may now be lopped off and heaved over among the
rubbish of the Temple.
§72. A summary .—I have now discussed and, as well as the small
amount of leisure at my command would permit, given the reader my reasons for
rejecting as unsound, every objection that I have ever known to be urged
against the legitimacy of the Masonry which exists among the negroes of
America.f Some of these objections are sufficiently puerile, but I have
endeavored to omit none of them. I have discussed more briefly the objections
to the diffusion of negro Masonry than the question of the genuineness of its
origin; for I know the sturdy honesty of the American character well enough to
know that when once the great body of plain Master Masons become convinced
that a little band of black men who were genuine brothers were cast on the
stern and rock-bound coast of New England; and learn that the question over
which Grand Lodges are debating is whether their feeble brothers shall perish
or live, that great body of honest men will be quick to see the hailing sign
of distress; and will make short work of quibbles which cavilers present as
* Old Regulations of 1721, No. xxxix.
f Again I remind the reader that whether negro Masonry is
legitimate, and whether he and I are at liberty to recognize it, are different
questions; and that the latter will be considered in X74 et seq.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
ments in favor of death. It is more than probable -for human minds are
differently constituted-that some of my reasons may appear less conclusive to
the reader than they do to me. If they do, let me make this request of the
reader, in exchange for the labor I have spent in attempting to answer his
inquiries,-that he will carefully consider two things: first, whether the
particular objection which I have failed to answer to his satisfaction is one
that is vital to the legitimacy of negro Masonry; and, second, whether he
cannot frame a valid answer to that objection, where I may have failed.
73. Masonry in the Philippines.—There are said to have been, for
several years past, a large number of Masonic Lodges in the Philippine
Islands. Their origin is unknown to me; but, that we may the better judge how
far race prejudice and local pride may have influenced us in our previous
conception of negro Masonry in America, let us assign to Philippine Masonry a
wholly fictitious origin; and then frame an Allegory, in which China shall
represent England; Japan, Ireland; Korea, Scotland; Peking Masonry, " Modern "
Masonry; Hong Kong Masonry, " Ancient " Masonry; the Philippines, America;
Luzon, Massachusetts; Manila, Boston; Iloilo, Philadelphia; Zebu, Providence;
Filipinos and Spaniards, white men; Frenchmen, negroes; ADAMS, HENRY PRICE;
and LA FAYETTE, PRINCE HALL. We may imagine that a Filipino Mason tells the
story to one of the brethren in DEWEY'S fleet.
Masonry was introduced into Luzon, the island on which Manila is
situated, in 1733, by one ADAMS, who claimed to be a Provincial Grand Master
from Peking, China. Certain it is that the Lodge which he founded in Manila in
that year was recognized by the G. L. of Peking a few years later, although
ADAM'S name does not appear on the records of that G. L., as a Prov. G. M.,
until 1775. ADAMS and his successors as Prov. G. Ms. organized numerous Lodges
in various parts of the Philippines, all of which are admittedly regular. In
1737 the G. L. at Peking appointed another Prov. G. M. at Manila; and it
thereafter maintained such an officer there, except at short intervals between
appointments, until early in 1787, when, upon the death of the Provincial, no
successor was appointed. These Provincials held assemblies of the
representatives of their Lodges, the one at Manila being called St. John's
(Provincial) Grand Lodge. These bodies derived all their powers from the Prov.
G. M., and perished with him. The last Prov. G. M. of this jurisdiction did
not assemble his G. L. after 1775; but it assembled in 1787 to bury him, and
met occasionally thereafter, without any express authority, until 1792; when
it amalgamated with a rival body presently to be mentioned.
Ili 1751 six irregular Lodges, out of a large number which existed
in China,—irregular in that they existed without the authority of any Grand
Master or Grand Lodge—formed the G. L. of Hong Kong. * The bitterest animosity
existed (down to 1813) between this body and the G. L. of
* See 24, ante.
Peking. Each denounced the other as spurious, and forbade its Lodges to
recognize as Masons members of those of the other. Neighboring Grand Lodges
became involved in the quarrel; and the Masonic world became divided into two
hostile camps, "Peking Masons" and "Hong Kong Masons." * Certain persons in
Manila who had been made Masons there " in some irregular way"; and, being
refused recognition by ADAMS' Lodge, had opened an irregular Lodge in 1752
without any authority, applied, in 1754, to the G. L. of Korea for a charter.
Korea, although at times fairly friendly with the Peking G. L., was much more
intimate with that of Hong Kong. It voted the charter in 1756, but it was not
received in Manila until 1760. However, the body for whom it was destined kept
on making Masons, from 1754 to 17584 Organized under the charter, it took the
name "St. Andrew's Lodge." Although chartered by Korea, it always classed
itself as a Lodge of "Hong Kong Masons." It made persistent efforts to secure
recognition from the "Peking Lodges" in Luzon; but, with temporary exceptions,
always failed. Incensed at this, in 1768 it took advantage of the presence of
three military Lodges temporarily in Manila, one of Japanese, one of Hong
Kong, and one of Korean origin, " but all practicing the Hong Kong system," II
to get them to join it in a petition to Korea for the appointment of a
Provincial G. M.; and that officer was installed the following year. The army
Lodges moved away, and thus St. Andrew's Lodge, practically, became a
Provincial G. L.;** and the Prov. G. M. erected numerous "Hong Kong" Lodges.
The Philippine Islands were all this time under the suzerainty of
In 1775 a war for independence was begun; and the independence of
the Islands was acknowledged in 1783. The Prov. G. M. of the St. Andrew's body
had been killed in battle in 1775; and, according to the view taken at the
time, his Prov. G. L. died with him. ft To overcome this, eleven brethren who
had been members of the Prov. G. L. proceeded, in 1777, to organize a G. L.,
which, in 1782, declared itself to be an independent Body and took the name
"Luzon G. L. of Hong Kong Masons." Its organizers appear to have belonged to
three of the •"Hong Kong" Lodges in Luzon—eight of them to St. Andrew's Lodge;
but that they had been authorized to represent their Lodges does not appear4t
Furthermore, while the law of "Peking Masons" permitted three Lodges to
organize a G. L., that of "Hong Kong Masons" required This body chartered
numerous Lodges of "Hong Kong Masons." In 1782 it adopted certain resolutions,
taking a name, classing itself in the "Hong Kong" faction, and declaring
itself independent, as we have seen. It also
* See 25, ante.
See i 28, ante. t Ibid.
II See 29, ants. ** Ibid.
1-1. See 29 and note under 12, ante.
11 See i 30 ante.
See 3 30, ante, note.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
declared its authority over Lodges erected by it anywhere in the Philippine
Islands; and declared that no person could, consistent with the rules of "
Hong Kong " Masonry, exercise the powers of a "Hong Kong" Grand Master or
Grand Lodge, to- wit, give power to erect Lodges of "Hong Kong" Masons, etc.,
upon the island of Luzon except itself.* Some have supposed these resoultions
were aimed at its rival, the St. John's Prov. G. L. of "Peking Masons "; but
the careful restrictions of their language to "Hong Kong" Masonry precludes
this idea; and shows that they were aimed at the " Hong Kong " Grand Lodges in
Korea, China and Japan; and that no jurisdiction over "Peking Masonry " was
St. Andrew's Lodge resented this declaration of independence;
withdrew from the new G. L.; and retained its connection with the G. L. of
Korea until 1809, in spite of many threats and much coaxing. After about the
year 1800, the G. L. of Luzon, presently to be mentioned, "acquiesced in
Masonic commuication and visitation" between its members and those of the
recalcitrant St. Andrew's Lodge.
In the meantime, besides the Lodges erected in the Philippines by
Prov. G. Ms., a number had been erected in various parts of the Islands by the
G. Lodges of China and Korea, directly.
All the Masons heretofore mentioned were Filipinos, Spaniards or
Chinese. But in 1775, just before the war, a military Lodge in the Chinese
army stationed in or near Manila initiated one LA FAYETTE and fourteen other
Frenchmen. Bro. AGUINALDO informs me that there is no prejudice in the
Philippines against Frenchmen. As to how this may be I cannot say; but LA
FAYETTE was the first Frenchman ever initiated in the Islands; I hear of no
other Frenchmen initiated, outside the French Lodges, for more than half a
century; and only now and then one since,— although Frenchmen have been fairly
numerous on the Islands.
LA FAYETTE served in the army of independence during the war,
carrying on his Masonic duties, as well as he could, without a warrant. But
the year after peace had been declared he applied to the premier G. L. at
Peking for a warrant. It was immediately granted, under the name of "French
Lodge No, 459;" but, owing to the fault of messengers, was not received until
1787; in which year the Lodge was organized under it.
In 1792 the rival Grand Lodges of "Peking" and "Hong Kong" Masons
in Manila united, forming the Grand Lodge of Luzon. It did not secure the
affiliation of St. Andrew's Lodge, until 1809, or invite that of French Lodge.
After a few years it became apparent that the Filipino Grand Lodges—for others
were formed on the various islands—did not intend to recognize the members of
French Lodge No. 459 or, as a rule, to initiate Frenchmen; and in 1797 LA
FAYETTE gave a license for fifteen French Masons to open a Lodge in Iloilo;
and he organized a Lodge at Zebu soon after. In 1808, after the death of LA
FAYETTE, these three Lodges organized the "French Grand Lodge of F. & A.
Masons;" and from this source Freemasonry spread among the French inhabitants
of the Islands. The latter form a considerable part—about one-ninth—of the
* See r 31 ante.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
They possess considerable property; have given much attention to education and
the duties of citizenship; and have produced educators, authors, business and
professional men, and political leaders, of considerable ability. In the
earlier years, the regularity of French Lodge does not appear to have been
questioned; and the other "Peking " Masons of Manila used to visit it;* and,
indeed, liberal minded Filipinos who know the real history of the French
Masons have often visited their Lodges, all through the century; but the
settled official policy of many of the Filipino Grand Lodges is to treat the
French Masons as irregular, if not clandestine.
"I suppose this is due to race prejudice against the French, is it
not ?" "Pray do not suggest such a thing; we are all agreed that no such
prejudice influences us, or indeed exists.”
"I see ; but what fault, then, do you find with the French Masons
" Well, you see we have evolved a doctrine—what we call ' The
Philippine Doctrine of Masonic Jurisprudence '—something that we consider a
decided improvement on anything that was known to old fogies in Peking and
Hong Kong,—which effectually excludes them. I wish you would read up on our
" I will, with pleasure; it must be a wonderful doctrine, that can
justify you and me—Peking Masons—in denying the claims of other Masons, sprung
from Peking, who have successfully cultivated Masonry for more than a century
"Thank you. I hope you will study it. It is a most beneficent
doctrine;—so productive of harmony, don't you know. And then,—ahemplease
remember how inconvenient it would be for Filipinos to have to associate with
Frenchmen;—not that there is any race prejudice, understand;—there is no
prejudice, I assure ypu.”
The question is: are the French Masons in the Philippine Islands—
descended from the premier Grand Lodge, through the warrant granted to LA
FAYETTE—members of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted
Masons, or are they not ?
With this I might leave the subject; but I will call attention to
one other phase of it.
Objections to Recognition.
§ 74. Definitions, etc.—But, it is asked, suppose we are convinced
that if any of the objections to negro Masonry are valid they relate to
unimportant phases of the question, and are insufficient to exclude negro
Masons from the pale of the Fraternity; if, in other words, we are convinced
that the claimants are Masons, are there not, nevertheless, circumstances
which preclude us—American Masons—from recognizing them? We will now consider
this question. But let us first note that it has more than a double meaning:
"Us" may mean you and me, or it may mean our Grand Lodge; "them" may mean
individual negro Masons, or it may mean their Grand Lodges; and "recognize "
See references in a note on 7, ante.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
used in either of two senses. A failure to note these distinctions has led to
confusion of thought and erroneous conclusions, against which we ought to
guard. Colloquially, we sometimes say we "recognize" a fact, when we mean
merely that we perceive its existence. But in Masonry the word "recognize" is
ordinarily used with its more accurate meaning of " to admit with a formal
acknowledgment," "to accord formal recognition to," in short, "to enter into
diplomatic relations with." It may make things clearer if I first answer the
question with which this section began, before discussing the subject. My
personal opinions are:
1. That there is no reason why an individual white Mason—of course I mean
unless forbidden by his Grand Lodge—should not accord to a negro Mason all the
rights due to the Masonic character.
2. That the individual Mason, as such, is not called upon to "
enter into diplomatic relations with" any Grand Lodge or Lodge; and that the
tacit admission which it is necessary to make in his own mind, in arriving at
the conclusion that the negro is a Mason,—that he hails from a lawful
Lodge,—he may lawfully make.
3. That a Grand Lodge might also properly make the same admission,
should occasion ever require; but that question is not before us now, as the
Grand Lodge of Washington has expressed no opinion on that subject.
4. That since the action of the Grand Lodge of Ohio in 1876, there
has been no proposal that any white Grand Lodge " enter into diplomatic
relations with " any negro Grand Lodge, or " accord recognition to " any negro
Grand Lodge or Lodge; and therefore the question is not before us. But my own
opinion is, that should that question ever arise, it will be a mere question
of policy,—for that Grand Lodge alone to decide, according to its judgment as
to what is best for Masonry. In other words, I answer that there are not
circumstances which absolutely preclude a Grand Lodge from recognizing a negro
Grand Lodge, should the good of Masonry, in its judgment, demand that step.
Let us now examine some of these points more in detail.
§ 75. Recognition of individuals.—But, it is asked, can we
recognize a brother without also recognizing the Lodge from which he hails,
and the Grand Lodge to which that Lodge belongs? Why not? It is done every
day, and always has been done.* Yet there appears to be great confusion of
mind on this point among American brethren. Again and again, in response to
the official assurance of the Grand Master of Washington that
* C. VAN DALEN, an eminent German Mason, having been criticised by FINDEL in
1873 for opposing German recognition of negro Grand Lodges, published a reply,
in the Bauhutte of Jan., 1874 (reprinted in Proceedings, G. L. of N. Y., 1874,
p. 237), which closes as follows: "My vote still is: to receive joyfully and
politely in our halls the individual colored brethren, but to refuse official
recognition to colored lodges and Grand Lodges, so long as they are not
recognized by the American Grand Lodges.
"Inasmuch as I permit every one to enjoy his own opinion on this
subject, I demand for myself the right to adhere to mine without having
suspicion thrown upon me.”
For an incident to the same effect, see Appendix 14, post.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
his Grand Lodge had not recognized any negro Grand Lodge. the question has
been asked, "How is it possible to recognize an individual Mason without, at
the same time, recognizing his Lodge and Grand Lodge?" I do not know whether
or not I can make the point clear to these inquirers, but I will try. When an
individual asks us to acknowledge him as a member of the Universal Fraternity,
we desire to know, first, that he has been initiated into that Fraternity.
Learning that he has been, we want to know by what authority was initiated.
Suppose we learn that he was "made a Mason at sight" by the Grand Master of
Pennsylvania: Most of us would say, "That was grossly irregular; we do not
admit that a Grand Master has any right to do such a thing; but,
irregular—from our point of view—as his action was, it undoubtedly admitted
you into the Universal Fraternity." Or, suppose we learn that the brother was
initiated—as the PRINCE OF WALES was—in a Lodge which existed by the license
of the King of Norway and Sweden, who is Grand Master by virtue of being king,
We might say, " We do not recognize the King as more than a de facto Grand
Master; we will enter into no relations with the Grand Lodge of Sweden,
because it is not an independent Grand Lodge; and we shall exercise our right
of declining to enter into any relations with the particular Lodge in which
you were made." Yet we should be bound to add, "But, nevertheless, in spite of
these great irregularities in the administration and government of Masonry in
your country, we find that your making was inconsistent with only Grand Lodge
regulations, and not inconsistent with any Landmark of Masonry; and therefore
we are bound, by our obligation, to recognize you as a member of that
Fraternity which is older than Grand Lodges and superior to all their
76. Same.— Suppose the man was made, years ago, in a Lodge in
Cuba, established by a Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite: We might say to
him, "We do not admit that a Supreme Council has any more right than a Royal
Arch Chapter has to create Lodges; we would not have cared to have had any
dealings with your Lodge; but we recognize the fact that you were made in a de
facto Lodge, existing by authority of a de facto ruling-body which exercised
authority over Masonry,—irregularly indeed, but under claim and ' color' of
right,—and we cannot deny you the name of ' Mason.'" If the brother hailed
from a Lodge under the Grand Lodge "Three Globes" at Berlin, we should say to
him: "Our Grand Lodge has never recognized the Three Globes—perhaps it does
not desire to. But we know, as a matter of history, that the Three Globes is a
Grand Lodge of Masons. You are welcome, brother." And if the visitor hailed
from a negro Lodge in Kentucky, could not an individual Washington Mason say
to him: "I know, as a matter of history, your line of descent from the Grand
Lodge of England; I know that, be
* Incidentally, it may be remarked that the Grand Lodge of Washington has not
yet recognized even a single negro Mason. It left the matter where it found
it, in the hands of the Lodges. And Lodges do not derive their authority to
receive visitors from the Grand Lodge, but from the landmarks of Masonry.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
ginning with PRINCE HALL, you and your Masonic ancestors have, for more than a
century, successfully maintained an unbroken existence; during all that time
your possession of Masonry has been ' actual, adverse, visible, notorious,
exclusive, continuous, and under a claim and color of title.' * On my
conscience, I can not deny that you are as much a Mason as I am, and I intend
to recognize you as such. But we have long been on friendly terms with the
white Grand Lodge of Kentucky—she is a little offish just now, but that makes
no difference,—and without her approval we don't propose to enter into any
relations with the Grand Lodge or Lodge from which you hail. More than that, I
am a believer in the American doctrine of but one Grand Lodge in each State,
and I do not know that I should favor according recognition to a second Grand
Lodge in Kentucky, even if the white Grand Lodge in Kentucky did so.”
This is a course which equally avoids repudiating the solemn
engagements into which we have entered with every member of the Universal
Fraternity, and giving any just cause of offense to brethren in other
jurisdictions. It-is the course pursued in most foreign countries which have
not expressly recognized the negro organizations; f is the one I understand to
have always been followed in Washington — a jurisdiction which has left nearly
all foreign Grand Lodges in the category of " Unrecognized, but not denied ";
and is the one which I, individually, expect to follow as long as I live.
77. Estoppel by Massachusetts Decision.--A great many have
asserted that all the rest of the world is precluded from recognizing negro
Masons because—it is asserted--the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has decided
that they are "clandestine." If there were such a decision--as the reader will
presently see there is not—and if there were any such law of estoppel in
Masonry, the decision would effect only negro bodies in Massachusetts and
those which have sprung from Massachusetts since the decision was made;--for
territorial jurisdiction in the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is what is relied
upon to give its alleged decision the sweeping effect mentioned. But there are
insuperable difficulties in the way of showing that a Massachusetts decision
would have any such effect. The idea originates in loose thinking on three
subjects: Lodge trials, territorial jurisdiction, and comity. It is a fact
that when a Lodge expels a man, other Lodges--and, of course, individual
Masons and Grand Lodges—accept the fact,— not because of some fine-spun theory
about comity or " exclusive jurisdiction," but simply because it is a fact
-that the man is an expelled Mason. By a rule of comity, inquiry will not
ordinarily be made as to whether the Lodge was mistaken about the facts. But
inquiry will be made as to whether an expulsion actually occurred; and, in
some cases, whether the Lodge had jurisdiction, and whether a Masonic crime
was charged;--for instance, in a case like that where a French Lodge proposed
to try the German Emperor and Crown Prince.4 If no expul
* Such possession of real estate, for the statutory period, creates a title by
t See first note under 75, ante.
GOULD, History, iii, 446.
sion occurred, or if there was an absence of jurisdiction, nobody would be
bound by the statement of anybody -not even by the statement of a committee or
a Grand Lodge —that an expulsion took place. Another case in which the force
of comity hardly gives effect to expulsions is where, in the case of rival
Grand Lodges, each body proceeds to "expell" all or some of the members of the
other.* Of course, in such a case, another Grand Lodge may be so friendly with
one of the contending parties as to ascribe validity to the acts of its
friend. That, however, is a great stretch of comity; and discreet Masons are
inclined to regard such expulsions in much the same way as the unbiased
historian regards the acts of Pope and anti-Pope when they respectively
excommunicate each other. If Massachusetts had adjudged the colored Masons
"clandestine," the judgment would more nearly resemble this latter class of
expulsions than any other. One other circumstance, however, would deprive such
a decision of even such weight as this lowest class of expulsions may have
:—namely, that decisions as to the standing of Lodges under another
constitution bear no analogy to Lodge trials, and every inference based upon
any presumed analogy is necessarily erroneous. We have seen that it is beyond
question that neither the fact that African Lodge No. 459 was in Massachusetts
nor any other circumstance gave the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts any
jurisdiction over that constituent of the Grand Lodge of England; or any other
relation to negro Masonry than that possessed by other white Grand Lodges.±
This view seems to have been generally accepted; for, as early as 1818 the
Grand Lodge of New York assumed the right to investigate the claims of negro
Masonry for herself; at a later day, Grand Bodies in various parts of the
world t recognized negro Grand Lodges; and during the past year more than a
dozen Grand Lodges have assured us " with a greater or less degree of
calmness," that they also have " decided " this question, not only for
themselves but for us, for all time to come;— none of which things could have
occurred had there been a Massachusetts decision which precluded all further
inquiry. I fancy that if the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts should recognize
negro Masonry -as I do not doubt she will do some day, just as soon as the
great body of the Fraternity in that State become aware of the merits of
* " But you are told Lawrence Dermot [ sic] and William Preston were expelled
Masons, and so they were; for no immoral or unmasonic conduct, however. * * *
Does not their glorious, though temporary martyrdom, in this noble work,
entitle them rather to our admiration and gratitude?"—Joilx DOVE, The Virginia
Text-Book ( 3d. ed.), 335.
See 39-43 et passim, ante.
Including Peru. Within the year the Grand Secretary of New York
has obtained an assurance from the Grand Master of Peru that his Grand Lodge
never recognized negro Masonry. But this probably merely indicates that the
Grand Master of Peru does not claim, for the present Grand Lodge, identity
with the ruling body in Peru which did recognize the negro Grand Lodge of
Ohio, in or before 1876. In the matter of recognitions, I could throw a
bomb-shell into the camps of many of those who have attacked us most
malignantly, by showing recognitions of negro Masonry by Grand Bodies with
which the Supreme Councils of the Northern and Southern jurisdictions of the
U. S., A. and A. S. Rite, are in most intimate relation; if I cared to bring
Scottish Rite matters into this paper.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
the case,—the Masons in some of the Southern States will not deem her decision
quite so " conclusive " as they do now! § 78. Same.—As to comity, I conceive
that if the Prince Hall Grand Lodge still exists in Massachusetts; and if the
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts had decided that it was a clandestine body,
comity would induce the Grand Lodge•of Washington to decline to accord
recognition to Prince Hall Grand Lodge, if asked to do so, without regard to
whether she was in fact regular or not. This is as far as any rule of comity
extends, and as far as any Grand Lodge actuated by any principle of comity
would expect another to go. Up to the present day, Washington's failure to
recognize colored Grand Lodges seems to rest on the two facts that she has
never been asked to do so, and that she respects the "American Doctrine " that
dual Grand Lodges are inadvisable; * for I fail to find that Massachusetts has
made any such decision as the one mentioned. Let us see what actions of hers
have given rise to the erroneous idea that she has done so.
First, when the Grand Lodge was organized in 1792, African Lodge,
No. 459, was not invited to participate, or to unite with it. We have seen+
that this did not affect the validity of negro Masonry; and that the white
Masons did not regard it as a " decision " against the latter is apparent, as
well from the absence of any statement to that effect, as from the fact that
they continued to visit the negro Lodge.t Second, during about a century, the
white Masons of Massachusetts have made no effort to absorb the negro Masons
into their organization. This is the nearest thing to a "decision" against
them that I have found; but it is too informal to be given any such effect,
and must rather be taken as evincing the sentiment expressed by Brother PARVIN
and the Washington committee, that it is preferable to let them maintain
Next, in 1797 the Grand Lodge voted, in effect, that it would not
receive as visitors, or communicate with, American Masons who retained their
allegiance to European Grand Lodges; and, at or about the same time, that
members of its Lodges should not hold communication with such brethren.** We
have already seen what these things, which were designed to coerce St.
Andrew's Lodge, amounted toff They did not imply that there was anything
irregular about the brethren against whom they were directed; but, on the
contrary, were an invitation to them to affiliate with the local
§ 79. Same.— But to a man well known as a matchless inventor and
untiring defender of innovations in Masonry; a man who manufactures
* See R 63 ante, and 89, post.
See 3, 38 et seq., ante.
1: See Appendix 11, post. See Appendix 13, post. ** See GOULD'S
History, iv, 354.
tt Ante, ?, 38 et seq.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
facts and invents theories to suit his own convenience, we are indebted for
information as to the exact time, place and terms of this "decision “ which we
have so long sought. This man, having been the arch- enemy of the negro Mason
for a quarter of a century; and having never lost an opportunity to malign and
misrepresent the Grand Lodge of Washington, seized with delight the
opportunity to destroy both, at one blow. His information is so exact, his
argument so conclusive, that I give his exact words. After mentioning that St.
Andrew's Lodge "finally yielded" and joined the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts,
* he says: t "But Prince Hall Lodge made no offer or attempt to give in its
adhesion. but kept on in utter disregard of the Grand Lodge, and thus became.
by the decision of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, which alone had full
jurisdiction over the question, a clandestine lodge. The question raised in
this controversy was then and there finally decided ": etc.
For definiteness as to the " then and there " of this " decision "
and " this controversy ", I know nothing to equal this; unless it be found in
a famous opinion written by my whilom associate of Skagit County in a case in
which he was attempting to judicially determine the exact date of a marriage
which had occurred, a generation before, between a white man and one KITTY, an
Indian girl. His Honor said: "The date cannot be determined from the evidence;
but KITTY, who ought to know, says it was when the salmon were just beginning
The next reference to negroes that I notice in the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts was in 1846; but that was a case where a white member of the
white Grand Lodge opened a clandestine Lodge and initiated a number of
negroes.t It has nothing to do with " negro Masonry; except that the negroes
having petitioned to be " healed," and a committee of the Grand Lodge having
found "that there were insuperable objections to granting the petition, which
it was not necessary to mention," and the negroes having concluded to take a
charter from the African Grand Lodge in Pennsylvania, I find no mention of
complaint that this would be an invasion of jurisdiction, or of warning given
the petitioners that it would not accomplish their aim to be "legalized as
* See 32, ante.
f Proceedings, G. L. of Maine, 1899, Cor. Rep., p. 308, will be
the reference, if the author of that report reproduces in the formal volume
the matter contained in the advance sheets which he printed and circulated
throughout the U. S., in the Spring of 1899, for the purpose of
misrepresenting the position of the Grand Lodge of Washington, deceiving
Masons as to facts, and alienating our brethren from us. In the octavo "
signature " which he circulated, there are more carefully concocted
misrepresentations of fact than there are pages. That he will reproduce this
matter, I do not doubt: for ever since he attracted the attention of R. F.
GOULD, by assisting—for a valuable consideration, and on condition his own
name should be placed on the title page—an "enterprising " publisher to pirate
GOULD'S History of Freemasonry, he has seemed desirous that what Gould said of
PRESTON should apply to himself,—that "(to put it mildly) in all matters of a
controversial nature, he laboured under a constitutional incapacity for
exactitude of statement." In calculating to what extent he may safely carry
brazen misrepresentation in his attempts to deceive and mislead the Masons of
America, he has accepted as an axiom the opinion of SIR RICHARD BURTON, that,
•` Next to the Antiquary, in simplicity of mind, capacity of belief, and
capability of assertion, ranks the Freemason.”
t The New England Freemason, Nov. 1875, p. 552.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
§ 80. Same.—Lewis Hayden's petition.—But in 1868 an opportunity was afforded
the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, had it desired to avail itself of it,—not to
make the negro Masons clandestine, for that it could not do, but to declare
that they should be treated as such in Massachusetts. But it declined to do
so. The members of that body, or at least its committee, appear to me to have
been in the state described by Brother EVANS,* "too moral to do an injustice
and defend it, too feeble in spirit to dare to be just." In that year "Lewis
Hayden and others "—that is to say, seventy-two members of the five negro
Lodges in Massachusetts, including many of the leading colored men of the
State—joined in petitioning the white Grand Lodge for recognition of their "
equal Masonic manhood." The committee to whom the petition was referred took a
year to consider it, and at last brought in what has well been called a
"limping report"— "A compromise which no member of the committee, as far as we
can ascertain, is willing to father. It is a piece of patchwork which no one
of the workmen who made it will claim as all his own." II It reported (italics
mine):— " Your committee have examined the charter [of African Lodge No. 459]
and believe it is authentic; but as they do not deem it necessary at this time
to investigate the historical statement contained in the petition, they have
not inquired into its legal effect, nor whether any proper organization under
it ever took place.
* * * * * * * * * * "Your committee recommend that the petitioners
have leave to withdraw.”
The reasons given by the committee for refusing to investigate the
case that had been referred to them were that The petitioners do not avowedly
represent either of these Lodges [to which they belonged] or any others; so
that their statements and prayer should be regarded as expressions of
individual persons,** * * * “
And "The petitioners include only a portion of the persons who
claim to derive privileges from this instrument " [the charter.] In accepting
this report, it is undeniable that the Grand Lodge simply rendered a judgment
of non suit ; which is—as may be explained to the layman—simply dismissing the
case "without prejudice," without deciding its merits, and leaving the parties
just as though they had never been in court. And, of course, after the
committee had reported that they had " not inquired into " the case, or deemed
it " necessary to investigate the subject," their gratuitous assertion that
Lodges existing in Massachusetts without the sanction of their Grand Lodge
were " irregular and spurious " was the purest obiter dictum—binding on nobody
in any case, but doubly worthless as coming from men who admitted that they
* See quotation in 92, post.
The petition and report thereon are in Proceedings, G. L. of
Mass., 1869, p. 134 et seq.
Negro writers say it, or a sub-committee, spent weeks examining
II SAMUEL EVANS, The Colored Masons' Petition, ut supra, 10.
** As an illustration of—let the reader say what,—it may be noted
that when negro Masons petitioned the Grand Lodge of Canada in 1871, their
petition was denied because they did petition as Lodges and not as
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
not investigated the subject; and in their sage remark that members of such
Lodges were "denied Masonic intercourse" and were "not recognized by the
Craft," they but repeated what the petitioners themselves had said.
81. Same.— GARDNER'S address.—In 1870, in the course of his
Address, * Grand Master WILLIAM SEWALL GARDNER presented incomparably the
ablest argument against the negro Masons that has ever been written. But it
was not—did not purport to be—a decision of anything. It was simply a partisan
attack. The Grand Lodge did not pass upon the matter—the matter was not before
it,—but simply referred the address to a committee "with authority to print
the same." f The occasion for the paper was the fact that the Committee on
Foreign Correspondence of New Hampshire,t speaking of the negro Lodges, had
said: " Facts are coming to light which tend to show that the history of these
Lodges has not been told. They are said to derive their authority from the
charter of the Grand Lodge of England to African Lodge; it has been said that
this was in violation of the jurisdictional rights of the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts. The American doctrine of Grand Lodge jurisdiction has grown up
since then, and is not elsewhere fully received even now; besides, there was
then no Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, or in that State, whose rights could be
interfered with; for notwithstanding the claim to antiquity of that Grand
Lodge, it was not formed till 1792, and the two Provincial Grand Lodges before
existing in the colony both expired in 1775 by the death of their Provincial
It was to refute these statements that Bro. GARDNER volunteered
his Address. I believe the reader will say Bro. BELL was substantially
correct. And as Bro. GARDNER—unlike most other writers on negro Masonry—quoted
or cited his authorities, it is possible to see just where he was misled by
the defective information with which a student was at that day compelled to
deal. So much ability is displayed in his Address that I cannot doubt that had
he had before him the wealth of information concerning Masonic history and
usages which scholars have unearthed in the last quarter century, he would
have recognized the legitimacy of negro Masonry. But all we are concerned with
at this point is the fact that his indictment was not a “decision,”
§ 82. Same;—the Woodbury report.—Probably one-half of the
committees who have reported against negro Masonry—or rather against the Grand
Lodge of Washington—during the past year have based their conclusions upon a
report presented to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1876 by Bro. CHARLES
L. WOODBURY and others. 11 For their doing this, instead of using the far
abler paper mentioned in the last section, I can see but two reasons: first,
that the WOODBURY report was all they had ever read on the subject; and,
second, that it contained eight " conclusions", ** ready arranged to be copied
without the labor of thinking.
* Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 15.
t Id, P. 50.
JOHN J. BELL; Proceedings, G. L. of N. H., 1869, p. 111. II
Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., Sept., 1876, p. 59.
** See these " conclusions " in a note under 10, ante.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
It mattered not to them that most of the "conclusions" were not conclusions of
fact at all, but mere inferences and opinions. It mattered not that the
"conclusions" do not follow from anything in the body of the report. As a
matter of fact, the WOODBURY report, in its statements of fact and Masonic
usage, is a tissue of inaccuracies from beginning to end, which any Entered
Apprentice ought to be able to refute; and its summing up is a non sequitur.
But with this we are not concerned at present, but only with the question
whether it was a "decision" on negro Masonry. The subject of negro Masonry was
not before the Grand Lodge or the committee. The Proceedings tell us that the
committee was “appointed to consider the application of a Lodge [white] in
Italy to become a subordinate of our Grand Lodge, and the general question of
Grand Lodge jurisdiction." But the question of recognizing a negro Grand Lodge
was pending in the Grand Lodge of Ohio; and the committee, after disposing of
the subject referred to it, for the illegitimate purpose of coercing the Grand
Lodge of Ohio * proceeded to discuss negro Masonry. Its opinions on this
subject were not a "decision ", for anybody. And the Grand Lodge was so
conscious of this that its self-respect precluded it from fathering them. The
Proceedings read : " R. W. CHARLES LEVI WOODBURY * * * submitted the following
report, which was accepted, and the recommendation regarding the Lodge at
Palermo was adopted." f § 83. Same.—Report of 1898.—At the December quarterly
communication of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1898, a committee
composed of Brothers S. LOTHROP THORNDIKE, CHARLES C. DAME (the brother—
unless this be a namesake—who, as Grand Master, had ap pointed the committee
destined, if not designed, to make the farcical report of 1869, already
considered) t and SERENO D. NICKERSON—mentioned in a recent
foot-note—presented a report II in which they describe themselves as, "The
committee to which was referred the recent action of the Grand Lodge of the
State of Washington upon the subject of ' Negro Masonry.' “The delicate nature
of the task of reviewing this report prior to the consideration by the Grand
Lodge of Washington of the message which it contains, is manifest; and I shall
not review it. I may say, however, that by whom the "action of the Grand Lodge
of Washington " was " referred " to this committee, I am not informed; and by
what authority any " superior jurisdiction under heaven " ** presumes to
* On motion of SERENO D. NICKERSON, now Recording Grand Secretary, and a man
against whom the Grand Lodge of Washington has just ground for complaint for
his clandestine interference with its affairs during the past year and his use
of his official position for that purpose—then a member of the committee and
always a most virulent negrophobist,—" it was voted that five hundred copies
of so much of this report as relates to the proposed action of the Grand Lodge
of Ohio, and the status of the so-called African Grand Lodge, be printed for
immediate distribution" !—Id., p. 91.
f Id., p. 59.
See 80, ante.
II Proceedings, G. L., of Mass., Dec. 1898, p. 183.
** " * * The consensus of opinion and usage had crystallized into
the following propositions, as necessary deductions from the fundamental
principles of Freemasonry: "1. It is the inherent right of the Lodges in an
independent State to organize a Grand
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
sit in judgment on "the action of the Grand Lodge of Washington," I do not
know. In the most conciliatory spirit, I would suggest—and only suggest—that
if this Grand Lodge must be put on trial before a committee, it might be just
to permit it to have, say, one challenge to the jury— "for cause," if not
peremptory; and possibly, if this be not asking too much, an opportunity to be
heard. But to resume. The only thing in the report of this committee which
bears upon our present inquiry is the resolution, "That this Grand Lodge
[Massachusetts] * * * renews its refusal of Masonic recognition to persons,
Lodges or Grand Lodges deriving their Masonic lineage from a certain Prince
Hall. * * *”
That this would not have been a “decision" that the persons of
that " Masonic lineage " were clandestine, even if there had been an actual
case before the committee, goes without saying. And that Massachusetts and
every other Grand Lodge in the world has an absolute legal right to decide
whom she will not, or will, recognize, is undeniable; and has never been
questioned except in the case of the Grand Lodge of Washington.
A careful review, then, of the history of the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts discloses that we are not bound, even under the rule of comity,
by any decision of that jurisdiction that negro Masonry is clandestine; for,
unless there be some ruling which has not been referred to in any of the
literature of this subject, Massachusetts has never made any such decision,
even if some of her members think she has. No, when speaking as
controversionalists, whether as orators, as editors, or upon committees,
individual Massachusetts Masons, influenced either by that race feeling
which—deny its existence as we may—every American knows exists in every
American breast, or by the natural irritation with which we regard one who has
defied our authority for an hundred and twenty years, have used the terms "
clandestine " and "spurious," freely and often; but the Puritan conscience and
her own self-respect have caused the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts—through all
these years—to hold back from saying that the sons of PRINCE HALL are not
Masons, bound to us by a three-fold tie. She has not said it.
§ 84. The installation charges.—Some have thought they found an obstacle to
the reception of negro Masons, in the fact that every Master of a Lodge at his
installation expresses his assent to two charges, substantially in the
following form: * " IV. You admit that no new Lodge can be formed without
permission of the Grand Master or his Deputy; nor any countenance given to any
irregular Lodge, or to any person clandestinely initiated therein.”
"VI. You agree that no visitors shall be received into the Lodge
Lodge according to the constitutions of Masonry, ' amenable to no superior
jurisdiction under heaven, and subject only to the immutable landmarks of the
Craft.' "—J. H. DRUMMOND, Gould's History, iv, 315.
* As almost every compiler of a Masonic Monitor has felt free to
vary the language of these charges to suit his taste, I have adopted the
earliest form known to me—that given by PRESTON in his " Illustrations of
Masonry," the first edition of which appeared in 1772.
(14th Ed., London: 1829, p. 75.) It may be observed that PRESTON
gives, first, nine charges which he says are " a summary of the Ancient
Charges," and then six others—including the two in question,—as " Regulations
of the Grand Lodge."—Id., 73.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
without passing under due examination; and producing proper vouchers of a
Every well-informed Mason knows that Masters who have received
this charge have, in every generation, recognized Masons made in Lodges* which
had been formed by authority of persons—" Scots Masters ", and others of the
so-called "York Rite "—who could not, by any stretch of language be called "
Grand Masters " or " Deputies" de jure, but were able to impart validity to
their acts only because—acting in accordance with the usages or the supposed
necessities of Masonry at the time and place—they exercised de facto the
functions of, and became de facto, fountain heads of Masonic authority. e And
every thoughtful Mason knows that these charges must be interpreted in
accordance with Masonic usage. But it is not necessary to strain the language
of the charges to cover our case, for none of the Lodges which we are
considering have been "formed without permission of the Grand Master." From
the time that PRINCE HALL assumed the title and functions of a Grand Master 11
and claimed to be at the head of a Grand Lodge when licensing the brethren at
Philadelphia, in 1797—and had his claim of authority acquiesced in by these
regular Masons, ** who had been made in England and Ireland, —the negroes have
never been without those who were Grand Masters de facto and, in my opinion,
according to Masonic usage, de jure also. The reason for the rule requiring
"the Grand Master's warrant” or other authority when Lodges were established
was simply that there might be a decent and orderly administration of Masonic
affairs. Whatever accomplishes that result effects “the end of the law"; and,
consequently, it has long been a settled principle that, for such purposes,
the authority of one who is a de facto Grand Master answers every requirement
of law. ft There is no case in Masonic history where any
* For example, all the Lodges mentioned in 52-56, ante, and many of those
spoken of in 2, 35.
One who had received the French degree of Scots Master was held to
be entitled to make Masons at sight and constitute Lodges on his own
authority.—Ars Q. C., x, 53. The 20th degree of the A. and A. Scottish Rite, "
Grand Master of all Symbolic Lodges," is said to have originally been a
I In Scotland, the first of the two charges printed in the text is
made to read: "You admit that no Lodge can be constituted without a charter
from a Grand Lodge, or other supreme body entitled to grant them."—LAURIE,
History of Freemasonry (Ed. 1859), 474.
In New York it has been "Resolved, that we fully recognize the
legitimacy of Masons made in Lodges of the A. and A. [Scottish] Rite, in
countries where that is the dominant Rite."—Proceedings, G. L. of N. E, 1896,
p. 194.—That is to say, plain Master Masons, who may not be even members of a
Grand Lodge, may " assemble in an upper chamber of a tavern, and there and
then elect each other into various kinds of Worshipfuls " and organize a
Supreme Council which can form Lodges which are recognizable within the
meaning of the Installation Charges.
II See l59, ante.
** All writers agree that the initiation of nearly all of the
Philadelphia negroes whom PRINCE HALL formed into a Lodge has been traced to
regular Lodges in the British Isles.
-11Compare, for instance, the acts of the Kings of Prussia and
Sweden when claiming to be natural heads of Masonry in their respective
countries; the acquiescence of the Fraternity in NAPOLEON'S practical
appointment of a Grand Master and Deputy G. M.;
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
thing has ever been held that was comparable in point of preposterousness with
the idea that Grand Lodges and Grand Masters who have an unbroken succession
for more than ninety years, and are the accepted authority over more than a
thousand Lodges, are unable to give a Lodge the regularity required by the
installation charges. The fact that a Lodge exists by authority of an
organized Grand Lodge fixes the fact of its regularity. What another Grand
Lodge—white or black—may say of it determines nothing but its standing with
reference to that other Grand Lodge;—it being the absolute right of every
Grand. Lodge to determine for itself, providing it act in good faith, what
Lodges it will recognize; and it being equally beyond its powers to terminate
the existence or affect the validity of a body which has never been on its
§ 85. Rival negro bodies.—It has been objected that the negroes "
are not ready for recognition," inasmuch as they have dissensions among
themselves. In other words, in some States there is both an independent Negro
Grand Lodge and a Grand Lodge under the National Compact or National Grand
Lodge. * I shall not waste time on this puerile excuse. Similar considerations
have not deterred several American Grand Lodges from recognizing one of the
rival Grand Bodies in Mexico, in recent years. In the first place, there is at
present no proposal to recognize any of the negro Grand Lodges.t Next, should
recognition of their Grand Bodies be esteemed a better course than to absorb
them into our organizations, applications for recognition would be
considered—as such applications always are—singly, and each upon its own
merits. And, finally, it cannot be doubted that the recognition of any negro
Grand Lodge would result in its absorbing all the other negro Masons of that
§ 86. High Rites.—Next, it is objected that. the negroes have
bodies of all the " high degrees," and these cannot possibly be recognized by
the white organizations of similar rank. In the first place, I have not the
slightest sympathy with the man who has so little conception of Masonry that
he will let the interests of any " high degree " organization influence his
action in Lodge or Grand Lodge—still less with the man who would permit those
interests to lead him to refuse the hand of a brother to a man whom he
believed to be a Mason. But I do not see any reason why the recognition of
negro Masons should involve any recognition of their " high degree "
bodies;—by other " high degree " bodies, I mean, for we in Washington hold
that it is eminently improper for a Lodge or Grand Lodge to recognize " high
degrees " or " high degree " bodies, in any way. The white " high Rite "
bodies have their quarrels; but the experience of the Grand Lodge of
Washington has conclusively demonstrated that the
the act of the Master of the old Lodge at York in assuming the title of Grand
Master and creating ten Lodges; those of the respective heads of the "City,"
"St. John's" and " Phillips " Grand Lodges in New York in forming Lodges
which, after being denounced for a time, were finally admitted to be regular,
even by their rivals in the same State; etc., etc.
*See 66, ante.
t See 89, post.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
absolute refusal of a Grand Lodge to have anything to do with them is a
complete protection against discord. In our Grand Lodge, Thirty-thirds of the
" Southern," "United States" and "Northern " jurisdictions affiliate like
brothers—as they are; and high dignitaries of the Ancient and Primitive Rite,
and Unknown Brothers of the Martinist Order, waive the olive branch over their
87. Social equality.—The next objection is a very old one; one
that is passionately urged, and as vehemently withdrawn. It is, that the
recognition of the fact that certain negroes are Masons will compel us to
"associate with them on a plane of social equality;" and this " the white
Masons of the South will never do." It have endeavored to explain my views on
this point on an earlier page;* and, as there explained, I do not believe any
question of " social equality" is involved. One of the very foundation- stones
of our Institution is that she unites upon a level of Masonic equality men the
most widely separated by social inequality, the high and the low, the rich and
poor, "monarchs, for a season," and the hewers of wood and stone;—and does
this without disturbing their relative social status in the slightest degree.
And as I am fully convinced that the black ball and the right of objection to
visitors afford complete protection against unwelcome intrusions--and why they
do not, no one has attempted to explain in all the wordy war of the last
year,--I cannot see any foundation for this objection when thrown into the
form of the naked assertion " that it will destroy Masonry in the South."
Still less can I see any foundation for the idea that for us to receive
negroes in our Lodges in Washington will " ruin," or in the least degree
affect, Lodges two or three thousand miles away;—no one has told us how it
would. I am satisfied that had we not published our Proceedings last year, or
had not half a dozen of their leaders told them of it, not one Arkansas Mason
in a hundred would have learned in the next forty years—as they had not in the
previous forty, during all of which time our law was the same as it is
to-day—that there is no color line in Washington. So slightly does our action
But if it be a fact, as stated to me, f—as I sincerely hope it is
not—that Southern Masons take an oath not to affiliate with negro Masons, the
otherwise unexplained cause of the great excitement over the action of
Washington becomes apparent. But if such prove to be the case, the sympathy
which one would naturally feel for brethren placed in such a predicament would
be almost lost sight of in the indignation which the knowledge of such a thing
would inspire. The introduction of such an oath into a Masonic Lodge would be
such an atrocious affront to Masonry, such a perversion of its fundamental
principles, as to overshadow every other subject now before the Masonic world.
* See 16, ante.
f Less than a year ago, several Southern Masonic Journals, in
commenting on this subject, gravely explained to their readers that "in some
jurisdictions," "it seems," negroes are not " necessarily excluded “
See note under 1 16, ante.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
hope there is no foundation for these remarks; but after the intimations that
have been given me I could hardly say less. If those intimations are based on
fact, then our misguided brethren, or their immediate predecessors, are
responsible for the position in which they find themselves; and they must work
out their own salvation.
88. A cognate objection.—Somewhat in line with matters spoken of
in the earlier part of the last section, is a suggestion made to me by one of
the most esteemed of American Grand Masters: that a white man might be
initiated in one of the negro Lodges in his State—which he considers irregular
bodies—affiliate in Washington, dimit, return to his former home, and join a
white Lodge there on our dimit. It seems to me that the probability of such a
case ever arising is almost infinitely remote.
I do not understand that negro Lodges initiate white men more often
than white Lodges, negroes; Washington investigating committees investigate,
and a white man hailing from a negro Lodge would be less likely to be admitted
than a negro; and no doubt the white Lodge of his native State, knowing of the
liberality—or laxity, if you prefer—of our ideas, would, under the
installation charge, require "vouchers of a regular initiation." * And after
all, if a man, standing so well that he passed the ordeals of investigation
and ballot in three different Lodges, and already possessed of the secrets of
Masonry, should succeed in entering a Lodge where he did not belong, would not
the real injury to Masonry be microscopic? Furthermore, the suggestion was
based on the theory that we had made a change in our law, thereby increasing
the probability of such an incident. Such is not the fact; we have made no
change in our law.t 89. Comity.—Exclusive territorial jurisdiction.—The last
of our long list of objections is suggested by the question, "Would it not
evince a lack of the spirit of comity, and a disregard for the 'American
doctrine of exclusive territorial jurisdiction,' to accord recognition to a
negro Grand Lodge before the white Grand Lodge of the State in which it is
situated has done so ? Undoubtedly it would—as we Americans view things;—if
the recognizing Grand Lodge and the other white Grand Lodge were on terms of
comity. For this reason, and others, no one in Washington has ever suggested
according recognition to any negro Grand Lodge out of this State. The
statement, so persistently reiterated during the past year, that Washington "
has recognized negro Grand Lodges" is, in newspaper idiom, "the merest rot."
The Washington committee expressly pointed out that "no proposal to enter into
relations with the Negro Grand Lodges is involved."** I am clearly of the
opinion that, for example, so long as our relations with the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts remain as they are, it would neither be the part of comity nor
* See charge vi, in 3 84, ante.
t See ? 1, ante.
t As to what that doctrine is, see 63, ante. See 78, ante.
** Proceedings, G. L. of Washington, 1898, p. 59.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
good of Masonry at large for us to enter into similar relations with a second
Grand Lodge in that State—no matter how regular it might be, nor how much we
esteemed its members, nor how freely we fraternized with them;*—until the
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts had first recognized that body. And I am equally
clear that every rule of comity, as well as every law of Masonry requires
other Grand Lodges to refrain from attempting to dictate how we shall deal
with any Lodge or Mason—white or black—in this State. We have, and should ever
assert, the exclusive right to determine for ourselves— but not for
others—what Lodges and Masons in this State we will regard as regular. Not
only the denial of this right, but any attempt—by edicts of non-intercourse,
by condemnatory resolutions, by "protests," or by any other means—to restrain
the free exercise of this right is not merely a breach of comity; is not
merely unfraternal; but is in the highest degree illegitimate, and in the
strongest sense of the term, unmasonic. It is an attack upon our sovereignty,
and an infringement on a fundamental principal of Masonry. For that
Institution, from the dawn of its history, has conferred upon every
independent organized body of Masons the absolute right of self-government,
limited by the Landmarks of Masonry only.
Before leaving the subject, may I point out that comity is not
law? Comity is courtesy; comity yields not that which is due, but more than is
due; it is not a response to a demand, but a kindness flowing from good will.
And, furthermore, comity is mutual. Washington owes no comity to Grand Lodges
which deny her sons the rights and privileges of Masonry. And more than that,
is not there such a thing as straining the demands on comity too far? Those
Grand Lodges which have not cut us off, but which have almost asked us to
place our sovereignty in the keeping of Kentucky and her allies,—have they not
placed a pretty heavy strain on our comity? Had Count DILLON hesitated to
submit to be guillotined at the request of the lady, f could he have been
justly charged with a lack of comitO How to Solve the Problem.
§ 90. Our personal duty. The reader who has perused this long
paper with conscientious desire to arrive at truth—and only such a reader—is
now in a position to determine in which of the six classes mentioned on a
former page t he places the negro Mason. If in any class above the second, he
is confronted by the question, What is my duty towards the negro Mason ? If he
belongs to a jurisdiction which has, to some extent, limited his action by
placing the negro Mason in the second class, he can at least see that no act
or word of his encourages the attempt to rivet the same shackles on us in
Washington, whose consciences are as yet free. But if he, also, is yet master
of his own conscience and judgment and actions, he naturally asks, What ought
to be our attitude towards the negro Masons and their organizations ? What
treatment ought we to
* See 7 75, ante.
t See the anecdote in a note under 45, ante. See 7, ante.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
accord to them ? By whom, and how, ought their relations to the white
organizations to be determined ?
I take it that it is undeniable that the unaffiliated Mason, and
the Mason whose Grand Lodge has not bound his action in the matter, should
accord to the negro Masons just that standing which his individual judgment
and conscience tell him they are entitled to,—neither more nor less. It seems
to me, also, that as members of that Universal Fraternity the existence of
which is too often almost forgotten, * the individual Mason has certain rights
and duties, and bears certain relations towards all other members of that
Fraternity—even towards those who may be technically non-regular, from a Grand
Lodge standpoint, —with which Grand Lodges ought to interfere as little as
possible; and that, as our committee suggested last year, f a Grand Lodge
ought not, by " a mere majority vote upon what is largely a question of
history and a matter of opinion, to bind each individual Mason of the Grand
Jurisdiction either on the one hand, to spurn one who is in his judgment a
true and lawful brother, or, on the other, to converse Masonically with one
whom he honestly believes to be a clandestine Mason.”
Subject to these limitations, I take it as fundamental that each
Grand Lodge—Kentucky and South Carolina no less than England and
Washington—ought to determine for itself, but of course for no one else, how
it will treat these people and their organizations. This seems to me the only
course Consistent either with Masonic harmony or with that great principle of
"self-government, subject to the Landmarks only" which lies at the very base
of all Masonic law. I have no right or desire to bind the consciences or the
judgment of my Kentucky brethren; and they SHALL NOT bind mine. If this view
be adopted, we must expect to see negro Masonry accorded, as is the case
to-day, a different standing in one State or country from that which it has in
another. t In jurisdictions where prejudice—I will not say against negroes,
but against negro Masons, if you please—is the strongest, and the principles
of Masonry the least appreciated, we may expect that, perhaps for another
century, negro Masons will be denounced as " clandestine and spurious," and
all intercourse with them will be absolutely prohibited. In others, of a
little higher order of intelligence, and where the light of Masonry burns a
little brighter, while the negro organizations may be treated as invaders,
individual negro Masons may be treated as unrecognized rather than as spurious
Masons. In others, where darkness and error, passion and prejudice, have
shrunk even more before reason and knowledge, "sweetness and light," it may
perhaps be held that the rise of negro Masonry in America—as the rise of "
Ancient" Masonry did in England—divided our Fraternity into two distinct
Societies, between which " there was very
* See fourth note under 51, ante.
t Proceedings, G. L. of Washington, 1898, p. 51.
The Transactions of the Grand Lodge of England for March 1, 1899,
show that on that day certain resolutions of condolence were received from the
Grand Lodge of Liberia, a body descended from PRINCE HALL.
11 LAURANCE DERMOTT; see 25, ante.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
little in common, except the wearing of aprons and the cultivation and
practice of charity ";* but both of which were, according to their lights,
loyal members of one indivisible FRATERNITY. And, best of all, may we not hope
to see—if not yet, still in the not distant future—some jurisdictions wherein
will exist that happy condition which DERMOTT longed for but did not live to
see—" a general conformity and universal unity between the worthy masons of
all denominations " ? t—a condition which was brought to pass, so far as
England was concerned, in 1813, by the " happy union " of those who had
theretofore regarded each other as " a mob of impenitent Schismatics." I § 91.
Same.— Dual Grand Lodges, or not ?—The question whether— after we reach the
stage of development which enables us to see that the Masonry of the negroes
is Masonry and has a right to exist—we should absorb them into our
organizations or encourage them to maintain separate ones, is beyond the scope
of this paper. The American writers who have written most strongly against one
of these plans would have written more strongly against the other, had that
other been under consideration at the time:—their object being to discourage
action of any kind. My own opinion is, that the former course is most
consistent with the genius of the Masonic Institution and will ultimately
prevail; but that there are few parts of America in which race feeling will
not cause the latter to be preferred for a generation or two longer. I am
entirely clear that each Grand Lodge must settle this question for itself; but
agree that all information that might be obtained by a full discussion of both
plans ought to be carefully weighed.
§ 92. Same.—Moderation required.—Whether the rights of negro
Masons are finally to be recognized or denied; whether or not Masonry shall be
able to vindicate its catholicity even when tried by the severe test of race
feeling; whether we are destined to realize that the "two Societies " already
alluded to are but branches of one Universal Fraternity, or are to see the
breach between white Mason and black Mason widened into a gulf of hatred and
war; until these questions are settled, there is a demand upon all true lovers
of the Masonic Institution, for the exercise of the highest degree of
patience, forbearance, toleration and tact. Upon this point—as well, I
believe, as of the relative positions of the Past, the Present and the Future
upon the main question—a member of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts ** has
spoken wisely and well: " No question is more affected by prejudice. Blood is
thicker than creed. Differences of religious faith among Masons would not
create one-tenth part of the commotion, as the raising of this question of
race does. On this question of affiliation with races of all colors, or of one
particular color, the men of the Past, the 'men of the Present, and the men of
the Future have distinct ideas and feeling. The first say ' No ' to the
* HENRY SADLER, Masonic Facts and Fictions, 193.
t Ahiman Rezon, Ed. 1764, xxxiii.
See 25, ante. II See 90, ante. ** SAMUEL EVANS, The Colored
Masons' Petition, 8.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
petition, 'under any and all circumstances, absolutely and emphatically, No.'
The second say, ' We do not seek it; we do not object to it under some
circumstances; with restrictions we would be willing, without restrictions,
unwilling. In fact, we have not made up our minds.' The third say, 'We accept
it, freely accept it, as the logical sequence of our being Masons, of our
professing Masonry; for Masonry knows no race, knows all races alike.' The
first has undergone ossification, is already fossil. The second is playing at
tilting; see-saw; up and down; this way, that way; undecided; timid; too moral
to do an injustice and defend it; too feeble in spirit to dare to be just. The
third, positive, progressive, in harmony with the tendencies of the age,
hopeful, full of faith, actuated by feelings in accordance with the doctrines
of the common fatherhood, universal brotherhood, and the claims of truth and
justice to service and submission from every human soul. The first would deny
justice to the colored Masons; the second would not deny, would not demand,
would be under the influence of the first; the third would insist on the whole
truth being told, on the admission of every proper claim.”
Where such differences as these exist; in a Fraternity whose boast
has been that she formed a "center of union" between men who must otherwise
have remained "at a perpetual distance,"* and has kept her votaries free from
even the dissensions which flow from theological controversies, by "leaving
their particular opinions to themselves," ± dogmatic assertion, intolerance of
differences, threats, and anathemas are out of place. Washington cannot say to
Kentucky, "Thou shalt;" nor can Kentucky say to Washington, ",,Thou shall
not." For the brethren of Kentucky and of Washington are not only Free Masons,
they are free men. Least of all can Kentucky say to Washington, "There is no
question," for Washington hears the voice of ABEL'S blood crying from the
ground. Nor can Kentucky tell us that another has settled this question for
us; for that is but the deceitful voice of the women who weep for TAMMUZ 4 It
may be that in one State it is impracticable, yet, to even discuss the
question of recognizing negro Masons; that in another it is best that white
and black Grand Lodges should profess ignorance of the other's existence; that
in a third the practicable plan is to recognize one Fraternity, divided,
temporarily, into two Societies— friendly or hostile, as you will; II while a
State may exist in which one Grand Lodge for all " worthy masons of all
denominations " may even now be possible. May it not be that our brethren of
the South know better than we what is for the best interests of Masonry in the
South, as the South now is? May it not be that we, here on the shores of the
prophetic Pacific, know better than they what is best for us? In any event, it
is the immemorial law of Masonry that we should regulate our affairs; they,
theirs. And have we forgotten that it is also the law that we should "judge
with candor, ad
* The Charges of a Free-Mason, 1723.
Ezek. viii, 14.
"My opinion is that the negroes can make as good a show for the
legality of their Grand Lodges as the whites can. * * * I think we had much
better acknowledge them than blend them into our organizations."—THEODORE S.
PARVIN to J. D. CALDWELL quoted in The Negro Mason in Equity, 36.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
monish with friendship, and reprehend with justice;" and that, if " submission
is impracticable," we must carry on our contention "without Wrath and Rancor,"
and " saying or doing nothing which may hinder BROTHERLY LOVE and good Offices
to be renewed and continued; that all may see the BENIGN INFLUENCE of MASONRY,
as all true MASONS have done from the Beginning of the WORLD, and will do to
the End of TIME.
"Amen so mote it be." *
§ 93. L'envoi.—My task is done. "That is my case' ;" and I submit it ± to "an
enlightened, a high- minded, a right-feeling, a conscientious, a
dispassionate, a sympathizing, a contemplative jury ".
My task is done. Under circumstances the most unfavorable possible
to literary work, and knowing that what I should write would be greeted with
falsehood, misrepresentation, vituperation and abuse, I have endeavored to set
forth clearly the considerations that have led me to the unhesitating
conclusion that not one of the objections which have been urged against negro
Masonry is of any validity whatsoever; and to give such a plain and
trustworthy statement of the facts that the honest and intelligent reader may
not only test my opinions, but safely form opinions of his own. I have been
compelled to treat parts of the subject tediously and at great length. I have
been aware that in many instances I was "breaking a butterfly on a wheel." But
some lies have been so brazenly asserted and so persistently reiterated; some
false doctrines so insidiously suggested and craftily defended, that no other
course seemed possible. I cannot hope that into a paper so wide in its scope
no errors or inaccuracies have crept, II but I trust these will be found few
and unimportant; and I believe time and Masonic scholarship will vindicate my
candor, and my accuracy in all essential particulars. Nor can I hope that
every reader will agree with every opinion that I have expressed in the course
of argument—there is no reason why he should do so; but I have not the least
doubt that the principal conclusions arrived at are THE TRUTH, or that such
will be the verdict of Posterity.
My task is done; and I joy that I may turn again to my sorrow.
* The charges of a Free-Mason, A. D. 1723.
t With apologies to Bro. HENRY SADLER;—Masonic Facts and Fictions,
198. Pickwick papers, cap., xxxiv.
Letters or printed matter in which such errors are pointed out, if
sent to the writer at Walla Walla, Washington, will be gratefully received.
ILLUSTRA TIVE OF THE FOREGOING PAPER.
The dispensation to PRINCE HALL.
Extract from an address delivered before Prince Hall Grand Lodge,
June 30, 1858, by JOHN V. DE GRASSE, P. G. M. (italics mine): "He knocked and
the doors of Masonry were opened unto him, and his eyes beheld the form and
beauty of our Lodge. That young man you will readily recognize as PRINCE HALL
* * One year later, according to a statement, which I have in his own
handwriting, in company with THOMAS SANDERSON, BOSTON SMITH and others, * * *
he organized and opened, under dispensation granted by this British Travelling
Lodge, * the first Lodge of Masons composed of colored men, in America.”
Application to Massachusetts authorities for a charter.
The negro Masons have a persistent tradition that PRINCE HALL
applied to WARREN, the Scottish Prov. G. M. at Boston, for a charter, and
received some encouragement from him; but that the matter fell through, on
account of the death of WARREN at Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775. Antinegro
writers do not so much deny the fact of the application, as scout at the
suggestion that WARREN COUld have encouraged it. WARREN, however, was a young
man of exceptional liberality of views, thoroughly permeated by the spirit of
Freemasonry; and PRINCE HALL was a man highly esteemed and trusted by the
leaders of the patriot cause in Boston.
Such an application would, in the first instance, naturally be made
orally. I am not aware that any contemporaneous evidence on the subject
The tradition adds, that after the death of WARREN, PRINCE HALL
applied to Grand Master WEBB, in 1779. This, I believe, has never been denied;
and it was mentioned as early as 1828, by JOHN T. HILTON, in an address before
the African Grand Lodge, of Boston. Perhaps it was WEBB that advised PRINCE
HALL to "send to France." See Appendix 4.
APPENDIX 3.—The same.
CLARK, speaking of the New York Dispatch, says: 1
"This paper was edited by Past Grand Master Holmes, and also by Past Grand
Master Simons, of New York, who is especially known for his unfavorable
disposition toward the colored people. The issue of March 1, 1868, says: `In
the beginning of the eighties of last century, a number of colored people of
Boston, Massachusetts, addressed the Grand Lodge of this city (Boston),
requiring a dispensation to do open and work a Lodge. This request was
refused, upon which the petitioners addressed the Grand Lodge of England, and
their request was complied with.”
* See 17 and 55, ante; and compare Appendix 4, post.
t The Negro Mason in Equity, 27.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Application for an English Warrant.
GARDNER * gives the following as extracts from a letter of PRINCE
HALL, dated March 1, 11784, accompanying his petition to the Grand Lodge of
England for a charter: "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.”
I am informed that JOHN V. DEGRASSE, in 1858, completed this last
sentence, as follows: " We thought it best to send to the fountain head from
whence we received our first light, for a warrant, who we hope will not deny
us, nor treat us beneath the rest of our fellow-men, though poor, yet sincere
brethren of the craft.”
The following, from what appears to be the original letter-book of
PRINCE HALL—rediscovered while this paper was going through the press,—is
probably the same letter. The Mr. [WILLIAM] MOODY addressed was Master of a
Lodge in London.
Most Worshipful Sir: Permit me to Return you my Brotherly Love and
Gratitude for your kindness to my Bretheren when in a strange land. When in
time of need you stood their friend and Brother (as they inform me), and as
much as you have done it to them I take it as done to me, for which I now Beg
leave to return you, the Wardens and Rest of the Bretheren of your Lodge my
hearty thanks. I hope you will forgive whatsoever you may have seen amiss in
Dear. Brother we hope that you will not receive no Brother of our
Lodge without his warrant, and signed in manner and form as B'Recd.
Dear Brother I would inform you that this Lodge hath been founded
almost eight years and we have had only a Permit to Walk on St. John's Day and
to Bury our Dead in manner and form. We have had 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 from whence we received the
Light for a Warrant: and now Dear Br. we must make you our advocate at the
Grand Lodge, hoping you will be so good (in our name and Stead) to Lay this
Before the Royal Grand Master and the Grand Wardens and the rest of the Grand
Ledge; who we hope will not deny us nor treat us Beneath the rest of our
fellowmen, although Poor yet Sincere Bretheren of the Craft. After wishing you
all happiness here and hereafter, I beg leave to subscribe myself your Loving
Friend and Brother. PRINCE HALL.
Boston, March 2, 1784.
Warrant of African Lodge, No. 459. WARRANT OF CONSTITUTION : A. G.
TO ALL AND EVERY : Our right worshipful and loving brethren:—We,
THOMAS HOWARD, Earl of Effingham, Lord Howard, etc., Acting Grand Master,
* Proceedings, G. L. of Mass., 1870, p. 34.
t CLARK reads this date as " March 7." —8
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
authority of his Royal Highness, Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumber land, etc.,
Grand Master of the Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted
Ancient 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 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 and of the great trust and confidence reposed in every 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 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 said Lodge, but
that such election shall be regulated, agreeable to such By-Laws of the said
Lodge as shall be consistent with the Grand Laws of the society, contained in
the Book of Constitutions; and we hereby will, and require of 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 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 Rowland Holt, Esq., our Deputy Grand Master, for
the time being, an account of your said proceeding, and copies of all such
Rules, Orders and Regulations as shall be made as aforesaid, together with the
list of the members of the Lodge, and such sum of money as may suit the
circumstances of the Lodge, and reasonably be expected toward the Grand
Moreover, we will, and require of you, the said Prince Hall, as
soon as conveniently may be, to send an account in writing of what may be done
by virtue of these presents.
Given at London, under our hand and seal of Masonry, Seal. this
29th day of September, A. L. 5784, A. D. 1784, by the Grand Master's command.
R. HOLT, Deputy Grand Master. Attest: WILLIAM WHITE, Grand
Receipt for Fee for Warrant.
RECEIPT OF PAYMENT.
Received, 28th of February, 1787, of Captain James Scott, five
pounds, fifteen shillings, sixpence, being the fees on the Warrant of
Constitution for the African Lodge at Boston.
For the Grand Lodge of the Society of Free and Accepted Masons,
£5, 15s., 6d. WILLIAM WHITE, Grand Secretary.
From the Boston "Massachusetts Centinel " of May 2, 1787.
AFRICAN LODGE, Boston, May 2, 1787.
By Captain Scott, from London, came the charter, etc., which his
Royal Highness, the Duke of Cumberland, and the Grand Lodge have been
graciously pleased to grant to the African Lodge in Boston. As the
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
brethren have a desire to acknowledge all favors shown them, they, in this
public manner, return particular thanks to a certain member of the fraternity,
who offered the so generous reward in this paper some time since, for the
charter supposed to be lost, and to assure him, though they doubt of his
friendship, that he has made them many good friends.
(Signed.) PRINCE HALL.
From Address of JOHN V. DE GRASSE, G. M., before Prince Hall Grand
Lodge, June 30, 1858.
" Although, brethren, our Charter was granted in London, September
17, 1784, we did not receive it until April 29, 1787, through the neglect and
almost culpable carelessness of Brother Gregory, who did not take it from the
Office of the Grand Secretary where it had remained over two years." On the
29th of April, the Charter and a beautiful bound book of the Constitutions
were delivered to PRINCE HALL.”
Contributions to the Grand Charity.
Extract from a letter of the Grand Secretary of England to the
Grand Master of Massachusetts, dated May 5, 1870: "As you are already aware,
the Warrant for the African Lodge was granted in 1784, and was numbered 459;
but the fee for the Warrant, £4 4s., does not appear in our Grand Lodge
accounts until the 4th April, 1787. The folloWing remittances * were received
for the Charity Fund from the African Lodge, viz: November 25, 1789 £2 2s.
April 18, 1792 1 1 0 November 27, 1793 1 5 6 November 22, 1797 1 5
Letter from the Grand Secretary of England to PRINCE HALL.
LONDON, August 20th, 1792.
RIGHT WORSHIPFUL BROTHER: I have the pleasure of sending inclosed
the printed proceedings of the Grand Lodge by which you will perceive the
flourishing state of. our society; and in the account of the 24th of November,
1787, you will find accredited your donation to the charity fund, ten dollars
sent by Captain Scott; and that of the 18th of April last, your donation of
one guinea. I am much obliged to you for the sermon you sent me, which I think
very well written, and very appropriate for the occasion.
When you next write to me, I should be obliged to you if you would
let me know if the lodges in the inclosed list,f which were constituted by the
Grand Lodge of England, are yet in being, as we have never heard from them
since the commencement of the late war in America, or
*There had evidently been a previous contribution of $10., Nov. 24, 1787. See
Appendix 10. The difference of 116 between the fee for the warrant, here
mentioned, and the total sum paid 28 Feb., 1787, as shown in Appendix 6, may
have gone either to the Grand Charity, or to pay for a commission to PRINCE
HALL as a special Provincial Grand Master for the negro race.—W. H. U.
t 2d. Lodge No. 2, in Boston, constituted Feb. 15, 1749.
New Haven Lodgejn Connecticut, constituted in Nov. 1750.
Providence Lodge in Rhode Island Government, constituted Jan. 18,
1757. Marblehead Lodge, in this Government (Mass.) constituted March 25, 1760.
indeed, long before: and in case they have ceased to meet, which I rather
apprehend, they ought to be erased from our list of lodges.
I am much obliged to you for the account you give respecting your
own Lodge, to which I sincerely wish success, as I should be happy to have it
in my power to contribute thereto.
Inclosed I send you one of the calendars for the present year, of
which I beg your acceptance.
I remain, with fraternal regard, Right Worshipful Brother, Your
obedient servant and brother, (Signed) WILLIAM WHITE
Letter from PRINCE HALL to the Grand Secretary.—Visiting by white
To the Grand Secretary, London, Freemasons St.* WORSHIPFUL
BROTHER:—I received yours of the 20th of August last, together with the
printed accounts of the state of the Grand Lodge; and am happy to see the
flourishing state of the Society, and I am very sorry to see so many Lodges
whose behaviour hath been such as to put the Grand Lodge to so disagreeable a
task as to erase them from so honorable a society. I have made inquiry about
the Lodges you wrote to me about, the Lodge No. 42, which used to meet at the
Royal Exchange, and kept at the Assembly House, at the head of Orange Tree
Lane, has kept a regular Lodge, and was joined, last year by one or two more
Lodges. Their present Grand Master is John Cutler, chosen last year, and
walked to Trinity Church, where a sermon was delivered by Rev. Walter, D. D.,
June 25th. The Lodge No. 88 hath joined the 'above Lodge ever since the death
of their Grand Master, Henry Price, Esq., for he is long since dead—a worthy
Mason. As for the Marblehead Lodge No. 91. I cannot give any information of
it, whether it keeps or not; but I believe they don't, for if they did, I
should have heard from her. As for the Lodge No. 93, in New Haven,
Connecticut, I hear they keep a regular Lodge, and I have reason to believe
it. The Lodge No. 142 do keep the same, as some of them hath visited our
Lodge, and heard it from their own mouths.
I am happy that you approve of the sermon. I have sent you a
charge I delivered at Charlestown, on the 25th of June last, I have sent one
to your Royal Grand Master, his Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, and
another to his Deputy, and three for the Grand Lodge, which I hope will meet
your approval. (Signed) PRINCE HALL.
Views of General ALBERT PIKE, Sovereign Grand Commander, A. & A.
ALEXANDRIA, Va., 13th September, 1875.
MY DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER.—I can see as plainly as you that the
negro question is going to make trouble. There are plenty of regular negro
Masons and negro lodges in South America and the West Indies, and our folks
only stave off the question by saying that negro Masons here are clandestine.
Prince Hall Lodge was as regular a lodge as any lodge created by competent
authority, and had a perfect right (as other lodges in Europe did) to
establish other lodges, making itself a mother
* The copiest in England who supplied these letters seems to have run the
address lines of the two together, so that there is some doubt as to which of
the letters a word or two belongs to.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Lodge. That's the way the Berlin lodges, Three Globe's and Royal York, became
The Grand Orient of Hayti is as regular as any other. So is the
Grand Orient of the Dominican Republic, which, I dare say, has negroes in it
and negro lodges under it.
Again, if the negro lodges are not regular, they can easily get
regularized. If our Grand Lodges won't recognize negro lodges, they have the
right to go elsewhere. The Grand Lodge can't say to eight or more Masons,
black or white, we will not give you a charter because you are negroes, or
because you wish to work the Scottish Rite, and you shall not go elsewhere to
get one. That latter part is bosh.
Hamburg recognizes the Grand Lodges. Yes, and so the German Grand
Lodge Confederation is going to do, and so will the Grand Orient of France
before long.* Of course, if negrophily continues to be the religion
established by law of your States, there will be before long somewhere a
beginning of recognition of negro lodges. Then the Royal Arch and Templar
bodies of negroes must be taken in, and Masonry go' down to their level. Will
your plan work ? I think not. I think there is no middle ground between rigid
exclusion of negroes or recognition and affiliation with the whole mass.
If they are not Masons, hoo-v protect them as such or at all ? If
they are Masons, how deny them affiliation or have two supreme powers in one
I am not inclined to meddle in the matter. I took my obligations
to white men, not to negroes. When I have to accept negroes as brothers or
leave Masonry, I shall leave it.
I am interested to keep the Ancient and Accepted Rite
uncontaminated, in our country at least, by the leprosy of negro association.
Our Supreme Council can defend its jurisdiction, and it is the law-maker.
There can not be a lawful body of that Rite in our jurisdiction unless it is
created by us.
I am not so sure but that, what with immensity of numbers, want of
a purpose worth laboring for, general indifference to anything above mere
routine, general indifference to obligations, pitiful charity and large
expenses, fuss, feathers and fandango, big temples and large debts, Masonry is
become a great helpless, inert mass that will some day, before long, topple
over, and go under. If you wish it should, I think you can hasten the
catastrophe by urging a protectorate of the negroes. Better let the thing
drift. Apres nous le deluge.
Truly, yours, ALBERT PIKE.
Ill. Comp. JOHN D. CALDWELL.
Views of M. .W.•. THEODORE S. PA RVIN, Grand Secretary, Iowa. From
a letter to JOHN D. CALDWELL, 1875.
"I have read opinions of Pike and Winslow Lewis in the pamphlet
* This was written before the Grand Orient had dispensed with the requirement
of a belief in God.—W. H. U.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
sent me. My opinion is that the negroes can make as good a show for the
legality of their Grand Lodges as the whites can It is only a matter of taste,
and not of laws.
"I am satisfied that all the world outside the United States will
ere long recognize them, and I think we had much better acknowledge them than
to blend them into our organization.”
My dear Brother Upton : Letter, X. Y. Z. to UPTON. *, ENGLAND, 22 September,
1898 I have read with great interest the report on the action of the Grand
Lodge of Washington in the matter of Negro Freemasonry.
Your contentions, shortly put, are : 1. That the Coloured Masons
in the U. S. A. are true Masons, having been regularly made by others who
derive their descent and authority from legitimate sources.
2. That it being logically impossible to deny them this title,
some means must be found whereby their status shall be recognized, and Masonic
intercourse with their white Fellows rendered possible.
3. That their actual admission as visitors to a white Lodge must
be left to the discretion of such Lodge.
With contention No. 1, it seems to me absolutely impossible to
disagree, especially for an English Mason. Although we have not formally
recognised the PRINCE HALL organizations, I feel certain that no English Lodge
would refuse admission as a visitor to any one of their members, provided he
came properly provided with a certificate from his Grand Lodge, and was able
to prove himself satisfactorily. Not long ago, I was present in a Lodge in the
north of England lecturing, and one of my most attentive and intelligent
auditors was a Negro, who had been admitted on the usual proof, and who
subsequently replied as the Orator (and I think Grand Warden) of the Grand
Lodge of (I fancy) Kentucky. I was rather amused to find afterwards that the
Lodge had no idea that the brother belonged to what was considered in America
a clandestine Grand Lodge, but when I explained the matter privately to the W.
M., he saw no reason whatever to regret the action the Lodge had unwittingly
taken. The brother in question was on his way to Liberia as an official
representative in some way of the U. S. Government, and I found him a highly
intelligent and well read man. Of course he may have been quite an exception,
but if there be many such in your parts, to exclude them from your Lodges
seems to me absurd. The brother would have been an acquisition in any Lodge.
Contention No. 2 follows from the first. The only case against
their recognition seems to me the fact that Grand Lodge (white) declares them
clandestine. But clandestine does not mean, Masonically, anything disgraceful;
it simply means " unrecognized, irregular, not in communion,”
* I have been granted the privilege of withholding the name of
the:writer of this letter, for the present. When the critics have demonstrated
to their satisfaction that he knows nothing about Masonry, I may give the
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
and in no way touches their real status as true Masons. It is in the power of
any and every Grand Lodge to declare any Mason clandestine; it merely means we
won't have anything to do with you. It is therefore in the power of any Grand
Lodge to say, "so far as we are concerned, you, from this moment cease to be
clandestine." Your Grand Lodge, in so doing, does not in any way force other
Grand Lodges to follow suitFor instance, England and many other jurisdictions
have declared the Grand Orient of France clandestine, but the G. 0, of Belgium
has not done so. None the less, we continue to recognise the G. 0. of Belgium.
They have a right to their own opinion, and we acknowledge this. If I were to
receive a French Mason into my Lodge, I should probably be expelled by my
Grand Lodge; but I may, and have met French Masons in a Belgian Lodge, and my
conduct in so doing cannot be impugned. As to the concurrent jurisdiction, you
know already my opinion that this violates no Landmark; it is simply a G. L.
arrangement which may be altered at any time. If you choose to permit two or
more Grand Lodges in Washington, this has nothing to do with any other Grand
Lodge. At the beginning of this century England swarmed with French prisoners
of war on parol. Many of them were Masons, and naturally preferred working
under their own G. 0. They were allowed to do so, and in many places French
Lodges existed at that time, not only without protest from the G. L. of
England, but so far with its consent that intervisiting was not unusual. Not
that we should countenance such a course now, but it was an exceptional time.
and exceptional measures were taken to meet the emergency. The case of the
Negroes in America is equally emergent and exceptional. There may be no law to
prevent their initiation in white Lodges, but the ballot bars their entry. The
conclusion is obvious. Masonry knows no distinction of race, religion or
colour; and if you won't have them in your Lodges, you must, in fairness,
permit them to have Lodges of their own.
As to the third contention, you know how I always have insisted
that the Lodge is my family, and I have a right to bar the entrance of any man
whom I do not wish to meet, simply because such is my desire, and because I
should not be comfortable in his society. Therefore you are again fully
justified in permitting, but refraining from forcing, the Lodges to admit
I know that the matter bristles with difficulties, owing to social
considerations in your country, and it.seems to me that you have come to a
wise and workable compromise, on which I congratulate all concerned.
Yours very fraternally, X. Y. Z.
Views of WILLIAM JAMES HUGHAN, * P. S. G. D., author of "History
of Freemasonry in York," " The Old Charges of British Freemasons," etc., etc.
The recognition of Negro Freemasonry by the Grand Lodge of Wash
* Now first printed.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
ington is a step of almost vital importance to the Grand Lodges in the United
States of America, and will doubtless lead to considerable discussion, as well
It appear to me that the matter is one for settlement by the Grand
Lodges immediately concerned, and therefore I feel that it would be out of
place to say a few words thereon just now, save on the general question.
In Great Britain and Ireland as well as Canada and Australia,
etc., we consider that Freemasonry, as such, recognizes no distinctions of
Colour, Creed or Clime, and therefore if a Negro, otherwise eligible, were
balloted for and accepted in one of our Lodges, his initiation would follow as
a matter of course, and be perfectly regular. Candidates must be free men, not
necessarily free born, though undoubtedly the earlier qualification included
the latter with the former, but never, according to my investigations, was the
Colour of the candidate ever a matter of legislation or consideration by the
operative Masons. I quite agree with the M. W. Grand Master of Washington (my
esteemed friend, Bro. W. H. UPTON) that the warrant granted to Bro. PRINCE
HALL, in 1784, by the Grand Lodge of England (of 1717 origin) was quite
regular, and in accordance with the usages and customs of the period, and that
African Lodge was quite as legal and Masonic as any other chartered in
America. Also that its removal from the Register in 1814 by the same Grand
Lodge did not make its subsequent career—to now, if it has continuously
worked— irregular, or cause its privileges to be forfeited; as the result
practically was simply its removal from the English Roll! Now, however, such
erasure would carry with it actual extinction, unless placed on another Grand
Lodge Register. The Lodge was empowered to initiate men who were " free born,"
without respect to colour, as with its parent Grand Lodge; but when it became
legal for it to accept free men, is quite another question.
I have always advocated the initiation of suitable gentlemen
without respect to creed, clime or colour, but that does not make me a
believer in the Masonic regularity, as we understand the term, of the Negro,
or Coloured Masons, now under consideration. In the absence of sufficient
evidence, I decline to recognize such as my brethren. This, however, is quite
a different question from the regularity of African Lodge.
The Grand Lodge of Washington recognizes, or agrees to tolerate,
Negro Lodges formed within its jurisdiction, and eventually a Grand Lodge; so
that, under those circumstances, there would be rival or independent Lodges
working in the State of Washington, initiating candidates without respect to
colour, and not amenable to the regular Sovereign Grand Lodge, having M. W.
Bro. W. H. UPTON as Grand Master. This 1 cannot support in any way. If the
Lodges of Negroes are regular, place them on the Register of the Grand Lodge
of Washington as equals, but as rivals, never. I do not say that any Landmark
would be violated; for there were two or more Grand Lodges at work in some of
the States last century; and even at the present time, two or more Grand
Lodges often claim jurisdiction in the same District or Territory or Country.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
when one Grand Lodge becomes wholly Sovereign, as respects its recognized
Jurisdiction, and has absorbed all subordinate Lodges therein, experience has
proved that thereafter it would not be for the true interests of the Craft to
permit of another Grand Lodge ever entering its territory, and such invasion
should be objected to by all its Peers.
In this view of the matter, it seems to me that some other course
should be adopted than that followed by the Grand Lodge of Washington.
I. X. 98. W. J. HUGHAN.
Views of W. J. CHETWODE CRAWLEY, LL. D., D. C. L.; P. S. G. D.,
Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Instruction, Ireland; author of "
Cwmentaria Hibernica," etc.
50, ST. STEPHEN'S GREEN, DUBLIN.
To the Hon. W. H. UPTON, Seattle, Washington, U. S. A.: My Dear
Bro. Upton — Allow me to begin by sending my congratulations to the M. W.
Grand Lodge of Washington on having secured you as Grand Master. The Grand
Lodge has honoured itself by the selection.
All English-speaking Freemasons of the Old World note with the
keenest interest the step taken by your Grand Lodge in according recognition
to the Negro Grand Lodges that can claim descent from the Grand Lodge of
England, the Mother Grand Lodge of all our Jurisdictions. I can make no claim
to speak on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Ireland and I am, indeed, aware that
brethren of great weight in this and the sister Grand Lodges of the United
Kingdom are not prepared to recognize unconditionally our brethren of African
or of Asiastic descent.
But to the great majority of us it seems that your Grand Lodge is
within its rights in thus extending the hand of fellowship, and to a scarcely
less majority it seems that your Grand Lodge is within its duties in so doing.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland has always been accustomed to attach
the greatest weight to the opinions of Brethren on the spot. Thus, when any
case for inquiry is made out, our Grand Lodge invariably refers the matter to
the Provincial Grand Lodge for investigation and report. Similarly, we believe
that you American Brethren on the spot have the best means of ascertaining the
propriety of claims such as those of your neighboring Grand Lodges, white or
black, to recognition. Acting on this principle, we have always refrained from
recognition of any distant Grand Lodge on the sole ground of an unimpeachable
pedigree. We have always sought the aid of the neighboring Grand Lodges in
determining the question, just as we would have sought the aid of the
neighboring Lodges of the Province in investigating a case of a Lodge of our
own. We know that differences, which seem from the other side of the World
trivial distinctions, may turn out on closer inspection to be formidable
obstacles. We, therefore, await the verdict of the Brethren on the spot, and
wish your Grand Lodge a hearty God-speed in your enterprise.
I make no pretence of having read all the literature of the
But the subject has interested me for many years, and I have a
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
ciently lively recollection of the ground taken up in bygone days by the
opposing battalions to venture on a historical protest. When our good brethren
of the Committees on Foreign Correspondence come to quote George Payne's Code
of 1720, they will do well to remember it was designed for a very limited
jurisdiction, that of "The cities of London & Westminster " and not for the
Provinces or the Colonies, much less for the Craft at large. In that code,
too, the Grand Master's Warrant does not mean the Grand Master's charter. As a
matter of fact, no Lodge charter was issued by any Grand Lodge till the Grand
Lodge of Ireland set the example immediately after its reorganization in 1730;
and, again as a matter of fact, the Brethren in America grasped the advantages
of the course pursued by Ireland, and made use of Lodge Charters before they
were used by the English Brethren. For a third of a century after the revival
of 1717, the Lodges in England did without charters.
It might be well to take into account that the earliest instance of
the limitation of the territorial jurisdiction of any Grand Lodge follows from
a provision of the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1768, which limits the
jurisdiction of subordinate military Lodges in places where legitimate Lodges
of civilians already existed. As the Grand Lodge is made up of its subordinate
Lodges, the limitation of the former's jurisdiction is the logical
consequence. I think I can say, with some confidence, that this is the
earliest trace of such a provision in the code of any Grand Lodge.
When the historical investigation is divested of the modern
connotation of the word Warrant, and the doctrine of exclusive territorial
jurisdiction removed from the category of Ancient Landmarks into that of
modern arrangements, the real question at issue will be more clearly and more
Speaking my own individual opinion, I am confident that when the
African Grand Lodges, furnished with the approbation of the neighboring Grand
Lodges, present themselves at the portals of Irish Freemasonry, they will
receive a hearty fraternal welcome. And it will be a proud distinction for
your Grand Lodge to have led the way in bridging over a gap that, from my
distant point of view, surprises me by its persistent existence.
Again expressing my congratulations on your accession to the office
of Grand Master, Believe me, Yours in the bonds of the Fraternity, W. J.
6th Oct., 1898.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
England's Fraternal Message.* SEAL OF THE UNITED GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND, GRAND
LODGE. c FREEMASON'S HALL,
GREAT QUEEN ST., LONDON, W. C., 5th May, 1899. Most Worshipful Sir & Brother:
Your communication of January 20th, 1899, with enclosures, to the Rt. Hon. the
Earl of Lathom, as Pro. Grand Master of England, has in consequence of the
lamented death of his lordship, been laid before the advisers of His Royal
Highness the Most Worshipful Grand Master, who have carefully considered the
matters submitted, and have directed me to thank you for so fully setting
forth the difficulties of the position in America by reason of the existence
of lodges of Negro Masons not holding under the recognised Grand Lodges. The
Grand Lodge of England knows no distinction of race, colour, or creed, so long
as the fundamental principles of Ancient Freemasonry are faithfully observed,
and it would not be likely to cease intercourse with a Grand Lodge which
pursued a similar policy. The question as to the regularity and recognition of
the Lodges referred to in your letter, is, however, one for each Grand Lodge
to determine for itself; and the advisers of our Most Worshipful Grand Master
do not feel at liberty to express any opinion upon the acts of Sister Grand
Lodges in according or withholding such recognition. Personally, they regret
that there should be such a wide divergence of opinion as your letter and
documents indicate; and they earnestly trust that time and circumstances will
facilitate the most harmonious working throughout the whole of the Masonic
jurisdictions of the United States.
You are at liberty to make such use of this communication as you
I have the honour to remain, Most Worshipful Sir & Brother, Yours
fraternally, M. W. Bro. E. LETCHWORTH, Grand Secretary.
W. H. UPTON, Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Washington, U. S. A.
Letter from His Grace The Most Noble The DUKE OF ABERCORN, K. G.,
Grand Master of Ireland. ± BARONS COURT, IRELAND.
Most Worshipful Grand Master Upton 13th March 1899 Pray accept my
thanks for your courteous communication and enclosures relating to Negro Grand
Lodges in the United States of America.
* Appendices 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 were written in response to
requests for expressions o opinion upon "any phase of the question," and for
fraternal counsel; and upon the assurance that whatever should be said would
be regarded as the personal views of the writer,—in no wise binding upon his
Some expressions in the letter of the Grand Master of Ireland,
appearing to be of a private nature, are not printed.
I am both surprised and grieved by the sudden storm and, having before me only
the statements in your letter, I confess I am not quite clear as to how and
why it originated. I am precluded therefore from giving such a judicial
opinion as you seek.
Besides these general grounds there are particular considerations
why the Grand Master of Ireland should be slow to pronounce a judgment.
* * * * * * * You are good enough to attach weight to my opinion,
and I therefore think it my duty—leaving on one side any application to
existing controversies—to state plainly my profound conviction that the
proposition to deem any worthy man ineligible for the rights and privileges of
Freemasonry solely on account of his complexion or his pedigree will be held
by Irish Freemasons to be inconsistent with the Antient Landmarks of the
I am greatly confident that the Irish Brethren would consider such
a subversion of fundamental principles to be incomparably more serious than
the existence of two Grand Lodges with concurrent jurisdiction, which is,
after all, a mere matter of discipline, not necessarily infringing the Antient
Landmarks—and the Grand Lodge of Ireland may fairly claim to be heard on the
point, seeing that it seems to have been the first to introduce the doctrine
of the limitation of Lodge jurisdiction into Masonic Law.
With all fraternal good wishes for the continued prosperity of
your Grand Lodge, I remain Yours fraternally and faithfully ABERCORN, Grand
Master of Ireland.
To the Honble WM. H. UPTON, Walla Walla, Washington, U. S. A.
Letter from M.•.W.•.Buo. DR. JOSEPH WERNER, Grand Master, Grand
Mother-Lodge of the Eclectic Freemasons' Union. * S SEAL OF THE GRAND LODGE. S
M.•.W.•.Brother W. H. UPTON, Grand Master of Masons, Washington.
M..W.• . Sir and Dear Brother: I have put your letter before the
meeting of our Grand Lodge. The brethren have authorized me, to reply to you,
not only in my own name, but also in that of the Grand Lodge, leaving it to
your discretion to publish the answer or not.
The constitution and laws of our Eclect Grand Lodge are founded on
the "Old Charges," according to which: position, nationality or color,
religious or political opinion are no objection to election as freemasons.
Thence it results, that we are bound to recognize Negro Lodges—provided they
are established strictly in accordance with the landmarks of Masonry—quite as
much as Mohamedan or Indian ones.
On the other hand, however, we have no right to interfere with the
concerns of American Grand Lodges or other Lodges, not even in the
* The original is in English.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
shape of advice. Besides I am not acquainted enough with American affairs to
be able to give advice, even privately.
We can only say. that this disharmony is very painful to us. Every
difference in the Lodges does harm to freemasonry in general and in our
opinion it is much to be regretted that there is no universal harmony in the
chief questions of principle.
I have the honour to be fraternally yours, JOSEPH WERNER,
Frankfort a,/M., 22d February 1899. Grand Master.
Letter from M:.W:.Bro. CARL WIEBE, Grand Master of Hamburg. *
HAMBURG, den March 9th, 1899. M.•.W.•.Bro. WM. H. UPTON, Grand Master of
Masons, Walla Walla, Hagenau 5.
Washington, U. S. A.
M..W.• .Sir and Dear Bro.: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt
your circular letter of January 20th with enclosures.
You ask my opinion on the matter submitted by your circular and I
will give it on the understanding that you accept it as an expression of my
personal views, as my Grand Lodge does not meet until the 13th of May next and
I have therefore no means of ascertaining its views at present.
I understand the question at issue to be as follows: " Your
Committee-Report, adopted June 15th, 1898 states, that your Grand Lodge is of
opinion that its constituent Lodges or the members thereof may recognize as
Brother Masons, negroes who have been initiated in Lodges which can trace
their origin to certain lodge or lodges warranted by English constitution
about 115 years ago; further, that your Grand Lodge will eventually, should a
Negro Grand Lodge in accordance with the Landmarks of Masonry and with Masonic
Law generally, be established in your State, extend its sincere Sympathy to
your coloured brethren in every effort to promote the welfare of the Craft.”
Your action is objected to by several American Grand Lodges on the
grounds: "that the descent of the negro lodges is irregular, that their
establishment violates the American doctrine of exclusive territorial
jurisdiction and that negroes are ineligible to be made Masons.”
My views on the matter are of course European and not American
ones, but I believe them to be based on the old Charges and Landmarks of Pure
and Antient Masonry such as laid down by our common forefathers.
I believe that it is unwise and unjust to dispute the legal
standing of any Lodge or Grand Lodge which practices Masonry according to our
standard and has been doing good and honest work amongst the people of its own
class for upwards of a hundred years. It may be possible or even admissible to
contest the legal standing of a Lodge or Grand Lodge at the time of its
establishment, but if such Lodge or Grand Lodge has
* The original is in English.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
withstood this contention of legality and afterwards does successfully
withstand the much severer test of vitality for over a hundred years, then in
my opinion it has conclusively proved that it owes its existence not to mere
chance or caprice, but that it is destined to fulfill a mission and to supply
a want. It can then claim our fraternal esteem and even our recognition if it
keep within the bounds and practices of Pure and Antient Masonry.
I further believe Masonry to be universal and not restricted to
any particular class of men, nor to race, color or creed, but destined to be a
center of concord for all good men and true. This I believe to be one of the
old Landmarks also from time immemorial. On the purely American doctrine of
exclusive territorial jurisdiction I would desire to say as little as
possible. It is certainly not an old Landmark and it is one of those things
which we in Germany cannot see the necessity of and we may therefore be
pardoned for not believing in it. In the City of Hamburg we have 16 Lodges
belonging to 6 different Grand Lodges and we certainly do not find it in any
way detrimental to the interests of the Craft.
But how is it that your antagonists—if such an. expression be
allowed in Masonry—maintain for themselves and as their right, the doctrine of
exclusive territorial jurisdiction and yet want to interfere, and most
seriously, too, with your jurisdiction, authority and autonomy by putting what
may almost be termed illegitimate pressure upon you when your opinion happens
to differ from theirs in a matter which is not one of the old Landmarks?
And further. If the law of the land says all men are alike,
whether white or coloured, how can Masonry make a law by which one set is
qualified to be a Mason and one n,ot?
Of course, the law of the land cannot and does not compel one to
accept anyone, white or black, into one's company, family or lodge, but the
law of the land compels one—morally in this case—not to deny any one the same
rights which one claims for oneself We here in Europe would even go further
than you and would not only acknowledge a colored man's right to establish
Lodges, but also would certainly admit properly certified coloured brethren. I
remember visitors to our Lodges here from Monrovia, Tacgmel, etc.; but as an
old South African colonist I can very well understand the difficulties of your
position. Race prejudice not only amongst white and colored, but also amongst
the different white races themselves is a very strong factor in South African
life and history.
But I think it is one of the duties and the privileges of
Freemasonry to try to overcome prejudice in every form, to be ahead of its
time in everything whereby the chain of brotherhood amongst all men can be
strenghened,—and yours is a noble effort in showing to American Freemasons and
to the world at large in which way this can be done.
The candid expression of your feelings does honor to your heart;
it is valuable and important, even if your aim cannot at present be
accomplished; it will be a Landmark in itself for the times of the future,
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
if you should have to reconsider your decision in view of the opposition
raised against it, and in the interests of peace and harmony amongst the white
Masons of your State.
You may be quite sure of the full sympathy of your Germany
brethren whose views generally are laid down in § 5 of the Statute of the
German Grand Lodge League: "Difference of colour and race are no impediment to
the recognition of a Grand Lodge or Lodge and any Grand Lodge or Lodge will be
duly recognized as soon as the necessary informations regarding its Statutes
and Principles, and sufficient moral guarantees regarding its proper and
salutary Masonic working are offered.”
As I intend publishing this letter in one of our German Masonic
Journals in May, 1899, you are at full liberty also to give it publicity in
your country as suggested by you.
I have the honor to be fraternally yours, CARL WIEBE, G. M. of Gr.
Lodge of Hamburg.
Letter from M.: W.: LEONARD MORRIS, Grand Master of Prince Edward
SUMMERSIDE, P. E. Island, March 7, 1899. M. W. WILLIAM H. UPTON,
Grand Master of Masons, Walla Walla, Washington, U. S. A.
M. W. Sir and Brother—Your letter dated 20th January to hand along
with circular and Grand Lodge Proceedings relative to Negro Masonry.
I have read the correspondence of other Grand Lodges on the
subject also. You have asked me for a fraternal reply and as a Brother Mason I
I cannot commit to paper anything that may be taken as emanating
from our Grand Lodge or expressive of the sentiments of that Body. Whatever I
do write will be only my own opinion and you may make any use you wish of it.
I think there should be but one Grand Lodge of Masons in each
State, Province or Territory and that all Masons within its limits should be
under its jurisdiction, laws and edicts regardless of Race or Color.
It appears that in the United States there are thirty thousand
Negro Masons called irregular or clandestine by the Regular Grand Lodges and
to be consistent with my honest convictions I think that Prince Hall Masonry
invaded the territory of these Grand Lodges without color of right.
It seems that your Grand Lodge by adopting the Report of a
Committee recognized this Negro Masonry without consulting Sister Grand
Lodges. That is where I think you erred. The problem should be referred to all
the American Grand Lodges and by a commission of Representatives the matter
might have been amicably settled. We must never forget that we are a
Fraternity and while Grand Lodges are supreme within their own limits there
are matters which effect the rights of others.
There our sovereign authority ceases. We cannot afford wars. We
must make peace. United we stand divided we fall.
I anticipate that you will reconsider your action as a Grand Body
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
ask for concerted action on the part of the Grand Lodges of the United States
in this matter.
I am sure that the liberty loving Masons of America will not deny
the light of Masonry to any worthy man whether Black or White if applied for
in a regular manner.
The color line in some states may be difficult to obliterate but
as the standard of negro character rises the color line will fade and
eventually one United Masonic Fraternity will stand to help and bless its
We will not at present take any decided action. When Grand Lodge
meets in June the matter will be dealt with.
Be assured of my Brotherly love and regard.
There is one lesson which we learned on our way to the Grand East
which we should never forget: when we come to a difficult place to kneel and
pray. Believe me yours fraternally, LEONARD MORRIS, Grand Master of Masons,
Prince Edward Island.
Letter from the Grand Secretary of England to " The American
Tyler." * UNITED GRAND LODGE OF ENGLAND, Free Masons' Hall, Great Queen St.,
London, W. C., October 15, 1898.
Dear Sir and Brother — Adverting to your letter of the 28th inst.,
in which you ask me for my opinion on the action of the Grand Lodge of
Washington in the recognition of " Colored Masonry," I trust you will not
consider me wanting courtesy if I refrain from discussing a matter which does
not immediately concern the Grand Lodge with which I have the honor to be
I am, dear sir and brother, yours faithfully and fraternally, E.
LETCHWORTH, G. S.
Letter from the Grand Secretary for Foreign Correspondence of the
Grand Lodge of Victoria (Australia) to " The American Tyler.”
GRAND SECRETARY'S OFFICE, Free Masons' Hall, 25 Collins Street, Melbourne,
November 5, 1898.
Dear Bro. Brownell: Your favor of September 28, 1898, is to hand,
in which you seek my opinion on the action of the Grand Lodge of Washington in
the recognition of " Colored Masonry.”
* Appendices 22, 23, 24 and 25 are reprinted from " The American
Tyler" of January 1, 1899, and were addressed to that Journal.
The pertinent point in the letter of Grand Secretary LETCHWORTH is
his very pointed hint that the private affairs of the Grand Lodge of
Washington do not " immediately concern " other Grand Lodges,—not even the
Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge more concerned than any other,
inasmuch as the whole attack on negro Masonry rests on a denial of her
authority to warrant African Lodge No. 459,—and is an attack on her
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
As yet the proceedings of said Grand Lodge for this year have not yet reached
me. I am not in a position to give a definite opinion. I have read in The Free
Mason (London) some correspondence upon the action of said Grand Lodge, and
learn that the resolution passed by the Grand Lodge of Washington covers two
points: (a) it confers power upon negro Masonry to institute Lodges among men
of their own race, (b) it recognizes colored Masons as members of the Craft.
Now, as the practice of Masonry in these colonies is not brought
into conflict with the " colored " races, i. e., men who may have been brought
up in slavery, but are now "free men," we have no difficulty like that which
has existed for a hundred years in some of our sister Grand Lodges of America.
These colonies have ever tried to follow in the footsteps of the Grand Lodge
of England, who granted a charter to open a " colored " lodge in 1784. As we
have none of that class, as above defined, in these colonies, there is no
possibility of a charter of the same kind being granted here. When, however, a
freeman of full age and of good report has knocked at the door of our lodges,
he has been received and recognized as a brother in Masonry, whatever has been
the color of his skin. We have initiated " blacks " who have been minstrels
from your States, and "Chinamen " who have found little sympathy in some of
your Western States. What's more., in the District Grand Lodge in this colony,
and in the present United Grand Lodge of Masons here, we have honored with
Grand Lodge rank a worthy brother who at the same time was colored in the
Now, I don't remember having met with a " colored " Mason from one
of the thirty-one colored Grand Lodges in your States; and it is a question
whether with the knowledge of such being clandestine Grand Lodges, such would
be welcomed here any more than in your Grand Lodges or other lodges, without
first taking an obligation in open lodge of fealty to the United Grand Lodge
of Victoria as is demanded from others.
You will see, then, from what I have written, that my opinion is
based upon past practice, viz., color of skin has nothing to do with Masonry,
otherwise we would be in conflict with many worthy Masons who visit these
lands; that no warrant would be given to work Masonry here, that would be
bounded by color, though it might be by language; that no recognition would be
accorded to another Grand Lodge, whatever its character, working in our
territory, nor would this Grand Lodge grant a charter or warrant to work in
I trust that wise councils will prevail in the present crisis
brought about by the action of the Grand Lodge of Washington. Before the
United Grand Lodge of Victoria was formed, Masonry here presented a sad
picture of the "Brotherhood of Man." There were four aspects of "Universal
Freemasonry " in Victoria, represented by England, Ireland, Scotland and
Victoria; and if there be greater antipathies in your States between the
colored and the white Grand Lodges than existed between the four above
mentioned, then Freemasonry is a thing of naught in the judgment of thoughtful
beings. From so great a distance as Victoria,
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
and from one who took an active part in bringing about the consolidation of
Freemasonry here, I would suggest, is it not possible for a unification of
Freemasonry among the colored and the whites in America ? Certainly, when we
have to appear before the Grand Tyler of the Grand Lodge above, being worthy
of entrance, He will be so pleased to welcome worthy brethren as to miss
seeing their color. Believe me, yours fraternally, DAVID MEADOWCROFT, P. D. G.
M., Grand Sec. For. Cor.
Letter from the Grand Secretary of Nova Scotia to " The American
OFFICE OF GRAND SECRETARY, FREE MASONS' HALL, HALIFAX, October 7,
Dear Sir and Brother : Replying to your favor of the 28th ult.
asking my opinion of " the action of the Grand Lodge of Washington in the
recognition of colored Masonry," the question which should be settled by able
Masonic jurists of the Grand Lodge of England at the date a charter was
granted, had the constitutional authority to grant a charter and of invading
territory which at that date did not Masonically belong to the Grand Lodge of
England. On this point hangs the validity of the Prince Hall Masons, who are
not admitted into our lodges. We are peculiarly situated here, having a
colored Lodge in this city having its charter from the Grand Lodge of England
and now under the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia. While freely admitted into our
Lodges as visitors we do not confer degrees on colored people outside their
own Lodges, nor are they permitted to give degrees to any but those of their
own color. Colored Free Masons come here on the British men-of-war coming here
from the West Indies, and I have seen colored companions coming here and
admitted into our Chapters, but the R. A. degrees are not conferred here on
our colored brothers. The committee to whom this subject was referred by the
Grand Lodge of Washington made a very able report, but whether it will stand
the test of brothers eminent in Masonic law and history is something that has
yet to be known. Yours fraternally,W. Ross, Grand Secretary.
Letter from R.•.W.•.THOMAS MONTGOMERY, Grand Secretary of
Minnesota, to "The American Tyler.”
ST. PAUL, Minn., October 7, 1898.
Dear Sir and Brother: You ask for my opinion on the action of the
Grand Lodge of Washington in the recognition of "Colored Masonry." Their
action was embodied in three resolutions. The first I fully approve, viz.,
that Masonry is universal and that no race or color test should determine the
fitness of a candidate for Masonic degrees. The opinion expressed in the
second seems to me to be well founded, viz.,
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
that the Prince Hall Grand Lodge and the two others named had a legitimate
origin, as much so at least as many existing Grand Lodges. That negroes made
in Lodges tracing their origin to said Grand Lodges should be recognized as
regular Masons as authorized by the resolution I suppose should logically
follow, but I doubt the wisdom of such recognition in this country on the
ground of the accepted American doctrine of exclusive Grand Lodge jurisdiction
or sovereignty over the first three degrees and that only one Grand Lodge can
lawfully exist in any one state. Hence our refusal in Minnesota to recognize
as regular, under the American system, the negro Grand Lodges, or to admit
their members as visitors. Except for this doctrine, confined, I belidVe, to
the United States, the reasons given for recognition are worthy of careful
consideration. It is a well known fact that negroes thus hailing are received
as visitors outside of the United States, and if I should be visiting the same
Lodge I must recognize their Masonic status or retire.
As to the principle in the third resolution, that so long as
colored Lodges confine their operations to colored people only, the
establishment of Lodges or a Grand Lodge will not be regarded as an invasion
of the jurisdiction of existing Grand Lodges; it is at variance with the said
American doctrine and its adoption will lead to confusion. So-called Masonic
Lodges composed wholly of colored persons do exist and are numerous throughout
our country, a fact we cannot ignore. If, as is claimed, they practice our
rites and disseminate the true principles of the Masonic institution among
their own race, whether their origin and legitimacy be regular or not, I can
bid them Godspeed, even if for social or prudential reasons, I discourage or
even discountenance full fraternal recognition.
Fraternally yours, THOS. MONTGOMERY, Grand Secretary.
Letter of WILLIAM JAMES HUGHAN tO WM. H. UPTON.--"Constituting "
TORQUAY, ENGLAND, 15. iv. '99.
Dear M. W. Grand Master: In reply to your query, let me state that
in the old usage of the Grand Lodge of England ("Moderns "), a difference was
observed between Constitution and Consecration, in this respect, that whereas
the warrants, from 1757 (or possibly slightly earlier, but after 1753) really
constituted the petitioners into a Lodge and [it?] thus became constituted de
facto, by holding the first meeting and the Master being installed; the
ceremony of Consecration need not be performed at the same time, and it often
was not, even down so late as in my own time.
When I was Provincial Grand Secretary of Cornwall. England, the
distance between the opening, and thus constitution, of the Lodge at St. Ives,
and its consecration, was over twelve months; during the interim the meetings
having been held, and all things conducted as a regular Lodge.
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE.
The authorities, however, have since wisely provided for the Constitu tion and
Consecration of all new Lodges on the same day, in this Coun try; and no
dispensation is now issued for the opening of such Lodges beforehand, but the
Consecration must take place with the Constitution.
The warrants from 1757 (say) really constituted the petitioners
into a Lodge, nominated the W. M. and Wardens, and held the Master respon
sible for the regularity of the proceedings, etc. Prior to 1755 (circa), the
documents were different and practically empowered a Brother to con stitute
the Lodge, and the W. M. and Wardens were not nominated.
African Lodge, warranted at Boston, Mass., by my own Grand Lodge
of England, in 1784, I deem to be on a par with all other legal Lodges of the
period, and that its Master PRINCE HALL was as much a regular Freemason as any
other Master in that or any other City, and his Lodge as regularly formed and
Yours Fraternally, WM. JAMES HUGHAN.
Letter from ROBERT FREKE GOULD to WM. H. UPTON.—"Constituting”
My Dear Brother: April 17th, 1899.
In your letter of March 26th you say: "In some of your writings I
find it stated that the Installation cere mony fell into desuetude among the
`Moderns' some time about 1740 or 1750." * I don't think I ever wrote to the
above effect. jBut, passing this over, let me state that I cannot believe the
"Moderns" ever had a ceremony of Installation, and that I am not aware of any
evidence or argument in favour of their having had such a ceremony, which
appears to warrant any serious consideration.
My views on the point are summed up in Ars Quat. Cor. Vol. v
(1892) p. 104 et seq. (Article on "Thos. Manningham.") * * * * Next, the "
Moderns " did not follow the practice of the " Ancients " in authorizing some
one to act as Deputy Grand Master (or Acting Grand Master) for 3 hours.
There being no Installation Ceremony, there was nothing to do but
"start ahead." I would amplify the latter answer if time permitted, but like
yourself I shall not have leisure until June.
Anything of a Masonic character in this note, you have my full
permission to quote as coming from the manufactory of Your sincere friend,
Bro. W. H. UPTON.
R. F. GOULD.
* The letter then went on to inquire whether this was in old
Lodges only, or whethe new Lodges ceased to be " constituted " by a
ceremony.—W. H. U.
Bro, GOULD is correct: what he did write will be found quoted in a
note under 37, ante.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
Views of DR. JOSEPH ROBBINS, P. G. M, of Illinois.
From his Report on Masonic Correspondence, presented to the Grand
Lodge of Illinois, October, 1898.
After a slumber somewhat longer than RIP VAN WINKLE'S famous nap,
the subject of Negro Masonry comes to the front through the action of the
Grand Lodge of Washington on a communication from some colored Masons,
received and referred last year, as noted in our report.
The Washington proceedings have not yet come to hand, the delay
being chiefly due to the sad bereavement of Grand Master UPTON, who lost his
wife about the middle of August, after an illness that kept him at her bedside
Through the courtesy of M∴W∴Brother UPTON, whose thoughtfulness
under such trying circumstances we highly appreciate, we have been favored
with a copy of the report of the special committee, reprinted from the Grand
Lodge proceedings, and both on account of the intrinsic importance of the
subject, and the ability, erudition and truly Masonic spirit which
characterize the report, we are glad to place it before our readers, together
with the action of the Grand Lodge thereon: [At this point Bro. ROBBINS prints
the report of the Washington committee in full; and then continues:] We had
occasion in 1871 to discuss the question of the legitimacy of African Lodge,
in reviewing an address by M∴ W∴ WILLIAM SEWALI. GARDNER, then grand master of
Massachusetts, delivered at the quarterly communication of that grand lodge in
The address was, as we then said, apparently a fair and square
effort to do that which a committee of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts ran
away from—to meet by argument drawn from history, the claims advanced in the
petition of certain colored Masons, of the colored organization there, to
To do this he essayed to prove that in 1784, when African Lodge
obtained its charter from the Grand Lodge of England, the American doctrine of
exclusive grand lodge jurisdiction had been fully established, it having been
put forward in 1782 by the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, an independent grand
lodge formed in 1777 by the constituents of the provincial grand lodge set up
by GEN. JOSEPH WARREN by virtue of a deputation from the Grand Lodge of
Scotland, and which expired with the death of the provincial grand master on
Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775. Brother GARDNER claimed that on that March day in
1777 the " 'Massachusetts Grand Lodge' by a revolution and assumption of the
powers, duties, and responsibilities of a grand lodge, became a free,
independent, sovereign grand lodge with a jurisdiction absolute, exclusive,
and entire throughout the commonwealth of Massachusetts," and said that " by
this revolution and assumption, from that day to this, the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts, without interruption, had exercised all the plenary powers of a
How valueless this oracular declaration is as a historical basis
for an argument against the legitimacy of African Lodge will be seen in spite
of the misuse of " Massachusetts Grand Lodge " and " Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts " as convertible terms, when it is recalled that in the
declaration of principles, which was rather a justification of its right to
exist as a free and independent body, performing the functions of a grand
lodge, than an assertion of jurisdictional rights as against any other grand
lodge than Scotland—to whom St. Andrew's Lodge, the lodge of WARREN. the late
provincial grand master, was still paying dues—the "Massachusetts Grand Lodge"
(Ancient,^) appealed to the precedents of
REPORT ON CORRESPONDENCE
the mother country to justify its existence as an independent body in a
territory where another grand lodge (the St. John's Grand Lodge, derived from
the “Moderns," through PRICE), already existed.
The "Massachusetts Grand Lodge " recognized the equal independence
of the St. John's Grand Lodge, as is shown by the fact that it at no time
assumed or claimed any authority over the constituents of that body, and took
the initiative in the negotiations for a conference looking to a perfect union
of the two bodies, which was finally accomplished in 1792, when the present
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formed with JOHN CUTLER, Grand Master of St.
John's Grand Lodge, as its first Grand Master.
The charter of African Lodge was granted by the Grand Lodge of
England September 29, 1784, but was not received in Boston until April 29,
1787, which Brother GARDNER says was " ten years after the 'Massachusetts
Grand Lodge' had asserted its freedom and independence; ten years after the
American doctrine of grand lodge jurisdiction had been established.”
The first half of this declaration is manifestly true; the second
half as clearly not true. African Lodge had been a regularly chartered body
for eight years, and had been in possession of the parchment attesting that
fact for five years when the first grand lodge came into existence, that was
in a position to assert its jurisdiction over all the lodges in Massachusetts,
or that ever claimed the right to do so; the declaration of the Massachusetts
Grand Lodge—not made on the 8th of March, 1777, as implied by Brother GARDNER,
but on the 6th of December, 1782—when read by the light of contemporaneous
events, being clearly intended to apply only to lodges of that ilk—the
"Ancients," and in fact only a diplomatic assertion that St. Andrew's Lodge
was rightfully under its jurisdiction and ought to pay dues to it instead of
paying them to the Grand Lodge of Scotland. That the Massachusetts Grand Lodge
never fully attained even this limited jurisdiction is attested by the fact
that St. Andrew's Lodge continued throughout the whole period of the existence
of that Grand Lodge—and for eighteen years afterward—under the authority of
the Grand Lodge of Scotland and paid dues to that body.
Thus the fabric of " the American doctrine of exclusive grand
lodge jurisdiction," as applicable to the then condition of Masonry in
Massachusetts, erected upon the assumption that the "Massachusetts Grand Lodge
" was the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, falls with its shadowy foundation to
the ground, and with it vanishes the only possible ground —gauzy as it was—for
the claim that the charter of African Lodge, granted by the same authority
under which held St. John's Grand Lodge which united with the Massachusetts
Grand Lodge to form the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts and gave to the first
sovereign Masonic body in that commonwealth its first Grand Master, was
Under all the canons governing the formation of grand lodges
designed to claim exclusive jurisdiction within a given territory, and by
every principle of Masonic equity, all lodges upon the registry of the grand
lodges whose provincial off-shoots unite iu such formation are equally
entitled to be invited to participate in such action, and if African Lodge was
left out in the cold when the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formed there is
less ground for impugning its subsequent legitimacy than for questioning the
validity of action attainted with conspiracy to rob it and its members of
Another handicap has been attempted to be placed upon the claim of
African Lodge to original legitimacy, the fact that it worked for several
years before it received a charter. But this attempt fails because the two
oldest lodges then and now existing in Massachusetts, and everywhere
recognized as legitimate, were handicapped in the same way. St. John's Lodge,
organized in 1733, was probably an unauthorized and irregular body until
legalized by the deputation to TOMLINSON in 1737.
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
St. Andrew's Lodge was originated in 1752 by nine clandestinely
made Masons. In 1756, when it received a charter from the Grand Lodge of
Scotland, it numbered twenty-one members, exclusive of one of the original
nine, who left Boston in the interval. Its charter did not arrive until 1760,
at which time the lodge had been increased by eighteen additional members; so
that in all thirty-one candidates were initiated before the lodge received its
charter, and thirteen before the charter was signed—all to be legalized in one
batch. No one, we presume, doubts the authority of the Grand Lodge of Scotland
to legalize this irregular work, nor can similar authority be denied to the
Grand Lodge of England in the case of African Lodge. These facts sufficiently
indicate the usage in the early days of the history of Masonry in
Massachusetts, and show that African Lodge had a title to legitimacy as clear
as that of its white contemporaries, whose status is never questioned.
When did it lose its title to legitimacy ? We have seen that the
other bodies holding under the Grand Lodge of England—St. John's Grand Lodge
and the lodges in affiliation therewith—did not lose their legitimacy in the
eyes of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge in consequence of the issue of its
manifesto of December 6, 1782, for with its lodges it united with them in
forming the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts ten years later. Did African Lodge,
which in 1797, according to Grand Secretary HERVEY, was still paying dues to
the Grand Lodge of England, lose its legitimacy in consequence of that union?
St. Andrew's Lodge evidently did not lose its legitimacy, although until a
period much later it was still paying dues to the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Did
African Lodge lose its legitimacy when, after five years of isolation,
ridicule, and denial of the sympathy and countenance its members felt
themselves entitled to as being also lawful members of a universal
brotherhood, it assumed the functions of a " mother lodge " in order to make
for itself among the people of its own race the fellowship which the whites
had denied, and its master, PRINCE HALL, " granted a dispensation to certain
persons in Philadelphia? " If it did so lose it, it lost it in the face of
precedents set by the Grand Lodge of Scotland—the parent grand lodge of one of
the bodies uniting to form the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts—in absorbing into
its body as legitimate lodges warranted by Mother Kilwinning—a private lodge
which assumed grand lodge functions—both before and after the Grand Lodge of
Scotland had been formed; and that furnished by the Grand Lodge of England in
recognizing and taking under its protection the Lodge Royal York of
Friendship, the offspring of the mother lodge Three Globes, of Berlin, when
the parer t body forsook Masonry for the hodge-podge known as the system of
Strict Observance. It may be added that neither Kilwinning Lodge nor the lodge
Three Globes had the excuse that they were persistently denied the fellowship
which gives to Masonry its chief value, that impelled African Lodge to assume
the functions of a mother lodge.
Cite as we may and admit as we do the complications which render
escape so difficult from the bonds with which they have bound themselves, we,
who have in the outset robbed lawful Masons of their just rights, cannot lift
from our consciences the burden of responsibility for their subsequent
When we discussed this question twenty-seven years ago we did so
against the day when, without injury to Masonry, a dispassionate attempt might
be made to find a modus vivendi that would satisfy the general Masonic sense
of justice and at the same time properly recognize the respect due to firmly
seated views of regularity of procedure which the establishment of the grand
lodge system sought to insure, and to the new ideas of jurisdictional rights
which have become fixed in this country since the period when negro Masonry
took its rise, but altogether independent of its presence.
We were conscious at the time we wrote, that we were too near to
time when the status of the great bulk of the negro race in this country had
been a chief factor in a struggle involving the whole people and arousing
their fiercest passions, for such an attempt then; and while we could not but
respect the sense of justice and their devotion to the principles that must
underlie an institution claiming to be universal, of Grand Master BATLIN and
his coadjutors in Ohio in the movement which in the same decade came so near
committing that grand lodge to the position now occupied by the Grand Lodge of
Washington, we regretted their action as ill-judged because untimely.
With the flight of years the situation is greatly changed. The
repeal of the "black laws" of the Grand Lodge of Illinois in 1871, after a
contest of years, with the result of placing all races and colors on an
equality before the law, has demonstrated the groundlessness of the fears of
the opponents of repeal that their lodges would be beset with the
importunities of black visitors and the petitions of colored applicants for
the rights and privileges of Masonry, and the entire absence of either is but
a repetition of the experience of other jurisdictions where no such inhibitory
regulations ever obtained. In New Jersey a lodge created under dispensation in
1871—if our memory serves us correctly—and chartered the same year, with the
express understanding that it was to give colored men legitimate entrance to
the fraternity, numbers according to the last return twenty-five members of
all complexions. This crucial test shows that in this country—unlike the
British West Indies, where the whites (usually if not universally including
the highest government officials) and blacks mingle in the same lodges—the
negroes prefer lodges and a Masonic government of their own race. The lapse of
the full period of the life time of a generation has substantially removed the
only fundamental difficulty; and what a third of a century ago was a -burning
question, viz: Whether in substituting the word "free " for " free-born "
fifty years ago, the Grand Lodge of England had violated a landmark, now
excites only the languid interest which ever attaches to an abstraction that
can never assume the concrete form.
Whatever doubt we may have had whether the time was now fully ripe
for such a dispassionate effort as we have referred to, is dissipated—at least
so far as one jurisdiction is concerned—by the quality of the work of the
Washington committee and the approval of that work by the Grand Lodge of
Washington. The adoption of the report by a nearly unanimous vote shows how
completely the demonstrated indisposition of the two races thus far to mingle
in the same lodges and the full realization by the individual of his power
through the black ball on the one hand and the acknowledged right to exclude
an unwelcome visitor by objection on the other, had robbed the question of all
its real and imaginary social terrors.
While we doubt if the action of the Grand Lodge of Washington goes
far enough to meet the ultimate demands of the conscience of an institution
resting upon a recognition of the great doctrine of the fatherhood of God and
the brotherhood of man, we still remain of the opinion that the wronged race
Should be content to let complete justice wait upon the welfare of the
institution itself, and should realize that the ultimate salvation of the
cargo rests upon the present salvation of the ship.
The earnest, judicial and cautious spirit manifested by the Grand
Lodge of Washington leaves no doubt that it has entered upon its tentative
course in full accord with this view. In nothing is its prudence and its
sagacity more apparent than in the second resolution adopted by it, wherein it
limits its recognition of the legitimacy of the colored grand lodges named, to
the extent and purpose of permitting its constituent lodges and their members
to recognize as Brother Masons within its own territory, negroes who trace
their Masonic descent through them. By this master stroke of a simply
historical recognition, the Grand Lodge of Washington steers entirely clear of
any cause of umbrage to the grand
GRAND LODGE OF WASHINGTON.
lodges in fraternal relations with it, within whose jurisdictions these bodies
exist, its action emphasizing rather than denying its previous recognition of
the full authority of such grand lodges to fix the status of all Masonic
bodies found within their borders.
This is a matter of sincere congratulation, as it insures that the
courageous and generous Masons of Washington will be enabled to test the
practicability and adequacy of their plan for the solution of a grave problem,
undistracted by perplexing complications with any of their sister
jurisdictions, but with the hearty God-speed of all thinking Masons, albeit
the good wishes of some may not be wholly unmixed with solicitude.